If you search Google for Felipe’s and Jimmy’s hometown one of the first things you see is an image of an enormous snake. It’s bigger than the man holding it. The stuff of nightmares.
Jimmy caught on right away to my snake aversion. I can’t remember how it came up, but he thought it was funny. Now he brings it up when we Skype.
A few years ago Grant and I went on a mission trip together. It was a delightful mother-son bonding experience until the day one of the locals tried to sell snakes to our youth. He was a professional serpent salesman who sold snakes-to-go in cardboard boxes to kids from Minnesota. Grant’s friend Thomas forked over his cash for a baby snake, to be delivered before our return trip. Grant was the next in line.
For the next 24 hours instead of praying for souls to be saved I prayed my son would change his mind about wanting a snake. He didn’t. But somehow his almost-girlfriend who was also on the trip convinced Grant to skip the purchase as an act of love for his mom.
Thomas named his baby snake Optimus and it traveled back to Minnesota in a box with the luggage under the bus. The little snake survived the ride home, but about week later the youth group kids were hanging out at Thomas’ house and someone used bug spray too close to Optimus. He died a day or so later, and even I was a little sad. But not nearly sad enough to change my mind about snakes making good pets for Minnesota boys, or good sightseeing for moms visiting Colombia.
A couple of weeks ago during a Skype connection with the boys I looked right at Jimmy and gave him an ultimatum. “Jimmy, you have to promise – no snakes, or I might have to stay home.” Kyle and I have noticed how Jimmy’s facial expressions tend to make up for the language barrier. Eyes grew wide and joking turned serious. Jimmy looked at me and he raised his right hand. “I promise, Mom. No snakes.”
I believed him.