Today is Veteran's day and it has had me remembering the 8 years Joel served in the Air Force and how much it shaped our lives. When Joel was 18 he went to Junior College to get a two year degree in Wildlife management after which he decided to go to Bible College at The Lutheran Bible Institute (which became Golden Valley Lutheran College our second year). We met while both attending, and were married just a few weeks after we graduated from their two year program.
Joel was pretty sure he wanted to be a minister but when he received his draft notice right before our wedding, he did not feel right about getting a deferment. He also knew he did not want to go into the Army, so he enlisted in the Air Force. He went to basic training in Texas and then we moved to Rantoul, Illinois where he went to more training. We then moved across the country to Albuquerque, New Mexico to work on the planes that were collecting data to be used for intelligence. This is where our oldest daughter, Beth was born.
While stationed in NM Joel heard about an education program he could apply for, which sounded great. Even though they tried to discourage him, saying most of his credits from his 4 previous years of school would not transfer, he still applied and 96% transferred! The program was set up so that if Joel qualified for further education, which he did, they would send him to get his college degree and then he would serve them 4 more years in the field of their choosing. They asked what our first choice was for college. .......we said the University of Wisconsin. They sent us to Salt Lake City Utah! Pretty typical of the military at that time. Salt Lake is where our oldest son Matt was born.
The Air Force sent him to the University of Utah to be a meteorologist. The math was tough, but he did well.. He enlisted as an Airman, then while in college they bumped him up to a sergeant. When he graduated, he went to officers training and became a Lieutenant! Unusual way to be promoted, but all part of God's plan.
After officers training we were stationed in Duluth MN where he forecast weather for pilots. It was nice to be in our home state and spend more time with family, but after nearly two years there, Joel was due for a remote transfer where family would not be allowed to go. Several times Joel was called by the office that sent out orders, and "asked" about certain openings they had. We had never heard of anyone asking....just telling you where you would go, so we felt God was making sure His plan unfolded. There was a place in Korea, one off the coast of Alaska, and one base in Nam but Joel said no to all of those since we could not go as a family. It was at this time that we talked about him getting out early out to attend seminary, but when he went in to apply they told him he had orders for Clark Air Force Base in The Philippine Islands. His only question was "accompanied or unaccompanied?" It was a relief to hear the family could go with.
We left Duluth in 1974, drove to CA and then flew to The Philippines where Joel spent 2 years forecasting weather for pilots, many of which were going to Nam. We were at Clark when Saigon fell, and I helped in the Baby Lift when hundreds of children were taken out of the country to be adopted by families in the states and around the world. It was a wonderful experience for me to be a part of. When we first heard we were going overseas, we immediately began praying about adopting. It had always been in our hearts to do so, and while we were in the P.I. God blessed us with our two middle children, Mark, and our daughter, N. (she prefers to remain anonymous on my blog). I just love how God works things out according to His plan.
After 8 years in the Air Force, Joel still felt strongly he wanted to go to seminary, so he left the Air Force and we headed back to MN in the spring of 1976.
Those 8 years shaped our world in many ways. We met so many people from different places and we experienced living in a third world country. Our four older children were welcomed home through birth and through adoption during those years. We saw first hand how our soldiers were sacrificing to help others and keep our country free. We lived in 4 states and 1 third world country during those years. We are so grateful for it all.
So today, I give thanks for those who sacrifice to make our world here so much easier. I/we give thanks for how God guided our lives every step of the way. We give thanks for our family. We give thanks for the life long friends we made during those years. And we remember......with joy....with pride...with thankfulness.