Friday, June 7, 2013

A Tribute to an Airman (Part 3)

...things which are too wonderful for me...
the way of a man with a maid.
Proverbs 30:18-19

(Note: This blog post was supposed to have been published
this time last year as part 3 of our 'Airman Tributes'.
But in God's perfect timing we are honored to post it today...
Joshua and Jennifer's 5th Wedding Anniversary!) 

Orders are orders.
In September 2007, Sr. Airman Sanford headed to Aviano, Italy.

Soon after arriving, he gave us an update...
there was internet in his dorm room, he was going to have to buy a car because the base was so huge, he got a cola raise of $500, and the view was 'breath-taking', he would never get used to it.

Over the next few months,
he visited Venice and Florence, climbed the Alps several times,
and went to Germany to experience a genuine Oktoberfest!

What is a common form of communication today,
was a god-send five years ago as a new way to stay in touch....

Suddenly, Italy didn't seem so far away!

As was Josh's custom upon settling into his new Base, he immediately became active in the Chapel; particularly in their worship band and youth activities. Within a week, the Youth Director knew the caliber of man that Joshua was; he put Josh in charge of the keys and locking up after activities. 

Josh really enjoyed the hiking trips into the mountains
with the leaders and their families.

In October, Josh noticed a 'new girl' at the Chapel youth activities. He asked who the 'new kid' was...come to find out she was an 'old leader'! This girl, Jennifer Raye Lander, had just arrived home from having been in the States for a month. Her father, a Chief Master Sergeant, was in-charge of all the fighter jets' mechanics.

The story goes something like this:
On Saturday, December 8, the Youth Leaders were on a road trip. Josh was one of the drivers. While approaching a stop sign, he hit a patch of ice and rear-ended the camper stopped in front. Raye was traveling in that camper. Upon impact, a frying pan flew out and hit her in the head. Josh's car was totaled. Later in the day, Raye was backing up this same camper into a very narrow driveway. Some of the guys, including Josh, were giving her a hard time. Frustrated, she fussed back at them for picking on her. Josh had compassion, went out and apologized, then offered to back the camper for her.

 It was at that moment things changed between this man and maiden.

The following Tuesday, Raye drove Josh home after the Youth Meeting since his car was totaled that Saturday before. They sat in the car in front of his dorm and talked for 3 hours! Josh made it clear he was not going to date. He then proceeded to tell her what he expected in a wife...for her to be chaste and modest, homeschool their children, be a stay-at-home mom, be reformed in the Word, theology, and doctrine, and a myriad of other things.

The entire time he expected her to balk or argue, instead she nodded; he watched her spirit changed right in front of him. She agreed with what he expected and from that point on began to embrace everything he wanted in a wife and mother of his children; only confirming the true calling she one day become his helpmeet!

On Christmas morning, Josh called by Skype. It was then that we meet this girl to whom our son had given his heart! We talked for about an hour. After which, I wrote in my journal, "She is adorable and a true blessing from the Lord." (Note: That has not changed in five years!!)

With her father's permission, Josh and Raye spent most of their time together, talking and planning as well as working side by side in ministry at the Base Chapel.  

Sometime in there, Raye began to go by her first name. It must have become apparent to Jennifer that she was soon to lose that middle name!

In February, we flew out to meet Jennifer for the first time. 

Spent the next day visiting the Dolomite Mountains,
also called the Italian Alps.

That evening, we meet Jen's parents over dinner
at San Giorgio Spaghetti House.

Since we were so close,
Dad took the opportunity to take the four of us
to visit Rome and Venice. 

Palatine Hill

Circus Maximus

Roman Forum

Outside the Pantheon.

In Venice. 

They also took us to their favorite haunt named Desiree 
for gelato and coffee. 

Before we said our final good-byes,
Dad gave our blessing for these two to get married!

On March 19, 2008,
Joshua ask Jennifer to be his wife at their favorite little place...Desiree's!

We flew back out for the wedding but this time Melinda and Garrison came with us; they had to pay their own way. But since they could be there, Jen and Josh asked them to be in the wedding as bridesmaid and Best Man respectively. And Dad was asked to sing 'The Lord's Prayer'. 

Wedding preparation was in full force. Jen's Mom was making the cake.

We gave Josh and Jen an Heirloom Geneva Family Bible.

All the young people and two parents walked to get some Gelato!

The cakes were coming together.

Rehearsal Evening.

And dinner party afterward. 

Jen received her bride-gift from her new mother-in-law!

And Josh and Jen gave gifts to the wedding party.

A family in the making! 

The day for which we all gathered in Italy arrived...
June 7, 2008

Josh says they picked this date so he could always
remember their anniversary...6/7/08.

After delivering the cake to the reception hall, Dad stopped by to see how Josh was doing. 

Back at the Lander's, the girls were having fun getting ready.

The Bride...

...and her maids.

Mother putting on the last touch.

At the Chapel, waiting for it all to begin.

And in no time, the ceremony was over...they were now husband and wife!

Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Robert Sanford

Signing the marriage license.

Photos with the family and wedding party.

Such a beautiful bride!!

The lovely Mrs. Jennifer Lander Sanford

While folks headed to the reception,
Mr. and Mrs. Sanford went to a favorite spot to take some more photos.

What began in December...

 ...became final in June.

Entering the reception hall.

Jennifer's mother did fantastic with this cake!

Best Man speech.

Maid of Honor, Jen's sister Stephanie, speech.

The two fathers take their turn at speeches.

Then the dancing began...

After a while, it was time for the bouquet throwing...

Jennifer's childhood friend Kelly caught it.

Saying their goodbyes...

...then they were off to honeymoon in Croatia.

They came home to the lower-level of this house
where they lived for over two years while stationed in Italy.

After three months of marital bliss,
Josh was deployed for six months to Qatar.

Nothing but desert for miles, but he found time to build a boat!

Jen braved coming by herself to stay with her new 'in-laws' for several weeks. This included meeting the rest of her 'new siblings', attending Providence's Reformation Faire, having Thanksgiving with her new family and the McDonald family, helping put up the Christmas tree, and celebrate Garrison's going into the Marine Corps.

In early 2009, Josh and Jen were reunited and got very busy in leadership of a Bible Study and in their church. They also took time to learn scuba diving, go on several camping trips with friends, and visit other parts of Italy.

Camping with friends




That October, they came to the States to visit family. 

Soon after, we loaded them into the van and
headed to Virginia to introduce Jen to the family.

First stop was the Creation Museum,
including a chat and picture with its founder, Ken Ham.

Then we went to Oldhams, Virginia to see Meme and Granddad.
Three generations of Sanfords.

Went to Colonial Williamsburg with the other set of grandparents.

Soon they went home to Italy, 
and took a family picture for Christmas
with Marcus and Munch.

In 2010, the Lord blessed Joshua and Jennifer with three big changes...
Josh made the rank of Staff Sergeant,
they were transferred to Tinker AFB in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma,
and they were pregnant!!

Before heading to their new home in Oklahoma, they visited family on the East Coast then drove to visit us in Illinois! 

We did some fun things...

Visit an apple orchard with the McDonalds

Ice Skating

Paintballing at friends

Goodbyes this time were more sweet because they were only going to be two States away instead across an ocean on another continent. 

Once they got settled into their new home,
Jen picked the 'theme' for the nursery...Dr. Seuss. 

And an avid knitter, Jennifer began making 'soakers' to cover the diapers of her little baby.

In the Lord's providence, on Easter Morning, April 24, 2011,
 Jael Mercy was born!

Jael's Daddy went right out and bought a shot-gun.
In future years, he plans to clean it while a young man is sitting
across from him asking to court his daughter.
It will also be a wedding present for her husband.  

A growing family!

After six years of serving in the United States Air Force, Josh and Jen decided it was time to get out of the military. So in January 2012, they packed up all their belongs and moved to Illinois.

 After a few months of living at the in-laws, Joshua and his sweet little wife and their adorable little daughter settled into their darling little house near where he was working for a fantastic little medi-share company (Samaritan Ministries International) and actively attending a reformed little church (Providence Church, CPC).

And one year later, the day before Easter,
the Lord blesses them with another precious little daughter,
Hadassah Evangeline. 

Joshua's little family...

...but God's big plan!
Lo, surely thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord.
Psalm 128:4

Happy 5th Anniversary, Joshua and Jennifer!