Merry Christmas … and Happy Hanukkah (as these two celebrations coincide this year.)!

We hope that your entire family is enjoying the celebrations of this wonderful season and that everything around you acts as a reminder of the joy of having Jesus in your lives.

We wanted to give you a brief update of what has been taking place in the Garretts’ lives in 2011 … and hopefully through all of it, that your life can be encouraged as well.

Our year started off with a tragedy/victory as we saw the passing away of Jim’s mom. Frances had been very sick for the past couple of years from difficulties with her heart and corresponding surgeries. The blessings are that she DID see 70+ years of life and that she DID live a long and fulfilling life of serving Christ by serving others. Jim had the privilege of overseeing her funeral/memorial service and decided to make it a simple time of remembering and celebrating a life lived for Jesus. It was only a couple of weeks later that her caretaker, Aunt Margaret, also went on to be with Jesus. It is always interesting when two individuals who lived so closely together often end up passing (nearly) together as well.

We had the opportunity to minister down in Colombia early in the year as we combined two locations: Cartagena and Medellin to minister to local Christian leaders and churches in those locations. We have instantly fallen in love with Colombia and cherish every time we get to visit there.

March saw the entire Garrett family get to participate in one of those trips of a lifetime as we ALL headed out to Disney World via jets from all over the Mid-West and got to spend 7 incredible days together at the house of the Mouse. Needless to say, ALL the kids had fun and Mimi and Papa rejoiced in every second of this time. In Leisy’s words, “It was magical.”

Although some of the family endured life-altering difficulties this year, perhaps one of the most significant difficulty was that of Aaron’s pre-mature birth. Although he was due to Crystal and David toward the end of August, he actually made his appearance on June 13 weighing in around 4 1/2 lbs. He was a critical care baby for a few weeks and the Drs. didn’t give much hope … but God had other intentions. Certainly time and space do not have much room for this story but … shall I say in the immortal words of the Hanukkah season, “A Great Miracle Happened Here.” We continue to rejoice in this miracle (as we do with all of our grandchildren.)

As Cheri stayed home with Crystal and David and little Aaron and Issac, Jim led a team of teens to Medellin, Colombia just a few days after Aaron’s birth where they did great work among several churches and communities in the area. It was a thrill to see God at work through the teens but it was difficult because of the separation between us and the critical need in Aaron’s life. The cool thing was that people all over Colombia joined us in praying for Aaron and became a part of the miracle!

Early in the Fall, Cheri also made a journey to Medellin, Colombia where she ministered at a Ladies in Christian Leadership Conference. She was well received and was invited back for more … but as with the earlier trip, the separation between us made Cheri hunger to be back home … or at least with Jim.

Both of us have worked at the church near Chicago all year … and Jim has continued to teach at Ashland Theological Seminary- Detroit. But in the midst of this year, God has continually spoken that He was preparing us for an elevation in ministry. We are still not sure what that looks like; obviously, it will have elements of teaching, preaching, pastoral care, and missions. Nonetheless, we are trusting God for a complete picture of His next phase for us.

SO we launch out into 2012 without a known future … we are leaving CLC … and we don’t know what that future looks like. What we do know is this: God has our backs … and our future….and our now! And as Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees with only a solid resolve to obey God, yet without clear destination, we too know that God is in control of our destiny … as He is with yours.

May your Christmas be filled with the love, peace and joy that only comes from truly knowing Him…and may 2012 be your best year yet!

Jim and Cheri

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