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CHRISTMAS 1997 Merry Christmas to our friends and family. I hope that this year has been a good one for you. It has been a very good year for us and if you don’t mind, I would like to take a few minutes of your time to tell you about our year. The New Baby The big news of the year is that May 4, 1998, the McCollum family is expecting a new baby. Ariél prophesied the baby’s arrival. One day while driving in the car with Mommy she said, “Mommy, God told me that you have a baby in your tummy….” We had no idea that Brenda was pregnant but that evening we decided to have Brenda take a pregnancy test and it was positive. We haven’t yet had the sex of the new baby verified by modern medicine but haven’t even thought about boy names. What do you think of ‘Gabriela Christine McCollum’? Yeah, I like it too. For your information, Gabriela means ‘heroine of God’ and Christine means ‘Anointed’ or ‘Christian’. Connor There seems to be no baby left in Connor. He runs around talking and singing. His favorite song is “Behold, behold, behold, behold…” He can’t seem to remember that “I stand at the door and knock, knock, knock,” comes next. He will be two on December 13 and has been enjoying kids older than he for some time now. In fact, ever since he turned one, he has been saying he is three. We really enjoy him. He is communicating better every week. So many words he now uses. Of course Brenda often has to translate for me. She spends so much more time with the kids than I do that she learns their language more quickly than I. Sometimes I even need Ariél to translate. Connor is a very daring little boy, willing to try anything and he is a great climber. Connor’s favorite thing to do is play with his 2½ year old cousin Brandon. It sure is amazing how two nice boys put together can be so mischevious. Ariél Ariél is looking forward to her birthday which isn’t until June 7. She will be four. She says she is excited about her birthday because she will get a dolly with brown hair. I wasn’t expecting her to say that when I asked her what she wanted to write for her section. Ariél is also excited about this Christmas and about celebrating Connor’s birthday at Circus Pizza. Ariél says that she is happy that her Aunt Tammy has Jesus in her heart. She is also excited that she will be going to school at home and will go to “outside school” for things like swimming and gymnastics. I guess this is what you get when you let a three year old tell you what she wants in her Christmas Letter. Ariél has had a good year. Her relationships with the kids at church have gotten stronger. She enjoys the other kids and they really seem to enjoy her. She and her mother started doing some home schooling. She started learning how to read but found it frustrating so instead they have been doing some workbooks that Ariél really enjoys. More than trying to teach her anything, we are trying to get her to look forward to school at home even more than she already does and to be ready to start some formal learning.

Brenda Our family is blessed with the ability to have Brenda not work outside our home. She is enjoying her role as a full-time mom and housewife. She says she can’t imagine a better life. I think it must be a good match, I love my children but I think I would go crazy if I stayed at home with them every day while Brenda worked. I guess God just wired us differently. To help Brenda keep her sanity, she has been enjoying a women’s Bible study with some of the ladies from our church. They meet every Thursday evening and I hear that sometimes they actually get around to their study. The other activity she has really been enjoying is the home-school co-op we joined. She takes the kids there every other Friday. Pregnancy really becomes Brenda. Although she hasn’t been feeling good all of the time, she sure is looking great.

Michael In January, I changed jobs (again) and now work for Nash Finch Company, a grocery wholesaler headquartered in Edina, Minnesota. I am still in the computer field. My position with Nash is more enjoyable than the ones I have had in the past. It is getting me closer to my short term goal of being the administrator for a computer network. I think that things can really work well for me if I stay at Nash. In July my dad took me to the Promise Keepers event in St. Louis. We had a great time. It was really nice spending some time together. Since coming back from that event, I helped start a ‘PK@NF’ Bible study. PK@NF is what we call our Promise Keepers at Nash Finch group. It is great meeting regularly with other Christian men at work. One of the highlights of each week for me is my Tuesday evening Bible study. As soon as we get the kids to bed I race off to church to meet with 3 or 4 other guys to study the Old Testament. When I joined them a year ago, they were in Joshua. We are now in 1 Kings. We spend a lot of time talking, but really get into depth thanks to Pastor Bruce Konold leading the study. I am starting back working at the YMCA one evening per week too. That way we can get a low cost deluxe family membership so the kids can take swimming and tumbling lessons and maybe I can even get into shape. Shrup Our cat Shrup (No that is not a typo. Ariél named him when she was two.) saved himself recently. We had decided to get rid of him when we found out about the new baby. Within a few days of that decision, he left a dead mouse in his food container where we could easily see it. I don’t know if he had been saving that mouse for a special occasion or if he decided to sneak out and find one to use because we have never seen even a mouse dropping since we moved into our house 3½ years ago. Two Funerals This was a year of losses for us. In February we lost Michael’s grandfather. Ralph Hall was a good man with a keen mind and a good sense of humor. His funeral in Des Moines, Iowa, was Ariél and Connor’s first introduction to death. They learned that his body was now empty and that his soul was in heaven with Jesus. In October, this lesson was reinforced when we attended Brenda’s grandmother’s funeral in Milbank, South Dakota. The loss of Alvina Runge was felt deeply by Brenda. Her memory will be revived every time one of her crocheted dresses is worn by a daughter or a dolly. The Law Family In September, we enjoyed a weekend trip to Chicago. The kids got their first ride in an airplane. Ariél seemed to enjoy the flight and Connor didn’t really even notice it. We spent the weekend with my sister’s family. Everyone had a great time. The kids really enjoyed playing together, especially at the beach on the shore of Lake Michigan. The thing that amazed me the most was the size of Chicagoland. We spent more time in the car to and from the airport than in the plane to and from Chicago and it took as long to drive from their house to Lake Michigan as it would take us to drive to Lake Superior. I thought the Twin Cites were big. Ha! My sister’s family seems to be doing very well. Brian got a new job this summer, Katherine and Rebekah are healthy and happy and Sheryl is pregnant with their third child. She is expecting in late March. The Carlson Family In March, Sydney was born to Brenda’s sister and brother-in-law, Tammy and Larry. She is a great addition to their family. In June her big brother had open-heart surgery to repair some problems with which he was born. The surgery went very well and his growth has accelerated since his recovery. Al & Verna Wisdom The big news for Brenda’s parents is that they have decided to sell their motor home and buy a house again in Minnesota. I’d like to think it is my smiling face they miss the most. I know, it must really be their grandchildren they miss. Jim & Sandy McCollum My parents are doing well. It was a year of transition for my mom. After 14 years of teaching in a Catholic Elementary School, God led my mother to retirement. We haven’t seen her since she retired but I am very excited about it. We look forward to being able to spend more time with my parents now. My dad is still with Rockwell. I don’t think he will ever leave. He really seems to enjoy his work.

Church Our church that we helped start in 1992 has gone and is going through some major changes this year. We have struggled as a church growing from 12 in 1992 to about 120 in 1997 but we kept needing to change our locations because we have not been able to afford a building of our own. In August, our pastor interviewed for the pastorate of another church outside our denomination. He made it clear that he was not interested in leaving Aspen Hills Community Church but was interested in the two churches merging with him as the senior pastor. In October, the churches came together for their first combined service at Eagan Alliance Church. In November the congregations voted and we now are members of Eagan Hills Alliance Church. God has blessed us with a very good merge. A Christmas Reading Please don’t forget this year what Christmas is all about. The gift of Jesus Christ sent to the world as a child to save us from our sins. On Christmas morning our family will read the following passages from the Bible. Perhaps you would like to do the same. Isaiah 9:6-7 Hebrews 1:5-14 Luke 2:1-20 Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I hope you found it interesting and enjoyable. I pray that God will bless you this year in many ways. If you have lost our address or phone number, here is all the pertinent information: Michael, Brenda, AriÊl, & Connor McCollum 1022 Summit Avenue South Saint Paul, MN 55075-1224 (612)451-3871

1997 Christmas