Last April, I had the pleasure of meeting two of my favorite people…Connie and Mark Garrett. They rolled up to the barn, where we do Young Life, in a red convertible top down. Their daughter, Kathryn, was with them, and they strolled into the barn like the three musketeers. We were having a garage sale fundraising event, and they were there to check out what we had. Without saying much, they walked out with a bounce house (for the neighbor kids) and some other things that I’m sure they didn’t need and were willing to do what they could to show support for our ministry. Next to Kathryn, in the back seat, they stuffed the oversized box with the bounce house that I’m sure they didn’t really need and rolled off into a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I was intrigued by this trio who stopped by our event that didn’t serve their adult daughter.
This encounter, through their neighbor Nikki (whose kids are too old for the bounce house too), blossomed into a beautiful friendship. We met for lunch with Ryan and Nikki two months later, and over salad and pizza they asked how they could be a part of our ministry. I mentioned that we would love a home for our junior high students to meet for Campaigners every other week. Connie immediately said, “Well, you could do it at my house.” I was speechless. I wanted to ask her if she was sure; I mean, how many people INVITE 80 junior high kids into their home every other week, willingly? (And they don’t have kids in the ministry). But Connie and Mark were serious and with a spirit of yes, have hosted our Wyld Life Ministry with utter joy every other week. Connie has candy and cupcakes on holidays, and she’s so excited to share her home so kids can talk about Jesus together. Mark and Kathryn usually arrive home from work when we are there, and they treat us like family.
Connie and Mark are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, and it’s an honor to have them and Kathryn a part of our Wyld Life Family. Their love has overflowed into many blessings for others, and their love is exactly how Jesus intends for us to love- big, abundantly, overflowing, sacrificial, and joyfully. Happy Anniversary, Connie and Mark. We are incredibly thankful for you and Kathryn and your sweet pups. May your love continue to grow for each other, Kathryn, and Jesus.
Here are some messages from our Young Life & Wyld Life Family:
Mark and Connie- Happy Anniversary! Thank you so much for all of your support of Young Life and Wyld Life in our community. Your hospitality, generosity, and love is so appreciated. Thanks for loving kids so well and pointing them to Christ. I hope you enjoy your special day together. -Ryan Ahlwardt
Connie and Mark- 25 years of marriage is such an accomplishment! You two are such an inspiration and living model of doing life God’s way. Thank you for sharing yourselves and home with us. May you be blessed with another 25 years of marital happiness. -Lori Trulock
Connie and Mark- Happy 25th Anniversary! Thank you for letting us use your house to share Christ in junior high kids’ lives. Your welcoming spirit every week keeps all of the leaders and kids coming back. I hope this is the best anniversary yet. -Anne Kleinrichert
Thank you so much for opening your home to us. Your willingness to give what you have for God’s glory is so inspiring. Jesus has truly been working in the leaders’ lives and all the junior high kids’ hearts all in the midst of your home! This ministry would not be complete without the two of you! I’m praying that the supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit will be made known throughout your house, marriage, and family. I know God looks down and celebrates this day with you both, and that reminds Him of why He created mankind and said, “It was good.” Thank you and Happy Anniversary! -Chloe Green
Connie and Mark- Oh holy are we thankful for you and your hospitality. Just a few of my favorite things: 1. We’re always greeted with smiles and hugs. 2. You shine your love for Jesus. 3. Your sacrificial graciousness is beautiful. 4. You treat us like we’ve been friends for 20 years. 5. Even if we accidentally break the bed, you keep welcoming us back. Thank you so much! -Sarah Wright
Connie and Mark- Happy Anniversary, guys! Thank you for all that you have done for Wyld Life! Most parents wouldn’t trust their house to a bunch of junior high kids, but since you guys do that just makes you 10 times more awesome! Congratulations again! -Katy Puzzella
Thank you for opening up your house on Wednesdays to be a place where we can go and do life with our junior high friends. They home-y atmosphere you allow us to make for those kids is really special. Thank you for being so generous with sharing your home with us! -Zach Mutchner