Dear Ministry Partners,
Thank you for making praying for our special needs a priority, and we have some good news. Though they were about 11 weeks late in doing so, the Ministry of Labor finally turned the letter officially granting us a renewed work permit exemption over to Brother Harmon this week. That being the case, barring any unforeseen barrier, we’ll be returning to Jamaica to continue the work in early April after having participated in a couple more mission conferences, helped Tammy’s sister deal with the long term needs of their aging father, and Tammy’s having finished her scheduled doctor’s appointments.
Though we’re relieved to have the paperwork that will make getting our visas possible, our time stateside has been challenging. We had a great mission conference weekend in Ames Iowa, and my (John’s) knee surgery the following week was successful, but before the night of the surgery was over, I had strep throat. The antibiotic I was prescribed knocked that out in about 10 days, but the cough continued for the three weeks following finally developing into bronchitis this weekend. I’m now on a steroid that we hope will knock out the bronchitis fast because we have two mission conferences and the ordination of a staff member from our sending church to participate in over next three weeks.
The dramatic changes in climate have also had Tammy under the weather off and on. That we get back to 100% before hitting the road this weekend will be necessary for our making the expected contributions to the assignments ahead of us.
Though Tammy and I have been limping through this brief stint in the States, the folks at Grace Baptist in Mandeville are doing well. Brother Smith communicated that the attendance has stayed, for the most part, in the mid-to-upper teens, and we haven’t heard anything to the effect that anyone has been dissatisfied with his preaching. That’s important, because, as I mentioned in an earlier letter, we’re praying that the Lord would put a man like Brother Smith and the church together so that the church could become truly indigenous again.
That said, as soon as we get back, we’re going to need to begin making the improvements on the property for which some of you have made contributions so as to leave it as close to maintenance free as is possible for the church and future pastor. Thank you for that investment, and please pray that the Lord will give us wisdom concerning who should do the work and exactly what should be done, because we will not just be repairing what’s there, but will be making some creative changes to the house (The original church building) to make it functional and, again, maintenance free.
Our absence from Grace right now is very important. In just the few months since we’ve been in Mandeville, the Lord has already blessed the church with a stability that it has lacked for some time, but it is very important that the congregation fix its sights on replacing me with a Jamaican pastor. The church is sufficiently mature to thrive without a missionary-pastor, but the motivation, given their past experience, is, understandably, not quite there yet. It’s our hope that this short period under Brother Smith’s preaching will, at the very least, move the needle in that direction. Thank you for praying that the Lord will achieve what, from our perspective, seems more than can be expected.
John & Tammy Cooley, Jamaica