Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I apologize for the long delay in updating my journal entry.
In brief, I concentrated my ministry in meeting with the Editorial Group three times in which we decided to write about Christian ethics (in contrast to societal norms), assigned the lessons and began some of the editorial work.We are hampered by communication difficulties (lack of phone and e-mail connections, although this has gradually improved) and lack of equipment for our two editors.
For the seminary, I participated in the interviews of the student candidates.This is a serious business since the seminary is full-scholarship, they want to be sure to accept only those who show convincing evidence of a pastoral call.There continues to be a great need for pastors.At the convention level, my husband and I directed one of the summer older youth retreats.
We were also blessed with visits from partners.One was a work tour group, mostly youth from Hamilton, Ohio, who participated in some of our church activities and helped us out with materials for VBS.Our other visit was from Dr. Max Hill, pastor of our partner church Clarksburg Baptist, was able to spend a few days with us.
At the La Caoba Baptist Church which my husband pastors I continued to teach adult Sunday School, and work in Christian education.We baptized five persons in December.We also had one of our members living with us for about a month when she was released from the hospital burn ward.You may continue to pray for her as she is still receiving treatments to diminish the scar tissue damage.
On a personal level, we were able to squeeze in a family visit to coincide with the home assignment of my sister Debbie Coats and her family, so our daughter got to meet her American cousins for the first time.My husband's grandmother died after a long illness and that necessitated several trips to another province.We are comforted knowing that she had accepted Christ a few years earlier.
This year has held a number of challenges for me health-wise.At the New Year´s Eve service I felt ill and two weeks later I turned yellow - hepatitis! The last two weeks of my parents´visit I spent in the hospital, total bed rest!
I felt better and began teaching English at the seminary, only to later have to cancel out as my liver test numbers started rising instead of going down.My husband and I began preparing for all the paperwork for traveling - for home assignment to begin in July.However, in one of my follow-up visits to the doctor they discovered "something" that wasn't right in the left lower abdomen.
I spent one month in the hospital, between tests and surgery.I just want to share with you our praise for God's goodness to us during this whole time: his constant presence, the concern of others, emotional support from church family and friends.In all my meditations, I've concluded that probably they'd never have found the abdominal mass early on if I'd not had hepatitis.(And I was complaining to God about being sick, one thing after the other.)The medical care here is good, my surgeon excellent and I have recovered well-doing chores and running after our not-quite-three-year-old among other things.We also praise God that the mass was benign and was completely removed.We chose to put off home assignment until next year to give me more recuperation time, but you may begin praying now for visas and permissions!
Despite my health difficulties, we have held 3 Sunday School editorial group meetings so far this year and are now finishing off the lessons on Christian ethics.We praise the Lord that we were able to acquire a computer for one of our editors (with your mission giving) and this has helped immensely; we continue working on the possibility of another.
We also met two work tour groups this year from First Baptist, Boise, Idaho, and First Baptist, Pomona, California.Some of the Boise group helped us in our VBS and shared materials for it as well.Pomona brought some Spanish Christian videos for us, which are a big hit.We share them in different settings in our community as well as with other churches.We are always so encouraged to see you!
In the La Caoba church we have begun an intentional discipleship program.We are receiving training and must meet with our disciple (or disciples) once a week in order to give them a firm foundation.Before evangelistic crusades resulted in many professions of faith but afterwards few of these people remained.We are currently discipling 20 persons, some older, some junior high students.I'm working with a young mother.My helper (disciple-in-training) alternates between participating in the conversation and study to doing childcare so the mother can concentrate.We are pleased with her interest and progress so far.Please pray for these 20 new Christians and for the disciplers, too.
We do so appreciate your financial and prayer support.God is changing lives here and you are part of it!Please continue to keep the Eastern Cuba Baptist Convention in your prayers, the pastors and lay leaders, the Sunday School curriculum writers group, and us!
On a personal note, Katy is growing quickly and loves to sing.She learns music quite quickly (she'll return from church singing a new song).And I am thankful that she's speaking more English!She seems not to have suffered for my absences this year, for which I am also thankful.As with any Christian parent, we are struggling to establish her firmly in Christ-like practices and attitudes even though the larger society promotes other values.You may keep this in your prayers, too!
Once again, we thank you for your faithful support.
Sue Hegarty, with Ramon Rodríguez and Katy