Dear Friends and Family,
COVID strikes again. As I write this letter, our area of Peru – Villa El Salvador, Lima is on extreme alert as the cases of COVID have sharply risen. Efata is in total lockdown again. That means that one person per family can go out for only one hour a day between the hours of 6am to 6pm. No use of personal vehicles is allowed without special permission and again, no services other than virtual.
Two families on the Efata compound recently contracted COVID-19 but have recovered well. I have been in the States for medical reasons which I will explain further below.
The tax issue with the city is ongoing but there has been very good progress as I mentioned in my previous letter. As of right now, we have paid down approximately $6,000.00 of the $20,000 bill. We have had several churches help with this and our own church in Peru, Efata Baptist Church was able to raise over $1000 for the initial payment. We continue to solicit the city to unfreeze our bank account. Pray that this happens soon. Please pray that we can raise the final $14,000 to pay this off. Once that is done, we will be able to maintain the new regular monthly payments with the provision of the Lord.
Until we were shut down again, we were still seeing people saved and baptized, having weddings, and baby dedications, and receiving new members into the church. Currently, my staff of National pastors and leaders are preaching, discipling and having Sunday School via Zoom or live stream.
Joel and Jessica had birthdays recently, with Joel turning fifteen and Jessica thirteen. It so wonderful to see our children grow. Joy has completed her High School and has applied to Baptist College of Ministry in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, to begin classes this fall. We are so proud of the wonderful young lady she has become. Jared is now in the Space Force and Judson is still overseas with the Marines. Joseph and James and their families are currently on deputation and Julianne and family are doing well in LaBelle, Florida. The kids at home—Joy, John, Joel, Jessica and Jennifer—are doing well.
I have been in the States for a few weeks being attended by the VA for some upper and lower back issues. After consultation with my Primary Care doctor, the VA has referred me to Community Care where I am currently being attended by a local surgeon. He has ordered five weeks of intense therapy, a lower back MRI and has referred me to another doctor for my shoulder pain. Due to this, I have decided to bring my family back to Fort Myers so Lisa can help me with this and the family can be together.
I will not be able to travel far from Fort Myers during this time as I will be in physical therapy two to three days a week. After the therapy, the surgeon will determine if I need surgery.
While I am here, I will be in constant contact working with my national leaders via Zoom meetings. I will also be filling in for the Pastor at LaBelle Baptist Temple for a few weeks as he has just undergone hip replacement surgery and will be out of the pulpit for several weeks. What a blessing to be able to return to the church where I was the assistant pastor before being called to missions and serve them in this way. I will also be filling in for another pastor in March for a week and visiting local supporters and reporting.
Bro. Joe & Lisa,
Joy, John, Joel, Jessica, and Jennifer