A Letter from Jo Ella Holman, regional liaison for the Caribbean Region, serving in the Dominican Republic
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The season is starting to change in Louisville, Kentucky, where I have been since July 4, the air a little cooler and the days a little shorter. After four months “home alone” in the Dominican Republic in this crazy time of COVID-19, I left with my suitcases and shipped four boxes of personal items back to the U.S. It was rather nerve-wracking to fly in the middle of a pandemic, but Delta Airlines did a good job of following all the protocols, so I made it with no problems. I am staying in the wonderful Furlough Home on the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary campus, which has welcomed me twice before. I am thankful for this ministry of the women of Presbyterian congregations in Louisville who take such good care of those of us returning to the U.S. from around the world.
After 10 years of mission service as regional liaison for the Caribbean and 23 years of service to the PC(USA) in World Mission, I shall be ending service on September 17, 2020 and am looking forward to retirement. Many of you have been with me through this whole time, supporting me through your prayers, your friendship, and your financial resources. I have enjoyed the hospitality of your homes, your congregations and presbyteries. I am deeply grateful for your interest and involvement in this ministry and your care for me, personally. So many of you have called or written a note of encouragement or just to see how I was doing. And, we have worked together on many different projects and activities with PC(USA) partners in the various countries. ¡A Dios sea la Gloria!
I remember when I first started in the fall of 2010, following the excellent tenure of the Rev. Tricia Lloyd-Sidle in this position. My first 2.5 months were spent in Cuba, staying at the Seminary in Matanzas, getting to know the faculty, students, and staff, and from there visiting all three presbyteries of the Presbyterian-Reformed Church. In early January 2011, I moved to the Dominican Republic, to a small fishing village outside the airport and the capital, and from that home base I traveled the country with the leaders of the Dominican Protestant Church to get to know their church and context. Crossing the border into Haiti, I met with partners in the Episcopal Church, FONDAMA and MPP. And soon after I met leaders in CANACOM—the Caribbean North American Council for Mission—to which so many of our partner churches belong and work together regionally and ecumenically across the Caribbean, the U.S. and Canada.
Little did I know in those first couple of years just how much love would take root in my heart for the people, the churches and the places of breathtaking beauty in this Caribbean region. It was very hard to leave, but it is a new season of my life, too. I shall remain connected to the people there and hope also to you, here in the United States. You have all become my larger family in these years. For your love, friendship and for your faithfulness to this ministry, I give thanks to God.
Even though I shall no longer be serving as regional liaison for the Caribbean, the mission of God through the PC(USA) will continue with the work of our many Caribbean partners, mission co-worker Cindy Corell in Haiti and a new regional liaison, who we hope will be called early next year. Please continue to support all of them as generously and as faithfully as you have supported me.
While I’ll be ending service on September 17, 2020, World Mission is providing me continued support to help me with my re-entry and transition back to the United States through June 2021, based upon my years of service with the PC(USA). And so, I invite you to continue supporting me through your prayers and generosity as I make this transition and to continue to support the regional liaison position for the new person whom God already has in mind for this ministry.
Thank you, mil gracias, mille mercis for your ongoing love and support of the Presbyterian Church, USA and of the mission God calls us to do together in the name of Jesus Christ. I could not have done it without you! We are always better together.
I want to invite you to join me September 14, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. ET for a virtual farewell gathering being planned for me by Mission Engagement and Support and World Mission staff. Pre-registration is required at: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUvc-iopzMqGdc-MEoz0JaEeHvq8Tf1kDyc.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Friends, I am not good at good-byes, so I’ll just say Adiós, Adieu, “to God,” and hasta la vista, “until we meet again.”
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Tags: caribbean, COVID-19, discernment, goodbye, journey, ministry, pandemic, partners, retirement, support, transition, virus, voluntary leave
Tags: Jo Ella Holman
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