I did not get a letter written in time for CVM to prepare and send it prior to Christmas; in fact, I technically didn’t get it submitted in time for them to send it in January, but those gracious and hard-working folks made it happen, and we thank God for them. Here is an advance copy of the letter that you will receive if you have signed up in the past:
To Our Beloved Family and Friends, and to Those Who Have United Themselves to Christ Alongside Us –
Because we have temporarily transferred from full-time fieldworker to affiliates with Christian Veterinary Mission, we have not been writing monthly prayer letters until it is time to prepare to head back overseas. In the meantime, we’ll only write occasionally via CVM’s letter system. I (John) will hopefully be more active on our blog, which is located at www.thecoatneys.com. If you like, you can subscribe to the blog, so that you’re notified via email when I publish a new post. The subscribe feature can be found on the homepage’s right-hand column.
I’m writing on December 15; this letter will therefore reach you after Christmas day, but likely before the end of the Christmas season (i.e., during the last half of the 12 Days of Christmas), on the Feast of Theophany, or Epiphany in the West. I pray that you all have had a blessed holiday season and a blessed celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord, and that continues in the celebration of his baptism and/or the visit of the Magi.
I’m sorry that we haven’t been in closer or at least more consistent contact. I acknowledge that the combination of doubling our family in 2019, moving to Ethiopia, being compelled to come back to the States, and being unable to return while watching many suffer whom we’ve come to love has thrown me for a loop. I find myself more easily distracted, more prone to despair or self-pity. I find the routine exercise of thanksgiving a useful and live-giving balm, but alas, one that I fail to practice as consistently or sincerely as would most benefit me.
We are currently renting the parsonage owned by Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, the parish here in Ames. It’s a lovely home, in an ideal location, and we are blessed and grateful for it, and for the parish. The project funding my salary at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and the National Institute for Anti-Microbial Resistance Research and Education (NIAMRRE) has been extended until the end of 2023, and so we will remain in Ames at least that long. It pains me to report that my PhD thesis has continued to drag on. I had hoped and scheduled its completion and defense at the end of November, but some of the data analysis required that I extend it until (hopefully) the end of February. Significant progress has certainly been made over the past year, and there is a beautiful light at the end of the tunnel.
News from Ethiopia contains a glimmer of hope, as a peace deal was signed between two of the warring parties in early November. It remains to be seen whether or to what extent the deal will be upheld, though, and in the meantime war, famine, and suffering continues. Please pray for peace and the relief of suffering in Ethiopia. I may be able to make a trip this spring if the situation allows for it; I will certainly keep you all posted.
Meanwhile, the boys are thriving and Kristen’s schooling has borne much fruit. Charlie (3rd grade) has become an avid and advanced reader; Easton (1st grade) has the mind and passion of an engineer – a builder with remarkable talent and insight, as well as a natural athlete. Judah (Kindergarten) is our ladies’ man and gifted snuggler, and Titus (3 y.o.) is as tough as nails and determined to keep up with the brothers. Activities abound, including P.E. and enrichment classes, sports of all kinds (Jiu Jitsu, soccer, flag football, T-ball, basketball), 4-H, and piano lessons.
We love you all. We pray for you every evening. Your support and love and encouragement mean more to us that words can say.
Thank you for all you do for us,
- John, Kristen, Charlie, Easton, Judah, and Titus