The Guardian had written to the London Baha'is in January 1923 expressing his need for a 'competent assistant in my translation work'[Priceless Pearl, p. 91] but no one had responded to the appeal. Advised to leave Scotland before the onset of winter, John[Esslemont] received an invitation from the Guardian to come to Haifa, which he gladly accepted. He arrived in the Holy Land on 21 November 1924.
John immediately began Persian lessons. In November he helped the Guardian translate the Tablet of Ahmad and by December he was reading and translating extracts from Nabil's Narrative. In February 1925 he assisted Shoghi Effendi to translate the Hidden Words and other passages from the Writings of Baha'u'llah. Concerned with the burden of work placed on the young Guardian, John was anxious to be of whatever service he could. When the Guardian asked him to make Haifa his home, John quickly agreed. By February 1925 he was acting as Shoghi Effendi's English-language secretary. Shortly afterwards, however, his health deteriorated again. An attack of pleurisy, a complication of his tuberculosis, put him in hospital for more than two weeks in March.
During his illness, Martha Root came to Haifa as a pilgrim. She and Dr Esslemont spent time together studying Esperanto. She found his book to be an excellent teaching tool and she believed him to be a great scholar. (Barron Harper, 'Lights of Fortitude', p. 82)