A letter from Karla Koll in Guatemala
Dear sisters and brothers,
Greetings on this second Sunday of Advent. Mornings are now quite chilly here in Quetzaltenango. Already we have had frost several times. Officials here are predicting more cold than usual over the next few months. But the rains have finally stopped. However, severe weather continues elsewhere. Heavy rains in Colombia have claimed 174 lives and left a 1.5 million homeless.
At the Evangelical Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America (CEDEPCA), our activities are winding down as we come to the end of the year. Classes have ended, though students still are working on final papers. It’s not been an easy year for the Biblical and Theological Training program, but we have made important steps toward strengthening the program. We’ve set our academic calendar for next year and we are moving forward in faith. Classes will start in February. I’ll be continuing as interim academic dean into next year as we continue to reorganize the program. Thank you for your ongoing prayer support for me and the CEDEPCA team.
Work on the reorganization of CEDEPCA’s library continues. We’ve just hired David Hernandez, a Presbyterian pastor and former student at CEDEPCA, to be our academic registrar and librarian (more about David below). In recent days David and I have made purchases to strengthen our library collection. Soon we will have a good theological reference library at the service not only of CEDEPCA, but of the broader community as well. On December 8 and 9, Alvaro Perez, the librarian of the Latin American Biblical University (UBL) in Costa Rica, will be visiting CEDEPCA to advise us on the organization of the library. Alvaro was just starting as the librarian at what was then the Latin American Biblical Seminary (SBL) when I was student there in 1984. Alvaro is a good friend and I’m looking forward to the help he can give us with the library. We are also going to have a meeting of all of our professors while Alvaro is with us.
On December 10, I’ll be traveling to Poptun in the Peten for one last meeting with students there. The visit I had planned to make to Poptun in September coincided with the arrival of Tropical Storm Mateo, so I didn’t make the trip. Students are finishing a class on mission with me and another class on liturgy. I’m looking forward to being with them again.
The CEDEPCA staff will be having our Christmas gathering on December 14. We’re going to escape from the office for a morning of games and sharing in Antigua before a nice lunch. We’ll be giving thanks to God for all that we have been able to do this year with the support of friends in many other places. I’ll be heading home to Quetzaltenango that day right after lunch.
On December 15 our daughter, Tamara, turns 18. I find it hard to believe that I’m now the mother of an adult, but such is life. I feel incredibly blessed that this wonderful young woman is part of our lives. Between student council and college applications, she’s keeping herself busy these days.
Javier, my husband, finished his licenciatura thesis in political science two weeks ago, only to discover that he has to jump through several bureaucratic hoops before he can actually turn it in. He has to wait until the university opens again in January to get the forms and approvals that he needs. He is in Nicaragua at the moment, checking on the farm and visiting his family. He has promised to be back in time for Tamara’s birthday.
We are planning a quiet Christmas here in Quetzaltenango. Tamara really wants to spend her last Christmas before graduation with her friends here. I spend so little time at home these days I am looking forward to having three weeks to be with my family, to cook, and to play with the dogs, as well as to do some writing. I will also have more time for correspondence. At the moment it looks like I’ll start back at the CEDEPCA office in Guatemala City on January 6.
I’m very pleased to be able to introduce you to David Hernandez this month. I met David soon after I came to Guatemala in 2000. He’s a member of Occidente Presbytery and at that time he was helping the presbytery with leadership education. I’ve always been impressed with David’s capacity for reflection. He has worked for a variety of religious and secular organizations, mostly in community education but also in projects and filing systems. I saw him at a meeting about three months ago and learned that he had been unemployed all this year. At CEDEPCA it was becoming increasingly clear that we needed more help in reorganizing the Biblical and Theological Training Program. We were looking for someone who understands theology and education as well as filing systems. David graduated from the Evangelical Presbyterian Seminary in the late 1980s and has taken university-level classes at CEDEPCA over the years. His love for theology and books is evident. CEDEPCA hired David for a month, November 10 to December 10, to organize the program’s files and to begin to bring some order to the books and journals in the library. The decision has been made to hire him full time for the coming year.
David is married to Ruth Oroxon. They have three daughters: Liset (20), Lisbeth (15) and Paula (14). They live in Villa Nueva, a municipality that is south of Guatemala City but part of the greater metro area. He asks for prayers for his family. But he especially asks for prayers for CEDEPCA, that we will soon have a functioning library that pastors and others will come and use.
We at CEDEPCA are looking forward to the coming year with a lot of hope, even in the midst of the violence and problems that plague Guatemala. We are excited about the classes we will be offering. We also have a lot of work to do to get the word out to people who might be interested in studying theology in an interdenominational setting. Please pray with us that we’ll have the students we need to keep the program going in the coming year. Thanks for your support.
Wishing you Christmas joy,
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 286
Mailing address (for letters and cards):
Karla Ann Koll
P.O. Box 526125
Miami, FL 33152-6125
P.S. If you would like to send something to us, please let me know in advance so I can advise you on the best way to send items.