A letter from Karla Koll in Guatemala
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Greetings in this Eastertide from Guatemala! I hope this note finds each of you living in the joy of the resurrection even as we work for abundant life for all.
May seems to be getting away from me. My workload at CEDEPCA has eased a bit, but there are still not enough hours in a day. Recently I also have been slowed down by my first-ever bout with amoebas. Nasty! But I hope to be better very soon.
The big news this month, of course, is our daughter Tamara’s graduation from the Inter-American School on Friday, May 27. Her exams are done, so it’s time to celebrate. My brother, Gary, is coming in from San Francisco on Wednesday, May 25. After the party on Friday, we’re going to travel to San Bartolome de las Casas, just over the border in Mexico. I’m going to take a few days off to enjoy this family time. Gary will fly home on Friday, June 3.
Tamara has decided to enroll in Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Reed was her first choice and she’s very excited to be part of that intellectual community. She and I will be traveling to the United States at the end of July to spend some time with my dad and his wife before college starts. There will be some time to see friends and visit churches as well.
The semester at CEDEPCA comes to an end on June 11. Classes have gone well. Some students have dropped out, mainly because of work commitments. It is hard for people to make time to study when they are working and caring for a family. I give thanks for the questions that have been asked, new insights that have been gained, and the glimpses of God’s Reign that have been seen. Thanks for your support that makes these theology classes possible.
The CEDEPCA family will be part of a special celebration on June 12 as Emerson Morales, the coordinator of the Intercultural Encounters program, marries Evelyn Perez. Please join us in praying for Emerson and Evelyn as they begin their life together as a married couple.
CEDEPCA will be receiving three groups in June. The first is from Greater Atlanta Presbytery. They will be followed by a group of pharmacy students from Texas Tech University. At the end of the month a group from Peaks and New Covenant presbyteries are coming as part of CEDEPCA’s ongoing 25th anniversary celebration. Both presbyteries have had longstanding mission partnerships with CEDEPCA.
We are also gearing up for the next intensive course on indigenous and Afro-Caribbean spiritualities. The intensive part of the course will be June 20–24, but the preparatory sessions have already started. The course has attracted some folks who haven’t taken classes with us before. I’ll be assisting the professor for the course, Herbert Alvarez, a Maya scholar and theologian who teaches at the Rafael Landivar University. I’m looking forward to all that I and the students will learn from Herbert. We are hoping this course will help open people’s minds and be a contribution to interculturalism here in Guatemala.
The rains have started, but thus far they haven’t been very heavy. There has been some local flooding and some landslides. We at CEDEPCA continue to hope the rains won’t be very heavy even as we prepare to help communities facing disasters.
On Friday, May 6, CEDEPCA held its biannual assembly and elected a new board of directors. In this letter I want to introduce you to Joel Maldonado, the Church of God pastor who has taken on the task of serving as CEDEPCA’s president for the next two years. I’ve had the privilege of having Joel as a student in my theology classes over the past several years. I’ve learned a great deal from his gentle pastoral ways and his theological insights.
Joel is from San Antonio, Suchitepequez. As a child he attended a Presbyterian church, but after the death of his parents and then the uncle who was caring for him, when he was 14 his older brother brought him to Guatemala City to study. The pastor of the nearby Church of God reached out to him. Joel graduated from the seminary of the Church of God in 1994. The next year he started working as a pastor and as a professor in the seminary. For seven years he served as part of a pastoral team in zone 18, working with at-risk children. From 2003 to 2008 Joel worked as the administrative director of the Church of God seminary. Since 2009 he has been pastoring in a working-class neighborhood in zone 12. Joel started taking classes at CEDEPCA in 2004. He was looking to feed his faith and his ministry with perspectives beyond what his denomination’s seminary offered. Joel and his wife, Alfa Natalia Delgado, have two daughters. Dulce Natalia, who is 12, and Alfa Rebeca, who is 8.
Joel asked me to share the following prayer requests. His oldest daughter is entering adolescence, a difficult time for both her and her parents. Joel asks for wisdom. He also asks prayers for his ministry, that he might be sensitive to the needs of the people in the conflicted congregation he is now serving. And, of course, he asks for prayers for CEDEPCA’s new board, that they will be able to face the challenges ahead in a proactive way so that God can continue to use CEDEPCA to work for God’s Reign in Central America.
This month I want to introduce you to the work of Julia Esquivel, a Guatemalan poet I had the privilege of getting to know several years ago when she lived a few blocks from us in Managua, Nicaragua. At that time Julia was in exile. She studied theology at the Latin American Biblical Seminary in Costa Rica, the institution that today is the Latin American Biblical University, at a time when few women were studying theology. Speaking out of her deep faith, she has been a consistent voice of peace here in Guatemala. I don’t get to see her very often, but I always appreciate her deep insights. Several collections of her poems are available in English or in bilingual editions. In this time of Eastertide, as violence continues here in Guatemala, I find myself turning again and again to her poem “Threatened with Resurrection,” which reads in part:
What doesn’t let us sleep
Is that we have been threatened with resurrection!
Because at each sunset,
worn out from retelling the stories
over and over again since 1954,
we still continue to love life
and we don’t accept its death!
In this Eastertide, may we all feel the threat of resurrection.
Mailing address (for letters and cards):
Karla Ann Koll
P.O. Box 526125
Miami, FL 33152-6125
PS: 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.
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 286
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