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A letter from Karla Koll in Guatemala

March 2012

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Grace and peace to you in this time of Lent as we reflect on the brokenness of the world and our need for God's saving action in our own lives.

These days at the beginning of March find me in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where I am enjoying the highly variable weather of early spring. Each day brings me a bit closer to a treatment plan and my return to Guatemala.

On February 29 I had appointments with the team of doctors and nurses at the UNC Cancer Center who are working on my case. Not all the pathology reports were done at that time, so I went back to the medical oncologist on March 5. Dr. Muss laid out the plans for the chemotherapy that I need, which I will receive in Quetzaltenango. I will also need radiation treatments that are not available in Quetzaltenango, so I will be evaluating in the coming months if I do the radiation treatments in Guatemala City or back here in Chapel Hill.

There has been, however, one bump in the road toward a treatment plan. The doctors here have decided that they want a biopsy of a cluster of calcifications in my remaining breast. So I will be heading into the operating room on March 9 for an outpatient procedure. The pathology report on the biopsy will be available a few days later.

So I won't be returning to Guatemala as soon as I had planned. The good news is that this provides me with more opportunities to work with the wonderful occupational therapist here who is helping me regain complete use of my left arm. I hope to return to Guatemala around March 20. This also gives me more weekends to be involved in services at University Presbyterian Church and Chapel in the Pines as well as a Hispanic congregation in Durham.

These days here have been full of wonderful gifts. I am very grateful for the care I am receiving from folks in both churches here, including great meals and walks in the woods. Each day brings more gifts: e-mail messages, cards in the regular mail, a box of books, a prayer shawl, and phone calls, some from friends with whom I haven't spoken in many years. In your care for me I sense God's care for all of us. Please keep the messages coming. Thank you. Muchas gracias.

My father and his wife came all the way from Colorado Springs to spend one day with me. They enjoyed worshipping with the congregation of Chapel in the Pines in their beautiful new building. I think they left convinced both that I am feeling fine and that I am in good hands.

There are, of course, lonely moments. My husband, Javier, is in Nicaragua, working hard on the farm. It's hard to communicate with him. He's not here to learn all about this disease and what it means for our lives in the coming months and years. Cancer is a family affair. We'll have a lot of catching up to do when we are both once again in Quetzaltenango.

My colleagues at CEDEPCA are very busy this month. In addition to the ongoing classes, the Intercultural Encounters program is hosting several groups going to Guatemala to learn about the context and the struggles of women and men to be faithful to Jesus Christ. The Women's Pastoral Program celebrated World Day of Prayer on Friday, March 2, with participation by many women in Central America and Mexico. I am accompanying CEDEPCA's work from afar, grateful for the Skype conversations that keep me connected.

God's mission goes on and God calls each one of us, wherever we are and whatever our circumstances, to be involved. I'm living this call in new ways these days and I'm glad you are walking with me as you seek to live out your own callings.



P.S.  Do write if you would like my U.S. phone number and/or mailing address. There's still time to reach me in North Carolina.

The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 6

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