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A letter from Karla Koll in Guatemala

April 2012

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Greetings in this Eastertide from Quetzaltenango.

On Easter morning here the firecrackers started going off at dawn. No silent emergence from the tomb here, no quiet encounters in the garden. Christ's resurrection, like other important events, is celebrated with lots of noise. A friend here commented that more and more Roman Catholic churches are adding Easter morning processions to their Holy Week celebrations, a move away from the past's almost exclusive focus on Good Friday. Perhaps the resurrection is becoming more important in the people's religious imagination.

That morning La Prensa Libre, the leading newspaper here, carried a front-page story about other tombs that are being emptied. Since 1992 the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala has carried out 1,309 exhumations of clandestine gravesites. They have uncovered the remains of 5,708 victims of Guatemala's 40-year armed conflict: 2,973 men, 986 women and 1,749 children under 13, including newborns. The exhumations bring dignity to the victims and allow them to tell the story of the brutality they suffered, usually at the hands of the military. The testimonies of massacre survivors and the DNA of family members are being used to identify victims before reburial. The exhumations also create pressure on the Public Ministry to continue investigation of the massacres. In August of last year three former members of the elite Kabil unit of the Guatemalan army were sentenced to 6,060 years in prison each for the massacre of 210 men, women and children in the village of Dos Erres in late 1982. This was the first conviction of active military members for killing civilians during the war. Even though the administration of former general Otto Pérez Molina strives to vindicate the role of the army during th

As we move into Eastertide I continue my struggle against breast cancer. I began chemotherapy on March 28. The treatment protocol prescribed for me by the team at the UNC Cancer Center calls for four cycles of AC chemotherapy (doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide) to be given every two weeks. Then I will have 12 weekly doses of paclitaxel. If all goes according the schedule, I'll be done with chemo in early August. I'm glad to report that I did not suffer any noticeable side effects from the first round. On Easter I still had all of my hair! I have been working full time here at home. My next cycle is scheduled for April 11. I am very thankful for all of you who are accompanying me through this process with your prayers.

My husband, Javier, has been here with me through the first part of chemo. If I continue to feel well, he'll be going to Nicaragua for a couple of weeks for work on our farm. We are very lucky to have Yecenia Ixtabalan to help me here in the house. Yecenia is a professional nurse who is in her fourth year of medical studies. She's been giving me injections in addition to all the other ways she helps around here. She's having her own private crash course in oncology this year.

Meanwhile the work of CEDEPCA in mission in this challenging context continues. Women and men are learning to read the Bible in new ways. They are being equipped to serve in their communities. As my life settles into new routines for the coming months, I'll be connecting with CEDEPCA's work in different ways. I'll have more to share later.

Please do keep the notes coming. I am getting caught up on my correspondence, so please be patient. Let me know if you would like to support my family and me in other ways as we go through the different phases of treatment. And thank you again for your prayers.

Easter blessings,

Karla

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

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