A letter from Karla Koll in Guatemala
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
December has come, bringing chilly winds and hard frosts here to the western highlands. The rainy season has ended. The corn has been harvested and the fields lie fallow, waiting for the next cycle of life and life-giving to begin.
I have been back in Guatemala just over a month. I still feel like I'm moving at about half-speed most of the time, but I hope the fatigue will soon subside. The radiation burns have healed. And my hair is coming back in, for which I am grateful, though I still miss my long hair. This year of dealing with cancer is ending at last.
At CEDEPCA the program year has come to an end. I'll be traveling to Guatemala City this week and next to participate in planning for my work next semester with the Biblical and Theological Formation and with the Intercultural Encounters programs. Our annual staff Christmas gathering will be December 13 and 14 in Antigua. Rejoice with us as we celebrate the work that CEDEPCA was able to do this year.
Since the November 7th earthquake that struck western Guatemala the Disaster Ministry of CEDEPCA has been exploring needs in affected communities. A team of four psychologists under the leadership of Ana Paxtor will be working with the 3,577 people who are currently in shelters in the departments of Quetzaltenango and San Marcos. They will be working with adults and children on psychosocial recovery. Lots of food and other goods have been donated to help those left homeless, though some isolated communities are not receiving aid. The government is making a big show of starting to rebuild some houses. However, little attention is being given to the psychological and spiritual needs of the affected population. The CEDEPCA ministry is scheduled to work two weeks in December and continue through January and February. Please accompany Ana and her team with your prayers.
The end of the academic year brings Lyz de Guerrz back to Guatemala after 10 months of studies at the Latin American Biblical University in Costa Rica. Lyz has finished her bachelor's degree in biblical sciences as well as completed her course work for the next degree, a licenciate, also in Bible. Thank you for the prayers that have supported Lyz along the way. Her family is looking forward to having her back.
Our daughter, Tamara, is finishing the first semester of her sophomore year at Reed College. At the moment she is busy writing her final papers. Her finals will be done by the time she turns 20 on December 15. She's still excited about studying history and literature.
My husband, Javier, and I are flying to Colorado Springs on December 18. We'll spend Christmas with my dad and his wife. Tamara will join us there. We are looking forward to a nice family time after the struggles of this year. My brother, Gary, will also be with us for a few days. We are hoping for snow, but not too much. On December 27 the three of us will return to Guatemala. Tamara will be here with us until the end of January.
December marks the 16th anniversary of the signing of the peace accords that brought an end to the almost four decades of armed conflict here in Guatemala. I invite you to watch a new documentary film by Pamela Yates, "Granito: How to Nail a Dictator." The film looks at the long struggle to bring those responsible for the genocide here in Guatemala to trial. The title refers to a grain of sand. None of us can bring the changes that are needed to end impunity in Guatemala on our own, but we each have something to contribute. The film highlights the efforts of several Guatemalans who are working to bring justice for the victims of state-sponsored repression. These folks, and others as well, inspire me every day as I live here. "Granito" also explores the role of documentary filmmaking in the struggle for human rights. The film can be ordered at http://skylightpictures.com/films/granito.
Advent has started. A new liturgical year has begun. As Christians, we begin each year in expectation, waiting and watching for God to act in our lives in the world. We can wait with joy, even as we stand alongside those who are suffering, because we know that God is with us. Let us welcome Emmanuel once again.
Our mailing address in Colorado:
Karla Ann Koll
2490 Marston Heights
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 6
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 16
Read more about Karla Ann Koll's ministry