A letter from Karla Koll in Costa Rica
Dear companions in mission,
Greetings in Jesus' name from Costa Rica.
It's already the middle of November! The days are going by very quickly here as I continue to settle in to my new duties at the Latin American Biblical University. On November 13, I delivered my first public lecture on an intercultural reading of the history of world Christianity. Now that initiation rite is over, I have officially arrived at the university.
My work is quite intense at the moment. With the five students in the history of Christianity class, I have explored the first ten centuries of Christianity. The students have been very engaged. They bring their intellectual curiosity along with their experience in a variety of Christian traditions. We have just three more weeks of class before the bimester ends on December 6. Most of the international students will leave after classes end, though some don't have resources to travel home for Christmas.
In the first part of next year, I will be teaching three distance courses. However, I need to have the syllabi and materials prepared before the university closes on December 13. So I will be very busy in the coming weeks. The faculty and staff will celebrate the closing of the academic and work year with an outing to a thermal spring.
My husband Javier was here last week. I so appreciate his support for my work here. He'll be back at the end of November so that we can turn in our request for residency to immigration authorities here. We hope that process goes smoothly. Once we turn our papers in, we should be able to come and go from Costa Rica without any problem.
Our daughter Tamara arrives from Portland on December 19. She has been enjoying her junior year at Reed College. We are looking forward to exploring more of Costa Rica while she is here. We'll have a quiet family Christmas. Tamara will be here until January 20. If you have something you would like to send us with Tamara, please write to me, and I'll send you her mailing address.
Friends are starting to find their way to Costa Rica. Recently I spent a Saturday morning with Charlene Moss, a friend from doctoral studies in Princeton who was visiting Costa Rica on a vacation with her family. A friend from Guatemala has let me know he'll be in the country for a meeting at the beginning of December. I hope to see many more friends here. Our guest room is waiting.
The history of Christianity students recently watched The Name of the Rose, the 1986 film based on Humberto Eco's novel to introduce them to the theological controversies of the fourteenth century. The film reflects the sexism of the age. We discussed the debates in the film about poverty in light of actions by the new pope. Is the church called to be poor? The film also raises questions about the relationship of science to theology, as well the role of fear and laughter in faith. It you haven't seen it, I recommend it.
This month I ask your prayers for my colleague Nidia Fonseca. Her father died last week. Nidia, a Costa Rican, was also a student at the Latin American Biblical Seminary in 1984 when I was here. She teaches pastoral ministry courses and directs the Biblical Pastoral Institute, the UBL's non-university program that operates in many countries throughout Latin America. Nidia is a pastor in the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Costa Rica.
In this month of Thanksgiving, I am grateful to be alive one year after finishing treatment for breast cancer. I am also grateful for each one of you in my life and on this journey in mission. Thank you for your prayers, your communications and your gifts. Your support makes my mission service here in Costa Rica possible.
Rev. Dr. Karla Ann Koll
Universidad Biblica Latinoamericana
San Jose, COSTA RICA