A letter from Karla Koll in the U.S., on Interpretation Assignment from Costa Rica
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Grace and peace to you. The end of July finds me in Princeton, New Jersey. I am glad that the temperatures are dropping a bit. Folks keep assuming that because I live in Central America, I must be used to the heat. Where the Latin American Biblical University is located, in San Jose, it very rarely gets into the high 80s. Doesn’t it sound like a nice place to visit?
I am so grateful for the people who have welcomed me into their homes and the lives of their churches as I have traveled around the United States. I have been invited into the pulpit of churches I had not previously visited and I have been able to speak in churches whose prayers and gifts have sustained me through years of mission service. Everywhere I have been sharing stories of my students and the ways in which theological education is contributing to change in communities and churches in Latin America.
My travels will continue until August 17. On Wednesday, August 3, I will be at Concord Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware, to share in their morning Mug ’n Muffin Bible study, followed by a mission brunch. Then I will continue south to Ocean View, Delaware, to share with folks there on August 4 at a mission breakfast before I come back to the Princeton area. On August 7 I will be preaching at Kingston Presbyterian Church, the church my family and I often attended when we lived in Princeton.
On August 10 I will fly to Colorado Springs to spend some time helping my father’s widow. The process of mourning the loss of my father continues amid the myriad of details that require attention. I will also visit First Presbyterian Church of Pueblo on August 14, a chance for me to meet their new pastor.
I am scheduled to return to Costa Rica on August 17. My husband, Javier, who is currently in Nicaragua working on our farm, has promised to be in San Jose to welcome me back. I can’t even begin to list all of the tasks that are waiting for me. It will be good to be with my students and colleagues again. Our next semester starts on August 29. I will be exploring the history of the Christian communities in the first centuries of the Common Era with students in residence and also at a distance. I ask for your prayers as we embark on this new session of study. I am very thankful for my colleagues who have carried out my administrative tasks while I have been gone.
The documentary Poverty, Inc. takes a critical look at the poverty industry, the network of institutions supposedly dedicated to fighting poverty around the world, and asks who is profiting from anti-poverty efforts. It looks at the way the influx of aid undermines local farms and businesses in communities in several countries. Haiti, the country with the most NGOs per capita and many more children in orphanages than there are children without living parents, is a major focus of the film. Though the way the film promotes trade as the solution to poverty is simplistic, the critique of activities purported to fight poverty should prompt anyone who is working for a more just world to examine how our efforts, even our mission efforts, might actually be contributing to the impoverishment of the communities with whom we are working. I highly recommend this film for mission committees and Sunday school classes. It is available on Netflix for ordering online.
As I return to Costa Rica to resume my teaching responsibilities at the Latin American Biblical University, I want to say thank you again to all of the people and congregations who through their prayers and gifts make it possible for me to serve with Presbyterian World Mission. May we continue to walk together as we seek to be faithful to the one who announced the coming of God’s reign as good news for the impoverished.
In resurrection hope,
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