September has arrived. I can tell by the sounds of band practice coming from the nearby school as students prepare for the celebrations on September 15th, the day in 1821 when Costa Rica and the rest of Central America gained independence from Spain. Given that Costa Rica has no army, the parades and other observances here ae less militaristic than in the rest of the region.
We are in the middle of the rainy season here, though almost everyone has commented to me about the lower-than-average rainfall the central valley has received this year. The expected La Niña, the weather pattern triggered by cooling waters in the equatorial Pacific, has yet to develop this year, but rains should increase as we move into September. Javier reports that rainfall at our farm in Nicaragua has been good this year, though not near enough to refill reservoirs and rivers after two years of drought. Here is San Jose, I am clearing space in the back yard to start my vegetable garden again.
I am easing my way into the routines of the Latin American Biblical University (UBL) as I seek to overcome the exhaustion that accumulated as I traveled around the United States in recent months and mourned my father’s death. The Maya folks among whom I lived for many years in Guatemala would have wise words for me as they do for all who mourn, “Ten paciencia, be patient.” Their culture recognizes that mourning takes a long time. I need to be patient with myself and I ask you also to be patient with me as I catch up. I thank you for your continued prayers for me and my family. I am glad to be back here with students and colleagues. My husband, Javier, was waiting here in Costa Rica when I returned. Penny, the dog, and Portia, the cat, seem quite content to have me back.
Our new semester started on August 29th. I am teaching the introduction to the history of Christianity to a group of students in residence and also as a distance course for three students who live here in Costa Rica but who cannot come to class because of work and ministry commitments. As the women who are taking the class in residence have already studied some church history, we are going to be able to delve more deeply into the lives of women in the early Christian communities than is usually possible in an introductory course. I am looking forward to what new things I might learn.
At the UBL, we hold graduations throughout the year as people finish their degrees. On Wednesday, September 7, two students will be graduating, both with licentiate degrees in Biblical sciences. Julio Melara is a Lutheran pastor from El Salvador who lives serves a dynamic church in a marginalized barrio here in San Jose. Adriana Castro is a Roman Catholic nun from Costa Rica. We ask your prayers for them and their ministries.
I am also working on the programs for groups that will be visiting the UBL to learn about life and mission in this context in the next four months. There are a couple of opportunities available. A group coming in October from a church in California has opened their group up to other participants. The Peacemaking Program and Environmental Ministries of the Presbyterian Church (USA) are offering a travel seminar to Guatemala and Costa Rica in January that focuses on climate justice. Please let me know if you or a group from your church would like to come to Costa Rica to learn from us and with us here at the UBL.
The Emmaus Community, a church that meets at the UBL on Sunday evenings, has welcomed me back. I will be sharing a meditation on God’s Word as we gather around the Lord’s table on the first Sunday in September. I don’t yet know where else I might be preaching this month.
I promise you will hear more from me as I settle back into life and work here. I am looking forward to these next four years of my new appointment with Presbyterian World Mission. I am so grateful for the prayers and support that make it possible for me to serve here at the Latin American Biblical University. Thank you for walking with me.
PS I have new prayer cards with a photo that includes Javier. Let me know if you would like to have one or several.