Grace and peace to you in this time of expectant waiting. The start of Advent always catches me unaware, coming as it does in the midst of final papers and year-end reports. This year seemed worse than usual, as my life has been rather out of control. But things are beginning to slow just a bit, so I have time to catch my breath and reach out to friends far way.
By the first week of October, the foul-smelling water accumulating in the backyard made it impossible for us to stay in the house where we were. Between pumping water with a hand-held electric pump and making an emergency move, two weeks of my life disappeared. I have been scrambling ever since to catch up. The new house is lovely and I am looking forward to actually having some time to organize my books once the Latin American Biblical University (UBL) closes on December 16.
In November, a small group from Ladue Chapel Presbyterian Church was scheduled to come and explore with the UBL team possibilities for future groups. The Turrialba Volcano was spewing out enough ash that American Airlines suspended their flight. We are hoping they will be able to come in February. I am glad this supporting church has decided to get to know me and the UBL better as well as to consider helping youth and adults from their congregation have an opportunity to learn about mission and ministry in this part of God’s world.
On November 14, the association that governs the UBL held its annual meeting. Thirty more people joined the assembly, a sign of the support the UBL has in the local community. The highlight of the evening was the election of our colleague Elisabeth Cook as the new president of the UBL. We are excited about the vision, energy and experience Elisabeth brings to her new position. I will write more about Elisabeth in the coming months.
The end of November found Javier and me in Panama for a meeting of the Latin American Network for Pentecostal Studies. The papers that were presented covered a wide range of topics exploring the relationship between the 1916 Panama Congress on Christian World in Latin America and the Pentecostal movement that was just beginning at that time. I enjoyed reconnecting with other researchers and forming new relationships.
The International Pentecostal-Reformed Dialogue held its third meeting at the UBL from December 1st through 7th. It was great joy to welcome my colleagues from the dialogue to our campus and introduce them to a bit of life here in Costa Rica. On Sunday, we participated in worship in the Presbyterian Church in Guacima and in the International Pentecostal Holiness Church in Santa Barbara, Heredia, both churches pastored by women who have studied at the UBL. The topic for this meeting was pneumatology and mission.
Part of the joy of living in a large house is being able to share the space with others. On December 10th Priscila Barredo, the communications director at the UBL, moved into one of the upstairs bedrooms, much to the delight of Portia, the cat. Priscila will be visiting her family in Mexico for a month over Christmas, but in January we look forward to having her here.
The UBL closes on Friday, December 16th. Students Nataly Romero and Rosa Ventura from Peru and Karen Mamani from Bolivia will be staying in the dorm during the vacation. For all of them this will be their first Christmas away from home and family, so I ask your prayers for them. The university opens again on January 16 and classes start a week later.
Tamara, our daughter, arrives here in Costa Rica on December 20 (her father’s birthday!). We are so looking forward to having her here. Now that I have a car we can explore a bit more of Costa Rica as we enjoy her company. She will be returning to Portland, Oregon on December 27th.
May the celebration of God’s coming among us fill us all with hope amid the suffering of so many who are displaced or under threat at this time. May the light that shines in the darkness burn bright in our lives and allow us to light the way for others toward fullness of life. I suspect the coming year will offer us many opportunities to stand for life and justice, no matter where we are. I am so glad to have you walking with me and I look forward to hearing from you.