Dear companions on this journey in mission,
Grace and peace to you as October arrives. I am grateful for this space to pray through the coming month and invite you to pray with me.
I am currently teaching a seminar on eschatology in times of climate change. Eschatology is the branch of theology that studies the “last things”, including the end of time. The course has me thinking about the different ways we experience time, of which the calendar indicating that September has ended is just one way.
Here in Costa Rica, we mark time in seasons of rain and less rain. October is typically the time of the year with the heaviest rains. This year I have done somewhat better than in past years with strategies to keep my vegetable garden producing during the rainy season. My husband, Javier, built a table for my plants that we can cover when it rains. This month will be the real test.
We are all living in pandemic time these days. Costa Rica had few cases at the beginning of the pandemic, but since mid-July cases have climbed, especially in and around the capital city of San Jose. Currently there are 800 to 1,200 new cases a day in this small country of just over five million people. The daily death toll ranges from 15 to 20. The University of Costa Rica is predicting that this current wave of the epidemic will peak in mid-October. Other countries in Latin America, where many of our students live, continue to see high death rates. Almost every day brings the news of another friend or the family member of a friend who has come down with the virus.
At the Latin American Biblical University, we measure time in academic terms. We are a month into our third and last academic term of this year. The usual accumulated exhaustion of the academic year is compounded this year by the exhaustion of the pandemic. I was glad for the ways the 45 students I had last term kept me busy, but with only 12 students in my course this term I have more time for my administrative duties and for writing to friends and supporting churches, as well as for a bit of rest. Some of our students from Peru who are in residence here in Costa Rica are having a particularly difficult time as family members and friends have fallen ill and died from Covid. Please continue to pray for Martha, Slith, Isabel, Freddy, Favian and Joseline.
Those of us who are citizens of the United States are marking time in this election season. From afar, I send my encouragement to those who are marching in the streets for justice in two cities where I have ties: Louisville, where the offices of the Presbyterian Church (USA) are located; and Portland, where our daughter, Tamara, lives. I am proud of the actions of the national leaders of our denomination to affirm that Black lives matter to God and to our church. I am thankful that Oregon allows me to vote from here via e-mail. I pray for peace as people cast their ballots and the votes, all the votes, are counted.
As I close, I ask your prayers for Emanuel Mateo Dávila Guevara, who was born on September 21st. His parents, Mario and Fatima, are refugees here, university students who fled Nicaragua in 2018 after the government attacked pro-democracy protests. Though Emanuel Mateo was born slightly underweight because Fatima had Covid during the last two weeks of her pregnancy, mother and baby are doing well. We hope and pray that both Nicaragua and the United States will soon have governments dedicated to protecting the rights and responding to the needs of those on the margins.
I also want to acknowledge the gifts this pandemic time offers. We live between what was, a normal that was not life-giving for many communities or for the earth, and what might be, if we have the courage to dream and to make changes. I am also thankful for the new ways of connecting. I love zooming in for mission committee meetings and worship services. I have even made some videos! Thank you for your prayers and your ongoing support. I look forward to hearing from you.
In the hope of God’s coming Reign,