The unfortunate dog attack

A quick update by Rochelle of yesterday’s unfortunate incident:

Gustavo was asked to give a leadership conference over the weekend and generously the whole family was invited as well.  We drove almost 3 hours south to Ciudad Bolivar out into the most beautiful countryside and stayed in a big house on a finca (a ranch of sorts with cows, houses, a goat, fishing ponds, a nearby river and a pool).

Sunday late afternoon during the break from the conference, we were all swimming in the refreshing river.  Natalie and I decided to return to the finca walking up a hill a few hundred yards long.  As we reached the top of the hill, a dog who was tied up near the caretaker’s house got loose and ran after us.  Before we knew what was going on, the dog had bit Natalie in the lower leg.  She began to cry and scream and as I turned around to see what was going on and to help, the dog attacked my leg and then turned around and attacked Natalie’s other leg.  I yelled at her to run, I tried to beat off the dog with my pants (we were both in wet bathing suits) but not before he clawed and gauged the same leg.  Finally, the owner approached and the dog was pulled away.  Sometime in the chaos, I twisted my ankle on my hurt leg.

Emilio saw the whole thing but couldn’t run up the hill fast enough.  He felt so bad that he couldn’t help.  Once the danger passed, I sent him down for his father and Caroline and then I sent him up the hill to notify the owner of the Finca.  Within minutes, Gustavo was carrying Natalie into the Finca jeep and the dog owner was helping me hobble up the hill.  It was a gruesome sight.

The town was 15 minutes away through mountainous terrain.  The hospital was right at the entry of the town and we received quick and excellent attention.  We returned to Medellin today after the conference ended and then after unpacking, grabbing a quick dinner and getting Emilio and Caroline settled, Gustavo, Natalie and I headed for the nearest hospital.

Natalie’s physical wounds are healing nicely and she only needs a follow up in a few days.  Fortunately, the Xray showed no fractures to my seriously swollen ankle so with ice and time it will heal.  My wounds are a little more serious, so I need to return tomorrow to the hospital to follow up.  The bites are not much of a concern but the four claw marks need to be watched.

The dog owner said that the dog was vaccinated but as he recently received it from a friend he had no paperwork to prove it.  An investigation was instigated and we will be notified if the dog tests for anything abnormal.

It’s a challenge living in a 2 story home at the top of the hill on campus while being ambulatory challenged.  Lots and lots of stairs.  Fortunately, a friend on campus lent me their crutches.  It’s slow and painful, but manageable.

Please pray for

  • a quick healing for both of us
  • any resultant psychological trauma, especially for the children as they were all quite upset yesterday
  • the caretaker/dog owner so that he doesn’t lose his job

Muchas gracias,

The Karakey Family

p.s.  Please pray for Emilio as well.  He woke up in the middle of the night last night sick to his stomach and vomiting several times.  Due to our ordeal earlier that afternoon, he didn’t want to wake us.  Poor guy suffered alone.  He slept all the way back in the car ride and didn’t eat all day.  We’re hoping he feels better in the morning.

p.p.s.  Gustavo feels really good about his seminar but the rest of the family has had better getaways.  🙁

Christmas Letter 2013



Recently, we saw a planetarium show on The Christmas Star. The night sky was transformed to what the stars would have looked like when Jesus was born. Speculations abound as to what astronomical anomaly would have been so fantastic to lure wise men away from their homes and cause them to travel many hundreds of miles following a bright light in search of the promised Messiah.

Although no one knows exactly when Jesus was born and therefore can only speculate as to what the night sky would have looked like, we do know that the heavens announced Jesus’ birth both through the Star of Bethlehem and through the heavenly host praising God in the company of the shepherds. It was an event like no other; one that would change the course of history and provide hope to all those who have faith and believe.

Not all events are so far-reaching, memorable or even positive. In fact, as we think on 2013, we recognize that this year in particular has presented our family with many challenges both personally and ministry-wise, from the loss of loved ones, to physical ailments, to the difficulties of living cross-culturally.

Even so, we take joy in reflecting on God’s goodness throughout the year highlighting some remarkable events: a particular lecture by Gustavo that made a poignant impact on a student’s life; the neighborhood high school students who experienced God’s love through the living testimony of the youth from Park Street Church; the impoverished family whose hope is lifted due to newly introduced economic development possibilities; the local church youth group whose knowledge, understanding and love of Jesus has increased due to our investment into their lives; our own family’s growing attachment to and care of the Colombian people and an increased love of their culture, land and way of life.

When the events in our lives don’t turn out as planned, there might be some who wish there were something as obvious as a star to follow and to lead them. Others might appreciate a host of angels singing words of approval that the path they are on is a good one. Still others are unsure of what to hope for or to look towards.


During this season of advent as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, my prayer is that we all look to Jesus to be our star, our celestial orchestra, allowing Him to lead us to a life full of purpose, direction and meaning. It is through the birth of Jesus, that we have hope – an eternal hope.

Merry Christmas, Gustavo, Rochelle, Emilio, Caroline and Natalie Karakey

Musical Instruments Donations Needed

The City of Medellin runs a free conservatory-like music program in 26 different locations throughout the city, mostly in the poorest barrios.  This program has proven to be a successful effort to get children off the street, away from crime and into a program that emphasizes hope, knowledge and excellence.  Each week children take classes in theory, sing in a choir, take individual instrument lessons and participate in a small orchestra.

It’s excellent in every respect and it is free!  What a huge blessing to the children of Medellin.  In fact, it is the largest program of its kind in all of Colombia.  Read on for more information on the Music School program:  An Oboe for a Gun.

The Karakey children have been participating in it since February, 2013.  They have learned a great deal, met some wonderful kids and now feel even more a part of the community.  Caroline is learning the flute thanks to a wonderful donation a couple of years ago and Natalie is learning the clarinet (Rochelle’s clarinet from childhood!).  Emilio is learning quickly on the alto saxophone that was donated by a PSC member last year and he loves it!

We are so thankful for the few instruments that were donated last year.  We would very much like to bless the school with additional donations of musical instruments.  Please spread the word and contact me with any possible donation leads.  Thanks!

Music School Needs:

  1. Flutes
  2. Sax Soprano
  3. Trumpet Bflat
  4. Bass Clarinet
  5. Bariton Sax
  6. Piccolo Flute
  7. French Horn

Let’s all work together to bless this very deserving but low-income community where we live!


Rochelle (

Celebrating a year of missions in Colombia


A little over a six weeks ago, we celebrated our one year anniversary of serving at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia (BSC). Our time here has been very special and every day brings a new sense of how privileged we are to minister in such a setting.

As we reflect back on the year, we wanted to share some of what makes the BSC such a special place of ministry:

 #1 – Theological Education +  

All seminaries dream of extending their teaching beyond the classroom. At the BSC, it is part of our educational identity.

Our campus is geographically small, intimate and relationally driven. A majority of our students, staff and professors live on the grounds. The result is a rich and rewarding mix of life, ministry, academics and practical theology.

# 2 – For Such a Time As This…

The BSC has built a reputation as one of the premier theological institutions in Latin America.  In a short time, all of their curriculum will be available online for the Spanish speaking world thereby extending its reach far beyond Colombia.

At a time when leadership development in Latin America is so critically needed, the BSC continues to seed the church with mature graduates. It is a great blessing to play an important role in such a strategic endeavor.

#3 – Rich Community 

Prior to our arrival in Colombia, we often wondered what it would be like to live, work and play within a small geographical region.  Well there is no more need to wonder.  It is pure magic!

The community here on campus is so precious, generous, caring and embracing.  I daresay it feels a lot like the description in Acts 2 and the Jerusalem church.  The daily interactions with people at work, at home, on the campus, at informal and formal events, is one of the highlights of being a part of the BSC.

#4 – We are a family

Raising a family on the mission field is an extraordinary blessing especially within a seminary context.

Our kids are vital parts and contributors to the community here.  And it is wonderful to see them absorbing the language and culture.

Being here has also given our family a strong sense of purpose, shared vision, adventure and growth in the Lord.  Indeed, our children are now old enough to begin appropriating and reflecting on these elements for their own lives.

Finally, we love spending time together as a family, and we are grateful that our work arrangement makes that possible.  We try to make sightseeing trips, movie nights and game nights a regular staple of our family life.  (The only negative part is that it’s not fun getting beat by a 10 year old!)

Half a century? No, it can’t be!

Yes, in a few short days, I, Linda Rochelle Ellithorp Karakey, will be marking 50 years since being born in small town Canyon, Texas.  Approx. 27 cities later, and 40+ different living situations, I am finally settled in a place to stay — or at least we all hope!  Thank the Lord!

I was immensely blessed by the desire of so many friends to visit me last week to celebrate my half century birthday and specifically to those six friends who were able to adjust their schedules and actually make it — most on the same flight!

We toured the Biblical Seminary of Colombia where Gustavo and I (and the kids!) live and work, explored downtown  Medellín, people-watched in ritzy Poblado, zip-lined in Parque Arví, climbed 650+ steps at El Peñol near Guatapé, went for a boat ride in Guatape, swam in a delightful pool at a modern hotel near the airport, tried some odd fruits and different foods, and maybe even more important, caught up on each others’ lives.  What a blessing!

Who’s turning fifty next????


50th Birthday Celebration Colombia

Our new home church (here in Colombia!)


After visiting nine churches in Medellin (some multiple times) over a four-month period, we are very excited to announce that we have found a church, which meets right here on campus!  At least we’ll be able to skip the cramped taxi rides on Sundays.

We are now attending a Lutheran church plant called Misión Evangélica Luterana “Emaus” (from Emmaus of Luke 24:13-15). The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia ( has not made many inroads in this country. Emmaus Church is the only Lutheran church in all of Medellin (a city of 3.5 million people) and only one of twenty local Lutheran churches in Colombia.

Still, we were extremely attracted to the fact that Emmaus is a church plant.  Regular attendance is about 25 people, and compared to many other large and established churches here in Medellin, what is most needed at this time is more human resources (i.e. people who can help establish and grow the church).

Meet the Pastors

We have been privileged in getting to know Atahualpa and Angelica Hernandez, who pastor the Emmaus Church and hail from Bogota, Colombia.

Atahualpa (whose parents named him after the last emperor of the Inca Empire) is a former graduate of the Biblical Seminary of Colombia.  His wife, Angelica currently works part-time as part of the Student Life Department here on campus and is in charge of our kids Sunday School.

They have two small children, Mariana and Sara. Both Atahualpa and Angelica have been extremely gracious in incorporating us into the church and in modeling what it means to be true servants of the Lord.

Answered Prayers?

Both Atahualpa and Angelica shared with us how they had been praying for additional help in extending the gospel here in our barrio (Robledo).  Well, it appears that our arrival, coincides with additional answers to their prayers:

  1. Adi and Hans arrived in January to begin their studies here at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia.  They are sponsored by the Lutheran Church and have agreed to serve as our youth pastors.
  2. A recent half-day activity for the children in our neighborhood has opened the door for Emmaus Church to begin ministering to needy children every Saturday afternoon in a very depressed area of our neighborhood.
  3. The Park Street Church youth group will be coming down in late July to hold an English camp and/or a VBS as part of the church’s evangelistic efforts and to let our neighborhood know about the Lutheran church in their area.

Called to Service

All of the Karakeys have jumped in with both feet.  Gustavo is currently helping on the worship team with guitar and vocals.  Rochelle, Emilio and Caroline are helping to teach an ESL class which meets on Saturdays.  The ELS class has wide appeal (from kids, to youth to adults) and forms part of the church’s service and outreach to this community.

Both Caroline and Emilio are involved in a small youth group.  This group meets twice a month for a teaching and social activity, while Natalie is involved in her Sunday school class encouraging her younger friends.  Hopefully, in the near future, we will help setup a website and Facebook page for the youth group.

A Time of Thanksgiving

We feel extremely blessed to be a part of this church community.

We have always desired a greater integration between our neighborhood, our church and our work in order that we might be able to invest deeply in relationships in a consistent way. It’s what our friend Simon Fowler calls building “social capital” (see the rWorld for details).

Well, that desire is finally being realized right before our eyes.  Our pastors live next door, and most of the church members live within walking distance of the church.

We ask for your prayers for this young and small church as it seeks to make an impact in this low-income area.

Finally, thank you all for your prayers and support that allows us to minister in this wonderful city and country!

All of God’s blessings to you.

Gustavo, Rochelle, Emilio, Caroline and Natalie

Prayer Requests:

  1. Our children are being challenged in their Spanish-speaking school.  Please pray that the Lord gives them encouragement to lift their spirits and strength to study hard.
  2. Gustavo begins teaching a second class (the letters of Paul) on April 10th in addition to his already busy schedule.  Please pray that he is able to keep a balance between work, family, church and PhD.
  3. We are currently at 90% monthly support needs.  We are praying for 15 additional partners for this work.
  4. It is still our desire to purchase a vehicle.  We thank those who have already given towards our car fund.  We have raised $4500 thus far.  Any special donations in the coming months will go towards this expenditure.
  5. Our Weymouth condominium will be going on the market next week.  Please pray that we are successful in selling it by the end of this summer.
  6. Rochelle and Emilio have been beset by various non-serious but annoying illnesses.  Please pray that they are both brought back to full health and soon!