By now most readers will have heard about Alfredo’s baptism. Our joy is still overflowing. It is wonderful to think about what God will do with him, especially as we ponder the cultivation of indigenous church leader- ship. So much of what we want to see in the future is only signified in God’s saving work in the present. This is where hope comes in, the trust in what we do not yet possess. Our Wednesday night study of Genesis has brought to mind once again how long and winding is the journey to receive the promise and how hard is the call to trust that God is faithful. Walking with Jose Luis and now Alfredo, the struggle to live new life in them becomes a struggle to trust God in us. We proclaim in Arequipa the promise for those who were far off, to be received in part already though not yet fulfilled. Our hope, then, is that God will bring to completion what he has begun in these men and, through them, in this city.
Mark opens with a statement of identity. This is the good news concerning Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God. These may be titles we are over-familiar with, names that we toss about without a real sense of their meaning. They may be titles we think we have rightly understood when in fact our assumptions are misguiding us. Or they may be al- together new to us. In any case, if we are capable of reading Mark’s first sentence without a sense of shock, of joy, and even of anxiety, we must read them again in context. For the opening salvo from Mark asserts that Jesus’ Messiahship is a message of unequivocally good, reality-altering news. The king has come!
I can hardly believe that I have been in Arequipa for over two months, the time has simply flown by. This past month I have been praying for guidance, for the people of Arequipa and specific individuals the team has a relationship with, and I have come to know and love. I am excited about Alfredo’s decision, and I remember the excitement in his eyes when he told me about his decision one day in language class. I am exited to see what God has in store for Alfredo, and pray that his wife, Judith will be influenced by the changes she sees in him.
Before we ever left the states, we knew one thing about our development work: We had no clue what we were doing. What we have accomplished so far has been a testament to the power of God and to what good people can do with good intentions. However, the fact has not been lost on us that we could do much more and do it better, if we were only more in- formed. Alfredo has been our source of much information and a great networker here in Arequipa, but the issue of knowing how to plan a project from beginning to end through multiple stages is still a problem. As a team we have been praying over this and have recently decided to take a new approach.
A brief update: I have been taking Spanish classes again the past 3 weeks. I am loving it! And Greg tells me he can already see a big improvement. Poco a poco (little by little). I am so thankful for my new teacher, Nancy, who comes to my home and sometimes teaches me while I have to hold Maggie (she is supposed to be taking a nap during this time). It is life, but we are making it work and God has been very, very good to me. Thanks to all of you that are praying for my language skills. Your prayers have been heard. Keep praying.
Grief is an odd thing. It is something all people across the globe have in common, but the actual process of grieving the death of a loved one and letting them go is actually a cultural phenomenon. In the US, we have visitations, memo- rial services and graveside services. In some places in Africa, they express their grief dramatically, with loud wailing for long periods of time. In other parts of the world, someone’s death is received as their final honor, and the grieving show utmost respect and value for the lost.