Mark does something strange with his concentrated little section of parables. Rather than focusing on the primary content of Jesus’ teaching, Mark presents an integrated set of parables that seem self-conscious. That is, they are teachings about the dynamic of Jesus’ teaching. The first parable--the parable of the sower--is in fact the parable about parables. The following shorter parables support and develop the main theme of this meta-parable. So it is that Jesus paradoxically uses parables to teach about parables. This may seem a little confusing, but the section, once we grasp its underlying point, is where the challenge to the reader really begins.
July has been a good month for ICDU. The latrine project was kicked off the last weekend of June and each Sunday this month we’ve gone out to work on the holes. The digging goes rather slowly, even with a jackhammer, because after the first foot or two the ground is basically solid rock, but our increased presence in Naranjal has already had noticeable benefits.
I have been working with the secondary school in Porvenir for over a month now, and I am learning so much about the Peruvian school system and the expectations of the students. I work with Profesora Mercedes Castilla Mayorga as she teaches her students English.The 5th grade has been learning the past perfect tense, and the 1st grade has been working on colors. The students study English for one hour and twenty minutes every week, something Prof. Castilla would change if she could, since it is difficult to learn a language when you only study it once or twice a week. Next week the students take exams, and the following week they are out for winter break.
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. God is definitely at work in this world whether we are on board with it or not, and the Holy Spirit is preparing lives to be “sons of God.” Our work here is all about spreading God’s kingdom. I have learned in the almost 2 years that we have lived here that God provides the increase, and there is a big reason that patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit.
For those of us from the USA, the word “culture” typically carries a different meaning than for other people groups. In the states, when we use the word culture, it usually implies some sort of status or exposure to fine living that includes the arts, theatre, literature, etc. We also might refer to cultures within the country so as to define a slice of the population and their sub-culture that differs from the general norm in some way.
The last month has flown by. We’ve inaugurated the latrine project at Naranjal and Villa de Socabaya (see web links below) and made another micro-loan (thanks to the lenders!). The interns have been figuring out how to integrate and learn amid the oddness of our “regular” schedule, and now the bulk of their time has passed. We’ve had some regular visitors for Sunday communion the last few weeks, though the committed core group remains small.