He also said, “This is what the Kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed o the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain- first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” Again he said, ” What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” Mark 4:26-32
With our lives so involved in agriculture we have come to find that metaphors and scripture passages dealing with plants and growth especially speak to us. Ever since we started down this path that brought us to Ecuador we have often talked about the seeds that were planted in the past that are now bearing fruit. Our history with Ecuador goes back 12 years. So many things that seemed to be random choices or chance happenings at the time are now unfolding into a much more complex narrative full of divine coincidences. Our past experiences in work, study, hobbies and relationships have all seemed to have miraculously prepared us for the work we are doing now. God has instilled in us some specific abilities and interests that we need to do this job. Some people see what we are doing as being very sacrificial and difficult but the truth is that we love what we’re doing.
Recently it really struck me that particular seeds planted in the past are now coming to fruition. I love considering the process of things and learning how to make products from scratch. Over the past few years while we were living in Chicago, two of the things I decided I wanted to start doing were growing edible mushrooms and making cheese. Living in our basement apartment I made several fresh and aged cheeses with mixed results, and learned a lot in the process. Kristina also started making homemade yogurt. When I decided to start growing mushrooms I chose to grow oyster mushrooms. When we were studying in Florida, I focused on learning about life cycles of fungi and experimenting with different materials to grow mushrooms on and various methods of pasteurization and growing systems.
Now that we are in Ecuador two of the projects we are most involved in are…. growing oyster mushrooms and starting the process of making aged cheeses and yogurt! These seemingly random choices or interests that we had were actually preparing us for the work we are now doing. God’s plan is unfolding before our eyes and while we often wish we could see into the future, it is very encouraging to be able to look back and reflect on the growth that has happened, and to see the fruit from seeds planted long ago.
Erik with his mushrooms in chicago and Marcos with his mushrooms at one of our projects in Sumaco which is funded by Covenant World Relief.