Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Merry Christmas

JamesandEllie
It is Christmas time, and thus the end of this year. I want to say a few words before year's end to calm any anxieties that Ellie had tied me up and is about to ship me off to a foreign land.  Ellie and I have been so blessed to have been given the opportunity to serve our Father in a different country.  There is need all over the world, “The harvest is plentiful  but workers are few,”  according to Matthew 9:32.  We feel led to Guatemala.  We have had someone give His life for us out of His love for us never asking for repayment because He knew we could never could repay.  You and I as humans have a debt that we can never wipe clear.  Understanding this, I am moved to do what I can to exemplify and share this love that has been given to me with others.  As we grow closer and closer to our fund raising goal, Ellie and I are scared yet excited.  Scared by the “whats?” and “hows?”, but comforted and excited by the opportunity to share the good news with others.  A passage that comes to mind in this circumstance is Matthew 6:26, and the answer is, "Yes, we are worth more than birds."  If one Son gave His life for mine surly we can follow His Father to Guatemala.

Going to Guatemala is not a task that can be accomplished by us alone.  You, our family, friends, coworkers and supporters, are helping us.  You have been a huge part in this as well.  With you being obedient and sensitive to Gods voice, you have helped bring us to almost 50%  of the funds needed in 8 months. Praise God! And thank you! We are encouraged by your prayers, questions and interest in what God is doing in our lives.  Please keep them coming Ellie and I love any opportunity to talk bout what is going on.  We also enjoy hearing from you.  Please tell us if we can pray for or do anything for you.  God has already shown us things we have not imagined and has brought us places we have never been and you have been with us.  We ask you to please prayerfully consider remembering us as well as what God is doing in Guatemala in the new year. 

Tis the season!  Happy Birthday Jesus! Our prayer for everyone is you have a safe and blessed Christmas.  We ask that you take a moment away from the cooking, wrapping and last minute shopping and reflect on the real reason we have a Christmas.  That is the birth of our Savior. The One who came, lived a perfect life, and died so that we may have a chance at everlasting life.  

Thank you for your interest once again, and I promise those of you who missed Ellie will have her back next time.



Until then have a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

-James

Monday, November 18, 2013

Recent Thoughts

JamesandEllie
This week I (Ellie) have been going through 5,000+ photos for Engadi Ministries, sorting, tagging, and organizing them in ways that will be useful for the ministry.  I love doing this sort of thing, and to know that it would be for a good cause made it all the more appealing.  It has been a daunting task to say the least, and I have many more days of work ahead of me.  I accepted the job not knowing, however, that God would use the task to speak directly to me.

In the midst of the busyness of the past few weeks, our progress towards Guatemala has slowed down considerably.  We are continuing to save money and fundraise, but have seemed to set up camp at about 30% of or goal to get to Guatemala.  I have been trying not to let the slow progress get us down, knowing that God is faithful and that His timing is so much more perfect than mine, but in the back of my mind I find it hard not to grumble every now and again.

So, since we are in a period of waiting and saving, James and I assumed the task of working on organizing these photos for the ministry.  It has been a much more draining task than I had expected, not so much mentally as emotionally.  There are about ten years worth of photos of kids, teams, and homes.  I have seen so many of them before, but going through them now, something is different.  They are more than just images of shovels, wheelbarrows, brown-eyed children, and the filth in which they live.



The pictures have come alive again today for me:  voices of kids laughing and playing, the smell of the dust and trash that their shoes kick up as they chase after a soccer ball, the warmth of the sun radiating off their dark skin and hair, the joy and innocence of these children, unaware of their own poverty and the difficulties that await them in life.

So often, such a beautiful picture is painted only to be shattered by the face of a boy gunned down in his neighborhood... then another one.  Both no longer smiling laughing and playing in Guatemala City's gang-infested neighborhood, Paradise, but now in true Paradise with their heavenly Father.

It hurts me to imagine how many more of their friends and siblings will follow in their footsteps - dying before they outgrow their childhood, some before they reach their teens - leaving behind a broken cycle of vengeance, death, and hurt.  The cycle has to stop.  I want to help.  Lord, send me, please. 

I can't help but be reminded of Luke 9:46-48, "An argument arose among [the disciples] as to which of them was the greatest.  But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side and said to them, 'Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.'"



God's timing is as perfect now as it has always been.  He continues to send encouragement when we need it most and will see us through to what He has in store for us.  He blesses us richly with more than we ask when our hearts are right with His.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Training in Texas

JamesandEllie
James at The Cross at Kerrville

Things have been a whirlwind over the past two months!  The biggest thing we have accomplished in that time was our mandatory missionary training in Texas.  Our sending agency, Commission to Every Nation, hosted a three-day training and orientation in Kerrville, Texas (just oustside San Antonio) that we attended during the second week of September.  It was the first time either of us had been to Texas (besides layovers), so that was really cool for both of us.  Speaking for myself, the best part about Texas was the sky.  I can't say for sure if everything is really bigger in Texas, but the sky is!  Call me crazy, but it was SO BIG!!!!


Our first sunset in Texas
Just ask James, I am a little crazy about clouds.
Anyway, after I overcame the distraction of the sky, I was able to pay attention in class.  And it was awesome!  We learned so much, and met missionaries who are traveling from the U.S. and Canada all over the world, and doing some really amazing things through God.  We learned by the examples and mistakes of missionaries who had gone before us, and learned that we have an awesome staff of missionaries right here in the States who will be backing us.  We spent time praying, worshipping and fellowshipping with the pastoral care teams and missionaries who make up Commission to Every Nation.  It was great!


CTEN staff and missionaries (minus those moving to restricted nations)
R to L: Founders of CTEN, Rick and Jana Malm, James and me, and our pastoral care team, Tammie and Stephen Burger
Sadly, I have to admit, that James and I were both a little pessimistic before the orientation started.  We weren't sure how interesting the sessions would be after the amount of research we had done prior to the trip.  We weren't sure if the trip would "pay off" so to speak.  I have to say though, our training far exceeded our expectations, and we feel much more prepared for life as missionaries than we did before.  We learned many invaluable things that are had to summarize, such as how to file our U.S. federal taxes while we are out of the country, and what to do if we are ever faced with a hostage situation overseas.  We were also made aware of tons of resources available to us such as health insurance options for missionaries, fundraising tips, and the pastoral care and prayer teams that are there for us once we leave.  The week ended up being not only informative, but refreshing, and it gave us a new spark of energy to pursue our goal of being missionaries in Guatemala.



On a separate note, we still have tons of Guatemalan coffee for sale.  It is $20 per pound, and we have both whole bean and ground coffee.  100% of the proceeds go towards our ministry in Guatemala!!



Thanks to everyone who has supported our ministry thus far!  As of today, we are 29% of the way to our goal of joining Engadi Ministries in Guatemala!  I can't express the excitement we have to be there ministering to boys and families who are in desperate need of a Savior!  So thank you for helping both us and them! It means so much.  If you would like to donate, you can go to www.cten.org/jamescarr to make a tax deductible donation. Thank you for your support!!

In Christ,
The Carrs


[Verse above]
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Matthew 28:19-20

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How Did We Get Here?!?

JamesandEllie
It has been almost two months since I (Ellie) last updated the blog, so I thought it would be a good time for another post.  We have had several people assume that our decision to become missionaries was something that we came to on a whim or through an emotional experience we had in Guatemala.  Neither of these is the truest definition of how we came to the point in our lives where we felt called to move to Guatemala.  I wanted to try my best to explain how we came to this decision over the past six years.

Before I go into all of that though,  here is a quick update of our progress lately:

1.  Let me start by thanking everyone who has given to our mission so far.  Over the past few months we have raised over 25% of our total goal prior to moving!  That is huge!!! Praise be to God!  Right now our goal is to raise $60,000 in donations and pledges before moving to Guatemala.  This amount will cover all of our moving expenses (shipping, visas, import taxes, etc.) as well as two years worth of income for the two of us.  It probably seems like a lot of money- believe me, I feel the same way at times, but God has been faithful thus far, and He continues to bless and amaze us with gifts from friends, family, and some who we haven't met.  Once we reach 50% of our goal, we will be placing our house on the market and making further preparations to move.  We hope to do so sometime this winter, but the timing of our move is something that we have COMPLETELY given over to God, so we are excited to see when everything will fall into place.

2.  A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to visit Eagle Ranch, a home for troubled kids here in Georgia.  We were able to speak with an administrator there, and received some invaluable advice for becoming house parents.

3.  Next month, we will attend our training in Texas to become missionaries with Commission to Every Nation, our sending agency.  We are excited to learn more about what we...or should I say God, has gotten us into, and where to go from here.

4. We still have tons of coffee for sale.  It is $20 per pound, and it is delicious.  We have ground and whole bean, and we can ship it.  Let either of us know or leave a message if you are interested.  It also makes great gifts.  Hint. Hint.

Anyway, back to the original question: "How and when did we decide to become missionaries in Guatemala?"

Good question.  I can start off by saying that I have always had a passion for Latin American culture- the language, the traditions, the sports, and the food, of course.  I love all of it.  I became involved with Nathan Hardeman and his ministry in Guatemala when I decided to go on a mission trip during spring break of my freshman year at the University of Georgia.  I heard about a mission trip through Watkinsville First Baptist Church that was partnering with Nathan Hardeman and Global Soccer Ministries in Guatemala.  The trip sounded like fun to me, so I signed up.  We spent the week constructing a soccer stadium in Paradise, one of the poorest, most run down areas of Guatemala City.  God really changed my heart on this trip, and I fell in love with the kids and families that I had met, as well as the war-torn country as a whole.  I did not, however, have any desire to move there.

The ONLY team photo I can find from 2008.  (I am the one not sleeping.) 


The next year, Watkinsville First Baptist was organizing the same trip, and I was determined to return and revisit the kids that I had met a year earlier and continue construction on the soccer stadium and continue to build relationships with the impoverished people of  Paradise.  This year I was dating James, so I encouraged him to take off of work for a week and go on the trip with me.  James was impacted much differently than I was by the trip.  After being down there for just a few days he said, "Someday I want to move down here."  He expressed interest in working with impoverished kids and families from Zone 18.  I thought he was crazy.  It was not only his first mission trip, but also his first trip out of the country.  I was sure the feeling would wear off.  Needless to say, it didn't.

Team photo from 2008. (James and I are in the center.)

James asked several times if I thought we would ever move to Guatemala.  I told him, "No."  I wanted to have an easy American life with a nice house, stable jobs, and a few kids.  Living in Guatemala was just not how I pictured my life.  After telling James that a few times upon returning from Guatemala, he quit asking me.  He still wanted to go, and would frequently mention our trips down there, but he didn't press the issue.  I didn't know until later, but he prayed about it constantly.  Then he left it up to God.

Fast forward several years to 2012.  We returned to Guatemala to be welcomed by many familiar faces and some new ones as well.  This time, Nathan Hardeman had moved from Global Soccer Ministries, and had founded Engadi Ministries Intl. in an effort to dig deeper to provide a solution to the root of the problems in Paradise.  The goal of the ministry was established to raise up men of God in the dark and broken neighborhood of Paradise who could then be leaders to their own families, neighborhood, and community.  One of the biggest aspects of the ministry was a home for boys - a place where the boys could grow up apart from the gangs, violence, and poverty of Paradise.

Throughout the trip, we did construction on property that will one day be a part of the boys home, but more than that, God spoke directly to me.  I can't really explain how or what it sounded like, but I knew it was God.  And it was clear to me, I knew the timing was right.  I can't really explain how, because we had a house, cars, and good jobs back in the states, but I knew that it was time for us to follow God by going to Guatemala.  I sometimes try to explain how I came to this decision that summer, but I really can't other than to say, "God called me, and I knew it was Him."  James, of course was thrilled as well.

Team Photo 2012. (We are both far right.)

We discussed the topic with Nathan, and he said the ministry was in need of a couple who was willing to pioneer as house parents at the home for boys.  We then discussed the issues with several of our pastors, and received their counsel, input, and approval.  After presenting our calling before our church's missions board, we received further approval and the backing of our church, Watkinsville First Baptist.  And with much continued prayer, over the next few months we made the decision to follow God in His calling.

Future home for boys at Engadi Ranch in Guatemala

So that is, in a nutshell, how we came to the decision of moving to Guatemala.  Simply put, "God called us to do so."  God is the one leading us to go, and it is not of our own design or plan.  It is much bigger than we could have planned, and it is continually reinforced in ways that only God can.  I apologize for not being able to describe it more clearly, but there you have it.  I'm sure many of you can identify will a call from God.  We are more than happy to clear anything up that I may have left a little fuzzy in there.

Until next time,
The Carrs

"The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps."
Proverbs 16:9


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Coffee coffee coffee!!

JamesandEllie
Hey folks!

One of Guatemala's biggest (and tastiest) exports is coffee.  And they grow some of the best coffee in the world, if I do say so myself.  :)


James harvesting coffee beans in Guatemala.

So, here's our proposal to you:

You get a pound of some really top notch coffee from Guatemala.
In doing so, you also get to support our goal of helping troubled and impoverished youth in Guatemala.  Sounds like a win-win situation, right?  Indeed.

We are selling one-pound bags of Guatemalan coffee that we picked up on our last trip for $20.  We have both ground and whole bean.  It is delicious.

Our harvest at the coffee plantation in 2012. It didn't go very far.

If you are interested, leave a comment with how many pounds you would like, and whether you would like it ground or whole bean.  You can also email us at jamescarr@cten.org or elliecarr@cten.org .

Thanks to everyone again for all of the support.  We are excited to be on this journey with such amazing friends and family, and look forward to what God has in store for our lives!

The Carrs

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Preparations in Guatemala

JamesandEllie
Last week, James and I returned from a two week trip to Guatemala with Engadi Ministries.  Although the past year since our last mission trip to Guatemala has been full of many advances towards a full-time career on the mission field, it was still refreshing and uplifting to have another boost of energy and motivation by seeing the area we will soon call home.  Even though we are continuously pursuing and moving forward towards life in Guatemala, it has been easy to get somewhat discouraged at the progress that still lies before us.  God has definitely reaffirmed our call to the mission field and has given us a second wind to keep pressing forward while we were on the trip.

The first week of the trip we spent serving with our home church here in the states, Watkinsville First Baptist.  Our group assisted in leveling, repairing, and preparing the road that leads to Engadi Ranch (our future home) to be paved this fall.  The work was physically demanding and to be honest, it was some of the least rewarding work that it seemed like we had done in the many years that we traveled to Guatemala, but it definitely had to be done.  Picturing the boys that will one day travel that road to their houses at Engadi Ranch definitely made the work worthwhile.



Our group also painted three classrooms at one of the schools in Paradise.  One thing that really shocked me on this trip was some of the facts that I learned regarding the school system in Zone 18 and specifically in the neighborhood of paradise:

Average classroom before painting

- There are 2 schools in Paradise.
- In the mornings, 500 elementary students attend each of the two schools.
- In the afternoons, 500 more elementary students attend one of the schools, while 500 middle school students attend the other.
- There is no high school in the area.
- A college education is unimaginable for most kids from Paradise.

Classroom after being painted

As you can see, there are a total of 1500 elementary students and only 500 middle school students.  Only 1 in 3 kids is afforded a middle school education.  Very few children have the privilege of attending high school.  I found these facts astounding and can only pray that with God's help, Engadi Ministries will be able to mend some of the brokenness of the educational system in Zone 18.  If nothing else, the boys that we will be taking in as houseparents through the ministry will be provided an education throughout at least high school.

James and I spent our second week in Guatemala doing a variety of things to prepare for our move.  We were able to better price out moving and living expenses as well as look into things like how to get our visas and where we will be attending language school.  We also spent a few days working in the ministry's office in Antigua, Guatemala.  The best part of our week was our trip back to Paradise where we had the opportunity to visit with two families that Engadi Ministries is building houses for this summer.  The ministry finalized plans for the construction of the houses as well as mapped out a plan for more classrooms to be painted in the local schools.

On a side note, we found out that our announcement letters had been mailed out by CTEN while we were out of the country.  We would like to thank those of you who have supported us already toward moving (hopefully next year).  We still have a very long way to go and at times are not sure how and when we will make it down there, but are encouraged to see those who have already partnered with us to reach out to those in Guatemala.  So, THANK YOU!!! If you did not receive a letter and want to be connected to our work in Guatemala, email us at jamescarr@cten.org or elliecarr@cten.org . If you would like to give, a tax-deductible donation can be made at www.cten.org/jamescarr .

Overall, God has blessed us to have had another opportunity to visit Guatemala before making our move there.  Through out both weeks he has only strengthened the call that He place in each of our lives, and we are more ready than ever to begin ministering to the people there.

Until next time,
James and Ellie

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners;"

 Isaiah 61:1


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Training and Trips

JamesandEllie
It's been a few months since our last blog post, so here's a quick update of what we've been up to lately:

1. )  In May, we had the opportunity to go to Engadi Ministries' first missionary training weekend.  We learned a lot about the ministry, its core beliefs, and what to expect when we get to Guatemala for the long haul.  During our meetings we were able to meet with several of the board members for the ministry who we had not met yet.  We also learned about what will be expected of us as house-parents of Engadi, and got to spend some quality time with those involved in the ministry.  We had a blast, and our anticipation for the day we finally get to Guatemala has only grown.

One of the things we liked best about the event was that we were able to host a married couple from Texas who is considering becoming house-parents for Engadi, like we are.  It was really a blessing to meet another couple who has felt a calling to be a part of what God is doing in Guatemala, and we both found it really comforting to find people who were dealing with the same hold-ups, struggles, and unknowns that we are.

After a long day of training/orientation

2. )  This Saturday, James will be helping to lead a team from our home church, Watkinsville First Baptist, to Guatemala for a week.  We will be working on improving the access roads to one of the properties that Engadi owns, and preparing for utilities to be laid to the property.  We will also, of course, be visiting the boys that we will one day be working with and their families in Zone 18 of Guatemala City.  Visiting the children always seems to make up for the exhausting and sometimes monotonous construction work that we will be doing for the rest of the week.



After the team from Watkinsville heads home we will be staying an extra week in Guatemala to plan for our move down there.  We will be pricing out daily living and utilities, as well as looking ahead for possible places to live.  We are excited as things continue to move forward, and we get closer to making the move to Guatemala.  We still need lots of prayer and help to make the big move possible; if God is calling you to support our work with Engadi Ministries, you can make a tax-deductible donation at www.cten.org/jamescarr.  We are continually amazed by the provision of our Lord, and are very appreciative of all support.  Thank you!

3. )  Finally, we are preparing a list of family, friends, co-workers, etc. who we will be mailing quarterly updates to once we are on the mission field.  If you, or someone you know would like to receive these updates send us an email with your name and address to jamescarr@cten.org or elliecarr@cten.org.  One of our biggest fears about going to an international mission field is that we will be forgotten by or lose touch with those that we know and love here in the states.  After leaving, we want to keep in touch with you all here as much as possible, and one way that we will be doing so is by these newsletters.

We have an exciting few weeks ahead of us with much progress to be made.  We can't wait to share our headway with you when we get back at the end of the month!

"When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then He said to His disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.'"
Matthew 9:36-38

Monday, April 8, 2013

We're Official!

JamesandEllie

So recently, James and I found out that we have been accepted as missionaries by Commission to Every Nation, or CTEN for short.  This is really exciting news for us, and means we can really get things moving along!  Here's a summary of what this means for us:

Since last fall, we have been looking into different mission agencies that we can become affiliated with in order to be legit missionaries in Guatemala.  We looked at many agencies including some of the big names such as Pioneers and the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board.  We really loved how these agencies worked, but God quickly closed these doors when we found out that they were no longer sending missionaries to much of Latin America, including Guatemala, due to the fact that these nations are now considered to be "reached" by many agency standards.  For example, Guatemala is considered to be reached since the majority of the nation's population considers themselves to be Catholic and approximately one-third to be Protestant.

So we began focusing on other agencies that focused specifically on Latin America.  While talking with Nathan Hardeman, the founder of Engadi Ministries, we found that he was affiliated with CTEN.  As we looked more and more into this agency we knew that this was where God was leading us to apply.  So in December, we began the process of applying to CTEN.  After one really long application, several essays, the help of several close friends and members of our church for references, background checks, and a Skype interview (which was a first for both of us), we found out that we had been officially accepted.  Yahoo!!!

We've been asked a lot, "So what's the big deal about having a mission agency?" or, "Why is it important to have a missionary-sending agency?"  Good question.  We wanted to go through an agency for several reasons.  First of all, a mission agency will provide much of the training that we need to become missionaries before we get in the field.  They will also look out for us once we get to Guatemala, and be a security net for us to look to for help and support.  CTEN will also help us to get our name out, and organize many of our publications for us.  (On that note, if you would like to be added to our mailing list, send us an email at jandecarr@gmail.com with your name and address so we can keep in contact with you when we leave.  We want to stay connected with people here!!!)   So CTEN will help us to get into the field, and will also help us to maximize our impact when we get to Guatemala.  They will provide accountability for us as well as pastoral care.  Also, since we are raising 100% of our support, CTEN provides a way for all of our donations to be tax deductible in order to get us onto the field.

We are really excited about all of the progress that has been happening lately, and are also happy to announce that we are able to begin accepting donations that are tax deductible.  Please prayerfully consider supporting us as we journey to Guatemala to impact the lives of young boys in troubling situations through Engadi Ministries.  Often, it seems as though the amount of money we'll have to raise is insurmountable, and it is, really.  But not with God.  James and I want to invite you to be a part of the work we have been called to in the lives of these boys.  We will put our boots on the ground in Guatemala with your support.  If you feel led to give you can do so by following this link: www.cten.org/jamescarr




"And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God.  Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him."
Mark 11:22-23


 




Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Facts and Figures

JamesandEllie
I haven't yet gone into detail about where we are going, so here are some facts about Guatemala as a whole, as well as the neighborhood, Paradise, which will be our main focus.  I tend to understand things best with numbers, so here are some stats pertaining to Guatemala.

First, to make more sense of the area we will be going to, here's a little bit about how Guatemala City is broken down.   Guatemala City is the capital of Guatemala.  The city itself is broken down into districts or zones (zonas).  Engadi Ministries is currently focusing on one of the poorest and most crime ridden districts in the city, Zone 18.  Within Zone 18 our specific focus will be on a certain "barrio" or section called "Paradise."

Guatemala

- Guatemala is a small country just south of Mexico in Central America.
- It covers less area than the state of Georgia, and is closer in size to Tennessee or Virginia.
- The nation spans from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, and has about 22 volcanoes, some of which are still active.
- Guatemala has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the world.
- According to a study done by UNODC in 2012, Guatemala ranks 8th of all countries studied for the highest murder rate.  This is more than Mexico, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan combined.
- In 2009, New Yorker magazine reported more civilians were shot, stabbed, or beaten to death in Guatemala than were reported killed in the war zone of Iraq.
- New Yorker Magazine also reported that 97% of homicides remain unsolved in Guatemala.
- The average income for a Guatemalan household is $5,200 per year.  However, there is a vast disparity between the income and lifestyles of the upper class and lower class citizens in Guatemala.
- A Civil War ensued in Guatemala from 1959-1994 causing many people to flee from the violence within their villages to Guatemala City. 
2009 trip- Guard at paradise stadium
 Guatemala City

- The nation's capital, Guatemala City, is the largest city in the nation.
- Approximately 7.5 million people inhabit Guatemala City, which is approximately the area of Dekalb County, Georgia.
- According to the U.S. Department of State, in 2009, there were on average 25 murders per week reported to authorities in Guatemala City.
- Guatemala City is divided into twenty-two zones; Zones 3, 6, 18, and 21 are the most dangerous.

Paradise

- The neighborhood of Paradise is located atop one of the landfills for Guatemala City.
2009 trip- House built upon trash in Paradise
 - People moving to Guatemala City from rural areas could not afford land, so they began building during the night on top of the city's trash dump.
- The average home is 10x10 feet.

2008 trip- Average home for a mother and 6 children in Paradise
- The average family in Paradise is one mother with 5-6 children.
- Usually, many, if not all, of the children within a family will have different biological fathers, and often none of them have any involvement with the family.
- Contagious diseases are uncontrolled due to lack of sanitation and close quarters.
- 40% of adolescent girls are single mothers.
- Families in paradise live off of what money the mother can make which is often around $2 a day.
- Most girls have their first child between the ages of 14 and 16. 
- Most boys have joined a gang by the age of 13, and are involved in drug dealing, extortion and gang rape.
- Gang members in Guatemala City kill an average of 6 people.
- Many houses lack running water and electricity.  Open fires made of burning trash are used to cook meals for families. 
2008 trip- Cooking supper over an open fire.
  
As you can see, Guatemala is flooded with crime, poverty, and destruction.  Let me clarify- we are not moving to Guatemala thinking we are going to change all of this.  Our hope is that we can focus on the lost boys in Guatemala City, and pour God's love into them in a way that changes their lives.  By raising up Mighty Men of God, these boys can then return to Paradise impacting both current and future families in Paradise.  These boys will then have the power to:
-lessen violent crimes
-lessen the occurrence of adolescent rape and pregnancy
-improve living conditions
-provide their own children with a father and their wife with a husband
-decrease the influence of gangs on children
-spread God's love to their neighbors and family
-use their education provided by the ministry to obtain steady jobs
-teach their children the value of a good education
-financially provide for their families   
-change their community.


"May God be gracious to us and bless us
     and make his face to shine upon us,
That your way may be known upon earth,
     your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
     let all the peoples praise you.
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
     for you judge the peoples with equity
     and guide the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
     let all the peoples praise you. 
The earth has yielded its increase;
     God, our God, has blessed us.
May God continue to bless us;
     let all the ends of the earth revere him"
Psalm 67

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Beginnings

JamesandEllie
Since our announcement last week we have been so overwhelmed with support from friends, family, and co-workers.  Thank y'all so much!!  Hopefully today I can clear up a few of the most common questions we've received this week.

First of all, to address the most common question we've been asked over the past week and a half:

"How long will you be gone for?"

Well, to answer in short, we've agreed to live in Guatemala for a minimum of seven years.  Why seven?  Since we will be house parents to boys who are coming from all sorts of troubled backgrounds, we want to be able to provide them with a stable home.  Many of the boys have experienced abandonment by one or both parents before coming to the refuge.  For this reason, Engadi Ministries requires houseparents to agree to serve for a minimum of five to six years.  We also must add another one to two years to adjust to the language and culture, and to form relationships with the boys who will be entering the program.  So we expect to be down there for a minimum of seven years.

Now I will try to explain in a nutshell our background with Engadi Ministries and why we have chosen to make such a huge leap to join them....

Okay, to start off, I have to say that I (Ellie) have always been captivated by Latin American culture.  The languages, the traditions, art, their perspective of family values, and possibly of most importance, the food!  It all just fascinates me.

I took my first mission trip in high school to Costa Rica and loved it.  During my freshman year of UGA, in 2008, I spent spring break with Nathan Hardeman and Global Soccer Ministries in Guatemala.  At the time, we were constructing a soccer stadium in a neighborhood ironically named Paradise in one of the poorest zones of the capital of Guatemala.  I came back from this trip changed; not in a way that made me want to pick up and move to Guatemala, but God had placed a spark of love in my heart for these people that would later ignite into a blaze.


Constructing the stadium in 2008

So the next year, in 2009, James and I had started dating, and we both decided to go to Guatemala over Spring Break.  During that trip, James started saying how cool it would be if we were able to move to Guatemala to minister to the kids he had come into contact with in the city.  I told him he was crazy.  Although I loved working and going on trips to Guatemala, there was no way I was giving up everything I had to move down there.  I thought that since this was not only James' first mission trip, but also his first trip out of the country, his passion for moving there would eventually wear off with time.

James working on the stadium in 2009


Well, needless to say, it didn't.

So by 2012, when we returned to work with Nathan in Guatemala, the concept of a boys home had been developed into a reality.  We were able to work on the property where the boys were going to live one day.  We also spent time ministering to the children in Zone 18 who would eventually be able to move to the refuge.  One thing was missing though.  While construction was well underway for the refuge, the ministry had no parents for the boys.  It was during this trip that both of our eyes were finally open to the plans God was calling us to.  It was at this time that God allowed that spark from back in 2008 to breathe and ignite.

God opened the door for us to be able to fulfill the calling he gave to James in 2009.  Although the timing was not right for us to leave in 2009, it has been really cool for us to be able to see God working on us individually and preparing us to do His work.  I would have to say that experiencing God's timing, and seeing how He opens and closes doors has really been the coolest part of this whole thing so far.


So that's how and why God has drawn us to Guatemala in a nutshell.  We are looking forward to seeing what else He has in store for us during this journey.

'Til next time!
The Carrs

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