Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How Did We Get Here?!?

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

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