Wednesday, December 10, 2014

God's Faithfulness Continues

We have made it to Guatemala!  Thank you all for your prayers during our trip several weeks ago.  We can honestly say that leaving our families for another country was probably the hardest thing we have ever done.  There were countless unseen tears in the weeks prior to leaving (mostly by me, Ellie) and even a few doubts that we were doing what was best for both our immediate and extended families.  It would have been much easier to turn back in the middle of the storm to the content life we had in the states, but God was faithful and held our hand through the entire storm even when we couldn't see clearly what was waiting on the other side.  We have been reassured numerous times since arriving here in Guatemala, however, that this is right where God wants us to be.

I can say that our departure date was the most difficult for me, but after giving tearful goodbye hugs, we boarded our flight from Atlanta, Georgia to Guatemala City, Guatemala.  Riley, thankfully, slept for ninety percent of the fight down here making the day easier on all three of us.  Upon arriving, we stepped out of the airport into the warm Guatemalan air, a stark contrast from the almost freezing temperatures we left in Georgia.  Nathan Hardeman, founder of Engadi Ministries, was at the airport to pick us up, and he helped us run a few errands and get settled into our apartment that day.

Riley slept through her first flight.
Might I take a moment to mention that we had not even seen the apartment in person before placing a deposit on it.  We prayed that God would direct our decision on an apartment, and the one we ended up with is exactly what we needed.  Without knowing what school we would be attending down here, the apartment ended up being less than half a mile from our current language school, which makes for a nice walk in the mornings.  God also provided the option for a furnished apartment within our means, since we were making the trip without any furniture.  His provisions have been perfect- not extravagant, yet perfect in their own way.  We are thankful for hot water in the shower, and a view that can't be beat from our rooftop!

View of volcano "Fuego" our first morning in Guatemala.

We spent the first week we were here learning our way around, Antigua, the city we are currently living in.  Another picture of God's faithfulness that has been painted to us was in the shipping of one of our cars to Guatemala with our belongings inside.  While we got rid of our house, most of our furniture, and James' truck, we decided that it would be best to ship our car to Guatemala rather than having to buy one when we got there.  We thought this would be a more economical decision in the long run, although it could be a risky decision up front.  We found that we would be able to pack our car with belongings that we wanted to bring with us as well, but there would be no guarantee that the items would still be in the car when we arrived to Guatemala.

We stuffed our car with clothes that wouldn't fit in our suitcases, cooking supplies, and the baby items we received.  We then placed the car title, as well as a notarized document releasing the car from our name to that of the shipping company in the car and delivered it to Atlanta where a driver took the keys to the car and the belongings that we had decided were most important to us.  Our hope was that he would deliver the car to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where it would be shipped to the port in Guatemala.  There, the car would wait until it had been processed by the Guatemalan Port Authority, and we arrived to pick it up.

I will be honest that I had little faith that we would see the majority of our things again, not to mention that we may never even see our car again, but I was wisely reminded that really, all of our possessions belonged to God anyway, so if He wanted them to be returned to us, they would be.  So, almost two weeks ago James, Nathan, and two other staff members of Engadi drove five hours to Puerto Barrios, to pick up our car.  We were aware that at the port, the value of our car and its contents would be assessed and we would have to pay import tax on the value that was decided by the port authority (much of which is said to rely on the mood of the agent that day).  After many hours of waiting at the port, the car was released to us with our belongings, and the amount of taxes we were charged turned out to be only about one-third of what we had anticipated.  Only one box of health and beauty items was missing from the front seat.  God is so good!  Not only was the majority of our stuff there, including the crib we received for Riley, but we paid a fraction of what we could have been charged to get the car.

Downtown Antigua, Guatemala in the evening.
Volcano "Agua" in the background.
Since then, we have started Spanish school to improve our fluency before becoming houseparents for Engadi Ministries.  We attend five days a week, and are praying that we can pick up the language with ease.  To find out more about the Engadi Ministries, click here.  The website has recently been updated, so please take a few minutes to check it out!

Thanks for keeping up and praying for us on this new adventure.  We will do our best to update this blog with more frequency now that we are here.  We hope everyone is enjoying the Christmas season back home.  We miss the Georgia festivities terribly, but are looking forward to learning new ways of celebrating Christ's birth here.  Merry Christmas!

Love in Christ,
James, Ellie, and Riley Carr

On top of one of the hills overlooking Antigua, Guatemala after church
"Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.  Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord.  How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.  They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.  For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.  Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart!  Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.  There the evildoers lie fallen; they are thrust down, unable to rise."
Psalm 36:5-12

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