Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Moving On

James and Ellie Carr
Hello again, from our family to yours!  I just wanted to post an update on what we have been up to in the almost month that we have been out of Spanish School here in Guatemala.  Things have been moving quite fast over the past month which is encouraging to see since it was beginning to feel like we would never complete Spanish School!  We still aren't perfect speakers, and may use a tutor to polish our language skills in the future, but we are functional enough for ministry at the moment and are taking more steps forward in that area.

The week after James graduated from our school, his mom and my mom both came down to visit us for a week.  It was a nice break, and it was so awesome just to be able to spend time with them.  It was refreshing to have people who are really close to us down here to talk to, because at times, we just feel like we only have each other to open up to since we are so far from our hometown.  We spent a few days showing them the beauty of Guatemala, even though I think they were a bit more preoccupied with spoiling Riley.  That's what grandma's are for, though, right?

Riley and her Grandmas spending a day at the lake.
Since they left a few weeks ago, James and I have been working with Engadi serving in a variety of ways.  James has been working on the enrollment form for students to be a part of a scholarship program Engadi offers.  There are a few hundred children who live in Paraíso and are eligible for our scholarship program where they do community service and attend workshops and classes with their families in order to earn school supplies for the upcoming school year which begins in January.  We also spent some time last week working at the ministry house where teams from the States are housed while they are partnering with Engadi.

As the team coordinator, James also helped plan last weekend's Family Festival in Paradise by coordinating with the team leaders in the States, our Director of Discipleship in Guatemala, and the Ministry Director in Paradise.  James organized the games that all of the families participated in during the festival.  It was awesome to see how all of the families were brought together to hear the Gospel through the activities.  I know that statement doesn't sound like much, but if you could understand how rare it is to have these fragmented, hurting families spending time, laughing, and playing together, you could begin to understand the fulfillment we feel.  Not to mention that there were several fathers who came to the festival!  During the first few trips that I made to Guatemala, I'm not sure that I saw a single dad interacting with his children in public.  In fact, very few homes have a consistent father figure.  One of the boys we are aiming to disciple one-on-one did not even know the name of the man living in his house with his mother this month.  Seeing what fathers there race, play, and learn with their kids is such a reward for us in itself.  Overall, the festival went very well, and James is spending the rest of this week leading a team from Texas who is partnering with Engadi.

In one game, families had to race to find pre-selected Bible verses and read them to the crowd over the microphone.  Winning families received a soccer ball with Bible verses printed on it in Spanish.
The one thing that I think has been the most rewarding to be a part of over the past month is the initiation of the Derek Program.  The Derek Program is a program designed by Engadi Ministries to help raise up "Mighty Men" from the at-risk boys who are living in Paradise.  It is an intensive mentorship and discipling program targeting preteen and teenage youth.  The boys chosen to enroll are highly motivated and have dreams to succeed, but are lacking the resources to do so because they are living in poverty, have little family support, or have fallen behind in their education at an early age.  Engadi is seeking to tutor and provide resources and experiences for them that will further encourage them and help them succeed.

So far, there are about 20 boys actively involved in the program.  This means that they are attending weekly Bible Studies with their peers, and completing their allotted weekly goal of serving their community.  In exchange, we have been analyzing each individual, to determine how to help him reach his goal from where he is right now.  For some, it means helping them obtain a birth certificate from the government so they can be enrolled in a remedial schooling program.  For others, it is just providing encouragement and support with their homework in the areas where they might be falling behind, and encouraging them not to drop out of school, like the majority of adolescents their age in their area do.  For others, it may mean offering them a calm, safe place to live if they are facing a crisis or dangerous situation within their family.

Some of the boys who are active in the Derek Program along with Engadi staff members enjoyed bonding over ice cream as a reward for good work in September.  (James not pictured because he took the photo)
This is where the really exciting part is for us.  Within the next two weeks, we will be moving into a ministry home which we will begin converting to a boys' home facility for Engadi Ministries.  We will spend the next couple months preparing the house to accommodate them, and furnishing it to suit their needs.  Our goal is that Engadi Ministries will be able to open the doors of it's first boys' home by early 2016.  That's less than three months away!  

So things are moving extremely fast for us now, and we can't wait to see how it all turns out!  Here are some ways you can pray for us as you feel led:

- Pray for our move in the next month as we transition to our first unfurnished house here in Guatemala.  We have been hopping around on short-term leases in furnished apartments since we moved here last November, and are ready to settle into a place for a while.  Pray that God will provide us with the furniture we are lacking over the next few weeks (beds, dining room tables, and we would LOVE to have a sofa big enough to recline on!).

- Pray that God would continue to prepare our hearts to be house parents to teenage Guatemalan boys.  There are still days when I think, "What the heck was I thinking when I said 'yes' to this crazy adventure?" but I know God is faithful, and He would not have called us to do something we can't handle.  Pray that language would not be a barrier, and we would be good role models for the boys.

- Pray for the negotiations on the actual boys' home.  The lease contract is set to be signed next week, and there is always a small chance something could go wrong; we've learned this time and time again since we've been here.  Meanwhile, we have to be out of our apartment by next Sunday (a week and a half away), so pray for the lease to go through with no hold-ups.

- Pray for wisdom on a trip home this December.  We have been trying to wait until we receive our permanent residences before we return home for a visit since that would be the simplest and easiest way to travel.  We received news two weeks ago, however, that our residencies may take well into 2016 to be processed (they were supposed to be done last month) due to a lack of staff at the immigration office.  We would love to be able to take one last trip home before starting 24/7 work in the boys' home early next year, since we don't know what sort of breaks we will have after that.  Pray for guidance on planning a trip this winter.

- Lastly, we are also asking for prayer for a community just outside Guatemala City that was destroyed by a mudslide caused by heavy rains last Thursday night, October 1st.  As excavation continues, over 350 people are still missing and the death toll has risen to nearly two hundred.  Pray for this community as they grieve the loss of whole families.  Pray for the 368 people the disaster has left homeless who are currently living in shelters.  Pray for the difficult process of recovery searches.

El Cambray II- site of the mudslide.  (Photo from Soy502 News)
As always, we thank you all for your prayers and support.  If there is anything we can pray about for you, please email us at thecarrs813@gmail.com; we love praying for loved ones!  We hope to see you all in the next few months, and until then, we will keep you all posted with updates here as well as in our family group on Facebook.

Much love,
James, Ellie, and Riley


Micah 6:8
"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"



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