James and Ellie Carr

La Antigua, Guatemala nestled between volcanoes Agua (L), Fuego (active, R) and Acatenango (not pictured)

Significantly smaller than the state of Georgia, Guatemala is a diverse nation with over twenty languages spoken, seven distinct ecological zones or biomes, and nearly 16 million inhabitants.  From black sand beaches, to active volcanoes, to daily tremors, to Spanish colonial cities, Guatemala has something to interest everyone.  Sadly, however the nation also has a history of corruption, crime, and lawlessness throughout.

Children sitting atop Guatemalan ruins selling green mangoes
Just twenty short years ago, Guatemala ended a 36-year long Civil War, leaving much of the population impoverished, broken, and plagued with mistrust.  Families across the nation were torn apart with remains still being found, identified, and properly buried to this day.  We know many people who have grown up without fathers, brothers, grandfathers, and who have even lost children in the war and find it still hard to trust businesses, individuals, religious organizations, and especially the government.  In addition since the end of the war, approximately 75 percent of the population lives below the global poverty line making only a couple of dollars a day if anything.  The widespread poverty also makes hunger, illiteracy, and crime mounting problems as well.  Guatemala is the perfect place for humanitarian aid, but let me be clear- that is NOT why we are here.

Slum neighborhoods of Zone 18, Guatemala City, a particularly dangerous area of Guatemala City

We came to Guatemala because we each received separate and distinct callings from God to do so.  We want to serve our Lord here and spread His great name.  We want to make more disciples who will grow close and cling to Him amidst trouble because they know that He created them and loves them unconditionally.  We have been given this love from the Father, have experienced it firsthand, and can't help but want to share that love with those who so desperately need it.  In order to do so, we must often meet the pressing physical needs of people first, which also gives us great joy to do.

Sunrise over Guatemala's capital, Guatemala City, with nearly 5 million inhabitants
Over 60 percent of Guatemala's inhabitants are indigenous, and it is very common for inculturation of ancient Mayan beliefs into Roman Catholic beliefs creating many unique religions infused with false doctrines.  While Guatemala is a "reached" nation (meaning that Christianity as been brought) according to most evangelical branches of Christianity, many of the doctrines being taught do not point to the one true God, but rather to native gods and saints who cannot save.  Many have fallen away from the faith altogether.  It is our burden and charge that we share the One True Gospel with those who have not yet heard.

Lake Atitlan with an inactive volcano in the background
In summary, we are here in Guatemala because of a calling, a love, and a burden all given to us only from God- not to be "good people" or to do "good things."  We are here to share the love that God has given us (Ephesians 1:6), to make disciples (Matthew 28:19), and to look after the orphans (James 1:27).


Sunset over a black sand beach on Guatemala's Pacific coast


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