Getting Settled

As of writing this we have been in Guatemala for six weeks. In some ways it seems like it’s gone by really fast and in others it seems like, how has it only been six weeks? In that time we have had many ups and downs. We arrived here and after having a few days of rest got started learning Spanish. We both thank the Lord that we took some Spanish in high school and college because we can’t imagine what it would be like if we had started with nothing. We definitely would not have been able to figure out how to buy a bed, a stove, and other appliances and then tell the delivery people how to get to our apartment. Thank the Lord that by that time about two weeks ago (4 weeks into learning the language) we were able to do that. As we right to you today, it is our first day in our new apartment that is closer to our ministry site, only a few minutes by car. Until now we have been living in Antigua, which is where our school is located.

It’s not easy getting settled in a new country. However, even though we’re in Spanish school right now and not “in the ministry,” God has shown up in some amazing and unexpected ways. To recount all of them would take a book’s worth of reading, but we would like to each share a story about God’s faithfulness and what he’s teaching us in this transition time.

Frustration and a Fletero – Aaron

Pretty much since we got here, I’ve been looking for a vehicle. Many hours spent after class or during breaks in class looking at the classifieds on Facebook, trying to find the right car. It seems like every week since we’ve been here we’ve looked at a car, only for it to not work out. This has happened so many times that we’ve just gotten used to it. But it’s still so frustrating. In the beginning, it wasn’t a huge deal, but then once we signed papers on our apartment where we’ll live more permanently, it was like a clock started ticking because we have to drive about twenty minutes from where we live to Spanish school every day. Not only that, but we were starting to furnish our new apartment and couldn’t really well take a refrigerator in an Uber. Then God gave us Nelson.

We had signed the papers to our apartment and needed to get started on getting some stuff in there. Our first priority was a bed. If we moved in and had nothing else, at least we’d be able to sleep on something. We went to the store, found one, but in very bad Spanish explained that we didn’t have a car and needed it delivered. Along came Nelson, a fletero or in other words, a guy who hangs out at the appliance stores and delivers things for a fee. He had a 1980’s Toyota pickup, and we hired him to drive our bed to our new home. In the middle of trying to figure all of this out, we got lost in communication and he called his son who speaks English and we got it sorted out. While talking to his son, he said, “If you ever need anything, just let us know.” Well, for the rest of our appliances, who did we call? Nelson. During those trips I got to talk to him about his family, about God being in control, and all in Spanish! God is good.

You should believe people when they say God works in mysterious ways.

When we bought our bed, all three of us cramped into Nelson’s truck. Cramped. So cramped he never used 2nd gear the entire trip because he couldn’t physically move the stick that far down. On our next trip, I rode with Nelson and Brianna followed in an Uber. When we arrived to our apartment, to our surprise, the Uber driver got out, and with Nelson carried our stove into our apartment and into our kitchen! On our next trip, we had our stacked combo washer/dryer. By this point, thank the Lord we were able to borrow a car. So Brianna and I were following behind Nelson. All of the sudden, he gets out of his truck in the middle of the road and knocks on the car in front of him. This must be some culture thing going on we don’t know about. Well, no, it was God working in another mysterious way. The car in front of him turned out to be Nelson’s son, who then followed us to help get the washer/dryer in. Thank God he put him in our path because it took all three of us to get it in the house.

Nelson, catching us taking a picture.

God has done many things like that since we’ve been here. Not every day has worked out so awesome and amazing like those days did. Most days have been brutally exhausting. But it’s in moments like those that God reminds me that he’s in control. If he had given us a vehicle, we would have never met our sweet fletero.

The takeaway that I’ve learned during this time so far is to wait on God. Keep waiting. Right now I have no choice but to wait. We’re still waiting for a vehicle. We have something lined up right now, but God could have other plans. But whatever lies ahead, wait on him.

“but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:31

Pink and Yellow Flowers – Brianna

“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin.” God takes care of the flowers and the birds, of course He’ll take care of you and me. I learned the lesson of Luke 12:22-33 from some pink and yellow flowers in Guatemala.

From the start of this entire process, Aaron and I have often been clueless. How will we fundraise enough money? Where will we live? How will we learn Spanish? How do we get this bed up the hill to our new apartment? There is so much to toil and spin over! Admittedly, I have felt anxiety about our lives and have worried about how everything will turn out. But God has always had a plan and He shows us His goodness in the sweetest ways.

We moved into an airbnb at the end of September with only a few suitcases to our names, not knowing what God had in store for us. From our very first day in our little apartment, our landlords were incredibly kind and helpful. Being in their early 30’s, we learned that we actually had a lot in common with our landlords. They even speak English! The couple and their two little white dogs have become some of our best friends here in Guatemala. They took us to an awesome place called Hobbitenango (look it up… it’s so cool!) and invited us to celebrate the wive’s birthday with them. The couple even took me to the doctor when I thought that I had appendicitis, which turned out to be a swollen colon from something that I ate. After some time, they told us that they had been praying for their first guests in their Airbnb, which happened to be me and Aaron. They explained how they had been praying for the apartment to be filled with God’s peace for whoever would live there, even if just for a little time.

A few weeks after Aaron and I moved to Antigua, we started looking for a home closer to the ministry site. There was a specific community that we wanted to live in, but we weren’t sure if there were any available units. Thanks be to God, an apartment opened up some of our fellow missionary friends was able to secure it for us and get us started in the process. The day came for us to go see the apartment and meet the landlord, who ended up being a Christian who speaks English! He told us that he had been praying for the people who would move into the apartment and said that he prayed that God’s peace would fill the space for the people who moved in. Sound familiar? Both of our landlords said the exact same words!

As we walked outside onto the back patio of the apartment, I noticed a beautiful pink flower blooming from a tree. Our new landlord told us that he planned to cut down the tree because no flowers had bloomed in over five years, but he felt that God wanted him to leave the tree and wait. He continued to say that about a week before we met him, a pink flower started to bloom.

I was so excited to tell our Antigua landlords about our experience with our new apartment. As I finished telling them the story about the flower, the wife said, “You’re not going to believe this, and I was debating even telling you, but something similar happened here.” Our Antigua landlords had a little tree that was supposed to bloom yellow flowers. She told us that she had planned on throwing the tree away because it wasn’t blooming, but her husband told her to wait and give it a little bit more time. Amazingly, she said that during our stay at their Airbnb, the yellow flowers started to bloom.

I’m not saying that Aaron and I have some magical flower powers, but I am saying that God can use something as quaint as a flower to show us His faithfulness. Sometimes we feel like we have to wait a lifetime to experience God’s promises, but God is with us through it all and all of His promises are “yes and amen!” God knew that when those trees were planted years ago that they would be part of our story. God knew the homes that we were going to be in long before we even had the call to come to Guatemala. He placed kind and gracious landlords in our lives to help us along our journey. He takes care of us and He always knows what we need. He is faithful, why should we be anxious?

He’s Faithful

These are just two of the many amazing stories that have happened to us so far. None of it would be possible without your prayers and support. Thank you so much for joining us in this calling. Please pray that God would help us to get into the right vehicle that will be reliable. Also, we learned today that as of January, due to new difficulties in the ministry, we will be about $200 under funded. Would you please pray that God would provide that so that we can keep witnessing what God is doing in Guatemala. Thank you so much for your continued support. We pray God blesses you!

First Update from Guatemala!

Wait a minute – from Guatemala? Yes! We have had a crazy couple of weeks since getting back from our training. When we got back, we still didn’t have the financial support to get to language school. After being home for about three days, God poured out the support from the hearts of his people to get us to where we are now in Antigua, Guatemala at language school, fully funded!

It was truly a story of God’s faithfulness. We woke up on a Tuesday morning and were feeling anxious about how we were ever going to come up with the remaining we needed to come learn Spanish. Brianna said, “Let’s pray.” So we did. And within two hours we had about four more financial supporters and we were over the amount we needed to come to Guatemala. We are amazed at our supporters’ hearts to give and support us, and also by how God just keeps opening doors for us. During times where we wonder – is this really what God wants us to do? – he always provides in incredible ways.

So we’re here in Guatemala, having arrived on Saturday and we will be here until Christmastime attending language school. Not only will we be in school to learn but our everyday interactions with the people here will be opportunities to better learn the language. Just today we were reminded of cebollo – onion. That were delicious on our tacos. Experience like that create memories for us that will lead to memorizing vocabulary. Please be praying for us as we try to learn the language that God will use for us to minister to the people of Guatemala.

Moving away from our families has been hard. Thank the Lord that we do have the internet in our day so we can contact our loved ones. But it’s still a grieving process that we will go through for a long time. However, in the midst of it all, these words from Jesus as he was talking to his disciples who had left their old lives to follow him bring us comfort:

“Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
Luke 18:29-30

We can’t express how thankful we are for all of our team and the opportunity that we have to learn and grow here with God. We will update with videos soon and can’t wait to tell you all God has done between now and then!

Click the button below to partner with us financially.

God’s Instruction and Provision

It’s been an interesting three weeks here in North Carolina. Aaron here, and we’re so thankful for your support and prayers all this time and especially the past three weeks. We have been learning so much over this time. The first half was much to learn about how we will best try to transition smoothly into a new culture. We learned great insights about that and how we can go into Guatemala as learners, studying the culture and language before we hit the ground running at our ministry site. The second half, and the rest of our time here is about learning how to be on a team of missionaries and how to join the team well and sustain the health of the team. It has been a very valuable experience for us.

While here, my (Aaron’s) mom has been battling health issues and has been in and out of the hospital. There was a time when I had considered heading back for a few days but made the tough choice of staying in North Carolina because of the COVID situation, the school here is trying to maintain a clean environment as much as possible and would not let me come back if I left. So I decided to stay and God has been working through that. It has been amazing to see the way that God has worked as the missionaries-in-training and staff here at CIT have been praying and supporting us all along the way. And God has answered prayers, giving my mom peace even in the middle of the storm, which she’s still in. Please be praying for her peace and complete healing.

If you’d like to catch up with us more, check out our video below and thank you so much for your continual support in finances and prayers!

Click here if you are viewing in email and don’t see the video above.

North Carolina!

Click to watch our video update if you don’t see it above. Come with us as we travel across the country and hear an awesome story that God put together at 33,000 feet!

Aaron here – we’re excited to announce that we’re at about 73% of our monthly support to get to Guatemala. At the beginning of this week we flew to North Carolina to come to the Center for Intercultural Training. We will be living there for a month and learning how to better adjust to life in a culture other than our own that will be full of new sights, sounds, smells, language, and customs. Please pray for us during this whole month as we take the next step in this process that God has called us to. We’re so excited to be on this first huge step for us in the transition to Guatemala.

As for what lies ahead of us after CIT, we don’t know for sure, but we serve a God who already knows. Our desire is to be in language school in Guatemala in at least the beginning of October. However we have a couple of hurdles to overcome before then. First, we need to reach at least 85% of our monthly funding. We currently sit at 73%. Please prayerfully consider supporting us as we preach the gospel in Guatemala. If you’re already supporting us, would you prayerfully consider increasing your monthly support?

We know that every single dollar is a huge sacrifice and often wonder ourselves when we doubt, “how could someone believe in us so much as to support us with their wallet like that?” But we are so thankful for all your support and prayers. Every time we are in a valley and it seems like the rest of our support is an unmovable mountain, God seems to provide someone out of nowhere (from our perspective) who joyfully joins our team and we praise God for that.

“If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Matthew 17:20

We Are Almost There!

Thank you so much for your support in prayer and financially over our journey so far. We have such great news to share: at the end of June, we will have raised our start up costs of $30,000! That means that we are looking at the following timeline for the next few months:

August – We will be in North Carolina at our training.

September/October – We believe we will be in language school in Guatemala (or possibly Costa Rica depending on Guat. COVID-19 travel restrictions).

January – Moved to Guatemala to begin our ministry.

That’s right! We could be in country as soon as September! That’s only two and a half months away! We have our money to get to Guatemala. However, we don’t have the monthly support yet to live and work in the kids ministry in Guatemala.

Monthly Support

We are at a huge junction in our road to Guatemala. Praise the Lord we have the amount we need to get our new life started in the mission field. However, we still need the rest of our team to be Gospel partners with us to sustain us in Guatemala.

Please pray about how God might use your contribution to have a kingdom impact in Central America. No amount per month is too little or too much. As you can see above we still need to raise about $1900/month in support before the end of August in order to keep on the timeline above.

To our current team members, thank you so much for your constant sacrifice for our work in Guatemala. We would like to issue a challenge to you if you’re up for it. At the moment we’re sitting over halfway to being fully funded. If every member of our team was able to have a friend join them by matching their monthly contribution, we’d be fully funded in no time. Please be praying for our future team members.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers. Please be praying that God would open the doors for us to get to where he wants us this fall. Also please pray for us and we prepare to go through our things that we will have to sort through before moving. Please pray for our friends in the ministry in Guatemala as they have been dealing with often changing rules and restrictions put in place by the government due to COVID-19.

Thank you!

We’re Halfway There!

Hello! Thank you so much for continuing to pray for us and supporting us as we get ready to head to Guatemala soon, Lord willing. Just like you, we’ve been rocked by the response to COVID-19. Aaron here speaking: In January, after a long search for a job, God provided in a major way. I was working as a long-term substitute teacher for five weeks. That all came to an end the day that President Trump declared a national emergency. The school district that I work for was cancelling school until the end of Spring Break, and eventually decided to cancel the entire year. That has left me without a job, but thankfully I qualified for unemployment, so that has helped us.

Brianna also lost her job for a time, but praise the Lord, the company has decided to pay them and let them work remotely, so God has provided in an awesome way for both of us.

We have both had adjustment with the new at-home lifestyle, but we’re praying that God will allow us to use this time to talk to our current supporters, grow our support team, and continue down the road to Guatemala. Even in these uncertain times, nothing is uncertain to God.

We’ve Surpassed Fifty Percent!

God has been so good to us with support raising even in the middle of the pandemic. Since our last update, we have passed the halfway mark in our support team raising efforts. Our monthly support team has grown to 51% of what we need to live in Guatemala next year.

These numbers reflect our monthly supporters who have decided to join our team to support us in an amount they feel God has called them to keep us in Guatemala starting in (Lord willing) January 2021. The numbers above reflect the amount that is being given monthly that is currently adding to our startup costs below.

As a result of all our team’s generosity over the past year, we are well on our way to raising our startup costs that we will need to get into Guatemala.

It’s such a blessing to see God work in the ways that he has over the past year since starting this journey. It was last April that we were accepted on staff with Students International and though it has been a rough journey at times, and many unexpected things have happened to us – not all of those unexpected things have been negative. We got to 50% because of two very large unexpected monthly team members that God put in our path. We can’t wait to see what God does next.

Please be praying that God would continue to show us just how much higher his thoughts are above ours and that he would help complete the rest of our support team. Also please pray that he would show us a work opportunity for Aaron or at least the ability to rest in him if this is a season to be just enjoying the time off and working more on the ministry to get to Guatemala.

Lastly, would you please share our page with someone, if even just one person who you might think God could use to send us to Guatemala? You never know what God could do.

Thank you!

Aaron & Brianna Arnett

So Much Has Happened

Maybe it’s a little late, but Happy New Year! The Lord has done so much in our lives since the last time we’ve written. Spoiler alert: God has answered our prayers for a job for me (Aaron) and has also answered prayers for me to have more purpose in employment than to just make money. To put it simply: life has been crazy.

It all started in December, right after I had graduated from Fresno State, right before Christmas, we just so happened to run into a godly man and his wife that I used to work with at an elementary school in Fresno. We later learned that this was a divine appointment as about a month later, this meeting led to getting a job as a 6th grade teacher, teaching alongside my friend! (They know who they are reading this, but for privacy sake we won’t name names).

There were so many hoops to jump through to get into the job:

My degree had to officially come through from the university.

My substitute permit had to be granted from the County of Fresno.

Lastly, there were hurdles of onboarding with the school district.

To keep an amazing, long story short, God knocked down all those hurdles in the timespan of about 48 hours in the middle of January and I was now un-unemployed just in time to celebrate my birthday.

This job has been very challenging at times, but daily I see the Lord changing hearts and minds as we love on the kids we’ve been working with. In only 7 days of instruction we saw the kids’ math scores almost triple. Today I graded their latest math test and the scores went even higher. As of writing this there are 70 days left of instruction and as I tell the kids every day, “That’s [x amount of] days more to improve and get ready for middle school!”

Not only did this great friend get me a job, but it turned out that he and his wife wanted to support us in Guatemala and they have since become monthly partners with us. Praise the Lord for all he’s done! Please be praying for me (Aaron) to have patience with these kiddos and please pray for the kids (all 24 of them) to not only get to grade level but to have their hearts and minds transformed.

Soon to be Two Graduates in the Home

Brianna started her last semester of college at Fresno State. She’s currently taking “History and Systems of Psychology,” “Forensic Cognitive Science,” “Social Psychology,” and “Learning and Memory”. She says Learning and Memory is the most difficult.

The tired babies.

It’s her last semester, but the schedule is very trying and Brianna has long days that go from 7am-6pm (or later, some nights). There’s a lot for her to juggle with school, work, life group, a women’s Bible study, and fundraising.

“…best case scenario for a shoulder injury…”

As you may have seen on social media, we were enjoying our weekend time together last weekend riding mountain bikes at nearby Millerton Lake when I (Aaron) crashed and broke my right collar bone. “This is the first broken bone I’ve ever had, and I’m 30!”

Real life X-Ray of Aaron’s broken clavicle. (top left)

Please pray for healing. The doctor said that this was the best case scenario for a shoulder injury since it doesn’t require surgery and that it should heal in 6 weeks or so. Still, it’s been very debilitating for me as I can’t even really dress myself. So pray for Brianna’s patience!

Fundraising Update

Here’s where even more praise comes. We’re so excited to see how God has provided over the past couple weeks. Even in the midst of so much going on here at home while we try to get to our new home of the future in Guatemala, God has still be confirming his calling for us.

The Arnett’s Are Going to North Carolina!

Our startup costs continue to grow as all our current monthly support goes into our Startup Fund. In addition to the monthly support, we received a large one-time gift that raised our lump sum higher. With that, we were given permission to sign up to attend our training in North Carolina. We were able to sign up for the August classes. This will give us time to finish our school/work years out in May/June, possibly move our of our apartment in July, then head to Union Mills, NC for a month in August.

The biggest boost for us this month comes in the form of monthly support. We are in awe of our awesome God as he almost doubled the amount of support from 18.7 to over 35 percent!

We’re so encouraged by what the Lord has done in such a short time. We know that this is all His doing and not ours.

With all that great news, there is still the reality that we still need to raise almost $2,600 per month in order to get into Guatemala by January 2021. Without your support we cannot walk out what the Lord has called us to in Guatemala. We continue to see the Lord’s faithfulness and we want to invite you to join us in this mission. Would you please prayerfully consider becoming a monthly partner with us and the furtherance of the Gospel? If so, please use the button below.

If you’re already supporting us financially or in prayer, please continue to do so – especially praying. We are so thankful for your support and we look forward to the day that we can write these letters and make videos showing you all the good things that God is doing in Guatemala. We especially look forward to the opportunity to have you come visit us when we’re in Guatemala so you can see firsthand that your contributions and your prayers are not in vain.

If you have the time, would you please share this post on your social media and pass it along to friends who you may think would like to support us?

We want to end this letter by forwarding on a recent blog by Nate Slabach, VP of Staff Care at Students International. If there were ever a great example of an answer to the question, “What are you going to do in Guatemala?” this post is it. The following story is from another SI ministry site in the Dominican Republic, but it is a glimpse of what our hopes are for ministering in Guatemala.

Read here: The Fruit of a Long-Term Investment

Merry Christmas!

We first would like to thank all our supporters for your consistent support and prayer since we first announced our plans to move to Guatemala earlier this year. Thanks to your sacrificial gifts we are getting ever closer to reaching our goal of getting to Guatemala in January of 2021.

As we began writing this update, we checked on our accounts to get you the most accurate numbers as we end the year. Since our last update, a lot has happened in our lives. Aaron unexpectedly lost his job at the church, and as a result we’re looking for a new church home. Aaron’s best friend from high school unexpectedly passed away. We had to make the decision of who’s going to attend which funeral as we had two funerals – one for Aaron’s friend and one for Brianna’s uncle on the same day. In the midst of all that, finishing up the school semester. Needless to say, there has been a lot on our plates. In all of that, we gained no new monthly supporters. Quite honestly we’ve faced a host of discouragement because of all life has thrown at us, this included. But, as I said above, we checked in on our account this morning to give you an update of the numbers and to our surprise, we were gifted $5,000 to our startup costs. Praise the Lord!

Just as a reminder, the startup costs are a one-time lump sum that we are required to have in our account in order to go to the mission field. These funds go towards:

  • Plane tickets
  • Visas
  • Our stay in Antigua during language school to learn Spanish
  • Our eventual permanent housing
  • Furnishing our home (furniture, dishes, towels, soap, etc.)
  • A car
  • Any other moving expenses

We are starting basically from scratch when we hit the ground in Guatemala, as we are unable to take anything besides basically clothing with us.

Time and time again, God continues to surprise us with the generosity of His people and He continues to remind us that this is His will.

The Road Ahead

We’ve been in contact with our leadership in SI Guatemala and have set goals for ourselves for the new year.

  • Graduate from college
    • Aaron is finished at the end of December. Brianna will be done in May 2020.
  • Raise the remainder of our monthly support as soon as possible.
  • Find a new church family.
  • Attend Cross Cultural Training in North Carolina in the summer of 2020.
    • We can’t do this if we aren’t fully funded before then.
  • Head to Guatemala in January 2021.

We are so thankful to those who have contributed thus far to our mission and words cannot express our gratitude other than to say we are in awe that God would let sinners like us take on that task with the love and support from people like you. Each one of you has a special part in our life that led us to this moment in time. Each one of you has a history with us and a future. We know that this is all because of God’s doing.

A Call for Help

  • If you’re already a partner with us, would you just continue to pray that God would continue to show his goodness and provision to you to make you able to continue to support us?
  • If you have been praying about possibly joining us monthly as a partner, would you keep praying about it, and if you feel so led, please join us today?
  • Please pray that God would give us both peace in our hearts and minds as we tackle the tough road ahead of finishing school and Aaron finding a job.
  • Please pray God provides a job that will work to keep us afloat until we land in Guatemala in 2021.
  • Please pray that we will get all of our one time funds and monthly supporters by the end of the first half of 2020.

One of the best ways you can help us, is to share our mission with those who you think may be called to partner with us. Simply forward this newsletter to them and give them any other contact information you have for us.