Sometimes life gets tricky and you stop writing for a couple of years. But I’m back and want you all to share in the incredible mission God has us on. We ended up in Puerto Rico this past month because God told us that it was time to go.
We started homeschooling Lili because we always knew in our hearts that we would end up on the mission field in some way or another. We never knew the details, and to be honest we are still figuring them out, but the Holy Spirit was definitely pushing us out onto the sea this January. And in February, we left everything and took the plunge, flying out to a town in Puerto Rico where we knew no one. The first leg of a long-term trip through Latin America (Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Mexico, & Brazil) that will end late July in Redding, California at a church called Bethel. I will be attending their two week, intensive worship school along with other worship leaders from all over the world.
Embarking on this journey has involved an immense amount of trust. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past couple of years, it’s that you can’t go wrong when you place all of your trust in God. We have seen many things go seemingly wrong these past few years. Ceci’s seizures weren’t getting any better, Carlos broke his ankle and needed surgery, we suffered a miscarriage. But through it all, we have seen the Father care for us, comfort us, teach us, and best of all redeem what the enemy has tried to steal.
We found out we were expecting our third child right before we left on our mission! We were surprised, although we shouldn’t have been because our six year-old daughter, Lili, nonchalantly prophesied this pregnancy one day while we were waiting in the car. “Mommy, God is going to give you a present on the 10th of winter. It’s a baby!” Lo and behold, we conceived January 10th even though we had quit trying in preparation for the trip.
So I spent much of our time in Puerto Rico tired, sick, and dizzy in the throws of first trimester bliss. Carlos held down the fort as we explored what God had for us in Puerto Rico. Carlos had received the name of the city we were to stay at in prayer weeks before we left and that was it. We were unable to find a place to stay in that town until Carlos had an ordained conversation with a friend at church who happened to be going to Puerto Rico around the same time as us. It turned out that he was going to that exact city, and that his sister had a fully furnished apartment that we could rent! We ended up going to our gracious landlady’s church that was only five minutes away from the apartment. The church was located on a road that Carlos had received in prayer a week before we left. We were definitely in the right place!
We felt right at home with our host and church, it was like being with family. The church calls itself Casa de Alabanza, or House of Praise, which is perfect because we feel our calling is centered around music and worship. We received some training through music classes they offer and spent many nights and days worshipping, praying, and receiving with the congregation.
They prayed healing over our daughter, Ceci, and were there for us when she began having seizures at night. We spent many sleepless nights watching over her, praying, and singing praises to the One who heals. We saw her seizures go from uncontrolled despite medication and lasting over 30 minutes in the states to controlled with medication and lasting less than five minutes while we were in Puerto Rico. Her condition was improving. We also saw her physical activity increase, which was a huge blessing because her development has been stunted for some time now. We met so many strong believers that encouraged us with their faith, friendship, and words of life over our family.
There were so many divine appointments while on the island. Our first visit to the church was marked by a reunion between Carlos and a Christian family who used to drive him to school in Chicago over fifteen years ago— just when we thought we knew no one in that town! That was a cause for celebration. It then turned out that they were my aunt’s neighbors in the mountains of a nearby town. I was able to reconnect with her after twenty years! We broke bread and shared stories about my beloved grandma who had faith to move mountains.
I had one other aunt and uncle in Puerto Rico that I wanted to see but didn’t have their contact information as it had been years and years as well. Then, while we were driving through a busy street in a neighboring big city, my aunt crossed the street in front of our car! I made Carlos pull over as I went waving and shouting after her. As I got closer I saw my uncle waiting in the car for her. It was such a joyous occasion! We were able to exchange contact information and spend time together with the whole family before we left. It was beautiful to see Lili have fun with her cousins and count them among her new friends. We got to visit the church my aunt and uncle have pastored for over 40 years and even share a song with them. It was incredible to rejoice in the spirit with family and fellow believers. I was truly blessed to experience the rich heritage of faith that I have on the island of my ancestors.
We worked on a couple covers of worship songs while we were out there and created new original music when we could. Carlos has a wealth of music that he began writing over a year ago when his freelance work was slowing down. He prayed, asking whether or not he should seek out more work. He felt led to focus on music instead. God supernaturally provided for us during that time, but the uncertainty finally got to Carlos and he ended up taking on a full-time job. Almost a year went by with music on the back burner, but we feel strongly that now is the time to move forward with it. It is part of the work we’re aiming to achieve during this time.
We were able to share our heart for worship with another congregation affiliated with the church we were visiting while in Puerto Rico. One of the nights we were there we met a Christian recording artist, Sheila Romero, who sang and shared the Word that evening. She and her husband, Pedro, invited us out to eat after service that night so that we could continue sharing our story with them. They blessed us with prayer and with one of her albums, which has been on replay in our car rental ever since. Our time in Puerto Rico was marked by endurance, perseverance, and connecting with other worshippers seeking to glorify God.
We now find ourselves at stop numero dos in the Dominican Republic where God has led us to a beautiful mission house in a town that again, the Lord gave to Carlos in prayer. We feel so well-taken care of and full of the Lord’s peace here with our hosts, who are worship leaders as well. We believe God will continue revealing His plan here.
This small town has a high concentration of missionaries and we look forward to gaining wisdom as we connect with the local churches here. We hope to become involved in reaching out to the community and plan to utilize our musical abilities to share the love of Christ. Ceci has also been doing wonderfully. No seizures and she gets more active by the day! Lili continues to shine and make new friends wherever we go. We will continue to update regularly from here on out. Thank you for your prayers, they mean the most, and to all those who have supported us financially! Mucho, mucho amor.
Damaris Arteaga and Family