* GUATEMALA * * * * * * * * Dick Rutgers *

An ongoing journal of life as a Missionary in Guatemala. It will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

My Photo
Location: Chimaltenango, Guatemala

I work in Guatemala with Hope Haven international and Bethel Ministries. Along with my friends Chris and Donna Mooney and their family, we share the love of Jesus in various ways. Although giving out and maintaining wheelchairs is our primary ministry, we are involved in many other things as well. Building houses, feeding the hungry, providing education to handicapped children in orphanages and villages, and hosting a camp for the handicapped are just a small part of the things that God has given us the privilege of getting involved in. For several years now I have been keeping daily journals. Once a week I try to post new journals and pictures. My e-mail is dick@dickrutgers.com Guatemala Cell Phone # 502 5379 9451 USA Phone # 360 312 7720(Relays free to Guatemala)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

This and that from past Face book entries.

For those of you who do not use Facebook 
Here are some of my Facebook entries from the past month

 Pat was recently told about a 19 year old young man that was injured in an accident about 6 years ago. It sounds like he must have injured his spine because he can not walk and has no bladder or bowel control. The details are sketchy but we have been told that his father has rented him a room somewhere and only comes to see him once every 2 weeks to bring food and to change him.  (We are not sure if this is from never being cleaned or if the skin is dying.) He is full of bed sores from lying day after day in his own filth. We are praying that what we are being told is an exaggeration but our source is very reliable. We wanted to go there tomorrow but must wait until Saturday because the person that is taking us there can not get off from work until then.
We plan on going with just a couple of us although some of my boys are begging to come along even though they are fully aware of what we may run into. Many of my Boys were nearly in tears when they heard about this. Fact is seeing their compassion caused me to nearly break into tears myself. Did I ever mention how much I love these young men. God is doing a real work in them.
Any way please pray. This young man sounds much to severe to place in Pat's home or even Hermano Pedro orphanage. We would not consider any National Hospital other than Roosevelt which is located in Guatemala City, but there you need someone that can stay with him to feed and care for him. A private hospital is an option but would be far to costly. So we do not know exactly what to do. I have learned though from past experiences that when we give up on our own sulutions God takes over and we are trusting Him for the answer. All we know right now is that we are sure that God wants us to go and see him. If for no other reason than to let him know that we care and that God cares. Are we looking forward to this? We know that going into that room under our own strength will be impossible but we also know that with God all things are possible. So Please Pray. Pray for wisdom and also pray that if father does not have a good excuse for treating his son that way that Pat nor I meet up with him. (Especially Pat)

Dick Rutgers's photo.


Two days ago I wrote about (Roberto) a young man who's parents basically abandoned him after he fell from a tree and became paralyzed from the waist down four years ago. See (I HAVE AN URGENT PRAYER REQUEST) a few posts down. 
Today we discovered that most of what we had been told was true. Roberto who is 18 years old lived in a small rat infested building that has no windows and an opening where a door should be. He can not get out of bed and is only visited by either his mom or dad every 7 to 14 days. That is when he is brought food and water and is changed. He has no bowel or bladder control.

Miraculously he is in much better physical condition than we had thought. He is malnourished and has rather large bed sores but no infections and does not to need to be hospitalized. ENOUGH SAID. 
Pat will be able to fill you in on the rest as soon as she has time. She is a bit busy at the moment. She had not figured on having a new son today. THAT'S RIGHT. Through a series of GODINCIDENCES As of this afternoon Roberto is one of her young men who is living in her home as I wright this. All I can say is PRAISE GOD !!
A few of you asked how you can help so I will tell you. #1 Continue to pray. It is working! That is why Roberto is part of Pat's family right now. #2 Without medical expenses that I am sure Roberto will have it is going to cost Pat close to $500 per month to keep Roberto in her home. She does not have it but she had the faith to take him in. You know that in the 15 years that I have been here I have seldom mentioned money. Tonight I am. Not for me but bot Pat's ministry. Especially for Roberto and also for the new home that her and the boys plan on moving into. You can give to Pat's ministry by contacting Pat at guatemalagrandma@gmail.com

or by sending any donations to.
The Josiah Foundation
2112 S 163rd Circle
Omaha, Ne. 68130
The Josiah Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization
Donations are tax-deductible. For tax-deductible receipts, please make checks payable to the Josiah Foundation, noting Mission Guatemala on the memo line, expressing your preference that your donation be used to support Pat's work.


Four of my young men and I hiked in to visit a family who's little boy Carlos, I had taken to San Lucas Toliman for foot surgery a few months ago. Carlos and his family live in a remote area and have no electricity. Considering the fact that here in Guatemala it gets dark between 5:30 and 6:30 all year around we thought it would be a great idea to give this family a solar system. These systems are nothing elaborate that you can run your washing machine or color TV from but for a family that sits in complete darkness except for special evenings when they can afford a candle they thought that they had been given the world. Besides that they have no running water anyway. It took some time to get the small solar panel set up, the motor cycle battery in just the right place, the switches mounted and the 2 LED lights in place but the entire family patiently waited while my boys and I put one light in their small one room house and the other in their even smaller open fire kitchen that was constructed mainly of corn stalks. When we turned on the lights the family stood in awe. You would have thought that they were looking at the worlds most spectacular fireworks display.
After a few minutes father turned off the lights. He said that he did not want to waste electricity because he had heard that it was quite expensive. This is where the fun part really began. With the help of my boys we explained to the family that the sun provided the energy for the lights and that the family could use them as much as they wanted and there would never receive an electric bill. I went on to explain that since God made the sun this light was a gift from God. Do you see where this is leading? Any way it was a great day and I promised that I would be back and am praying that we can talk more about the "Son and the Light". Next time I plan on bringing this family a water filter. Seems that a story I once heard about living water may be brought up if the good Lord so directs.


Today with the help of our El Salvadorian friends that we have been training we were able to give away and fit 21 wheelchairs to needs children here in San Salvador. It has been a busy 5 days but tomorrow we drive back to Guatemala with hearts full of joy.

I have been in El Salvador for the past 5 days with Sergio and Hilario who are two workers from the Guatemalan Hope Haven factory. We have been teaching sitting clinics to therapist and other health care workers at several El Salvadorian organizations. Not only do we do one day of classroom teaching but we also do a day of wheelchair distributions at each place we go to. Here our students are able to give out wheelchairs to needy children and also get hands-on experience. It has been a win win situation for everyone that has been involved.


I just returned home after spending 4 great days with 11 Guatemalan friends from Hope Haven Guatemala. With the help of a Rotary Club grant we spend our time in Xela giving out and professionally fitting 65 children's wheelchairs to needy Guatemalan children. The distribution was 2 fold. Not only did the families that received wheelchairs get to witness the love of Christ first hand but we were also given the opportunity to work with and help train a number of therapists and therapy students form the Xela area in how to properly fit wheelchairs to some extremely deformed people. I really want to thank everyone that I worked with for truly making me part of the teem. Other than for my lack of Spanish and some of the goose looking street food that you tried to get me to eat I seldom remembered that I was the only Gringo in the group.

Thanks to some great sponsors, On Tuesday Miguel and I were able to give food and vitamins to a few clinics that I work with and several families that live near the coast. You cold never imagine how much not only these items but also our visits means to these long time friends. Thanks to all of you that are involved in giving and getting these items to us.


"Congratulations Miguel and Merna! " 
Wow do the years fly by! Seems that it wasn't all that long ago that we were celibrating Miguel's ninth birthday. Now I just attended his wedding.

(A special thanks to Hope Haven Guatemala for letting us use your van so that Patricia Duff could take her boys to the wedding.)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Saying Good-bye To Lusbin

Another one written by Pat. Thank you Pat! I thought about writing about Lusbin myself but just could not bring myself to do it.

Pat writes,

A little more than a week ago, Dick showed up at school while I was in a meeting. When I received word he needed to talk to me, my heart started pounding. It's not like him to interrupt my school day, so I knew something was up.
He told me that one of the former Hermano Pedro patients had passed away that morning. He needed someone to go with him to Salamá for the funeral. Could I get away?
It turned out that the next day we were having a program to welcome the Bush's, a couple from Illinois (Go Ilini!) who had just moved down to work at the school. There would be no classes, so after a brief conversation with Judy, I decided to go.
Lusbin had originally come to Hermano Pedro through the malnutrition project. After a time there, he put on weight and returned home, but not before becoming best buddies with Dick. Though I had never met him, I felt like I knew him from Dick's stories.

The red line roughly traces our rout,  though I'm sure Dick would have some corrections. 

(No Pat that is pretty much the rout we took. I do have another way that I go when the quarter mile wide river is not to deep but if My Land Cruiser ever got stuck or quit I did not know how much you enjoyed swimming.)
Much of the way was up and down mountain sides,which also adds to the mileage.
While it feels like I have traveled all over the country, in truth I have not visited most of the departments in Guatemala. This trip would take me to a whole new area--Baja Vera Paz. Though Dick said it was only about 45 km. "as the crow flies" unfortunately we were land bound and the trip was more like 230 km since we stayed on the good roads. This is true of many of the places we go--it feels like you can't get there from here, which is somewhat true, since you have to go through many out of the way places to finally reach your destination.
We got into town about 4:30, found hotel rooms, and went to see Lusbin's family. They were so very grateful Dick had come, and though I had not met them before, I was immediately brought into their confidence. Once again it was helpful to be a woman in this situation. Both Lusbin's mama and sister poured out their hearts to me like we were old friends. This was a traumatic time for them both, but especially hard on his sister, who was his constant companion and care giver.

Dick Rutgers's photo.
On their last visit, Dick and the boys spent the whole day with Lusbin,
even taking him and his sister out to eat at Pollo Campero 

Dick had visited Lusbin only a few weeks earlier with three of the boys to repair his power chair. At that time he could see that Lusbin, who had muscular dystrophy, was declining. It was a surprise, however, for him to pass on so quickly.
Mama explained that Tuesday morning he had gone to the park in his power chair to visit friends. When he got home he began having chest pains, and they took him to the national hospital. He died Wednesday morning, we are told from heart problems. I wish we could have been there with him to help him. His sister showed us a picture of him she took in the hospital, and he looked absolutely terrified.

Dick Rutgers's photo.

We visited with the family, and were given a "refaccion" of coffee and sweet bread. It was very strange to be seated next to a casket, eating a snack, but this is how it is done here. Another sample of the hospitality that is so much a part of the character of the Guatemalan people. It actually reminded me of wakes I had been to years earlier when I worked on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.
The funeral would not be to 3 pm the following afternoon, so we went back to the hotel and got a good nights rest.
In the morning we went to Rabinal, a nearby town, so I could meet Julia, the director of a local school for preschoolers. She and her husband are very involved in advocating for the rights of the disabled in Guatemala, and I had heard stories about her for years. She was not there, but I did get to see the beautiful school, and meet some of the staff. We then called Julia, who was actually in Salama, the town where we were staying, and arranged to meet her for lunch.
She is a delightful and amazing woman; a wonderful and committed educator. As we visited in Spanish (poor Dick; I only remembered to translate for him once in a while) I learned that many of the ideas I wanted to implement in Santa Maria were the same ones Julia was using in her school in Rabinal. I was refreshed and encouraged to see this. I don't want to turn New Life into an American School, It was good to find out that well trained Guatemalan teachers also thought as I do, and were trying to train local teachers to use the same techniques I was encouraging at the school.
Julia had been Lusbin's first teacher, and had fought hard to get him into public school. She was pleased to accompany us to the funeral. Her presence was a great blessing to me. I was unfamiliar with the local customs of funerals and grieving and it was a great benefit to be able to follow her lead through the different aspects of the funeral.
We arrived at Lusbin's house just a a great downpour began. We were served large servings of Pozole, a rich chicken soup dish traditional in this part of the country. I regretted eating pizza just an hour earlier but ate as much as I could. It was important to mama to feed us well, even though I explained we had just eaten!
Dick Rutgers's photo.
We waited out the worst part of the rain, and the long walk to the church began. Dick served as a pallbearer, which was quite a challenge. These men carried the casket to the church on their shoulders, and Dick, being almost a foot taller than some of them, was at a distinct disadvantage. We were both very relieved to see that after the church service the casket would be taken to the cemetery in the back of a pick-up truck.
Here people who can afford it are often buried in a tower of cement boxes, each cast taking one space (a Guatemalan mausoleum?) After the casket is placed in its space, the front of the opening is closed with bricks and mortar while the family watches. This is difficult to watch, but was especially painful for Lusbin's sister who became more frantic as each brick was added, screaming, "mi nene, mi nene" ("my baby boy, my baby boy). This was one of the hardest things I have experienced in Guatemala.
(It's not unusual for mourners to climb on top of other tombs adjacent to where thedeceased will be buried, to get a better view of the interment.)

Dick Rutgers's photo.

This young lady of sixteen has limited cognitive skills, though her social and daily living skills are excellent. It broke my heart to watch her grieve for her brother. I occurred to me that she only partially understood what was going on, and I longed to help her somehow.
I went over and prayed silently over her, and as I did, it seemed God told me to tell her, "Lusbin's not in there." Not knowing what would be her reaction, I reluctantly obeyed. She heard me, and clung to me. I went on to explain that only his body was being buried; that the person she loved (his soul) was now with Jesus. I told her I believed he was not healthy and whole, and knew that his suffering was over. I don't know how much of this she really understood, but she calmed substantially.

While intellectually limited, she obviously has a great love of Jesus, and I think the idea that Lusbin was with Him comforted her.
We returned to the home after the service for a can of pop and to visit. We were not sure where the rest of this family was spiritually, and didn't want to miss an opportunity to share with them the good news of life in Jesus. This time was a blessing for both them and us.
They shared with us that Lusbin often said Dick was like his papa. This was a beautiful tribute to the relationship Dick had with him, but also was very sad. Lusbin's own father is alive, but does not live with the family. He was at the funeral, but was distant from the other family members. The saddest thing was that he, himself, share that Lusbin thought of Dick as his father, without any resentment or remorse.
It made both Dick and me realize how what we do often seems little to us, but is huge to those we love here. Dick would see Lusbin once or twice a year after he left Hermano Pedro, but these visits mattered so much to him and his family.
(We had seen another example of this the night before. When we came to the house unexpectedly, we found four of Lusbin's wheelchair sitting in a row, next to the coffin, along with other favorite possessions of him. Two of these wheelchair were no longer used, Because they Lusbin had outgrown them but even though they had years of of use they were clean and well cared for; greatly valued by him and his family.)
We were comforted to discover, too, that Jesus was walking with Lusbin during his last days. About two weeks before he died, he had told his mother and sister that he was going to pass on. He told them that they could cry for two days, but then needed to get on with their lives. Dick said this sounded so much like Lusbin, who loved life to the fullest, despite is declining health. Dick was also honored to hear that Lusbin had left him a message, too. He was not to be sad at Lusbin's death, because one day they will see each other in heaven.
Please pray for us as we continue to share Jesus with and encourage this family. His mom asked to keep the wheelchairs for 40 days, at which time they would like them to be given to others who need them. We will be going back to pick them up, and are praying for openings to share more of the gospel with them.

            Thank you Pat
<><  Yours in Christ : Dick  ><>

Friday, May 8, 2015

More from Gutemala


Offer to take 4 children to the doctor for a 2 month checkup after having foot surgery. Tell each family that only one adult and the child that had the surgery can come along with you. Granted the math classes that I took were 60 years ago, but I'm still trying to figure out how I ended up with 13 people in my car today.
Actually everything went well today. all four of the children are doing well and will not have to return to the doctor. To celebrate we all went down to the lake and played for about an hour before heading home.
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Fernando And His Class Take First Place 
At English Festival 

This was no small achievement. Fernando Velasquez not only wrote the song but also choreographed and was lead singer in the competition. This competition originally started with every class in a large school participating. last night the top six classes competed and Fernando and his class took first place. I am very proud of him.

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Cessar's soccer game was cut short today when both teems ejected the referee from the game for being drunk.
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I have once again been on the road for the past two days. This time it has been a little bit different because I don't have any of the boys or anyone else with me to interpret. Somehow I have been managing though. I have been able to give out quite a bit of dehydrated food and vitamins to individuals and organizations that I work with. The highlights though he have been able to get 3 power wheelchairs running without having to take them back to Bethel's wheelchair shop. Without them none of these three kids can attend school. This morning I spend most of my time with Steven and little Sebastian who are uncle and nephew. Both of these young men have muscular dystrophy. About a year ago Steven lost his brother big Sebastian to the same disease. Little Sebastian was still walking about a year ago but now has to use a power wheelchair because his health is deteriorating rapidly.
He was in great spirits today though as he thoroughly enjoyed helping me work on his power wheelchair.
I managed to get to my hotel by about 3 o'clock this afternoon. I soon discovered though that my room would not be cleaned and ready for me for at least 2 hours. Knowing a family that lives about a half hour from here that also has the boy in a power wheelchair I decided to make one more visit. Edgar's father deserted his mother him and three siblings about 4 years ago. Mom has to work long hours each day just to put food on the table and the children end up staying home by themselves when they are not in school. The family has very little money and the house is basically a bare shell. thanks to a good friend of mine they will soon have beds though. Several months ago I had promised the kids that if they did well in school I would take them out to Camperos for lunch. I was pretty tired this evening but a promise is a promise, and I was soon rejuvenated by simply watching four of the happiest kids that you have ever seen. This was the first time ever going out to eat for any of them. I only wished that their mother could have come along enjoy a time of fun with her children. We did take a chicken dinner back home for her though. After a lot of hugs and thank yous I headed back to my hotel. Tomorrow I plan on driving back home so that I can spoil my kids this weekend. Water slides here we come!

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Today 4 of my boys and myself had to work just a little bit harder than yesterday on taking someone to lunch. After having church at home we headed off to visit two families that live down near the coast hat have children that are being sponsored for school. I had promised the kids of both families that if they got good marks on their report cards that we would take them out for a day of lunch and swimming. Little did I realize what an incentive this would be. All for the kids have done really great so the 9 of us made the two hour drive down to the coast to pick them up and then drove another hour to the nearest town where we can go swimming and have lunch. We all had a great time. But a13 hour day was a bit much for this 68 year old. Looking into the back seat I realize but it tired out my boys as well.

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3 of my boys & I took Ambrocio to lunch today. Nothing that special to most people but this was this 12 year old's first time ever to go to a restaurant, and his first time out of his house since attending camp last December. It was well worth packing him down the mountain side on our backs. We are still having a hard time finding a teacher that is willing to go to his home a few times a week.
Sitting here studying thinking about how much I cannot wait for this semester to be over and trying to figure out a way to cram a 68 page study guide into my brain by Tuesday. Decide to get on facebook and see this...brings tears to my eyes...a 12 year old who hasn't left his home since December who would probably give anything to attend school. Can you imagine? Definitely puts things into perspective. Thank you Dick Rutgers for the amazing work you do!!