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

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

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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)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Surgery in San Lucas

 
I know that I promised to write the next one but Pat keeps twisting my arm to print her stuff.   Actually that is not true but it is the best excuse that I can think of right now.  Besides that next week Pat leaves for the States for 3 weeks so I may have to do my own writing.

 Dick 

 

Pat writes the following.

 

Every year our friend, Dr. Will Bogel brings down a team of foot, ankle and orthopedic surgeons to work for a week at the missionary hospital in San Lucas Toliman on Lake Atilan.  Last year we took Alma, a young girl who lives near here, for the first of two surgeries on her feet.  This year, we referred six patients, and three of them were candidates for surgery.



Sue, a maternal health nurse from Washington State, was our main contact and became a good friend.  She was just one of 21 remarkable medicos who donated a week to serve our people.

So, the last week in February we spent a lot of time one the road!

First, on the Friday before the surgeries, we went to San Lucas to bring two patients up to the hospital for pre-surgery evaluations the following day. 

Alma went with us again, and was so very excited about being able to walk after this surgery.
 
Dick with Alma after her surgery in February, 2013








We also took Grevis, a little boy with dwarfism, whose legs are at odd angles, making it difficult for him to walk.

















We had plans to meet a number of other patients, coming either from the coast or the Lake Atitlan area.  All of them made it except Karen, a darling little girl with spina bifida.  Dick had not been sure she was a good candidate for surgery, and we thought her parents had decided that they did not want to pursue this further.  I wish we had called! (More on this later.)







 After the evaluation, Alma was accepted for surgery without reservation.  Grevis, however, was deemed too high a risk after his mother said he had had bleeding problems when he had a tooth pulled.

Joaquin, it was decided, needed to grow a bit more before it would be advisable to operate on him.  Hans would be coming back later in the week for the first of two surgeries.  It was decided, however, that to operate on Nathaniel, who has spina bidifda and no feeling in his legs, would be only cosmetic, and not worth the risk any surgery involves. 

We headed back home Saturday night, and I got to spend a short time with my guys before heading back to the Lake on Sunday.  (I have to share how well my guys manage without me, due in no small part to the competence of Miguel and Tony as companion care givers.  With as much as I was gone this week, even Fidel admitted that he missed me.  Awwww!)

We had to have our patients at the hospital at 7 am Monday, and neither Dick nor I had the desire to leave home at 3:30 am to get there. 


Actually, I had planned on going up only on Saturday, so I could teach this week.  God seemed to have other ideas, though.  For a number of reasons, I strongly felt I should go back.  While my translation skills were needed, I have to be honest.  Alma really wanted me to be there with her, and, since her mom had suddenly died recently, I was happy to take my friend Patricia’s place.  Alma’s brother and sister-in-law would be with her, but they all said how I made them feel close to their mom again.  So I went.

Looking back, I had written last summer:

I’ve been wondering, lately, with the number of kids Dick is referring to Dr. Will as surgical candidates, if both he and I won’t be spending a week in February playing medical transport home from the hospital.

When we arrived at the hospital Monday morning, we were greeted by Karen, and her mom and dad.  They had not come Saturday because they did not have the money for bus fare, but had called the hospital Monday and were told, since she had already seen Dr. Will, they should bring her in and the staff would work her in if there were any cancellations.

As it turned out, there was an opening on Thursday, and Karen was scheduled. We decided to put the family up at our hotel, rather than sending them home to have them return only a day later. Alma’s brother and his sons were already staying with us (his wife would be staying at the hospital with Alma), so we had half the rooms in the small hotel filled. (Brian, a worker from the Nebaj area, seemed to have taken up the other rooms with patients he had brought to the clinic!)

Though we had a lot of people to juggle, these two families ended up blessing us more than we ever could have blessed them.

 
As we watched Alma with her brother’s family, we could see that, when her mom died and her dad disappeared, they took her in not out of obligation, but out of a deep love for her. It was so touching to watch them care for each other. And they did what they could to care for us—buying us "treats” a number of times during the week.

 


Karen’s mom and dad are equally amazing.  When we met them, Pastor Miguel, her dad, was leading a church in Cuidad Quetzal, one of the most dangerous areas of Guatemala City.  Now they were in Masagua, near the Pacific Coast.  Pastor had been asked to take over a church that had been through an upheaval and was on the verge of closing.  Watching them with their daughter, and watching both Pastor and his wife minister to any number of people, from the parents of other patients, to the lady who worked at our hotel, was humbling. 

Pastor Miguel talking with one of the parents of another patient, sharing with them the love of Jesus, in word and action.

They don’t serve as pastors, they live as pastors.  They have a remarkable way of meeting people where they are at, and yet always managing to remind them that Jesus is there with them, pursuing them, whether they realize it or not!  I learned so much watching them.




Monday Alma had her surgery, and was released from the hospital on Tuesday morning.  









Before we took her home, we gave her a chance to rest at the hotel, and decided to take the families on a boat ride on the Lake.  We had a great time, even if we were a little soaked by the end of the trip.





We dropped off Karen’s family back to the hotel, picked up Alma and her sister-in-law, and drove them home to Supongo, near Chimal.  We each slept at our respective houses Monday night, and Dick and I turned right around and went back to the Lake in the morning.  We wanted to be there Tuesday afternoon, when Hanz and his dad arrived for his surgery on Wednesday morning.
Of all the kids we encountered at the hospital, Hanz was be far the most timid.  Dick had met him twice before, and still, Hanz refused to talk to him.  Hanz’s dad, too, was pretty reserved.  We were a bit concerned that they were feeling sort of “forced” into the surgery, and I asked Dad if he was sure he wanted to go ahead with the operation.  I got the strongest “yes” I have received from anyone to this question.  (I later discovered that his wife was strongly opposed to the surgery, and that this has been a real struggle for him.)

Hanz’s surgery went well, and though he was in a considerable amount of pain he was discharged Thursday.  We were trying to figure out how to get him home, and still be around for Karen when we found out that she would not be having surgery.  When she arrived at the hospital Thursday morning, it was discovered that she was, for no apparent reason, running a 104 degree temperature.  Of course, this meant no surgery.  Though they were disappointed, her parents easily accepted this as part of God’s plan saying “next year.”  Dick, who had been questioning the wisdom of her being operated on all along, seemed to be relieved.

So, once again, we loaded up the car, heading this time to the coastal area to take both of these families home.  We dropped off Karen and her parents first, and were able to gift them with a water filter and pump for their well before we left. (Click here to read more about this.)

Though they didn’t live far from each other as the crow flies, we had to back track a way to take Hanz home.  (There are so many places here in Guatemala that are the proverbial, “You can’t get there from here,”  or at least not in any way approximating a direct route.) It was well after dark when we left his remote, isolated village and headed back, tired and hot, to Esquintla, where we hoped to spend the night.  

The one decent hotel we knew was full, and, in the dark, it was impossible to locate another hotel.  As we talked, Dick suggested we head down to Puerto San José to spend the night on the ocean.  After such an emotionally intense week, we were both ready for some down time.  

Dick writes,

The motel was nothing to brag about and had Pat not graciously offered to trade rooms with me I doubt if I could have stretched out without hitting my head on one wall with out touching my feet to the other.

Pat writes,  


Since I had never been to Monterrico, the popular tourist area on the Pacific, The next morning, Dick offered to take me there.  We found a beautiful hotel which allowed us to eat in the restaurant and spend a number of hours finishing up some computer work, while gazing at the Pacific Ocean.  After a pretty full week, it was exactly what I needed, and I returned home to my guys, refreshed and ready to face another week.

Pat 

      Thanks again Pat !

             Goodnight,
<>< Yours in Christ: Dick ><>





Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Menace of Malnutrition

Meet José, a ten year old from Santa Rosa.  He has cerebral palsy, and weighs fourteen pounds. 

Pat writes,

While we were in Santa Rosa, I once again held a starving child in my arms. . .and realized once again how helpless I am in the face of human suffering.  José is one of the most unresponsive children I’ve ever held.  Usually, when I look into the eyes of a malnourished child, I feel as if they are pleading for help.  As I look into the vacant eyes of José, I fear I’m looking at a child who has given up. . .who has lost hope of receiving human contact or understanding or love.
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José’s mother and grandmother are estranged, and he has been living with his grandmother.  For years she has refuse to admit him into any malnutrition program.  She would say that it was because she would miss him too much, but as I watched her with him, in the two plus hours it took Dick and John to fit his chair, I never once saw her talk to him or caress him.  He lay in her lap staring off in one direction as she stared off in another.  While I don’t pretend to understand her life, the mother in me believes José needs more than Grandma is able or perhaps willing go give.




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A year ago, a family from Omaha agreed to sponsor this little one and we have been providing food assistance to the family on a monthly basis.  Flori, the social worker from this area who has been taking the food to them, had concerns that José might not be receiving the food, since he was still not gaining weight. We began sending only formula.  Still he was not improving.  Yet grandma refused to bring him into Hermano Pedro for an exam, saying at for years missionaries have told her he would die, and here he is, still alive.



When I faced José at the distribution, I did something I have never done before. . .I told grandma that if she would not allow José to be examined at Hermano Pedro we would stop sending help.  I detest when North Americans think they know better than families how to care for their children, but, after talking extensively with Dick and Flori, I couldn’t help but feel that we were contributing to the neglect of this young boy if we did not set some limits.  I explained to Grandma that I was not saying that José needed to stay at Hermano Pedro, but that I needed to make sure there was not a medical reason (other than his severe Cerebral Palsy) why he was not gaining weight. 

Grandma reluctantly agreed, but Flori told us that she had talked with Hermano Pedro about José and they had said that in this instance his mother would have to be the one to admit him.  It was hard not to feel like we were fighting a losing battle here.  Grandma said she did not know how to reach her daughter.

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Enter Vitalina, the amazing office manager for the mayor’s office.  She knew the mother.  She told us Mom lived on the same piece of land on which Grandma lived.  She told us she would handle this.  And she did.  She talked to mom, and explained that Dick and I would drive her to Antigua with José if she could come the next day.  She could not, since she needed someone to care for her younger child. . .and evidently Grandma would not do so. 




Mom did agree to come in the following day with a group that Flori was bringing to Hermano Pedro from their area. Vitalina found space for her in the van, and they did come in.  Without hesitation, Mom agreed to admit him to Hermano Pedro when we agreed to assume the financial responsibility for any lab tests he might need. 

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So, our little José is in the malnutrition ward.  I wish I could say that he is thriving, but that is far from the truth.  Dick has been told that it is almost impossible to get him to eat, but they are trying before they use a feeding tube.  I can’t help but feel that he’s just given up.  Still, when he’s held, he does not make eye contact.  He does not cuddle in the way many children, even those with CP, do when they are held.  And my heart breaks anew. . .

Did we do the right thing?  Was it too little too late?  Did we just make a bad situation worse?
Those are hard questions to contemplate, and they are impossible to answer. 

I trust, though, that Vitalina and Flori knew the situation better than we do, and used us as the “clout” to get the family to do what was needed for this child. 

I trust, too, the expertise of the staff at Hermano Pedro to provide the best possible care for this child.  Their track record speaks for itself.  (Click here to read about other children they’ve cared for.) 

Most of all,  I trust that God will honor what we did our best to discern what he wanted us to do for José. 

Please pray for this little one, and the dozens of other like him around this country. 

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I often want to ask God how he can allow these children to suffer and often die from lack of proper nutrition.  But I don’t dare, because I know the answer.  He has provided enough for all his children.  It is we who need to see that they receive what they need.  I can’t end the menace of malnutrition, but, I can respond to each child God puts in my path.  I pray I will be faithful.






In February of 2009, as I was considering my move to Guatemala, I met my first child with malnutrition.  Her name was Lisvi, a six year old who was starving, and she changed my life forever.  Reflecting on our meeting I wrote:

As I prayed on the plane coming home yesterday, God showed me that Lisvi did not need to meet me. I needed to meet Lisvi. I needed to willingly let my heart be touched, and wounded, and trust that He will give me everything I need to heal. I needed to learn again to risk letting my heart be touched, knowing it might be broken, but trusting it will heal.
Five years later (is it really that long?) I still struggle when faced with malnutrition.  I fall back into feeling,  “Lord, I want to serve you but it hurts too much.”  And I still hear Him saying, “It’s not about you.”

I wish I could tell you that my first encounter with malnutrition, up close and personal, had a wonderful outcome.  But it didn’t.  Lisvi died about six weeks after I met her.  (Click here to read more of her story.)  And I’ve spend many hours contemplating the “why?” of our meeting. 

Through Lisvi I began to learn that our ministry cannot be judged based on results.  We must measure our effectiveness by obedience to what God calls us to do; by serving the one He places in front of us at each moment; by faithfulness in the face of what looks like defeat; by our willingness to be broken by a broken world.
My recent experience with José has led me to spend time recalling the children with malnutrition who have touched me so deeply.  Thinking about how God has let us be part of what He is doing in these families.   Realizing how God has used them to grow me into who I am becoming.

Some of these children have recovered and gone home to not just survive but thrive.

Jessica waiting to see the doctor before she was admitted to the malnutrition project at Hermano Pedro in September, 2012.

Dick met Jessica at a Hope Haven wheelchair distribution.  He called me to tell me he was on his way into Antigua with “Lisvi’s twin,” and could I meet them at Hermano Pedro.  My flesh cried out, “NO, not again.”  But I went in spite of my fear, and have been blessed beyond measure by this little one and her whole family.  She is back home and doing well.  It is a treat when we get to visit her, and she continues to grow, two years after her discharge from the malnutrition project.  Her family has become our family, and I am honored to be called her adopted “abuela” (grandmother).

IMG_1305This is Jessica and her mom when we visited them last January.



Valentina





Valentina shortly after she was admitted 
to the malnutrition project.









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And little Valentina, who we just “happened” to meet when we were out visiting in Santa Rosa (the same area José comes from).  She came into the malnutrition project at a few weeks old, got “fattened up” and had surgery to correct her cleft lip.  She’s at home and continues to grow until she is old enough to receive her final surgery.  Valentina taught me that we must be willing to respond when the need presents itself. . .even if it’s inconvenient. . . even if we must change “our” plans to follow His plan.

Here she is, ready to go home. What a little chub!



These seem like successes. . . at least by my worldly standards.



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Others are not so clear.  Little José Antonio (also from Santa Rosa—are you seeing how poor this area is?) was in and out of malnutrition over the years.  A few months ago, after living at home for more than a year, he died suddenly. It sounds like he had some complications from a kidney problem.  He brought much joy to all who knew him---though he was seven, he looked like he was only about a year and a half old. Oh how he knew to use his cuteness to get what he wanted.  José Antonio teaches me how great an impact even a small child can have on so many people. He is greatly missed. 


This is Leonel, shortly after I moved to Guatemala in 2010.

Then there is Leonel, who Dick brought into malnutrition before I even moved down here.  He grew stronger and healthier, and was moved down to the children’s unit at Hermano Pedro shortly after I moved here.  His parents just couldn’t care for him at home, though he was doing so well.  And now we watch him withering away once again.  This time not for lack of food, but we believe from loneliness.  Dick, especially, tries to see him whenever possible, but it’s just not the same as being with his family. 

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A more recent picture of Dick holding Leonel. 

It is hard to watch him deteriorate.  And we wonder how much longer he will be with us.  And I wonder why, when he is receiving such good care, he’s not doing well.  This ISN’T how it’s SUPPOSED to be.  Leonel continues to teach me about surrender.  But it’s hard and it hurts. . .


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Now there is José. . .I don’t know yet all that he will teach me.  He has already taught me, though, that sometimes I must be the voice for one who cannot speak for himself.  That I must, after much prayer, draw a line in the sand when I believe it’s His will.  And it’s scary.  We still don’t know what the outcome will be. 

Will his family blame us if he does not do well?  Will they be willing to take him home again if he does grow strong enough? Did we do the right thing?  Did we wait too long before we did something?

He is teaching me already to trust in doing our best to be obedient as we understand God’s direction—even when the consequences of our obedience are still unclear.  He is teaching me to love someone who doesn’t seem to care if I’m there or not.  To love without expecting anything in return.  To love at the same time I let go.  Hard lessons—all learned from one who cannot speak, but who has purpose. 

Pat


               Thanks Pat.

               Goodnight,
<><  Yours in Christ: Dick  ><>


Monday, March 3, 2014

A Three Day Tour


Mon.,Feb.17,2014   

Written by Dave.
So my good friend Dick called last night and asked if I wanted to join him on a 3 day tour ( the tune from Gilligan's Island went through my head ). I said sure , so I met him at the Bethel  shop in Chimal Monday morning and off we went.

Our first stop was to return an electric chair to Delfina in San Pedro la Laguna. It had been into the shop for repairs, and as she uses it to get back and forth to work, Dick wanted to return it a.s.a.p. We showed up unannounced, and her smile was from ear to ear! I even had a personal escort from the road down the path to her home, being led by her sobrina ( niece ), 5 year old Clarita. Then her sobrino (nephew), 7 year old Chico, helped me and Dick replace her batteries. They definitely were not scared of 2 big gringos!
What a blessing it was to return Delfina's chair.
Then, Dick took me on one of his" shortcuts" through some beautiful country to Mazatenango, where we would spend the night. It was  beautiful scenery, up about 6000', and I remember looking out my window and saying to Dick " it's about 1000' straight down". At the same time Dick was looking at the same view on his side ! Thank goodness for his Toyota's 'oh my goodness handles '
Tues., Feb.18,2014



Today we are taking a new pump for a Hoyer lift ( lifts a person using a nylon harness and a manual hydaulic pump) to a 22 yr. old man, Jose, who lives towards the coast with his mom.His mom had him breach-birth in the middle of the night, and there was no one around in her small village to help.Dick told me mom would carry Jose 3 MILES to catch a bus for school ( when it would stop, often not  wanting a handicapped person on board ). She also carries him 2 MILES to church on Sundays. She has had hernia surgery once already, and apparently needs it again.
What an amazing mother. Another blessing from God.

We were only about 20 minutes from the coast , so we decided to check the beach at Tulate. The boat ferry cost only Q5 return. Dick had a hankering for shrimp.  Seeing as we were 2 of not too many there, Dick figured the shrimp may have  been left over from the weekend, so we passed on that.
We drove back to the Bambu Hotel and had a nice swim instead. which felt real good after driving all day
Thurs., Feb.20,2014



Off to La Gomera today, to check on a lady's electric chair batteries. Norma is a 34 yr.old lady, who contracted polio just after birth. Her batteries did need to  be changed, and I think she appreciated getting her chair working again, in order to get back and forth to town ( quite flat here )Another nice mom  who also gave Dick some money for gas, etc.
Boy, I sure hate when you call me  to go on these awful trips, Dick .
KEEP CALLING, OKAY ( EH in  Canadian )!
P.S. , Wwe took another of Dick's  'shortcuts' on  the way home. We only had to cross 5 rivers !Thanks, Dick
Dave

                    Thank you Dave.
<>< Goodnight, Yours in Christ: Dick ><>





Saturday, February 15, 2014

Back In The Saddle Again


My good friend Dave black is back in town again.  Dave once again volunteered to do some journaling for me and since I actually did the last one myself I gladly obliged.


Back in the saddle again.

Written by David Black.


After arriving  in Guate last Wed., my good friend Dick invited me to go near the coast and visit a couple of families with him.
Dick, Miquel, Elder, Marcos and I headed out after ''brekky" Oh Boy!  hear we go again. (Guess I have to haul out my Canadian to  English dictionary again.  As near as I can tell David is saying that we did some break dancing before going out on this trip.)  at Camperos ( of course ). Dick and I had a normal breakfast, (David has been here to many times if he thinks that beens, fried bananas and tortillas is a normal brekfast.) while the boys opted for chicken wings and pepsi!
We first visited '' Gravy'', (This is a person's name not something else that we had for breakfast.) a young boy who is scheduled for surgery on his legs with Dr. Will in Feb. He gets around pretty good, considering both knees and feet are pointed in.  Dick wanted to make sure he and his mom are going and that they have a ride there.






Our next stop was near La Gomera to see Marvin, who has C.P. Dick says he is looking and doing much better after receiving vitamins and food. Dick also wanted to take Marvin's siblings to Camperos for obtaining good marks for the last school year, but they said thet had to collect firewood for mama.  Quite a sacrifice to miss chicken at Camperos!








Our last stop was to visit Ronnie's  family and take his brothers and sisters to Camperos for their school marks last year also. The ride to and from San Lucas was the best part of the day. Ronnie's sisters laughed the whole way there and back, hitting Dick's boys continually with a plastic pop bottle. While this was going on in the back, Dick had Orlindo and Djuan driving with him. This was worth the price of admission! Back at Ronnie's house, Dick checked with mama about school funding for this year, and received some hugs from the older sisters in the house.
We  didn't do much ''wheelchairing ' today, but I think God used us in another way. As Dick said, sometimes just visiting people is all you need to do.
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Dick invited me to tag along with him, Cesar, Brian and Kevin to ix and deliver a couple of chairs near Pana.  After my first ''chicken bus '' ride this year, I met them at the shop in Chimal. Nothing like a bus ride to get you back into the Guate swing of things! Especially for 5Q!
Our first stop was in Solola to check on a man's electric chair . We found he needs  front tires, but he can get to the shop in Chimal and get some. He and his family are  also planning to move to a home with a flatter entrance, as where he lives now is quite steep. Dick said he was in a car accident that put him in a wheelchair.




We then visited  Edger , a 15 year old boy who has C.P., but you wouldn't know it. He is one of the happiest, smiling boys I have met here, and his mom, and younger brother and sisters are the same. What a nice family. His chair had not been charging well, and after checking his charger, DIck gave him a new charger. Dick wanted to make sure his chair was okay, as school starts this week. His school even has even built a ramp for his chair to go up!
For some reason, this family really got to me. Darn  tears. Thank you Lord, for a blessed day.
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After having a dandy breakfast (Looks like we are getting David trained in English) for 20Q, we went to Mayan Families to meet Angel, a 16 yr.old boy who has M.D. (?) Dick had brought 2 electric chairs, and we had to figure out which one would fit Angel best, becuse of his severe curved back. We went with the first one , a hybrid Dick had made from an electric bottom, and a Hope Haven seat.  After much cutting of foam and seat adjustments, Angel was driving around the yard with a big smile on his face!





The,best,part,of the morning for me was when Dick told mama this was a gift from God. When mama thanked us and God with tears in her eyes, ....well  you can guess what happened to my eyes.





After lunch in Pana,  we took a boat to Tsununa to visit Juaquin, a  16 yr. old boy with C.P. He is also scheduled to go  to Dr. Will in Feb. for possible surgery to straighten his legs.  Dick wanted to touch base with him and his family, and fortunately his uncle was there to translate from Spanish to Tzutuil, the local Mayan dialect. Tsununa is no Pana -  very poor homes with dirt floors and bamboo walls , etc.
We thought about visiting another boy in San Marcos ( the next village ), but we heard the last boat was at 5:30, so we took the next boat back. Kevin got to carry a young  couple's   puppies off the boat, as they had a baby and much stuff to carry themselves. Thanks, Kevin.


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After breakfast in Pana ( at our favorite spot ), we drove to Santiago to meet Argentina, the lady in Santiago who knows everyone and their needs. We fiitted Augustina into the other electric chair. With minor adjustments, it was a perfect fit. Another grateful family, and she loved driving her new chair around their yard.


Funny  (Godincident ?) how both chairs we had brought fitted Angel and Augustina so well. "Thank you Lord." 






We had a nice lunch with Argentina, and started back home, as the boys were to start school on Thursday. Dick wanted a break from driving, so I drove, but after a few speed bumps and
missed shifts, I think he  may have had second  thoughts. On the way, Dick received news about some donations, and that Albert in San Juan could get the 2 boys in San Marcos and Tsununa to Dr. Will on Feb.22. Dick was quite grateful.
It only took me a week to get back in the groove here, and I thank the Lord for an awesome trip. Thanks to Dick and the boys.
in Christ,
Dave

Thanks Dave,  As usual it was great traveling with you.  Even if your driving scared the kids.  Didn't bother me though.  I guess I must have slept through it.

              Goodnight,
<>< Yours in Christ: Dick  ><>


Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Free At Last"

42 year old Salvadoha
never left his house, 
" Until Today! "

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

A few weeks ago Dave black, three of my boys and I took a trip to Santiago Atitlan to deliver a power wheelchair to Angle, a boy who suffers from Muscular dystrophy.





Since Angles back was severely deformed this wheelchair proved to be a real challenge but with everyone pitching in after a few hours we managed to have Angle seated properly and soon he was driving the power wheelchair all over the place. I told Dave and the boys that I doubted that we would run into a more difficult case in a long long time. 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



Little did we know that in just a few short hours we would be taken to the home of Salvador a 43 year old man that had such severe curvature of the spine that he had not been out of his house since the day he was born.


Salvador's spine is so severely curved that this is 
as far as he can possibly bend forward.

Since Salvador can not straighten is back and there is no way that he can sit or even lay flat his elderly parents have not been able to transport him any where.  Granted when he was a child it was likely that he could have been carried but back 40 years ago no one in Guatemala would ever bring a disabled child out in public.  Thankfully the astigmatism of having a disabled child  is slowly changing here in Guatemala but I still run into families that are so ashamed of their disabled child that they will not bring them out in public.  What ever the case Salvador's parents now seem to want the best for him and seemed excited when I talked about building him a very special power wheelchair.  Salvador was excited as well.  He told us that he especially wanted to be able to go to church.  The past few days an American volunteer named David and myself went to work at the Hope Haven factory here in Guatemala on building that very special wheelchair for Salvador.  It took us nearly 2 days to build but we finally came up with something that looked like it would work.  

On Wednesday my friends Scot and Linda Hardy and I headed out to Santiago Atitlan to give Salvador his new power wheelchair.  I had told him on my original visit that it would likely be a year before I would have something ready for him but thinking about him lying in that dark little house that had no windows for another year made me put this wheelchair on my priority list 

Before going to Salvador's home we picked up Argentina the lady who originally introduced me to Salvador and another lady who offered to interpret for us.  Scot and Linda are wonderful people but their lack of Spanish is right down there with mine.  (I think that is why I like them so much.)

One of men who worked at the special needs school that Argentina founded helped us get Salvador into his new wheelchair.  He also served as interpreter number 2 since neither Salvador nor his parents speak any Spanish. These 4 way conversations can get a bit confusing but Salvador and his family made it clear to us that they knew that this wheelchair and our chance meeting was a true gift from God.


Salvador listened intently as I explained to him 
how to operate his new wheelchair.




 




And soon he was on his way down the narrow cobblestone road that led from the house that he had not set foot out of in 42 years.  

"How did he do? "             "Watch the video blow!"    

video

"Thank you Jesus for another wonderful day in Guatemala."
         

              Good night,
<>< Yours in Christ: Dick ><>