* 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)

Monday, January 12, 2015

This Past Week


 A Few Of This Week's Facebook Entries 
Jan 10, 2015
Today Gary and Anita Senesac headed for home. Pat, Juan Carlos Curruchich, David and I plan on visiting a few more people tomorrow and then picking up Erica and her sister before heading home. We have had a great week up here in Huehuetinago.

 Jan 9, 2015

Today Anita Senesac sent me the following account of this past week. I won't say that it was not an emotional time for all of us but all of us are glad that we were exactly where we felt God wanted us to be. Please take the time to read the following.
Have you ever waited for something for a really long time? I mean thought about, prayed about, almost begged for something? 
That has been me for the past 5.5 years....
And this week this dream came true! You see I have wanted to visit Huehuetenango for a very long time. It is in northwest Guatemala. Our family started sponsoring a boy named Freddy about 6 years ago for medicine and diapers each month. I had also meet little Lionel at hermano Pedro as well. His family also lives out there! So 2 boys and their families that I wanted to meet. Finally Dick asked Gary and I to travel together to meet both families and soooooo many more.
It is hard for me to put into words how touching these days have been. To see the kids and families that Dick visits every month or so, to put a name with a face, to see the wife of the mayor reaching out to her people....man, it gets you down deep in your heart.....
Meeting the family of my buddy Lionel was so special. I was teary just driving up there! And it is up there on the side of a mountain! We meet mama, 2 little sisters, 1 of the 2 brothers, and his older sister, Jessica. We saw great report cards and got to know them. We showed them current photos of Lionel on Christmas day...there was a mix of emotions from the family. Mama was grateful but saddened by the photos. Jessica wanted to hear all about it....and asked so many questions. He wants to know and remember her brother. You see, she has only seen Lionel once or twice in 6 years. She called me friend. She loved hearing how he laughed that day...how he is feeling better...but how she knows he can't come home because they just can't care for him but she loves him so. She asked for my number to be able to call and talk to him. It will be an honor to have her call and let the family speak to him. So much love for this little guy. And they can let him know. Please join me in praying that Jessica will get to journey to Antigua (about 5 hrs by car) to see him. It only costs about $19.00 round trip. That seems like nothing to us, but for 6 years it has held them back from visiting. Papa comes and loves on him when he can...but only him because of money. Think on that....
Then we meet Freddy. The sponsored child for 4 years. He is 13 and looks 7 or so....but what a character!! His smile lit up the room. We did piggy back rides around their land and just enjoyed getting to know each other for a bit. Got to pray over him and also with mama. Special times. He is a special kid and I am blessed to know him.
We have seen so many....and help a few along the way. Today was special because we went with a special lady Clara almost to the border of Mexico to distribute wheelchairs with Dick and the boys, but also the mayor of the town...it was awesome! But sad too. God put us in the right places at the right time. A brother and sister both with severe special needs. The little girl is wasting away to bones. She is so skinny and malnutritioned....Dick bought her mom a can of ensure to try to beef her up. It is just a start. She needs a doctor and special care....Lord, why does this happen? Because the mom doesn't love her? NO!! Because the mom is struggling to make ends meet with 2 disabled kids and no money.... Poverty....I hate it! So many are doing without the most basic necessities of life while others have so much excess... It is easier to overlook them or worse yet, judge them. You can do something!! We need sponsors for at least 2 kids we meet today. They are slowly dying just because they are poor.$30-50 a month to help them survive...just survive.
God has opened our eyes once again to another beautiful part of Guatemala....but a very poor side. If you look, it's all around us.... One difference is poverty paired with disabilities in children. La k of education....lack of opportunities.
But you know what? You can be content with what you have for sure! That was Gods message to me through Miss Kenya. We hiked up, up, up to her rocky, uneven yard to deliver her wheelchair. She is a picture of contentment. Her smile touched the edge of heaven and lifted our hearts. She is content and now she has a wheelchair to sit outside in. This child will probably never leave her perch up on the side of the mountain....but she is content.
I need to learn to be content even in the valleys. Smile like I am on the mountain top. Appeciate God's goodness and sacrifice for us. These people may not have much, but they have joy unspeakable in their hearts. I prayed and cried with the moms of these kids. Reminding them that God doesn't make mistakes. Their child is wonderful. That they are good moms. Even great because they are fighting incredible odds to help their children live, not just survive. Please join us in praying.
This world is packed with problems and needs. Do what you can when you can, as often as you can. Make someone smile. Let an outcast child feel loved. Bless someone with food just because. Make a monthly pledge to change the life of a child and their family. Let go of stuff. Live more simple. Help someone. Don't turn away from the homeless or unloved just because it is too hard. Do something.
Be blessed and be the blessing! Enjoy the pictures to follow! To God be the glory!

Jan 6, 2015

Today David Black, Juan Carlos Curruchich, Daviid Eber & l drove up into the high country north of HueHuetinango Guatemala. Over 5 years ago I had made a promise to young lady that I would bring her a wheelchair. A few months ago I was reminded of that promise and today 1 day after her 21st birthday I made good on it. Her and her family were quick to forgive my absent mindedness. David Black is working on a journal entry of today's activities. I will post it as soon as he gets it to me. all I can say for now is that it was 1 really awesome day.

<>< Yours in Christ: Dick ><>

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Advice from an "Amigo Pastor" on Serving in Guatemala


It has been awhile since I posted something that pat wrote.  I think there is a lot to learn here.   



Gabriel's Dad and his grandson
We met Gabriel and his family a number of years ago through a teacher from his area of Cerro Colorado, Esquintla.  We went originally to bring him a wheelchair.  We immediately fell in love with his whole family, and were a bit surprised to find out that his father was a pastor. (He had been working spraying weeds the first time we came!)

As we got to know the family and learn their story, our friendship grew.  Gabriel had been born with Spina Bifida, and, at the advice of the doctors in the hospital where he was born, never had surgery to correct the large bulge on his back where his spina cord protrudes from his spine.  At eleven years of age, we wondered if this could be corrected and arranged for him to see our friendly neurosurgeon in Guatemala City.

Since they lived quite a distance from the capital, we invited them to stay with us when they came for the appointment and got to know them even better.  During their time with us, Dad did a lot of talking with our guys about the goodness of God and his great love for them.  I got to know not only his story but his heart.

So, what happened when we visited them the other day did not come as a complete surprise.

After consulting with the doctor and receiving a referral to a national hospital where Gabriel could have the surgery, we met a number of road blocks in the process.  This did not seem to bother Gabriel's parents nearly as much as it did Dick and me.  They repeatedly told us, "en el tiempo de Dios" (in God's time).  They seemed willing to pursue the surgical option, but didn't feel the same urgency Dick and I did.  After some time, they decided they would leave Gabriel as he is and trust God to care for him. After talking with them the other day, we came to understand why.

As we were talking about the provision of God (as we often do with this family) Dad asked permission to share some thoughts with us.  Of course, we agreed.

He began by thanking us for caring about his son and their family.  He said he knew we wanted the best for them.  But, he suggested, maybe we did not understand God's best for their family.

He went on to say that while they appreciated all the effort and expense we incurred to bring them to the various doctors, Dad was thinking perhaps we could have used our time and money more wisely, helping someone who really needed it.  You see, though Gabriel had this huge ball of nerves on his back, he had adapted well to living with it.  He did not see himself as handicapped, and his parents agreed.

Dad went on to explain that they believed God had Gabriel born as he was for a purpose.  While modern medicine said that he needed to have the ball on his back removed, he was healthy and happy, and even able to crawl around and move his legs (he could have lost this ability with surgery).  They understand the risk he faces of meningitis if he injures the ball and bacterial enters his spinal fluid, this has not happened yet to Gabriel, now twelve, they didn't think it a big risk.

They choose to trust God that this will not happen in the future, or, if it does and he dies from meningitis, this is God's plan for him.  Dad reminded us that this world is temporary, and that really, we were created for heaven.  We would all go to eternity sooner or later, and if God chose to take Gabriel to heaven sooner, so be it.

While it would be easy to dismiss this conversation as ignorance and superstition on the part of Gabriel's folks, it was anything but.  As he spoke, both Dick and I felt the conviction of Gabriel's dad's utter dependence on God and his complete trust in Him.  This is an educated man who choose obedience to what he believes to be God's will over the cold hard facts of science.  How could we challenge what he believes is God's will for his child?

As Dick and I left that day, we reflected on his words.  We didn't in the least feel chastised or rejected by this admonitions to us.  Rather, we felt honored that he trusted us enough to share these thoughts with us.  We respect his great faith, and were encouraged in our own by his example.  We also came to understand more about the best way to minister in Guatemala, to a people whose life experiences and perspectives are so very different from our own.

What we realized gave us cause to pause and reflect on our approach.  As careful as we tried to be when we first suggested the option of surgery, clearly stating repeatedly that it was solely the parents' decision, we realized today how much of this process they had gone through, not because they believed it best, but out of friendship and respect for us.  Talking with Dad about this in retrospect, we realized that they didn't want to offend us by rejecting our offer of help.  While we wanted them to have the best medical options available, they believed all along that they had the best advice, from God himself.  But, until our relationship had grown to the point where it is now, they were hesitant to share this with us--they didn't want us to feel rejected by their refusal to pursue modern medicine.

So what did we learn from this?  In a nutshell, that the best available medical care may not be what is best for an individual situation. . .no treatment is without risks, and sometimes these risks are not worth it.  Where there is pain and suffering to be relieved, perhaps the risks are worth it, if there is no other way to give relief.  If the quality of life can be significantly improved, maybe it's worth taking the chance to pursue treatment.  But, where a family does not perceive there to be a problem with the condition (such as in Gabriel's case), maybe there isn't, and it just might be better to leave things alone.

I know this goes against every fiber of our US way of thinking, that if something is medically possible it should be done.  I'm not talking here about callously looking the other way in indifference to suffering.  But how much suffering can we cause by our insistence that our US way of handling disability and infirmity is the best?  Hard questions, and I'm not sure I know the answers.

In this instance, however, I have to confess I don't think I ever really stopped to ask God how to proceed (I can't speak for Dick here.).  For my part, I just assumed that because I saw a problem, Gabriel needed to see the doctor.  I put my trust in our neurosurgeon to know what is best. when I needed to be putting my trust in God and ask his specific direction.  Truly, there was no urgency here.  Looking back, the more I prayed for the doors to be opened for Gabriel to receive surgery, the more obstacles we encountered.  You think I might have at least considered the possibility that these "obstacles" were really God's way of protecting us from charging ahead with what was not his best for Gabriel.

I often pray that I will not lag behind the movement of God, but that I will also not rush ahead of him either.  I fear in this instance, I did rush--or at the very least proceeded in my own wisdom.  I'm not beating myself up over this failure, but am grateful for God putting a godly man in my path who could lovingly help me see where I am lacking.  I pray in the future I will seek God first and always.  I pray, too, that I will be more conscious of the undue influence I might be exerting in a situation where I do not mean to.  Life in a different culture is complicated, and after almost five years, I am just beginning to understand how much so.


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

Saturday, December 6, 2014

November 2014

Dick Rutgers's photo.

Dick Rutgers's photo.Dick Rutgers's photo.Dick Rutgers's photo.
Dick Rutgers's photo.  

Dick Rutgers's photo.
Dick Rutgers's photo.
Another great day on the road with Fernando, Esben, and Elder. We repared wheelchairs gave out food and visited with friends.

Dick Rutgers's photo.
Dick Rutgers's photo.

Dick Rutgers's photo.

Fernando, Elder, Esvin and I are spending our last night on the road.pepper visiting a few families and fun Pablo with our friend Daryl Fulp the four of us headed cross-country over the mountains to give out our last wheelchair to florendaa little girl that my friends Rudy Varayi and his wife Anna are sponsoring. once again my boys did a marvelous job I hardly had to lift a finger to help.


Fernando Velasquez, Elder Gomez, Esven and I are finally back home from a wonderful four day road trip. I had planned on enrolling Fernando into school today only to find out that the sponsor that he has had for the past several years is no longer able to continue sponsoring him. There is no way that Fernando will be able to come up with a hundred dollars a month on his own so his dream of becoming a doctor may have to, at the very least be put on hold.
Dick Rutgers's photo.
Dick Rutgers's photo.    GOD IS SO GOOD! It is hard to believe that it was only only 24 hours ago that I posted on Facebook that Fernando Velasquez had lost his sponsor and that his dreams of studying to be a doctor looked bleak.
I just phoned Fernando and asked if he wanted to go and register for school first thing Monday morning. Two generous Facebook friends contacted me within an hour of each-other telling me that they would each pay half of his school expenses. Neater knowing that the other was offering the other half, and neater knowing that they were doing so as mother and daughter. (Coincidence) I think not. (Godincidence) for sure!


GOD IS SO GOOD!   It is hard to believe that it was only only 24 hours ago that I posted on Facebook that Fernando Velasquez had lost his sponsor and that his dreams of studying to be a doctor looked bleak. 
  I just phoned Fernando and asked if he wanted to go and register for school first thing Monday morning.  Two generous Facebook friends contacted me within an hour of each-other  telling me that they would each pay half of his school expenses.  Neater knowing that the other was offering the other half, and neater knowing that they were doing so as mother and daughter.  (Coincidence) I think not. (Godincidence)  for sure!  

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

Saturday, October 25, 2014

"Six Days On The Road"

"Six days on the road and I'm going to make it home tonight.". it has been a great six days with Bethel Ministries and hope Haven Canada. We have given out close 150 wheelchairs, built two houses, visited many families, and seen a number of people come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Carline came along with us and did a wonderful job of interpreting and of working on wheelchairs.  My only regret is that I missing the graduation of both Kevin and Cesar. I am very proud of them.  (Sorry Kevin I didn't have a picture of you when I posted this.)

Friday, October 24, 2014


When I first saw Daniel at today's wheelchair distribution I thought that he was a malnourished 4 year old. When his mother told me that he was 18 years old I was astonished. Daniel who is hydrofluoric (water on the brain) has a head that has to weigh close to 40 pounds but his fragile body can't weigh more than 15 pounds. Daniel's mother has never had enough money to take him to a doctor. Had she been able to see a doctor when he was a baby he would likely have had a shunt (drain) put into his head and could have lived a normal life. Living 18 years with this condition and no shunt is nothing less than a miracle, "a miracle of love". This loving mother and her precious son have a love for each other that is beyond description. 

Today when I first met Daniel I suggested getting him in to the malnutrition center at Hermano Pedro for a few months but I soon became aware that neither Daniel nor his loving mother would survive even a few days with out each other. 

  "Hope Haven Canada to the rescue." Ralph Turpstra and the gang from Hope Haven Canada offered to sponsor Daniel with the food he needs for at least one year. This will mean a lot to a mother who told me that her son eats quite well when the family has food. I don't know how much time Daniel has left here on earth but it does my hart good to know that he will no longer go to bed hungry. By the way you should have been there to hear his mother pray when we prayed together. 

"Thank you Jesus for another awesome day".

<>< Yours In Christ: Dick ><>