* 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)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I do not like to talk about percentages especially when it comes to children because it can soon turn a child into a statistic rather than a real person, but this does make one think. Especially if that person considers his or her self to be a Christ follower.

147,000,000 Orphans in this world.
11,000,000 Children starve to death or die of preventable deceases every year.
8,500,000 Children are sold into slavery or prostitution.
2,500,000 Have H.I.V.
     That is a total of 
169,000.000 Suffering children.


2,500,000,000 people in this world profess to be Christians.

If my math is correct if 8% of those of us that profess to be Christians would reach out to just one 1 of these hurting children all 169,000,000 of these children would be taken care of.


"I have often though about asking God why he allows so much pain and suffering in this world, but I don't dare to because I am afraid that He might ask me the same question."

<> Yours in Christ: Dick  ><>

Lately I have been  posting less often on this journal page and more on Face Book so if you would like to keep up with what has been going on look me up here Dick Rutgers

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The boys are taking over. . .the ministry, that is

Pat wrote this one.  (Thanks Pat !)

A few weeks ago I went with Dick, Fernando and Brian to visit Tecpan where Bethel ministries sponsors a number of widows who all live together in a small aldea.  Fernando and Brian had a school project in which they were to do an activity to benefit others, and Fernando wanted to provide a party for the children in the aldea.

To make it a bit more manageable, Dick suggested that they work with the teacher who tutors the children who have sponsors from Bethel.  There are dozens of children in this aldea, and it seems each time we go, we find more and more as they get to know who we are.  Handling all of these kids would be too much for one group to manage.  So we went up to meet with the teacher.

Almost as soon as we got there, the rain began pouring down.  The teacher was on her way, but we had no idea when she would arrive.  We decided to take the time to visit some of the families.

Maria is a young widow with four children who brought us to the in about 2007 when her husband was killed when he was hit by a truck while crossing the highway.  Bethel wanted to help out this single mother and began providing food for the family and eventually built them a house.  Maria has become a good friend over the years, and has done weaving for me and for friends who I have taken to meet her.  She is quite skilled. 

This is a guipil (a traditional Mayan blouse) which Maria is currently making for me. It takes her about 6 weeks to make, and she sells them for about 800 quetzales (a bit more than $100).While I don't necessarily need another blouse, I realize this is her only income, and am happy to help her.

Our next stop was to visit Samuel and his family.  Dick met Samuel a number of years ago when Dick discovered he was not attending school, but working in the fields to help support his family.  His mother, too, is a widow.  Dick helped him find a sponsor, and he went to school for a few years. Now Samuel, about age 12, is once again out of school and along with his younger sister working in the fields to bring home what little money they make, and making it possible for their younger brothers to go to school.

The kids in this family always seem to need shoes. . .and this is not an exaggeration.  Often they have nothing more than rubber boots to wear, and many of these have seen better days.

It seemed incredible how many of us fit into the small overhang outside of Maria's house as we waited for the teacher.  This is when Fernando truly began to shine.  Kids have always been drawn to him, and as he has gotten older, he continues to use this gift.  When they became tired of just visting with him, he spontaneously organized some games with the older kids while Dick entertained many of the younger ones with his slight of hand.

The girls wanted their turns trying to push each other out of the circle.

And Dick managed to find someone evenly matched in strength to go up against.

Finally the teacher arrived, after traveling in a chicken bus and then walking down the long lane from the road to the house in the pouring rain.  This is dedication!  

Fernando did all the discussion and planning with the teacher for a party to be held the following Saturday.  He really impressed both Dick and me with his "professionalism" and competence doing this.  He is no longer the little boy I first met when we traveled to Huehuetenango many years ago.  He has grown into a young man who cares deeply about his people and has developed the skills to help them.

While this may be expected of a young man who is about to turn 17, it is more remarkable when you know a bit about his living situation.  His mother left for the US when he was three years old, leaving him with family members.  Last year, Fernando lived with us in Antigua, but found it difficult to adjust to the differences between here and his home in Chimaltenango, and struggled all year to keep up in school, passing Segundo Basico (eighth grade) by the skin of his teeth.  He decided to go back to school in Chimal this year, and, while living in his grandmother's house, basically is on his own.  His mother no longer sends him money, saying he is old enough to work now.  An aunt gives him food, but he receives little else in terms of love, affection or supervision, except from Dick.  Both Dick and I had great concerns that he would flunk out this year left on his own.

I have never been so happy to be wrong!  He passed all his classes first quarter, and only has one nearly failing grade this quarter, which he is determined to improve.  He is getting his work done on time, and is often at Dick's house just to visit.  He doesn't get into Antigua much, but when he does it is a joy to visit with him. Nothing makes us prouder than watching him work with the families in Tecpan, or translate in the villages for Dick.  He has become a fine young man, who frequently is moved to pray with those he is talking with as they freely share their problems and concerns with him.

Please keep Fernando in your prayers.  Rumor has it that his mom is encouraging him to come to the US in a way that is less than legal.  He says he's going to finish school first, but, we all know a ninth grade education doesn't get you very far in the US, and I'm sure he would be immediately put to work if he got there.  I know we can't control his decisions, but he has so much potential, and would actually have more opportunities here than he would living with a mother he hasn't seen in 14 years.  I trust God wants the best for him, and I pray he listens for His voice.

To find out how the rest of our guys (yep, sorry Dick, they're no longer just yours!) are doing, you can click here to read Dick's journal about their current activities. Yep, he even wrote it himself!


Glad to share them Pat.  I thought about sending you half of this months grocery bill but then I remembered how often we drop in at your house for something to eat.   Thanks for writing this Journal.  

I also want to thank those of you who helped out with getting the family that I talked about in my last journal entry back on to their feet after loosing 2 of their children, having 2 more seriously injured and loosing their home and all but the close that they were wearing.  So far we have $1750 to help get them back on their feet.   If any of you still wish to help out please contact me at dick@dickrutgers.com  

I have also broken down and started a Facebook page.  Click here for that.

<>< Yours in Christ: Dick ><>

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Two children die and two are seriously injured when a car demolishes their home.

(I finally opened a Facebook account.)  Link to Facebook
Today Alex (one of my boys), Grant (a friend from the USA) and I visited these 2 boys that up until a few days ago lived in the house pictured above with their parents and 4 siblings. A few nights ago a drunk missed a corner with his speeding van and leveled half of the house killing a younger brother and sister and leaving another brother and sister in serous condition. The 4 children that were killed or injured were all sleeping on the bed that you can see lying in the middle of the rubble. While the family was on their way to the hospital with the 2 children that were seriously injured bandits took everything from the house. The family was left with nothing. The 2 youngest children are still in the hospital and the rest of the family is temporarily staying with relatives who are living in an already overcrowded one room house. From what I witnessed today these relatives have a struggle putting enough food on the table to feed their own family. 

Today we brought them some food clothing and vitamins but so much more is needed. Sugarcane season has just ended so it is doubtful that father will have any work for the next 6 months. Then if the family survives that long father can once again look forward to making $5 to $7 per day. 

If you could skip a latte or espresso for one day you could give the equivalent of father's daily income or actually double it since he only has work 6 months of the year. Please pray for this family and please consider helping this family stay alive. 

"I thought about asking God how He can allow people to suffer and go to bed hungry every night, but I don't dare to because I am afraid that He might ask me the same question."

<>< Yours in Christ: Dick  ><>

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Crew

17 Year Old Alex In His New Power Chair
(Click on photos to enlarge)

It has been far to long since I last posted anything that I have written myself.  Not that there has not been a lot going on.  I have been very busy. It would take far to much time to list everything that has been going on but I will try to get you up to date on at lest a few things.

Most of my boys are back in school and doing fine.  When they are not in school they love to go out on the road with me. Not only are they getting good at interpreting and helping repair and fit wheelchairs but most of them are great at talking with and praying with the people that we visit.   

Abner who was one of the first kids that wondered into my house when I moved into this neighborhood about 12 years ago  needs special prayer though.  He has not seen his mother since she left for the States when he was 3 years old and he has always talked about some day going to the States.   Six months ago his older brother was sent  money from the States and was soon on his way. Abner was devastated that he was not able to go as he had been promised that the 2 of them would go together.  I was actually relieved because going to the Stats illegally is very dangerous.  I know people that have tried it and were never heard from again. About a month ago I heard by the grapevine that Abner would soon be leaving.  I never ask to many questions but was worried that what I herd was true.  Sure enough a few days later he came over and said goodbye.

It has now been over a month and Abner is still not in the USA.  His relatives have been told  that he is being held in a house in Mexico until the family comes up with even more money and then the people that promised to get him into the States will release him.  The family talked to him over the phone and he told thim that at one point he was given only 2 tortillas to eat in an entire week. I am very worried about his safety.

Fernando, Abner's nephew is very sad.  Although he is worried about Abner he feels a bit betrayed because he and Abner who are about the same age, were like brothers.  Both of their mothers left for the USA at the same time and until recently Fernando often talked about some day joining his mother as well.  Those feelings have recently changed though.  Mom has started a new life.  She has remarried and started a new family, and recently she told Fernando that she does not want him to be a part of it. Fernando doesn't know who is father is either and feels very much deserted and alone.   We had a good talk a few nights ago and Fernando confided in me that although he is staying out of trouble and doing well in school some times he feels like giving up.  He knows that both Pat and I love him but still wants his mother to at least acknowledge that she is proud that he is doing well.

Please pray for both of these boys.  Pray for wisdom in my part as well.  Abner's walk with God is not all that good.  Fernando has a closer walk with God but it is sometimes hard to believe that your heavenly Father loves you when your earthly parents will have almost nothing to do with you.
Bryan is doing OK but he needs to spend a bit more time doing his home work.  Bryan  does not know who his dad is and trying to get his mom to take at leas a little interest in him is like pulling teeth.  He was really hurt when she refused to go to a special mother's day outing that Bran paid for out of money that he had earned working for me

 This is an update    I wrote the paragraphs above yesterday morning.  Yesterday afternoon Fernando and Bryan came to me and said that they were asked to do a school project.  They decided that they wanted to go and help out some kids that are in an aldia (small village) that we try to visit every few months.  Betehl  Ministries has been helping several kids that are having difficulty in in their studies.  All of these kids are very bright  but are struggling in school because of language barriers. Most of their parents can not read or write so it is difficult for them to help their kids with their studies. Bethel has hired a teacher that comes in every after noon and works with the kids that are willing to use what could be free time to better themselves.  

                       (Click on Photo to enlarge) 

Fernando and Bryan thought it would be nice to reward the kids and their teacher for their efforts by coming in this Saturday with food and games and have a party for them.  This afternoon Pat and I took Fernando and Bryan to this aldia to discuss the idea with the teacher and the kids.  Pat and I told the boys that we were going to let them do the talking and all I can say is they did an excellent job.  While we were waiting for the teacher to arrive we encountered a thunder storm. We found ourselves  under a small lean to with about 20 kids.  After watching Fernando and Bryan entertain these kids for nearly an hour I am convinced that they should be teachers or youth workers.  They were fantastic with the kids and even though they did not get the opportunity to verbally share with these kids about the love of Jesus they certainly showed them the love of Jesus by their actions.  I am very proud of them and am looking forward to taking them and 8 of their classmates back to the Aldia on Saturday.

Jason has not been allowed into my house for several months now due to some drug and stealing issues.  He stopped in yesterday to tell me that he is doing well.  I tested him for drugs and he actually tested clean but I still have my reservations about letting him back into the house.  Please pray for wisdom on my part.

Esbin was nearly expelled from school a few weeks ago.  Both Pat, myself and some of his relatives have attended a number of meetings with is school principal.   Esbin knows how to work when he wants to but he has been showing a real lack of respect for any authority.  We had another meeting at his school yesterday and it seems that things are now going a bit better.   Esbin has been through a lot with a father that he has never met and a mother who hasn't wanted anything to do with him for the past 10 years, but he has to get over being mad at te world and taking it out on everyone else.

Elder who is Esbin's younger brother has been through everything that Esbin has but he seems a bit more resilient and is doing really well in spite of a rough past.  Cessar has taken Elder under his wing and that has made a big differance.

Cessar is once again going to school in Chemaltenango.  He wants to be a high school coach and is coaching a soccer teem that consists of a few kids from town and some of the younger ones that hang out here.   Cessar does well with them. So far they have won all but one of there games.  More importantly they are learning how to follow directions.

David  is Cessar's little brother.  He and Elder are the only 2 that are not in their teens.   David fits in quite well and does very good in school.

Marcos had to miss a few weekends of working for Pat because of eye surgery but is now back to work and doing well.  Marcos is not an A student but he is well liked by his teachers and is doing well. Marcos spends part of his school day learning to cook and tomorrow night he plans on cooking for our entire crew.

Calin is living with Pat in Antigua during the week and attending school there.   He is learning the tourist trade and seems to enjoy it.   I am praying that he gets hooked up with something that is Missions related as he is doing so well in his Christian walk.

  Miguel giving 
David a haircut.

Miguel and Tony work full time at Pat's group home.  Right now there are only 2 residents but a third one is expected soon.

Tony is a real blessing to Pat, and Pat knew that her group home was in good hands with Tony and Miguel when she spent the past few weeks in the States.

Kevin is studying to be a dental assistant and is talking about going to university to be a full fleged dentist.

Alex  I do not see to much of Alex since he moved back with his family in San Marteen.  I miss him but am glad that he is back with his family.

I know that I left some of the boys out and didn't get you updated on to much of what we have been up to but I will try to update you on some of that at a later date.

Prayer requests.

 -My boys, Especially Abner.


-Edgar  who we have been taking to several speculates to see what can be done about all of the seizure activity that he has been having. Thing are improving a bit but we are praying that he can someday be seizure free.


-Alex and his family.  Alex is 17 and looks like a skinny 6 year old. some of the boys and I spent an entire day at there Home.  This is a beautiful family but Alex needs physicl strengtha and the entire family is seeking a closer walk with God.

-Pat and her group home.  Wisdom and finances.

-Me.  Continued physical and spiritual strength.

<><  Yours in Christ: Dick  ><>

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.



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.


      Thanks again Pat !

<>< 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.

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.

IMG_1416 cr

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.


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. 


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. 


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 shortly after she was admitted 
to the malnutrition project.


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.

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. 

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. . .


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. 


               Thanks Pat.

<><  Yours in Christ: Dick  ><>