* 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)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Journal June 17 - 23

Rule # 174 – Never work on your journals for more than 2 hours without hitting the save button at least once.

Rule # 175 - Never hit the delete button when you have your entire journal highlighted, especially if you have failed to do rule # 174.

Rule # 176 - If you unintentionally hit the delete button make sure that none of the kids in your house trip over and disconnects the power cord of your computer before you get the chance to hit the undo button.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007, 7:09:39 AM

NO, this is not Tuesday’s Journal; it is my second attempt at writing Sunday’s journal.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Five of the kids came along to church today. After a fantastic service we went to Hermano Pedro and played with the kids there for a while. We then went to eat at Martha’s Café. All 6 of us filled up on chicken, steak, potatoes, rice, vegetables, and a lot of other good things. My total bill was under $20.
I’m sure that I did a lot of other things on Sunday but unfortunately my brain has not retained them any better then my hard drive.

Monday, June 18, 2006

Since this was only yesterday I can perhaps recall the happenings of the day a bit better than Sunday’s.

I picked up Mike at his hotel and the 2 of us headed off to Hermano Pedro. (Oh now I remember! Sunday Calin, Abner, and I went in to Guatemala City and picked up my friend Mike from the airport. Oh well back to Monday.) Anyway he came along with me to Hermano Pedro. There we met up with a brother and sister who are here from the States. They were more than eager to join us in taking 4 of the orphanage kids out to lunch. As usual we took Moises and Byron, but also took the 2 new brothers, Minor and Elmer.
Let me tell you these are 4 sharp kids. They had the time of their lives at Camperos. I don’t think that Elmer nor Minor had ever been in a restaurant before but they loved it. Even Byron who is a fussy eater finished off all of his food. I think that Minor ate a bit to fast though, or perhaps it was the flan that he had for desert, because he upchucked his entire lunch all over himself just as we were finishing up. Fortunately the nurses had used a large bed sheet to tie him into his chair with. Minor does not have to be tied into his chair but the sheet worked great as a giant washcloth and we had him cleaned up in no time. No, the sheet did not go back to Hermano Pedro with us. After we got Minor cleaned up we took the kids on to the playground equipment.

Other than Elmer’s pants falling off every time one of us carried him up the ladder to the slide everything went quite smoothly. When we finally got back to the orphanage the nurses put the kids back inot thier beds while I took my friends around to see the other sections of the orphanage.

It was rather late when we finally got home but the kids from orphanage #2 were eagerly waiting.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007, 10:57 PM

It is a bit late but I really want to get at least one of these written on the day that it happened. Today was a great day though so I don’t think that I would forget it too soon. Carlos drove up from Antigua and left his car at my house. He, Mike and myself then headed out to San Pablo Laguna. This is a small Mayan town that is about 2 ½ hours from here. I had gone here for my first time about a month ago with my friend Paul. Paul had been helping a native pastor there in building a house for a widow lady and her children. Paul had to return to the States for a few months but had left his tools with the Pastor. I had promised that I would pick them up and keep them at my house once Pastor Anton had finished the work on the house. I had wanted to see Pastor Anton again anyway because I had left some blank wheelchair forums with him the last time that I was there. At that time he had introduced me to several people that needed wheelchairs and assured me that he could find more. Today he told me of a 17-year-old girl who had spinal bifida. She was a beautiful young lady who was in her senior year of high school. Not only was I surprised to here that since she was in a wheelchair she was in school but Anton also told me that she had been voted high school queen. It was 1:05 pm when we reached her home. We feared that we had missed her because she goes to school from 1 PM until 6 PM. Fortunately she was still at home. She was sitting in an old rusty wheelchair that was totally worn out. This beautiful young lady shared with us that tomorrow was the big calibration when she was to be crowned as high school queen. She said that she had been praying for a new wheelchair because she was worried that the one that she was in would break at any time. Looking at it I thought to myself that it’s time had already come. I told her that I would measure her and see what we could do about getting her a wheelchair in the near future. That is when Carlos asked me if the Chair that was in the back of my car would work for her. “What chair?” I asked. “The one that is in the back of your car.” Carlos repeated. I guess forgetfulness has its blessings. Yesterday I had picked up 2 wheelchairs at our shop. I had promised Edger, one of the teens at Hermano Pedro, a new wheelchair. I had decided that the other wheelchair of the 2 would be the right wheelchair for him and put this one back into my car. Since I needed room in my car for Paul’s tools I had full intentions of dropping this chair off at the shop this morning. Why then was it still in my car? Like I said forgetfulness has some advantages. Why I had ever considered this particular chair for the boy at Hermano Pedro remains another mystery. It was bright purple! Not exactly a macho color for a teen-age boy. However it was the perfect color for a teen-age girl who was wearing a purple sweater that matched the wheelchair perfectly. All she could say was that she had been praying for this chair and now her prayers had been answered. She and her family tried to thank us but we explained to her that the wheelchair that she had been praying for was truly a gift from God and we had simply been the delivery boys. By the way the wheelchair was not only her favorite color but it fit her perfectly. We didn’t have to adjust one thing on it. It was as though this chair had been made special just for this young lady. Then again perhaps it had been.

Tomorrow she will be able to go to her coronation ceremony in stile. In the short time that I met her I have no doubt that she will share with her classmates and their parents how God answered her prayers.

I was tired when I got home tonight but there was no way that I was going to lock the kids out. Today was report card day and Mike had supplied me with a new supply of stuffed animals and various toys. I sorted out the toys into 2 piles. One pile had the more expensive toys like harmonicas, dolls, baseballs, and larger stuffed animals in it. The other had some of the smaller toys and stuffed animals in it. Every 100 on a report card was a big toy. Every grade above a 90 was a small toy. No marks below 80 another big toy, and no marks below 70 another small toy. Almost all of the kids went home with something. Alex was the only one that went home empty handed but he still has not received a grade for PE. I am considering a point system for most improvement next time report cards are given out but don’t feel to badly for Alex because he is capable of doing much better but has not been trying to hard in School. Thankfully he has quit working at the car wash and will now have more time for his studies. So far Calin is in the lead with 3 large toys and 1 small one. A few of the kids have not yet received their report cards but I am sure that they will be at my door as soon as they get them.

Well it is one minute before midnight so I guess that is all that I can write about today’s happenings.

Good night, Whoops I mean; Good morning.
Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, June 20, 2007, 11:07 PM

I got a bit of a late start this morning but Mike and I managed to pick up Paul a young man that has been volunteering at Hermano Pedro and make it up to the School in Santa Maria Dejesus by around 11:00 AM. Amy Deyoung had called me and told me that a few of the kids there needed some repairs done on their wheelchairs. While I repaired the wheelchairs Mat and Paul toured the school.

Later this afternoon we went to Hermano Pedro and worked on some of the wheelchairs there. We didn’t get a great deal of work done because of all the little helpers that we had. I was appalled to see that Minor, the new boy was now in diapers. I was told that the nurses had decided that even though he is toilet trained it is faster and easier to diaper him than it is to take him to the rest room. Like I said I have to pick my battles at the orphanage. This happens to be one that I am picking. If bringing this to the attention of some one who is in charge gets no results I am considering locking the door to the nurse’s rest room. I will then place a case of depends in front of the door with a sign on them that reads, “This is faster and easier.”

The kids were having so much fun helping us that it was hard to go home but at about 5:30 we finally said goodbye. I am not sure how the kids knew that it was pizza night but my house filled up with kids much faster than usual. The 4 large pizzas that we had ordered were soon nothing more than memories and empty pizza boxes. Before bringing Mike back to his hotel the kids that did not receive their report cards until today added up their grades and claimed their prizes. Calin’s record fell to Lady whose grades allowed her to claim 3 large and 3 medium presents. At around 8 I told the kids that I had to bring Mike to his hotel and that it was time for them to leave. I am not sure why but it seemed to take an extra long time to get the house cleared of kids tonight. They seem to be so at home here that they look at me like I am telling them to get out of their own house when ever I tell them that they have to leave. I wish that they would move a bit faster when it is time to go but I am glad that they feel so at home here. As I close the door I looked back at my refrigerator that is covered with father’s day cards and was reminded of just how blessed I am.

Tomorrow Mike and I plan on going to the home of Stephen and Sheryl Osborn. If you think that I am blessed you ain’t seen nothing. They have over 30 kids. Not bad, considering that 2 years ago they only had 2 kids.

Well some how the day has once again ended all to soon so I well say goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, June 1, 2007, 9:37 PM

Mike and I got out of the shop at around 11:00 PM. We had intended on leaving earlier but I stayed for a while and helped make a back cushion for a boy whose parents had brought him in to receive a wheelchair. We had a few stops to make before heading to the city to see the Osborn’s. Our first stop was at the home of a teen-age boy who had been paralyzed in a diving accident a few years ago. We had given him a power wheelchair shortly after his accident but a few weeks ago the motors burnt out on it. The guys at the shop had given him a totally different wheelchair but it was extremely slow. Within 10 minutes I had it reprogrammed and we were on our way.

Stephen and Sheryl Osborn were not at home when we arrived at their house but most of their 30 kids were there to greet us. No, at the Osborn’s they are not all locked up in cribs. Several ladies who help the Osborn’s with the children were caring for them. The atmosphere is 110 % more positive than what I often see at Hermano Pedro. All of the Osborn’s children seem happy and well adjusted. We got 2 of the children there seated in new wheelchairs and I plan on returning to their home soon to seat 2 more of them. Even though the 2 homes that Steve and Sheryl have are filled to the brim I could not help but tell them about Elmer and Minor, the 2 new boys that are at Hermano Pedro. Why is it that those who are the busiest serving God are also the ones that we call on the most to help us out?

After a great time with the Osborn kids Mike and I headed for home. On the way back we stopped in to see Candy. This is a lady that lives only a mile or 2 from my place. Four years ago we gave her a power wheelchair after her boyfriend put a gun in her mouth and pulled the trigger. He did this because she found out that he was married and told him that since she was a Christian she was no longer going to see him. The bullet blew out most of her teeth and exited out of the back of her neck leaving her paralyzed for life. This man never spent as much as a day in jail and is still a practicing lawyer in my town. Candy made a living by operating a small store but was recently robbed of all of her merchandise. When Mike and I went to see her we were told that since she owed money on the items that were taken from her store the man that she owed the money to has taken her power wheelchair away from her. Not only that but her Father has kicked her out of the family home and she is now living in some small rooms behind a house. You would think that Candy would be the bitterest person around but that is not the case. When you meat her you are immediately uplifted by her positive attitude. We promised Candy that we would repair the manual wheelchair that she was in but I was thinking Power wheelchair.

Supper for the kids was a simple one. I will not even say what it was for fear that some of you health nuts will send me more nasty letters, but promise to try and do better tomorrow night. I love these kids every bit as much as the Osborn’s love theirs it’s just that Sheryl is a far better cook. Three of the kids are spending the nigh. I guess they know that I have stomach medicine.

Any way if I don’t head off to bed soon I may be the one that ends up on the floor. So Goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, June 22, 2007.

Today was stand in line day. This happens about once a month. This is when I try to pay bills and also withdraw money out of the bank. I will not bore you with the details of standing in line to pay bills because it would take me an hour to explain just what went on during those 2 hours of paying 2 bills. I will try to explain though just what you have to go through to withdraw a couple hundred dollars from your savings account here in Guatemala.

9:00 AM - Show up at the bank.

9:15 AM - Leave bank figuring that they are not going to open because it is likely one of about 100 holidays that only Guatemalan bank employs know about.

9:16 AM - Go to Camperos for breakfast. (Fortunately Camperos is just across the street from the bank.)

9:46 AM - Ask for bill

9:58 AM - Get bill (those of you that have eaten at Camperos will realize that waiting 12 minutes for your bill is nothing.

9:58:02 AM - Reach into your wallet and realize why you wanted to go to the bank before you ate.

9:58:06 AM - Look around Camperos to see if there is anyone you know there that will lend you enough to pay for your breakfast. (Where are your friends when you need them?)

9:59 AM - Look out of the window and see that the bank has finally opened. (Fortunately Camperos is just across the street from the bank.)

10:00 - 10:17 AM - Try to explain in English to your waiter, the manager, and numerous interested customers none of whom speak any English, that you have no money to pay your bill with but will have if they let you go across the street to your bank and get some. (Fortunately Camperos is just across the street from the bank.)

10:18 - 10:23 AM - Try to explain to Fernando who had come along with you for the day because he once again had no school, that his life is not in danger. They only want him to stay there until I return with some money.

10:24 - 10:27 AM - Further explain to Fernando that crying won’t help and also tell him that it should not take to long. (Fortunately Camperos is just across the street from the bank.)

10:28 - 10: 31 AM - Explain to the guard outside of Camperos that there is no way that you can move your car because you have a kid inside that is being held for ransom and if you were to drive away the employees who are watching you from the window will get angry and Fernando will go hysterical.

10:32 AM - Finally get to the door of the bank. (Actually about 5 feet from the door. They are pouring a new concrete sidewalk in front of the bank. This is the only entrance to the bank. I quickly discover that with a full stomach I cannot broad jump 5 feet. Fortunately one of the guards at the bank has a towel that he lets me use to wipe off my shoes. The towel already has wet cement on it. I am not the banks first customer.)

10:38 AM - Get in line behind a lot of people.

10:41 AM - Move forward 2 feet.

10:45 AM - Move forward 2 feet.

10:49 AM - Move………….(You get the point)

11:15 AM - Get to the window of the bank teller. (She looks at my bankbook, which is a single piece of paper that has about 20 lines of information written on it. She gives me a withdrawal slip but tells me that there is not room for 21 lines on my bank book.)

11:17 PM (I mean AM it only seems like PM) Go get into another to get a new bankbooks.

11:21 AM - Move forward 2 feet.

11:39 AM - Moved forward far enough that I am now at the head of this line.

11:58 AM - Finally get to the desk of the lady that makes out new bankbooks. (Unfortunately the customer ahead of me also needed a new bankbook and they were out.) (Fortunately it only took them 15 minutes to print up some new ones.) (Fortunately in Guatemala no one takes a lunch break until 1:pm)

12:04 PM - I am given a new bankbook. (I look over at the even longer line that leads to the window of the teller who originally told me that I needed a new bankbook.) I don’t know if it was the tears in my eyes or the sobbing but the lady who gave me the new bankbook tells me that I can go to the front of the line. (I receive a few stern looks from the people that are in line, especially from the man in the very back of the line who got a new bankbook just before I did.)

12:16 PM - I get to the tellers window. (Even being at the front of the line you still have to wait until the slow customer at the window leaves.) (The lady at the window then tells me that it is bank policy that the teller who gives me the withdrawal slip cannot be the one that gives me my money.) She smiles and points to line # 3 that leads to another teller’s window.

12:21 PM - I walk out of the bank with my money. (No I didn’t rob the place although the idea crossed my mind. I took the liberty of crashing line # 3 without asking anyone for permission.) By the looks that I got from the other customers, especially the other guy with the new bankbook who was still near the back of his line, I was glad that there were 3 armed guards in the bank.

Rules # 177 - Never count your money while walking out of a bank. (Not only could there be some one watching you who wants to rob you but also if you don’t watch where you are going you are likely to walk right through some newly poured wet cement.

12:22 PM - Back at Camperos. (Unfortunately Camperos is just across the street from the bank.) (I had to walk around in circles for a while to get the wet cement off from the bottom of my shoes.

12:26 PM - To my surprise Fernando was doing well and all of the employees at Camperos were smiling. (Fernando Later told me that they were all watching me cross the wet cement both going into and coming out of Camperos.) (Fernando even asked if we could stay and have lunch there.) (I told him that I didn’t have enough money for Camperos. I had to save what I got from the bank for a new pair of shoes.)

Just a few days ago a missionary friend of mine told me that when ever some one talked to him about coming to Guatemala as a missionary, the first question that he would ask them was “How good of a sense of humor to you have?” Perhaps it is not vital but it will help make it possible if you plan on staying here longer than a week.

After lunch, not at Camperos! Mike, Fernando, and I headed to Candies place. She was not at home but we later found her and a girl that helps her about 6 blocks from her home. The girl had been pushing her down the bumpy road in her wheelchair but they had stopped to rest because the girl was getting tired. When I told her that we had a new power chair for her she could not believe us. Mike and Fernando quickly pushed her home while I delivered the chair there with my car. When we got to her house I called Chris and he explained to her that in order to keep the man that had taken her last wheelchair from taking this wheelchair away from her we were not giving her the chair but simply loaning it to her for the rest of her life. What a way to quickly forget about a not so smooth morning. Candy was in tears and we were not far from it.

This evening I brought Mike into Guatemala City. He will be spending the next week with some friends who are flying in from the States. The plan on installing some hospital equipment in a clinic that is located near the El Selvidor border. Mike told me that if next week is half as good as this week was he would be thrilled.

Saturday, June 23, 2007 2:22:57 PM

Most of my day has been spent in getting caught up with this journal. Some how I once again managed to get several days behind. Just think how long my journal would be if I had written everything down while it was fresh in my mind. Then again perhaps you would rather not think about that. The kids have been locked out for hours and are nearly going insane. I have tried doing my writing while they are in the house but that is not easy. It is easier for all of us if I can give this my full attention for a few hours and then give them my full attention for the remainder of the day. Selfishly these journals are not written solely for your entertainment. Although I want to inform as many people as possible as to what missionary life here in Guatemala is like I have many other reason for writing. I think that # one is for my own reflection what God is doing down here. As I reread each journal before sending it out (Hard to believe considering all of the spelling and grammar mistakes) I can see how God is answering and has answered so many prayers. This Journal also helps me to be accountable for what I am doing down here. I often get feed back from something that we are doing or have done and this is good. (I must admit though that I would love to hear from a lot more of you, even a sentence or 2 would be great.) Of coarse I always hope that these journals help stir up some one who the Lord is calling to get more involved in His work. There is also that prayer thing. With out it we would not be here. Please keep praying for those we serve and for us.

Please remember if you are fully content with whom you are and what you are doing perhaps it is time to take a good look at your self. There are people physically and spiritually suffering and dying all over the world. If God has put you in a position where you can reach out to even one of them and you are not doing so something is wrong.

Yours in Christ: Dick


Blogger The Spicer Family said...

I found your journal from Melissa Scott's blog. Thank you for taking the time to write about your life. What a rollercoaster it sounds like you're on!

I like your idea about locking the nurse's bathroom--it sounds like a wise fight to pick on behalf of little Minor. I love reading about your heart for these children, and I especially love the pictures of God's children.

May God continue to bless your amazing ministry,

Jill S

Monday, June 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my God, i thought you were going to chip in with some decisive insght at the end there, not leave it with ‘we leave it to you to decide’.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009  

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