* 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, June 6, 2007

Journal May 28-June 3

Monday, May 28, 2007

This morning we loaded up George’s truck with wheelchairs and then headed out to Rabinal. George and Chris took the truck while Saul, Bill, Benjamin, Carlos, Marcos, and Amma, followed in the Van. Ralph, his grandson Nick, Vail, her nephew Dodge, and myself took a different rout in my Land cruiser. (I hope that I put in all the names this time. In my last journal I forgot to mention the name of one of the men that was with us and his wife got worried that perhaps he had snuck off to Hawaii instead of coming here. For fear of embarrassment I will not mention his name. (Sorry about that Barb.) The rout that we went cut off about 2 hours of travel time but was not fit for much other than a 4 wheel drive. The group that rode with me got to see some of the real backcountry of Guatemala though. They were quite surprised to see some fairly good size town in what seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. A few of them even had paved roads and looked fairly modern but as soon as you drove through them you were back on what seemed like little more than a cow path. After a long bumpy ride we finally arrived in Rabinal. The group that was with me seemed a bit taken back by the motel that we were staying in and the confusion that took place before we were all given rooms but I explained that this is Guatemala and nothing here ever seems to go 100% smooth or exactly as planned. After finally getting the keys to 2 of our 4 rooms we decided to go and find something to eat. Perhaps by the time we returned the motel people would have things figured out and the other 3 people would be given rooms. I wondered though what would happen when our other 8 people showed up.

The next adventure was in finding a restaurant. I did not want to take the group to where we will be eating tomorrow and Wednesday for fear that they would get sick of eggs and beans so I finally located a small café that I had remembered seeing on another visit. Our ordering experience was quite interesting. The girl that was taking our orders evidently did not want to make a mistake on what we were ordering. Each time one of ordered an item she would retreat to the kitchen to tell the cook what to make. About 5 minutes later she would return and take the next persons order and then disappear again for 5 to 10 minutes. At one point she improved her service a bit by allowing 2 people to tell her what they wanted to drink but then went back to doing it one at a time again. I guess the strain of having to remember 2 cokes was just a bit too much for her to handle. We had wondered what we were going to do until the others arrived over 2 hours later but this young lady had taken care of that concern for us. After the others arrived and got unpacked it was quickly decided upon that they would go for the beans and eggs café. Even though those of us who had arrived earlier had eaten most of us went along just so that we could visit. Val was the only one to stay at the motel. Her stomach was bothering her a bit. She thought that possibly it had something to do with something that she had eaten.

Having arrived earlier than most of the others had its advantages. 3 of us got rooms with television sets. (If the electricity that was knocked out by the rains storm comes back on I may even see if mine works.) A couple of us even got toilet seats. (Now if only the water would come back on.) I even have one of the rooms that has an electric widow maker shower head. (Although for that to work we will have to have both electricity and water at the same time. I doubt that the chances of that happening are too good though. A few of those who have never been to a third world country before are going through a bit of culture shock but I think that once we get busy with the wheelchair distribution tomorrow and they all get involved they will soon forget about some of these small inconveniences that we are experiencing and realize how blessed we are. Especially when they start serving people who have never experienced the luxury of good health, enough food, electricity, or running water or even a roof over their heads. Sometimes it is so easy to forget how richly God has blessed us. I guess I will go out and catch a few raindrops so that I can wash my hands and face and then head off to bed. I just wish that I could remember which way the light switch has to be in order for the lights to be turned off. Oh well I guess I will know that, if and when the electricity comes back on.

Yours in Christ: Dick


Tuesday, May 29, 2007


At 4 AM I woke up to the sound of running water and noticed that the dim light in my motel room was on. When I looked into the bathroom that consists of a showerhead that is in the ceiling just above a small sink I saw that the shower was on. Since I needed to use the bathroom and the only way to get to the toilet was to pass directly under the shower I figured that I just as well take advantage of the golden opportunity of taking a shower while I had both electricity and water. The water was lukewarm but this was one of those fancy widow maker showerheads that had a high low switch on it. In my greed for even hotter water I instinctively reached up to flip the switch to the high position. I was quickly reminded why these showerheads are called widow makers. Now I know how the cats in my neighborhood feel when they come in contact with the electric razor wire that surrounds the wall of my neighbors property. The sudden jolt of the electricity caused me to bump into the bathroom sink. Judging by the ease that the sink ripped away from the wall I have a feeling that I was not the first person that this had happened to. The drainpipe proved to be no problem to reconnect. I was thankful that the flexible hose running to the sink did not break. Five minutes later the sink was once again reattached to the wall and I was contently taking a lukewarm shower. I had intended on going back to bed after my shower but for some reason the shower had given me a new jolt of energy and I no longer felt sleepy.

Since it had rained a good part of the night our wheelchair distribution was smaller than usual. Many of the people have to travel a long way from outlying arias and the rain had kept them from making it to the distribution. Perhaps it was a blessing though because several people from our group had been sick during the night. Funny thing though, those that got sick were mostly the people from Guatemala and not the group that had come in from the USA. In spite of not feeling all that great himself and looking exceptionally white, Chris gave a wonderful Gospel message to those that showed up to receive wheelchairs. 32 people ended up receiving wheelchairs and they and their families were able to hear and experience what the love of Jesus is all about. It was a great experience for our friends from the States and Canada as well. Nicolas who had come with his grandfather from Canada was especially touched when he and his grand father were able to fit a yon boy who had never owned a wheelchair before into a chair that fit him perfectly. The boy soon caught on and was moving the chair on his own. Nicolas had saved up $50 to sponsor this chair so it gave him great joy being able to personally see what a difference it had made in the life of this little boy and his family. The smile on the face of Nicolas’s grandfather revealed that he was quite happy that he had taken his grandson along to Guatemala.

When we finished up at around 2 PM we were all tired and ready to get cleaned up. Guess what, NO ELECTRICITY! Guess what else, NO WATER! Oh well it had been a wonderful distribution and we were all happy. Besides that since we were all dirty and sweaty none of us was to worry that we would offend anyone else. Fortunately it was a hot day and since the water was off in the entire town we all smelled the same.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Since the short cut that I had taken to get from Chemaltenango to Rabinal had saved us nearly 2 hours, it was decided on that the truck and the van would attempt to go back that way as well. The rains had not improved the road but in spite of some slippery sections and even more bumps they made it. However no time was saved for them by going that way and the ride was much bumpier. Having them go that way slowed up my trip as well because I did not want to get to far ahead of them in case they had problems along the way. When we finally got back into civilization and saw a Camperos in a fairly good size town that we passed through we stopped in and had a large meal.

It was 4 PM by the time we got things unloaded and people brought back to their homes and hotels. This gave me 2 hours before the pizza feed that we decided to have at my house. I had promised both our visitors and the neighborhood kids that we would all get together before most of them left on Saturday morning. 6 large pizzas and 6 leaders of coke later everyone seemed satisfied.

Tomorrow we have another busy day scheduled so I think that I will call it a day.

Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick


Thursday, May 31, 2007

Today we went to where Ronny and his family live. His parents had gathered 15 very poor families together for a food and toy distribution that we had. Chris’s van got stuck on the way in but several of the villagers helped push and he managed to get all the way in. The heavy rains stopped just long enough for the festivities. Val and Amma know some Christian action songs that they taught the kids. I now have photos of Val that I can blackmail her with for the rest of her life. It was a riot though especially considering that they were standing in ankle deep mud while trying to dance around. Chris shared with the people about the love of Christ. He tied it in with the story of Noah and the ark. Very appropriate considering that some of the homes had 4 inches of water flowing through them just before we arrived. About an hour after arriving the rain started coming down again so we had to quickly say good by, knowing that if we didn’t get the cars out they would possibly be monuments for the entire rainy season. As it was I had to tow Chris’s van with my Land Cruiser until we reached the road. Even after reaching the road we both did our share of spinning as it to had turned to mud. We returned home wet and muddy but it was a day that any of us would repeat in a hart beat.



Friday, June 1, 2007

This morning we took the group from the USA to Hermano Pedro. Seven of the kids came along with us to lunch. One of the kids that we took was Carlos, the new boy that came in less than a week ago. I think that the outing was a bit much for him as he did not seem too happy and refused to eat anything. Shortly after we started eating he nodded off to sleep so we just let him sleep until it was time to go home. I think that he may be a bit autistic and perhaps a noisy place like Camperos is not what he enjoys. Next time that I take him out it will be with only one or 2 of us and I think that we will settle for the park.

I was originally going to take my car today but since Donna was going to take the rest of the group shopping in the afternoon we decided to go down to Antigua in their van. On our way to lunch she went to the van to get a few umbrellas out of it. It was then that she noticed that it had been broken into and the radio and some other things were gone. At least they did not steal the entire van.

I stuck around the orphanage while the others went shopping. I have learned to deal with a lot of uncomfortable situations while living in Guatemala but shopping is not one of them. Shortly before Donna and the crew came to pick me up one of the nuns came in with 2 new boys. They are brothers and appear to be very intelligent. The younger boy looks like he may be a candidate for a walker. The older one who is around 8 years old is nearly blind and does not walk at all but also seems extremely smart. Both of them speak only their Mayan dialect so we had to use Moises as an interpreter. Donna showed up before I had a chance to really get to know them so I will have to visit with them more before deciding just what they need in the way of walkers or wheelchairs.


Saturday, June 2, 2007

At 3:30 AM Chris took Bill, Val, and Dodge, to the airport. I did not get up until 8. I then met Ralph and Nick in town and we went to the wheelchair shop. Ralph and Nick were going to be spending the day there building some railings for an upper deck where we store wheelchairs. Donna’s dad, Gordon also met us there. Knowing my carpentry skills I quickly decided that they would be better off with out me. They must have known as well because they gave no opposition when I told them that I was leaving. I ended up partially taking the day off. I managed to get down to Hermano Pedro long enough to make some decisions on the 2 new kids that came in yesterday but then went out to lunch with Carlos. He and I made some plans for taking Ralph and Nick into a few villages next week. Shortly after lunch I returned home and took some of the kids to town. Fernando and I needed haircuts, Abner needed shoes, I needed a new chest of drawers and Cline’s aunt also needed some shoes. I guess this was my pay off for not going souvenir shopping yesterday. Anyway we got through it without to much pain on anything other than my pocketbook.

Tonight the kids were herded out a bit early. My Internet server is going out of business at the end of the month so I need the evening to get myself set up with a new e-mail address.


Sunday, June 3, 2007, 9:48 PM

This one is actually being written on the right day. 4 of the kids, Ralph, Nick, and myself headed of to church in Antigua this morning, but only after stopping off for a scrumptious Burger King breakfast. After church we went shopping for a piñata and a cake for Nancy’s birthday party. You would almost think that with all of the shopping that I have been doing lately that I perhaps enjoy it. Well go ahead and think what you want but it isn’t true.

Nancy’s parents served us nice meal and then everyone played some games and did the piñata. I am not sure just why but Calin was ban from coming to the party. He spent a good part of the time sitting about 100 feet up the alley crying. I felt sorry for him but the decision was not mine. This evening he was still having a rough time with things but cheered up a lot when Ralph, Nick, and I, took him along for supper.

Val’s nephew, Dodge, presented my neighbor kids with a soccer ball last Friday. The kids have been playing with it ever since. I just closed down the soccer game for the night. For some mysterious reason my lawn once again resembles a war zone but the kids all went home smiling so I guess that is what is important.

10:48 PM

Fernando just came over for a shower and also announced that he is staying the night. I don’t know what the occasion is but I have had enough crying kids for one day so I guess that I will let him stay.

Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick

2 Comments:

Blogger Vine International Guatemala said...

Hey Dick,
I think your blog is great. Would you mind if I added your blog URL to my blog as a sight to go to? Hope you find this as successful as I have. Our sight is http://vinebodegaguatemala.blogspot.com
God bless you, brother.
Dennis Rice

Thursday, June 07, 2007  
Anonymous JD Epperson said...

Good morning Dick,

Your new web site is looking great.
I'm sure it will prove to be a God sent blessing to you and your origination. I have the web address
saved to my favorites list. I will
view it frequently and keep in touch with you and your team's labor of love, through your posting
to the web site. A picture is truly
worth a thousand words.

We consider assisting you through
the Bellingham Central Lions Club
Wheelchair Warehouse a real privilege. It would be my pleasure
to endorse your ministry anytime.
I will keep all my associates
updated on your progress.

Sincerely,

JD Epperson Cell 360-820-1630
E-mail: jdgepp@comcast.net

Friday, June 15, 2007  

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