* 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, July 28, 2007

Journal July 21-28

Saturday, July 21, 2007

This morning I met with Chris, KC, and Michele at the wheelchair shop. Chris had to go back home to do some work there but KC and I stuck around until about 1 PM and worked on some wheelchairs. Fernando had also come along and after a short nap he was egger to work. Michele is feeling a lot better but is still not 100% so she mostly visited with Mario and his daughter Maria. Maria had found the perfect use for an old portable commode that we had considerd throwing away by discovering that it worked well as a desk.

After Lunch we headed over to the HIV orphanage that is located only about 10 minutes from where I live. It has been some time since I had been there and I had promised that I would stop by and see how Ingrid’s wheelchair was doing. Ingrid was move to this orphanage from Hermano Pedro about a year ago and is doing well. Even though all of the kids at the HIV orphanage are HIV positive this place is far from a dreary one. The entire place is bright and cherry. The rooms are all brightly decorated and the kids are well cared for. All of the workers there are extremely upbeat and loving. This place is a far cry from the institution like setting of Hermano Pedro. There was a large activity going on with a lot of visitor there today so even though the nuns that ran the place were more than happy to show us around, after seeing Erica, I told them that I would come back and work on Erica’s wheelchair in a few days. The nuns there are so proud of the kids that they wouldn’t let us leave until we went with them to see and hold 3 new babies. They were so adorable that it was hard to believe that there mothers’ drug habits has likely given them all Aids.

As we were getting into the car to leave I received a phone call from Ronny. I could not understand him especially since it sounded like he had been crying, so I handed the phone over to Fernando. I could tell from listening that something was wrong. Fernando told us that Ronny’s mother and little sister had gone into town to collect some money that her husband had earned this past month. While in town she took some of the money and bought groceries for the family. While on the buss ride home 4 men with guns robbed the buss. One of them held a gun to the buss driver’s head while the others one by one took everything from all of the passengers. Ronny’s mother was hit in the side with the but of the gun of one of the robbers and then nearly shot when they suspected her of not giving up all of the money that she had. Fortunately no one was shot but she and everyone else on the buss were robbed of all of the food and money that they had. Ronny said that they had not eaten all day and were completely out of food. It took the 4 of us all of 3 seconds to arrive at a unanimous decision. 2 hours Later we were turning in to the trail that leads to their home with groceries and some money to help get them through the month. It was raining hard and even with 4 wheel drive we did a bit of spinning but we got in. It was nearly dark but you could see that the tin shed that they live in was standing in about 5 inches of water. As soon as they saw my car they came out of the dark little house that they were huddled in and came to the car to greet us. Father quickly apologized for the fact that Ronny had called us but we assured him that we were happy that he did and told him that was what friends are for. We also reminded them that we were just serving as delivery people and the thanks was to go to God, and it did as we all huddled together in the rain and offered up a prayer of thanks giving that no one had been hurt seriously. The visit was a precious one that none of us will soon forget. Even though KC and Michele had only met this family 5 days ago one of the little girls was snuggled up so close to Michele that I know it would be difficult for her to say good-bye. It was difficult for all of us but it was now dark and we still had a 2-hour ride ahead of us. About half way hone we stopped off for something to eat. As we sat eating our food in the dry well lit restaurant I think that most of our thoughts were still back at the little tin shack that was sitting in 5 inches of water. Were we as grateful for what we were eating as this family was for the meager meal that they managed to receive?

Well it is getting late so I guess I will turn off the light and crawl into my comfortable bed but not without first saying a little prayer for Ronny and his family.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, July 22, 2007, 11:16 PM

I think that I have 3 more regulars at my house. The 3 boys that showed up about a week ago were once again at my door this morning. By breakfast time 4 others had also arrived. Lady was a bit outnumbered by all of the boys but she also came along to church. After stopping off at the orphanage and picking up Moises and Byron we were a family of 10. It was while I was at the orphanage that a friend told me that John Nickels an American that has been here for the past 3 years suddenly died of a hart attack this past Friday. John had been a teacher at an orphanage school here in Antigua. He was also the Sunday school teacher of several of the kids that come to church with me, so they took it hard. Needless to say Sunday school had to be canceled this morning so all 9 kids stayed in Church with me. I must admit that they did quite well especially considering that this was the first time that 3 of them had ever been inside of a church. I think that they were all given a little incentive knowing that they were serving lunch after church. I had told them earlier that if they could not behave that we may have to leave early. In Fact they did so well that I even took them out to ice cream on our way home.

When we got home I told them that I needed a few hours to my self but would let them back in at 7 PM. From the sound of things out side of my gate I don’t think that too many of them wondered off too far though. Fortunately when I reopened I discovered that one of the ladies was selling roasted corn out on the street at the end of my alley. It is amazing how much roasted corn can be bought for 20Q ($2.50). I managed to supplement their diet a bit by cooking up some pancakes as well. I think that having a few new kids around is good when it comes to doing chores. I don’t know what it is but every one wants to help lately. Weather it be a job that I offer to give a few Q for or one that only gets a hand shake and a thank you for all of the kids are more than willing to pitch in. Well almost all, Abner can still be Abner at times. I must admit though that tonight he helped Calin and me wash my car, but then again that was one of those jobs that involved money and not just a thank you.

Tomorrow morning I will be taking KC and Michele to the airport. It is hard to believe that they have been here for 2 full weeks. I have really enjoyed having them here. I know that they are seriously seeking God’s will in their lives. Weather or not that will be working with us here in Guatemala I do not know but I know that they will be a blessing to someone somewhere.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, July 23, 2007, 10:23 PM

This morning I took KC and Michele to the airport and then headed to Hermano Pedro for what I thought was going to be a half hour repair job on Byron’s power wheelchair. It ended up taking over 5 hours to get the head controller fixed but that was partially my fault. I let 3 of the kids help me. Judging by the proud look on their faces when we finished it was 5 hours well spent. I had to do the lunch thing with only one kid again today. I would have liked to taken more of the kids but there were no volunteers around to help out.

When I got home I took Calin shoe shopping. He is great at bargaining and we ended up getting him a good pair of leather shoes for around $18. His birthday is only a week and a half away but his school shoes were worn out. We are calling the shoes an early birthday present but I will likely still get him something for his birthday. I know that his stepfather won’t and his mother can’t. Tonight at supper he asked if he could take some leftovers home to his mother. He told me that she had not eaten all day. Yes we had leftovers tonight. This seldom happens but I actually made more than the kids could eat. There were 7 kids in the house when we started supper so I did what I normally do and made enough food for twice that many. To my surprise by the time that supper was ready there were still only 7 kids. It may have had something to do with the down pour that we were having at the time. Supper was once again a breeze. The kids are getting so good about helping out that it is getting unbelievable. Calin actually came up to me and told me that I could go and sit down because they had everything under control. The table even got cleared, the floor got swept, and all of the dishes got washed and put away befoer they settled down to playing a car racing game on the computer.
About the only thing that I had to do was band-aide duty. Getting a band-aid put on a cut or scrape seems to be an all time favorite with the kids. I am sure that it has little to do with the actual cut or scrape but a lot more to do with getting a minute or 2 of one on one attention from an adult.

I am planning on heading out early in the morning so I am going to close for now.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I have gotten a few days behind on my journals so I will do my best to get the sequence of events written down in close to the proper order.

This morning Steve Osborn and about 15 physical therapists from the USA came by and picked me up in Steve’s buss. They are part of a group called Mom’s on a mission, who are here for a week. We went to Chichicastenango, which is about 2 hours drive from here. There is a Christian couple that has started a clinic and rehabilitation center there. The have a staff of local Guatemalan workers that do the physical therapy on patients that come in to the clinic who are very caring people but they lack a lot of training and experience. They were very eager to work with the physical therapists that came with us today and seemed to learn a lot in one day. While the others worked a the clinic 3 of us went to a home where a child who had received one of our wheelchairs several years ago lived. We spent a good part of the afternoon fixing and resizing his wheelchair. He had grown so much that his mother had been unable to put him into it anymore. The experience of going into his home and working was a real treat for the 2 ladies that accompanied me because they had never before been in Guatemala. In fact the whole day was an experience for a 15 of our friends from the USA. I think that the bus ride down the curvy mountain roads was perhaps a bit more of an experience than some of them had been wishing for. They all did quite well though except for the time that our bus driver got a bit disoriented in the fog and we found our self in the oncoming lane of traffic. Steve assured our guests that it was no big deal though because our buss was much larger than the car that we narrowly missed hitting head on.

On our way home we stopped at one of my favorate Guatemalan restaurants and ordered some platters of food that the waiter assured us would fill us all up. Let me tell you he was not lying. I went home with enough leftovers to feed my kids for a week. Well it looked like a weeks worth but once I set it out it all disappeared in about 30 seconds. Good thing that most of the kids managed to get some before Calin filled up his plate.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

This morning I drove to where the team was staying at San Lucas and we headed about 2 hours in the opposite direction to the orphanage in Anini. This is an orphanage that Chris, Donna, and I have worked at for years. They have about 40 extremely handicapped children there and up until this year had been with out a physical therapist so they welcome any help that they can get. Before getting started everyone met together to hear what some of their needs were. The list of needs was endless but we promised that we would do what we could to help. Some of our group worked with some of their workers on how to solve issues ranging from aggressive behaviors to a little girl that keeps popping her eyeballs out of their sockets. Others set up constructive toys and therapy devices for the children. About 4 of us went to work on re fitting children and fixing their broken wheelchairs. Even though we try to get in to most of the orphanages every few months it seems that the kids have a knack of breaking or outgrowing their chairs as fast as we repair them. We are planning on coming back on Saturday and hopefully by the end of the day we will once again be caught up with the list that we made out.

Tonight I ate at the mission house where the therapists are stay in San Lucas and there were no leftovers.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Today the group of therapists were splitting up and going in various directions. I picked up 4 of them in my car and took the to Santa Maria Dejesus. Even though Judy and Amy were not there they told me that it would be all right to take the group through their school. All 4 of the people that accompanied me to the school were totally impressed. What God has allowed these 2 ladies and their staff to accomplish with these children is amazing. Here in a village where most of the physically handicapped children had been virtually hidden away not that long ago were 48 kids that were extremely friendly and well mannered. This school has done so much for not only the children but also for their parents and the whole town.

After leaving Santa Maria we headed for Hermano Pedro. Seeing the difference between the 2 places was hard on all of us. Other than a few kids who were privileged enough to have a volunteers playing with them the rest were either sitting in their wheelchairs staring into space or were in their cribs. We stopped in and visited the class room where Nanette, our teacher works and visited with her and the kids that are in her class room. She and this class are one small bright ray of hope to five of the kids that call Hermano Pedro their home but I could not help but think of the other 215 residence that live there.

After leaving the class room we visited some of the rooms that the kids are kept in. Even though the group of 4 people that were with me are trained professionals who work with kids that have a verity of sicknesses and deformities I don’ think that there was a dry eye in the group. Visiting with Byron who was zooming around in his head controlled wheelchair brought a brief smile to all of our faces but 5 minutes later when I took them in to where Sam Sam was locked in his crib the smiles were once again quickly replaced by tears.

I had arranged for 2 other ladies to join us for lunch so we were able to take 7 kids to lunch. Even going out to lunch had a bitter sweat taste to it when I told the group that we had to decide which 7 of the kids they wanted me to sign out. With so many kids wishfully looking at us no one wanted to make that decision. I finally had to be the bad guy and select the 7 who would get to come along. As we headed out of the orphanage I could not help but look back at a few of the kids who were loudly crying. Even David who had been out with me on Monday was in tears. I Imagine that even 3 short day can seem like an eternity when you have little more to do all day than just sit in your wheelchair and hope that some one comes along that at least has time to pat you on the head or say a quick hello.

After leaving the orphanage we went a checked out a few hotels. Some of the members of our group are considering bringing another team in next year and possibly spending more time at Hermano Pedro. I hope that they come back but I also hope others will come in the mean time. A year is a long time to wait for a hug or a pat on the head. It was 5 PM and we were suppose the meet for supper with all of the others at 6:30. Since we still had an hour and a half one of the ladies came up with a terrific idea, souvenir shopping. Now most of you that know me also know how much I enjoy souvenir shopping. I came up with the perfect solution though. I walked the group to where all of the shops that sell all of the junk, that no self respecting Guatemalan would ever be caught using or wearing, are located. I then handed them my extra cell phone that has my phone number programmed into it. I told them to call me when they were finished buying all of their friends and relatives those wonderful presents that they in turn can hopefully get rid of at their next white elephant party. While they were getting ripped off I went back to the orphanage and took Davis and 2 of the other kids out for a coke.

At around 6 received a phone call and returned to pick them up. We then headed out to eat. The restaurant that we went to was at one time it was an old monastery but is now the most favorite restaurants in all of Antigua. I think that the price of a meal is about the same as McDonalds. I am not talking about a Big Mac. I am referring to the price of one of their restaurants, if not their entire franchise. I was extremely thankful that I had been invited along as a non paying guest. I must admit that the restaurant was beautiful, the service was good, and the food was great but I could not help but think of the great contrasts here in Guatemala. I knew that what I had to eat tonight could have paid for the education of one of our kids for a month and have little doubt that tonight’s bill for our group had to exceed what most of my neighbors earn in a year. I am not sure if it is proper etiquette to ask for a doggy bag in a restaurant like this but we all did and my kids should have good eating for a few days. I hope that the kids can tolerate steak, and lobster in stead of hot dogs for a while.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, July 27, 2007, 3:16 PM

This has been a day off for me. I had to get caught up on 4 days worth of journals and also have time to digest a few things that I took in during the past several days. Fernando once again had no school today so this morning I allowed him to stay in the house and play for a while until I realized that there would be no way to get this journal done with him interrupting me every few minutes. He tried hard not to but much like the orphanage kids it is hard not to want that hug or that pat on the head especially if there is an adult right over in the next room. Don’t worry though Fernando will be back as soon as I open up the gate. He knows that there are leftovers. Knowing Fernando as I do, by now all of the kids in the neighborhood know it as well.

I am going to try to break away and go to the shop for just a little while though. There are a few parts that I have to get for some of the wheelchairs that we plan to work on in Anini tomorrow.

8:53 PM

It only feels like midnight. I think that taking a day off has only made me realize how tired I was. I am not sure if Fernando got the word out or if they simply came on their own but I had no problem getting rid of last nights leftovers. Those that showed up late once again were the ones that suffered. I have a few kids that are in high school and they do not get out of school until 6 PM so I think that one of these days I will serve the cereal and bananas to the early arrivals and save the better food to those that come late.

Since I was tired I sent the kids home early. Calin is staying over because he is planning on going to Anini with the therapists and myself in the morning.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, July 28, 2007, 6:50 PM

Today was my last day with Moms on a mission. They are a great group but after 5 days with 15 ladies I am starting to know what it is liked to be married. I am sure that after putting up with me that all of the single ones are glad that they are single and the others will appreciate their husbands a lot more when they get home. Actually though they were a fantastic bunch and we had a great time working together. Besides that I was not the only man in the group. One of the members of Moms on a mission members was a dan so was the buss driver and Stephen Osborn was also with us all but one day. I guess that they are going to have to consider changing their name to Moms and others or something like that.

Today we went to back to Anini orphanage and did some more work. Calin also came along to help even the odds just a little bit. Some of us fit wheelchairs while others met with the workers at the orphanage and showed them some exercises and other things that would be beneficial to the kids. I am amazed at how eager the workers at Anini and some of the other places that we have visited this week have been to learn what ever they can that will help the kids that they are working with. I think a lot of it has to do with the way this group presents them selves. I have seen other groups come in like knights in shinnying armor who are going to save the world in one week. This group is very professional but takes the time to listen to the Guatemalan workers who may not have had a lot of training but certainly know and in most cases love these kids. The workers respect that and in turn listen to what these professionals have to say. Any way if any one from Mom’s on a mission reads this I enjoyed working with you. I am not good at names but I hope that the lady who’s face I pushed in to her birthday cake has a short memory. If not she is welcome to come back any month except January. That is when my birthday is. I suppose that she would not believe me if I told her that pushing someone’s face into their birthday cake is a Guatemalans custom that only pertains to women and children.

Even though we spent 2 days at Anini there is still more to do there. I am not sure when we can get back there because we have a lot of groups coming in during August. Hopefully a few of us from the shop can get down there for at leas a day. Please pray for us during the next month because it looks like it is going to be an extra busy one. We may have to figure out how to stretch each day out to about 28 hours but I am sure that it will all work out. I think that I will close for now and take a break. I hope that I don’t get board in the 41 minutes I have until I open the gate to let the kids back in.

Yours in Christ: Dick


Blogger The Spicer Family said...

Each week I anxiously await the newest edition of your blog. Not because it's such exciting reading, although it is, but because I am humbled by your dedication to and love of those God has placed in your path.

It is a privilege to be aware Erica, and Sam Sam, and Alex, and Ronny's family so that I can pray for them. How wonderful to know that you are with them and helping them tremendously!

May the Lord continue to bless your ministry.

Jill Spicer

Monday, July 30, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just finished reading your blog.

Thank you for your kind words but it was all of us you were blessed by your dedication and loving Christian spirit that is evident in everything you do.

It was so helpful have you on the trip to give us insight on Guatemala and the culture.

I think of Samuel at Hermano Pedro often. He is such a beautiful child with so much potential. The way he responds to you is amazing, the love is so apparent and shared by you both.

I will continue to pray for you, your ministry and especially for the children.

Your friend in Christ,

Lori Little
Moms on a Mission
Therapy Team

Monday, July 30, 2007  
Blogger Mark Wyatt said...


I just found your entry. I left this over at Mom's on a Mission:


I just found your post. My family and I also just visited ANINI. Please see my blog story and photos:

Some of God's Children at ANINI Orphanage in Guatemala"

Please come take a look.

Mark Wyatt

Wednesday, August 29, 2007  

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