* 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)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Journal July 8-15

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Today I got up on time and didn’t try to hurry the kids when we were getting ready for Church. None of the 5 kids that came along to church ended up crying and no one got their finger stuck in the car door this time. All I can say is overall it was much more resting than that extra half hour of sleep I got last week. We didn’t go to the orphanage after church because I had to get caught up on my journal and had to answer some e-mail. Before going home we went to the maul and I let the kids buy food from whatever place in the food court that they wanted. Well that was short and sweet but then so was my day.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, July 9, 2007 9:02:11 PM

When I got to Hermano Pedro they were getting some of the kids ready to put into the pool. I had intended on fitting a few kids into new wheelchairs but due to cold weather, (Here in Guatemala they think any will get pneumonia if they go out side with out a jacket if gets below 85.) they had not used the pool in nearly a month. There were about 8 adults in the pool today so by doing 3 sessions with the kids around 24 of them were able to get into the pool for about a half hour each. Carlos was down with the flew today and any other volunteers that were there left before lunch so I once again had the choice of taking one kid to lunch or none. I nearly chose to take none but I was glad that I changed my mind and took Elmer.

This is the brother of Minor the boy that I took to lunch last week. Both of these kids are extremely bright and I have little doubt that 4 year old Elmer will be walking in the very near future. Just like his brother he talked a mile a minute but it was all in his Mayan dialect. I keep praying that their mom can find work and take them back home. An institution environment is so unhealthy for them. We are at least looking into the possibility of hiring a second teacher for a few more of the kids that are in Hermano Pedro but Elmer will not be one of them since he is only 4 years old. This afternoon I managed to get a few chairs repaired but ran out of time and didn’t give any new ones out.

The kids have been trickling in and out ever since I got home but there has never been more than 8 or 9 at a time. All those that showed up after 8 PM were shown where the food was kept and told to clean up afterwards. The nice thing is there are always enough regulars that the job gets done. I think that the regulars pass the word on that Dick means it when he says something and if they don’t do it there will likely be no food tomorrow night. Funny thing is as mean as I am they keep coming back. Earlier this evening 2 little girls and one little boy showed up. I thought that they were cousins of Etiline, one of my regulars. When Etiline left I asked her if her cousins were leaving with her. To my surprise she told me that they were not her relatives but just 3 kids that had wondered in with her. The little boy who appeared to be the oldest pointed out where they lived and before she left I had had Etiline go with him to make sure his mother knew where he was. He and Etiline came back and told me that his mother said that it was OK so all 3 made themselves feel right at home and stayed until dark. I hope that the word does not get out that I am running a free day care.

Once again I will keep this a bit shorter than usual. I have a feeling that some one is possibly cracking down on the quality of education that many of the kids are receiving at school. It seems that a few of the teachers are suddenly loading the homework onto the kids and a few of them are still at my table and are asking me for some help. I do OK with things like math as long as they are not Spanish story problems.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, July 10, 2007, 7:00 PM

I HAPPENED to run into Nary and his sister today. Another one of those Godincidence things. I had originally been told that they were heading back home on Monday but their plans changed. When I talked to Nary and told him that it looked like we had a sponsor for him he lit up like a Christmas tree. I then asked his sister if she would be interested in having some schooling as well. She lit up like a hundred Christmas trees. I received a hug that nearly sent me to the chiropractor and my shirt is still wet from her tears. I took all of this to mean that she thought it was a good idea. I wanted to talk to Kate, the nurse that lives there to see how long it would take her to find a teacher but she was in Guatemala City and did not have her cell phone with her. 5 minutes later I HAPPENED to get a call from her though, Godincidence #2. She promised that she will go to work on finding a teacher but first it has to be decided on where Nary and his sister will be staying.

I had picked up one wheelchair at the wheelchair shop today. It was intended for a girl that was placed in the orphanage about a week and a half ago. Only a day after arriving at Hermano Pedro this poor little girl had several severe seizures that almost took her life. She is now back out of the hospital but after looking at her I decided that it would be better if I waited until she is in better shape so that I can decide just how much strength she has and can at that time better decide what type of wheelchair to seat her in.

Ready for Godincidence # 3? Not 30 seconds after I made the decision not to give her the wheelchair that I had brought along I HAPPENED to get a call from Jessica. A family that had never before been in to Hermano Pedro or any other hospital for that matter had brought their 11 year old son in to see the doctor. She told me that he had CP and had never owned a wheelchair. She wanted to know if I could come upstairs and look at him.

When I got there I was told that the family lived quite a distance away and were not sure when and if they would be able to return but wanted to at least fill out the paper work on their son so that hopefully he could get a wheelchair some day. I seldom break the rules but Chris is out of town besides I know he is as big of a sucker for kids as I am, and giving out one chair before a distribution shouldn’t hurt too much. Besides that I was only going to check and see if by any CHANCE the chair that I had brought today would possibly work for this boy. Guess what!

OK, OK, you already know what I am going to write don’t you? Not only did this boy go home in a chair that looked like it had been tailor made for him but the hospital gave me a bunch of wheelchairs and other equipment that far out valued the chair that I had just given away.

I am finding out more and more that it is pretty hard to out give God.

I don’t know just how we squeezed it in but 3 volunteers and myself managed to find the time to take 4 of the kids out to lunch. Actually I had talked to 2 of the girls yesterday and they jumped at the Idea. 2 other people had planned on coming but had to cancel out. This left us in a bit of a bind because I had intended on taking at least 4 kids out and this meant one of them could not go. Since David was the one that had gone recently I had to tell him that he would have to wait a few days before I could take him. This went over like a led balloon. One of the volunteers that were coming along pointed over at someone that I had never seen before and asked, “What about her?” We walked up to her and asked her if she wanted to help us take a few kids to lunch. She looked a bit startled and told us that she was a new volunteer that had only come in to more or less get acquainted. What better way to get acquainted than to take 4 kids to lunch? We all had a great time especially David and the new volunteer.

Well it is 7:36 and I told the kids that I would open the gate at 7:30. Amazingly it is still standing but by the sound of things it may not be for long, and perhaps I won’t be once they get in. Now for the decision of the day. What kind of junk food do you feed to an angry mob?

11:15 PM

Yep, it was a mob but it was a friendly one. I think that pancakes and French fries must be a favorite because there were 13 of us crowded around the dinner table. The 3 new kids that were here yesterday never showed up but there was another new boy. It has been great to have nothing stolen from my house in over a year and a half now but it looks like we are going to have to sit down and go over the rules with some of the new kids. Only 2 Q (25 cents) were taken but the money belonged to Abner. The Kleenex from mopping up Abner’s tears cost more than the amount that was taken.

At 10:30 I had all but 2 of the kids cleared out of the house. That is when Fernando who had been playing games on one of the computers for the past hour and a half announced that he had lots of homework to do. Melt down # 2. I am heading off to bed. Fernando is sitting at the table half asleep attempting to at least get part of his homework done. He wants me to set the alarm for 5:30 AM so that he can try to finish up in the morning. I think that he is going to be one sleepy boy.

I guess that Calin had enough because he has fallen asleep. At least this way Fernando will have someone to lead him to school in the morning.

Good night,

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, July 11, 2007, 10:11 PM

Michele and KC Houston arrived at my house this morning. They will be staying for about 2 weeks. Today I took them to Hermano Pedro and introduced them to the kids. We took our teacher and the 5 kids that are in her class out to lunch. This was a fairly easy task since 3 of the 5 have power chairs and Moises got towed behind Byron. Even though KC and Michele plan on spending a good deal of their time here at our wheelchair shop working on power wheelchairs I had to promise them that I would get them back to Hermano Pedro as soon as possible. It looks like they have fallen in love with the kids. This evening they also got to meat a few of the kids from my neighborhood and I think that they feel the same about them as they do about the orphanage kids. Calin joined us for supper at restaurant 56. And then we brought KC and Michele to the Mooney’s where they will be staying while they are here.

Michele asked me to tell her mom not to worry about her, besides if she gets kidnapped the ransoms here are only around $20,000. So now you can sleep well mom. I think that instead of talking about sleep I will try doing it.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, July 12, 2007, 6:38 PM

We had a small wheelchairs distribution in Chemaltenango today. All but 3 of the chairs were easy fits so we were done before noon. For us it seemed to be a rather uneventful distribution but for the 15 people that received wheelchairs it was anything but a routine day. Sometimes it is hard to imagine what a life changing experience receiving a wheelchair can be. Take for example the 25 year old lady who was the first person that I fit. For all of her life she had to be carried by her brother or her parents if she moved from her bed. The wheel chair that she received today meant new freedom not only to her but also to her family. Since Chris is in the States and Kalb had other commitments we did not have a service before the distribution but those that received wheelchairs were told that we were giving them these chairs because we wanted to share with them in this small way the love that Jesus had for them. Even though not a lot of God’s love was shared in words today a lot was shared in actions and I think that the actions rang out loud and clear.

Our afternoon was spent at the wheelchair shop. We are spending the next few days trying to see how many power chairs we can get going.

Tonight when I got home things were pretty much normal as well. The kids kept flowing in until there were a dozen. The last 3 came in to late for supper but I am sure that they will be on time for the pizza feed that we are planning on having tomorrow night. KC and Michele want to meat as many of the neighbor kids as possible and a pizza feed is a sure fire way to get that opportunity. I have an idea that it will be a standing room only crowd tomorrow night. This is the first time that I will have ever ordered pizza and given the kids a 24 hour warning. What is scarier is that I had 3 new kids tonight and they are from a totally different neighborhood. They seemed like nice kids but were really hungry so I have little doubt that they know a few hungry friends who will likely tag along tomorrow as well. After supper I got out my camera and took some video of the kids destroying my lawn. I still can’t understand why the goal has always got to be the bare spot on my lawn. Oh well after tonight’s game the goal now takes up the better part of the soccer field. After downloading the video I let the kids watch their game on the video. They thought that was great. Actually that is one of the really fun things about these kids. They think that anything you do for or with them is great. Only a hand full of kids are left in the house. They are finishing up on their homework and then they will head for home. Now that I have finished up on today’s journal I am heading off to bed.


Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Once again we spent most of the day working on power wheelchairs in the wheelchair shop today. KC, Michele, and I are trying to get as many of the power chairs as we can up and running. This is not a speedy task since there are so many makes and models. Hopefully by tomorrow we will have a head controlled power wheel chair ready to deliver to a man in San Lucas who has been bed ridden for 15 years. We were also trying to get one more head controlled chair set up for a little boy who lives in Guatemala City but have a way to go before we finish that one.

Mario who is a friend from Chemaltenango has a little 4 year old girl named Maria. Even though Mario is in a wheelchair he has taken it upon himself to raise this little girl who’s mother abandoned her close to 3 years ago. It is a big responsibility and a lot of work for Mario but praise God for some one like him, or who knows where Maria would be today. Just last month Mario got word that Maria’s mother had just been killed in a high speed car chase. Mario has been coming to the shop nearly every day to work on some Guatemalan GPS maps that he is making and takes Maria along with him. I think that Michele has fallen in love with Maria. I know that Maria has fallen in love with Michele. The bond of friendship that they have established is fun to watch. It is so healthy for Maria to have the influence of a strong Christian lady like Michele.

This evening KC and Michele got to meat around 14 of my kids. Like I had thought telling the kids that we were having pizza for supper 24 hours in advance gave them a lot of opportunity to gather everyone up that has ever been to my place plus 3 or 4 new faces. Things almost had to be postponed when I discovered that my electricity had once again been shut off for not paying the electric bill that I never received. An extension cord that I through over the wall to my neighbors house quickly took care of that problem. I will sure be glad though when Monday rolls around and I can go in and pay my bill. The cold shower that I had tonight reminded me why the neighbors are always lined up to use mine. I am sure that word will get out that I have no electricity though and they will all wait until Monday to shower. Six large Pizzas proved to be just enough to take care of most appetites but perhaps would not have been enough had I not limited the intake to 2 1/2 peaces each.

After supper we all went out side and played with the kid. With in an hour we had the kids all so wound up that I decided that it was time to escape by bringing KC and Michele home. Other than a dirty floor and one more broken window nothing got destroyed though so I considered it a good night.

Talking about good nights just gave me a great idea. Good Night.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, July 14, 2007, 10:15 PM

It seems that everything in my house is quitting all at once. Yesterday the electricity was shut off. Now my Internet quit working. I think that I still have water but have not checked that yet. For some reason a relaxing shower does not sound all that relaxing to me tonight. It may have something to do with having no hot water until the Electricity bill is paid on Monday. At least I don’t have to worry about having an audience when I finally decide to shower. No electricity also means no lights in the bathroom. I am not the only one that is having problems with things not working though. Juan the neighbor that borrowed money from me to buy a different truck called me while KC, Michele, and I were at 56 having dinner tonight. He told me that his truck had run out of oil and he was stranded in Comalapa, a small town that is about 45 minutes from here. We were tired but I could not leave him sit there all night so we headed there as soon as we finished dinner. When we got to where he was I was happy to see that it was his old black truck that was broken down and not his newer white one. He indicated that he wanted me to tow him home. The roads from Comalapa are steep and curvy and it was raining. I told him that I would give him a ride home but there was no way that I would tow him home on those kind of roads at night. I asked him if the truck would run if we put oil into it but he said no. The conversation got a bit interesting due to the fact that we had no one to interpret for us. He said that he could not leave it sit out on the street but had a friend who lived not too far from there and thought that his friend would perhaps allow him to leave it at his house overnight. The conversation during the next 15 minutes got utterly insane. He wanted me to tow him to his friends house but I could not get across to him that he would first have to ride in my car with me to his friends house so that I would know where it was that I had to tow him to. Once he was in his truck behind me I would have no way to know where to go. Wow this even sounds confusing in English! Any way he finally caught on that I was not going to tow his truck until I knew where to tow it. After finally being shown where we were to tow it to we returned to his truck. We asked him if he wanted us to help push the truck and get it turned around before hooking a rope to it. This only seemed logical since our trucks were facing in opposite directions and his was the one facing away from his friends house. Who was I to know that this had absolutely nothing to do with logic? Any way he said that would not be necessary. He then climbed into his truck started up the motor turned the truck around and motioned for me to follow him. I did as he asked. Who was I to try and figure all of this out? The truck seemed to run fine but like I said, “Who ………..” After parking his truck at his friends house he got into my car and we headed for home. On our way home he asked me if I could possibly bring him back to where his truck was in the morning and help him tow it home. I knew it was a stupid question but even though I had asked it before I felt it bore repeating. Rather sheepishly I asked “Why can’t we take some oil along with us in the morning pour it into the engine and then you can drive your truck home?” He looked at me for a moment with a rather puzzled look on his face and then said perhaps that would be the thing to do. The rest of our trip home was a rather silent one. There were lots of questions going through my mind. There still are for that matter. Questions like since there was a gas station only a few blocks away from where he ran out of oil why had he not bought more oil and simply driven home? Oh well, who was I to try and figure all of this out?

I was only glad that my entire day was not as crazy as this. Finally being able to bring the man in San Lucas a head controlled wheelchair made all of the crazy thing that happened seemed well worth being able to watch this 40 year old man who has been confined to a bed for 15 years drive his own head controlled power wheelchair. Once again we were also able to share that all of the thanks was to go to God and we were simply serving as His delivery boys. Wow what a totally awesome day we had today


Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, July 15, 2007, 11:31 AM

I hope that after being here another 5 or six years I will have a few more things figured out but I am not holding my breath. Juan showed up at my door at 8 AM. I knew that getting his truck back home had to be a real priority because he actually showed up at the time we had agreed to last night. He had a gallon of oil with him. It was the same brand of oil that they had for sale at the service station that was only a few blocks from where he had left his truck last night. I am still scratching my head on why he had not bought some there last night and driven his truck home at that time but asked no questions. At least to day Calin, Abner, and Fernando were joining us so I figured that with 3 interpreters along things would make a little more sense to me. When we arrived where Juan had left his truck last night we discovered that someone had left the air out of one of the tires. This proved to be no big problem because I had a tire pump with me. The pump was not the fastest in the world but after about 10 minutes the tire was inflated far enough that the truck could easily be driven to the service station where they had an air compressor. Juan decided though that he wanted to inflate the tire all of the way. When we finally got that done he poured a small amount of oil into the engine that appeared to be bone dry. I suspected that the engine needed at the very least the entire gallon but said nothing. My suspicions were well confirmed when Juan started it up and the clattering noise brought several people out of their homes to investigate the noise. However Juan seemed satisfied with the amount of oil that he had poured in and closed the hood. I told him that I would follow him back to Chemaltenango. About a half mile down the road he pulled the truck over and stopped. He then got out of the truck opened the hood and poured in the entire gallon of oil. All I can figure is that he wanted to first give the engine a little taste to see if it liked this kind of oil and add the rest after he was sure that it did not get nauseated. Everything went well for the next few miles but when we reached the start of an up hill grade that lasted for several miles Juan pulled over and stopped. I asked him if he was afraid that his truck could not clime the hill he told me that he didn’t think that it would have any problem making the hill but he wanted to check and see how much gas the truck had in it. After inserting a stick into the gas tank he said something to Fernando. Fernando then told me in English that Juan was low on gas so he wanted me to toe him at least to the top of the hill so that he would be assured of having enough gas to make it to the next town that had a gas station. I once again scratched my head and wondered why he had not bought any gas at the station a few miles back where he had stopped to add air, even though we had put in the proper amount but didn’t even want to ask. Any way we are all home and all I can figure is that gas and oil must be a few cents cheaper here at home than they are in Comalapa I doubt though that Juan figured in the time and gas involved in my 2 trips up and back. Oh well I guess that is just one of the things that helps make Guatemala such an adventure.

I am still getting electricity from my neighbors but the extension cord does not reach to my bathroom so the showers are cold. At least this way the line up for my shower is shorter which makes it more convenient when I need one. My Internet is also down but I got a promise that they will be out Monday or Tuesday to fix it. As far as I know my water is still turned on but tomorrow I am sending Calin in to pay the bill if there is one.

Tomorrow KC, Michele, Benjamin, Abner, and myself leave for a 3 day road trip. We plan on visiting the Clinic near Ronny’s home. The people that run it want to take us around to see some of the local people that need wheelchairs or operations. After that we plan on working our way west to Mazatenango and then over to Xela. We will try to drop in on several people that we have given wheelchairs to in the past. Hopefully we will also hike in to Erica’s home to see how she is doing with her new medicine. Please pray for our safety as we travel.

I am going to try to get to the wheelchair Shop and send this out later today. I may ask my neighbor to tow me there because diesel is nearing the $3 mark.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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