* 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, August 26, 2007

Journal August 23-26

Thursday, August 23, 2007, 9:29 PM

Ardie and Erika are now here from the states. Ardie comes here at least once a year but this was Erika’s first time to Guatemala. I could not remember where but I knew that I had met her before. She told me that she had been on a few wheelchair distributions in other countries. I then discovered that her first wheelchair trip ever was my second one. It was to Viet Nam back in 2000. I had met here there. Now she had come to Guatemala to do a wheelchair distribution with her aunt Ardie and ran into me here, small world.

After meeting for breakfast Ardie, Erika, Hanna, Abner, (who had no school????) and I headed to Santa Maria Dejesus. They very much wanted to see the school there. We did not stay long because we also wanted to take some of the Hermano Pedro kids out to lunch. The short amount of time that we were there left a positive impression though. It is so inspiring to see nearly 50 kids who would not normally be getting an education receive not only an education but an opportunity to witness Christ’s love in action.

A little before 11 AM we drove back down the mountain to Antigua. When we got to the orphanage we found all of the kids in bed. No they had not already been put back in bed for the day. They had never been taken out of bed. The ladies that are suppose to look after them told me that they thought that it was a bit cold out so they decided to leave them in bed all day. Considering the fact that most of them had been in bed since noon yesterday and would not be taken out of bed until 8 AM tomorrow morning that would make it 44 hours with out getting out of bed. I have had a few times when the thought of that sounded down right inviting but I am not a kid. We got some of them out but only the 5 that we took to lunch. Deciding which 5 got to go to Camperos with us was not an easy decision. One of the 5 was a girl that came into Hermano Pedro only a few weeks ago. Due to some serious medical problems that she had when she arrived this was the first time that she had been allowed to leave the orphanage. I find it hard to put into words but all of us noticed a total transformation in this little girl once she got out side of the orphanage. Up until now she had always seemed so lifeless that I often wondered if she was aware of her surroundings. Not 15 minutes after being out side of the building she was smiling and jabbering like mad. I am not sure if she was speaking in one of the Mayan dialects or simply making sounds but it was great to see her spring to life. What ever the case she was definitely conveying to us that she was happy and loved to be out and about.

After getting the kids back to the orphanage the ladies decided that they wanted to go shopping. This is where Abner and I bowed out. I still had 3 hours before we were all scheduled to meat for dinner in Antigua, so this would give me a chance to go home for a few hours. At 5:30 I returned rested and showered and joined them and the Mooney family for dinner.

Only 7 kids showed up at my house tonight. They had a great time figuring out what did and what did not cook well in my new microwave oven, and everything that was made got eaten.
None of them were too happy when I told them that I am going to be gone for 5 or 6 days so they just sort of hung around while I packed. Abner and Fernando were the last to leave and after walking about half way to the gate they both turned around, ran back to me, and gave me a big hug. I told them that I loved them and I would be back. They said that they knew that.

Well I still have a bit of packing to do so I am going to close for now.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, August 24, 2007, 7:43 PM

Tonight we are in Saloma. We headed out at 9 AM this morning and did not get here until 6 PM. We didn’t have any problems along the way but 9 hours of driving these kind of roads is a long day. The people here in Saloma, where we are doing a distribution tomorrow have put us up in a motel and have even offered to feed us while we are here. It is definitely not a five star hotel unless you count the one that you can see through the hole in the ceiling but we feel like kings. It is such a good feeling to know that they care enough about what we are doing that they show us this hospitality. There are 14 of us here and most of the team is made up of people from our shop. Our 2 guests from the USA have both been on wheelchair distributions before so we have a lot of experienced people for the distribution tomorrow.

We had a lot of fun on the way down and I even had one of the ladies convinced that a truck load of cabbage that we drove by was actually a load of brussel sprouts. I told her that things grew well here in Guatemala. I guess that I should have left it at that. Trying to convince her that watermelons were actually peas, blew my cover.

Well I am going to keep this short because I am running on batteries. No electrical outlets in this room. I guess that I will go and stand in line for the bathroom and then kick back for a while before going to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, August 25, 2007, 8:20 PM

It is always great to have a good night’s sleep after driving all day. At least as far as I can remember it is. Last night that didn’t happen for most of us. The mattresses that were on all of our beds were about an inch thick and hard as a rock. Every time I mannaged to get to sleep a car or a truck would pass by the motel and I kid you not the ground would shake like we were having an earth quake. It was probably a blessing though because the few times that I was able to sleep for 15 minutes or so with out being woken up I was so sore from lying in one position that I found it hard to turn over and let another part of my body get sore. In the morning I found out that I was at least more fortunate than Artie. She had all of the same discomforts plus the sheets on her bed had evidently been washed but not dried. After having beans, cheese, and tortias for breakfast we headed out to the distribution. Once again it did not take us long to forget our minor inconveniences and focus on the people that we were serving. When we saw some of the their circumstances we know that we had nothing to complain about. I am sure that many of them would have counted it a blessing if they had a bed to sleep on and would have been delighted to have eaten what we had left on our plates.

Most of today’s wheelchairs were given out to adults but there were a few children as well. I fitted a few kids who had never before been in wheelchairs and 2 kids received walkers. It is always such a blessing to see them maneuver a wheelchair or a walker across the room for the first time in their lives. I don’t know who gets the most excited, the kids, the parents, or us, but the over all excitement is hard to match.

Not all of the smiles are limited to the kids and their families though. Although I was not the one to seat him I could not help but notice a young man that had been seated in a new wheelchairs. He was sitting in line waiting for the final paper work to be completed on the chair that he had just received. I knew that I had met him before but figured that it was perhaps at another distribution and he had perhaps worn out the wheelchair that he had received back then. He kept looking at me though so I walked over to him. Chris came up to me and asked if I had remembered him. I said that he certainly looked familiar but I just could not place him. (Nothing unusual, I some times experience that when I look at myself in the mirror in the morning.) Chris then told me that this young man had told him that he had met me several months ago at the airport in Guatemala City. Suddenly it all came back to me. I looked back at him and them at his father who was holding a skate board. A few months ago while waiting at the airport for a team that had a delayed flight into Guatemala City, I had seen this young man. At first I had thought that it was another man who often begs for money at the airport. Just like this young man, the man at the airport is also unable to walk. We have already given him a wheelchair but he chooses to knell on a skate board and push himself around with his hands when begging. I don’t think that he likes using the skate board as well as his wheelchair but it does draw more attention and get him a bit more simpothy and with that a better income. I refer to it as income because many of the beggars refer to what they do as being their job. I guess in a way it is if you consider the long hours that they have to put in just to get enough to survive. Any way the young man that was in for a wheelchair today was not a beggar. He had come with his family to the airport to pick up a relative that had been working in the USA. Thanks to one of my neighbor kids who had come with me to the airport that day and thanks to American Airlines once again being late we had struck up a conversation with him and his family. For over 20 years he had no other way to get around than by slipping his crippled hands into a pare of warn out kids cowboy boots and pushing himself along on an old skate board. Unknown to me Chris told me today that he has been calling the telephone number that I had given him about once a week just to make sure that we were going to do a wheelchair distribution in his area. Today, 2 months later and over 8 hours from the Guatemala City airport where I had met this young man, the promise that I had made to him that night became a reality.
This evening when we reached Huehuetenango we pulled into a gas station to fuel our cars. When we got into our cars to leave Chris realized that his breaks were gone. Was it CHANCE or Godincidence that we were now on level ground? We had just returned from Saloma where we had descended some 6,000 feet. Had it happened a few miles back where we were descending on a narrow road that is full of hairpin curves who know what may have happened.

Tonight we are staying in a nice motel in Huehuetenango. We had a good meal and I will soon be crawling into a comfortable bed. Granted yesterdays accommodations were not the best and I have eaten enough refried beans for a while but the wonderful people who provided us with these things and the marvelous people that we were able to serve today made it a first class experience. Wow, I love this job!

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, August 26, 2007, 3:51 PM

Some days just can’t get any better. That’s how it was today. When we showed up at the public school building here in Huehuetenango this morning only a hand full of people were there for the distribution that we were having. Nevertheless we got all of the equipment and tools ready for what we were hoping would be a 45 wheelchair distribution. The number of people that we had invited to today’s distribution was less than the amount of people that we had invited to yesterdays distribution but there were suppose to be a lot more kids that needed specialty fitting today, but so far it was looking like not many of the people that we had invited where going to make it. While most of the crew got the wheelchairs that we had delivered last week out a room where they had been stored a few of us set up work stations in some of the class rooms. It didn’t seem like we were in the class rooms for more than a few minutes but when we walked out there were a lot more people there that needed wheelchairs. After examining some of the kids I was glad that there were not as many people as yesterday. Some of them were going to take a few hours each to seat. One little boy that I looked at appeared to be about 5 years old. I was surprised when his mom told me that he was 12.

Another young man who appeared to be about 11 or 12 turned out to be 22 years old. Chris had called me over to look at him and suggested that I start on him before the opening ceremonies got under way. His back was really messed up and seating him looked like it was going to be a challenge. Erika, who is here from the USA offered to help me. Although this young man was indeed a challenge we managed to have him fitted in a few hours. Granted we had to use 2 wheelchairs to get the necessary parts to build this one verry special chair but the end result was well worth it. This young man who has never before owned a wheelchairs and can scarcely sit up on his own was wheeling himself all over the school building.

Our next patient was a boy of 12 who was so twisted up that he could no longer get his legs to uncross. Even though he was in rough shape he seemed to be a very friendly and happy child. When I showed him the wheelchair that I had picked out for him he squealed for joy. He too was a challenge to fit. It is not often that I put someone’s right foot on the left foot rest and have to mount the right foot rest a extra 4 inches over to the right to accommodate some one’s left foot but when we had finished, other than having his legs crossed he seemed to be sitting fine. Erika who had been working with me later over heard his mother saying to him that now for the first time in his entire life he would be able to join his family at the dinner table. Not only that but for the first time in his life he will be able to get there under his own power.

The smiles did not end there. Everywhere I looked there were excited children and adults, many of whom were for the first time in their lives having a feeling of independence. Not everyone that was fit into a wheelchair today was as severe as these kids but all 45 that received wheelchairs had come in either not being able to walk at all or only being able to take a few steps at the most. All of them went home being a bit more comfortable and having a lot more independence and dignity. All of them also went home having heard of Someone who can give them a lot more than that.

When Chris and I met with a few business men here in Huehuetenango about 6 months ago we had little Idea how dedicated they were to finding and helping the needy people in their area. At that time they shared with us that they were not strong on the Christianity part but if we wanted to share with the people about the love of Jesus they would not stop us. Today one of those same business men got up and shared with everyone how he knew that the meeting that we had on that day and the 2 wheelchair distributions that we have had here since that time could not be any thing less than a miracle and he wanted to give all the praise to God. So do we and I know that is why God is blessing this ministry.

Yours in Christ: Dick

(Tomorrow morning we plan on leaving Huehuetenango. We hope to spend a few days at the beach just resting and relaxing. We are often told that is something that we should do more often. I guess we are willing to give it a try but I can’t possibley see how it can be half as much fun as we had today. At any rate I am going to send this journal out tonight. Who knows tomorrow I may be to busy having fun at the beach.)

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Journal August 18-22

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -ERVIN AT THE PARK - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Saturday, August 18 2008, 11:59 PM

There is nothing like writing a Journal on the day that took place, or at least getting the first sentence done before midnight. I actually have no excuse since I played most of the day. A few more people than I expected managed to come up with enough money for the waterslides today. 15 to be exact. Fortunately Rudy a cozen of some of the kids that hang out here offered to take his car as well so we did not have to load mine Guatemalan stile. Since the only people that I had to pay for were Daniel and Alex, who’s birthdays we were celebrating, I offered to spring for lunch for the crew. Since there were so many of them I made them settle for the special at a Camperos in Esquentla. The kids love that Camperos because it has a miniature indoor soccer field inside of the building. After our gourmet hotdog lunch we headed for the water slides. Only 4 of the kids (those who accompanied me last week had ever been there before.) This included Rudy who is in his twenties, his grandmother who is 70 and several teenagers. Grandma did not go on the water slides but had a great time watching a few of her grandkids and their friends have a ball.

About half way through the day I decided that since I was the only Gringo at the entire water park I had better put on a shirt to avoid a bad sunburn. I soon found out that cretin fabrics do not slide well. Only a few feet down the next water slide I cam to an abrupt halt. Unfortunately I had given my self a push and had just enough momentum to round the first corner. Not 15 seconds after I had stopped I was rammed in the back of the head by Fernando. All this succeeded in doing was giving us each a head ache but he only budged me ahead a few feet. The next 3 people that rounded the corner were a bit larger than Fernando and by the time the third one collided with us we were moving, not too fast but at least we were moving. By the time we finally reached the bottom of the slide there must have been at least 8 of us. I did my best to apologized, took of my shirt and covered myself with some slippery sun tan lotion. By the way my neck felt I figured that it would be better to be the rammer then the ramie. About an hour later we had some horse fights in one of the pools and my neck got stretched back out by a few of the kids that got knocked off from my back but refused to let go. Over all it was a great day but a long one so I am gin got say good night.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, August 19, 2007, 10:47 PM

Nine of us went to Church this morning. It is encouraging to see a few of the young adults from my neighborhood starting to come along to church more often. This morning both Elmer and Rudy who are both in their twenties came along with me and 6 of the kids. We did not go to the orphanage afterwards because I was scheduled to return to Antigua and meat with some people later in the afternoon. After church 2 American ladies who now live in Antigua rode back to Chimaltenango with us. They wanted to do some shopping at the maul that is in Chemaltenango an since I had to return to Antigua within a few hours they decided to come along with us. After dropping them off at the maul the rest of us went to Martha’s and chowed down on food. For about $2.50 each you can get a large meal that only a few of us could finish. This delighted the kids because I allowed them to take the leftovers home to their families. I have to be careful on allowing the kids to bring leftovers home because if I let them do it to often they often stop eating before they have had enough themselves. In the past I have had kids that would receive beatings if they didn’t bring at least half of their food home to their parents but I had a talk with the parents who were responsible for that and as far as I know that no longer happens.

I left the kids in Chimaltenango when I brought the 2 ladies back to Antigua. It was not that they didn’t want to come along but I had to meat at Hermano Pedro with some people that Jessica wanted me to meet. After arriving at Hermano Pedro I received a call from Jessica saying that they had been delayed and it was going to be an hour before they would be there. Now let me tell you a little about time here in Guatemala. When some one tells you that something is going to happen in an hour, you can some what expect it to happen some time that day. If you are told that something is going to happen any time more than an hour and a half from now you may just as well head for home and mark it on tomorrows calendar as a possibility. Since I was in Antigua anyway I decided to stick it out for a few hours. Besides it had been a few days since I had been to the orphanage so I figured that I would just hang out and play with some of the kids.

Now that so many of you have visited here I have little doubt that the nick name that the kids at the orphanage and the kids at my home have labeled me with is much of a secret anymore. Any way those of you who didn’t know it now do. The letter (i) is pronounced like a long (E) in Spanish so Dick is pronounced Deek. Add to that the fact that I love to see the kids laugh no matter how crazy I have to get to see them enjoy them selves, The kids quite often refer to me as Deek Ellocal. For those of you who do not know Spanish (ellocal) means highly intelligent. For those of you who do. What can I say? It was only a small lye that didn’t hurt anyone. Any way tonight Moyses kept coming up behind me in his walker and hollering Dick Ellocal. I would act like I was mad and turn around and give his walker a push down a small incline. He was having a great time and the minute or 2 that it took him to struggle back up the incline provided him with good exercise and Also gave me a short time to focus my attention on a few of the other kids. Unfortunately the last time he came up behind me I simply reached back and gave him a push without looking at him. When I lookd back I realized that he had not turned around when he had gotten to me and I had pushed him backwards. The walker suddenly spun around and when it did it toppled over on its side. When it did Moyses hit his head on the Astroturf. He had just enough movement that it managed to scrape off a chunk of skin both above and below his left eye. The wound didn’t bleed much but I felt terrible. He cried for awhile but then looked up through the tears, half way smiled and said “Deek Ellocal.” I nodded in agreement and said “Yes Deek Ellocal.” I knew that he held no grudges. I only hope that I can remember that lesson the next time some one hurts me.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, August 20, 2007, 11:12 PM

This morning I headed off to the orphanage at around 7AM. There was a lot I wanted to get done before the group that was suppose to come in at 9:30 showed up at the orphanage. At about 8:30 I received a phone call saying that they would be late. I was also told that instead of taking 9 kids out to lunch they thought that 4 kids would be enough. It sounded like a few of them were a bit nervous about feeding the kids. Fortunately I had received an earlier call from some one who had worked with this group and they told me that they needed to stretch their comfort zone. I told the person on the phone that I was sorry but I had already promised 9 of the kids that we were taking them to lunch and there was no way that we could disappoint them. As it ended up I think that a few members of the group had to stretch their comfort zone a bit but by the time we returned from lunch no one was sorry about what they had experienced. In fact several of the members of the group expressed to me that they wished that they were not leaving Guatemala this evening because they would like to have spent more time in the orphanage. Thanks gang! The kids love it and they loved each one of you.

At around 2:30 the group had to leave since they were flying out tonight. I stayed at the orphanage and fit Danny, a little boy up in malnutrition ward into a new wheelchair. He lies on his back all day and has difficulty breathing. The sitting position that I put him in seems to have helped his breating a lot and after spending just a short time in his new wheelchair his color even looked a lot better. Tomorrow I am going to try to get a little girl of about the same size who is in Malnutrition into a new wheelchair as well.

Wednesday we have some people who come down at least once a year joining us for a distribution that is scheduled in Huehuetenango and Saloma. The only problem is that hurricane Dean is scheduled to hit the east coast of Mexico in the next day or so. Even though the main part of the hurricane is not suppose to hit Guatemala we may encounter between 10 and 20 inches of rain. This is exactly what happened with hurricane Stan 2 years ago. There were numerous land slides and lots of flooding here in Guatemala at that time. There were also a lot of lives lost. Right now all we can do is keep an eye on the weather but a decision will have to be made no later than Wednesday night on weather or not to go ahead with the wheelchair distribution.

Before heading home this evening I stopped off and picked up some groceries. I could not resist picking up a roasted chicken as well. Before eating the chicken Abner helped me plant some flowers. I thought that I had sealed up the chicken well enough that the smell would not escape from my house but by the time the flowers were planted and we were ready to eat there were 7 kids gathered around the chicken. I figured that I could still make it work if I set out a loaf of bread and announced that we were having chicken Sandwiches but then 3 more kids arrived. Dinner would have to be delayed for a little longer. About 20 minutes later Daniel, Abner, and Marcos returned from the store with another baked chicken. 20 minutes after we started eating 14 kids had consumed 2 chickens, 3 leaters of coke, numerous bags of chips and everything else that had been in my refrigerator. The chicken bones were picked so clean that they sparkled. 3 more kids showed up after we had finished but they had to settle for some hot dogs that the others had accidentally overlooked. After everyone joined in and cleaned up the kids had a soccer game out in the yard. Some how they managed to not break any windows and I discovered that the man that sold me the flowers was right when he told me that the flowers were very hearty. I am not sure what kind they are but they seem to bend like a willow tree and spring right back up. I think that I will double check in the morning. There is no use waisting water on them if they happen to be artificial.

Well it is getting late and bed looks great.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, August 21, 2007, 10:14 PM

When I got to Hermano Pedro this morning I discovered that Ervin had not been taken from his crib. Since he raised a fuss when I did not pick him as one of the 9 kids that went along to lunch with me yesterday the nurses had decided that it would be easier for them If they didn’t bother to get him up all day today. He was no longer screaming so I decided to take him along with me today. Things seem to go a lot smoother when I take him by himself instead of with a large group of people. Today he was a perfect little gentleman and even did well when I told him that he would have to get off from Campero’s playground equipment to return to the orphanage.

At around 2:30 I headed for home where I met with Paul Tjaden and his nephew Eric. They wanted to come along with me to Fedel and Maria’s home. Ever since our camp that was held last November we have been talking with this family which consists of a Grandmother 2 people who are in wheelchair and various other relatives, about building them a bathroom. Paul is showing interest in helping us get the project started once we get some funding. Grandmother is around 80 years old and has for many years been the primary care giver for her 3 grandchildren who were all in wheelchairs. One of them died a few months ago but the others still need a lot of help and having no rest room facilities and no way to take a shower makes it a real chore for this dedicated lady to care for her grandchildren. We had a good visit and told them that we are praying that some day soon we will be able to help them build a bathroom.

On our way home we stopped off for supper so by the time that I got home there were only 3 or 4 kids waiting outside. When Paul left I set some food on the table and even though it was quite late another 4 or 5 kids showed up within minutes. Everyone has now gone home so I am going to take a shower and then head off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, August 22, 2007, 8:59 PM

My morning was spent in Santa Maria Dejesus. Amy Deyong had called me asking if I would have the time to adjust a few wheelchairs and walkers that some of her students use. I never mind going to the school that her and Judy run because the kids there are great. They love to take turns helping me fix the wheelchairs, and even though it lengthens my visits I love to see the satisfied looks on their faces when they feel that they have helped fix something. Let me rephrase the first part of that last sentence. They love to help me fix the wheelchairs. (The taking turns part is not quite as exciting for them.) I was suppose to meat Paul’s nephew Eric at Hermano Pedro at noon so I did not get everything done up at Santa Maria Dejesus but promised to return soon.

Eric Showed up at Hermano Pedro a bit late but that was not entirely bad because so did I. Eric is A young man in his twenties who and he plans on staying here in Guatemala for a few months helping his uncle with some teems that are coming in that are planning on helping them build a few houses for needy families. He had some free time today so I showed him around the orphanage. I think that he enjoyed the kids a lot so hopefully he will find more time to come and work with them.

On my way home I finally broke down and bought a microwave that I had seen on sale for 399Q ($50) Cooking on a gas camp stove is OK but the micro wave will be great for heating things up. The kids were impressed with how fast their hot dogs were ready. I had intended on not letting them in tonight so that I could get my journal finished up and sent out but how do you say no to a dozen hungry kids. After tomorrow night I am going to have to say no to them for several days because I won’t be at home. A few friends from the states are arriving tonight and no Friday we are heading for Huehuetenango and Saloma with them, the Money family, and the entire crew from the shop. We plan on having a wheelchair distribution in each of those 2 towns this week end and then heading to the ocean for a few days of R & R. I am not sure just how to handle a day off with out having a dozen kids along but I am willing to give it a try.

I think that I will close for now so that I can perhaps get this sent out yet tonight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

10:09 PM

Calin just came over. He told me that his mom nad step dad are going to get back together. I asked him if it was because his mom missed him. Calin told me no. He said that she hates him but there is no room for her and the children at grandmothers place and it is either go back to him or live out on the streets. Calin looked at me and said, “Oh well at least I will be living closer to you again.” Tonight he is once again living much closer to me. He is once again bunked down on the floor next to my bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, August 17, 2007

Journal August 8-17

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

This morning we took the team that is here to see the school that Judy Kushner and Amy Deyong have in Santa Maria Dejesus. The entire group was impressed with the school and how it is run. The kids there all seem so happy. Judy and Amy credit that to the fact that their entire school is Christ centered. Today it was once again a difficult transition going from there to Antigua where we found that even though it was a little before 11 AM most of the younger kids had already been put back in bed for the day.

We at least eliminated that problem for 8 of the kids by taking them out to lunch but could not help think about those who would not be taken back out of their beds until tomorrow morning. I am not sure that we set the best examples for the kids that we took to lunch but they sure had a great time. They don’t often get treated like kids but totally enjoy it when we clown around with them. Edgar one of the older boys could not stop laughing when we acted like we were going to throw him into the fountain in the park and also got a big kick out of it when I removed the detachable wheels from his wheelchair and acted like I was going to leave him stranded in the park. Everything went quite smoothly at Camperos. Estardo, one of the boys who usually enjoys getting out seemed to be exceptionally sleepy and we never did manage to keep him awake long enough to feed him any lunch. I have my suspicions that they have him heavily medicated and intend to find out why. So many of the kids seem to be overly medicated and I don’t understand why. We also discovered that it is not a good idea to give Minor ice-cream especially after feeding him a big meal. This being the second time in a row we now know that his first bite of ice cream sets of a vomit reaction. He is such a sweet kid though He just sat there and smiled as we cleaned him and ourselves up and then asked for more food. After returning the kids to the orphanage the team went shopping. Fortunately they had enough transportation available that I was able to go home.

I am several days behind on getting my journal out and figured that this afternoon would be a great time to work on it. I guess that I figured wrong though because my door bell and my phone have not stopped ringing since I got home. I guess that I should have known better. Last night I told the kids that we were going to have a big pizza feed here tonight and even though I told them that it was going to be at 6:30 several of them started checking at around 3:00. Chris and the group from the USA are bringing 12 pizzas and 2 buckets of chicken. I hope that will be enough.

9:45 PM

We made it. No broken windows, (deflated the soccer ball), No coke spilled on my floor, (served the drinks out side), No fights, (Threatened the kids), No Band-Aids,(ran out last night), and everyone got plenty of pizza and chicken (served Calin last). Old age brings wisdom. I won’t say what it does to the memory though. We didn’t take a head count but I have little doubt that there were 35 to 40 people here tonight. Even though no drinks were spilled Kimberly will have her work cut out for her when she sweeps my house out in the morning.

Well even though I got out of making dinner tonight I think a bit of sleep is in order so I will once again say goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, August 9, 2007, 6:44 PM

This morning the 11 people that have been here from the States for the past week went home. I took Mark Richard and Joseph to the airport since their flight was 2 hours earlier than the other 9. Chris took the others in a few hours later. Since we had to leave at 8:00 AM we knew that the traffic into Guatemala City would be awful. Thanks to my GPS and a few back roads that my friend Mario has shown me I took some back roads in to the city. Most of them are not on any maps but they only took an hour and a half to get into the city. Granted on a good day a person can make it in under an hour but judging by the construction going on and the traffic that was coming into the city when I was on my way out I think that we cut off a good hour.

I got back home by about 11:00 AM and have not set foot out of the house all day. I take that back. I went out side to see what happened when I heard a loud shriek and then a thud on my roof. Another cat got too close to the electric razor wire that surrounds the place next to mine. The person the rents the place has told me that there is no electricity hooked up to the razor wire but judging by the cats that have made contact with it I don’t believe it. Talking about loud noises and lighting up the sky. One of the near by volcanoes put on a great fire works display last night. I slept through it but on their way from my house to the motel Chris and the group that was here saw it. In fact Chris drove a few of them to the south side of Antigua where they got a closer look at it. Chris told me that it was spewing out Lava and shooting boulders hundreds of feet into the air. It was cloudy this morning so I am not sure what it is doing now. I have not heard weather or not they had to evacuate any nearby towns or villages.

Today I finally got my journal sent out and my web page up to date. Yesterday’s and today’s journal will be sent out in a few days because I figured that 10 days worth of reading would be more than enough to put any one to sleep. At least I am finally caught up and Today’s journal is being written today.

The kids are pounding at the gate and another cat just imagined that he was electrocuted so I guess I will go out and see if this was life number nine or if he is still alive.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, August 10, 2007

Today I once again went to Hermano Pedro where I met with Lori and Robby Wheeler. They have been here in Guatemala for several week adopting a little boy. A few weeks ago they joined me and we took some of the kids from Hermano Pedro out for lunch. Today we did a repeat. The kids that we took today were 4 that are more severe who can only drink from bottles.

Never the less Melvin (27) Luis Andrais (7) and Jo Jo (5) all had a wonderful time. Lunch took a long time since these 3 can only take in a few drops of food at a time. Even though Melvin can not talk and can only lye flat on his back with his legs permanently crossed and sticking out in opposite directions he seems to be what the teens refer to as a chick magnet. He loves smiling at all of the women who walk by and most of them respond by returning the smile and patting him on the head. I guess that I will have to give his technique a try.

On our way home I met Karla Hendricks and her boyfriend who are here from the Lynden area. They came along with Lori and Robby and myself to Hermano Pedro and later the 5 of us went to the HIV orphanage that is near Chemaltenango. I had to finish adjusting Ingrid’s wheelchair, and this gave us a good excuse to visit the orphanage. All of the workers at the HIV orphanage seem to be upbeat and happy. All of the kids are happy as well. With in minutes we all had at least 2 or 3 kids hanging on to us. I asked Lori and Robby that since they are adopting 1 child why not take a half dozen home with them? By the way they were responding to the kids that were hanging on to them I have little doubt that they will one day be back for more. After visiting the HIV orphanage I took them to see my place and then to see the wheelchair shop. Calin mysteriously managed to join us and he and I stopped off for supper after returning our group to Antigua. I knew that the kids at home would be hungry so we also stopped off and stocked up on groceries.

Tonight there were 9 kids at the supper table. 10 if you count Calin who even though he had eaten an hour earlier was once again hungry.

Well that’s about it for now so as soon as I make a place on the floor for Abner and Fernando to sleep I am going to head off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, August 11, 2007, 11:30 PM

A few people wrote me to say that taking 9 kids swimming was not exactly what they would consider taking a day off. I thought it over and they were right so today I really took a day off. Instead of going swimming I went to the water slides, and I didn’t take 9 kids along, this time I only took 6 kids.

Actually there were suppose to be 7 but Danial who’s birthday we were celebrating was unable to come along. We had a great party for him though, and had he been able to attend I am sure that he would have enjoyed it. It is Alex’s birthday next week so I promised Daniel that I will include him in what ever we do for Alex’s birthday. We may have to use him as a substitute for Alex anyway because he got into some trouble this evening and I am not sure that he will be allowed to his own birthdayparty next Saturday.

The water slides are located just over an hours drive from here. Since they are near the coast and we live at 6000 feet the weather is usually about 20 degrees warmer there. Today it was not as hot as usual but I would guess that it still got up near 90. This was a first time experience for all but 2 of the kids and they had a great time. It is a very nice place and they only charge 20 Q ($2.65) per kid. I don’t know how they stay in operation. Even though it was the week end there were very few people there. Even though I had 6 kids with me it still seemed like a restful day.

The only stressfull part was at the end of the day when I tried to gather up 6 kids that had no desire to leave. I know that they got their exercise though because we were not 5 minutes down the road before all 6 of them were fast asleep.

It is nearly midnight and talking about fast asleep gives me a great Idea. I am especially looking forward to bed tonight because when I got home this evening I went to the Maxi store and bought a new mattress. My old one was warn out. This one should hopefully last longer because I told the kids that any of them that I catch using it for a trampoline is likely to have a shortened life span. Don’t worry though my bark is far worse than my bite.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, August 12, 2007, 11:00 PM

I had 5 kids for breakfast this morning but only 3 of them made it along to church with me. Lady stayed behind so that she could go to church with her grandmother and I accidentally forgot to take Daniel. Actually I didn’t realize that he was coming along. He is a very quiet boy and after breakfast when he headed out of the door without saying a word I figured that he was not coming along to church today. It was not until we were nearly in Antigua that we received a phone call from him asking why we had left without him. He said that he had only left to get some clean clothing and when he got back to my house we were gone. Poor kid, yesterday he misses his own birthday party and today he misses church. We are going to try and celebrate his birthday along with Alex’s this week end though. The 3 new kids that had been coming over on a daily bases have not been around in nearly a week. I have heard by the grapevine that they are no longer allowed to come over because their parents don’t want them walking home after dark. I am not sure that is the reason but have to be careful in a culture that still thinks that Americans are here to kidnap their children. Rudy, a yong man who sometimes comes along to church has a grandmother and 2 sisters who are living in the USA visiting here for a few weeks. The 4 of them along with Rudy’s mother followed us to church in Rudy’s car. After church I took them all to the orphanage for about an hour. They kept asking me why most of the kids were in bed. I told them that I have been asking that same question for nearly 7 years now but still don’t know the answer.

After we got home all of the kids wanted paying jobs. They had so much fun at the waterslides yesterday that they have been begging me to take Daniel and Alex there to calibrate their birthdays. I reminded them that yesterdays outing was in celibration of Dandles birthday. They said that the knew that but they thought that perhaps Daniel would enjoy it more if he could come along. Anyway I half way would consider it providing all except the 2 birthday people pay their own way into the water slides. The bottoms line is the kids will pay but the only way that they can get the money is for me to pay them to do some work.

Tonight I have the cleanest floors, dishes, and car in the neighborhood and the kids are about a quarter of the way into having enough money to go to the water slides. None of them have asked for any of their money so that they can buy food either. That adds up to them being extra hungry at meal time so what ever money I save in not having to pay their way into the waterslides will be eaten up in groceries.

Calin is bunked down for the night. Before falling off to sleep he told me that things are not going at all well at home. His step dad and his mother are doing a lot of fighting. I guess that he has not been able to pay any rent ever since he got kicked off from the police force and is now threatening to move back to the town where his parents live. Calin is hoping that he does but if this happens his mom will have to find somewhere to live as well. She is talking of renting a room in Guatemala city and finding work there. If she does only Calin’s sister Lady go with her. This means that Daniel and Calin will have to go and live with their grandmother. She is a good lady but does not have much room left in her house because one of her kids are already living with her. Calin has asked if he can live with me but I told him that since I was gone from home so much it would be better if he lived with his grandmother and perhaps stay here from time to time. That of course sums up to him being here 90% of the time. Oh well that isn’t much different than the 93% that it has always been.

Well it is nearly mid night so I am going ot head off to bed. By the way that new mattress is wonderful.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, August 13, 2007, 9:51 PM

I have great news. Nanette, our teacher at Hermano Pedro has agreed to work a few more hours each day.

This means that Roberto (Bobby) and Minor are now in school and getting some one on one time with the teacher. As they progress they can perhaps join the morning class that Nanette is teaching to Moyses, Sonia, Byron, Fidel, and Carlos. For the time being though Nanette will mainly be working with them one on one. Even though Minor has been in Hermano Pedro less than 2 months he is picking up a lot of Spanish. I am confident that now that he is in school he will excel rapidly. We are not going to put his younger brother Elmer in school right now but he is certainly a future candidate.

Most of my morning was spent at the shop fixing a cantankerous power wheelchair that some one had brought in for repair. I finally managed to make it to Hermano Pedro but it was to late to take any of the kids to lunch. Moyses whom I had promised to take along to church yesterday was particularly upset. Yesterday after church I stopped in at the orphanage to explain to him that I had been unable to pick him up for church because I had not gotten the proper paper work done on Friday and there is no way to do it on Sunday. I told him though that I would make it up to him by taking him out to lunch today. That was before I knew about the cantankerous power wheelchair at the shop. They say that the third time is a charm but not today. After doing some needed repairs on a few of the chairs I got special permission to take him and Byron out to supper. The rules are that the kids can not be taken out of the orphanage after 4 PM but after being there as long as I have they are willing to bend a few of the rules. During this time of year there is another rule that I forgot about though. Even if the sun is shining at 3:30 pm chances are there will be a thunder storm by 4:00. That rule didn’t bend by even a second. Moises and Byron both felt badly but seemed to understand that I was not responsible for this one. It looks like tomorrow we will give it try # 4.

Only 5 kids at my house tonight. I think that the rain had a lot to do with it.

That won’t cut down on my grocery bill though because it only means that the kids will be twice as hungry tomorrow.

Well everyone is gone so I am going to take advantage of it while I can. I think that instead of going to bed I may stay up for an hour or so and enjoy the quiet.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, August 14, 2007, 9:36 PM

This morning started out a bit rough and then slowly spiraled down hill from there. I stayed home and got caught up on some book work. Every now and then it is good to look at your bank statements. Funny thing I don’t feel that much more feeble after turning 60 last January, but according to my health insurance I am twice as likely to get sick or to need an operation. Any way that is how I think they must figure it otherwise I don’t know why they doubbled my rates. I called them to complain but they told me that I was getting a good deal. I guess that explains why my coo pay when and if I ever go to a doctor in the USA is higher than open hart surgery here in Guatemala. I wanted to tell the insurance gent that I was getting a bit upset but figured that if I did she would classify me as a likely stroke victim and double my premium again. I calmly said goody then went out side and kick a few rocks.

My next adventure of the day was trying to buy a camera over the internet. This process took me longer than it would have takeen to walk to Guatemala City and buy one there.

Next I dealt with a few issues concerning my web page. After eating a little humble pie I headed of to the orphanage.

Ever since Sunday I had promised Moises and Byron that I would take them out to lunch. Even though it was a bit past 12 when I reached Hermano Pedro I quickly went in and signed the 2 of them out. Fortunately there was a man and his son volunteering there and they offered to come along with us. Wouldn’t you know it when it rains it pours. Anyway that is exactly what happened the second we set foot outside of the building. Fortunately my car was parked across the street so we loaded the 2 kids into it and the 5 off us headed of to Piccadilly’s for some food. We managed to get into the restaurant with out getting soaked. Unfortunately I did not stay that way for long. Byron has C P and his arms occasionally go a bit out of control. I had thought about asking the waitress to put his orange pop into a paper cup that had a lid but he seemed happy with the tall glass one that she gave him. Remember that law about any spilled liquid gravitating towards the larges object. Well, I was, and it did. Fortunately only a little was spilled onto the floor. My clothing absorbed the rest. I couldn’t wait until I could get back out into the rain and get washed off.

When we got back to the orphanage I met with Jessica to look at a few of the new kids that need wheelchairs. Our firs stop was at the bed of Jennifer a 5 year old girl who’s body is twisted backwards to the point that she forms a half circle. I carefully lifted her out of her bed and held her. Suddenly all of my little problems seem to be exactly that, Little problems. This precious little girl has to be in excruciating pain but she still managed to look at me and give me a smile. She was grateful to simply be held. She didn’t even seem to mind the sticky orange pop that I had all over me. You know what? Neither did I. It’s funny how wrapped up we can get in our own little world and how much we can dwell on what we think are catastrophes in our life. Often times we get so involve in what we think is important that we seem to forget that it isn’t all about us and some of the things that we are going through are nothing compared to what some of our brothers and sisters must endure. Tomorrow I am going to try to make some kind of a cradle that will help hold Jennifer in a more comfortable position. It will be good for her but it will also be good for me because when I am doing something for these kids any little problems that I may have seem to disappear.

Today was a wonderful day.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, August 15, 2007, 9:47 PM

My intended 15 minute stop at the shop was extended for a few hours because a man and his wife brought their daughter who had outgrown her wheelchair into the shop. At first I was going to give her a different wheelchair but since the family lives in Chimaltenango and the chair could be resized to her size I decided to grow it to the maximum and have them return when she once again outgrows it. We are receiving so many applications for wheelchairs that we have to be careful on giving out new ones if we can keep the person comfortable in what they have.

Next I headed to Camperos in Antigua. The waitresses who are used to seeing me with all kinds of kids kept coming up to me and asking me where the kids were. I explained to them that there were 11 people coming so we would need to pull some tables together but also told them that none of them would bee in wheelchairs. They quickly put a few tables in a row but no matter how many times I repeated that there would be 12 of us they kept pointing to the 6 chairs that were set up and asking me why I needed more. I guess after 7 years they had it in their minds that when ever they see me half the people that are with me are in wheelchairs. Hanna, Saul, and a group from the states showed up a few minutes later and the waitresses quickly scurried to get more chairs. After having lunch together we all headed to the orphanage. Hanna and Saul were the only ones other than myself who had ever been in an orphanage so I gave the group the grand tour. To say the least the were a bit taken back. When we went into the rooms where the kids were it was a bit to much for some of the members of the group. I had told them in advance that if they could not handle it they could walk out for a bit. A few of them had to do just that. Soon even those who had to leave the room returned and in no time nearly everyone was holding or playing with one of the kids. Even though we had gotten into Antigua to late to take the kids out to lunch we considered taking a few of them out to the park but the sky looked threatening so we decided to stay at the orphanages and play there with the kids. In the next few hours a lot of friends were made. And by the time that we had to leave no one wanted to say good bye. Some of the teens that had come to the orphanage were really stretching their comfort zones in doing so. I think that after only a few hours all of them were wishing that they could come back and spend more time with the kids.

I walked from the orphanage to my car feeling great. Not only did the kids enjoy someone taking them from their beds and playing with them for most of the afternoon but those that came to visit left the orphanage with memories that hopefully will last a life time. As I was backing out of my parking spot I heard a loud thud. I had seen nothing behind my car when I got into it. I had also checked my rearview mirror before backing up. Unfortunately the spare tire on the back of my land cruiser was a few inches higher than the motor scooter that was parked about 2 inches from the back of my car. The owners of the motor scooter came out of the store just as I was picking up the motor scooter. I had hit it just enough to lay it over on it’s side. Now I use to do a lot of bike riding and even laid a few of them on their sides but back then they were not made out of plastic. $130 worth of plastic to be exact. Oh well at least no one was hurt and the people that owned the motor scooter stayed very calm. Fortunately the lady that worked at the store that they were in knew English and offered to rid along with us to a nearby motor cycle shop to get an estimate. A half hour later we all shook hands and I was heading for home. I had intended on stopping of for supper before getting home but didn’t have enough money left in my wallet.

When I got home there were only 2 kids there. I suggested that we walk to camperos and get their special. Two pieces of pizza and a coke for about a buck 30 isn’t to bad even multiplied by 3 it is under $4. Cheaper yet if you compare it to a $130 piece of plastic. Only problem was by the time the pizza was ordered there were 7 of us not 3, and by the time we left Camperos there were 9. I told the 2 late comers that I would feed them at home. When I got to my house I told the 3 that were waiting out side of the gate that I would feed them as well. By the time dinner was served there were 6. Add to that 3 of the 6 that had eaten pizza told me that they were still hungry and you end up with ….. Now even though I could never spell I could do algebra in my head but this was getting mind boggling. The 3 new kids that started coming to my house a few weeks ago had even managed to join the group before, during, or after the pizza. I had not seen them an about a week. I had been told by a few of my regulars that they were no longer allowed to come over but no one knew exactly why. Tonight I found out why. A few of my kids were getting worried that if to many kids started coming to eat I would put a stop to it and they didn’t want that to happen, so they had told the new ones that I did not want them in my house any more. I had a good talk with the kids that had told them this and asked them how they would have felt if someone told them this. They apologized and even fessed up to telling Jason who suddenly stopped coming along to church the same thing. Tomorrow the are going over to where Jason lives and telling him the truth. Once the 3 new kids heard that they are always welcome here, all 3 came and gave me a big hug.

Calin called me aside tonight and told me that his step dad has moved out. I asked him if he thought that was a good thing or a bad thing. He told me that even though they had to move out of the house that they were living in he considered it a good thing. For now they are staying with his grandmother.

Well it is 11:00 and bed looks pretty inviting so I am once again going to say goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, August 16, 2007, 9:10:17 PM

I got home at about 7:30 PM and was greeted by a bunch of happy kids. A half hour later several of them began arguing about things. At 8:02 I told them that if they wanted to stay here they would have to stop arguing. At 8:09 they started up again. For the past hour things have been extremely peaceful. That may have something to do with the fact that I told them to leave and not to come back any more tonight. I miss them. Sometimes it is tough to be tough.

At least the rest of the day went a bit better. Surprise, there was no school today and there is not going to be any tomorrow. Why? Good question. It was Fernando’s turn to come along today. First we went to the shop and picked out some of our best used batteries.

Our battery supply is running low but Ronny had once again called saying that he could not use his power chair to get to school because of bad batteries. After leaving the shop Fernando and I headed to Antigua and picked up Carlos. We then drove to where Ronny lives.

Ronny and his family were glad to see us. We stayed and visited for several hours. They are getting very excited about the house that the team from Washington State is planning on building for them in February. I had some more good news for them. We have 2 smaller prefab homes in our shop that are perfect for one or 2 people to live in and we have decided to give one of them to Ronny’s grandmother and an uncle that lives with her. As we were walking to the tin and black plastic shack that she lives in Ronnie’s dad confided in us that this otherwise sweet lady had come to the conclusion we were not for real and were never going to come and build a house for Ronny and his family. He warned us that she may not be too friendly to us today and doubted that she would ever believe us if we told her that we were going to give her a house. We soon found out that this man knew his mother well. In fact when we told her of our plans to give her a house she snapped at us saying that she did not want a house from us. She told us that at 80 years old she had learned that no one give some one something for nothing. Carlos looked at me and said lets get out of here. I was not about to leave. For the next half hour I explained that we were Christians and wanted her to have this house just to help express God’s love to her. It took some talking to convince her that there were no strings attached and that we were for real. I am not yet 100% convinced that she still believes us but at least she gained enough hope to finally say that she wanted it. I gave her a hug as we left and promised that in just over 2 weeks we will be back with some friends from Florida who are supplying and setting up the house. Much like Tomas this lady won’t fully believe until she sees. We can only pray that she not only sees a house but the love of Christ shine through when she meats those that came so far to give it to her.

Well it is nearly 10 Pm. I must have really sounded stern when I sent the kids home because not one of them has been back since I told them to leave. I hope that this is not quite as hard on them as it is on me.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, August 17, 2007, 2:38 PM.

Calin was at my gate before 7 AM. I had told him that we needed help at the wheelchair distribution that we were having in Chimaltenango today. The group of 16 students that are here from the USA joined us in what turned out to be a wonderful distribution, (but then aren’t they all?)

We had a lot of kid to seat today but we also had a lot of people, both trained and willing to be trained, that helped with the wheelchair seating. Half of the group from the USA had been with me at Hermano Pedro last Wednesday so they were old hands at working with handicapped kids. The half that have not yet been to Hermano Pedro adapted quickly and all went well.

We had a service before the actual distribution and the students shared the love of Christ with the people that had come in for wheelchairs by both talking and praying with them and also by doing some pantomime type dramas that went over very well.

I had arrived a bit early so that I could get a chance to look over those that came in for wheelchairs. I like doing this because this gives me the opertunity to see if there are any people that will take most of the day to fit due to any severe conditions they may have.

Today one girl of about 12 particularly caught my eye. Something drew me immediately to her. The right side of her face had a large scare on it. Due to the long sleeve shirt that she had on it was not until I sat down next to her that I realized that she was missing one of her arms. I also noticed that her left leg was missing from just below the knee. It was not until the people that were with her removed the blanket that was on her lap that I realized that her right leg was completely gone. I looked into her eyes and saw some one that had been through a lot but still had a glimmer of hope. She returned my smile and gave me a big hug when I asked her if she wanted a wheelchair. What a silly question. Of cores she wanted a wheelchair. The people that were with her explained that when she was an infant the small house that her and her family lived in caught fire. An older brother heroically rescued another child and then went back in to rescue her. She ended up loosing all except her left arm but was at least alive. Calin and I headed over to the shop to see if we had any one arm drive wheelchairs but found nothing. “What a bout a power wheelchair?” I thought to myself. We returned to the church next door to ask some more questions. I called Donna over and filled her in on the story. We did not want to get this little girls hopes up by mentioning anything about a powered wheelchair until we know for certain that one would work for her. Did she live in an area that was some what level? Did she have electricity? Did she have good use of her remaining hand? The people that had brought her in were very patient in answering those and what must have seemed like a thousand other questions. Donna and I smiled at each other. This girl who lived on level ground in Guatemala city and was daily being carried 4 blocks each way so that she could go to school was a defiant canidate. It was now time for silly question # 2. Answer = Of coarse she would like a power chair. Five minutes later Calin was driving a power chair that we had picked out in the shop over to the church next door.

20 minutes later a little girl who had spent a good part of that 20 minutes giving me hugs and kisses was driving her new power wheelchair all around the church.

Not only did we get the opertunity to give her the first opertunity of her life to move around on her own but while we were working we were able to share with her and her family about the love of Jesus. Was it a good day today? Yes! Even if my house burns down by this evening it was a perfect day.

Even though it is only 3:20 PM I am going to wrap up on my journal for today. I want to see if I can get it sent out yet today but must spell check everything. Contrary to popular belief I have spell check on my computer but due to over load by having to correct every other word I think it just gives up on trying to figure some of them out. Any way I hope you get the drift on what is going on down here. God is very much alive and we are seeing Him do great things.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Journal July 29 - Augest 7

Sunday, July 29, 4:34 PM

Six kids and one adult came along with me to church this morning. Jason one of the newer boys had a few problems but nothing serious. Some of the kids that have been coming along with me for years set him straight so there was little left for me to say when I talked with him after church. I can remember back to the days when all of the kids behaved much like Jason did today and I am truly thankful for how far they have come. I have several new kids coming along lately but for the most part they are well behaved. At first I thought that they were just going through what is referred to as the honeymoon period but I am starting to think that perhaps these kids are more well behaved from the start.

After Church we went out for pizza and then headed home. Elmer turned 22 today and I was invited to his home for a birthday party. His leg seem to have healed up nicely and he has needed no further surgery. He has been able to return to work and wants to thank all of you who helped out with his medical expenses.

Monday, July 30, 2007, 10:47 PM

Can anyone tell me?

Is it true or is it just my imagination? The closer you are to the equator the easier it is to spill a glass that contains a liquid?

Is it true or is it just my imagination? The stickier the substance that is in the glass the more likely it is to spill.

Is it true or is it just my imagination? That liquids that are spilled on a level table automatically gravitate towards the largest object that is near the table. (ME)

Is it true or is it just my imagination? That even though everyone at the table has their hands folded and their eyes closed, while praying and no earthquakes have been reported in several days, that a glass of juice can spill on it’s own.

Is it true or is it just my imagination? That one glass of spilled juice loves company.

Is it true or is it just my imagination? That if the only adult at the table gets the least bit upset when 2 glasses of juice are spilled before or while the food is being blessed, That adult will with out fail be the one to spill the third glass.

Is it true or is it just my imagination? That the person who goes from room to room looking for the mop is always the one that has the most sticky liquid on the bottom of his shoes.

We had pancakes for supper tonight. When we finished eating I told the kids that they could dump any leftover pancakes onto the floor. It is amazing how much spilled juice a pancake will absorb.

This morning they managed to run out of reasons of why not to swim with the kids at the orphanage so we actually swam. Seven adults and fourteen kids is quite an accomplishment considering all of the kids had to be held. A few of the ladies that were holding the kids had full intentions of keeping their make up and there hair dry but the two kids that I was holding made short work of that. I was accused of telling the kids to splash them but no one can prove anything. I am just glad that none of the ladies could understand English.

This afternoons lunch went a lot better than tonight supper. Three ladies who are adopting children here in Guatemala phoned me yesterday and offered to help me take some of the kids to lunch. I had not taken any of the teen age girls out in quite some time so we gathered up five of them and headed to Camperos. Carlos had also offered to join us. It was quite a parade especially considering that the three ladies who were each pushing a wheelchair also had babies strapped to their backs. We had a great time and believe it or not nothing was spilled.

When we got back from lunch some of the orphanage kids helped me repair some wheelchairs. I would like to say nothing was spilled but Ervin managed to spill my fairly large box of sorted nuts and bolts. At least they were not sticky but now I have a fairly large box of unsorted nuts and bolts.

Well it is getting late and I am trying to decide weather or not I want to attempt to cross my kitchen floor to lock the front door of my house. The way I figure it if any one tries to break in he won’t make it more than a few feet before he is stuck in his tracks. Besides that if I leave the door unlocked it will be easier for Kimberly to get into my house when she comes to mop the floor in the morning. You know I wander if she is somehow connected with all of the spilled juice? After all it is providing her with job security.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

This morning Chris and I met for breakfast at Camperos. After seeing the schedule of upcoming wheelchair distributions, teams that will be coming in, Camp, and a thousand other things that are taking place I realized that I had better make good use of my free days. After spending a few hours at the shop getting a power wheelchair ready for a distribution that we are having in Cobon this weekend I headed for home. I decided that since August was going to be an extremely busy month I would take the rest of July off.

Now the hard part, what was I going to do during my vacation? I soon came up with the perfect Idea. How about going some where that has a nice place to swim and just relax. It would have to be some where close though as it was now 1:30 PM. My vacation would end by the first of August and that was only 10 ½ hours away. When I got to the hot springs that is only 15 minutes from my house I was delighted to see that there were almost no people there. I had been hoping that it would be a quiet day and that I would have the pool pretty much to myself. The 9 kids that were in the car with me were hoping the same thing. OK, so having 9 kids along is not exactly relaxing but I had only started out with only 3 of them coming along but the numbers just some how managed to grow by the time my car reached the end of the alley that I live on. Besides that “fun” seems to be a lot more enjoyable than “relaxing”, anyway that’s what the 9 kids that came along kept trying to convince me of. We had to hurry our swim up a bit though because when we talked the man that collects the money for swimming he told us that the pool was being drained for cleaning and we only had about an hour to swim. I figured that for 3Q (35 cents) each an hour of fun would be worth it. Actually we managed to stay in for about 2 hours. The kids did anyway. I got out when the level of the pool got to about waist deep. Most of the kids lasted until they looked like they were sitting in a mud puddle. And then the kids went over to a small pool that many of the local churches use for baptisms. Fortunately there were no baptisms going on so the were allowed to swim there. I knew that if I took the kids home with out feeding them I would have a hard time having any of my vacation time to myself so we stopped off at Burger King and got 10 of their 10 Q specials. Calin stayed in the car while the rest of us went in to eat. This was not his decision but mine. All he was wearing was a towel because his clothing had gotten wet. Funny how that happens when you lay your clothing at the edge of a pool that 9 kids are jumping into.

At 5 PM we got home and I told the kids that I was going to have the house to myself for a while. I think that in Guatemala for a while means about an hour or 2. When I finally reopened the gate at 7 PM not only were all of the kids that had gone swimming there but several others had been added to there numbers. The 10 Q special that I had eaten a few hours earlier was beginning to leave a vacancy in my stomach and I know that it had to be doing the same with the kids as well. Besides that not all of them that were at my gate had even had that to eat. I can’t be sure but it seems that many of the families run even lower on money at the end of the month than at the beginning because that seems to be when the kids are the hungriest. Any way there was no way that I was going to send them home hungry. Besides that I had my fill of having nothing to do but relax by now so I made a large pot of spaghetti and we all had some supper. Since Kimberly had spent a good part of the morning sweeping and mopping my house I served only water to drink. Nothing was spilled so this confirmed my suspicion that, “The stickier the substance that is in the glass the more likely it is to spill.”

It is now 11:30 PM. The last kid has just left my house. I know that I still have a half hour of vacation time left but I think that I will head off to bed. A half hour of extra sleep couldn’t hurt because now that my vacation is over, Who knows? Tomorrow could end up being a busy day.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, August 1, 2007, 10:35 PM

It was a good thing that I did all of that resting up yesterday because today was a busy one. Carlos called me last night to let me know that Byron had taken out one of the doors that goes into the rooms of the orphanage with his power wheelchair. The nurses were pretty good about it but this along with the 2 mirrors and one cabinet door that he destroyed during the past few weeks was beginning to be a bit of a problem. Before heading out to the orphanage I received another phone call from a couple that are in Antigua adopting a baby. They had read the last journal of my web page and wanted to know if they could visit the orphanage. After giving them a tour we decided to take some of the kids out to lunch. I had previously told Byron that he would be one of the kids that would get to go on our next outing to lunch so when he saw me filling out the paper work he was all smiles. Unfortunately those smiles soon turned to tears. I motioned for him to follow me and started pointing out some of the damage that he had done with his wheelchair within the past few weeks. I explained to him that even though I knew that none of them were intentionally done they never the less happened and I knew that if they continued to happen the orphanage would soon demand that he no longer use his wheelchair. I told him that his power chair was not a toy and that he had to stop racing around with it in tight places. I especially emphasized how important it was to slow down with it when ever he is near the other kids. Then I really lowered the boom by telling him that he could not come along to lunch with us today. I know that this may sound a bit harsh especially considering that all of the mishaps were accidental but I also know that it would break his hart and mine if he were ever forced to stop using his power chair. Unfortunately if the orphanage made that ruling my hands would be tied even though I would rank that right up there with chopping off the legs of some one who accidentally walked into a mirror and broke it. The kids that got to go to lunch had a wonderful time and so did the adults that came along. I must admit though that I felt like I had come down a bit hard on Byron but kept reminding my self why I had to. Sonia is turning 13 tomorrow so we celebrated her birthday at Camperos. A group of about 20 Americans who are here building a church came in and sat next to us. I suggested that we all sing happy birthday to Sonia. Some of the Guatemalan people that were in the restaurant also joined in. By the smile on Sonia' face I think that she was convinced that everyone in the restaurant had come to help celebrate her birthday.

After lunch I went to work on Byron’s power chair. Byron was right there beside me and even offered to try to help turn a wrench or a screw driver whenever they were within his reach. Our modification project did not get finished but hopefully we will be able to finish up on it tomorrow. His chair is now programmed to go only about half the speed that it originally did and by the time everything is finished it should have enough micro switches on it that it will automatically stop even if Byron runs into a feather. I also moved the switch that turns the chair back on to a position that is difficult but possible for Byron to reach. This may frustrate him a bit but I also think that the harder it is for him to get his chair going after driving or backing into something the more careful he will be. Please pray that this will help. This may seem like a strange thing to request prayer for but those of you that know Byron also know how much this power chair has changed his life. Before heading for home I did a bit of carpentry work. The cabinet doors and the large door that Byron took off from its hinges are now back in place. Tomorrow I will try to find 2 mirrors.

This sounds like a repeat but Calin turns 13 tomorrow. He and Sonia were born on the same day. His step dad is not going to allow him to have a party so we had one at my house tonight. Talk about a nourishing supper.

The cake that I bought looked like it could feed 100 but the 20 people that were at Calin’s party finished off all but a few pieces of it. No vegetables tonight but the cake had some strawberries on top of it so I guess that and the orange pop gave the kids their daily supply of fruit. I had thought about Pizza for everyone but knew that if I did that our guest list would likely double. Tomorrow I have to go to the airport to pick up someone so I already told Calin that I would take him out to dinner. I guess that the other 19 will have to wait until their birthdays to do something like that. Even though the number of kids that spend most of their time at my house has grown the number of birthdays that we celibrate has declined. I can thank my computer for that. Back several years ago when I moved in here an had a more difficult time remembering all of the kids by name a few of them would have up to 3 birthdays a year. In fact Calin is the one that use to pull that one the most. Now I have everyone’s birthday on file and do a quick check on the computer before buying a cake or a present.

Well It is getting late so I guess I will go and see of there is any cake left in the refrigerator and then head off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Most of my day was spent at, or going to and from Guatemala airport today. The drive from my house to Guatemala City usually takes about an hour but due to construction it took me over 2 hours just to get to the airport. Add to that thinking that one of the plains was scheduled to come in nearly 2 hours earlier, you have what I did all day plus one hour into Friday.

Friday, August 3, 2007, 5:47 PM

This morning at 8AM we loaded up the 2 Kia Vans and my car and headed off to Cobon. Actually we did not get out of town until 10 AM because we had to eat first and then load up some supplies. The 11 people that came in from the states and 6 of us from Chemaltenango plan to be in Cobon for 4 days and will hopefully give out nearly 100 wheelchairs at the 3 distributions that we have planned during those days. Only a few of the people that came from the USA have done wheelchair distributions before but one of them is a physical therapist and three are studying to be physical therapists. Two of the members of our team are daughters of Merry Tecon a lady that I have worked with in Viet Nam and Columbia. Merry and her husband Mural are connected with Children’s medical ministries a ministry that works closely with Hope haven international.

I forgot to take the power cord for my laptop along with me so I will not write to much for fear that my computer batteries will not last until I return home on Monday or Tuesday.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, August 4, 2007, 3:24 PM

I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is for those of you that like longer Journals and the bad news is for those who like me to keep them brief. I found a power cord that I can borrow while we are in Cobon so I do not have to worry about the batteries of my computer going dead.
This morning we had a distribution in Tactic. Tactic is a town that is located about a half hour from Cobon. The group of people that we have with us are all excitant workers and in less than 4 hours over 45 people were on their way to their homes with their new wheelchairs.

Kari the therapist that I worked with and myself do not hold any bragging rights to the speed at which all of the wheelchairs were skillfully fit and though. We spent the entire time seating a 12 year old girl. She had been added to the list of people that were to receive wheelchairs only a few days ago and we were sent very little detail of her size or what type of chair she needed. So when Chris shipped the wheelchairs to Cobon from our shop he had to make a guess on what type of chair would work for her. The wheelchair that we wanted to give her was the perfect type of chair but was much too big for her, however after 4 hours of cutting drilling and busily remanufacturing several parts we had a happy family and the girl had a taller made wheelchair. We were thankful that this was the only difficult case of the day or we would have been pressed for time.

After a late lunch most of the group decided drive around and see some of the country side for a few hours. One other gentleman and myself decided to head back to the motel. He was sleepy because he still has not gotten accustomed to roosters crowing and fire works going off all night long. I on the other hand had done enough driving for the past few days and wanted to just kick back for a bit. Well that about sums it up for now.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, August 5, 2007, 5:27 PM

This morning we went to a Catholic convent. No I haven’t changed religions but they had 2 nuns there that were in need of wheelchairs.

One of them appeared to be in her seventies and could no longer walk so we gave her manual wheelchair that she was very happy with. The second non that we visited with was a spry 87. Although eremitism had stopped her from walking 2 years ago she had not slowed down in her thinking an had a wonderful sense of humor. After putting her into a power wheelchair we kidded with her about now being able to chase the men.

We had to warn her though about being careful not to get her long nun’s clothing caught under the tires of her wheelchair. She laughed and told us that it was time she got up to date and thought that perhaps she would start wearing shirt and pants like many women do now days. Before we left about 12 of the nuns sang for us. Then before leaving a few of the women in our group sang some songs for them.

Next we went to a small town about a half hour out of Cobon. There is a small rehab center there and while we were there 17 people came in for wheelchairs. The first little girl that I sat was only a year and a half old. She was unable to walk due to a head injury that she received when she was hit by a car nearly a year ago. Her parents say that she is receiving therapy and regaining some movement so we are praying that someday she will be able to walk.

The next patient that Kari and I worked on was a girl of around 12 years old who was in bad condition. She was Hydrocephalic (water on the brain) and had a lot of other complications as well. This was a case much like yesterdays where we had to do a lot of building and improvising but after several hours she was sitting in the first wheelchair that she had ever owned.

After the center fed us lunch we headed back to Cobon. Some of the members of our group are headed to town where there is some type of a celebration going on. The oldest member of the group is going to stay behind to rest because I am tired. Tomorrow we have our last but largest distribution before heading back to Chemaltenango. We have had a great time and is wonderful to be able to help so many people but I am missing the kids at the orphanage and those at home. At least it looks like the group that is with us from the USA will be able to come along and spend some time with the kids from Hermano Pedro on Wednesday.

Monday, August 6, 2007

It was another full day today. Today we gave out 54 wheelchairs at a distribution in Cobon.

About 17 of these chairs were specialty chairs that take a lot of work to seat properly. Fortunately we had a great crew of therapists and seating people so everything went smoothly. When we finished up at around 2 PM we were all tired though. The thought of having to make a 7 hour drive home did not sound too inviting but we had to get back since we had already made plans for tomorrow. On the way home the van that Saul was driving narrowly escaped a head on collision with a truck. As Saul rounded a corner he was met by 2 trucks that were side by side coming towards him. Since there was a rock face on Saul’s right and a cliff on the left side of the road Saul had no where to go but could only hit the breaks and pray that the truck that was in his lane would get around the one that it was passing in time to pull in before hitting Saul’s van head on. According to those that were in the van the truck got back into it’s own lane only inches before hitting them head on. We are now all back in Chemaltenango. We are all tired but extremely grateful for a safe trip.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007, 10:08 PM

After breakfast at Camperos we all headed to the shop to sort out some wheelchairs for next week’s distribution and then drove to Hermano Pedro orphanage. I gave the group from the USA a rather fast tour of the orphanage that ended up at Sam Sam’s bed. It’s funny you would think that after over 6 years of seeing Sam Sam bang his head on the steal rails of his crib I would be able to talk about him with out getting tears in my eyes or out and out starting to cry. Thankfully I can not do that and hope that I will never be able to.

The day I stop shedding a tear for this child and many others like him I will know that I have become calloused to the needless suffering that Sam Sam and many other children and adults have to endure. Today there was one big consolation though. As I finished talking about Sam Sam I looked through terry eyes at the group of people that were with me and saw tears in their eyes as well.

I will never understand how these kids can make you cry one minute and then bring you laughter the next. That is exactly what the 8 of them that we took to lunch did though. They also brought a lot of smiles and laughter to many people that we saw in central park. Talk about a quiet reserved group, but if you do talk about them it certainly wasn’t this group. Fidel, Carlos, and Byron were racing around the park in their power chairs. Moises, who was in his walker, was dragging along behind Fidel’s chair, making sure that he drug his feet through every mud puddle that Fidel traversed. Sonia, Roberto, David, and Gasper were being wildly pushed by American volunteers and Joseph, one of the teen age volunteers, was weaving in and out of the group with his unicycle. I doubt that there was anyone in the park that did not take notice of this joyful procession. Due to the influence of our mature group of adults we settled down to doing some constructive crafts while waiting for our meal at Camperos. All of the kids have now been taught the finer points of building and flying airplanes made from paper place mats and the art of shooting a straw wrapper with such precisions and timing that it actually ends up in someone’s mouth. Fortunately all but a few of the targets were people that were seated at our table.

At 4 PM we said our goodbyes to the orphanage kids and headed out of the building. Most of the group headed back to Chemaltenango so that they could have a brief rest before meeting for supper at 6 PM. Mark Richard, 3 other people from our group. and myself headed for San Lucas. Earlier this week Mark discovered that the first person that he had ever given a wheelchair to no longer had a wheelchair. Back in 1988 Mark had seen this lady crossing the Pan American highway on her stomach. The next time that he returned here from the USA he brought in a wheelchair for this lady. That was 19 years and around 65,000 wheelchairs ago.

Wheelchairs don't last forever so this evening we gave her another wheelchair. It is truly wonderful that God has allowed Hope Haven International to give out that many wheelchairs in less then 20 years. What a neat way to share the love of Christ with people. I feel very privileged to be just a small part of it.

Yours in Christ: Dick