* GUATEMALA * * * * * * * * Dick Rutgers *

An ongoing journal of life as a Missionary in Guatemala. It will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

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Location: Chimaltenango, Guatemala

I work in Guatemala with Hope Haven international and Bethel Ministries. Along with my friends Chris and Donna Mooney and their family, we share the love of Jesus in various ways. Although giving out and maintaining wheelchairs is our primary ministry, we are involved in many other things as well. Building houses, feeding the hungry, providing education to handicapped children in orphanages and villages, and hosting a camp for the handicapped are just a small part of the things that God has given us the privilege of getting involved in. For several years now I have been keeping daily journals. Once a week I try to post new journals and pictures. My e-mail is dick@dickrutgers.com Guatemala Cell Phone # 502 5379 9451 USA Phone # 360 312 7720(Relays free to Guatemala)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Journal August 27 - September 1

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ronny with sister and brother . . . . . . .

Monday, August 27, 2007, 8:04 PM.
After a 7 hour drive from Huehuetenango we finally arrived at the beach, where we will be relaxing for the next 2 days.
Sorry no Daily journals for the next 2 days.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

This is still considered a vacation day so I am not going to write much tonight. We have just returned to Chemaltenango after relaxing on the beach for the past few days. I must admit though as much as I enjoyed swimming and lying around I was starting to really miss the kids. Yesterday 3 of the kids called me, all within a half hour of each other. I guess that they were missing me nearly as much as I was missing them.

Thursday, August 30, 2007, 8:16 AM

Last night I returned home to a warm greeting. Both my refrigerator and I received friendly hugs. Within a half hour my house was swarming with kids. No official meals yet but by the time they left 3 cereal boxes that were sealed shut when I got home were now empty. Today I will try to do some shopping and get something healthier, Like hot dogs, cookies, and coke.

We had a wonderful time on our vacation and I really got to know some of our shop workers better. They are a neat bunch of people. Yesterday morning some of them shared there testimonies. Ruby who is in a wheelchair and was a beggar for years shared about some of his struggles and victories as a Christian, and also talked about his gratitude for having a job at the wheelchair shop. One of the testimonies that really touched our harts was that of Jovonti. Jovonti had been involved in gangs for years and worked his way up to being the leader of the largest gangs here in Chemaltenango. It would take me half the day to write about everything that he went through and the countless number of times that God spared his life but I think that what touched me the most was that he shared that it all stemmed from the fact that he felt unloved by his family. Over and over again he was told by his relatives that he was worthless and a nobody. An uncle continually reminded him that he was so worthless that the family didn’t even register his name at the courthouse when he was born. He told us that being a gang member gave him a feeling of being loved and excepted that he never experienced at home. It is nothing short of a miracle that Jovonti was not killed by his gang after becoming a Christian. Jovonti shared with us that only on a rare occasion can a person leave a gang with out being murdered but if you are the leader of a gang there is no way you can leave. Only by the grace of God did the other members allow him to leave the gang. They still watch him closely though and have told him that he ever shows evidence that he is not walking the Christian walk they will kill him. They are worried that he know to much and if he goes back to the streets he may get involved with other gangs and share confidential information about his old gang. Jovonti who is now one of the most loving people that I have ever met is hoping to study for the ministry. His testimony reminded me so much of the kids that frequent my house and the importance of letting them know that they are loved and appreciated.

Well I have a lot to do today so I will close for now.

Yours in Christ: Dick

3:06 PM

Due to a lot of unexpected circumstances I did not get out of Chemaltenango today. Bill paying is always a slow process but today it was extra slow.

Chris ran into me in town. He had just returned from taking Artie and Erika to the airport. They had intended on leaving Chemaltenango at 3:30 AM but just before leaving town Chris received a phone call from George. George is a friend that was with us on our distribution that we just had and he and his 2 boys had also stayed with us at the beach. This morning George and a man that helps him were leaving Chemaltenango to deliver a truck load of bananas at about the same time that Chris was heading to the airport with Artie and Erika. He stopped along side of the road to buy some bread to eat. George’s friend accidentally ran across the road right in front of a speeding truck. The truck didn’t even bother to slow down after running over George’s friend. George’s friend left behind a wife and 4 children. Sometimes life here in Guatemala seems so cheep.

I had full intentions of kicking the kids out of the house for a few hours so that I could catch up on some writing but they are not to fond of that idea and are keeping the noise down so I am letting them stay for at least a while.

I have to run to the store for a bit. The reading glasses that I accidentally stepped on were evidently not shatter proof.

9:38 PM

The third and final shift of supper is finally over. Generally those who are not here at a reasonable time have to fend for them selves. Although that some times means makeing their own supper from something that came out of my refrigerator. Tonight however I was even more lenient than that. The 3 newer boys that live about a half mile from here were late because they didn’t realize that I was back from Huehuetenango yet so I fed them. Alex and Elder were even later to arrive but how could I punish them since they had gone along with their mother to church.

After supper my new microwave was a big hit. Calin brought over a bag of microwave popcorn and every eye was on the window of the microwave watching in amazement as the bag slowly grew in size. Only about half the kernels popped because the kids got overly anxious and removed the popcorn from the microwave before the timer went off. After eating what had popped the kids asked me if they could put the unpopped kernels back into the microwave. When I said yes I naturally assumed that they were going to put them back into the bag and I was a bit surprised when after there second time of setting up chairs in front of the microwave they all sat clapping and cheering. I admit popcorn is a lot more fun when you can actually watch it pop. At least everything stayed in the oven until the door was opened. I had only wished that it was not the buttered popcorn but the clean up crew did a great job and once again the inside of the microwave looks as good as new.

Well as of Monday night Calin’s step dad and mom are back together so tonight Calin is once again staying at my house.

I to am ready for some sleep so I will say goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, August 31, 2007

John Sleril, his brother Jeff, and his son John Jr. arrived yesterday afternoon from Florida. These 3 gentlemen are part of a larger crew that came here a year ago and installed a new roof over our shop and wheelchair storage area. This year they came down to show us how to build 2 small prefabricated houses that thy had sent us on a container.
Today was the day that we were going to build the first one. Mario, the friend that is helping us map most of the places that we go to here in Guatemala, has recently inherited a lot here in Chemaltenango. He and his adopted daughter have been living in a small corn stalk house a few miles out of town. Lately the spiders. mosquitoes, and mice seemed to be winning the battle of who the rightful tenants of the house were. That and the fact that the house had an uneven dirt floor that made it difficult for Mario, who is wheelchair bound to get around, was almost more than he and Maryann could at times deal with. This afternoon only 5 hours after unloading a truck load of steal tubing and mettle siding Maria and Maryann have a new house. It only measures 10 feet by 15 feet but to Mario it is a mansion.

This evening I went out to dinner with Chris and our 3 friends from Florida but my crew of kids were patiently waiting for me when I got home. On second though you can delete that word patiently. I was glad that I had plenty of food on hand. Dinner was not a lot of work though because everyone really pitched in and helped. I had intended on sending them all home after dinner but since most of them think of this as more of a home than where they actually live I just did not have the hart. I have let them know though that tomorrow night has to be a work night for me. Sometimes when I give them a bit of a warning not quite as many show up. Than again sometimes it makes no difference at all. I guess that we will see tomorrow night.

Saturday, September 1, 2007 7:28 PM

Well so far it has worked quite well. There have only been 4 kids at my door. Then again I have only been home for a little over an hour yet. I let them in for a little while but then reminded them that tonight was going to be a work night for me. They promised that they would play in the other room and not bother me but we tried that a few nights ago. I think that I can hold my breath longer than they can stay in the other room without coming in to tell me or show me something. I find it works best for all of us if I have the house to myself when I am writing my journals or answering e-mail and then giving the kids all of my attention when they come in. Even though they sometimes complain a bit I think that they like it better that way to.

Oh by the way, make that 6 kids so far, not 4. Calin and Daniel came to the door during that last paragraph. When I asked them if the kids that just left here hadn’t told them that I had to get some work done tonight they said, “Yes.” But they thought that they should check it out them selves.

Now where was I? It’s funny how they can cause me to loose my train of thought even when they are not in the house. I guess that I will just back track to this morning and then keep writhing until I get up to this evening which I already told you about.

It was Fernando’s turn to come along today. This worked out great because we were going to Ronny’s house and Fernando is becoming great friends with Ronny and his family. We met at 6:30 for breakfast with Chris, the 2 Johns, and Jeff. After breakfast we went to the shop and loaded another prefab house onto the Toyota pick up. That’s right we got all of the parts for an entire house onto one Toyota pick up. Once again this house only measured 10 feet by 15 feet but it was a load for the pickup.

This house was going to Ronny’s grandmother. You may remember me talking about her 3 or 4 weeks ago. She is the 80 year old lady that I had to give the half hour sales pitch to before she would accept the free house. It wasn’t that she didn’t want or need a house. What she and her 24 year old sone were living in could not even be called a shed. It was nothing more that a leaky tin roof with some tin but mostly black plastic tarp walls. So why had it been so hard to convince this lady who had nothing to accept a free house? Because in her 80 years of living in poverty she had never once been given anything. She told us that the few times that anyone had ever offered to help her out in even a small way they had never honored their word. Even after she told me to go ahead and bring her the house I saw a lot of doubt in her eyes. As much as she wanted to believe that it was true she simply couldn’t for fear that it would not happen. Today as she saw us drive up with a truck load of materials she started to believe that it was true. Three and a half hours later as she walked into her new house rubbing her eyes as though trying to wake herself from a dream she looked a bit more convinced. I would not be surprised if she doesn’t give her self a pinch every now and then just in case she is dreaming but our promise was real and so is her new home. Chris was also able to share with her about Tomas a man who simply could not believe in a risen Lord. Hopefully the reality of the new house and Christian friends that care will also show her and her family that the love that God has for her is just as real.

Unlike Mario’s house the house that we put up today was not built on a slab of cement. We plan on remedying that near the end of February by pouring her a concrete slab when a team of around 20 people come from Washington State to build a larger home for her Grandson Ronny and his family.

I am thankful for this grandmother’s house and for the house that we plan on building for Ronny’s family in Februarys but it was hard to look less than 100 feet away where another son his wife and 6 children live. The tin structure that they live in is in such bad shape that there are rust holes in the tin that a dog could run through. We gave them some left over pieces of tin but you could see the hopelessness on the faces of this family knowing that their mother and brother were getting new houses but they were still sitting in 4 inches of water every time that it rained. I know that I perhaps should have said nothing but felt that they needed at the very least a small string of hope to hang on to. I told them that we could make no promises and there were no guarantees that it would ever happen but I would at least get the word out that they need a place to live. There it is, the word is out.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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