* 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)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Journal September 2-8


Sunday, September 2, 2007

If Sunday is a day of rest I am not sure weather or not I am looking forward to Monday. It was a good day but a busy one. Even though we did not leave for church until 10 AM the kids started showing up at around 7:30. This morning it only took one large box of corn flakes and 12 bananas (35 cents worth) to feed the gang. For some reason the soccer game that some of the kids usually organize on Saturday got moved to Sunday so not all of the kids came along to church today. Fernando and Calin came along and so did Rudy and Elmer. Rudy and Elmer, who are both in there twenties, seem to be taking more and more interest in coming to church lately. In fact Rudy wants to start going to a Wednesday night bible study that they have there.
After church we went to Hermano Pedro. With all of the wheelchair distributions, house building, and teams that have been here lately I had only managed to get in to Hermano Pedro for one short visit in the past week and a half. The kids were happy to see us. There was a group of people there from Guatemala City who was playing with the kids, they seem to be coming there most Sunday mornings. This is so healthy for the kids and the Guatemalan volunteers. Over the years I am seeing more and more Guatemalans take notice and getting involved with the handicapped. This is a big step forward from what I saw just a few years ago. The 4 people that were with me did great with the kids as well. Even Elmer who had only been to the orphanage once before got right in there and interacted with the kids.

Since it was Sunday all of the orphanage offices were closed so we were unable to take any of the kids out to lunch so after a few hours we said good by and went and got some lunch at Mc Donald’s. The choice of restaurants was not my choice because I much prefer health food but Burger king got voted down.

When we got home I managed to have about an hour to myself before the kids were once again back. The house quickly filled up with both those that had come along to church and those that had finished the soccer game. (I think that both teems came) Of course only the 4 that had come along to church had eaten. A large beach ball that Fernando had received as a prize in Sunday school provided the afternoon activities. The kids invented a new game that seemed to be a combination of soccer and keep away and to my amazement the beach ball lasted well into the night. Finally though the razor wire on my south wall or the broken glass that lines the top of my north wall took its toll and the beach ball was no more.

The rest of the night was spent consuming pan cakes and pop corn. (Pop corn is a vegetable, isn’t it?) The kids then were invited (by me) to go home so that I could get a bit of computer work done and then go to bed. I think that I may need as much sleep as possible for the next 2 weeks. Before leaving all of the kids informed me that they are having no school for the next 2 weeks. I asked them why but no one seems to know.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, September 3, 2007 9:00 PM

After dropping my Land Cruiser off for a break job Rudy, Abner, and I headed off to Hermano Pedro with a borrowed pick up truck.

We had been hoping that the kids would get to swim today but someone at the orphanage decided that the air temperature was too cold. It was probably for the best though because I managed to get quite a few wheelchairs repaired and refitted. I even got a little girl who is in malnutrition who had been waiting for quite some time into a new wheelchair. She was so tiny that I could hardly get the chair adjusted small enough for her. I guess that she was satisfied though because she fell asleep in her new wheelchair before I had even finished working on it.

Since I had not taken any of the kids from the orphanage out for a long time I had a difficult time deciding who I should take. I finally passed the buck and told Rudy and Abner to decide. Ervin, Moises, and Byron got to go.

Moises and Byron did great and Ervin was himself. When Ervin is hisself he still has a great time.

He only makes things difficult for those around him. After lunch we let the kids play on the playground equipment for a long time. They had the time of their lives. Ervin did remarkably well when it was time to go and didn’t even do his usual screaming routine. I had warned him before hand that if he did his beard would be longer than mine before he ever set foot in a Campero’s again. Who ever said that it doesn’t work to threaten little kids? Funny thing is I think he listens to me because he knows that I love him. Then again he also knows that he doesn’t want to be an old man with a white beard before he returns to Camperos.

Why wasn’t I surprised when I discovered that they had not finished the break job on my car when I stopped off at the repair shop at 5 PM? Probably because that is when they told me that it would be done and here in Guatemala that never happens. Good news though. They are now telling me that it will be ready first thing tomorrow morning. That means that there is a fare chance that it will come out of the shop some time tomorrow.

The kids are now out of the house and I am caught up on most of my work so I think I will kick back and relax and then head off to bed. Just before leaving Fernando asked me if he could borrow a hat that I have hanging in my bedroom for the next few days. Since I seldom ware a hat I told him that he could keep it if he wanted but he told me that he didn’t like wearing hats either and would return it in a few days. I could not resist asking him why he wanted the hat for a few days if he didn’t like wearing one. He told me that his aunt was going to give him a hair cut and knowing what kind of hair cuts she gives he was sure that he would want a hat to cover up the hair cut until his hair grew back out. Now that is what I call preparing for the worst.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, September 6, 2007

I guess that I have to eat my words. My car made it out of the shop by 9 AM and everything has been fixed well.

Calin and I then headed for Hermano Pedro. Social work informed me that Juan Jose, a little boy who’s parents had brought him in a few months ago had been taken home by his parents. I was shocked because I had just seen him in isolation yesterday. Only 3 months ago I had picked him and his parents up from the buss and had then gotten him admitted into Hermano Pedro in critical condition. Juan had improved some while in Hermano Pedro but was still not in very good shape. In fact just a few days ago he had come down with a high fever and was once again put into isolation. However yesterday his parents came to see him and decided that since he looked better than he did when he came in 3 months ago that they would take him home. The doctors at Hermano Pedro pleaded with them not to take him yet but they would not listen. I pray that he stays alive but it is going to be next to impossible for his parents to provides the care that he needs in order for his health to improve. Please pray that this precious little child stays alive.

Carlos joined us so we took Gaspar, David, and Roberto (Bobby) to lunch. David ate like a horse. Bobby always takes great delight in dipping the same french fry into ketchup, Mayonnaise, or what ever sauce he can find and then sucking it off and then dipping that same french fry back into the sauce again. The more sauce that he can get onto his face and clothing the happier he gets. Today he discovered that a drinking straw gets less soggy than a french fry so he used that instead. What can I say? At least it cuts down on the lunch bill. Gaspar ate well at first but near the end of the meal he fell asleep with his face in his plate of food. He tires faster than he use to and all of his actions are slowing down. His speech is getting slower as well. His older sister and brother who are in Hermano Pedro and have the same condition are the same. His brother no longer talks and is becoming more zombie like every day. His sister still smiles and asks me when she can once again come along to Camperos when ever I walk past her bed but she to is slowing down rapidly. This is hard to watch especially since I can remember when all 3 were quite active.

This evening I went to Chris and Donna’s home for supper. Judah and Ashley are here for a few weeks. Ashley is going to help us find a few teachers for some of the kids in the villages and is also planning to work on upgrading the way that we keep records on the kids and their teachers. Tomorrow her and a friend will be joining me on an 11 hour car ride to where Onias lives.

Calin and Fernando who are out of school for 2 weeks. (Why?????) have been begging to com along so tonight in one of my weaker moments I said OK. We plan on leaving at 5 AM so I am once again going to say good night.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

I only got about 3 hours sleep last night because it rained hard most of the night. Another hurricane has hit the coast of Guatemala. It quickly dissipated to a tropical storm but has brought in some heavy rains. After closely watching the weather over my computer we decided to go ahead with our plans to visit Onias and his family. Over half of our 11 to 12 hours of travel time is on dirt roads that some times become impossible to travel when there is to much rain but after watching the weather we decided to give it a try. It was a 4 wheel drive day but at 5 PM we pulled into a small town that is an hour and a half from where Onias lives. It is raining fairly hard but the weather is suppose to get better by morning. We are praying that it does or we will have to turn back. Even though we are close to his home the roads from here on get worse. We also have a river to cross before reaching his house. Don’t worry though because if you received this letter it means that we made it and other than the ocasional close call while driving everything went well.

Good night: Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, September 6, 2007

It rained most the of night but there was not nearly as much rain fall as had been predicted and we woke up to partly sunny skies.

The road to Onias’s house was not an any worse shape then it had been in the past. That is not anything to brag about but at least we were able to make it in with 4 wheel drive. Some of the rivers that had bridges were much higher than usual but the one that we had to drive through was not all that bad. Onias was thrilled to see us and soon his yard filled up with friends and relatives. I had a suit case full of Bennie babies and other toys so Fernando and Calin had a great time handing one out to each of the kids. Most of the adults made sure that they each received one as well. We had a good talk with Onias and his mother about future school plans. She told us about an 11 year old boy who lived about a mile away.

Much like Onias he to was unlabeled to walk or talk. She wondered if perhaps we would consider having him and Onias taught together. We were soon on our way to talk to him and his family. Mario )the 11 year old boy was over at a neighbors house with his sister but when we told his mother who we were and why we had come she quickly sent some one to get them. Soon is sister came up the trail carrying her brother in her arms. Mario was a delightful boy who seemed to have the same enthusiasm for life as Onias. Much like Onias he to did not seem to look upon himself as being handicapped in any way what so ever. He had even devised a way of getting around on all fours that made the though of offering him a wheelchair seem foolish. When we told his mother of our thoughts about offering him an education she was excited. She shared with us that her son was extremely bright and had always expressed a desire to be educated but since he was unable to walk or talk going to a regular school was out of the question. Both her and Onias’s mother shared with us that their sons were excepted by families and even by neighbor kids that knew them but the school and many of the kids that attended it considered them freaks and were in no ways ready to accept them. Perhaps we can help to slowly change this attitude but it is evident that it will take a few years. It was decided that for right now we should stick with having a teacher come in 2 to 3 days a week to teach the 2 of them. We are trying to make arrangements for them trading off with going to each others homes to be taught 2 of the days each week and perhaps having the teacher giving one day each of one on one teaching. The mothers of both boys said that they will work on finding someone who is not only a good teacher but cares about these 2 kids. We managed to interview one teacher who loved the Idea of teaching them but due to other commitments we may have to look for someone else.

Our visit went all to fast but we wanted to try to make it back to Cobon before dark. Now after 6 hours of rough road we are in Cobon where we will be spending the night. The drive back was 40 minutes shorter than our drive down because of a shorter rout that we took.

Scenery along the way was spectacular but the road was even rougher than the one that we had traveled yesterday. Thankfully the beds in this motel are in fairly good shape so we should be able to walk normally by morning.

Good night,
Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, September 7, 2007, 10:16 PM

After a long tiring day yesterday it was decided that today was going to be a relaxing day. Once again we got into the car and drove for 2 and a half hours. Close to half of our drive was down roads that were not much better than those that we drove yesterday but we were all looking forward to where we were going and the trip went fast.

Champey has to be the one of the most beautiful places in all of Guatemala. It is a jungle aria that has a beautiful river that mysteriously disappears into the ground and then reappears about a half mile down stream. Above the underground part of the river are small lakes that have cascading waterfalls that go from one lake to the next. There must be at least 6 connecting lakes. You can actually swim across one lake and then dive off a ledge that is from 2 to 10 feet high into the next lake until you have swam the entire distanced.

If you are brave enough you can also dive from some of the cliffs that line the lake or even shinny out on a tree branch and drop into the lake. Today we discovered that we had company in the trees. Calin and Fernando had been watching all day for monkeys and were thrilled when a family of spider monkeys passed by overhead. They were slowly swinging from tree to tree. After a lot of swimming and a picnics lunch we headed back for Cobon. Tonight we are staying in the same motel as we stayed in last night. It is nothing fancy and by American standards may be even less than that but it is comfortable and we are all happy to once again have good beds to sleep on.

Good night,
Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, September 8, 2007

This morning we started making our way back towards Chemaltenango. Instead of taking the road that leads to Guatemala City we headed towards Rabinal because we still had 2 people that we wanted to see. Our first stop was in a small town about a half hour from Rabinal, at the home of Lusbin and his family. Lusbin is an 8 year old boy that use to be in the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro. He has muscular dystrophy and due to his illness had been in Hermano Pedro for several months because he was getting verry skinny. Lusbin gained a lot of weight and even regained some strength while at Hermano Pedro so he returned home about 6 months ago and is doing well. While he was at Hermano Pedro I had the opportunity to speak with him and his parents about him receiving an education. Both he and his parents wanted him to have an education but didn’t exactly know how to go about getting him one. Fortunately we have a friend who is a teacher who lives in Rabinal. She is the lady who has helped us set up a number of wheelchair distributions there and has also found several starving kids that we have taken to Hermano Pedro’s malnutrition ward.

After only a few visits from Julia and from us Lusbin’s parents went to work on getting him enrolled into the public school in their town. His parents were a bit apprehensive at first because they know how children who are in wheelchairs had been treated in most public schools in the past. Fortunately things are changing in a number of the schools and Lusbin’s school is one of them. Today his mother informed us that he is doing great in school and is loving it. It is so refreshing to see this happening more and more all throughout Guatemala.

We had a hard time saying good bye to this family but after I made a promise that the next time I came I would take Lusbin to a Camperos that is in a nearby town we said good bye.

Our next stop was at the home of Julia. She and her husband were not at home so we decided to go and get something to eat. Rabinal is not a verry big town so we chose the first restaurant that we saw to eat at. Ordering the meal was a bit of an adventure. Aaron asked for a 7 up but was told by the waitress that they didn’t have any. When she asked the waitress what they did have to drink she was told that they only had Orange, Coke, and 7 up. She chose 7 up and the waitress graciously brought her some. I wasn’t to sure about the food so I just ordered a cheese burger and French fries. The waitress informed me that they did not have French fries. I was about to tell her go to ahead and give me just the cheese burger when I looked over at the table next to us. The man at the table was eating a burger and fries. I pointed to him and asked if he had received the last French fries that they had in the restaurant and was told no. It was then explained to me that this gentleman had not ordered a cheese burger but a hamburger. Hamburgers and French fries are on the menu. Cheese burgers are an the menu as well but you can not get them with French fries. I thought of ordering a hamburger and fries with a piece of cheese on the side but cheese was not on the menu. Finally on the opposite page of the menu I found the solution. There in bold print was a Cheese burger that had an egg on it and it came with French fries. I am not particularly fond of a fried egg on my cheese burger but I figured that I could take it off and give it to one of the hungry dogs that were hanging around the table. When my order finally arrived I discovered that the dogs would have to stay hungry. The cook had accidentally forgotten to put the egg on my cheese burger. I was not about to tell the waitress though for fear that she would take away my French fries. Don’t worry about the dogs though they got plenty to eat. When the others took one look at their meals which were suppose to be some kind of chicken in a cream sauce the dogs got fed plenty.

While we were eating. (or should I say feeding the dogs?) Julia called saying that had gotten home and her children had given her the cell phone number that I left with them. After lunch we went to a grocery store and got something to eat and then drove back to Julia’s house. Julia was delighted to here that 6 year old Andrais who we had brought to Hermano Pedro weighing 15 pounds was now fat and healthy. When she asked about Juan Jose I told her about his father taking him home even though the doctor had pleaded with him not to. Julia looked at me with tears running down her face. She knew that this poor little boy had no chance of survival if he were not kept in the hospital until he gained more strength. I told her not to give up on finding these kids though and reminded her that we are not going to save all of them but praise God there are success stories like Andrais that make it all so worth while. I may have been more convincing if it were not for the tears that were running down my own face. It is hard enough to loose one of the kids that we do not get to on time but when help is offered and not taken it is even harder.

While we were there Ashley gained a wealth of information that will help us with our schooling program. I verified our plans of hiking in to where Andrais and his family live some time this month. It sounds as though the needs there are overwhelming. We then headed for home.

We decided that we would take the 4 and a half hour ride on dirt road instead of the 6 hour ride on paved roads to get home. After about an hour and a half of shaking our selves half to death we questioned our decision but finally arrived in Chemaltenango at around 7 PM. We were tired but none of regretted taking this 4 day trip. I must admit though that having a hot shower and sleeping in my own bed sounds mighty fine. In fact both of those are about to take place right now.

Good night,
Yours in Christ: Dick


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