* 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, October 29, 2007

Journal October 24-29

Wednesday, October 24, 2007, 8:53 PM

After stopping off at the home of a lady that lives close to my house to see what was wrong with her power wheelchair. Fernando, Calin, and I headed for Hermano Pedro. Three of the volunteers had asked if I would meat with them today so that we could take a few kids out to lunch. As I was pulling up to the orphanage I got a phone call from Paul Smit asking if he and his wife could join us. The nine of us were soon on our way to Camperos with 8 of the kids from Hermano Pedro. Today all but one of the kids that we took were easy to feed. Dennis who can only drink from a bottle was the only one that can not eat regular food. I had not intended on taking him but he is a favorite of both Calin and Fernando. They sat on both sides of Denis and spoiled him rotten. Denis absolutely loved it. I wish that every one that works with kids could take lessons from Fernando and Calin. They have a love for these kids that radiates and it seems to work miracles. I have seen them feed kids that normally eat very little 2 helpings of food. After lunch we took the kids onto the playground equipment and they had a ball. Moat of them have to be carried up the ladders and laid on the slides but all of them love it. We always try to put the more timid ones on the slide right after one of the kids that has a wet pants has gone down. They slide down much slower if the surface of the slide is wet. After returning to the orphanage I managed to fix a few wheelchairs then we headed for home.

Tonight we had toasted cheese sandwiches and reefried beans. The ten of us polished off everything in record time. Poor Alex and Elder had to stand out by the gate and watch. I almost broke down and brought them out some food but since there mother was punishing them for skipping church and lying to her I wanted her to know that I stood behind her on her decision.

As I write this my house and yard are filling up with more kids so I guess I better go out and spend some time with them.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, October 26, 2007, 9:45 PM

This morning I borrowed the Toyota pickup from Gordon. Then Calin and I met Eric and Hector at Burger King. They have been helping Paul with the bathroom that we are building for Maria’s Grandmother. Up until today I had not been able to help them due to other commitments. The 4 of us were joined by a block layer that lives in the Aldea where we are building the bathroom. Some of the relatives of Maria also helped us today. You wouldn’t think that a 10 X 10 cement building would take all that long to build but everything from digging the septic hole to mixing the cement has to be done by hand.

This family is very poor and survives mostly on what they can grow on their small plot of land.

Never the less the are always willing to share what little food that they have with us. Some of the fruits and vegetables that they give us are a bit unique but because of the grateful manner that they are given to us we seldom turn them down.
Today I went into the dark little dirt house where Fidel is confined to a bed. As I sat and visited with him Grandmother came in to see how he was doing. After wiping his face with a damp cloth she sat down on the edge of his bed and started to cry.
Just a few months ago Fidel's sister died and grandmother knows that Fidel is also dying. Grandmother herself is having a lot of trouble with her legs and is finding it more and more difficult to walk. Considering how much this family has been through it is hard to believe how they can stay so positive about life. Maria who can scarcely walk with the aide of a walker is always smiling. Grandmother who’s husband and most of her children disappear during the civil war still remains a warm and friendly woman. Even the kids who were extremely shy at first are now very outgoing and a lot of fun. We worked until 4 PM and then headed for home. Even though most of the people that we have met have seemed quite friendly we have been told that it is wise to be off from these roads before dark. A while back Hanna’s (Chris and Donna’s daughter) brother in law was shot at while riding his motor cycle in this area. He laid his motor cycle down on the dirt road and ran into the woods. No one came after him but he never saw his motor cycle again.

When we arrived back at Chemaltenango the 4 of us met Gordon at Camperos and after having something to eat Calin and I brought Eric to where he stays in Guatemala City. You would think that most of the kids would have gone home by 9 PM but there were still several that I ended up feeding when I got back home. Even though Calin had eaten supper with me before bringing Eric home he too was once again hungry. I worry about how much he eats and how heavy he is getting and try to get him to eat more salads and things like that. He is good about eating the right food when it is offered to him but within a few minutes of finishing up something healthy he is once again eating junk food. I think that he is trying to make up for a few years ago when he often went hungry.

Well the house has emptied out so I will once again say goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, October 26, 2007

Candy, the lady that was shot and paralyzed by her boyfriend called me a few days ago her power wheelchair is still giving her some problems. Abner, Fernando, and I stopped off at her home and repaired it on the way to Hermano Pedro this morning. Candy is not in good enough physical shape to attend a 5 day camp but has agreed to come there and talk to our campers. I think that she will be a real inspiration to them. She has been through a lot but her strong faith has kept her going. Her warm personality and positive attitude make each visit to her home an enjoyable experience. How some one can have so many negative things happen to them and still smile is truly a gift from God. After we had repaired the wheelchair it was hard to say good bye but I had promised a few volunteers at Hermano Pedro that we would take some more kids out for lunch today.

It was nearly noon when we reached Hermano Pedro so I quickly got the needed paper work done and soon 3 volunteers, Abner, Fernando, and myself were on our way to Camperos. Several of the kids that we took for lunch today were ones that do not get out often so they really enjoyed it. All 6 of us that took them had a great time to. After eating we went into the room that has the playground equipment. As we were getting the kids out of their wheelchairs and putting some of them on the slides I noticed that Diego did not look well. At first I thought that he was choking on something but he had gotten so excited that he was hyperventilating. I quickly took him outside while the others started to get the kids back into there wheelchairs. Once I got him to a quiet place I took him out of his wheelchair and held him. It took some time before he calmed down but a short time later he was once again laughing and having a great time. I usually take one less kid than the number of helpers that I have just in case we have an emergency but today I had not. I think that I will from now on when ever the group is larger than 2 or 3 kids.

One of the head people from the orphanage approached me today and apologized for the hassle that we have been getting in trying to get Sonia into a school in Antigua. She told me that most of the staff at Hermano Pedro are 100% behind us but there are still a few people there that think the kids should stay locked up. She assured me though that most of them are trying their best to see that the kids have more freedom. I had been praying for a long time for the opportunity to share a few Ideas that I had but knew that since I am not an employee of Hermano Pedro I had to be careful what I said and how I said it. This seemed to be the right time. To my surprise she seemed to like some of the suggestions that I had. She asked if it would OK if she presented them to the father superior. I know that she is highly respected by him and perhaps since they will be coming from her the kids will eventually not be locked in their cribs so much of the time.

More kids than ever tonight and more food. Calin and Abner are still here and by the looks of it I better lay quick claim to the bed, so I will once again say goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, October 27, 2007, 7:29 PM

I managed to have the house to myself for over an hour this morning. I think that is a new record for the month. I am trying for an hour an a half tonight but so far in the first sentence and a half I have had to see who was at the gate twice already. At around 10:30 I got a call from Candy. She told me that she was still having some problems with her power chair. Calin and I stopped in to check out what was wrong on our way to Hermano Pedro. Fortunately it was only a bad electrical connection, so we soon had the problem fixed.

I had promised Moises and Byron that I would let them come to my house to fly kites and play with the kids after Church this Sunday but that was before I realized that Windy was celebrating her 15th birthday on Sunday. Here in Guatemala a girls 15th birthday is a big occasion. Often the birthday party resembles a wedding only there is no groom. Hopefully not any way although some of the girls do get married at a verry young age here. Anyway there was no way that I could miss her party so I decided to let Moises and Byron come over today instead. Before going home we stopped off at the new maul for some food. Even though Byron and Moises resemble a small train when Byron tows Moises’ wheelchair behind his power wheelchair, the 2 boys were intrigued by a small train that you can ride on at the maul. After lunch Calin got on board and helped balance both Byron and Moises as they went for a train ride.

It is pretty hard to get a kite flying in my yard because 15 foot cement walls do strange things to the wind. Several of the kids offered to launch them from my roof and then hand the strings down to Moises and Byron so that they could have the experience of flying one. I warned them to stay away from the razor wire that the neighbor to the south of me put on the top of the wall. She claims it has no electricity running through it but we have found dead cats on my roof for 2 days in a row. I have also seen a few of them touch the wire and even though it did not kill them it knocked them unconscious and took at least half of their nine lives. Shortly after finding today’s last fatality the lady that put the wire up showed up. I tried to be nice but explained to her that I was afraid of what might happen if one of the kids ever touched the wire. At first she insisted that there was no electricity running through the wire. I then told her that at least once a week I am woken up by a shrill scream followed by the thud of an unconscious or a dead cat landing on my roof. She once again told me that she was sure that there was no electricity running through the razor wire. I then offered to take her to the top of my house where she could look over the back wall and see the bodies of this weeks collection of dead cats. I think that she was afraid that once she got up there I would have her touch the wire to prove to me that there was no electricity running through it. I must admit the thought had crossed my mind. Any way she refused my offer to com up on my roof telling me that perhaps some one that worked for her had run power to the wire with out telling her. “Good, problem solved.” I said. “What do you mean she asked. “Well since you didn’t think that there was electricity in the wire but now realize that there is all you have to do is disconnect it.” I said. “I can’t do that,” she said, “some one might break into my place and steel my computer.” “I hope that your computer is worth some ones life.” I said as I walked away. For the time being no more kids are allowed up on my roof.

4 PM rolled around all to soon for Byron and Moises. For some strange reason these 2 boys seem to like flying kites better than spending the afternoon in bed. Abner, Calin, and Lady came along to bring the kids back to the orphanage. They have become best friends with the orphanage kids and seldom miss an opportunity to be with them.

Well it has now been nearly a half hour with out having the doorbell ring. If it gets any quieter around here I may have to go open up the gate and let a few kids in.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, October 28, 2007, 8:40 PM

It was a bit of a weird morning this morning. The breakfast crew was about the normal size but the church crew dwindled down to 2 of us. Windy was having her 15th birthday party today so her family stayed behind to use my shower. Abner and Fernando kept stalling on getting permission from their aun, to go to church t so they got left behind. Calin was going to come along but Jason beat him to the front seat of the car so he told me that he would not go unless I made Jason move. Calin was a bit shocked when I smiled and said good bye. When I was gone he told the other kids that he is never coming back to my house. Never, ended up being a few hours. To the Sunday school teacher’s dismay Jason ended up being the only one to come along to church. He can often be more of a distraction than all of the others put together.

After Church I went to Wendy’s birthday party. I had mentioned that a girl’s 15th birthday party is often times as big of an affair as a wedding but today I was proven wrong. It was a bigger affair than most weddings that I have been to. I stayed for 4 hours but understand that the festivities are still going on. It was a neat birthday party though and other than the preacher taking full advantage of a captive audience by delivering a 2 hour sermon that consisted of a lot of hollering and screaming they had a good presentation. There was a neat Spanish stile Christian band and several different singers. Most were good, one sang in much the same manner as the preacher preached, mostly screaming.

11:24 PM

Just as I was finishing the last paragraph about 25 people came to my gate. The birthday party has just ended at Wendy’s house so some of the kids that hang around my house brought about 20 cousins and friends who had come to the party from Guatemala City over to my house to play basketball and use my computers. They had thought about walking in to Chemaltenango but were afraid to since one of them was the brother of the boy that got murdered here in town a few months ago. Most of them were teens and even though they were in a large group they were quite shy at first but quickly made themselves feel right at home. I decided that with that many people in the house and yard I just as well do my writing later. Before leaving they all thanked me for having them over and asked again if they could stop by more often. I told them no problem but I do hope that it will be after we have eaten supper.

Calin who only this morning vowed to never return to my house is fast asleep on the floor. Abner has fallen asleep on my bed. Fortunately he is lighter than Calin and I can usually move him without waking him up. I have considered buying another bed but really don’t have all that much room in my house.

Goodnight: Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, October 29, 2007, 6:35 PM

I had been told over the phone that some of the kids at Hermano Pedro were going to use the pool today so I had no difficulty getting Calin and Abner to come along. Thankfully they only put some of the more active kids into the pool because the water was really cold. Calin and Abner toughed it out, I did not. After they had finished playing polar bear both boys helped me repair some wheelchairs. We didn’t take any kids to lunch because I had been scheduled to meat with a group of people at 11 AM and shortly before 11 they called me to say that it would be more like 1 PM before they could get there. I was glad that I waited for them though because they were very interested in the various facets of the ministry and we had a good visit. After they left the boys and I headed for lunch and then for home.

I plan on leaving for El Salvador at 5 AM so the kids have already been ushered out of the house for the night. A few of them acted like it will be 3 years instead of 3 days until I return. Calin has already been back to show me the kite that his step dad made for him and to say good bye again. Calin’s family has just moved back in with Calin’s step dad for the third time in the past 2 months. So far he is being nice to Calin and Calin’s mother but I am holding my breath. Please pray for Calin’s family. If Calin, his mom, his brother, and his sister do not live with Calin’s step dad they have to stay in 2 small rooms of grandmothers house which is already bursting at the seems with another aunt and her kids.

We are still waiting on an OK from Hermano Pedro to enroll Sonia into a private school so please keep praying.

Please also pray for our safety as we will be doing a lot of driving during the next few days.

Pray also for camp which is just around the corner. Our teen camp will start on November 12, then children’s camp on November 19, and adult camp on November 26.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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