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

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

My Photo
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, December 30, 2007

Journal December 23-30

Building homes for needy families
Sunday, December 24, 2007

Only 2 of the kids came along with me to church this morning. The number of kids that have been coming along to church with me lately has dropped off a bit but I have an idea that it will pick up again after Christmas. Several of them are still in Guatemala City helping an aunt sell clothing. Others had relatives over so they stuck around to visit with them. Still others had made some money working for the wheelchair shop or for me, so they had gone to town to do some shopping.

After Church the 2 kids and myself met at a restaurant for lunch with 3 friends from church. I forked over a whopping $10 and picked up the tab for 4 of us. Not bad for a roast beef dinner that included refillable drinks and desert. After lunch all 6 of us went over to the orphanage for a while. It was 1 PM when we arrived and not one kid was out of bed. By the appearance of things none of them had been taken out of bed and none of them would be taken out of bed all day. The 6 of us quickly changed that for 6 of the kids though. Since all of Hermano Pedro’s offices are closed on Sunday we could not get permission to take any of the kids out of the building but just getting out of bed was a welcome relief for them. After about an hour I went up to malnutrition to see how the kids up there were doing. Byron is looking a little stronger every day but it is still hard to believe that he is 14 And not 4 years old. Jennifer still looks like she is very uncomfortable and only relaxes when she is being held or is asleep. Unfortunately no one holds her much and sleep comes hard for her. Perla is still hanging in there but looks like a little skeleton. There is one little boy in Malnutrition that looks any thing but malnourished that the kids and I have fallen in love with. He has a cleft pallet and is awaiting surgery but the disfigurement of his face does not hide how cute he is. He is only a year and a half old but is an absolute clown. He tries to mimic everything that I say or do. I am afraid that I have taught him something that I wish that I hadn’t though. God has given me a talent that I don’t often share with the world but the kids love it. How was I to know that this little boy had the same talent just lying there under the surface and that all it would take would be for me to share what I was gifted to do to unleash his talent. I am not sure that every one in the hospital is happy about it though but perhaps in a few days he will start talking in his normal voice again. Although I must admit an 18 month old child that talks like Donald duck is rather amusing.

This evening the kids ate in shifts. Just when one bunch was about to finish another batch of kids would show up. What they ate depended on when they showed up. It was sort of, first come first serve. They all got fed though. In-between being cook and assistant cook I managed to get a few flowers planted. Try doing that the day before Christmas in Washington State. Actually with the weather that we have here in Chemaltenango you can plant flowers about any time you want to. Sometimes I even find my self planting them when I don’t want to. That is mainly because of my multipurpose yard. It is partly lawn and flowers but both the lawn and flowers suffer when ever it is turned into a basketball court or a soccer field. Generally after one or 2 soccer games I have to replace 1 or 2 flowers. This week the mortality count was a bit higher than usual for the flowers but I actually made it through the entire week with out any broken windows. I wish that I could say that for cups and dishes but 2 of the younger kids did them tonight.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Yesterday while we were at Hermano Pedro Fidel once again asked me if he could come to my house. It is not easy to transport Fidel anywhere but knowing how lonely he gets around Christmas time I told him that I would see what I could do about getting permission for him to come over and spend the day today. When I went to Hermano Pedro this morning I was not sure weather or not I could sign him out because I figured that all of their offices would be closed for Christmas eve. It took a bit of scouting around to find the right people but an hour later Fernando and I had Fidel and his power chair loaded into my car. I have always thought of Fidel as being an extremely bright individual but after hearing his response after asking him if he wanted to stop off and have lunch some where I am beginning to wonder. Then again perhaps my neighbor kids have never shared with him what my cooking is like. Never the less he insisted that we eat at my house. I told him that the pickens would be slim especially considering that the kids had nearly cleared me out of groceries last night. Never the less he told me that the number of home cooked meals that he had ever eaten would make anything that I made taste good. Like I said he had never before eaten my cooking. I managed to come up with enough eggs, refried beans, and hot dogs that Fidel was well satisfied though. After lunch we played around on the computers a bit and then we headed over to Chris and Donna’s to wish them a merry Christmas. We didn’t get Fidel out of my car because it is just to much work getting him and his power chair loaded and unloaded but we drove down into there back yard and visited for a while. I think that Fidel had a great time but he was pretty tired out and actually fell asleep on our drive back to the orphanage. I was tired to but still had a big night ahead of me.

After stopping off and buying a cake and some fire works we headed for home. Even though it was only 5 PM and I had told the kids that we would not be opening Christmas presents until 7 many of them were already gathered at my gate. ..............I managed to hold out until 7 but it wasn’t easy. By 7:04 all of the gifts had been opened. They would have been opened faster if it were not for the fact that I had the kids wait until the kid in front of them had their gift open. Next year I plan to reverse things a bit though because going from youngest to oldest means that each kid that is opening their gift has all older kids glaring at them so that they will hurry up. The kids all had a great time though and even though most of them knew exactly what they were getting they were still excited.

After the kids got their gifts I brought boxes of groceries to some of the families that live in my neighborhood. I tried to explain to each family that I was going to be eating dinner with Fernando and Abner’s aunt and uncle at 10 PM but was still given something to eat at nearly every one that I visited. At 10 I waddled over to supper. This is the third Christmas in a row that I have spent Christmas eve with this family. After supper we went out into the alley and built a traditional bonfire and the kids started lighting off fire works. By midnight there was a fire burning in front of every house. At the stroke of midnight any one who had any fire works left shot of everything that they had. I tried to take a few pictures but there was so much smoke that none of them turned out to good. It was quite a sight though. Then everyone went from house to house hugging everyone and wishing each other merry Christmas. Then it was time for more food. I wasn’t all that hungry with all of the suppers that I had eaten just a few hours earlier but have learned by now that there is just no polite way to say no and even if there was they would insist that you ate anyway. When I finally waddled off to bed at around 1:30 most of my neighbors were still shooting off fire works, or sitting around their bon fires. I didn’t want to be a party pooper but it had been a long day. Besides that I have been invited to Chris and Donna’s tomorrow for a traditional Christmas meal.

Good morning,
Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, December 25, 2007, 10:51 PM

Well, Christmas is almost over but it has been a good one. I spent most of the day with Chris, Donna, and their family. They are great people and really make me feel like part of their family. Amazingly enough I was even hungry when, after opening Christmas presents we sat down at the dinner table for a wonderful Christmas dinner. The rest of the day we just visited and relaxed. Other than the 75 degree temperature it felt a lot like Christmas in the States.

When I got back home the house filled up with kids but for only about a hour. The older kids that have been working in Guatemala City are home for a few days and they treated some of the younger ones to a night out on the town. All but a few of the kids walked in totown to play video games that have been set up in the town square during the Christmas season. I am glad that the video booths are only there for a short time though because there is a big problem with drugs when they are in town. Some of the older teens that work at the booths often offer free drugs to kids that come there, then once they get them hooked on the drugs they start charging them for the drugs. Unfortunately the police here in town turn a blind eye to it.

Most of the kids are back now so I think that I will visit with them for a while before sending them home and heading off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, December 26, 2007, 8:53 PM

This morning Fernando and I headed to Guatemala City to do a little bit of shopping and then met with Chris and Donna for lunch. We had each taken a different car to Guatemala City so that we could pick up 19 people who were coming in from Florida. The rest of this week will be a busy one for all of us because this group had come down to help with a wheelchair distribution that we are planning on having here in Chemaltenango tomorrow morning and then from tomorrow afternoon through Saturday we plan on putting up 5 prefabricated homes. Fortunately we shouldn’t have to much of a problem in putting these kits together because several of the people that arrived today are the ones that designed, built, and furnished these homes, The rest of the group are family members who are also very enthusiastic about this project.

Quite a few kids were here until about an hour ago but they all left to go play football. A few of them still have a bit of money left from working in the city so between them they scraped up enough money to rent a soccer field for an hour. This is a real treat for them because most of the time they have to play in the alley. I am going to try to get in a quick shower before they return so for now I well say good night.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, December 27, 2007

This morning we had a wheelchair distribution here in Chemaltenango. About 30 people showed up for new wheelchairs. Many of the people were children that required specialty chairs but we had plenty of help today and the fittings went well. The Group that came in from Florida to put up houses participated with the fittings and even though only one of them had previous experience with working on wheelchairs many of them had a lot of mechanical experience and did great. Those of us from the shop that do the actual fittings usually fit only one person at a time, per fitting station, but today there were times that I had 3 people at a time being fitted into wheelchairs. I simply went back and forth between the people from Florida that were helping me, showing them various things that had to be done while they did a good part of the hands on work. They seem to be a very dedicated group and are all willing to pitch in where ever they can be used.

We got finished with the distribution shortly after 12 PM and after a quick lunch we all headed out to where Maria ( The lady who’s husband had been killed by a hit and run driver) and her 4 children live. The group of people that is here from Florida are all relatives that have a company called Golf Coast Supply. Over the years God has richly blessed what started out as a small roofing and storage shed business into a prosperous business that puts up buildings all over Florida. This Christian family has a hart felt desire to share their blessings with widows, children, and physically handicapped people who are less fortunate then them selves. Not only are they doing this by coming here to Guatemala and sharing their time but they have also built and shipped down several prefabricated houses that are being given out to some of the poorest of the poor Here in Guatemala. This after noon we had the privilege of delivering and building one of these homes for Maria and her family. These homes may appear small and simple by American standards but to the families that are receiving them they are mansions. All 5 of the families that we hope to build homes for in the next few days are either living in dirt or corn stalk dwellings that provide little protection from wind or rain. Or have no home to call their own after being evicted from where they once lived.

I thought that perhaps Maria, who can be quite shy, would be overwhelmed by having so many Americans show up at her one room leaky dirt house, but I think that the excitement of getting a new home overshadowed any fear that she may have had. The Genuine love that the group we brought in showed to her, her family, and other families that quickly gathered around also gave the people a sense of trust. With in minutes the ladies that had come with us were holding several of the children and their children were playing with the children of the famlies that lived there. Calin, who had also come along after helping out at the distribution was kept busy interpreting as the kids introduced new games to each other. Only 3 ½ hours after arriving we all gathered together and offered a prayer of thanks giving, not only for Maria’s finished new home that were standing in front of but also for new friend ships that had been established between fellow Christians. As we stood there we could here
music. It was the voices of other Christians who were singing songs of praise some where in the valley below. Even though most of the people living in Maria’s area appear to have very little as far as material goods are concerned, we were told that nearly every one of them are Christians. Judging by the songs that they were singing and the smiles on their faces I wonder if perhaps these people are possibly a lot richer than we realize.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, December 28, 2007
This morning most of the men went out to put up another house while the ladies, some of the kids, and myself went shopping. Now don’t take me wrong these are wonderful ladies and we get along great but I do want to give a warning to any bachelor who has seldom taken even one lady to a shopping mall. If you are ever faced with the choice of building a house in the hot sun or taking 7 ladies shopping in a nice shaded shopping mall. Don’t think twice about it. Build the house, or hotel, or city, or what ever it is! Perhaps you will be more physically tired but chances are you will still have your sanity when you have finished. 4 hours after walking into the mall we had finished buying groceries for the 6 families that we are building houses for this week. Actually I am exaggerating a bit. The groceries shopping which I could have done alone in about a half hour only took the ladies 3 hours. The extra hour was entirely my mistake. I accidentally mentioned that I was going to run over to the dollar store to pick something up. The ladies followed! An hour later I managed to get them back into the car. We still had one more stop to make but since it was at another store I graciously offered to go there by my self while most of the ladies went to my house and separated the groceries in containers that were to be handed out to the families that we were going to build houses for. By the time I got back from the store the ladies had almost finished sorting out the groceries. I called Chris and he told me that he and the other men were finishing up on the first house and would meat up with us in about an hours so that we could have lunch together and then go as a group to build another house. Another mistake was about to happen. I told him that I would see where the ladies wanted to eat and call him back so that he would know where to meat us. I over heard one of the ladies husbands telling Chris to ask me how the shopping went. I then heard a lot of snickering over the phone. I guess the other husbands were close by. After hanging up the phone I asked the ladies what they wanted to do for an hour and where they wanted to eat. Mistake # 2 I guess that I will never learn. At least both questions were answered in 3 words, “THE SHOPPING MALL”. At least when I called back to tell Chris and the other men where to meet us for lunch they had the courtesy not to snicker. This time it sounded much more like hysterical laughter. All I can say is “THANK YOU HANNA AND LUZETE!” They both came along and shopped with the ladies while I slumped over a table in the food court. I have often been asked if being a missionary in a foreign country requires much sacrifice. Up until this morning my answerer has always been, “NO.” After this morning shopping experience I may want to think that over. Actually ladies it wasn’t all that bad but next time I will let your husbands take you shopping. I don’t want to deny them of that special time together with you.
After lunch we headed off to San Lucas. The first lady that Mark Richard, from Hope Haven International, had ever given a wheelchair to lived in San Lucas. Little did anyone know back in 1988 that this would be the start of a ministry that has now given out over 65,000 wheelchairs throughout the world. Notice that I used the past tense lived and not the present tense lives. Oh no, she is still alive and doing well. That is if you can call having the new mayor of San Lucas kick you out of the small leaky tin shed that you and your 2 children have always called home, doing well. Fortunately her nephew who lives about 20 minutes out of town allowed her and her 2 children temporarily move in whit him and his family. Their house is extremely small though so they were only able to stay their for a limited time and her son had to sleep out side under a tree. Today that all changed though. 2 ½ hours after arriving with the materials we were having the dedication of her newly constructed house. We plan on adding a porch and closing at least part of it in within the next few months but even now this family is overjoyed with their new home.

What more could a person ask for in one day. We were able to give several people a new lease on life by giving them a wheelchair and then give some one a new home all in one day. More than that, with each family that we came in contact with weather they were already Christians or hearing about the love of Jesus for the first time, we were able to share our main purpose for being here. God is truly allowing us to be part of an exciting and wonderful ministry.

Goodnight: Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, December 29. 2007

Today was a much easier day for me than yesterday. In stead of shopping with 7 ladies and then helping to build 1 house, I helped build 2 houses. Not only was building the first house easier than shopping with the women but it also took far less time. Much like the other houses that we built these 2 houses were given to ladies who husbands had either died or had abandon them and their children. Both families lived only about a quarter mile apart and both lived in shelters that were no larger than a walk in closet and were made from nothing more than corn stalks that had been tied together. Even though we were unable to understand most of what they said none of us had any difficulty understanding how they felt. Each of the ladies made us large lunches which we were simultaneously served to us and both looked up toward heaven with outstretched arms when their homes were finished.

I won’t say that after having a wheelchair distribution and then building 5 homes in 3 days that we are not tired but I can tell you it is a wonderful kind of tired. And there is not one of us who would not do it allover again next week if we had the materials here. Our Florida friends will be heading for home tomorrow but the memories of their generosity will not soon be for gotten. Perhaps their names will be forgotten but the name of the One that they represented will not be. To God be the glory.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, December 30, 2007, 5:08 PM

Calin and I have just returned from bringing our friends to the airport. Abner and Fernando had also wanted to come along but there was not enough room in any of the 3 vehicles that we took. So since they had both spent the entire day with us yesterday Calin was the one who got to come along this time. This week has been a good one for the kids from my neighborhood who had the opportunity to accompany us. Not that Abner, Fernando, and Calin are not already compassionate to people who are in need but it seems that they are becoming even more compassionate with each new family that they meet. Even though we had a lot of adult help this week all 3 of them were more than eggar to help out in any way possible and when ever they were not helping with the actual house building or interpreting for us they were playing with the village kids and those that had come along from Florida with their parents. As far as the Florida kids were concerned they also had a wonderful time and even though this was the first time out of the USA for many of them they all did great and hit it off well with both my kids and those that we met in the villages.

Some times good byes are difficult but today when we dropped the group off at the airport it was not all that hard. Not only because I knew that I would not have to go shopping with a bunch of ladies again but because of the look that I saw in most of their eyes. I have a feeling that we will be seeing many of them back in Guatemala again. Perhaps not to live but at least to visit. It is too hard to stay away from a place where you have made so many close friends and left at least part of your hart at. Thank you John, Jeff, and family

Yours in Christ: Dick


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