* 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, January 27, 2008

Journal January 19-27

Sunday January 20, 2008

Jason and Abner did not do to well in Sunday school today so I had to lay the law down and not allow them to come along to eat afterwards. Abner will be allowed to come back next week but I told Jason that he is going to have to stay at home next week. You may consider not being allowed to go to church a weird punishment. In fact I remember back when I was a kid I would have considered staying home from church a reward and not a punishment but these kids love going along to church.

After taking Fernando, Noel, and Angela out to Taco Bell I headed to the coast to pick up Angelica and her Daughter. Angelica is scheduled to have surgery tomorrow.

Monday, January 21, 2008, 7:59 PM

Calin 4 years ago and now.

Today was the first day of school for all of the kids. After they left for school I looked at some pictures that I took just 4 years ago when we put some of them into school and was amazed at how much they have grown. It looks like things will never change because Calin soon came back and told me that his teacher did not show up today. At least Fernando’s has the decency to tell the kids that she is going to be sick a few days in advance.

This morning I once again went to the telephone company. I had received a phone call telling me that my phone would be shut off for not paying my bill. The man at the desk told me that I owed them over $100. I told him that I had just paid my bill he told me that the computer said that I was mistaken. I told him that the computer was mistaken. He told me that computers don’t make mistakes. I told him that the people that run them do. He told me that …. Anyway this was beginning to turn into a Guatemalan stand off. I Then showed him the receipt that I had saved from my last payment and reminded him that it had been printed on one of their mistake proof computers. He looked at the receipt then apologized for the mistake that had been maid and wished me a good day.

Calin, David Piper, and I went to Hermano Pedro at around 11 and signed 3 of the kids out to lunch. On the way out of the door we met some people who were interested in volunteering at Hermano Pedro. We invited them along to lunch so that they could get to know some of the kids. While we were there we were met by another friend so the 3 kids got plenty of attention from the 2 to 1 ratio of adults. It was good for them though and they enjoyed it. After lunch I gave the adults that had joined us a tour of the orphanage.

Most of the kids up in malnutrition who had cleft pallet have now had there operations and they are doing great. It is such a blessing that these surgical teems from the USA and other countries are willing to volunteer their time and make a difference in so many lives. Pedro, one of my favorites came down with a cold so he will have to wait another month before he has surgery. Fortunately he seems to be able to eat well and is getting fatter and healthier by the day in spite of a rather severe cleft pellet.

Later this after noon I was joined by David Penner, who is from the Josiah Foundation, and 3 friends who have just arrived here from the USA. I will be showing them some of the things that our ministry is involved in over the next few days.

The kids did not stay as long as usual tonight. My choice not theirs. I like them to get home earlier on school nights but don’t want to send them home to early or they just stay out and play in the alley. Anyway I am going to take advantage of an empty house and head off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Today was an enjoyable but extremely busy day. After picking up the 4 people that are visiting here from the USA we went to Camperos for breakfast. Benjamin, who was going to serve as our interpreter , was already there waiting for us when we arrived. After picking up a few groceries for one of the families that we were going to visit today we headed out.

Our first stop was at the home of Maria, Fidel, and their grandmother. It appears that the bathroom that we built for them and their relatives was a good investment. When we arrived Maria was just coming out of the shower and grand mother was going in. (unlike most similar situations that we run into here in Guatemala none of us were very embarrassed.) This bathroom had been built large enough so that who ever was using the shower had plenty of room to get undressed and dressed inside of the bathroom. We are considering getting them a door though. Since our last visit only a few days ago the family has torn down most of the old adobe house that Maria had lived in. They are leaving about 6 feet of it stand so that they have a place to store things. I have little doubt that it will crumble when ever the next earthquake hits but at least Maria is no longer living in it. While we were there we made arrangements for the local brick layer who helped us build the bathroom to come in and do the Cement work for the floor of the Prefabricated house that we plan on putting up for Maria. Some of Maria’s relatives are planning to help him but we decided that it would be a good idea to have one trained professional even though it meant having to dish out $6 per day for his services.

Our next Stop was at the home of Maria. No I am not repeating myself. I am beginning to think that close to half of the people in Guatemala have the name of Maria and that the only reason that the other half are named something else is because they are men. With the men there seems to be a broader choice of names but there is still a good chance that their name will be either Jaun or Carlos. Although there are a few families that steer away form the norm and name their sons Jaun Carlos. Anyway this Maria is the one that lost her husband when he was killed by a hit and run driver a few months ago. The group that was with me from the Josiah Foundation wanted to see some of the homes that we had already constructed. For some unknown reason I had felt that out of all of the poor families that we were going to visit today that we should bring some groceries to this family. I had previously been told that the roof had blown off from the structure that they had been in but was amazed to see that everything from about 3 feet above the ground up had been completely destroyed by the wind. Maria and her 4 children had been in it only a few minutes before it was demolished by the wind but she fearing that it would not with sand the high winds she moved the entire family into the new home that we had HAPPENED to build for them only a few days earlier. Only Maria a niece and her 2 younger children were at home. Her 2 boys who up until a few days ago had never been to school were now in school. It is hard to believe that just a few dollars a year had kept them from going in the past. Another neat thing that HAPPENED while we were there was a phone call that I received from Gordon. I had told him a few days ago that we were planning on seeing Maria today. Gordon sounded a bit disappointed when I told him over the phone that we were already at Maria’s house. He said that he wished that he had known a few hours earlier but he had just been told that Maria and her children had run out of food and he had hoped that he could have caught us before we went to Maria’s so that we could have taken her some groceries. The group of people that were sitting with me in Maria’s house overheard the conversation and almost dropped the groceries that they were holding in their hands. I am glad that they didn’t though because the sack of beans would have likely broken open and scattered all over the floor of Maria’s new home, and 2 dozen eggs would have made quite a mess on Maria’s new floor. I wasn’t quite sure weather or not to chalk this one up as a GODINCIDENCE or just a COINCIDENCE until Gordon came back on the phone. He told me that it had to be a GOD THING that we had brought in some groceries but still wished that he had gotten a hold of us because he had received a specific request for beans and eggs.

Next we went to Tecpan to where Pastor Juan lives. Pastor Juan and his family have had the blessing of having American teems that have come in over the past 3 years build him and his family a nice home and build a church for their ever growing congregation. Much like most pastors Juan has to do outside work in order to feed his family. He has been working on Ronny’s house down near the coast so when the team comes in to work on it in February they should be able to nearly finish it. Today we stopped by his house to pick up some lumber that will be needed there. After visiting a while and then loading the lumber on top of my car we headed back towards Chemaltenango. After stopping off in Chemaltenango for lunch we headed to Antigua and picked up Angelica and her Daughter. Her surgery went well yesterday and she was already being released today. On our way to bring Angelica an hour and a half stop at a detour gave some of my American friends a lesson in patients. The all did reasonably well but no As were handed out. Although I must admit that after an hour and a half of not moving more than a few feet I was getting a bit impatient.

It was nearly dark when we finally arrived at Angelis home and even though we still had to drop off some lumber at Ronny’s house there was no way that we could decline having a coke while Angelica’s husband loaded bananas into my car.

When we finally arrived at Ronny’s house everything was dark except for one candle that was burning under a lean-to next to their house. We visited for a while before giving them the lumber that we had brought and most of the Bananas that we had just been given. We also left a bit more money since they still didn’t have enough to put all of their kids into school. I wish that the public schools did not have to charge the students anything because if these kids don’t get an education there is little chance that the cycle of poverty will ever end.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Since we got home so late last night Benjamin stayed here over night but his grandfather was here for him bright and early this morning. I think that Benjamin was hoping that he could once again join us today but there were horses to feed and school work to do. After picking up the group from their motel we headed straight to Antigua and had breakfast there. The rest of our day was spent at the orphanage. Seeing the kids locked up in there cribs was nearly more than some of the people that I had brought along could take. Even a few of the grown men cried. I was one of them. You would think that I would get used to it but fortunately I don’t.

The kids that are in malnutrition who had the cleft pallets are doing great after their surgeries. It amazes me to see what the team of doctors that operated on them were able to do. Pablo is the only one who did not get operated on because he had a cold but he is scheduled for surgery some time in March. Most of the others will be going back to their homes soon. I will miss them but am happy that they have families to go back to.

Byron, Jennifer, and Perla are gaining a little weight but all 3 are still very frail. Today I readjusted Perla’s wheelchair but had to be extremely careful how I held her and how I set up her wheelchair. I think that the slightest pressure in the wrong place could easily break one of her bones. I can still nearly hide the leg of this precious 5 year old girl behind my thumb. By the time I had finished seating her she had nearly fallen asleep though and that is always a good sign.

We left the orphanage at around 4 PM. We figured that this would give us a chance to rest up a bit before having a giant Pizza feed at my house this evening. On our way home we stoped or at the home of a young man who I had been introduced to through some friend of mine that live in Antigua. We had given him a walker a few weeks ago but he still needed a wheelchar in order to for his parents to take him any distance. To say that he was thrilled whit his wheelchair was an understatement.

I didn’t get a head count of the number of neighbors that came over for Pizza tonight but I know that we ordered 10 large pizzas that’s 8 slices of pizza times ten. I tried to keep the limit at no more than 2 pieces of pizza each, so considering we had no Pizza left by the end of the night there must have been some where around 40 people in and out of my house. We all had a good time though and the group that was here from the States had a great time meeting and playing with the kids. Everyone pitched in and sort of cleaned up so I didn’t have to bad of a mess by the time everyone went home. I am ready for a night’s sleep though so I will once again say goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, January 24, 2008, 11:07 PM

This morning I took the group up to Santa Mara Dejesus to see the school that Judy and Amy run. Judy was gracious enough to take time from her busy schedule to show us all around and to share with us how God has blessed them over the years. She took us into several of the class rooms that were filled with happy children who would not be in school if it were not for this school. I think that one of the people who is the most surprised at what God is capable of doing, if we allow him to be in charge, is Judy herself. Little did she know even 2 years ago that a small school that was in a building that was once nothing more than a house would materialize into a 3 story school that continues to grow.

This after noon I took the group to visit Macaria who is the woman who inspired the opening of the Bethel Ministries wheelchair shop years ago. She was seen dragging herself across the highway one night. She received a wheelchair from the first busload of 14 wheelchairs that came down from the States. Macaria lived with her two children in a leaky structure. A few weeks ago we were able to once again share God’s love with her by giving her a new home. While we were there today we put a lock on the door of her house because up until now she had been afraid to leave any of the few meager possessions that she owns in her new home. The group that was with me was truly blessed by meeting this dear Christian lady and her family.

This evening I dropped the group off at a bed and breakfast in Antigua. They plan on spending the next few days in Antigua visiting with a pastor and his family that they met on a previous trip.

Tonight the number of kids that were in my house were less than last night. That was perhaps for the best because I am not sure that I could handle 30 to 40 people in my house every night.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, January 25, 2008, 8:45 PM

After catching up on a few things here at home Fernando, Elmer, David, and I headed to Hermano Pedro. I had been promising some of the teen age girls that I would take them out for lunch and decided that today would be a good day to do that. I think that out of anyone that we takeout to eat the older girls are the ones that get the most excited about going. Just because 2 of them can scarcely eat anything but liquids it does not at all dampen their enthusiasm on going to Camperos. I think that the fact that both David and Elmer are not much older than them added to their excitement. Both were awesome with the girls and didn’t seem to mind in the least feeding some one their own ages from a baby bottle. Fernando who is much younger than our 4 invited guests did equally as well at helping. I was also happy to see the general reaction that we got from most of the people on the streets and in the restaurant. Several police officers helped stop traffic as our little procession of wheelchairs crossed the street and a number of people lent a helping hand when Fernando had difficulty pushing his wheelchair across the cobble stone streets. Even most of the people in the restaurant gave approving looks and several even came up to our table to talk to us and the girls. There was one group of about 20 people that were seated at a row of tables that kept staring at us like they wished that they did not have to eat in the same restaurant as us but they were outnumbered by people that seemed to approve. Besides if they felt that they didn’t want us eating next to them they had the choise of leaving.

We had wanted to spend more time in the park after lunch but I received a phone call from the wheelchair shop telling me that some one had come in from Aguacatan which is 6 hours away to have his power wheelchair fixed and they could not figure out the problem. They wanted to catch a buss back to Aguacatan at 5:00 so I told them that I would try to get to the shop by 3:00 and see if I could figure out the problem. By the time we got the girls back to the orphanage we only had about a half hour before we had to head to the shop so we quickly went up to the malnutrition ward to see some of the kids that we have fallen in love with. My hart sunk when I saw that Jennifer’s bed was empty. I prayed that she had not died. With a quiver in my voice I asked the head nurse where she was and was some what relieved to hear that her parents had taken her home for a few days. It still worries me though because she is so frail but I know that they love her and miss her badly.

David had a bitter sweet experience when he was told that Susan a little girl that had cleft pallet surgery a few days ago had gone home with her family as well. It is neat to know that the operation was a success and that she is now back with her family but we will still miss her smiling little face.

When I got to the shop Alturo told me that he had replaced a faulty computer that was in the power chair that a young man had brought in for his friend but was still having problems with the wheelchair. It took a while but I found the problem and had the young man out of the door in time to catch the bus back to his home. He told me that he has to catch several different busses to get all of the way home and would be traveling most of the night.

Spaghetti night tonight. There were 6 of us at first but after I had to send 2 of them home for stilling there were only 4. Of coarse about the time we had finished and cleared off the table more kids started rolling in. I had made plenty of spaghetti though and there was even enough left after everyone had eaten that I was able to take some over to my neighbors.

4 of the kids managed to talk me into letting them spend the night so I guess I better get my shower in before the lines start forming.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, January 26, 2008, 8:18 PM

Tonight Calin, Abner and I are in Saloma which is about 5 hours from home. I waited until the weekend to come out this way so that at least one of the boys could come along and interpret for me. Ludwig a little boy who I met while he was in the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro lives in a small town near here. When Ludwig, who has muscular dystrophy, gained some weight and strength back he returned to his home. We followed up on him making sure that he received a wheelchair and an education. After just a little private tutoring he was excepted into a public school and is doing well there. Last week he called me to tell me that one of the front wheels had broken off from his wheelchair an his mother now had to carry him to school. About an hour later I received a second call. This time I handed the phone to Abner and he interpreted into English what Ludwig was trying to tell me. Some where between Ludwig’s Spanish, a bad phone connection, Abner’s English, and my hearing, I got the message that not only was Ludwig’s wheelchair broken but his mother had broken her leg while carrying him to school. It was only on a follow up call a few days later that I discovered that mothers leg was fine but the wheelchairs leg (front wheel) was broken.

There are 2 ways to get here from home. The extremely long, slightly bumpy, curvy way or the slightly long, extremely bumpy, curvy way. Since option # 2 usually saves me about an hour and a half that is the one I chose. I have said it before and today proved it again, “Nothing here in Guatemala ever goes as usual.” About half way into our 5 hour trip we encountered a road block. Actually it was just some red buckets and a few traffic cones lined up across the road. I stopped and looked over at a man that was sitting along side of the road eating a sandwich. He slowly got up and moseyed over to my car. He informed me that the road that we were on was closed and would not be open for 2 hours and then he wondered off. A little while later he reappeared so I figured I would ask him what was going on. He told me that there were a few trucks working on the road up ahead so they were closing the road most of the time and only letting traffic (Which meant me since we had seen no other traffic for nearly an hour.) through at curtain times of the day. I told him that I would promise to pull over for any trucks that I met if he would let me go through but he told me that rules were rules. (Evidently he has not lived in Guatemala for too long.) I finally resigned myself to the fact that we would be stuck here for another hour and a half but did not want this to happen to us on our return trip tomorrow so I asked him just what hours the road was open each day. I was told that it was open from 6 AM to 6:30 AM. Then it would open again from 9 AM to 9:30 AM. And that it was always open during the truck drivers lunch time which was from 12:00 PM to 1:PM. I looked down at the clock that is in my car and then at the mans arm and realized that he was not wearing a watch. I then pointed to the clock in y car and told him that it was 12:45 and that according to what he had just told me the road block should have already been open when I arrived there a half hour ago and would still be open for the next 15 minutes. He looked at the clock and then at me, then shrugged his shoulders, walked over to the bucket blockade, moved 2 of the buckets out of the way and motioned for me to go on through. As I drove by him he politely wished me a good day. I forget what I repeated to him but am not sure that it was the same.

A few hours later we arrived in Rabinal where we went to Julia’s house. We gave her some cases of vitamins for the kids that attend the school that she is the principal of. I also gave her some vitamins to give to Antonio an his family the next time that her and her husband hiked in to where they lived. Antonio’s family are the ones that Carlos and I hiked into a few months ago along with Julia and her husband. We had originally brought 10 year old Antonio into Hermano Pedro weighing only 21 pounds about 2 years ago. After gaining a good deal of weight and quite a bit of his health his father took him back home about a year later. On our visit to his home a few months ago we discovered that his health had once again deteriorated and the rest of his family didn’t look a lot better than he did. His mother told us that when his father who was working in another village for a few weeks returned home that she would talk with him about Returning Antonio to Hermano Pedro so that he could regain his health. Since that time I have thought about him almost daily but knew that our hands were tied unless his parents decided that they wanted us to once again help them get Antonio admitted into Hermano Pedro. I was quite sure that Hermano Pedro would accept him back because unlike Juan Jose who’s father had taken him out of malnutrition against the hospitals wishes, the hospital had backed Antonio’s decision to see if he would do alright at home. Today when I mentioned that I wanted Antonio and his brothers and sisters to get some of the vitamins I could see in Julia’s face that something was wrong. Julia told me that Antonio had died. She also told me that Juan Jose who’s parents had taken him back home, even though the doctors at Hermano Pedro had pleaded with them not to, had also died. I am not sure that Juan Jose would have survived even if kept under the care of Hermano Pedro but I have little doubt that Antonio would have gained his strength back quickly just like he did when we first brought him there. I am recognizing more and more that we have to treat everyone that we come into contact with as though it may be the last time that we may ever see them, and by missing the opportunity to share Christ’s love with them we may not see them again for all eternity.

Our second visit of the day was on the lighter side. Ludwig and his parents were glad to see us and even though he has muscular dystrophy he is doing quite well. He scarcely has enough mussel tone left to sit up on his own and can barely push himself around in his wheelchair but his spirits are high. I think the thing that keeps him going is the fact that he is now in school. His body may be slowly fading away but his mind is as sharp as a tack and he loves learning. After looking at his school work I told him that we wanted to take him and his parents out to eat as a reward for the good work that he was doing. Since I used to take him out to Camperos quite a bit when he was at Hermano Pedro I had little doubt as to where he wanted to go for supper. Soon he, his mother, his father, Calin, Abner, and I were on our way to Camperos. Fortunately there was one in a town that was about 25 minutes away. While we were at Camperos we spotted a motel across the street that didn’t appear to be too bad considering Saloma is not all that big of a town so I had the boys go over and check it out. $8 per night per person is a bit steep but the room had hot water, a TV, and 3 beds so after eating I went back over with the boys and paid $24 for our room. The Boys wanted to stay there while I brought Ludwig and his parents back to their town but I did not want them staying there alone. We are now back at the room and the boys are watching TV while I write in my Journal. I think that I will kick back for a while and then head off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, January 27, 2008, 9:27 PM

We got back home from Saloma at 4:30 PM. I told the kids that I needed a few hours so that I could finish up on my journal but if I got done before 8:00 I would let them in. That was 4 hours ago and I am just now starting on today’s journal. I have been spending the past 4 hours answering e-mails, returning phone calls, and answering the door bell to tell the kids that it is now looking more like 1 or 2 AM before I get my journal sent out. A few of them asked if they could come in if they waited until I was done but I said no. I hate to do that to them but a few hours of quiet time before morning comes always seems to be needed.

I had a good rest last night and we didn’t get going until nearly9:00 this morning. Our motel room was nothing all that fancy but the beds were comfortable and we all slept well. The motel that we were in had a small restaurant but it was still closed at 9:00 so we went across the street to eat. You wouldn’t believe the name of the restaurant that we ate at today. Camperos! I think that there must be a Camperos in every town that has over a 1000 people in it. The food is always good but I have the menu memorized and am getting a little tired of having to choose between chicken and eggs for every meal. Most of the Guatemalans order Chicken no matter what time of day it is but I had eggs. I figured if everyone kept ordering chicken pretty soon there would be none left and no chickens means no eggs so Camperos would have to close down.

After breakfast we packed up and headed back to Ludwig’s house. I had dropped a new wheelchair off there yesterday but it had gotten to late to fit it so we promised that we would come back there today. Ludwig was excited to see us and thanked Calin for the Camperos chicken that he had brought him. After all he hadn’t had any since last night.

Ludwig’s sister, parents, and 2 nephews were there and everyone but mom wanted to get into the act of setting up Ludwig’s new wheelchair. While Calin and Abner did most of the work I tried to give each of the little kids the opportunity to at least tighten one or 2 bolts. Even Ludwig himself tried to help. Since he scarcely has the strength to sit up on his own and can hardly grip anything in his hands I set him on my lap an together we connected a few brackets onto his wheelchair. It was not until I held him that I realized just how much damage the muscular Dystrophy had done to his poor little body since the last time that I saw him. Hid legs now just dangle like that of a rag doll and the mussels in the rest of his body have degenerated to the point that if his head falls forward he no longer has the strength to lift it up under his own power. In spite of that this plucky 8 year old is still able to move him self around in his wheelchair under his own power. I am afraid that the day that he can no longer do that is just around the corner. When it comes I will be sure that we have a power wheelchair ready for him.

When we finally finished up on Ludwig’s wheelchair his family asked if we would have prayer with them. We didn’t get the opportunity to go to a formal church service today but the next 10 minutes that the boys and I spent with fellow believers will be hard to forget. Working with children who are here one day and gone the next is often heart breaking but being able to do nothing for them would be impossible for me to comprehend. They have all given me far more than I could ever give them.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Journal January 13-19


Sunday, January 13, 2008, 8:45 PM

This morning the Sunday school teacher had his hands full because I took 9 kids to church. 2 of them had never come along to church with me before but all 9 did quite well. Telling them that I was going to talk to their Sunday school teacher after class to see if he thought that they all deserved to go to lunch with me may have helped a bit too.
After lunch we went to the orphanage for a while but I could see that my kids were getting a little to restless and I didn’t want the staff of the orphanage to get upset so we left with in an hour. Minor and Elmer have returned from Christmas Vacation but other than that all of the kids that went to parents or relatives during the holidays have not returned to the orphanage yet. I hope that they are all doing well I always worry though because it seems that almost every year something happens to 1 or 2 of them. I guess it could happen in the orphanage as well though because some of the kids are quite fragile.After we left the orphanage we drove up to the cross that stands on a hill that overlooks Antigua. I told the kids that as long as they did not get hurt or lost the could play as wildly as they wanted for the next hour. After an hour 3 of them were ready to head for home but the other 6 still had far to much energy left, so I came up with an idea. I asked them if they wanted to take the trail that led back into Antigua while the 3 other kids and myself took the car down the road that led back into town. They went for the Idea and it gave me about a half hour of peace and quiet. When they finally came out onto the road at the bottom of the hill they seemed to be tired out and were a lot calmer on the way home.

I thought that perhaps they would all be ready to go to their homes by the time we got to my place but that was not the case. In fact the numbers have grown even thugh I told them ahead of time that tonight’s supper was going to be nothing more than Cereal and bananas.

It is now just past 10 PM. I just told the kids that it was time to go and the gave me that look that said “Why do you want us to go home we have only been with you 15 hours yet?”

Monday, January 14, 2008, 9:39 PM

Today Abner and Alex accompanied me to Santa Maria DeJesus. Petrinaly was still having problems with the wheelchair that I had modified for her. Unfortunately I think that the biggest problem is that she sat for many years in a wheelchair that gave her little or no support so now anything that helps hold her upright seems uncomfortable to her. I have decided not to do any more modifications to her wheelchair until Amy Deyoung the therapist that works with her can have a talk with her.

We got back down the mountain and into Hermano Pedro just before lunch time so we quickly signed out 3 of the kids. Elmer and his brother Minor have been asking me to take them out ever since they were returned to Hermano Pedro a few days ago. We also took Jo Jo, who is only fed food that is run through a blender at the orphanage. Today he downed a piece of chicken and some fries. Abner was in an Abner mood at lunch time so I had a talk with him. To my surprise it helped and with in a few minutes he was laughing and playing with the kids that we had taken to lunch. We stuck around Camperos and took the kids down the slides after lunch. An older Guatemalan lady who was watching her grandchildren took a real liking to the kids that we brought and even helped us carry them up the ladder and put them on the slides. I am seeing more and more of this lately and am verry encouraged. It was not that long ago that many of the Guatemalan people would look at us with disgust when ever we brought a child with a dissibility into a restaurant.

At around 4 PM we headed for home but I only stayed there for a little while before heading out to Tecpan where Abner and I joined Chris, Donna, and the group of ladies that is here from the States. I had a good time visiting with Marry Hide, who I had worked with at a wheelchair distribution in Afghanistan several years ago.

When I got home only a hand full of kids showed up. I played a little basketball with them and then headed into the house. They told me that they were hungry but would make their own supper while I worked on my Journal. I think that they were afraid that I would make them nothing but cereal. They also promised to clean up after themselves. I have not yet had the nerve to go into the kitchen. I may simply wait until morning to look.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, January 15, 2008 10:41 PM

Today David, Carlos, Gordon, Fernando, Calin, and I headed to the home of Maria and Fidel. This is where we had recently built a bathroom for them and their grandmother. We still had 1 prefabricated house left that had not been designated to anyone and had decided that even though Maria’s grandmother and the rest of the family had chosen having a bathroom over a small house for Maria to live in we decided that Maria’s house was simply to dangerous to live in any longer so we would give her a small prefabricated house as well. The small mud brick house that she is presently staying in has a heavy tile roof and walls that are cracked open all the way to the ground. I have little doubt that even a medium size earthquake will bring it down. In 1976 hundreds of people in my town and thousands in Guatemala were crushed to death when houses like Maria’s fell on them during an earthquake.

On our way to Maria’s house we stopped off in San Marten and bought sand, gravel, and cement for the foundation of the house. We also negotiated for a truck to deliver it. We had planned on talking to the man that did the cement work for us when we put in the bathroom but when we arrived at Maria’s house we were told that both her hand her grandmother had taken a buss into Comalapa. We were told that they should be back home by around noon but after waiting until 1 PM we told the relatives that we would return in a few days so that we could discuss with Maria and her grandmother exactly where they wanted the house built. We also decided to waite to talk to the man that we wanted to hire to do the cement work until we knew exactly where the house was going to be built.

While we were there we walked over to where some neighbors of Maria’s grandmother were in the process of building a house as well. Or I guess I could say a house and well. Their 15 year old son was digging a well by hand. After hoisting the dirt out of the well he would then mix it with water and pine nettles and then shovel it into a wooden mould to form large mud bricks. I am not sure how long he had been at this project but I am sure that it had to be for several weeks because there were already over a hundred bricks drying in the sun and the well had to be at least 25 feet deep. He told us though that this was only a fraction of the bricks that would be needed to complete a house. I am sure that he would not have believed us if we told him that we are planning on coming in and putting up a house in a few hours time. I must admit the mud brick homes stay nice and cool during the day and seem to hold the heat in at night but they are no good in earthquakes.

We had intended on seeing some other families today but we had stayed far longer at Maria’s house than we had expected so we headed for home.

This evening I got a phone call that Angelica, the lady that needs an operation so that they can replace the plate that the national hospital had put into her leg 6 months ago, had to get into Hermano Pedro some time tomorrow. Her surgery is scheduled for next Monday and the just discovered that something went wrong with the blood test that the gave her a few weeks ago so she has to come in for another one. I think that this will be trip number 4. Hopefully number 5 will be next Sunday when I bring her in to Hermano Pedro for her surgery. I have to have her to the hospital by 9 AM which means I have to leave here to go and pick her up by no later than 5 AM.

So Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, January 16, 2008, 8:22 PM

I am a bit rummy tonight so I hope that today’s journal makes some sense. 4:45 Am rolled around all to soon but after the 2 alarm clocks that I set and the one that Calin set went off I managed to drag myself out of bed. When I woke Calin up he told me that he had changed his mind about coming along to pick up Angelica, however just as I was heading to the door he sprang to his feet and quickly got dressed and came along with me. The remainder of my day consisted of 2 round trips to and from Angelica’s home and Hermano Pedro. I truly wish that they had done an accurate blood test 2 weeks ago when I brought her in for the same thing but then again this would not be Guatemala if everything went the way it is suppose to go. Angelica got in and out of the doctor quite soon though and was ready to go back home with in an hour and a half after getting in to Hermano Pedro.

On today’s first trip down to Angelica’s house I briefly stopped of to see Ronny. Some of my neighbors had gathered up clothing that their children had outgrown and wanted Ronny’s family to have them. Their timing was great because Ronny and his brother and 3 sisters were suppose to have started school today but lack of clothing, back packs, school supplies, and the equivalent of $10 had kept them from going. At least now they had decent clothing to wear and the $10 was no problem to supply. As far as the back packs and School supplies were concerned, Donna had just called me a few days ago asking if any of the kids in my neighborhood needed Back packs and School supplies. It just so HAPPENED that some had been given to us during camp. I quickly made a phone call to Chris and Donna to see how many they had left. I was told that there were 7 back packs left and each of them had been filled with pencils, Crayons, note books and other supplies that a student would normally need. I made arrangements with them to pick them up after I had gotten Angelica to the hospital. Even though Angelica, her daughter and granddaughter were in the car with me while I was talking to Chris and Donna none of them had the slightest idea what we were talking about because the entire conversation with Chris and Donna had been in English. A bit further from their home I asked Angelica’s granddaughter why she was not in school today. She told me that even though she was 11 years old she had never in her entire life gone to school because her parents did not have enough money to send her. Her grandmother then told us that this year her family had saved enough to pay for her registration but they simply could not afford the required back pack or any of the necessary school supplies. Wow, had it been by CHANCE that I had only a few minutes earlier gotten off from the phone with Chris and Donna and made arrangements to pick up the 7 remaining back packs that we had? I think that this is another one that we can chalk up under GODINCIDENCE. After Angelica finished up at the hospital I told her and her family that I had to make a little side trip into Chemaltenango before bringing them back home. Not only was I able to pick up the back packs that were filled with school supplies but I picked up 3 of my kids that wanted to ride along on this my second trip of the day to the coast. David Piper also got in touch with me and joined our ever growing group of people. Since Calin had come along on the first trip and the car was jammed full of people I told him that he would have to stay home this time. He told me that he had wanted to come along again but that he fully understood. Wow! these kids are growing up so fast that it is almost scary. It does not seem like it was that long ago that telling one of the kids that the could not go some where would have caused weeping and gnashing of teeth. While bringing Angelica home I asked if they were serious about putting Angelica’s granddaughter in school if she had a back pack and school supplies. They told me that they were. You should have seen the smile on her face as we handed her a back pack that was filled with school supplies. When we arrived at Angelica’s home we were told that 2 more girls that were there to greet us were also unable to attend school because of a lock of school supplies. It broke my hart that we only had one pack left that was not spoken for but the family thought that if the girls divided up the supplies from the 2 packs that we were able to give them that perhaps they could come up with a pack for the third child. It seems such a shame that so many kids are not attending school simply because they can’t afford school supplies. Some of the public schools like the one here in Chemaltenango make it even more difficult for children to attend by requiring them to wear uniforms and black leather shoes. A law was passed a few years ago that public schools were no longer allowed to require this but laws here in Guatemala mean very little. Last year several of my kids were sent home from school for not having black leather shoes.
After leaving Angelica’s home we went back to Ronny’s home and gave him, his brother, and 3 sisters packs that were filled with school supplies. Tomorrow they will all be going to school. I am not sure just what person or organization supplied these but thank you from the bottom of my hart and the harts of many happy children.

The foundation has been laid for the new home that Runny and his family will hopefully be moving in to near the end of February. That is when a teem of 20 people from Washington state are planning on coming down. They are planning on working on the house for several days, doing a wheelchair distribution in Mazatenango, and doing a bunch of other things in the 10 days that they are here, I pray that we have a cold snap here during that time because coming from Washington State to the coastal area of Guatemala in February can be a real shocker.

The kids were fed early and I am heading off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Some of yesterdays journal was finished up a day late. At around 9:00 PM I could no longer keep my eyes open so I headed off to bed. A ten hour sleep was a welcome change. First thing this morning I headed to the wheelchair shop. We were scheduled for a wheelchair distribution today. We had a lot of help today because the 7 ladies that are here from the USA joined us along with several friends from Antigua and Chemaltenango, the Money family, and 2 of my kids. At first it looked like only about half of the people that we had expected to come in for wheelchairs were going to show up today but they seemed to keep trickling in and 28 out of 31 of the families that had been invited showed up for wheelchairs. One of the highlights for me was seeing a 19 year old young man that I had ACCIDENTALLY run into in a village about 4 hours from here show up at the distribution. Back in September of 2006 while recruiting for camp I was driving down a dirt road. Since it was raining heavily and the road was filled with ruts and was extremely slippery driving took my full concentration, but for some reason how I HAPPENED to glance into a partly open door way of a home. All that I could see was the smiling face of someone who was lying on the floor of the house looking out at me. I was not sure if this person was on the floor because he could not walk or because he was resting but I could not get him out of my mind. Last September while recruiting for camp I once again passed this same home and was greeted by the same smile. This time I stopped and went to the door of the house. There on the floor was the young man that had come for the wheelchair today. His mother told us that he had never owned a wheelchair so unless they carried him somewhere he was confined to his bed or the floor of their home. Today that was changed for him and 27 other people. It was exciting to see so many smiling faces and not only were they given wheelchairs but the love of Jesus was shared with them and their families in both word and deed.

After lunch Saul, Hanna, and I took the 7 ladies who are from the USA to the orphanage. I showed them around and then we all just loved on the kids. It was not hard to do for this group and the 2 and a half hours that we had before we had to leave went all to fast.

The group is planning on going to the lake tomorrow but I think that I will stay home and get caught up on a few things.

Abner is out side washing my car and there are a bout 10 kids in the house doing various things. One of the new little boys who was not allowed to come back for several days because he tried to relieve me of some belongings just left. Before leaving he came up to me and showed me that his pockets were empty. I gave him a hug and told him that he was welcome back again tomorrow. Hugs are good. They tell the kids that I love them even if they are not perfect, and they tell me if the kids have anything hidden under their clothing.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, January 18, 2008

Today was bill paying, talking to the phone company, and grocery shopping day. That pretty much sums up what I did from around 9 AM until 5 PM. I am sometimes asked why I don’t do much of my grocery shopping in the open markets because the prices are cheaper and there is a large variety of things that you can buy from the merchants that grew or raised what ever it is that they are selling. The only problem that I have with that is you have to go to several a different vender for almost every item that you buy. Then you have to carefully examine it to make sure that it isn’t filled with insects or rotten and then you have to agree on a price. All of this takes a lot of time an pretty soon grocery shopping takes you as long to do as bill paying does. I guess as soon as I figure out how to fit 8 days into my week I will think about doing it. Then again you better make that 9 or 10 days. Many of my weeks already go 8 days.

I only had 4 kids here for supper tonight. Another new girl moved in about 3 blocks from here so many of my boys were not around this evening. They are all over there trying to impress her. Usually it takes about a week before the new girls usually picks who she likes and then the other boys are back here licking their wounds. The last new girl to move in kept them all guessing for 2 weeks and then she and her family moved away.

Oops I guess that she has ejust made her decision or the boys simply ran out of energy and decided that they needed some food because another 5 of them just came into the house asking for food. I have not seen Calin all day though so he is either the new boy friend or he went to his house to lick his wounds. They are certainly growing up I can remember the day when they all thought that girls were nothing but a nascence.

Chris and Donna are leaving for the States in the morning. I will be taking them in to the airport. They plan on spending a day or 2 with their son Jonathan and his family and then heading up to Canada where they will be taking part in Mission Fest, in Vancouver BC. If any of you get up to Mission Fest be sure and stop off at the Hope Haven Canada, booth and say hi to them.

Well the kids have everything cleaned up so I guess that I will go out and play some basket ball with them.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, January 19, 2008, 9:47 PM

Today was Saturday so I decided to play all day. Well most of the day was spent playing if you include getting up at 4 AM and taking Chris and Donna to the airport as playing. Oh ya I also took Calin shopping for school supplies. Everyone who knows what I think of shopping also knows that there is no way that I can count that as playing. And then of coarse I will likely be up until past midnight getting this journal out, but other than that it was playing. I know not every one would consider taking 7 kids to the water slides playing, and a few people would perhaps even pick going shopping before they would do this but I had as much fun as the kids did and besides that they will be starting school next Monday so I will be able to do all of the fun things, like shopping, to my harts content or at least until 12:30 that is when they get home from school.

On our way to the water slides we stopped off for the weekly special at Camperos. Who ever came up with the idea of a chicken and refried bean sandwich ought to have there head examined but it was cheep and rather filling. I asked one of the kids to pray for the lunch but it didn’t help. When we opened our eyes most of us still had bean and chicken sandwiches in front of us. Calin was the only exception. I guess he got hungry during Fernando’s rather lengthy prayer. Before leaving Camperos 5 of the kids played soccer in a miniature soccer field that is located in the indoor playground at Camperos. Daniel and Alex who are the oldest of the 2 decided that it was to childish to play in a play area that was designed for little kids. After the other 5 and myself finished playing we headed for the water slides. I don’t know how long this place can stay open because even though it was a Saturday it was nearly deserted but that was to our advantage. We stayed until they shut the place down at 5 PM and then headed for home.

I told the kids that I was going to work on this journal tonight but they talked me into letting them have some cereal before they left. Up until about a half hour ago I actually had the house to my self but then Fernando and Abner came over and convinced me to let them in if they promised to play quietly in the other room.

Well I guess that’s about it for another week so I will once again say Goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Journal January 6-12

(Click on any picture to enlarge)
Sunday, January 6, 2008

Three of the kids came along to church with me this morning. I had taken a new wheelchair along with me so that we could give it to a little girl who lives in Antigua after the service. Terry Cotton, a lady that attends our church had introduced me to Maria Veronica a few months ago and even though she was scheduled to come in to a wheelchair distribution that we are planning for next week I decided to jump the gun a bit. This way Terry, who has become close friends with Maria Veronica and her family could be there when we gave the chair to Maria. We also invited a lady who is from Korea along with us. She was visiting our church and told me that she was looking for some volunteering opportunities for several afternoons a week. I figured that taking her along to give away a wheelchair and then taking her to the orphanage would be a good way for her to see first hand where volunteers are needed. Maria Veronica is 10 years old and has cerebral palsy. Even though she has never walked she has never owned a wheelchair. I let Calin, Fernando, and Jason help with fitting her into the wheelchair that we had brought. Maria is a delightful little girl and the boys and I had a lot of fun adjusting her wheelchair so that it fit her perfectly. Once the chair was finished we put Maria into her new wheelchair. I don’t think that Maria had ever seen a wheelchair before so even though she was verry happy with it she didn’t realize that it was much more than a comfortable place to sit. That problem was soon solved though. I asked Calin and the other boys to show her how to use her hands to move it. She caught on quickly and was soon moving it under her own power.

* * * * *
Movie of Maria Veronica moving on her own for the first time in her life.

After we finished up at Maria’s house we all went to Burger King and got some lunch. Now Burger King was not at the top of the list as far as the 2 ladies and myself were concerned but since the boys had worked so hard on helping fit Maria into her new wheelchair I decided to let them choose where to eat. Well actually to be perfectly honest the boys only got to choose after we discovered that the restaurant that I wanted to go to was closed.

After Lunch we went to Hermano Pedro and visited the kids. We only stayed about an hour but managed to at least get a few of the kids out of bed for a short time. I think that the lady from Korea will very likely do some volunteering there now that she has met some of the kids.

Several of the neighborhood kids are here watching videos on one of the computers. I promised them that I would make them banana pancakes for supper so I better close for now.

Yours in Christ : Dick

Monday, January 7, 2008, 11:43 PM

Today I didn’t even get out of town. It was bill paying day and that means spending a good part of the day standing in line. It would have been all day but after taking a look at the long lineup at the electric company I decided to give it a try some time when the line is only an hour long.

Hold on to your hats because what I am about to say may shock you. Today I went over to Mario’s house and talked to him about teaching me some Spanish. Now don’t get too excited because I haven’t made any commitments or signed any contracts but I am considering taking a few classes and seeing how it goes. Even if I only pick up a few words it will quickly double my present Spanish vocabulary. I was always hoping that I would just sort of pick up on Spanish with out studying but 7 words in 7 years is just a little too slow. Actually I know more words then that It’s just that my pronunciation must be a little off because when I use them no one has the slightest idea what I am talking about.

After leaving Mario’s house I went to the drug store and picked up some medicine for David. His claim to fame of eating nothing but street food for the past week has suddenly caught up with him. Fortunately he is staying on the other side of town where he has running water and a flush toilet. Today my water came on for about a half hour and then went back off again. I managed to get in part of a shower though and hopefully the water will come on again in the morning so that I can rinse this mornings soap off.

Wow it is 12:03. I didn’t realize that I have been writing for this long. When I started tonight’s journal I was 60 years old and now I am 61. I think that I will at least celebrate the first part of my birthday by sleeping so I will once again say goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I am counting my blessings. I turned 61 years old today but I was still able to get out of bed on my own. I knew that I had forgotten something but after studding my face in the mirror for a few minutes it came to me, my name. I was thankful that my grandfather talked my parents into changing it from what it was to DICK a few days after I was born. The name that I had before that was longer so I could have forgotten it much easier. Now what was that longer name? Oh yes I remember it now, it was DAVID. Anyway after gathering my thought together and getting dressed I headed to the wheelchair shop. No I didn’t have a shower this morning. I tried but after turning on the faucet I suddenly remembered that I have had no water for nearly a week now. I may have forgotten but judging by faces that people who were down wind of me made today I doubt that they will forget. After meeting with Chris and picking up the clothing that Donna had graciously washed for me I picked up Fernando and Elmer and headed to Antigua. They didn’t mind riding with me but then again they have been without water as well.

Even though we didn’t get to the orphanage in time to take any of the kids out to lunch we managed to gather up 3 more volunteers and then took several kids out to the park. Since we were not going into Camperos we were able to take Sam Sam along with us today. Sam does well when he is not locked in his crib but comes unglued when ever we go into Camperos with him. He and the other kids all enjoyed the park though and all of the kids seemed to really enjoy 2 musicians who were playing a guitar and a flute. We played there with the kids until nearly 4 PM and then quickly brought them back to the orphanage so that they would not miss their dinner.

On our way home Elmer told me that he had bought me a birthday cake and that I was invited to his house for a birthday party. He told me that we could have pizza as well but I would have to pay for that. We all had a nice time and everyone got a good laugh when the candles that were on my birthday cake filled the room with smoke. No one would let me forget that it is a tradition here that you are suppose to take a small bite out of your birthday cake before it is cut and served. I don’t mind that tradition but am not all that fond of what goes along with it. Once you get your face over the cake there are always a few helping hands that make sure that you get your face shoved into the cake. I didn’t have a head cold so I was not afraid of changing the color of the frosting from white to a lime green like some of the kids often do but the thought of cake and frosting all over my face and beard was not a pleasant one considering my water is still shut off. Fortunately though I moved quickly enough that everyone that tried to push my head into the cake missed my head and ended up getting a hand full of frosting. I think that it was fortunate but will see how my stomach feels in the morning. Like I said before the entire neighborhood has been with out water for nearly a week now so some of the hands that went into the cake were not exactly the cleanest. After the party I opened up my house to all of the kids. Even the 3 new ones that had come in yesterday showed up. I let them in but only after making them return the toys that they had stolen from me yesterday. It seem that just when I get one group of kids trained on what the rules are a few new ones show up.

Well it is once again time for this old boy to get some sleep so as soon as I see if any kids are still here and if everything that I once owned is still here, I will head off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, January 9, 2008 8:03 PM

Still no running water but since I now have clean clothing I decided to take another bucket of water over the head shower before going to bed last night. It was a hard decision because it meant that I would not have enough water left to put on my flowers but I felt that I needed a bath much worse than they did, and that if I didn’t take a bath and got anywhere near them they would likely die anyway.

David Piper called this morning and told me that he was feeling better and wanted to come along with me. Calin also joined us as an interpreter. I planned on stopping off at the HIV orphanage and then go to a few homes to do some repairs on a few wheelchairs. David had never been into the HIV orphanage and was a little apprehensive but once he saw the loving environment and the pleasant surroundings all fear was quickly gone. The nuns that run this place are fantastic with the kids and show them lots of love. It is hard not to because all of the kids are very friendly and love it when you give them the least bit of attention. Ingrid, a little girl who used to live at Hermano Pedro was my main reason for visiting today. Along with HIV Ingrid also has Cerebral Palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. I try to stop by from time to time to see if her wheelchair needs any adjustment or repairs. Today it needed both. I hardly recognized Ingrid because of how well she looked and how much she had grown. David, Calin, and I had to lengthen her wheelchair a couple of inches. It may last her for a short time but I am going to try to replace it as soon as possible. We were also shown a new little boy who just like Ingrid has both HIV and Cerebral Palsy. He has no wheelchair so I took measurements and hopefully that will soon be rectified. The kids flocked around us as we attempted to say good by. It was hard to go but we knew that in this place they are all getting the love and attention that they needed. I greatly admire the unconditional Christian love that these dedicated nuns give to these precious children.

Our next stop was in San Lucas, at the home of the man that I had given a head controlled power wheelchair to several months ago. Before setting him up with this chair he had been confined to his bed for several years. I simply wanted to check and see how his power wheelchair was working out for him. I guess I got my answer. A neighbor girl told us that he was not at home but had driven off to town in his wheelchair earlier in the day.

I think that perhaps David should have recuperated at least one more day after his encounter with street food because as we were about to head to our next home he began to turn the same color as some of the food that he had eaten earlier this week.

After dropping both David and Calin off in Chemaltenango I headed to Antigua. Calin had not gotten sick but had decided that he wanted to visit his grandmother for a while. I had intended on going up to Santa Maria Dejesus but decided not to because I no longer had an interpreter so I stopped off at the orphanage in Antigua and spent time with some of the kids. Things are slowly improving but this orphanage could still learn a few lessons from the orphanage that I had visited this morning.

Well by the sound of my doorbell I guess that the hour that the kids allotted me to get my journal done is nearly up so I will say Goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Since the only running water that I have, even when it is working, is located out side of my house, last night I balanced some pots and pans on top of each other and set them in the sink that is located just out side of the back door of my house. I left the faucet turned on so that if my water came back on during the night the clatter of the falling pots and pans would wake me up. Sure enough at 6:30 this morning my make shift alarm woke me up. The water was coming out of the faucet at only a little more than a trickle but I knew that if I worked fast I would likely be able to fill up the sink and several containers, flush the toilet, Brush my teeth, get the plants watered , and take a shower. Since I knew that the water would likely stop flowing at any minute I wanted to work fast though so I attempted to double up on a few things. Filling up the sink and brushing my teat at the same time proved out be no problem. Filling the other containers while brushing my teeth was also a since. I even had the plant watering and the shower thing going quite well. Since my bathroom is located out side of the house getting water on the floor was no problem as I ran back and forth between placing the garden hose by one plant and then running back to the shower to wash a hand or foot and then running back out to the front of my house to place the garden hose by still another plant. Fortunately I did not have to get dressed each time I made the transition because of the 14 foot cement wall that goes all around my house. I only had one more plant and my right foot to go when my 2 item juggling act turned into 3. The door bell rang. I have told the kids over and over again not to ring the bell before 7:30 in the morning but either Calin or Fernando have to be reminded of this at least once a week. Fortunately there was a towel hanging out on my close line so I wrapped it around me before opening the gate. Now I have always maintained that there is no such thing as modesty here in Guatemala but I think that my neighbor lady’s face got just about as red as mine did. She had come over to tell me that the water had been turned back on. I thanked her but did not wave good by. I was to busy holding the towel tightly around me.

Today Mark Richard, who is the head of Hope Haven International and Lonny Davis, who is very involved with the wheelchair ministry were here. Chris, Donna, and I had a lengthy but informative and productive meeting. After that we all went out to lunch and now I am in the shop getting a bit of work done on my computer. I find it is easier to get some of this done here as there are less disturbances from all of the kids and the occasional adult that come to my gate.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 9:18 PM

This morning’s breakfast seem to go on forever. I started out cooking for 2 of us and by the time we sat down to eat there were only 3, but just as we would start cleaning off the table on or 2 more people would show up and as they finished another small group would arrive. That is why a breakfast that started at 7:30 did not end until close to 10. Anyway by the time that I was about to start my day I felt like I had already reached over time. My land lord who was here to see about painting the front gate was given breakfast along with group 5 or 6. She must have felt a bit sorry for me because she offered to do the dishes. I didn’t turn her down especially considering that I still don’t have running water.

David, Calin, and I finally got out of the house and headed out to deliver 2 wheelchairs at one of our favorite places to visit, the HIV orphanage. Now you may think that we must be a bit morbid if we like visiting an HIV orphanage but this place is wonderful. All of the rooms are bright and cheery and genuine Christian love seems to radiate from everyone that lives there. Not just the nuns but the other workers and the children them selves are some of the most loving and happiest people that I have ever met. Only a few of the kids show any symptoms of being at all sick, and they are given so much love and are so well taken care of that you seldom see anything but a smile on their faces.

The first child that we gave a wheelchair to today was 6 year old Jose. He had never been in a wheelchair before and we had do a lot of modifying to the one that we had brought but several hours later Jose was happily sitting in his new wheelchair.

I have known Ingrid for many years now. She use to live at Hermano Pedro but was moved to the HIV orphanage a few years ago. If it were not for that move I may have never discovered the place. I had planned on doing some repairs on her wheelchair while she was in Hermano Pedro, but she was moved to the HIV orphanage before I got to it. I must admit I stalled for a few months before finally going there. I was not sure that I could handle seeing all of the suffering that I assumed was going on there. What a shocker when I walked into the place! I think that this place has to be the next best thing to living with your real family. Then again after spending most of the day there today I recognized that all of the people there are real family.
We didn't head for home until nearly 5 PM. Oh I guess we could have had Ingrid fitted into her wheelchair if we had not accepted their offer of cookies and juice or the lunch that was made for us, or if we had not stopped working to hold or play with the kids from time to time we may have gotten out of there much earlier, but if you don’t take time to enjoy life you may find that if you hurried through it you may have missed out on some of the best things that it has to offer.

Tonight I came home to more kids. I was tired but I know that they were hungry not just for food but much like so many kids that live in the numerous orphanages here in Guatemala, they were hungry for someone who cared. It is my prayer that I remember to show them half as much love as I saw displayed to day.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, January 12, 2008, 7:06 AM

I seldom do any of my writing in the morning but my Pots and Pans, You Have Water Alarm once again woke me up at 5:55 AM. My water has been coming on around this time of day every other day for the past several days now. It only stays on for about an hour though so I still have to work fast to collect enough water to last me for the next 47 hour dry spell. This morning my well thought out routine was a little more carefully thought out though. My shower time was not combined with running back and fort into my front yard to water the flowers. I still did 2 activities at once but this time instead of watering the flowers in front of my house, I filled up sinks and containers that were much closer to where my outside bathroom is located. I also made sure, just in case some one did come to my gate, that the towel that I hung out on the line was a large bath towel and not a dish towel like the last time. Come to think of it I have not seen that neighbor lady since her last unannounced visit. My sister Karen called me yesterday. She had forgotten my birthday but told me that she had gotten me a bathrobe for Christmas but since sending things to me by mail is next to impossible she had decided to wait until someone came down this way so that they could personally give it to me. I told her that I certainly could have used one a few days ago but she just as well not send me one anymore because I think that my neighbors are chipping in to buy me one as a late birthday present.

Today Chris and I will be going down to the airport to pick up a group of ladies that plan on being here in Guatemala for about a week. Talk about a Godincidence. Mary Hines who is heading up the group is a lady that I met in Afghanistan over 5 years ago. We lost contact but close to a year after we had returned from a wheelchair distribution in Afghanistan she contacted me asking if there were any short term mission projects that groups from her church could do here in Guatemala. Up until today Marry has not had the opportunity to come to Guatemala herself, but because of that Chance meeting in Guatemala Mary’s church has sent down a number of groups of people that have taken part in everything from going in to the orphanages to building houses and churches. Mentioning Afghanistan reminds me of another story but I don’t want to embarrass anyone. Bring your bath robe Mary.

Yours in Christ: Dick