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

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

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Location: Chimaltenango, Guatemala

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

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Journal December 31 - Janurary 5

(Click on any picture to enlarge.)
Monday, December 31, 2007

This morning Dave Piper came along with Calin, Fernando, and myself to the homes of 2 of the families that we built homes for last week. Both of these were widows whom the group from Florida had bought groceries for but we had not had time to deliver the groceries to them before they returned for the USA on Sunday. Today while we were there we also installed latches and locks onto the doors of their new houses.

The first house that we stopped at was one that I had not been to because it had been built the morning of my unforgettable shopping trip to purchase the groceries. Even though neither the lady that the house had been built for or any of her 5 children had ever met the 4 of us before they were very friendly and even brought us some juice that had been made from the not so clean looking water that they had drawn from their well. There was no way that we could refuse such hospitality but on one of our trips back to the car we managed to get rid of the juice without drinking it. As thirsty as we were we felt that drinking it would not be wise. The family had feared putting even their meager belongings in their new house with out being able to lock it up. Before leaving we gave them 2 large plastic tubs that were filled to the brim with food and household supplies. The entire family was carefully looking over all of the items when we said good bye.

Our next stop was at Maria’s new home. Maria is the lady who’s husband was recently killed when he was run over by a truck. We were told that she and her 4 children were up the trail visiting other relatives. Her sister who lives in the house next to her told us that it would be OK to install the hasp and lock. Once we did that we locked the groceries that we had brought for her inside of her new house and then gave the key to the sister. As nice as the people in this area are we feared that if we did not lock the groceries up they would disappear. Fortunately we had also brought groceries for the sister and her family that we had left the key with. Many of these people do not get enough to eat so stilling is a big temptation. Even then some little boys from another family had seen us carry in the groceries and had evidently told their mother about it because before leaving we were asked if their family could have some food as well. It was hard to tell them that we had no more. Unfortunately this is often the case weather it be with food, houses, wheelchairs, or a bit of money. There are simply so many needs that it is difficult to know who to help. I have run into to people who use that as an excuse not to help anyone but I know that if we all felt that way no one would get fed. I just keep on praying for wisdom on knowing who to help and on giving wisely.

New years eve is much like Christmas eve here in Guatemala. Once again I was invited over to a neighbors home for dinner, Or I guess that I should say a number of dinners. It seem that almost all celebrations here in Guatemala center around food and fire works. Any way we had a good time but I was once again the party pooper by heading off to bed at 2 AM.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Wow! Where did 2007 go? I can not believe that it going on 8 years that I first came here to Guatemala.

Today I finally got back to Hermano Pedro. Dave Piper, Nancy, and Fernando came along with me this morning. We didn’t exactly get an early start but managed to get to the orphanage in time to take 4 of the kids out to lunch. I think that most of the people in Guatemala must have gone to bed even later than we did because there were verry few cars on the road this morning. The kids that we took out today are not big eaters but they enjoyed themselves just the same.
After returning to the orphanage from lunch we spent the next few hours holding kids that had spent most of their day locked in their beds. I had almost dreaded going up to the malnutrition ward for fear that they may have lost one of the 3 kids that are not doing very well but they were still alive. Jennifer was sleeping so we didn’t wake her up but we got Byron and Pearla out of their cribs and held them for a while. Byron who is 14 years old still does not appear to weigh over 30 pounds. He enjoyed being held though and nearly drifted off to sleep. The little guy that has learned to talk like Donald Duck is still there waiting for his clef pallet to be operated on. Other than the clef pallet he seems to be in great shape and is an absolute clown.
Before heading for home we we met up with Judy Kerschner and then drove up to Santa Maria Dejesus to see Balanki, one of the students that Attends the school that Judy has. Balanki who suffers from Spinal bifida was in need of a new back cousin for her wheelchair. She had outgrown the cousin that I made foe her a few years ago. Since she has no feeling in her legs and lower back she is prone to getting bed sores if she is not seated perfectly. It took a lot of carving with an electric carving knife but within about an hour I had her setting comfortably.

David, Fernando, Nancy, and I stopped off at a place that sells what most foreigners would call street food. It was not quite like your Denny’s restaurant in the states but we did have a table with a view. Fact is we had a view in every direction since we were sitting outside on stools at a small table that look like it was made from a few apple boxes. I am not sure that this place would pass the health laws of the USA or even the Guatemalan health laws if there are any. but the food was good and it was dark enough that there was no way to tell if any of the critters that were running or flying around had gotten into it. Actually it was quite tasty and where else can you buy a steak dinner with fried onions, a baked potato, and tortillas for a buck?

Calin is staying over tonight because I have to take my car in to the Toyota shop in the morning. It has been 1000 kilometers since it was rebuilt so they want to check things over. I also want to ask then where the dozen or so bolt and some other missing parts went to. I guess I better get some sleep because we are planning on leaving at 5:30 AM.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Today can basically be summed up in 2 words, LONG and FRUSTRATING. I am more and more becoming convinced that my cheep not so good mechanic here in Chemaltenango is not as bad as the expensive not even as good mechanics at the
Toyota garage in Guatemala city. After several hours of waiting for my car Calin and I finally decided to walk to a McDonald’s which was a good mile away. Just after sitting down to eat we got a phone call from the place where I had left the car. It was the service manager telling me that the vibration that my car had developed while it was sitting at their garage for 51 days was not a bad universal joint as I had suspected but a bad rear end. He informed me that a new one was $2000 but they had located a used one for $1000 and wanted to know if I wanted it. I told him not to do anything until we got back there. When we returned he told me that everything else had bin fixed except for the vibration. I asked him to put the car back upon the hoist so that he could show me the problem. As soon as I got under the car I saw that on the previous visit they had accidentally misaligned the universal joints of the drive line and there possibly was nothing what so ever wrong with the rear end. Even though the problem would have been obvious even to someone who knew nothing about mechanics the mechanic didn’t have a clue. Calin tried to explain it to him while I attempted to draw it out on paper but we got no where. Finally I walked over to his tool box, got out the proper wrenches and fixed the problem. Unfortunately while I was doing that he grabbed a socket set, put a pipe on the end of the ratchet and over tightened the pinion bearing. Now until I can locate a large enough pipe so that I can loosen the over tightened nut I have a high pitch wine coming from the rear end. Believe me if I can here a high pitch wine with these ears so can everyone else with in a half mile. After aligning the universal joints I looked over the rest of the work that the mechanic said that he had completed. If it weren’t for the cracked fan shroud that he had super glued in stead of replacing like he had promised he would have scored 33%. Out of the 12 missing bolts that I had individually pointed out to him a few hours earlier he had replaced 4. At this rate only 2 more visits and he would have my car back into the shape that it was in when I firs brought in to be repaired. Tomorrow morning I plan on going in to my cheep mechanic and begging forgiveness for ever doubting his abilities. While I am there I will also ask him if I can borrow a wrench and the longest piece of pipe that he has so that I can loosen the over tightened nut on my pinion berring.

Most of Guatemala was with out electricity this evening so the kids and I had baloney sandwiches by flashlight. One advantage to no electricity was that I had no idea how much they spilled on the floor until the lights came on shortly after 9. The advantage was in the kids favor and not mine though because they had all gone home by then and I was left with the mess.

It’s been a long day. Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Well I went back to my old mechanic this morning and showed him what the expensive mechanics did to my car yesterday. With in about an hour and a half he had remedied the mistakes that they made yesterday and had also taken care of the so called problem that they had wanted $2000 to fix and all it cost me was $46 and a good helping of humble pie. My car is now running great and hopefully this will put an end to my car problems for a while. I guess that I should be thankful that a Land cruiser is suppose to be the most maintenance free car ever built. I can’t imagines what it would be like to have one that broke more often.

At around noon David, Abner, Elder and I headed for the coast. Ronny was once again having battery problems with his wheelchair and Angelica, the lady with the broken femur needed to get in to Hermano Pedro for a blood test. We only stayed long enough at Ronny’s home to replace 2 wheelchair batteries and say a quick hello because we had to get Angelica and her family to Antigua by 6 pm. I promised Ronny’s family that I would try to stay longer tomorrow after bringing Angelica and her family back to her home.

Tonight when I returned home I was happy to see that I had electricity but was told that my entire neighbor hood will be with out water for up to a week. Oh well I guess that if I have to go without a shower for that long it is perhaps a good thing that my neighbors will have to do the same. I guess that another bright side is that the water stopped working just before the laundry lady came today, so putting my close on with out having a shower won’t make them any dirtier.

Friday, January 4, 2008, 9:18 PM

It has been one of those crazy weeks this week. All of Guatemala was without lights the night before last. Yesterday was the first time that I have ever seen snow on some of the higher volcanoes. One of the local volcanoes has been acting up a bit and you can see lava flowing down from the top of it when it is dark. We just had a 5.6 earthquake and worst of all, I have been with out water since yesterday morning. Actually they turned it on for about a half hour this morning but it looked more like coffee than like water. Never the less I put some into a few containers so that I could at least flush my toilet with it. After spending the day near the coast where it was hot I decided that a shower with dirty water was better than none at all so I heated some up and poured it over my head.

Our trip to bring Angelica back to her home went well. Calin and Fernando came along and we also picked up Jim and his wife Jill. They are a Canadian couple who are volunteering at the YWAM coffee house in Antigua for a few months. This should conclude the blood tests and lab work for the operation that Angelica is scheduled to have on her femur on January 20. I plan on picking her up on the evening of the 19th and then returning her to her home a day or 2 after her surgery. Angelica and her family are verry poor but they insisted on giving me a half dozen eggs as a way of showint their appreciation.

After dropping the 5 of them off we went back to Ronny’s house. I still had some repairs to do on his wheelchair and also wanted Jim and Jill to meat Ronny’s family. Ronny’s mom had some news for us. In a few months she is going to have her 7th child. Hopefully it will not be until we have finished their new house. 9 people in the little tin shed that they presently live in may be just a bit crowded. While we were there Chris and John Showed up. They had taken the van down because they had to deliver a power wheelchair and a rap to Sergio, who will be attending a school that is located in his town. Carlos, who is a block layer, as well as the pastor of a church in Ticpan is going to be laying the foundation for Ronny’s new home during the next few weeks. Near the end of February there will be a teem coming in from Washington State. They are planning on completing the house. Ronny’s entire family is excited about finally being able to move into something that looks and feels like a home.

Once again my eye lids are winning against my will power to get a few more things done before bed so I guess that everything else will wait until morning.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, January 5, 2007, 9:15 PM

I have been told that most people take the day off on Saturday so I decided that I would try it sometime, not today though. I didn’t mind though because spending a day at the orphanage is far more fun than having a day off anyway, especially when you get a group of people in that are willing to give the kids more love than they have seen in a long time. Today’s group was exactly that and then some. Yesterday Jim and Jill received a phone call from a group of people that were spending time in Guatemala City with Youth With a Mission. A few days ago they had met a few members of this group at the YWAM coffee house here in Antigua and had mentioned Hermano Pedro orphanage to them. Yesterday the leader of the group called them and asked if I could take them through the orphanage and see if it was possible to take a few of the kids out to lunch. I met the group outside of the orphanage at about 10:30 and showed them around. Most new groups are a bit uncomfortable with the kids at first and then slowly warm up to them. This group took all of 5 seconds to do that. They immediately fell in love with the kids and the kids fell in love with them. Along with the help of Jim, Jill, and Dave Piper, who are also crazy about the kids, we were able to take 8 of the kids to the park and out to lunch. Several of the kids that we took today have difficulty eating solid food but the entire group was extremely patient with them and we all had a wonderful time.

After we returned the group stuck around for several hours holding and playing with the kids up in the malnutrition ward. While we were up there I spent quite a bit of time with Byron, Julia, and Pearla. These are the 3 kids who have a severe form of CP that causes their necks and back to bend so far backwards that in severe cases they form a complete circle where the heals of their feet actually touch the back of their heads. All 3 are still quite week but with the help of a feeding tube each one seems to be gaining weight and some strength. I only wish that they could be held more because it sometimes takes up to an hour of holding before they relax enough that they drift off to sleep.

Since I still have no running water and had a 2 for one pizza coupon, I figured that it was excuse enough to take the 7 kids that showed up for dinner out for Pizza tonight. 3 more arrived at my house after we had left but fortunately we had taken enough home with us that they got fed too. Since Saturday night is the night that I try to get my Journal out I asked the kids if I could have the house to myself at around 8:00. Actually that is not quite how it went, I asked them at 7:30 then I told them at 8:00. A few of them hung in there until I demanded at 8:15. I have already finished my bucket of water over the head shower so when I get this journal and the pictures on to my web site I will be able to head off to bed. That generally takes a few hours though. I am getting faster at setting up the pictures but trying to spell check words that my computer can’t even figure out can be time consuming.

Yours in Christ: Dick


Blogger Greta Jo said...

Dear Sir, What wonderful work you are doing for our lord. There is a small group of us that would like to do mission area work in Guatemala for a week in October or November 2008. Could you recommand where or who we should contact?

Sunday, January 06, 2008  

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