* 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 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


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