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

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

My Photo
Location: Chimaltenango, Guatemala

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

Friday, February 29, 2008

Journal February 22-28

(Click on any picture to enlarge)

We have been building houses and doing wheelchair distributions with a church group from Washington State this entire week. It has been a busy but very rewarding time. However finding time to keep a journal has been next to impossible for me. Besides that I figured that it is about time you get a perspective of life here in Guatemala through someone else’s eyes. So this week some of the volunteers who are down here from Washington State are going to share some highlights from the journals that they have been keeping. I think that you will enjoy what they have written. I know that I will enjoy a few days off from doing the writing. I know that I have already published Journals for the first 2 days. (Friday, February 22, and Saturday, February, 23) But I have included those 2 days as well because I thought that you would like to see someone else’s perspective of the same days. I hope that you will find this week’s journals, that were written by various people, as interesting and informative and I have.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, February 22

We woke up this morning in Chemaltenango. Some of us went for a short walk from the hotel. As we walked down the street, we were passed by horses being led to the market. About a block form our hotel, we stopped and looked down at the area below. It was the first look for many of us at how many of the people here live. Pieces of the tin siding patched together filled the approx. ½ acre area. They did not have power or water and the smells of garbage and dead animals filled the air. What an eye opener! At 8:00 a.m. several showed up with vans. We piled in and made a short drive to a restaurant for breakfast. Then we hit the road, headed for the hotel closer to Ronny’s family. We checked in quickly and headed to Ronny’s place. The drive there took us past fields of sugar cane and lots of ran shackled homes. We pulled up to the work site at about 11:00 a.m. and unloaded the tools. We said a prayer and then Dick took us to the family’s current home to meet them and see the conditions they are living in. I think we were all shocked at the living conditions. It gave us motivation to get to work and so we walked back to the jobsite and got started. With the help of two local block layers we added to the walls, moved dire into the building in preparation for concrete, dug ditches for power and water. We all struggled with the heat & humidity. But all in all a good day. I think we are thinking about how blessed and fortunate we are.

(Lane Stremler)

Sat., Feb. 23

A few impressions
Most popular means of transportation – walking; 2nd – bikes; 3rd motorbikes; 4th – old school buses; 5th – anything with Toyota written on it.
Weather: typical climate
– HOT! Typical house, corrugated tin and cement block.
Typical family siz
e – way too large.
Speed limit
– none. Result…. Use your imagination.
The homes are very small with dirt floors, no glass windows. The family we are building for has seven children, the mother is 34 years old, pregnant – very friendly and loving!
Typical dog
– sick looking and skinny.
Typical horse
pony size.
The cattle are mostly Brahma with ribs exposed. We are so blessed in our country. The children come around every day – we give them toys and such that we brought along. We give them some of lunch each day – cookies, oranges or anything extra. Today we walked to Grandma’s house – she was a very nice lady. Her sons all live on the lane and she will give each a portion of the land legally. The more the children – the more divisions. We are so fortunate to have what we have. I don’t think I will ever complain again in my whole life.

(Don & Tres Kamphouse)

Sun., Feb. 24

This is the day the Lord hath made. Not only did we remember our church and church family today, particularly, but Jay & Debbie remembered our wedding as we celebrated our 17th anniversary. En route to our third day of house building, we stopped at a dirt floor hardware store. We were definitely in the minority as only a small handful ventured past our 4 armed guards, past the machetes for sale and the man sewing to the inside. Arnie purchased a plumb-bob and our crew chiefs (Chris, Dan & Jay) picked up the other misc. items. No one spoke much as unloaded our vans of people, protected tools, water and food. We knew the day would be full and the tasks ahead seemed burdensome. Our worker bees came alive, however, and forms were pulled, nails pulled, boards cleaned, new forms, block laid. Periodic breaks are necessary as the heat (over 95 degrees), humidity, sun & other factors drain our energy. The only physical injury today was poor Kim – when a piece of scaffolding fell on her head. By lunch time we were ready for a good break. We all ate our full & then shared our “5 loaves & 2 fishes” with the poor hungry mothers (2) and their children (approx 10-12) that were amongst us, but never begging. After lunch, most of us women went with Dick to visit a few neighbors. We shared candy, toys, clothes & love. The dirty faces of the sweet children completely light up when their photo is taken on a digital camera and then shown to them. One woman we visited had a broken femur – the doctors had put 2 plates in, but incorrectly and the nearly 10-12 inch incision was badly infected. It is amazing how one photo, one piece of candy, one item of clothing or one toy is a gift beyond words for these children. The children crave attention – they want to be near us. The girls love having their hair fixed and braided. They want to help, even spreading dirt or straightening nails. We journeyed to a second home – at one place a jump rope was given to the children. They had no idea how to use it, but were demonstrated to by Kim… the children were thrilled. On to visit Gabrielle who has spinal bifida. He is such a darling little guy – the one with the large soft-ball size tumor at the base of his spine… then back to the work site to pitch in. Meanwhile, this writer was still pulling burs from her under clothing from a walk in the weeds to water the horses. Never again!

Jesus had a heart for the poor! In John 2 and Mark 11 we read how Jesus was angry when there were those who used the temple as a place to inflate the $ the poor had to pay for the doves they would sacrifice. These instances were some of the few when Jesus showed a side not typically seen by Him – when oppression and/or hurt were inflicted on the poor. As the afternoon work picked up pace again, I silently prayed these people would not and will not be oppressed by those seeking to do them harm. Crime and jealously are rampant because anything is scarce and all are terribly poor! The afternoon finished with a flurry of cement pouring – columns, more brick laying – even more, the first cement floor in the house was poured. Nearly everyone was involved in one way or another as the mixer made several batches – then wheelbarrow load… one after the other were run up into the house (elevated because of flooding). Our Guatemala Team is most certainly a team. We are working – and working hard, but we are having fun bonding and putting our actionable and practical love for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ into action. (Matt. 25: 35-36) May His name be praised!

(Debbie & Jay DeJong)

Monday, Feb. 25

After breakfast & our morning ritual of push-starting the security guards’ car we were headed back to the house. There are so many people walking – usually almost on the road, on motorcycles – many times with 2-4 people and sugar cane trucks – bursting at the seems. We were pretty excited when we got to the house b/c the trusses had all been put up, which made it look more like a house and more importantly it meant that we could put the tin on the roof and be able to work in the shade some of the time. This was very important to us because it was 97 degrees in the shade and 107.5 in the sun. Everyone is working so hard to try to stay hydrated but we have to admit we are pretty new at this working in the heat thing. So today the roof got put on and cement was poured in 8 (ocho) rooms leaving 1 room and the porch to go for tomorrow. Ronny’s Momma & Papa & seven siblings spent a lot of the day with us – even Grandma came to see. They are almost speechless, they are just overcome with happiness at what they can now see will soon be their home. We took family photos at the end of the day in front of their new casa. Also today we had Ronny’s school class come for a tour. So many (30 I would guess) happy kids! They all wanted to get down in the dirt and help dig through the sand to pick out the rocks. We took lots of pictures with them & exchanged words in English & Espanola, needless to say they learn a lot quicker than I do! They all wanted to drink some agua from our jug & cup and then they each got a sucker. I think it is a good thing that it’s illegal to take these kids home! We ended up taking Ronny & Orlindo (his little brother) back to the hotel for a night, this will be quite an eye-opener for them I think.

(Deb & Dan Kuiper)

Tuesday, February 26

What an eventful day it was. The day started with breakfast at 6:15 a.m. Then some of the guys left early so that they could get the supplies from up by Ronny’s old house, so the whole team could start at a run to finish what we needed to. Once the frame had arrived the droning noise of the cement mixer started and the first batch of concrete. We had to finish the “dining” room floor & the porch. We also had a crew that stripped form boards off the columns. Then we had a crew setting up form boards for the wheel chair ramp off of the front porch. And then the electrical crew. We finished all the concrete work in time for Ronny’s class to stop by and sing us Guatemala’s national anthem. It takes at least 5 minutes to sing. We came to the conclusion that it would not survive in the U.S. Once the concrete was laid as smooth we wrote NVRC and 26-2-2008 because that is how they read dates. We decided to write NVRC because it was the church who donated to make it possible for us to build the house. We then had Ronny press his hand into the concrete as flat as he could get it. Then we gathered around with the family & the school kids and teachers. Chad said a prayer in English while the teacher said a prayer in Espanola. Once done with the prayer the teacher said a few words, then Chris & Ronny’s mama, and I don’t think there was a dry eye when it was over. We then went around & said our goodbyes to all the people we had grown close to. We then had 2 soccer balls to give away & couldn’t decide who we wanted to give it to. So we finally decided to give it to Alex to keep for the neighborhood kids to play with. And then we gave the other soccer ball to the teacher to donate to the school. The school children were so into the dedication that they bought string & balloons to decorate the outside of the house. So we were finally able to break away from them and head back to our hotel. We were able to eat there. We then packed up our bags and headed into Mazatenango where we will be doing the wheel chair distribution. Along the way, we saw road widening construction like the Guide Meridian & concluded OSHA would have a fit down here. We finally reached Mazatenango where we saw a saddle shop. Once we had dropped our stuff off at the hotel (12 of us) went and checked it out. There wasn’t much there but the quality was good. There was also a taxidermist so they had a horse head that was mounted which we found interesting. They also had snakes they were skinning there. We went back to the hotel & saw that they had a cool water slide into the pool.

In Christ, (Brent, Bruce & Kelby Stadt)

Wednesday, February 27

We once again woke up to the rooster crowing. Pretty sure he was walking back and forth on the walkways crowing! Our breakfast here in Mazatenango was more than most expected - buffet with eggs cooked to your liking. After breakfast, we loaded into the vehicles and headed to the wheelchair distribution.

My expectations are vague at best. What will I do? How should I act? Honestly, if I really got honest with myself – will I be uncomfortable?

Once inside, we unleaded the wheelchairs out of the truck and laid them on the yard. In the front of the building is a small court area where Guatemalans are gathering to receive a wheelchair. At this time they were only getting a number.

I find it strange how the brain will listen to emotion when intentions are good. God was working in me and preparing my hands to work – work in a way they have never worked… only at this time I was not yet aware of it. How should I know, we were working?

After unloading the wheelchairs, we gathered around Dick while he gave us a “crash course” on adjusting a wheelchair to fit each person. This took about ten minutes and we proceeded to the courtyard where the people were waiting. Chris asked that we lay a hand on a family or person while he prayed.

Feelings of extreme joy followed by valleys of despair. I seemed to be losing a “grip” on my emotions as I watched parents cry to God for their child or elderly praying with thankfulness. Voices, prayers, tears, weeping were heard in the courtyard, and I felt God broke down any perceptions I had in that moment. I was ready.

Chris and Juan prayed and our team excused themselves to begin preparing for the people. A small group worked on the more specialized wheelchairs for the children, while the larger group fitted wheelchairs for adults.

there are moments in my walk with Christ that I feel completely in His will. As if noise, busyness, temptations and greed all melt away and there standing in front of me is God with his hand out to me – showing me the way. I felt this, not literally, but in this moment – I knew this is what God wanted from all of us.

The adult wheelchairs took about 15-20 minutes to fit; however, the kids could take an hour or more. The people are thankful and we are too. After about three hours, the adults are all fitted and out the door.

Sometimes I use work as a distraction – a way of postponing a short term problem. I used it today. I even wondered if what I was observing, what I was experiencing, what I was doing, was too sacred or too intimate to share with someone. Or could I even get myself to say a word?

The children took another two hours to finish. Chris’s family directed us in the proper fitting and piecing together of each wheelchair. This organization takes extreme pride in making sure every part fits each child perfectly. At the end of our time together at the distribution center, a woman gave her life to Christ!

God is it this simple? Food, water, a chair brings a soul to you! You can make mountains move and yet you choose a chair to reach a lost woman. Jesus Christ smiled through those children and adults today. I felt it! We all felt it!

(Chad Van Ry)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

It’s Thursday, I think. Hard to keep track of days when it’s just been go, go, go. Today was our first day off really, so before I get into that I want to talk a bit about the wheelchair distribution yesterday. I didn’t think there would be anything as gratifying and emotional as when we left the building site. I was wrong. I only worked on three chairs, but what a blessing. The gratefulness of the people was incredible. The smiles of the kids and the joy of the parents knowing that a burden has been lifted from them by a single piece of equipment. It was as tough to leave there as it was to leave the house we helped build.

As far as today, part of the group went to see Erica and bring her some medicine (I’m sure someone will write about that). The rest of us drove about 3 ½ hours past some smoking volcanoes, motorcycle accident (miracle if the driver survived) Chris’s erratic driving, overheating and near misses. I had the fortune of riding with Dan in the pickup. We finally arrived safely by the Lake in Panajachel. Once there, we ate lunch and went to look at the street vendors goods. This is where Luke learned the fine art of bartering from “the negotiator” aka Don Kamphouse. It’s hard to believe we are only a couple days from returning home. This trip has been an incredible blessing for all of us - just in the realization of how blessed we are at home with homes, food and support from family and friends – not to mention…. No scorpions. I feel that for myself, and speaking for others, I have truly seen God at work on our trip and our lives will be changed for it!

(Len Smit)

Thursday, Feb 28 (second group)

After a great breakfast we separated from the group that went direct to the lake. We headed West toward San Sabastian with 12 people crowded into a 9 passenger van and immediately were caught in the first of many traffic jams. Eventually we turned north to Xela where we dropped off Liliana and Juan Davis to catch their bus home. Liliana is a friend of Debbie and Jay DeJong, they are helping her obtain a work visa to return to the US to join her husband. Liliana had lived in one of Jay and Debbie’s rental houses for a few months 14 years ago. Debbie received a Christmas card from Liliana this year after not hearing from her for several years. Debbie was able to contact her in time for her to meet us at the hotel in Mazatenango. Liliana and Juan Davis joined us at the wheel chair distribution, Liliana was a great help interpreting for us and encouraging the families that could only speak Spanish. This was a Godincidence, as Dick would say!

Three hours later after many construction stops we were in San Francisco. Yes, there is a San Francisco in Guatemala. Only the spelling is different, the town is much the same with narrow streets and steep hills. We took a few detours since we were too heavily loaded for some of the steep streets. Finally we were at the end of a street where the slide took out Christopher’s house three years ago. This is where we start the hike up to Erica’s home. We transferred Erica’s medicine to backpacks, put a rock in front of the van’s tire on the steep hill and headed up the half mile trail. We were greeted by a couple of Erica’s brothers on the way. We were overwhelmed with their friendly welcome! They quickly invited us into their cement block home (the sewing room area) making sure we all had a chair to sit on. Erica’s mother then came in with a tray of cups filled with something and we all looked at Dick, what do we do??? He said, “it’s okay, it’s just Pepsi”. Whew!!! As we all got settled in, (with Ben translating) they told us how thankful they were for all of us and the medication that we brought. We told them that it was from God and not from us and the grandpa responded with “it is from God, but you are His representatives”. It was a moving moment! We greeted a smiling Erica. What a pleasant change after eight months on the medication! (a year ago she stayed in a corner away from everyone). Someone carried in a 17 year old boy who had CP who lived 3km away from Erica’s family. He was quite bent over and crippled and could not walk. Dick held him and measured him and went over some motor skills with him to see if he could use a power wheel chair. With Ben translating Dick was able to determine if the area around their house was smooth enough for a wheelchair. In the end, Dick decided he would be an excellent candidate for a power wheel chair. Once again the parents thanked us over and over again! Chad offered a prayer of thanks, praising God for His Presence with this family and allowing us to show our love to them in return for the incredible gift He has given all of us through His Son.We then went outside to take pictures and give them gifts from the employees at Fairway Drug in Lynden where we have been getting the medication at a huge discount. With smiles and giggles they accepted the lollipops and toys that Debbie had also brought along for them. We left them with hugs and good byes and went down the trail a different way to Christopher’s house (Dick found Erica by mistake when he had come to visit Christopher but missed his place and ended up at Erica’s) which was a Godincidence as Dick would say.

Christopher was home from school and happy to see us. His grandfather saw us going up the trail to Erica’s home so by the time we arrived his whole extended family was there along with neighborhood children (they heard about the gifts and suckers!) While we were visiting, there was an older woman shucking dried corn, which caught Arnie’s attention right away! He asked if he could help, she nodded. Soon Arnie and Steve were busy helping her and Christopher’s grandmother offered them a small bag of corn to take home for their garden. That put a big smile on Arnie’s face! We handed out more gifts and lollipops, took some pictures, accepted their gift of bananas and then said our good byes. We headed back down the trail and were happy to see the rock still in front of the tire and not through the window!!

We left San Francisco for the lake where the other group was enjoying a leisurely afternoon of sight seeing and shopping, (we wouldn’t have traded places for anything)! On the way we stopped at a service station for a wonderful lunch of ice cream bars, munchies and sodas! As we ate our lunch outside the service station we shared with a little boy who was begging.

We drove through many villages with beautiful farming areas all terraced on the hillsides with fruit and vegetable stands along the road. We were thankful to survive the aggressive Guatemalan driving and arrived at the lake after 5pm.

What an awesome day! One we will never forget! We felt God’s Presence and saw Him work in the lives of these people and in the hearts of all of us. To witness their love and gratitude for God was an experience that is hard to explain. A very emotional one at that!

To God be the Glory!
John & Arlis

We have truly seen God at work in everything that has been taking place here this week.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Journal February 17-23

Monday, February 18, 2008, 8:37 PM

Some days are not as easy as others and today started out that way. I woke up at around 5 AM and could not get back to sleep. I kept thinking about my friend Bonny lying there in the national hospital. I could not help but think how alone she must feel. I felt bad that I had not visited her before yesterday but had not realized that she had been hospitalized until then. At 8:05 I called over to our wheelchair shop to see if we had a few items that I knew Bonny needed. I knew that she didn’t have much money but that she was a proud lady and trying to give her anything would be hard but I had to try. Less than an hour after later I received a phone call from Jessica. She told me that Bonny had died early this morning. She also told me that since Bonny had none of Bonny’s relatives had any intentions of coming in from the States the funeral was going to be this afternoon. I thought about staying at home until it was time for the funeral but decided to do something that Bonny would have wanted me to do. So I went and spent some time with the kids at Hermano Pedro. Calin and Fernando came along with me since they had no school today. Why no school? Good question.

I enjoy going there on Monday mornings because that is the day that some of the kids get to go into the pool for therapy. Today however we got there only a short time before they were finished so I didn’t even get a chance to get into the water. Actually they were suppose to have kids in and out of the pool all morning long but for some reason they decided not to. A few days ago I took Byron’s manual wheelchair to our shop for some repairs that could be completed in an hour or so but told the mechanics to stall on it for as long as they could, hoping that since his power wheelchair was the only one left at the orphanage the nurses would put him in it. That one backfired though because when I arrived at around 10 the nurses had him in bed.

I have come to realize that I have been using the word nurses all to loosely. A nurse is a highly trained professional that is taught to make her patients as comfortable as possible. I am trying to think of a better term to use for a few of these ladies but nothing comes to mind. Caregiver would not work for several of them because it has the word care in it. Even the word worker would not be correct in the case of some of these ladies. Don’t get me wrong there are some good ones that I take my hat off to but there are also some that are more concerned about convince than they are about the children.

Tony and Marcia Banks were at the orphanage so I figured that between them, the 2 boys that came along with me, and myself we could each take a kid to lunch and at least make the day a bit brighter for 6 of them. Now I have always prided myself in being able to do algebra in my head but today my head was spinning. It was not until I had the kids nearly signed out that I realized that there were only 5 of us taking 6 kids that were in wheelchairs out to lunch. There were some other adults around so I asked Tony and Marcia if they would find someone who would like to come along with us to lunch while I finished up on the paper work. When I got back they told me that everyone else had other plans or simply did not feel comfortable taking any of the kids to lunch. I looked over at the ladies that are suppose to care for the kids who were sitting at a table having coffee and jokingly asked if one of them wanted to come along with us. To my surprise one of the younger ones said that she would come along if she could get permission from the head lady of her department. Do you know what? I think that we are on the start of something here. Not only did she enjoy herself but she seemed to enjoy the kids. I must admit that see seemed a bit taken back when I ordered Chicken for a few of the kids that she had never seen eat anything other than the mashed up food that they are given at the orphanage but she soon realized that they were loving it and not choking to death on it so she joined right in on feeding it to the kids. After lunch she even smiled a bit when she saw that the kids who were generally in bed all afternoon had a better time and were more well behaved when they were on the playground equipment having the time of their lives. I am hoping that she conveys some of what she saw to the other caregivers. (Notice that I am gradually working my way back to calling them nurses. It may take a few days though because I am still upset with them.) I do think that taking different ones of them along from time to time will be a positive thing. At least they will see that I don’t hate them It is just that I dislike some of their work ethics. I think that taking a few of the therapists along to lunch would not hurt anything either. Once they see Ervin, who usually refuses to take as much as one step for them, climbing the ladder to the slide on his own, they may come to see that therapy could be a lot easier if a bit of fun were included.

Shortly after we got back to the orphanage Jessica, one of the nurses, and myself got in my car and drove across town to a small funeral chapel to attend Bonne’s funeral service. Counting the priest who conducted the 5 minute service there were 10 of us. I am sure if the patients of Hermano Pedro had been allowed to attend the building would have been filled. I don’t think that it mattered much though. Bonny, Nancy, an I did a lot of talking yesterday. Bonny knew that she had lots of family here in Guatemala and a Heavenly Father that cared.

The kids are fed and to my knowledge all of them have gone home for the night. I am tired. It has not been one of my easier days. Do I ever get discouraged? Occasionally but not often. Am I ever sorry that I came here to Guatemala to live? Never! I know that this is where God wants me and that makes it the perfect place to be.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Click on pictures to enlarge
his morning 5 adults and myself went up to the school at Santa Maria Dejesus. Judy and Amy showed us around and then we had 12 large pizzas delivered to the school from Antigua. I am not sure how the motor bike that delivered them made it up the hill to this town that is located at the foot of Aqua volcano but the driver arrived on time and was tipped well. All 7 students and their teachers were grateful because pizza is a rare treat for most of them. The group of people that visited the school with me were verry impressed with the school and the dedication of the Christian teachers, several of whom have to ride a number of busses up to 2 hours each way just to get to the school.

After our visit we went back to Hermano Pedro and visited with the kids there. After discovering that nearly every kid was in bed and although Byron was in his power wheelchair they had him sitting in a room with the switch turned off, I had another talk with one of the people that is in charge of the care givers. She went in and had a talk with them but I don’t know if they will listen to her. Unfortunately they have the attitude that even the people that are in authority over them can not tell them what to do. Some times I think that they are right.

I headed back to Chemaltenango a bit early because Carlos had called me from the shop telling me that someone had brought a power wheelchair in that needed to be reprogrammed. If anyone knows of some one who would like to move down to Guatemala and work on power wheelchairs please let us know. I don’t mind doing it but as our ministry expands I simply do not have the time. As we give more and more of them away the need becomes greater. We need not just someone who can repair them in the shop but some one that is willing to go to the homes of the people that own them to work on them there.

When I got home Fernando came running to my car. He told me that Etiline had just fallen of from a ladder and landed on the cement. Her aunt was not at home when it happened but had arrived back there just a few minutes before I had returned home. I quickly walked over and discovered that Etiline had a large lump on her forehead and had hurt her arm. At first it appeared to be a sprain but after examining it I thought that it was very likely broken. I made her a make shift splint and loaded her and her aunt into my car and headed off to the hospital. Hospital visits here in Guatemala are usually a long drawn out ordeal and even some one who needs emergency care can often wait for hours before being tended to. Tonight we were fortunate though because the emergency room was nearly empty. In less then 2 hours Etiline was on her way home with a plaster cast on her broken arm. The x-rays had confirmed my suspicions but showed that even though the bone was broken it was in place and did not have to be set. Etilein was in some pain but not a great deal so I gave her aunt some aspirin and told her to call me if the pain got worse. Most of the hospitals here don’t think about things like that.

Even though it was nearly 8 PM by the time we got back home I still had a house full of hungry kids with in 15 minutes. I told the kids that I would make spaghetti but that everyone had to pitch in and help. 9 out of 11 of the kids got right in there and helped. Abner and Chino were busy on the computer and acted like they did not hear me. 9 of the kids had a good meal but Abner and Chino were told that they were not eating at my place tonight. I have an idea that they will be offering to do the breakfast dishes in the morning.

All but one of the kids have now headed for home and that one is fast asleep on the floor. No one will miss him at his home so I will let him stay until morning.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Today Tony and Marcia Banks, Nancy Darby, Mario, and myself, after loading up on groceries, did some visiting in the back country. Our first stop was once again at the home of Fidel, Isabel-Maria, and their grandmother. Even though we had visited them a few days ago we wanted to stop by again because we had some medicine for the 3 of them. We also brought it a foam mattress for Fidel’s bed. Every time I go to their home I wonder if Fidel is still alive. Today he was actually looking a bit better than he did a few days ago when he was moaning with pain. We are hoping that the pills that I brought him will help ease some of his pain and am quite certain that lying on a mattress instead of a wood plank bed will be more comfortable for him. I am also planning on going back in with some bandages and medication for his bed sores and will show his grandmother how to treat them. His grandmother told us that he turned 28 a few days ago. She said that they usually try to celebrate by butchering a chicken for dinner but this year they could not afford one. She said that they managed to buy one piece of chicken from some one and give it to Fidel. One lone balloon also hung over his bed. They are getting good use out of the bathroom that we built for them and the storage tank that is on the roof provides them with water for showers and laundry 24 hours a day. This is a pleasant relief from having water for only a few hours a day once or twice a week.

We were hoping that the cement for their new home had been poured but the man that was going to do the work was not quite sure of the exact measurements so we drove down to see him after visiting a bit longer with Fidel and his family. We could not get the car all the way in to where this man was working on another house but thanks to the good old cell phone which seems to work in even the most remote areas of Guatemala, we were able to give him a call and he came out to meet us. I was glad that Mario had come along with us, not just for his Spanish but we had built Mario and his daughter a house that was identical to the one that we were going to put up for Maria Isabel. With in a few minutes Mario had explained to this man exactly what we wanted. Originally we had thought that some of Maria’s relatives would be able to help this man with the cement work but we were told that during this time of year after school they have to pick corn. This meant that we would have to pay for a helper as well as the cement worker so we settled for 100 Q per day for the 2 of them. That is roughly $12.50 per day for both men. The man that we were dealing with apologized for the high price but explained that since Maria’s family would be unable to provide him and his helper with lunch he had added 10 Q ($1.25) each to the amount that they were being paid. I know that $6.25 per day is not much to pay one man but As Americans we have to be careful not to pay more than the average Guatemalan pays or it can create problems, but you should have seen his eyes light up when I told him that if he were able to complete the job by this coming Saturday we would give him and his helper and added 20 Q ($2.50).

About an hour on down the road (Not what my passengers called it) we got to the home of another Maria. This is the one who’s husband was killed by a hit and run driver a few months ago. She and her 4 children are now fully moved into the house that we put up for them. The 2 older ones are also happy that they are now able to go to school. While we were there we also gave some groceries to 2 other families that live nearby. One family is a mother and her 3 children who live in a dirt floor house right ext to where Maria and her children live. I had always thought that this lady had a husband that was perhaps out working when ever we were there but was told today that he deserted her and her 3 children a year ago leaving them with nothing but the shack that they lived in. This lady as 2 daughters, one that is 14 years old and another that is 11. She also has a son who is 6 years old. The older daughter is totally blind and has to be led around by the mother or the other children. The mother told us that her 11 year old daughter use to go to school but has not gone for the past year because they could not afford school supplies or the fee that is charged to enroll her into the public school. Her little boy should have started school this year as well but she had no money to send him either. We are praying for a sponsor and told his mother to check with the school to see if the children can still be enrolled even though the school year started about 5 weeks ago.

It was hard to say goodbye to these warm and friendly people but it was getting late and we had promised the kids in my neighborhood that we were going to have pizza tonight. Even though she protested I set down the little girl that I was holding and said good bye. I thought back to a few short months ago when this child and several of the others would run away crying when ever any of us would arrive. Now they were all laughing and begging to be held. As we drove away we looked back up the hill at all of our friends who were standing there waiving goodbye.

Our time of solitude with out having kids hanging on to us was short lived though because about an hour and a half later we were pulling into my alley with 8 large pizzas in the back of my car. To my surprise there were only 2 kids standing out side so I thought that perhaps I was going to be eating left over Pizza for the next week or 2. With in about a half hour I was proved wrong as we opened up the box containing the last pizza. Some one told me that they got a head count of around 40 people but the kids never stood still long enough for us to get an accurate count. I guess the word had gotten out because some of the parents even showed up. It was a fun time though and the kids had a great time with some jump ropes that Marcia banks had brought for them.

For some strange reason I am once again tired tonight so I am going to head off to bed. I will do my best not to step on any of the 3 kids that are fast asleep on the floor.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, February 22, 2008

A good part of my morning was spent doing what has lately been a once a week ritual of taking my car in to my mechanic. This week’s episode was new wheel bearings. Actually only one of them wet out yesterday but I figured that I would play it safe and have both sides replaced. This brought my bill up to nearly $50 for parts and labor but I was thrilled that the mechanic was able to find new bearings right hear in Chemaltenango. This evening I had dinner with Marcia and Tony Banks. They took me to one of the fancier restaurants in Antigua where some of the meals ran up as high as $12. We had a wonderful visit and a wonderful week together. They will be heading back to the states tomorrow. I will miss them. After dinner I drove in to Guatemala City where I met up with Chris, Saul, and Benjamin at the airport. It took the 2 vans and one pickup truck that we brought with us to bring the 19 people that came in from Washington State and all of their luggage back to Chemaltenango. Today’s journal is actually being written tomorrow because that is when we arrived back home. That is why I am saying Good morning,
Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, February 22, 2008, 10:07 PM
After the picking up our 19 visitors from their motel and then having breakfast we all headed to near the coast where Ronny lives. We plan on spending the next 5 days working on the new house that we are building for his family. When we got there today I discovered that Ronny has been running a fever for the past several days but it did not keep him from going along with me to get one of the tires of his wheelchair fixed. After getting his wheelchair fixed I decided that I better help with the house building but didn’t even pick up my first brick when Luke, one of the teens that had come from the States with his father, had cut his hand on a piece of rebar. I cleaned the wound and tried to butterfly it shut but the hot humid air made his hand so damp that there was no way that I could get the tape to stick to it. I finally gave up and simply put a bandage over it and then drove him to the clinic that had told me about Julio a few weeks ago. The doctor at the clinic told us that he did not have what was needed to stitch the wound but that there was a national hospital in town that could do it. I was a bit apprehensive about taking him to a national hospital but when we got there I discovered that even though their emergency room looked like something out of the 1950s it was clean and the staff there seemed quite professional. We were also happy when we found out that they used a new needle to stitch up his hand. Other than some Antibiotics that we had to get at a nearby drug store the entire procedure cost absolutely nothing. The cut stitched up nicely and Luke is doing fine. We arrived back at the work site just in time to help pack up and head home. The entire crew had a good time but they are tired and a few are not feeling the best because of the heat but I think that they are all planning on going out again tomorrow. If any of them do not feel up to it they can always stay behind here at the motel. It is a nice place and even has a swimming pool. Barring any sick kids, broken wheelchairs, or cut hands, perhaps tomorrow I will actually help do some work on the house.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, February 23, 2008, 9:12 PM

Today the crew spent the entire day working on Ronny’s new house. A good part of my morning was spent trying to get the air-conditioner of the Kea van going so that the group would have a more comfortable ride home but it looks like the pump is freezing up so I guess that we will have to put up with the dust that comes in through the open windows while driving some of the dirt roads. It was extremely hot this morning which made it difficult for the crew that is working on the house, but in answer to prayer some clouds and a light breeze moved in this after noon so it made the working conditions a bit more pleasant.

Ronny was feeling a bit better today but his mother, who is pregnant with her 7th child, got quite sick before lunch and it looked for a while like I have to make a repeat trip to the national hospital. Fortunately one of her kids went and got a lady, who appeared to be in her 80s, who is a mid wife. She seemed to have a lot of respect from everyone and was even chauffeured to Ronny’s house by her granddaughter, not by car however but by bicycle. Before leaving the old lady assured me that Ronny’s mom would be all right and that no doctor would be necessary, then her and her granddaughter disappeared down the trail on the bicycle. She seemed to know what she was talking about because by this evening Ronny’s mom was feeling a lot better.

After a picnic stile lunch most of us walked down past the tin shack where Ronny lives to another tin shack that his uncle and aunt live in along with their 6 children. They are every bit as much in need of a new home as Ronny and his family are but right now we can make them no promises. I am praying that will change though because the home that they presently live in has rusted holes in it that you could nearly crawl through. We then walked a bit further to where Ronny’s grandmother lives and visited with her for a while. We had been hoping that we could put a cement floor into the prefabricated house that we put up for her a few months ago but there is still a lot to do before we are done with Ronny’s house so that will have to be put on hold for a while.

Seeing the conditions that these families live in was not easy for the group, in fact some of them told me that they had already had a tough time sleeping last night after seeing the poverty that Ronny and his family live in. I think that it was good for the group to see this though because so often we take the blessings that God has given us for granted.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Not only did I see building going on as far as houses were concerned today but the building of new and better friendships was also very evident.

I watched as some of the ladies in our group took some time out to comb and braid the hair of several of the girls. I also saw one of our men who did not know a word of English take the time to show one of the older boys what he was doing and get him involved in some of the work that was being done. There were also men and women who were working along side of each other who in less than a day had become friends despite the fact that they could not understand one another. I am not sure weather or not the house will be completed by the time we leave on Tuesday afternoon, nore am I concerned about it. Friendships are being built and even though there is a language barrier these people are witnessing the love of Jesus in action. I said it before but I think that it bears repeating. No one cares how much you know until the know how much you care.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Journal February 10-17

Click on any photo to enlarge.
Monday, February 11, 2008, 10:42 PM

After a quick stop off at the wheelchair shop to pick up some parts I headed to Hermano Pedro. I was met at the door by 2 people from the California Rotary club that we did the 3 day wheelchair distribution with last week. I had originally met them at a distribution that we did in Honduras last year. Both of them fell in love with the kids at the orphanage and I think that they regretted that they had to fly back to the States later this afternoon. It is some times hard to get people to visit the orphanage but it seems that once they do they quickly get over any fears that they may have had before meeting the kids. I did not get to spend as much time with them as I had anticipated because I received a phone call from Ludwig’s parents. I had gone to his home in Saloma and given him a new wheelchair a few weeks ago. While I was there we made a phone call to Marvin, a friend of mine that makes leg braces at Hermano Pedro. I had forgotten that this was the day that Marvin was scheduled to see Ludwig. I think that Marvin had forgotten as well because he had a pretty full schedule. He managed to take the time to see Ludwig and his parents though. After he examined Ludwig, who has muscular dystrophy he asked Ludwig’s parents if he could talk to them alone. I spent the next hour out side of his office with Ludwig. I pretty much knew what was being said and was praying that Ludwig’s parents would be all right. It is hard to tell a family that there is not much that can be done to keep their son from becoming more and more deformed and that he would only get weaker with time but Marvin is a good man and I knew that he was the right person to speek with them. When Ludwig’s parents finally came out of Marvin’s office I could tell that they had been crying. Ludwig had been asking me if I was going to take him to Camperos for lunch so I asked his parents if I could treat them to lunch. They told me that they thought that was a great idea. I had already promised Ervin that I would take him to lunch and knew that if I backed down on that promise that you would be able to hear him scream all the way to the USA. As it turned out Ervin was on his best behavior today. Ervin knows good and well that I will not put up with any guff from him and that I have more than once taken him straight back to the orphanage when he acted up. Fortunately he also knows that I love him and do it for his own good. Amy Deyoung and another therapist joined us for lunch. While we were eating Ludwig’s parent shared with us some of the things that Marvin had told them. They said that they already knew quite a bit about there sons sickness but hearing some one say it directly to them still was not easy. They shared with us how happy they were that Ludwig was now in school. This had been his life long dream and he absolutely loved going to school. They shared one concern though. Ludwig’s arms are beginning to get weaker and they are afraid that it will not be much time before he can no longer get around in his wheelchair. I told them not to tell Ludwig this because I don’t think that it is quite necessary yet but I am planning on giving him a power wheelchair in the not to distant future. Both parents thanked me and gave me a bit hug. They had left their home early this morning by buss and were al tired so I told them that I was sure that they could stay at Casa Defay but they said that they really wanted to get back home so after lunch we all said good bye. After bringing Ervin back to his section of the orphanage Amy, the other therapist that was with her and myself went up to the malnutrition ward. I had asked them if they would look at Byron and Perla with me. Both of these children still spend most of their time in bed with their heads and bodies twisted back. We came up with a few ideas and I may build them something that will put them in more of a seated position even when they are in their beds.

The rest of my afternoon was spent in getting Carlitos and Byron’s power wheelchairs working properly. Once again I had plenty of little helpers so things did not get done all that fast but my helpers were happy and so was I.

While grocery shopping tonight I decided to get lazy so I bought a roasted chicken and took it home. There were only 3 kids there when I got home so as soon as we got the other groceries put away we quickly ate. Before we could polish off the entire Chicken a few more kids showed up. There was still enough chicken left that those 3 got filled up on Chicken sandwiches. The next shift of kids did not do as well and let me know that chicken flavored top robin just wasn’t the same as a roasted chicken.

While at the market I also picked up a basket ball to replace the one that had more then once made contact with the broken glass that lines the top of the wall north of my house and the razor wire that lines the top of the south wall. As soon as the dishes were washed and put away most of went outside and tried the new basket ball out. After the game the kids just hung around and visited. Most of them had brought their school books along so they showed me what they had been doing in school. Even though they have school tomorrow I let them stay until about 10:30 then sent them home. Well most of them that is. Calin is fast asleep on the floor right next to where I am working. He is the only one that ever stays over with out letting anyone know. His mother says that when he is not at home she just figures that he is here, and his step dad could care less.

Well it is nearly midnight so I will say Goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, February 12, 2008, 9:04 PM

A good part of my day was spent getting most of the exhaust system of my car replaced and then having my oil changed. With the dusty conditions and the type of roads that I often travel I try to have my oil changed every 3000 miles. Unfortunately those same roads usually claim my exhaust system more often than that. Today it cost me a whopping $17 for all of the parts and labor.
This afternoon I showed a group of about 10 men that are from my pastor’s home church in Florida around the orphanage. Judging by their reactions they were deeply touched. Every now and then I can take the group through the entire orphanage with out having at least some one break into tears. After I wiped away my tears I went on to tell the group a bit more about Sam Sam.

Hot dogs, refried beans, pop corn, and Coke were on tonight gourmet menu. By the way that the kids wolfed the food down I think that it was a winning combination.

This journal will be a bit shorter than usual because our after dinner basketball game went into overtime. The game was a bit tamer than usual tonight. We ended up with no crying kids, no uprooted flowers, and only one slightly cracked window.


Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Today was mostly spent taking people from Youth With a Mission through the orphanage. Since there were 30 of them I took half of them through in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. One family stuck around for lunch and along with the help of Carlos, and Jim and his wife Jill we were able to take 8 of the kids from Hermano Pedro out to lunch. The family that joined us had some kids that were about the same age as the kids that we took out from the orphanage and several of them became quick friends. I think that giving kids the opportunity to meet kids that are a bit different than their normal companions is verry healthy. It seemed to be good for the kids from the USA as well.

As soon as we returned to the orphanage from lunch the second group arrived so I conducted a repeat tour. No lunch this time but this group had every bit as good of a time with the kids as the first group did. I must admit that I was worn out by the end of the day but it was well worth it seeing the kids having people there who were willing to give unconditional love to them.

Just when some of the practices at the orphanage seem to be improving others seem to get worse. Lately the amount of time that most of the kids are in bed has gotten even worse. Even some of the more able bodied ones like Ervin and Elmer who like nothing better than to be out in the courtyard roaming around in their wheelchairs are locked in their cribs from about noon until 7 or 8 the following morning. I talked to a few people who are in charge of the nurses about it today and they promised that thye would look into it. It seems that even when they tell the nurses that thy have to get them out more no one listens though.

Tonight’s supper was a do it yourself free for all. I must admit though that everyone cleaned up fairly well after themselves. Calin, Abner, and Fernando insisted that a room came along with the meal and was to tired to argue with them so theyare spending the night.

Speaking of night, Goodnight

Yours in Christ: Dick
Thursday, February 14, 2008, 8:58 PM

This morning I stuck around home and got a few things done. At around 11 AM I headed out to the airport to pick up Tony and Marcia Banks. They are friends from Washington State who plan on spending the next 8 days here in Guatemala. They have been here before and hope to see more of our ministry while they are here. After getting settled in to a motel in Antigua they joined Fernando and me at the orphanage. Fernando accompanied me to the airport since he got out of school early today. I think that he got out early because today was nothing more than a valentines day party at his school. I have little doubt that he will have no school tomorrow either. Usually his teacher decides that they need a clean up day the day after they have a party. Thy must be cracking down on the teachers though because she did not give the kids a day off yesterday to prepare for valentines day. Come to think of it since school started up a few weeks ago she has not yet announced which days she is planning to be sick.

When we arrived at the orphanage at 2 PM I once again found only a few kids out of their cribs. Fernando offered to stay and play with Ervin while I spent some time up in malnutrition so I took him out of his crib. I also took Byron who was not in bed but sitting in a corner in a manual chair that he has no way to move around in and put him into his power wheelchair. I also put Elmer into his walker after I located it. Some one had stuck it away in a storage room. I guess that if these kids were mobile it would cut down on the nurses one half day coffee breaks. I perhaps would not be so bold but after this many years I am learning that most of the people that are over the nurses are just as upset about the way that some of the sections of the orphanage are keeping the kids immobile as I am.

Byron (the one in malnutrition not the one with the head controlled power wheelchair) seems to be doing a bit worse lately. The nurses up in malnutrition are some of the better ones at Hermano Pedro but are often at a loss on how to keep the kids comfortable. They do put him in his wheelchair in the mornings but he is so skinny and his muscles are so tight that he can not tolerate it for more than one or 2 ours at a time. Unfortunately the rest of the time he is in bed staring at the ceiling. They try to lye him flat on his back with pillows on each side of him so that he does not curve back words but with in a short time his muscles contract and he is lying on his side bent back in a half circle. This after noon I found an infants car seat that I padded and then mounted into his crib. Even though this 14 year old will have to grow into it, it seems to be doing the trick. Not only does it keep him in a far better position but it can be adjusted any where from a fully reclined position to an upright seated position. Hanging a few toys up over his head also gave him something other than a blank ceiling to look at.

The little girl that Amy Deyong brought in to malnutrition a few days ago is doing fairly well. Her mother is a bit upset because Hermano Pedro has temporarily set up visiting hours due to all of the kids who are in the malnutrition ward awaiting surgery so I hope that she will not take her home until she is a bit healthier. I asked Amy if the little girl’s mother would be able to take good care of her if she took her home. Amy told me that she truly loves her child but there are 4 other children at home and her husband makes only 25 Q ( $3.35 ) per day. It’s pretty hard to feed a family on that even here in Guatemala.

Tony, Marcia, Fernando, and I stayed around to feed the kids and then headed for home. Tony and Marcia were going to join us for supper but with all of the traveling that they had done decided to simply head to their motel. Fernando and I stopped off for a pizza before heading for home. When we got home we were greeted at my gate by several of the kids. As much as I hated to do it I had to tell them that this was one of those rare occasions that I had to have the house to my self in order to get caught up on my journal and some other things. I think that they got the word out to most of the other kids because the amount of traffic at my gate has been only about 2 or 3 kids per hour ever since I got home a few hours ago. I let Leslie in for about an hour but hardly knew that she was here because she quietly did some school work on a the computer that is in the other room.

Tomorrow we plan on visiting some of the people that are going to receive or have received one of the prefabricated homes that Golf Coast Supply has provided us with. We plan on bringing groceries in to some of these families as well.

Well the door bell has not rung once in the past half hour so I think that I will be able to get some sleep if I head off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick
Friday, February 15, 2008, 10:14 PM

This morning I went to Antigua and joined Tony and Marcia for breakfast. We then headed back to Chemaltenango and after picking up Mario we got some groceries that we wanted to give to some needy families. We then headed out to do some visiting. I had not been out to where Maria, Fidel and their grandmother live in quite some time so we decided to go and see how they were doing. When we arrived where they live I could hear moaning coming from the small adobe house where Fidel has been bed ridden for quite some time. For over a year now I have always wondered weather or not he would still be alive the next time that I visited but today he looked worse than I have ever seen him and I have little doubt that he will be alive much longer. I promised the family that I would try to bring some pain medication in to him within a few days because they told me that he cries out in pain day and night.

Last time that I was there part of the old house was still standing and I was told that they were going to keep it for storage but now the old house has been torn down, the ground has been cleared, and Monday the village brick layer is scheduled to come in and pour the cement for the floor of the prefabricated house that we plan on building for Maria in the near future.

We had planned on visiting one other family today but stayed and visited the first family for much longer than we had originally expected to so we postponed that visit for another day.

After stopping off for lunch we dropped Mario off at his home and then headed for Antigua where I met up with Chris and around 20 people that he had brought down who wanted to see the orphanage. Since there were so many people I took them all in and introduced them to the younger kids and than divided the group in half and showed 10 of them around the rest of the orphanage while Chris and some of my friends who have been their before stayed with them and the younger kids. After giving group one the royal tour they stayed and played with the kids while group 2 was shown around. I must say that although the groups seemed a bit apprehensive at first it did not take long for them to warm up to the kids. They even stayed a bit longer than they had originally planned and most of them helped give the kids their supper. After they left Chris and I Fitted Jover, Who has just returned to the orphanage after being home for Christmas break, into a new wheelchair .

After leaving the orphanage several of us got together in Antigua for supper. Even though I had eaten supper before I got home I was not let off the hook. I must admit that supper was a simple one, even by my standards, but the kids were satisfied. That reminds me I have to pick up more bread, baloney, and cheese from the store tomorrow.

Well all of the kids that are going home have gone so I better turn of the light so that Calin and Danile get to sleep.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, February 16, 2008, 8:22 PM

Calin, Abner, and I picked up Tony and Marcia at around 8:30 this morning and then headed for the coast. Daniel was also invited but did not want to come along. Daniel is quite shy and usually shies away from groups of people.

Our firs stop was at Julio’s home. Julio is the 9 year old boy who I brought in to the malnutrition ward a few weeks ago. I wanted to tell Julio’s parents that he was doing well and that he already appeared to be gaining strength. To my surprise Julio’s father told me that he had come to Antigua and visited his son just yesterday. This is a big undertaking as it meant that he had to hitch a ride to the nearest town and then take several busses to get to Antigua so I was happy that he was that concerned about his son. He told me that he was happy with the care that his son was getting and was glad that he and his wife had decided to let me take Julio there. As we visited the family became more relaxed and we talked about many things. Julio’s father works in the sugar cane fields and even though he puts in 12 hours a day he scarcely makes enough money to feed his family. I asked him if the family had enough to eat and he told me that they were OK for now but he didn’t know how he was going to feed his family once the 5 month sugar cane harvest was over. We also talked about their living conditions. The land that they live on belongs to his mother who lives in a tin shack next to theirs. Both tin shacks look as though they could fall down ant any moment and we were told that they do little to keep any water out during the rainy season. Julio’s father also told us that he knew that the water that came from the well that was located only a short distance from the out house was making his family sick but that they had no alternative other than to drink it.

I could tell that this father truly wanted a better life for his family but could see no way to attain it. His 13 year old son who had dropped out of school to go to work with his father so that there could be more food on the table didn’t seem to have a much brighter future ahead of him either. I know that it is easy to judge people but I also knew that his was a family that was hurting and that they needed help. First I told them that we were going to see what could be done about getting them a water filter and then some medicine to kill the parasites that they likely had. Julio’s father looked at us and said that this was the first time that any one had ever come in and offered him and his family anything in their entire lives. I am not sure where this family stands as far as their relationship with Jesus Christ but this gave us the opportunity to share whith them that we were not doing this on our own but were doing it in the name of Jesus and that it was because of the love that He had given us by dying for our sins that we were here today. We told them that what ever gratitude or thankfulness they had was to be given to God and not to us. They both nodded in agreement and I think that they understood what we were saying. I guess we could have talked more with them about Jesus but some times showing them seems to be so much more effective. Besides I have always been affirm believer that no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. If you think that telling the family that we would try to get them a water filter got a reaction you should have seen their faces when I told them that we were going to do our best to give them a new house as well. I have been talking to Chris about this family and we both feel that they are perfect candidates for one of the prefabricated houses that Golf Coast Supply has been supplying. I am still a firm believer that it is better to teach a person how to fish than to given him a fish but I also know that it is hard to fish on an empty stomach. I pray that some where along the way we can be instrumental in helping this father figure out a way to put more food on his table on his own but you have to start some where.

Next we drove to Angelica’s home. She is doing fairly well after her surgery but the incision on her leg has opened up a bit and there may still be some infection there. When Gordon took her back into the hospital last week they gave her a prescription for some antibiotics but her husband told us that he has been unable to locate any. The nearest drug store is in a town that is located about an hour away by car. I am going to try to get some to her the first part of the week.

Next we went to Ronny’s house. He and his family are getting excited about the team that is coming in from Washington State next week to help build their new house. Both their family, uncles family and Grandmother were completely out of food but fortunately I had some in my car that we were going to give to other families next week. We can always go shopping again before we visit them. Ronny’s father asked me if I would go and visit his mother. She had received one of the first prefabricated houses that we ever put up. Her health has been failing and her family has been trying to get her to see a doctor for several weeks now. On top of that she just got bit by a tarantula a few days ago. She was in a friendly mood but told me that she was not sure that she wanted to see a doctor. I think that she has a fear of doctors and after seeing what some of them do. I can’t say that I blame her. I told her about the doctors at Hermano Pedro and think that she may be willing to go there for a check up. She told me that she would let me know when we come in to build Ronny’s house next week.

Tomorrow I am planning on going to church and then taking it easy the rest of the day. I have made plans like that on several weekends however to my recollection they have seldom materialized.

Well I am going to go and say good night to my 2 house guests, (Abner and Fernando) and then head off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, February 17, 2008, 5:58 PM

As expected today did not go as expected. Six kids came along to church. There would have been 7 but Abner said that if I took Etiline he would not come along. After saying goodbye to Abner the six kids and I headed off to church. After church I had a short discussion with Jason’s Sunday school teacher and then a long discussion with Jason. The kids and I then headed outside where I stopped off to talk with some friends. While talking with them I discovered that Bonny Grim a dear lady that started coming along with us to church a few months ago was in the national hospital and not doing very well. They will know more by tomorrow but it looks like she may have cancer. I met Bonny several years ago when she was here volunteering her time as a physical therapist at Hermano Pedro. Bonny who is in her 70s loved Guatemala but due to some hart problems had to return to the States. A few months ago she returned to Guatemala against her families wishes. She told me that they were trying to put her out to pasture but she was not ready for that. She felt that she would rather be here in Guatemala even though she was well aware that medical treatment was not as readily available if she needed it.

I had promised the kids that we would go to Hermano Pedro and spend time with the kids there and then go out for lunch so they were a bit disappointed that I had to change my plans but they fully understood that it was important for me to go and visit Bonny. Since Visiting hours at the hospital are only from 1:30 -3:00 I did have time to stop off at Martha’s and buy the kids some lunch before taking them home though.

As I visited with Bonny today as she laid there in the national hospital. Bonny told me that she is sad that even though her daughter knows that she is possibly dyeing Her daughter wants nothing to do with her. Bonny still feels that she made the right decision in returning to Guatemala but feels quite alone. I am not judging who is at fault but I am praying and I am asking you to pray for Bonny and her family. Pray not only for physical healing but that things can be ironed out between Bonny, her daughter, and any other relatives that are involved.

Before heading for home I headed to Hermano Pedro to drop off Nancy Darby, a fringed who had come along with me to visit Bonny. I also wanted to stick my head in just to see how some of the kids like Julio and Byron were doing. While I was there Tony and Marcia also dropped by. Funny thing how spending just a minute or 2 seeing a few of the kids suddenly ends up being 2 or 3 hours but that is exactly what happened. Between Tony, Marcia, Nancy, and myself we made quite a dent in the amount of kids that mysteriously made it from their beds to their wheelchairs. I wouldn’t doubt that it took the nurses a good hour to get them all back into their cribs once we left. We also spent some time up in malnutrition but remembered to return those kids back to their cribs after holding them. I think that the highlight of my day was watching Julio as Tony held him. Even though it has only been 2 weeks since I brought him into the orphanage he is looking much healthier and doing far better. Today he was looking all around and even cracked a few smiles. Judging by the way that he eats I would not doubt that he is now at least 20 pounds. Not much for a 9 year old but better than the 17 ½ pounds that he weighed when he first arrived.

When I got home I let the kids in for about an hour but then sent them home so that I could get this journal finished. I may have to hurry though because I promised that I would do my best to let them back into the house before 9 PM.

Before I send off this week’s journal I would like to share one more prayer request. Luis Andrais is a boy that Chris and I brought into the orphanage nearly 2 years ago. At that time he was 6 years old and weighed 15 pounds. It was a miracle that he got into the orphanage in the first place and then a second miracle that he was readmitted after his mother broke the rules by not returning him after he went home for what was suppose to be a one week visit. All of the kids that went home for Christmas were suppose to be returned to the orphanage over a week ago. Hermano Pedro has not heard a thing from Luis’s mother. I am praying that she is no longer drinking and is now able to take care of her son but have fears that she once again simply did not bother to return him to the orphanage. Tomorrow Chris is going to give a phone call to a friend of ours who lives in the same town as Andrais. Please pray that what ever the outcome is that it is in the best interest of this little boy.

Yours in Christ: Dick