* 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)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Journal March 23-28

(Click on any photo to enlarge)
Sunday, March 23, 2008

This morning 6 of the kids came along to church. After church 3 of the kids came along to lunch. The 3 kids that did not come along to lunch were brought back home by choice, not theirs but mine. Hopefully missing a meal will teach them that they have to behave in Sunday school. It seems that they have targeted one kid out to give a hard time to. Why? He reacts, and they love it. Right now there is no regular teacher in Sunday school. About 3 or 4 people trade off each Sunday and that is no good, especially when you are teaching a rather large group of boys. Please pray that they can find someone who is willing to teach this class on a full time bases. Please pray that it is not me. I really value this one hour spot each week where I can be in church and not be the one that is fully responsible for these kids.

When we returned home from lunch 2 of the kids that were returned home early came to the house and asked if they could come in. I told them that was no problem. Shortly after coming in they told me that they would like something to eat. I told them that was a problem. I explained that they had missed out on lunch because of what they had done and since I was not a short order cook they would now have to wait until supper, which by the way was going to be a much smaller meal than the big meal that the other boys and myself had just eaten. A short time later Jason, who had been the biggest problem at Sunday school came to the house. He told me that he was sorry for the way that he had acted and wanted to know if he could come in. I gave him a hug but no food. As I have mentioned before, had I known that raising kids was so much work I would have gotten married and had only a few to raise. The rest of the day was spent at home. Some of the kids played. A few of them helped clean the house and wash my car. Three of them spent a lot of time watching the clock and wondering what time we were going to have supper.

Calin has decided to spent the nigh. Abner was going to but has not returned from asking permission from his uncle and aunt. It may have something to do with my telling his aunt why he was brought home right after church today. She is a fair lady and I know that he will be back soon.


Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, March 24, 2008

Today John Ferral, who is here from Florida, and Benjamin, came along with me to see several people. Our first stop was at Ronny’s new home. Ronny has been feeling a lot better since he started taking the antibiotics that the doctor prescribed for him. He, his younger brother, and 3 of his sisters are once again back in school following a one week Easter vacation. I have promised that I will take each of them that has a good report card to the beach in a week or 2. I think that the word has gotten out to a few of their cousins as well because there are a lot of kids asking about it. I don’t think that I will take any more people than last time though because over 21 people in one car may be a little crowded. I guess that I could use our 15-passenger van because if my car can hold 21 there should be no problem getting 35 or 40 into the van. Our next stop was only a few hundred feet away. This was at the home of Ronny’s uncle and aunt. They and their 6 children live in a rusted out tin building that had it been in the USA and not here in Guatemala, it would have been condemned even if it were being used as a pig sty. We talked at length with Ronny’s uncle about the prospect of attaching 2 of the prefabricated houses that John supplies. Since the family is one of those rare ones that has both parents living at home it does not fall into our normal category of people that we furnish homes to in the respect that it has no one who is handicapped nor is the mother a widow. Much like Ronny’s father, this father also works in the sugar cane fields. During the 6 or 7 months of harvest he works 12 hours a day 7 days a week. Unfortunately his wages are so low that there seems to be no way for him and his family to ever live in anything other than the tin shack that thy call home. When we talked today we told him that we would look into supplying the house if he could put in the cement floor. It is always healthy to have the people that we are helping out to do as much as possible in helping out both financially and physically but we never want to make it impossible for them or have them go hungry just to hold up their end of the bargain.

I have been asked on several occasions weather or not there is ever jealousy between neighbors or relatives when one of them gets a house and the other one doesn’t. I have heard that in places like Africa that all of the villagers are happy and celebrate if some one in the village gets a new home. All I can say is, “This is certainly not Africa.” I know that it would be nice to help everyone but that is impossible so that leaves us with 2 choices. We can turn our back and help no one, or we can pray that God clearly shows us who to reach out to. Please pray that God gives us wisdom concerning this.

Our next stop was at the clinic that had told me about Julio and Milton. We only stopped off long enough to tell the director of the Clinic and the Doctor that we would be coming back that way in a few hours and were wondering if they could inform Milton’s mom so that she and Milton would be ready to go back to Hermano Pedro with us. I wanted to have them stay in Antigua tonight so that they could be at the door of the orphanage by 6:30 AM. tomorrow.

Next we went to visit with Julio’s parents. We were hoping that we could find someone who lived in Julio’s village who could put in the cement pad at the house will be built soon. Although after talking with Julio’s mom it was decided that we would wait until Chris has the opportunity to come down and talk to Julio’s dad. It sounds like there may be another one of those jealousy things going on between brothers.

Milton's mom was standing in front of her house waiting for us when we got there. She had Julio all cleaned up and wearing his best clothing. He was not feeling well though and cried the entire 2 hours while we drove to Antigua. After getting them settled in to Cassia Defay John, Ben, and myself went and had some supper. Yes I still had to cook dinner for the troops when I got home but I got to do it on a full stomach.

Well all those that are going home have gone so I am going to say goodnight to the 2 that are here and then head off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, March 25, 2008, 9:43 PM

I had Milton at the front door of the hospital at 6:30 this morning. Even though we were there a half hour before they opened we were far from the first ones there. A long line of people had already gathered. I am not usually a line crasher but compared to where Milton and his mother are from, the air was very cold and Milton felt like he had a fever. No one said a word as I carried Milton to the head of the line with his mother following close behind. I told Milton mom to stay right there while I went and found a blanket to put Milton into. By the time I got back a few people had crowded in front of her but she was still near the head of the line. By the way it looked I honestly think that several of the people who were standing in line would have given Milton their place in line if need be. A few ladies who were standing near by even stroked his head and spoke to his mother. It wasn’t all that long ago that here in Guatemala, only rarely would some one strike up a conversation with the parent of a handicapped child. Milton’s mom also shows a lot of love for her son. I have a feeling that if we can get Milton healthy again his parents may very well decide that they do not want him to stay in an orphanage the rest of his life but only time will tell.After about an hour wait we go to see the doctor. After talking with Milton’s mother and examining Milton he told us that he agreed that Milton should be admitted into the malnutrition ward but told us that he was running a fever and it was hospital policy that no one with a fever can be admitted into the malnutrition ward until they no longer have a fever. This may sound like a strange rule but there are many kids there that are very fragile and exposing them to something that could possibly be contagious could be a death sentence to them. The doctor firs suggested that I take Milton over to the National hospital for some tests to determine what was causing Milton’s fever but then agreed that we could have the tests done at Hermano Pedro. He told me that once the tests had been made I would have to take Milton back home until all of the results were in though. He promised me that when he got the results in a few days that we could bring Milton in to malnutrition provided he no longer had a fever or that he had nothing contagious.

I have not been taking many of the orphanage kids out to Camperos lately because I have been busy with other things, so today I decided to take advantage of the fact that I was there. I could not find any other volunteers to help me out but decided that one kid was better than none. Gaspar has been asking me for a long time to take him to lunch so I decided that I would take him. He was thrilled but I can’t say the same for several of the kids that watched us leave. Moises who has just returned from home took it especially hard that I had not invited him. He was already having a bit of a hard time since his family just returned him to the orphanage this morning and watching me go out of the door with Gaspar was almost more than he could handle. It was little consolation to him when I promised that I would do my best to take him tomorrow. He would have much preferred going today. What kid wouldn’t?

By the time we returned Milton’s mom told me that he had finished with all of the lab work. So we were soon once again on our way towards the coast. On our ride home Milton was much less vocal than he had been the day before. He spent most of his time sleeping and even when he was awake he did not cry. Milton’s mother also seemed to be a lot more relaxed. I think that just knowing that her son is finally getting some help has been a big relief for her. In her eyes I could see that she had a lot of love for her son although 3 years of not being able to do anything for him had taken it’s toll on both her and her husband.

Four hours later I was home to more kids. I was tiered but knew that they needed a bit of my time as well. Even though I had a lot of work to do I put it on the back burner for about an hour and played soccer with the kids. An American adult against Guatemalan kids is far from a fare game but the kids took it easy on me and even allowed me to score 1 or 2 goals to each of their 10.

Most of the kids are gone now. There are still a few asleep on the floor. I am to tired to wake them or to even figure out who they are so I guess that I will leave them stay there until morning.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Today we received the first container of supplies at Hope Haven’s where house in Antigua. Lord willing before to long they will start manufacturing children’s wheelchairs there. Hopefully they will be able to manufacture not only enough wheelchairs to supply Bethel Ministries need of children’s wheelchairs here in Guatemala but they will also be able to ship them to other countries in central and south America. Today’ container not only contained wheelchair supplies but also several more house kits for needy families here in Guatemala. There were also materials that a California Rotary club had provided for collecting rain water. About 10 of their members showed up to help us unload the container. Golf Coast supply, who provides the houses had also sent us 80 water filters. These are an answer to prayer. Back in October after a several hour hike into the mountainous area where Antonio, a 10 year old boy that had returned home after spending several months in the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro Lived, I had mentioned in my Journal the need that hundreds of people in that Area have for clean water. Antonio who weight only 21 pounds when we brought him in to Hermano Pedro had returned home because he had gained a lot of weight and although his health was not perfect the doctors felt at that time that it was good enough that he could be reunited with his family. Unfortunately when Carlos and I visited his home back in October we discovered that poor living conditions and bad water had taken its tool and Antonio was once again doing poorly. Chris and I are making plans to contact the leaders of Antonio’s aldea so that we can arrange a day that that several of the villagers can meet us at the trail head so that we can carry in 40 to 50 water filters. It is to late to help Antonio because he died a few months ago but perhaps these water filters will keep Antonio’s brothers and sisters and other children in his village from dying needlessly. Thank you John, Jeff, and the rest of the Florida crew for responding to a need that you recognized.

I helped unload the container for about a half hour but then realized that there were so many willing and younger hands that wanted to help that these older hands were only getting in the way. That is when I asked some of the people from the group if they wanted to see the orphanage while the others sweated and got sore muscles. It did not take a lot of coaxing to come up with 5 volunteers who were willing to let the others tire themselves out while we went and visited the kids. Actually this being the first time in an orphanage for most of those that came along may have been harder on them than unloading the truck single handedly because emotionally the orphanage is not always the easiest place to be. All of them handled it well though and even though it was hard for them they were all glad that they had come along.

Our timing was perfect because we arrived back at the where house as the others were just finishing up. It was about 3 PM and none of us had eaten any lunch so it was decided that everyone would meet at the Camperos that is located on the west side of Antigua. As I got into my car to drive to Camperos I remembered the promise that I had made to Moises yesterday as I was taking Gaspar to lunch. I knew that there was a rule that any kids that were checked out of Hermano Pedro had to be back in by 4 PM but in the 8 years that I have been there they have allowed me to fudge on that rule from time to time. After explaining over the phone to the group that was on the other side of town why I was not going to be able to join them for lunch, Moises, Byron, and I were on way to a different Camperos that is located about 4 blocks for the orphanage.

Even though I had already eaten the kids at my house reminded me that they had not. With everyone’s help it was not long before the table was set and they were all wolfing down on ham and cheese sandwiches. This was followed by a soccer game in the front yard than some homework and then goodbyes. Every time I tell the kids that I am going to be gone for even one night they act like it is going to be for a year. After reassuring all of them that I would indeed be back because this was my home they were finally willing to go. A few of them asked to stay the night but I told them that it would be hard enough for me to get just myself out of bed at 1:30 AM.

Chris and John are stopping by at 2 AM so that we can drive to Cobon and meet up with the group that helped us unload the truck today. They didn’t leave for Cobon until about 5 this evening but should be there before 11 PM. I guess that I better close for now because by what the clock is saying they have already been to bed for about an hour.

Good Night:

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Well I made it to bed just before midnight. My head cold is still bothering me so I spent about an hour and a half trying to get to sleep. After that I no longer tried to sleep because my alarm clock was ringing. Chris and I had to take turns driving to Cobon but neither of us fell to sleep behind the wheel.
The trip was well worth it though because the California Rotary club that helped us unload the container yesterday had taken on a massive project in 3 aldeas that were located about an hour and a half out side of Cobon. They had gathered enough money to supply over 2 hundred homes with water. Up until now all of the villagers have had to walk any where from a half hour to more than an hour to the nearest river to get their water. Not only was this a lot of work but also the river water was making a lot of them sick. Today 4 large trucks carried in enough 450 gallon water tanks and steal roofing to provide each and every family with a rain collecting water system. The road was not exactly designed for semi trucks so one of them gut stuck for a few hours but eventually we all made it into the first village. Even though we arrived much later than expected the villagers were still waiting for us. The dirt road was lined up with all of the people that lived there. All of them were dressed up in their best close and many of them had signs that were welcoming us to their village. After being introduced to the village leaders we were taken to one of a few houses that had been given one of these water systems about a year ago. They had built these as an experiment to see if a 12 foot by 12 foot slightly pitched roof could collect enough rain water to supply a family with enough water all year around. The family that we met quickly had us convinced that this was a wonderful idea and that it indeed worked well in this region of Guatemala. Here near Cobon they get a lot of rain and even see rain about once every 4 or 5 days during what we consider the dry season. The family that we visited told us that they had never run out of water since the system was built about a year ago. The father then took us inside of the house to show us the new water filters that that each family who gets a water system receives. He went on to tell us that up until they started using the water filter the family continually had health problems. He told us that now they were all healthy. Although many of the people, especially the kids, dress less traditional than many of the villages that I have been in they are still very Mayan in their life stile. There is no electricity in the village and up until now there was no water. Hardly anyone knows Spanish, even the children that attend school speak their native tong.

The next several hours were spent unloading trucks demonstrating how to set up the rane collectors and eating a big lunch that the villagers had prepared for us.

We got back to Cobon at 4 PM by 4:15 I was asleep. We set our alarms for 7 so that we could go and get something to eat than headed straight to the motel. I did a few paragraphs of my journal when we got back to the motel but I got to sleepy to finish up on it. That is why today’s journal is being written tomorrow.

I can not say good night because it is actually tomorrow afternoon. Wow it sounds like something from Time Machine. Anyway that’s all for now.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, March 28, 2008, 3:12 PM

It really is Friday. I just now finished up on yesterday’s journal so it is now today.

By 5:30 AM I was pretty much rested up although had my alarm not gone off who knows how much longer I could have slept. Today’s drive was quite uneventful but John, Chris, and I had a great time of fellowship together. On our way through Guatemala City we dropped John off at the airport. We know that he will be back soon but we will miss him. He is a true brother in Christ.

I made it into the house before the kids got out of school so I am trying to finish up on my journal before they realize that I am here. I am not sure that it is working though because some one has been knocking on the gate or ringing the bell every 5 minutes. Perhaps they are just checking to see if I have gotten back home yet, but judging by how much they are knocking I am afraid that they may have had a well hidden spy somewhere out side of my gate

I guess I still did not get enough sleep because as I was writing the last paragraph my eyes got to heavy to stay awake. I figured that a short nap wouldn’t hurt so I laid down on bed for a few minutes. Next thing I knew it was 6:00. What woke me up was a phone call from Chris. He told me that he had just been awaken from a 3 hour nap by a phone call from the doctor at the clinic that is near Milton’s house. The doctor had called to say that Milton is now over his fever. I had spoken with Hermano Pedro earlier today and they told me that the results of Milton’s test had indicated that he had a noncontagious infection and that the medication that they gave him should take care of it so it looks like we can go there and pick him up and get him admitted into malnutrition on Monday.It has been another busy week but we have met a lot of interisting people and have seen a lot of positive things happening. God is so good.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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