* 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)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Journal May 10-18

(Click on any photo to enlarge)
Sunday, May 11, 2008

Yesterday, I did not think that I would be able to go to Church this morning because we had a group of 9 therapy students and their teacher arriving at the airport early this afternoon, but Chris felt that he could squeeze them into one van so I did not go along to the airport today to pick them up. Six kids showed up for breakfast and 5 of them came along to church with me. Calin has not wanted to come along to church the last 2 times but will not tell me why. I think that I will give it some time because right now he does not want to discuss it.

Just before leaving for Church I received a phone call from Angelica’s family. Angelica is the elderly lady that broke her leg when she was struck by a motorcycle several months ago. Even though Hermano Pedro has undone most of the damage that the national hospital caused when putting an incorrect plate into her leg, she has not fully gotten rid of an infection that she got as a result of the bad plate. Today’s call was to inform me that her infection has gotten worse and her family was wondering if I could arrange for her to see a doctor at Hermano Pedro. I had gotten a phone call from Ronny’s family the day before telling me that the batteries that were in Ronny’s wheelchair had gone bad. When they called I told them that it would be over a week before I could do anything about it but since Angelica had to get in to the doctor I decided that I would head down to the coast after bringing the kids home from Church. Needless to say before bringing them home we stopped off at Camperos and had lunch. Fernando asked if he could come along to pick up Angelica and I told him that it was OK with me. I must have not made it clear that I was speaking only to Fernando because before I know it Calin and Cesar were also climbing into my car.

Before picking up Angelica we stopped off at Ronny’s house. Two of the kids in Ronny’s family have the chicken pox but they do not seem to be very sick from it. The new baby is doing fine. Fernando and Calin fought over who could hold him. All of Ronny’s entire family is extremely happy with their new home. We would have liked to visit longer but still had to pick up Angelica, her husband, and granddaughter and get them back to Antigua so I pried the baby away from the boys and we were on our way.

Angelica’s family loaded my car up with coconuts when we got to their place. It seems that every time we go there I come home with a carload of fruits and vegetables. Tomorrow Angelica will see a doctor at Hermano Pedro and hopefully he can do something to take care of the infection that is in her leg. After getting her checked in to Casa DeFey the boys and I stopped off for some supper and then headed for home.

There were more kids when I got home but they did not stay long because I have to get packed up and be at the wheelchair shop by 5:30 AM.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, May 12, 2008
Well we are on the road again. After loading up some wheelchairs and supplies at the shop Chris, Hanna, Saul, and I headed to Guatemala City. Once there we picked up the group of ladies that had arrived from the USA yesterday. They are staying at a Christian facility in the City. We then headed to an orphanage that is located in the City. This is one of the orphanages that we supply with wheelchairs and it had been far too long since our last visit. We spent several hours there repairing and replacing wheelchairs. We plan on going back there on Wednesday afternoon as well. About 5 of the teen-age kids from this orphanage have attended our camp in Chimaltenango for the past several years so it was great to see them again. Gustavo, one of the boys has become a favorite of many of us. Even though he cannot walk and has almost no hand use he is always happy. His speech is nearly impossible to understand but Ludwig, one of the other boys can understand him perfectly. For several years I have wanted to put Gustavo in a power wheelchair but the mother superior that runs this orphanage told me that since some of the hall ways are narrow and at time crowded with manual wheelchairs she felt that Ludwig’s power chair was the only one that she wanted there. I know what a difference a power chair would make for Gustavo but have to abide by the mother superior’s decision. That does not mean that I had stopped praying that the mother would perhaps change her mind some day. Gustavo has a home that he goes to about 4 days a month but up until today I have never met the family that he stays with. When we arrived at the orphanage this morning the lady who’s house he goes to was at the orphanage. She is a very caring person and she thinks a lot of Gustavo. Hanna interpreted for us as we visited. I told this lady that I was certain that even though Gustavo can barely talk I know that he was extremely bright. She told me that she did not have to be convinced of that. I then shared with her that I had worked with Gustavo at our last camp and that I was fully convinced that even though he cannot use his hands to operate a power wheelchair I was sure that he would have no problem driving a head controlled power chair. I told her that the mother superior was worried that he might hurt him self or one of the other children while he was learning to drive it so she felt that it was best if he did not have one at the orphanage. Gustavo’s mom did not need even a second to think things over but told me immediately that there would be no problem if we wanted to bring one to her house and that she would be more than happy to work with him on the days that he was there. I am wondering if the mother superior has the orphanage bugged because the next thing I knew see was right there beside us. She quickly reconfirmed her felling about having the wheelchair at the orphanage but said that she had no problem with it if Gustavo had kept one with this family. I thanked her and told her about Byron and his head controlled wheelchair. I explained how much it has improved his life but I also told her that he could be a rascal at time so there were occasionally days that we would have to take him out of it for the day. She then looked me in the eyes and said, “You know I guess that it would improve Gustavo’s life to have a power wheelchair. I guess as long as there is a way to turn it off if he is misbehaving we could go ahead and give it a try here at the orphanage once he learns how to drive it.” I told Gustavo who was listing to every word that it may be a few months before I got the opportunity to build up a head controlled chair but just knowing that he will get one will be enough to keep him smiling for a long long time. We worked on wheelchairs until noon then the orphanage fed us some lunch. After lunch we packed up and headed for Chechecastenango. We plan on returning to the orphanage in Guatemala City on Wednesday afternoon but have a wheelchair distribution in Cheche on Tuesday.
The drive to Cheche was quite an experience for those who were not used to the Guatemalan stile for driving. Fact is it was quite an experience for all of us. They are doing a lot of road construction on a good deal of the highway and in several places traffic would be stopped for up to an hour. Long lines of trucks, busses, and cars would form and once they opened that section of road back up it was a free for all until you got to the next section of road that would be closed a few miles up the road. The busses were the worst often riding your bumper so closely that all you could see in your rear views mirror was their license plate and a section of their grill if they still had one. These were some of the tamer buss drivers the braver ones would stay in the opposite lane passing on blind corners and hills. When they would meet oncoming traffic they would swing back into their own lane paying little attention to the cars that were along side of them. Some of the more insane drivers wouldn’t even pull over but would simply run the oncoming traffic off the road. I kept wondering what would happen if they met another buss driver that was as aggressive as the were but fortunately it did not happen this trip.

Tonight we are staying in a motel in Cheche. It is nothing overly fancy but it is clean and the beds look reasonably comfortable. I guess there is no way to know for sure just how good the beds are without trying them out so I guess that I will do that.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, May 13, 2008, 7:57 PM

Last night we made arrangements with the restaurant across from our motel to open at 7 AM so that we could eat and be at the wheelchair distribution that we were having only a short distance from here. Both George, who I was rooming with and I decided to set our alarms for 6 so that we would be sure to get up on time. This morning when only George’s alarm went off I told him that I was thankful that we had both set alarms because mine remained silent. After having a shower and getting dressed I looked at my watch to see how much time we had before going to breakfast. When George got out of the shower I showed it to him. He looked at his clock gave me a silly grin and climbed back into bed. I didn’t because I was now wide awake. I guess when you are sleepy and setting your alarm 5 AM and 6 AM look quite a bit the same. Any way they evidently did to George.

We had a great distribution today. We only gave out around 35 wheelchairs but many of the people that received them were children who needed specialty wheelchairs so had it not been for the fine group of therapy students that we had with us it would have been an all day job. Not all of these students have had a lot of hands on experience seating wheelchairs but they know what to look for and are eager to learn. Rather than setting up a seating station of my own I helped out the 4 groups of therapy students whenever they ran into a problem. I must admit though that their problems were few and they turned out some well fitting wheelchairs. As much as I enjoy seating wheelchairs it was fun to be able to spend at least some of my time watching some of the others interact with the people that came in for chairs. May of the people that came in today came from villages that were several hours out. Several families knew no Spanish but we had plenty of interpreters that helped us out. Chris had left from home early this morning and Pastor Juan who speaks the native language came along with him and shared a message with the people, in their own language.

This afternoon Chris and some of the others headed back to Chimaltenango. Saul, Hanna, and I are spending the night here in Cheche with the group. Tomorrow we will take them back the Guatemala City where we plan on finishing up on the wheelchairs that need repair or replacement that are in the orphanage that we visited yesterday. So far it has been and looks like it will continue to be a busy week. This is a fun group that we are with though so we are having a good time.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

We left Chichicastenango at around 8:30 AM. Once again there were a lot of construction delays along the road and the buss drivers were as wild as ever but we managed to get into Chimaltenango by lunchtime. Since this group is an especially adventurous one and willing to eat what ever is set in front of them, we took them to Martha’s for lunch. The kids and I eat there a lot but it is not a place that we take all of our visitors to. This group enjoyed both the food and the atmosphere, as this is a restaurant where many of the working people of Chimaltenango eat. Nothing fancy but the food is good and no one that I have ever taken there has ever gotten sick.
After lunch we headed to Guatemala City where we finished up on seating the wheelchairs that we had started working on 2 days ago. Gustavo was one of the first to greet me. He quickly reminded me that he had been given the OK to have a power wheelchair. I assured him that I would not forget. Once again everyone chipped in and even though several of the kids were fairly hard cases we finished up at around 5:30. We could have perhaps finished up a bit sooner had it not been for the fact that I let some of the kids from this orphanage help me work on several of the wheelchairs. They were every bit as enthusiastic about helping me as the kids from Hermano Pedro are. Even Julio who has very limited hand use loved it when I put his hand on the wrench with mine and we tightened some bolts that were on one of the wheelchairs. I wonder what it is that makes most kids that never get much of an opportunity to work love it, and many adult that have the blessing of having a job, wish that they did not have to go to work. I guess that it has something to do with the magic of being a child. Since I love what I am doing so much I wonder if perhaps I am going through my second childhood. Oh well I’m not going to worry about it. That would be something that only a mature adult would do. Before leaving Gustavo once again reminded me about the power wheelchair. I once again promised him that I would not forget but reminded him that it would be some time before I could get a head controlled chair built up for him. I had originally told him that it would likely be several months before I could get to it but knowing what it means to him I am going to see if I can get one set up sooner than that.

I didn’t get back home until around 8 PM but was discovered by a half dozen of the kids right away. The reception that I got made me think that perhaps I had been gone from home for more than 2 days. I love the groups that come in from the States and the distributions that we do but I sure miss these kids when I am gone. Since I had already eaten I let the kids cook for themselves tonight and they were fine with that as long as I stayed in the room and visited with them while they cooked. I’m afraid that having the only hot shower in the neighborhood had cause the kids not to shower while I was gone because most of the kids decided that they needed one. I don’t know who set up the rules but some one evidently decided that if you got out of my outside bathroom as soon as you got out of the shower the next person could get into the shower all the quicker. Perhaps this was not a bad idea but I must admit my yard resembled a nudist camp for a while.

(No Photos!!)

Well all of the kids have gotten dressed and left, or simply left, and it has been a long day and we have a full day scheduled for tomorrow so I am going to head off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, May 15, 2008, 9:30 PM
After stopping off at the shop and picking up some supplies and several wheelchairs Chris, Hanna, Saul, and I headed towards Anini. Chris took most of the supplies in his pickup truck. Saul and I both took cars so that we could pick up the 10 therapy students that have been working with us all week. We did not have a lot of wheelchairs that needed replacing at the Anini orphanage but some of the kids that needed new wheelchairs were difficult cases. One girl in particular took one of the seating teams the entire day to get seated. It was well worth the effort though because she looked 100% more comfortable by the end of the day then she did when we arrived.
I was tempted to stop off for a quiet supper once I dropped everyone off but remembered how happy the kids were to see me last night and decided that it would be nice to get home and see them. I didn’t feel much like cooking supper though and knew that it would not be fare to ask the kids to do the cooking since they had been so good about doing it last night, so I stopped off and bought a barbequed chicken. Along with a large loaf of bread and lots of refried beans all 11 of us left the table well satisfied. I planned on getting tonight’s Journal written earlier but all 10 kids have taken turns at asking me to either help them with home work or put on a band aide. First things first so that is why I am going to close for now and spend some time listing about all of their exciting activities of the day.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, May 16, 2008,

This morning Saul, Fernando, and I went to Guatemala City and picked up the 10 therapy students that have been working with us all week. We then went to Hermano Pedro, but unlike all of the other orphanages that we have gone to this week we left our tools in the cars. This was going to be a fun day with the kids. After giving the group a tour of the orphanage we checked out 9 of the teen-age girls and took them to lunch. I had been promising them that I would take them to lunch for months but every time I tried to schedule it something seemed to prevent it from happening. These girls are patient though, and they were still as excited to go out for lunch, as they had been when I first promised them that I would take them as a group. The group from the USA was wonderful with the girls and even though several of the girls from the orphanage could eat nothing more than liquids from baby bottles their enthusiasm was that of having received a steak dinner.

After returning from lunch we spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging out with some of the other kids from the orphanage. I was also able to get most of the gang up into the malnutrition ward to see the kids that are there. Most of the kids have improved, but Milton does not seem to be doing much better. He still runs fevers part of the time and even though he is eating the continual muscle spasms that affect his entire body seam to burn up more calories than he can take in through eating and his feeding tube combined. I pray that if he does not make it that the people from his town do not develop mistrust in what we and the people from the clinic, who brought me to his home are trying to do to help these families. I know that In Julio’s case many neighbors came over to his house after his family allowed us to take him to Hermano Pedro, and told his parents that they would never again see their child alive. Praise God they were wrong and the large number of approving neighbors that showed up at his home when we returned Julio there 2 months later confirmed that they now trusted us. I pray though that we will never stop stepping in to help if we believe that there is a possibility that a life can be saved, no matter what the repercussion could be. I am quite sure that if the Good Samaritan had stopped to ponder what the negative results might have been, he to would have found reason to pass by on the other side of the road.

At around 4:30 we said good-bye and then took the ladies shopping for the next 10 hours. Woops, I guess that it was only for an hour or 2 but to me it seemed like 2 hours. At least this group did not spend their money on a bunch of cheep junk. They seemed to have better taste then most groups that we take shopping so they bought expensive junk.

Well it is getting late and I have to be up at 5:00 AM so I will once again say goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, May 17, 2008, 8:13 PM

I just now got back home after being gone since 6 AM. Calin’s turn to come along with me today. Unlike yesterday when Fernando came along with me, today there was a legitimate reason for school to be out. It is Saturday today. As far as yesterday was concerned it was likely preparation for Saturday, yesterday. This was another one of those put on lots of miles days today. After driving to Guatemala City and picking up the 10 ladies that have been with us all week. Saul, Hanna, Calin, and I brought them to Santiago, which is about 3 ½ hours from the city. Due to all of the construction that is taking place on the Pan American Highway we decided to take back roads all the way. The scenery was spectacular but the roads were not. Most of the roads in Guatemala are steep and curvy but this one has to be right up there in the top 10. One minute you are climbing up a hill that requires first gear just to make it to the top, and the next minute you are going down something just as steep, praying that your breaks did not overheat. The main purpose of today’s trip to this town that is on the lake was to look at ladies legs and feet. I guess that I better explain. A friend of ours runs a senior center in Santiago and a lot of elderly people show up there daily for a meal. For many of those that come it is the only food that they will eat the entire day. The therapy students that accompanied us and their instructor decided to hold a foot care clinic there today. I must admit I was a bit skeptical when I heard that they wanted to travel all this way just to wash and massage people feet and to cut their toe nails, but what a neat ministry. The elderly people that came to the center loved it. Getting a little special attention from some one who was willing to spend time with them seemed to do wonders. Most of them talked nonstop while the ladies worked on their feet. It didn’t seem to matter that none of us understood a word that they were saying. Yes, we had several people in our group that could speak Spanish but most of these people only spoke their native language. Most of them were so delighted that not only did they shake hands with and hug those who worked on their feet but even those of us who were simply observing got our fare share of hugs and thank yous. The Ladies finished up at around noon and then we when to a restaurant that overlooks the lake and had some lunch. After lunch the group walked down to the part of the village where 650 people were buried alive by mud slides 2 ½ years ago. I told the group that I wanted to be on the road for home by 3 because this was not a road that you wanted to travel after dark. I guess I should have said 2:45 because when the ladies got back into the 2 cars they discovered that they still had 15 minutes to do some shopping. Fortunately I had allowed a margin of error in the 3 PM departure fearing that this might happen so even though the 15 minutes ran into something more like 45 we still managed to get off the narrow winding roads before dark. I am afraid that I hurried them to much though because instead of taking their time to buy expensive junk they bought the typical cheep junk. Perhaps there friends and family members back at home will be fortunate though because there is always the possibility that these gifts will be lost or stolen before they get to them.

It has been another great week but it has been non-stop. Next week there are no groups but everyday is booked up with something and then starting on Sunday we have 2 groups coming in back-to-back.

Please pray that God will continue to give us His strength.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

Philippians 4:13
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Yours in Christ: Dick


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home