* 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, June 27, 2008

Journal June 22-27

(Click on any photo to enlarge.)
Sunday, June 22, 2008

This morning only 4 of my neighborhood kids came along to Church. On our way there we stopped by the orphanage and picked up Moises. He spent the entire day with us. During the service I kept waiting to be called out of church by the Sunday school teacher of the older kids but I guess Kevin kept his promise to me and did not let anyone see the white rat that was hidden under his shirt. After Church we all had pizza at Piccadilly’s with some friends and then went and played around on the hill that overlooks Antigua. When I got home I sent all of the kids home so that I could finish up on my journal and get it onto my web site. That was an extra chore considering that my Internet service is still out. Thankfully I managed to sneak off to Camperos with out being spotted by any of the kids and managed to get things finished while I sipped an ice tee. The waitresses didn’t seem to mind that I occupied a booth in the corner for 3 hours. I guess as often as I am in Camperos with the kids they figured that I had paid my rent. Several of the kids showed up when I returned home so we all played soccer for a while.

I seem to be getting a bit better at keeping my weekend journals short but I sure hate leaving out all of the funny things that happened during the day.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, June 23, 2008, 7:42 PM
Today Calin and Fernando accompanied me to Hermano Pedro. Since there is no school the entire week (?????) the kids are going to take turns coming along with me. I probably should have thought things over and taken some one else because these 2 kids are my easiest and I would be more likely to need easier ones as the week progresses. I thought about taking Abner and Etiline along tomorrow but decided that both of them at once would do me in for the entire week. The boys and I were hoping to be able to swim with the orphanage kids this morning but they never do pool therapy with the kids when it is the least bit cool. Even though it felt rather warm out it was perhaps for the best because I had to work on getting 10 of the teen age girls signed out for lunch. I think that the hardest part of doing this is deciding who gets to come along for lunch and who stays back with tears in their eyes. In fact since only 8 volunteers were joining us I was originally going to sign 8 teens out. All it took is one look at the faces of 2 of the girls that were not on my list and both Calin and Fernando offered to help out with pushing their wheelchairs to Camperos. About 15 minutes before we were scheduled to take them out it started to rain. This was not a little shower but one of those heavy rains that usually last for several hours. I told the girls that were going to help take the teens out that it looked like we were going to have to cancel because there would be no way that the nurses would let the teens go out in the rain. They told me that they didn’t think that the rain was going to be a problem because they were all praying that it would stop by the time we took the girls out. I felt that since I was the one that lived in Guatemala that I knew the weather better than them but I said nothing. 15 minutes later as we were taking the 10 girls to lunch I was glad that I had kept my silenced because I always have a problem digesting humble pie. It is always a lot of work getting all of this organized but if you could see how excited each one of these teen age girls gets when they can leave the orphanage for a few hours you would agree that it is well worth it. This was a first time experience for the 8 girls that volunteered as well but they did great with the girls from the orphanage and everyone had a great time. When we got back to the orphanage I took a few of the volunteers up to the malnutrition ward for a short visit and then spent most of the afternoon working on wheelchairs.

Still no Internet tonight but I think that we are making progress. After, I don’t know how many phone calls to my internet provider they are finally convinced that I am having a problem and agreed to send someone out to investigate what is wrong within the next 24 hours. I think that if I said that my Internet has worked half the time the past few months I would be exaggerating. I know that no one in the USA would put up with that but here it is the only show in town.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, June 24, 2008, 10:27 PM

Yesterday the pastor of my church phoned me and asked if I could take a teem that is working with our church through the orphanage this week. Since I was planning on being there anyway I told him that today would work out fine. We decided that since the group was a rather large one that half of them would come this morning and half this afternoon. It made for a busy day but a fun one for all of us. This group had a lot of young people in it and they all made friends with the children in a very short time. Since the weather looked a bit threatening we decided not to take any of the kids anywhere, but this certainly did not dampen anyone’s spirits. Both groups ended up spending most of their time at the orphanage simply loving on the kids and the kids loved it. Lately it has been more difficult to show new people through the malnutrition ward but to day I was told that I could take groups through as long as they didn’t pick up an of the kids. That may sound like a strange rule but I understand why it is there. Some times people come in and pick up one of the kids for a minute or so and them put them back into their crib and pick up another child who they do the same thing to. By the time they leave they have picked up and held a dozen kids and most of them are crying their eyes out from being put back into their cribs so soon. Once we did the walk through the girls sat down in a fenced in area just outside of the door and I brought out a few of the kids for them to hold. I purposely took out kids that I knew, so that we would not end up with any that would cry when I returned them to their beds 15 minutes later. Let me rephrase that. I tried my best to choose kids that in the past let me put them back into there beds with out having them cry. Today’s average was about 50%. The nurses seamed to be OK with it though. If not I will hear about it tomorrow.

This after noon was a repeat of this morning with the only difference being that it was the other half of the group from our church I showed around the orphanage, and the other 50% of the kids from malnutrition that turned out to be the criers.

I some how anticipated that tonight’s group of kids that were going to show up at my house was going to be a bit larger than usual so I picked up 2 roasted chickens and 2 loves of bread at the grocery store. Some how the 2 loves and the 2 chickens managed to feed all 15 of us but there were was not a crumb left when we had finished supper. One of the neighbor dogs even got into my garbage can and finished off all of the bones.

Calin is spending the night. His mom has set a new record because she has been separated from Calin’s step dad for over a month now. The other 3 times that she moved out on him this year they were back together within a week. Knowing this man and the grief that he has caused Calin’s family I cannot help but hope that this time the separation is final. Tonight I got a bit of a lump in my throat when Calin came up to me, put his arm around me and asked me if I could adopt him.

Well it is getting late so I will once again say goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

After going to the wheelchair shop and picking up 4 new wheelchairs and a bunch of parts I returned home and met with the man that came to repair my internet. This was his second visit in as many days, and about his 6th in the past few months. This time he seemed baffled as to why it was not working. He told me that perhaps my modem was burned out and that he would bring a different one tomorrow but asked if he could use my phone to call the Turbonet headquarters in Guatemala City to make sure that they had a new one there. When he got off the phone he told me that I did not need a new modem because the problem was not at my house but that last week they had accidentally turned off my Internet at the headquarters in Guatemala City. You would think that they would have checked that out before sending some one 30 miles 2 days in a row to fix a problem that did not exist but I shook his hand and thanked him for getting me back on line.

After getting that problem solved I headed to Hermano Pedro with Abner and Alex. I had a lot of wheelchair work to do so I told them that if they did a good job I would pay them. These 2 are not 2 of my most self-motivated kids but with continual coaching they helped me get 4 of the teens into new wheelchairs. A few weeks ago some one gave Hermano Pedro several wheelchairs that are nothing more than plastic lawn chairs with a light weight steel frame that has wheels attached. I wish that the person that thought that these made decent wheelchairs would have sat in one for a few days. All but 2 of the young men that received one of these so-called wheelchairs had already chosen not to use them any more. The 2 men that were still in them after 3 weeks had sore backs and their legs were hurting from not being able to reach the non-adjustable bar that was suppose to serve as a foot rest but it was either use them or stay in bed. Today with only a little coaching my 2 12 year old neighbor kids were able to properly seat these 2 men and 2 others into properly fitting wheelchairs that will now give them comfort instead of pain. After lunch Abner and Alex played with the orphanage kids while I worked on some more wheelchairs.

Some girls that are staying with Chris and Donna for a few days asked if they could treat the kids that hang around my house to pizza tonight. Since bad weather and broken windshield wipers had prevented us from having last weeks pizza party, the kids and I were all for it. Fact is even if last weeks Pizza feed had happened as planned we still would have gone for it. You have to remember I have my kids trained to believe that going out to Taco Bell is like going out to a gourmet restaurant and that Burger King is a health food store. I did not get a head count but I know that 8 large pizzas equal 64 pieces of pizza, and that a few people got left out of having a second piece. It was a lot of fun though and the rain held of long enough that moat of the crew was able to eat out side. I sort of wish that the soccer game that followed would have been rained out though because I was out of new windows. Oh well I guess that I will have to wait a day or 2 to replace the 2 that were broken.

Bryan and Kevin who just started coming along to church a few weeks ago told me that they had relatives visiting so there mom wanted them to find some where other than their own home to sleep at tonight. I found this hard to believe so I had Fernando phone their home for me. To my surprise they were telling the truth, their mom had asked them to stay somewhere else tonight. Since they knew almost no English I had Fernando stay as well. Kevin’s pet rat stayed here as well but much to the dismay of both Kevin and the rat, it is spending the night in a box instead of roaming around my house. The 3 boys have no school tomorrow (?) so I told them they could stay up for a while longer. I am heading off to bed though.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Had I known that the kids were going to set the alarm for 5:30 I may have reconsidered my offer to let them spend the night. I had told them that I had to head to the shop at around 8 so they wanted to get up early and play before I sent them home. Either they played quietly or I was extra tiered because the next thing I knew it was 8 AM. How I slept through 3 kids playing in the house is beyond me but I did. After getting them fed and out of the house I headed of to the shop to help Alturo work on a power wheelchair that was having some problems. Just before lunch I went to Hermano Pedro and met with a friend for lunch.

I think God puts things in our path for reason even if we can’t figure out what that reason is at the time. Not until today did I know that stinky feet would be one of those things. I have mentioned in my journals from time to time that when some of my kids remove their shoes at night the smell is so strong that it actually makes my eyes water. There has even been a time or 2 when the wind was right that I could tell that they had taken their shoes off even though they were at their homes and I was at mine. Today I realized that God had simply been preparing me for what I was about to do. Last night I received a phone call from the family of the man who lives in the back of a small bakery, that Father Bernardo had taken me to see a few weeks ago. Last week a medical teem from the USA went in with me to see this man to determine weather or not his leg could be saved. The doctor that examined it determined that there was a possibility that the leg could be saved if someone was willing to go in and replace the dressings at least once a week and make sure that any dead tissue was removed every time the dressings were changed. I had thought that my EMT days had pretty much ended when I left the Mt. Baker Ski Patrol many years ago, but moving to Guatemala has proved me wrong. Last night the man’s family told me that even though it had only been 6 days since his leg had been treated, the smell was getting intense so they wondered if I could come and change the dressings. When I got to their home I discovered that they were write about the smell but fortunately it was not any worse than Abner’s feet. So I made it through the hour ordeal of changing the dressing and removing some dead flesh with out losing my lunch. Before putting on new bandages the man’s mother cleaned his leg with soap and water while I got a breath of fresh air. After his leg was cleaned up I examined it more closely and saw that it was looking much better than it did just 6 days ago. I honestly think that there is a possibility that it will not have to be amputated. Before leaving we had prayer with the family and then the kids mobbed me. I don’t know if they simply like Americans or if they are relieved that something is being done for this man but I certainly got my share of hugs. Pat Duff who had come along with me to interpret got her share as well. Some of the adults in the house were crying and they thanked us over and over again. We reminded them that it was God that was doing the healing and that it was His love that we were sharing. I was able to say that with the utmost confidence because I know that it was only by God’s power that I was able to work on this man’s leg with out getting the least bit squeamish.

Yesterday I told the kids that since we had chicken 2 nights ago and Pizza last night that I would not be making dinner tonight. Funny thing though how 2 or 3 kids who are standing at your gate asking for food when you get home can quickly make you give in and find them something to eat. It is also funny how the word gets out and by the time dinner served the numbers have doubled. Oh well 6 dinner guests is still a lot less than the 30 + that were here last night.

After dinner I set my foot down and told the kids that they had to go so that I could get a bit of work done. That lasted all of 5 minutes because I received a phone call from Chino. He told me that he had a school assignment due that required the use of a computer. How can you say no to a teenager who wants to do home work? I told him that he could come over as long as he came alone and worked quietly because I had a lot of computer work to do myself. With in a few minutes he and his younger brother, Elder were at my door. Chino apologized for taking Elder along but explained that their mother was not at home and there was no way that Elder could stay home by himself. He told me that elder would be ok if he stood outside where Chino could keep an eye on him through my window. Ya right! Besides that it only took a few minutes to find something that Elder could do quietly. After that I managed to get a bit of work done but only a bit because Chino notified me that my printer was not going. A half hour later the printer was going and 10 minutes after that Chino had finished his school assignment and he and Elder were out the door. Now for some peace and quiet. This time the silence lasted for 6 minutes. I had forgotten that I had promised 4 of the kids that had not brought their report cards along with them last night that if they brought them over tonight I would take a look at them and if their grades were good I would let them choose a small toy from my rapidly dwindling supply. I know adults that can decide on a new car and do the necessary paper work in less time than it took these kids to decide on which match box car they wanted but an hour later they were on their way home with the prized treasures that they had earned for doing a good job in school. This time I didn’t even get the gate closed behind them than Calin, Abner, and Fernando showed up. They asked me why I had told them that I was not allowing any kids in the house tonight but everyone that they had talked to had been here. I was to tired think of a good answer so I invited them in. I am heading off to bed. They have promised to turn off the lights and lock the door after getting something to eat.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, June 27, 2008, 4:46 PM

Abner and Fernando evidently found their way out of the door last night but I found Calin fast asleep on me floor. It was not long before Fernando was back as well. I had promised both of them that they could come along to Hermano Pedro with me this morning. We had to be there by 9 AM because there was a YWAM group showing up that I had promised to take through the orphanage. The group consisted of mainly married couples that had children of their own. Seeing some of their kids that were the same age as the kids that they had at home was almost more than a few of them could take. One lady said that her 2 year old weighed more than 9 year old Alex who is having a rough time recovering from pneumonia. This group did great with the kids though and they quickly discovered that their loving arms meant far more to the kids than some toys that they had brought for them. When it was time for them to leave a few of them asked if they could join Fernando, Calin, 3 of the orphanage kids and myself for lunch at Camperos. It only took me a couple of minutes to get a few more kids signed out. Today we took some of the more able bodied kids so after lunch they had the time of their lives playing on the playground equipment at Camperos. It used to be a real struggle convincing some of these kids that we had to put them back into there wheelchairs and take them back to the orphanage when it was time to go but they are getting better at it. They have learned over time that Dick remembers who gave him a hard time the last time we went out, and they are starting to catch on as to why they are not invited along the next time that it is their turn.

We did not get back to the orphanage until after 2 PM so I decided that instead of working on wheelchairs we would head for home and I would try to get some of the work done that did not get done last night. So far so good, but then again it isn’t quite supper time yet.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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