* 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)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Journal May 25-31, 2008

(Click on any image to enlarge)
Sunday, May 25, 2008

Eight of the kids came along with me to church this morning then we all went to Martha’s Cafe and had a big lunch. Calin once again stayed home so after church I sat down and talked with him. He told me that the reason that he has not been coming along to church is because Abner has been bugging him a lot lately by calling him names and hitting him some. Funny thing is Cline is twice the size of Abner but is not nearly as aggressive. Abner picks on a lot of the kids. He seems to take great pleasure in seeing how much he can frustrate some of the other kids.. I have found that Abner likes to pick on the kids that complain the most. Fernando is one of his big targets because Fernando hollers the most when he is being picked on. I am not quite sure what to do about it but I think that it is time to sit down and have a good talk with Abner. The only problem is he will think that I am picking on him and even though he picks on others he cannot stand it when he thinks that some one is not treating him fairly.

After bringing the kids home from Church I headed down to where Steven and Sheryl Osborn live. The have moved their orphanage to a beautiful wooded area that is located just this side of Guatemala City. All 50 of the kids that they have are very well cared fore. Dave Penner, who is a friend from the States, his 2 daughters and 5 of their friends who are medical students, have been staying with Steve and Sheryl for the past few days. and they were now going to come to Chimaltenango to work with us for a few days.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Today we had another wheelchair distribution here in Chimaltenango. Close to 40 people, many of them children showed up for wheelchairs. The 9 people who joined us from the States enjoyed working with us as we fitted each person into a wheelchair that was carefully adjusted for their specific needs.

Two cases that stand out in my mind were a little girl that Chris fitted into a wheelchair and a little boy that I fitted. Both children were quite severe so we carefully picked out chairs that had all of the necessary bells and whistles to make these children as comfortable as possible. There was only one problem with each of the wheelchairs though. Evidently each of the wheelchairs had previously been owned by individuals who had one leg that was longer than the other so a section of the seat had been cut away to accommodate for the shorter leg. When the men that work at our wheelchair shop run across wheelchairs like this they are suppose to put in a different seat because the CHANCES of the person that this chair is going to be given to having one leg shorter than the other are slim to say the least. Today when Chris and I picked out these 2 chairs we chose them not for the staggered seats but because the rest of the chairs looked perfect for each of our children. It was not until the kids were put into their wheelchairs that we noticed that both of our children had legs of unequal length. My little boys left leg was about an inch shorter than his right one. Chris’s little girls right leg was 2 inches shorter than her left leg. Both chairs fit the children perfectly. CHANCE? If so I am going to start playing the lottery. This was another one that you can chalk up to GODINCIDENCE.

We finished up at around 1 PM and then after a quick lunch our 9 guests, Calin, and myself went and bought some groceries for the 3 families that we wanted to visit today. Calin gets out of school at 12 so as soon as he got home he took a tuke tuke across town to meat up with us. I had asked him to come along so that he could interpret for us when we visited these families. Our first stop was at the home of Maria, the lady whose husband was killed when he was run over by a truck last year. Dave was especially excited to see her because he had been instrumental in getting the funding for the pig that we had purchased for her. We also visited with and gave groceries to her sister and her family. Both families were happy to see us and thrilled with the groceries. Maria’s 2 older children are now attending school because of some financial help that we have given the family and they are doing well. I promised to return with some shoes the next time I visited though because theirs are worn out. As I looked around at our group and noticed that nearly everyone was holding or visiting with one of the children I could not help but think about those first few visits that we made to these families only a few short months ago. Back then most of the children ran and hid when we showed up. One little girl inparticular would always run away screaming when she saw us. Today Dave was holding that same little girl in his arms. She had come running to him when he held out his hand to her. All to soon it was time to say good by and head back to Chimaltenango.

We had one more family to visit when we got back into town. This was the lady who had a son and 2 daughters one of which was blind. Up until a few months ago she and her 3 children had lived in a small dirt floor shack right next to the homes of Maria and her sister. About 2 months ago she and her children moved into Chimaltenango because they had nothing and she felt that perhaps the chances of finding work were better in town. A few weeks ago Calin, who had talked with this ladies daughter in school, took me to see this family, who lived in a boarded up room of a deserted building. Today we returned with some food for them. The girl that had told Calin where they lived greeted us outside of the building and led us up a flight of stares that led to the room that her family lived in. As we walked into the unlit room with the boarded up windows we found mother in bed with a fever. She told us that she gets fevers often and had been in bed since yesterday. Her little boy was lying in bed by her and her blind daughter was sitting on another bed that was in the room. When mom saw the groceries she thanked us. She told us that she and her children had been without anything to eat for quite some time. We gave mom some medicine and I told her that if she is still felling sick in a few days that I would get her in to Hermano Pedro to see a doctor. Before leaving we had prayer with her and her children.

The group wanted to have supper in Antigua this evening so I ran home to get cleaned up after dropping them off at their motel so that they could do the same. I had intended on taking 1 or 2 of the kids along to eat but several of them started arguing with me over whose turn it was to come along, so I made a hasty executive decision. As I drove out of the alley waving good bye to all of them they stood there with a look on their faces that told me that perhaps they will not argue with me next time.

When I got home from supper none of them were waiting at my gate. They have obviously come to an agreement to boycott my place. That has happened before. In fact one time they all stayed away for a whole 10 minutes. Woops, there goes the doorbell. No new record. That one only lasted 6 minutes. Guess I better go and let them in for a while before heading off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Today we went to Hermano Pedro and spent the entire day with the kids. After giving the group of premed students that were with me a tour of the orphanage we spent the rest of the day loving on the kids. This of course included taking 9 of them to Camperos. Today we took a mixture of teen-age boys and younger kids out to eat. The group that was with me did great with the kids and everyone had a great time. On our way back through the park we got a little to close to one of the fountains and one of the less mature adults decided that it would be fun to splash a little water on a few of the kids. That is the last time that I will do that because I got it back twice as good. With the help of the group of premed students several of the kids got close enough to the fountain to retaliate. Fidel who was driving his foot controlled power chair really got me wet when he put his foot into the fountain and then kicked water all over me. The only problem with it was that the foot he used to splash me with is also the foot that he drives with. It must have been the water that ran from his leg to the controller because something shorted out in his wheelchair and it went dead. Boy did I pay for my foolish act of splashing a little water on the kids! Not only was I wet but I was going to have to explain to the nurses at the orphanage why several of the kids were wet as well. Not only that but I now had to push Fidel’s power chair all the way back to the orphanage and then repair once we got there. That was if we did not get hung before leaving the park because when we looked around at some of the people that had gathered around to see what all the commotion was about there were a few of them that looked as though they thought that we were picking on these poor defenseless kids.

As it turned out Fidel’s wheelchair sprang back to life about an hour after getting him back to Hermano Pedro. All it took was a bit of time for things to dry out. This afternoon I managed to get the group up into the malnutrition ward. We even managed to take a few of the kids out side and so that they could get a breath of fresh air. Milton seems to be the only one who is not improving. He continues to run a fever, is loosing weight, and they have moved him back into isolation. I went in and held him for a while but he hardly responded. The hospital has run all kinds of tests on him but cannot seem to find what the problem is. I am afraid that he will not be able to hang on much longer. His parents finally came to see him a few days ago and I think that they are aware that the hospital is doing all that they can but that their son is in very bad condition. They are considering taking him home as soon as he is off from some antibiotics that the hospital is giving him. I hate to say it but perhaps that would be for the best. At least that way he would be with his family.

At around 4:30 I took the team back to Guatemala City where they will be doing some things with Steve Osborn for the next few days. From there I headed straight to the airport where I was suppose to pick up several people who were coming in from Iowa, and New Jersey. Their flights were late so most of the people that I was picking did not arrive until close to 10 PM. That was when a group that Chris was picking up also arrived. It was midnight when I got home so it has been a long day. That is why I am saying, “Goodnight.”

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, May 28, 2008, 9:11 PM

This morning 25 of us got into 4 vehicles and drove to Coban. After about 6 hours we arrived here.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, May 29 2008, 8:03 PM

We just finished up with a big wheelchair distribution here in Coban. Over 60 wheelchairs were fitted and given out to people that have needed them for a long time. 20 of the people that received wheelchairs today were children most of whom have up until today never owned a wheelchair. The team from Iowa that is with us really took to working on wheelchairs and everyone enjoyed themselves.

We had taken 2 power chairs along for the distribution because we had 2 applicants that had written down that they needed them. Before leaving Chimaltenango, Chris and I had looked over the application form of a 13 year old boy and questioned weather or not he truly needed a power chair but finally decided that since we had one that was the size that he needed we would at least take it along with us, but if we felt that this boy would do all right in a manual wheelchair we would not give it to him. Upon seeing him today we both came to the conclusion that even though this boy would undoubtedly be in a power wheelchair if he lived in the USA he had enough strength in his arms that a Manual wheelchair would work out for him. I guess that old saying (The squeaky wheel gets the grease) is true though because a very persistent mother convinced us that her son really needed this wheelchair to get to and from School. After seeing how excited her son was once we got him seated into the chair we were happy that he got it but still feel bad that we do not have the man power to maintain many more power chairs and thus have to say no to so many people who’s lives would be enriched by one.

We finished up at around 3 and some of our group went and explored some nearby caves. I was one of the party poopers that stayed back at the hotel. Tomorrow we will head for home. The group that came along with me in my car would like me to take them home on back roads. We will have to wait and see what the weather is like in the morning though because it is raining this evening and if it continues through the night we may have to stick to the paved roads.

Calin just called to see when I would be back at home. He and the other kids know how important these distributions are and that being gone from home part of the time is necessary but they still hate it when I am not there.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, May 30, 2008, 8:58 PM

It was a rainy drive back home from Coban so we stayed on the paved roads but all went well. Instead of heading straight home 5 of us headed for Antigua. One of the members of our group was an American doctor, and he told me that he was willing to look at Milton and at the man in Antigua who has the badly infected leg. He, 3 others and myself went to Antigua while Chris, Donna, and the other members of the team stayed in Chimaltenango and did some shopping for a food distribution that we are going to have tomorrow. Our first stop was at the orphanage. Before seeing Milton I showed my 4 guests around and introduced them to several of the kids. After that we went up to malnutrition to see Milton. Milton is doing no better and after the doctor examined him he said that there is little that we can do for him. I am afraid that I will have to take him back to his home in a few days but we are still praying for a miracle.

Next I went and found Father Bernardo. I told him that I had a doctor with me that was willing to go and see the man that he had taken me to see who had the highly infected leg. Father Bernardo told me that he had mass at 5:30 and wondered if I would get him back to Hermano Pedro in time. I told him that I would do my best but could not promise anything. He said that he felt this man’s life was more important than making it to mass so he would come along and if we were late we were late. When we got to the man’s home he showed us his leg. As I had suspected the doctor told me that the leg was going to have to be amputated if the man wanted to stay alive. He looked at the other leg, which is also infected, and told me that it could be treated. The treatment that he prescribed was much like the treatment that I use when treating bed sores on other patients so I promised that I would return with the proper medication and bandages and then show one of the family members of this man how to treat his leg. The next step will be to find a doctor that is willing to amputate the leg. I am hoping that some one at Hermano Pedro will do it but it sounds like the last time this man saw them they sent him home without doing much of anything. I have seen several hospitals do this with patients who are so severe that they have a chance of not making it even though there is still a strong possibility that the surgery can save their lives. Please pray that we can get this man the help that he needs. We managed to get Father Bernardo back to Hermano Pedro in time for mass, but while we were at the home of the man with the infected leg Father Bernardo kept reassuring us that it was OK to take our time because he felt that this man’s life was more important than anything else. Before heading for home we stopped off and had supper at a nice restaurant in Antigua.

Even though I got home quite late Calin has discovered me and he is spending the night.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, May 31, 2008Calin and I met with the group at Camperos, then after breakfast about 22 of us headed to Tecpan where we met up with Pastor Elmer and his family. Pastor Elmer lives in Tecpan and knows a lot of needy families there. He and his wife took us round to meet several of them. Many were widows with large families, some were people that had been injured in accidents, or paralyzed in shootings, and all were hungry and hurting. Going into dirt floor homes that were no bigger then some of their walk in closets was quite an eye opener to our American friends. I am sure that seeing around 20 Americans in their homes had to be a bit frightening. Many of these people seldom receive visitors yet alone American visitors but they all seemed happy to see us. Thanks to the diligent work of pastor Juan and his family most of these families were already Christians although one man accepted Christ while we were at his home today. It was a moving experience to be able to share Christ’s love with these people by giving them food, visiting, and praying with them. Many of the adults that are with this group from Iowa have brought along some of their children and they are praying that what their children have experienced during the past few days will have a lasting impact in their lives. These kids have great and much like their parents they have pitched right in with helping out with the wheelchair and food distributions, and what ever else we did. After the food distribution part of our group went to see some Mayan Ruins while others of us went to another aldea and put up a swing set. On our way to the aldea we stopped off and picked up 3 more of the kids that hang out at my house. Tomorrow we plan on taking the entire group to the orphanage. Some of the things that our visitors see may be a bit hard on them but I have a feeling that they will be interacting with the kids at the orphanage in no time at all.

Well I have several kids here in my house that are hungry for a little food and lots of attention so I am going to close for now.

Yours in Christ: Dick

What Would Jesus Do?


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