* 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)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Journal July 20-26

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

The 6 kids that decided to call my place home last night all went sleep at around 11 PM. The rodeo that took place a few hundred yards from my house once again ended at around 3:30 AM. I was tired enough that I managed to sleep through most of it though.
By the time we left for church there were 10 of us. Jason did not show up to come along to church. The other kids had talked to him about the money that disappeared from church last week so I think that he is avoiding me. I guess that I will have to go over to his house and have a talk with him. It would be much easier for me to just forget about it but that would not help Jason out in the long run.
The nine kids that did come along to church did great though so I rewarded them by taking them to none other than Camperos for lunch. This was not my choice but theirs. After lunch we headed up to the cross that is on the hill that overlooks Antigua. The kids had lots of energy today so I let them run around for about an hour. On our way home I told them that they could stay at my house for about a half hour but then I needed some time to myself. That was at 3:30 PM. How was I to know that a cloud burst would move in at 3:55? It started to rain so hard that only some one who was extremely mean would send anyone out in it. Don’t think that the thought of becoming extremely mean did not cross my mind but I know that Guatemalan parents are libel to lynch someone who is responsible for drowning their children, so I told the kids that they could stay until the rain let up. How was I to know that this was not just a passing shower? Three hours later it let up enough that I managed to get the kids out of the door before it started up again. At least now I would at be able to tell their parents that it was not raining hard when they left my place. Now for some peace and quiet.
I guess if I wanted peace and quiet I should have turned off my phone because not 10 minutes later Calin, (who had not come along with me to church today) was on the phone. He told me that his Grandmothers house was bursting at the seams because his Aunt and her 3 kids had just showed up from Guatemala City and they were spending the night there. I had a tendency to believe him, partially because he stopped lying back when he stopped steeling, and I also know that besides this aunt that had come in from the city with her children, grandmother also houses Calin’s entire family plus another aunt and her entire family. It was not until he and a cousin had come over that I was told that his aunt and her kids had come to stay with grandmother because her husband had beat up on her ad broken her nose. Her little boy said that it wasn’t all that bad of a fight this time because about a year ago in another fight his father had broken her leg. No battered women’s shelters here in Guatemala. This lady is fortunate that she has a relative that will take her and her children in. In the majority of cases mom and the kids either put up with it or they end up on the streets.

Well that’s about it for my relaxing weekend so I guess I will head off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, July 21, 2008, 9:41 PM
This morning I headed off to Antigua. A group of about 20 people met me at the orphanage. After showing them around half of the group and myself took 9 kids out to Camperos. This was another great group that had no problem bonding with the kids so everyone had a great time. Not only did we play on the restaurant playground equipment after we ate but we also spent some time playing with the kids at the park.

Tomorrow we plan on having the group that went out today stay at the orphanage while those that stayed and helped out there today come along with about 10 of the girls from the teen section of the orphanage and myself. Even though taking all of these kids out is great and I know it is good for everyone involved, getting all of these kids signed out and then having the responsibility for that many kids can be a bit exhausting so when the group left at 3 PM I decided not to work on any wheelchairs as planned but simply hung out and visited with several of the kids. One of the newest ones is Veronica, a girl that we took along for lunch today. She just got admitted into Hermano Pedro a few days ago. Veronica is an extremely bright 8 year old but since she is unable to walk she has never been in school. Tomorrow I plan on seeing what we can do to get her into school. I know that much like it did with Sonia it will likely take a year or 2 before the staff at Hermano Pedro will ever allow her to go out to school so much like the 7 kids that Nanette teaches we are going to see what we can do about having someone teach her right at Hermano Pedro. As much as Nanette would like to take her she simply cannot add any more students to her list so we are considering hiring the lady that taught in her place after she had her baby. There are other kids that we would like to put into school as well but for now we will try to keep it down to Veronica and one or two others. We are praying that once we present this to those in charge at Hermano Pedro that they will give it their blessing.

Tonight only about 8 kids were over. After supper we all watched a video. The kids wanted to take a vote on how many people wanted to watch it in Spanish and how many wanted to see it in English. I was out voted 8 to 1. We watched the movie inn English. No, all 8 kids wanted to watch it in Spanish but I politely told the kids that it was my movie and my computer and if we were going to watch it at my house it was going to be in English. I figured that his was a good object lesson for any of my kids that happen to be studying about Guatemalan democracy.

Well the kids have all left so I am going to call it a night and head off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, July 22, 2008, 9:50 PM

Today was once again spent at Hermano Pedro. The first thing that I did was get all of the needed paper work made out and signed so that we could take 10 of the older girls to lunch. I can remember the days when some one could walk into the orphanage straight off from the streets and take a child out of the orphanage for the day with out as much as giving anyone their name but now the pendulum has swung the other way. Not only do you have to be signed up as a volunteer but every child needs a signature from the head nurse of their section, the Father superior, and from some one that is in the social work office. I am glad that they are more careful about who takes the kids out but some times getting the paper work done takes up more time than the actual outing that you are going on. I must admit though that after all of these years, even though I still have to go through the paper signing ritual, seldom does anyone whose signature I am getting even look at what they are signing. Once or twice I have gotten a raised eyebrow when I lightheartedly said, “Thank you I will make sure that I have them back in a week.” I figure that the Father superior can take a joke.

Before meeting with the other half of the teem of people that helped take kids out to lunch yesterday I met with one of the staff members of Hermano Pedro. She and I talked about the possibility of hiring another teacher. She told me that the father superior of is pleased with our class and thinks that Nanette is doing an excellent job with the kids, and is quite sure that he would allow it if we presented it to him. We went over and talked with Nanette to work out the details and she is in favor of it as well. I asked her if her sister in-law, who took her place for a month when she had her baby, would perhaps be interested in working a few hours a day. Nanette said that she would ask her and then gat back to us. If it works out we will have her teach the 2 new kids from 12:30 – 2:00 PM. Nanette is off during that time of day and her classroom is empty. We are also playing with the idea of having the 2 teachers work together with some of the students for about an hour each day but still have to work out the details. We also have to come up with the money to pay a new teacher but we are not going to sweat the small stuff. I am slowly learning over the years that if you act on faith God will be faithful.

Taking ten teen-age girls to lunch was an absolute blast. I think that they get even more excited than the little littler kids do about going out. The teem of people that came along and helped did great as well. I saw a lot of tears on both sides when we brought the girls back to the orphanage and it was time to say good-bye. Strange thing how that can happen when you had only met for the first time a few short hours earlier.

When we got back to the orphanage I took 4 of the members of this group up to the malnutrition ward. This time there were lots of tears when we had to say goodbye 30 minutes later. Several of the kids cried to.

I had supper in Antigua with Carlos before heading home. As much as I love kids I felt that I needed an hour or 2 visiting with an adult. Funny thing though since Carlos also spends a lot of time volunteering at the orphanage most of our conversation was about the kids.

While I was still in Antigua Marcos phoned me and asked what time I was going to be home. He sounded disappointed when I told him that it was going to be close to 8:00 before I got home. I told him to tell the other kids that I would make sure that I got home earlier tomorrow night though. I guess that he got the word out to most of the kids because only 4 kids were waiting for me when I drove up the alley to my house. They all headed for home a few minutes ago so I am going to stop for now and head off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, July 23, 2008, 9:42 PM

You would perhaps think that on the only day this week that I am not scheduled to take a group through Hermano Pedro that I would stay at home or at least go somewhere else. You would also think that if I did choose to go there I would at least take the day off from taking any of the orphanage kids to lunch. You would perhaps think that unless you had met these wonderful kids. Especially if you knew that one of them was a little girl who’s body has become so deformed that she can no longer sit in her old wheelchair. Then it makes staying at home for a day seems far too selfish. At noon I figured that since I was hungry and wanted some lunch I just as well have company. It was not hard to find a few other volunteers who felt the same way and in no time we, and 3 of the kids from the orphanage were on our way to Camperos. I had given some thought to fining another restaurant to eat at today but it had been 4 hours since I had eaten at a Camperos and I was starting to suffer withdrawal. There are actually a number of reasons that we go to Camperos more than any other place to eat, Camperos is located quite close to Hermano Pedro, the food is safe to eat, the waiters and waitresses are friendly to the kids, and last but not least they have a play area that the kids love. Once again after filling up on Chicken, which is about the only thing that you can get to eat at Camperos, we took the kids into the playroom. Even though none of the three kids that were with us today were able to climb the ladders to the slides by themselves it did not dampen their spirits. They had the time of their lives. Those of us that hoisted them up the ladders, tossed them down the slides, and caught them at the bottom had every bit as much fun. Watching the delight on their faces made us all feel like we ourselves were kids again. Although I must admit I have often been accused of acting like one even when there were no children around. Never the less I still rather be accused of that than having someone say that I am acting my age. Perhaps when I am 90 I will try to act my age but not at 61.

After leaving Camperos we let the kids do a bit of splashing in the park fountains and then we headed back to Hermano Pedro. I had been told by Jessica that they were working hard on keeping the nurses from putting most of the kids to bed at noon and leaving them there until 8:00 the next morning and I think that perhaps they are listening. To my surprise today many of the kids were taken out of their wheelchairs for only about an hour and then put back in them until around 2:00 or 3:00 PM before being put to bed until tomorrow mooring. Granted 17 hours in bed is still a long time but it is a start. We have only been working on getting the nurses to do this for 8 years. Now we can only pray that it does not take that long to convince them that it is not good to lye a child on his back and force feed them.

Most of my afternoon was spent in trying to get Evelyn fitted into a new wheelchair. I managed to get a foam backrest carved but was not satisfied with the chair that I mounted it onto. For now Evelyn will have to stay in bed but I will keep working on it until it is right.

On my way home I met with Chris at Burger king and we visited for a while. It is sometimes difficult to find the time to get together and just talk things over but we like to at least get together over a cup of coffee (or if you are a health food freak like me a piece of pie and a coke) to just visit and compare notes. Today we synchronized calendars on teems, distributions, and other activates and found that are our calendars rapidly filling up for 2009. One teem that was scheduled to be here next week has canceled so a wheelchair distribution that we had scheduled here in Chimaltenango for next week Friday will have to be postponed. I am sure that at this late of a date it will be impossible to contact everyone that was scheduled to come in for a wheelchair so we are going to make sure that anyone who isn’t contacted and shows up on Friday will receive a wheelchair.

After our meeting I went to the groceries store and stocked up on groceries. I even bought a barbequed chicken while I was there. One chicken was scarcely enough for the number of kids that showed up for supper but ketchup and mayonnaise helped fill up the empty spots in the sandwiches and the stomachs and several of the kids had a bowl of cornflakes for desert.

Calin and Daniel are spending the night tonight. I have a feeling that they will be staying over a lot more for a while. Mother has once again moved back in with step dad and it sounds like the house that they are staying in is a dump. I know of many families that live in substandard homes but add to that a step dad that is anything but friendly and it does not make being at home much to look forward to.

Calin has finished his homework and now he and Daniel are playing a game on the computer. I told them to turn off the lights when they go to bed, so I am going to say goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, July 24, 2008, 9:08 PM

Today I took a group of mostly physical and occupational therapists through Hermano Pedro and we took still more kids to lunch. Since many of them are used to working with children that have severe disabilities we took some of the kids that are more severe out to eat today. Some of the kids were able eat the normal chicken dinners that we usually order but for the 5 of them that have problems chewing and swallowing it was milk shakes and mashed potatoes. This unique lunch did not dampen the spirits though as everyone had a great time. Elmer had one little hissy fit and started screaming and crying but as soon as I picked him up and headed for the door he stopped crying. I guess he hasn’t forgotten the time that I brought him all the way back to Hermano Pedro without any lunch. I hate to always be the heavy but he is smart and catches on quickly. Much like Ervin the only reason that we don’t have him in school is because he acts up so badly when he does not get his way.

After lunch 2 of the therapists, a doctor who is visiting from the USA, Father Bernardo, and myself went to see how Cesar’s leg was doing. I had told him that we were coming so his mother had already removed the bandages. Cesar’s Leg does not appear to be healing as rapidly as it was when we first started treating it but it is improving. His mother is getting more and more at ease with changing the dressing and cleaning the leg so I told her that I am only going to come in every other time to check things out and peel away any dead skin. The therapists that were with us showed Cesar some exercises that he can do to help improve circulation. They also spent some time with his brother who is beginning to suffer from the same condition. His condition is not nearly as bad as Cesar’s but with out proper care it could be as bad in a year or 2.

After bringing everyone back to Antigua I headed for home. I made up my mind that I absolutely had to get some work done this evening so I was set to tell the kids that tonight was lock out night. How was I to know that there would be so many happy faces to greet me when I drove up my alley? Oh well there is always mañana to do my work.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, July 25, 2008

After showing a few people around Hermano Pedro the doctor that went along wit me yesterday and his wife, and 2 daughters came along with me to do some visiting. He had been in Comolopa about 30 years ago and wanted to see if he could find the family that he had stayed with while he was there on a 3 month training program. Since my kids had no school today (????) I stopped off at home and picked up Alex and Fernando. Abner wanted to go along until I told him that I was expecting all 3 boys to help me out by doing some interpreting. I guess that he somehow envisioned that this might come close enough to involving work because he decided not to come along with us.When we reached Comolopa I parked my car near the town square and we walked down some narrow streets in the direction to where David, (the doctor) thought he had stayed when he was here. Since things had changed a bit in 30 years he was unable to find the house where he had stayed but after talking to several people we were finally directed to the home of someone who at least had the same last name as the family that David had stayed with. When David showed some photos that he had with him to the lady that answered the door she began to cry. She told us that she was indeed a relative of the family that David had stayed with. She also told us that most of the members of the family had been killed during the war. We had a good visit though and she was delighted when David gave her the pictures of her relatives that he had with him.

Our Second stop was at Maria’s home. Fact is most of our stops were at Maria’s home. There are a lot of Maria’s here in Guatemala. This is the Maria who’s Grandmother used to bring her, her sister, who was also named Maria, and her brother Fedel to camp. Her sister passed away about a year ago and Fedel looks like he will not be around much longer. Grandmother who lost her husband and several of her children, including the parents of Maria and Fidel during the war had a hard time when we went into the dark unlit adobe house where Fedel lies dying. This poor woman has seen so much suffering in her life.

Maria has the small prefabricated house that we built for her a few months ago neat and tidy. The family is also proud of the bathroom that was built a few months before, and it was hard to convince them that we wanted to take a few pictures of them in front of some thing besides their new bathroom. Fedel has been bed ridden for several years now but when we said goodbye it was very likely the last time that we will see him alive.

After leaving Maria’s house we headed to where Maria lives. No we were not driving in circles, this was a different Maria. She is the lady who we built a house for after her husband was run over and killed by a truck several months ago. Her and her 4 children were delighted to see us. As they ran down to my car and through their arms around us I could not help but think back to a few months ago when most of the children ran away crying when ever I visited. Maria seems to be doing better every time that we visit. She still deeply misses her husband but is now able to smile and seems to be doing much better emotionally. Much like the other Maria that we had just visited she quickly asked my friends if they wanted to see her new house. We have not built her family a bathroom but she is every bit as proud of her new pig pin. We have been given some more money for her pig raising project so she is now looking for a second pregnant sow to buy.
I knew that her children and her sister’s children’s shoes were worn out so I had taken 2 large boxes of shoes that some friends had brought in from the states. I casually mentioned that after we had given these children shoes we would possibly be able to give a pair of shoes to other kids in the neighborhood that needed. Now let me tell you about this neighborhood. This family lives in the hills and although Maria and her sister’s house is a stone through from each other any other houses are a bit of a walk. Never the less the word got out and within 5 minutes there must have been more than 30 women and children at my car. Each and every kid that we saw was in need of shoes. Those that had any were wearing something that was more holes than shoes. We must have given out around 25 pare of shoes and I promised that I would do my best to get some to the children that didn’t get any today. The only thing that I regret was that I had not brought a large basin, some soap, and some water. The bad leg that I worked on yesterday didn’t even come close to smelling as bad as some of these feet.

It has been a good day but I am tired so I think that I will head off to bed. I am not sure just how much sleep I will get though because they are having 2 more days of rodeo only a few hundred feet from my house.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, July 26, 2008, 9:39 PM

It is the weekend. Today I took 3 of my kids to Antigua where we picked up 3 more kids at the orphanage. The 7 of us then headed to the zoo in Guatemala City. Tonight it feels like I am back at the zoo but then that is what my house is like most of the time and it would not feel like home if it were anything other than a zoo.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Journal July13-19 2008

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Sunday, July 13, 2008, 7:49 PM

This morning 8 kids came along with me to church from home. I figured that wasn’t quite enough kids since I only had 4 of them all night so we stopped off at Hermano Pedro and picked up Moises. I was glad that we headed out a bit earlier than usual because church was jam-packed. In fact there was standing room only until the kids were dismissed for Sunday school. I left for a minute to carry Moises to his class and when I returned my seat had been taken. I didn’t say anything to the man that took it though because he was wearing a gun. I guess I better explain. Our pastor and various mission groups that have been coming in the summer have been doing a lot of things with the Antigua Police department. Not things like getting arrested but good things like helping them learn English, (Using the Bible as their main text book). One group has even helped build a bathroom at the police station. Several of the policemen have now started coming to church.

After church the 10 of us went out for pizza. Now before any of you write me complaining that I fee my kids nothing but junk food. I want you to know that one of the pizzas had some vegetables on it. Had it not been so busy in the restaurant I would have asked the waitress to take it back and bring us the pepperoni pizza that we had ordered but we were all hungry and it didn’t take all that long for us to pick the vegetables out of it.

Since Jason and Abner had both come along I figured that I was safe in telling the kids that if there were no problems in church or Sunday school I would take the entire crew to the park that is about 15 minutes out of Antigua. How was I to know that they would both be good in church? Actually we all had a good time we played soccer for a while and then we went over to where they were giving horse back rides. Moises had been the only one who could not play soccer but after all of the other kids had taken a ride on one of the horses the man that owned the horses told me that he would let Moises a ride in front of him on one of the horses. I was a bit hesitant at first but didn’t want him to miss out on this activity as well so I said OK. When he had finished his ride I asked the man what I owed him and he told me that this there was no charge. Wow! It was not that many years ago when most Guatemalans would not get near a kid that was in a wheelchair. Kevin, one of the kids that came along to church today actually has lives with both of his parents, (A rare thing around my neighborhood) and his father has a job. He had some money with him so he and some of the kids stayed and rode the horses for a while others went over to the small swimming pool that is in the park and swam for a while. Jason must have held it together as long as possible because on the way back home he was once again being Jason. I think that he figured that he had it made because the fun stuff was over so now he could stop being good. When we got home I let him know that not only was the fun stuff over for the day but in his case it was not going to take place the next time I took the kids somewhere. Abner on the other hand did quite well. Other than hitting Cesar in the eye with a rubber snake that he had been holding out of the car window to scare pedestrians with, he did a good job of not making any one else cry.

This evening I made another run to the hospital. Some one is staying with Wendy all of the time because she is really getting stressed out with all that is going on in her ward of the hospital. There is no such thing as intensive care in this hospital so there are some pretty extreme cases in beds right next to hers. In the next bed over is a lady that is in critical condition who screams most of the time. This hospital is not a pleasant place to visit yet alone stay.

Well the kids are fed and all that are going ashore have gone ashore so I am heading off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, July 14, 2008

This entry may be a bit short or possible inaccurate because I am writing it 2 days late. Fortunately I took some pictures so that should help jog my memory as to what I did on Monday. Now if only I could remember what I did with my camera.

I once again received a 5 AM wake up call. Wendy’s sister Gladys was at the door. She told me that her mother had called from the hospital saying that Wendy had a rough night. Her Mom ssid that the doctor keeps increasing her pain medication and it is making her have the shakes, giving her stomachaches, and causing hallucinations. She wanted to know if I could talk to the doctor for her and see if all these pain medications were necessary. She also said that Alex had gotten sick yesterday so she was wondering if I could take him in to the doctor. I took a look at Alex and pretty much determined that he simply had the flue so I gave him something for the light fever that he had and convinced his mom that she should give it a day or 2 before seeing the doctor. As it turned out he was over at my house playing with the other kids a later this evening. I did go to the hospital but convinced mom that it would be better for her to talk directly with the doctor than for me to do it because she was family and also because the doctor know about as much English as I did Spanish. Calin had come along to interpret but I still felt that it would be better if I did not question the doctor’s judgment on Wendy’s medications. Guatemalan professionals have a tendency to get a bit upset with Americans that question their judgment, and American are known to have a tendency to question the judgment of Guatemalan professionals.

Since Calin and Abner did not have school today (?????) they came along with me to Hermano Pedro. It was raining so we decided to take Byron and Henry to lunch. Not because it does not matter if these 2 get wet but they are both light enough that we could take my car and simply carry them into the restaurant. Since we had the car we went to Piccadilly instead of Camperos. I cannot believe how friendly the staff there was to us. I think that the waitresses fell in love with the kids because they hung around our table most of the time that we were eating. Calin has also taken to Henry and the 2 of them have instantly become best friends. Even Abner did remarkably well and although he will probably deny it I caught him smiling a few times. When we got back to the orphanage we visited with some of the other kids and also fixed a few wheelchairs.

I received a rather disturbing phone call from someone that goes to our church this afternoon. An envelope containing some money was taken from the church yesterday. One of my boys had been seen looking at the envelope shortly before it disappeared. I cannot prove anything but I have a pretty good idea who took it. Fortunately it is not one of the kids that always hangs around here but I still feel bad about it. I am going to do a little more investigating before I speak with this boy because I want to be 100 % sure before I make any accusations.

Tonight’s supper crew was the smallest that it has been in months. Only Abner, Fernando, and Etiline showed up for dinner. I think that the rain had something to do with it but then again it could be my cooking. It seems we get a higher turn out when the kids do the cooking.

Well I guess I will go and take some Pepto-Bismol and head off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Today was a full one. After spending about an hour at the wheelchair shop finishing up on a different power wheelchair for Ronny, I headed in to Antigua and picked up Jessica and Luanne. We then headed to the coast to see a number of different people. Our first stop was at the clinic that I often visit. I had taken a Manuel wheelchair along for a lady that they told me about that had her leg amputated. While talking to the doctor and the male nurse I was told about an 8 year old girl whom they had seen a few weeks ago who was starving. They asked if there was any way that we could help get her into Hermano Pedro. I told them that Jessica was the head therapist there and that if any one could get her admitted into the malnutrition ward it would be her. Not 15 minutes later Luanne, Jessica, the nurse, the mayor’s wife and myself were heading to where she lived. When we got to the house the grandmother and mother of the little girl greeted us. The mother, grandmother, and a 3 year old girl that the mother was holding looked very skinny. The little girl was quite pale and sickly looking. We asked if we could see the 8 year old. The grandmother told us that we were to late. The girl had died last week. I have no Idea if she had other complications or simply died because this family could not afford enough food for her. By the looks of the other little girl I fear that it was the latter. Had only we known earlier. Since the other little girl is not as sickly as this one was the clinic is going to put her on vitamins and monitor her. If she does not improve we will try to get her into the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro. I looked over at the outhouse that is located about 15 feet from the families well. So many of these already underfed kids also suffer from continual diarrhea due to all of the parasites that are in their drinking water. I promised the family that I would return as soon as possible with a water filter and some parasite medicine. It is to late for the 8 year old girl but hopefully we can prevent any one else in this family from needlessly dying. As we were about to leave the Grandmother broke out in tears and Luanne quickly went over to her and put her arms around her. How hard it must be to see your family starving.

Next we headed back to the clinic and picked up another lady that works there. While we had been visiting this family she had been buying groceries for Julio’s family. I had been given enough money to supply him with food for several months and on the months that I cannot deliver it the clinic purchases the food and delivers it for me. As things worked out they had planned on going bringing the food in today but had we not shown up the lady that was going to bring it in would have had to ride a buss part way and then catch a ride with the next truck that went that way. I guess this was just another one of those GODINCIDENCES. Not only did the lady that purchased the groceries come along but also the nurse and the mayor’s wife decided to spend the rest of the day with us. Usually the Doctor closes up shop for an hour or 2 and joins us when ever I go out to see some one but today we planned on making a number of other stops so he decided to stay so that all of the people that were waiting to see him would not have to wait around for several hours. Julio’s family is now living in their new house. They continue to use their old one as well because there are 8 people in the family. I was sad to see that Julio although still 7 pounds heavier than when we brought him into Hermano Pedro has lost a lot of weight. He was up to around 30 pounds when he returned home but is now at 24 pounds. His mother told us that he is eating the food that we bring in and that they are using the water filter but he has had diarrhea for the past 2 weeks. We made arraignments to get him into the clinic to see the doctor tomorrow. If the Doctor feels that he should be placed back into the malnutrition ward we will go back and talk with his family.

We then headed cross-country on roads that were anything but that. It had to be at least 90 degrees out side but my passengers quickly learned how to put up their window whenever they spotted a puddle or small pond that covered the road. I personally thought that the splashing water felt good but the mud did got a bit sticky when it dried out on your face and arms. With the knowledge of the nurse who had been there before, the use of my GPS, and a few wide spots where I could get turned around we finally arrived at a village that I had never before been to. This is where the lady that needed the wheelchair that we had with us lived. When we got out of the car we were greeted by a man who was a few French fries short of a happy meal but he was not violent and only wanted to visit. There beside a small house was the lady that we had come to see. A boy who appeared to be her grandson quickly brought us some chairs to sit on and then brought some water for us to drink. We thanked him for both but did not drink the water. The Lady was glad to see us and thrilled with the wheelchair that we brought She told us that the wheelchair that she was in was borrowed and the people that had loaned it to her wanted it back. I can’t imagine what she could have done had they taken it away before we got this one to her. She was diabetic and had recently had one leg and several fingers amputated. After a short visit we left never finding out how old she was. We were told that neither her nor anyone in her family know what year she was born.

Next we headed to where Carlos lives. This is the little boy who’s mother wanted him in an orphanage because she could not stand to see him needlessly suffer from daily seizures simply because she did not have the money to buy the medicine that he needed. On our last visit his mother told me that she could not pay rent on the house that they were living in and today I was told that they had moved in with her parents. We didn’t have much difficulty finding where they lived and were warmly greeted by several children. A friend of mine recently offered to pay for Carlos’ medicine for a year, and after I got back home this evening I received a phone call from some deer people back in the states that offered to make sure that he will continue to get the medicine that he needs. We did not stay long because it was beginning look like rain and we still had one more stop to make.
From here it was only about a 10 minute drive to Ronny’s home. He and his entire family were setting out on the front porch of the new house that we had built for them last February. Mother was holding the new baby, who quickly got snatched out of her hands by some of the ladies. He is adorable, but I can’t help but be reminded that he has a 50 50 chance of having muscular dystrophy like his brother Ronny has. Ronny was quite disappointed when I told him that I was going to have to take his power wheelchair back to the shop so that we could completely go over it. I explained that it was simply braking down far to often and I wanted to figure out why. Ronny’s frown did not last for long though because a few of us went over to my car and unloaded an almost identical power wheelchair. Ronny was soon zipping around his yard and house. Papa the brought me Ronny’s manual wheelchair and told me that Ronny had not been able to go to school for several days because it had a flat tire on it. I sat down and explained that I knew that there was a man that lived less then a mile away that fixed bicycle tires and asked why he had not taken the chair to him. Father told me that the man only fixed bicycle tires and did not know how to fix wheelchairs tires. I then asked Ronny’s father why he fixed one of the tires for me when we were their building Ronny’s house a few months ago. He told me that the man fixed it because he thought it was a bicycle tire, but Ronny’s father still insisted that this man did not know how to fix wheelchair tires. I leaned over and with the push of a button removed the wheel and tire from Ronny’s wheelchair and handed it to his father. “There now we have a bicycle tire that needs fixing.” I said. Father nodded in agreement and told me that he would take it to the man in the morning.

A little straighter rout back home but it was still 8 PM before I got there. The groceries store had just closed so my kids did not get much for supper I didn’t hear much complaining though because unlike many of the kids that we saw today they seldom go to bed hungry.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, July 16, 2008, 4:16 PM

To make up for yesterday’s lengthy journal this one is going to be short. I had to put my car into the shop today for new brakes and tires. I stayed home and got caught up on answering e-mails and catching up on my journal. No one has knocked on my gate all day. The kids always look in through the cracks in my gate to see if my car is there before bothering to ring the bell. Since my car is not here they figure that I am gone as well. Boy are they going to be mad when they find out that I have been at home all day. I feel a bit guilty but it sure feels good to get caught up on a few things. I do miss them though so I am going to go out and let them know that I am home.

10:58 PM

I decided that since there were no kids in the alley when I opened the gate, that I would walk to the mall and get something to eat and then bring some groceries back with me so that I could feed the kids. By the time I got to the end of my alley a few of the kids spotted me and by the time I got done with my supper at the mall there were 6 of us. I still brought groceries home though, and it was a good thing that I did because another 8 to 10 kids showed up for supper shortly after I returned. Nancy tried to make hot dogs in my microwave but found out the hard way that microwaves are much faster than cooking on a stove. She also discovered that it is wise to take the cellophane off from the individually wrapped hot dogs before cooking them. This is the firs time that I have ever seen the neighbor dogs refuse to eat some thing that we had to throw out.

After supper most of the kids played games while a few others looked through a box of shoes and backpacks that recent groups have brought down. These boxes of black shoes and backpacks are a real blessing because many of the schools require them along with a school uniform. Here in Chimaltenango if the kids don’t have them they are not allowed to attend school. The government passed a rule in 1996 that public schools could no longer require students to ware uniforms but try telling the school principals that.

Well I guess I will get out of my wet close and head off to bed. Oh yea, just before they left for home the kids and I had a water fight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, July 17 2008

Another fairly short one tonight, unless of course you want to here about the house cleaning that I did today because my car was in still the shop. About the only exciting thing that I did was go to the bank and take out $900 so that I could get my car out of the shop. That may not sound all that exciting to you but making it out of the bank and then getting all the way across town with out getting robbed has not been all that easy for people lately. I m starting to wonder if these robberies are inside jobs because the robbers only pick on people that have withdrawn large amounts of money, and they seem to know exactly how much cash the person has on them because in several cases when the people that got robbed handed the robbers some of the money they counted it and then asked for the rest. Anyway I had Carlos drive me across town to get my car. I figured that lightning did not strike twice in the same place. Carlos was robbed at gunpoint after leaving the bank just last week.
The kids are pretty quiet tonight. They are watching some movies on one of the computers. I brought home 4 movies that I bought for about $.75 each. Three of them are pretty good quality the fourth look likes it was shot with a cheep cam-recorder from inside a theater. I would not have caught on until a baby started crying and the lady that was sitting in front of who ever it was that was filming the move stood up and walked out of the theater. All of this was caught on film. I guess the price and the misspelled titles should have given me a clue that I was buying pirated movies. I wander if being Dutch had had anything to do with the fact that I let my pocketbook get in the way of my conscious.

Gladys just came over and asked if I could take her to the hospital so that she could get some medicine to Wendy, so I better say goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, July 18, 2008, 10:43 PM

After spending a good part of the morning in the shop helping Altero get a stubborn power wheelchair going I headed of to Hermano Pedro. I got there just in time to sign Saul and Ervin out for lunch. Luanne, a lady that has been volunteering at Hermano Pedro for several weeks now, offered to come along with us. Saul who has been at Hermano Pedro for only a few weeks is one of the happiest kids that I have ever met. He is continually laughing and nothing seems to upset him. Ervin did really well again today. About the only ting that he did that allowed him to keep his nickname for at least one more day was bounce a dinner role off the top of the head of a lady that was sitting at a table near us. I must admit though that is the first time that I ever remember Monster (I mean Ervin) doing anything with his food other than devouring it. Actually that is what he does with any food that he can get his hands on weather it is his or someone else’s. After lunch we let the kids play on the playground equipment. Other than Saul wetting his pants and Ervin’s falling off while he climbed the ladder to the slide things went fairly well.

After getting back to Hermano Pedro I went and found Father Bernardo then he and I went to see Cesar (the man with the infected leg). Today father Bernardo was even more forgetful than ever and seemed to only use English when he was talking to Cesar and his family. They only understand Spanish. I on the other hand got a combination of Italian and Spanish with just a touch of Chinese thrown in for good measure. I guess that I can’t say much about Father Bernardo’s forgetfulness though because when I left home this morning I forgot my first aid supplies. I had left most of what was needed with Cesar so that I did not have to take it back and forth with me every week but unfortunately I did not have a scalpel. I shared this with Father Bernardo before we headed to Cesar’s house and he told me to follow him. Next thing I knew we were in the infirmary of Hermano Pedro and Father Bernardo was going through the cupboards looking for a scalpel. I told him that I didn’t think that we should be in there with out permission but he told me not to worry because he was the one that was going to take the scalpel and at 5:30 he had planned on going to church and doing confessions anyway. On our drive to Cesar’s home Father Bernardo told me about a friend that he met in a jail in California. I never did fully understand what he was talking about because he kept switching languages and after the scalpel incident I am wondering if he was in jle as a priest or an inmate.

Today it took about an hour and a half to work on Cesar’s leg. I took my time because the brand new scalpel that I was using was extremely sharp. Once again I was thankful for the kids that often come into my house and take of their shoes after having them on for several days. I think that it has numbed my sense of smell. Cesar’s leg continues to show signs of improvement and I am becoming more and more optimistic that it will not have to be amputated. Once again all of the kids in the family ran up to us and hugged us when we had finished. We then had prayer with the family and were also once again given some freshly baked bread to take home with us.

While I was in Antigua I received a phone call from Alex telling me that his sister was going to be released from the hospital today. He asked if I could pick her up and take her home but after I told him that it would be at least a few hours before I would be back home he told me that they would find someone else to do it. I only let the kids in for about and hour tonight because I wanted to get some work done on the computer. After finally convincing them all to leave I walked over to Wendy’s house to see how she was doing. Her burns do not look nearly as bad as they did when I saw her a few days ago and contrary to what I had been told she has not lost most of her hair. I honestly think that other than a few places on her feet that there will be little or no scarring. Tomorrow Chris is bringing a bed over for her. Most of the families here sleep several people to a bed so he is going to give her one that she can sleep in by herself.

Talking about sleep has given me an idea. Now if only the rodeo that they are having across the street would end I would probably be able to gat some. I have an idea that it is not a very good rodeo. Much like bands that play rock music, the worse the music the louder they turn up the speakers. I guess that I can always pray that the rodeo announcer looses his voice. Or I could hope for a power outage. We have not had one of those for nearly a day now.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, July 19, 2008, 9:37 AM

I didn’t wake up until about an hour ago. I did not fall asleep until about 3:31 AM. The rodeo lasted until 3:30 am. I am seriously considering finding a motel to stay at tonight. The rodeo is scheduled to go on for 4 more nights.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, July 11, 2008

Journal July 7-12

(Click on any photo to enlarge)
Monday, July 7, 2008

The entire group with the exception of one old fuddy-duddy took a 3 hour boat ride out on the lake today. This old fuddy-duddy had a bit of a headache plus the thought of having 3 hours completely to myself sounded wonderful. I managed to get on to the Internet while I was in solitude though only to discover that GODINCIDENCES can happen even when we are trying to hide from the world. The first e-mail that I opened was from a lady that runs an orphanage that I had visited a few months ago. She told me that they had recently taken in a 3 year old girl that weighed 7 ½ pounds when they got her. They now had her up to 11 pounds but since she had light CP and her back seemed to be going crooked she was in need of a wheelchair. Vicki, the lady that runs the orphanage asked me if there was any possible way that I could drive out to the town where they lived and see the little girl sometime. Here is where the GODINCIDENT thing comes in. The round trip to their town from Chimaltenango is normally 4 to 5 hours. It just so HAPPENED that the motel where we were staying was a bit closer to the orphanage than that. Would you believe we were less than a mile away from the orphanage? It was also FORTUNATE that I had checked my e-mail when I did because we were scheduled to head for home right after lunch. Anyway things WORKED OUT for good because we got to see the little girl and it will not be long before she will be receiving a wheelchair.

When we got home from the lake we all went up to Chris and Donna’s house and had pizza. We then had devotions and reflected on the wonderful time that we had while the group was here. I got home fairly late but a few kids still showed up. They have all headed for home now so I think that I will head off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, July 8, 2008
The group wanted to go back and see a family that they had built a house for earlier last week so before taking them to the airport we all headed there. They were quite surprised that the family had not move in yet but Chris explained to them that the house had not been blessed yet and Christian families will not move into homes until friends come over and pray with them and bless the house. So that is what we did and undoubtedly they will be moved in by tonight. I wish that you could see the smile on this mothers face. This house means more to her and her family than words can ever express.
After returning to Chimaltenango to pick up their luggage we brought the group to the airport in Guatemala City. All of them were eager to get back to the USA to see family and Friends but they also hated to say goodbye to people that they had not even known just a week and a half ago.

It had been several days since I had been to Hermano Pedro, so I decided to stop off and visit the kids before heading home. My intended short visit ended up being the entire afternoon. I didn’t do any work but simply visited and played with the kids. I even got to spend some time with Saul, a new boy that just came in a few days ago. He cannot walk and has some other problems as well but he seems to be a very happy boy and I think that he will adjust to orphanage life quite well.

Fernando and Calin went grocery shopping with me when I got home. I invited Abner as well but he was in a bad mood (Imagine That). I wish so that Abner could be happy more of the time but I think that he is mad at the world. He and several others showed up when we returned home and even though the 2 boys and myself had stopped of for some thing to eat, I got soft hearted (or was it headed) and fed the crew. After supper the kids all played American football outside. Actually the game originated in my house but I quickly convinced the kids that even though it was a nerf football something was going to break if they continued to play football in the house.

Calin and Fernando have decided to move in for the night. I told Abner that he could stay as well but he is mad that I didn’t take him along shopping earlier this evening. I guess that I should have held a gun to his head when he told me that he didn’t want to come along.

Well it is once again time to say Goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, July 9, 2008, 9:48 PM

Before heading out to Hermano Pedro I tidied up the house a bit and got my car washed. The car looks great but even though I got a lot of things put away the house still needs to be swept and mopped.

I had intended on giving Evelyn an new wheelchair today but another new kids was placed in the orphanage today and since he had a wheelchair at all getting him into a wheelchair took priority over replacing Evelyn’s present wheelchair. Henry appears to be around 6 years old and is extremely bright. He talks a mile a minute and although he has never owned a wheelchair he had the one that I gave him figured out fast. I may still put him into a lighter one because his arms are week and even though he knows exactly how to propel himself he does not have the strength to go very far. Moises and him quickly became good friends and Moises has already asked his teacher if Hennery can come along to class with him tomorrow. I have a feeling that once out teacher works with him she will want to keep him. In fact I was going to ask her if she wanted one more student but Moises beet me to the punch.

Four volunteers agreed to come along to lunch today so I signed out 4 kids. I would have signed out 5 but we had decided to take the 2 new boys along with us as well as 2 regulars so I decided to keep myself free in case the new kids had any problems. As it turned out the only problem that we encountered was getting the food into them fast enough. Even though this was the first time in a restaurant for both of them they enjoyed them selves and had a fun time. Ervin and Roberto had a great time to. Ervin is getting so much more well behaved than he was even a few months ago that it is nothing but a pleasure taking him out to eat. Roberto still enjoys wearing more food than he eats but he certainly had a great time getting covered with food from head to toe.

When we got back to the orphanage I did some more adjustments on the wheelchair that I had given Hennery this morning. And then I headed for home. That is when the neighbor kids told me about the accident that Windy had this after noon. I already sent this out to those of you who are on my e-mail list but will print it here as well.

When I got home this evening I was told that Wendy, who is a sister of Alex, Elder, and Chino, was badly burned while lighting a propane stove this afternoon. I was told that she had attempted to light the stove but only had one match with her. When the stove did not light she went for more matches but forgot to shut the burner off. When she returned with more matches and lit the first one she was engulfed in flames. Alex was the only the one home at the time and although he was not burned he is very shaken up over what has happened to his 15 year old sister. Her face, hands and feet were burnt the worst but we know little more than that as the hospitals here will not allow even family members into the hospital during anything but visiting hours which are from 2 PM - 3 PM. Please pray for Wendy and her entire family, especially her father who is in the States and has no way to return to Guatemala to be with his family. I will try to keep you updated as I hear more.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, July 10, 2008, 10:56 PM

I went over and brought some food to Wendy’s family this morning. The entire family is very shaken up. Wendy’s mom told me that she was only allowed to stay with her daughter for 1 hour yesterday as the Guatemalan hospitals have strict visiting rules. Today she is going to see if there is any way that she can stay with Wendy but has her doubts. I still don’t know how serious the burns are, but I was told that her entire head, her hands, and feet were all burned. I am afraid that it is quite serious because she even lost most of her hair. I told the family that I have lots of friends that are praying for the family and they asked me to thank each one of you. I will try to talk to Wendy’s mom after she sees her to day and keep you updated on any news that I get.

Three volunteers from Hermano Pedro offered to come along with me to lunch today so we took out 4 more kids. One of them was a boy from malnutrition who has not been out since he arrived 3 months ago. He seemed a bit overwhelmed by it all but did well once I found something that he could eat. I now know that he loves mashed potatoes better then ice cream but his ice cream did not go to waste. Well actually it did go to waste, it went to my waist.

I am reinstalling micro switches onto Byron’s wheelchair. I get different stories from different people but it seems that he knocked over a wheelchair that another child was in so he has not been allowed to use his power wheelchair for the past several days. Once I get a bumper made for the front of his wheelchair, anytime he bumps into something or some one his power wheelchair will automatically stop. I had a lot of little mechanics helpers today so I did not get done with this project.
Minor who was one of my helpers has had surgery done on his eyes and now they are both looking in the same direction at the same time. This must make it a lot easier for him to focus on things and should make it a lot easier for him to focus on his schoolwork.

Nanette, our teacher told me that Hennery’s first day of school went well for him today. I was afraid that taking on one more student would be to much for her but she told me that he and Moises get along fantastically and it looks like that it will be no problem teaching the 2 of them at the same time. We are looking into the possibility of hiring a second teacher at least part time but have not worked out all of the details yet. There are several kids that we would love to get into school for even a few hours a week. I am even considering Ervin but he would require a teacher that is both loving and firm.

This evening I had a house full of kids. Several of them offered to help with supper but I told them that they could play tonight and that I would make supper while they joined the others in a game of highly modified American football. I haven’t quite figured out their rules and by the looks of it they haven’t either but they seem to be enjoying what looks like a combination of football, soccer, rugby, and all star wrestling. No serious injuries yet but I have the first aid kit standing by, especially considering they are playing out on the cement. Thanks to a nerf football I have not lost any windows this evening.

We just returned from the hospital. Wendy’s mom has received permission to stay with Wendy so we brought her some food and extra clothing. About half of the neighborhood piled into my car and rode along to the hospital. We were not allowed inside but were told that Wendy wants visitors so if at all possible I am going to try to take a car load of friends and relatives down to see her tomorrow. I told the man whose leg I am treating that I would see him in the afternoon but I will try to change that to the morning.

I told the crew that I needed to get some work done and that I was not going to let anyone into the house when I returned for the hospital. I guess that I didn’t make myself clear because none of them headed towards their homes when we got back to mine. Seeing that 4 of them were from Wendy’s family and knowing that there were no adults at home I lightened up a bit and told them that they could all stay a bit longer as long as they kept it down to a quiet roar, so that I could get some work done on the computer. I figured that it would not hurt them to stay up late especially since there is no school tomorrow. Why no school???? Who knows!!!!! One of the kids told me that the teachers are having a meeting on how to do a better job of teaching. I would love to go to that meeting and make a suggestion but I don’t know the Spanish words for, SHOW UP.

Well I have to go because Fernando is doing some homework and he is stuck on some math problems that his teacher did not fully explain to him. All I can say is I am glad that it is math and not Spanish that he needs help with.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, July 11, 2008, 8:09 PM

My day started out a bit earlier than expected. It was a bit before 5 when my doorbell rang. At first I thought I was dreaming but then it rang again. It was Abner and Fernando’s aunt. She had received a phone call from Wendy’s mom. She told her that she had gotten sick while spending the night at the hospital with Wendy and was wondering if some one else could come to the hospital and stay with Wendy for a while. With in a few minutes Wendy’s sister, aunt, ad myself were heading to the hospital. Once again I did not get to see Wendy so I still am uncertain how badly she is burnt. Her mother told me that she has asked for me to come and visit but I could not get hold of the man who’s leg I am treating so I will not be able to until tomorrow.

Fernando came along with me today. Calin wanted to come along as well but he knew that on Fridays I work on the leg of the man that lives in Hocotinango and it bothers him to see this man’s leg. I spent the morning working on wheelchairs while Fernando mostly played with the orphanage kids. Most of the volunteers that were there had never met Fernando before and they were simply blown away by the way he interacts with the kids. Several of them commended him on how well he was doing and he beamed with joy. Funny thing is as much as he loved the praise he does not do it for that reason. I see him acting the same way to the kids when no one is around. He simply loves them. You would think that a kid who has never met his father and has not seen his mother since he was a baby would have a lot of bitterness built up in side of him but Fernando is one of the most well adjusted kids that I know. Oh yes he is still a kid and still gets upset with me every now and then. About once a week he packs up anything that he has in my house and stomps out of my door vowing that he will never come back. One day I almost took him seriously because it was a good 5 minutes before he returned happy and smiling.

I had told Fernando that we were not going to take any kids out to lunch today because I had too much work to do, but how do you say no to kids who keep asking when it is their turn to go. Three of the volunteers that accompanied me yesterday also joined us so we were able to take 5 kids out to eat today. Once again the kids had a great time and those of us that took them had every bit as much fun. On out way back to the orphanage we even had a bit of a water fight when we stopped off at a fountain that is located in the park.

At 3 PM Fernando and one of the volunteers went along with me to the home of the man with the bad leg. When we got near his house the 3 little girls that live there spotted us and we were bombarded by hugs and kisses. Once again it was hard for me to believe that these were the same 3 that were frightened of me the first time that I was in their home. I had tried to find Father Bernardo so that he could come along and interpret for me but I could not locate him. Fernando did a great job though and even the sight of the man’s leg did not bother him. As I was cutting away some dead skin I jokingly asked Fernando if he wanted to take over and to my surprise he said yes. I quickly told him that I appreciated his offer but needed him as an interpreter. I was not to sure that this man wanted a 10 year old cutting on his leg. The leg is still not in good enough shape that I want to post any pictures in my journal but it is definitely improving. I think that there is a good possibility that it will not have to be amputated. The family kept thanking us and I once again reminded them that we were there because of Christ’s love. They said that they knew that but that they were thankful that God had sent us to them. If you could have felt the love that we felt you would know exactly why it is not hard to reach out to these people. Just last week they told us that they didn’t have the money to buy flower so that they could operate their small bakery. I don’t think that their financial situation has changed much in the past week but there was no way that they would let us leave with out giving us a large sack of home made bread.

On the way back to my car I gave Fernando a big hug and told him how proud I was of hem. He didn’t say much but I could see by his smile that he was happy. Not just for the compliment that he received but he genuinely lights up when he feels that he has been instrumental in helping someone. When we got home I told him that I was going to need some time to myself to get some work done. He was crying when he walked of towards his Aunt and Uncles place but I know that the minute that I open the gate he and a dozen others will quickly fill my house. They love it here because they know that they are loved.

Yours in Christ: Dick

9:22 PM

I just received a call from Calin. He told me that he did not have a place to stay tonight. I told him that he did. I better go because he will likely be at my gate within a few minutes.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, July 12, 2008, 6:07 PM

I know that I said that I was going to do little or no journaling on the weekends but I have to share a few things that happened today.

Calin offered to come along to town with me while I ran a few errands. When the team was here last week we tried to see the blind girl and her family that live in a mostly deserted building here in Chimaltenango. We had wanted to bring them some food but since it was market day we could not get to where they lived by car and they live in a part of town where it is not wise to be walking with 20 Americans. So we never did get to visit them. Since Calin is the one that originally showed me where they live I thought that it would be good for him to come along with me to see them today. We walked up to the stairway that is located in back of the building and gave a shout to see if any one was around but got no reply. Walking up the dark stairway of this building reminds me of one of those scary movies that make you keep looking behind your chair when you are watching it. When we got to the top of the stairway we gave another shout. This was not the kind of place where you wanted to come up on someone unexpectedly. The sister of the girl that is blind came out of the door to the room where she, her sister, brother, mother, and 2 other people live. She took our hands and walked us into the room. There on one of the 3 beds sat Mama and the other 2 kids. I think that the only one that gets out of this room much is the Adziaida who we helped get into school. Her younger brother Estardo is still too young to go and her mother doesn’t want to leave Sylvia, who is blind at home alone. I can’t imagine what their days are like sitting in this small room that has it’s only window boarded up. They have a small TV sitting on a table, which besides the 3 beds is their only other piece of furniture. The only electricity that they have is supplied from a family across the alley that allows them to occasionally plug in an extension cord that runs from their house. We visited for quite some time and I promised that next year we would help get Estardo into school. We also discussed the possibility of getting Sylvia into school. Sylvia said that she would like nothing better and her mother told us that she had talked to one school that would possibly be willing to take her. Transportation may be a bit of a problem but we are going to at least check into it. I plan on going back to their home soon because the only clothing that Estardo has are more holes than clothing.

Shortly after we got home I took a few people to the hospital to see Wendy. A few people turned out to be 16. This was the first opportunity that I have had to see Wendy since her accident. She is in a good bit of pain but thankfully none of her burns appear to be third degree. It looks to me like there won’t be a lot of scarring but only time will tell.

I have to make a quick run back to the hospital in a few minutes so that we can run some food to Wendy’s grandmother who is staying with her tonight. The hospital is less than 10 minutes away but it may take me a half hour to get the 12 to 15 kids that are in my house to clear out until I get back.

Well I actually got all but 7 of them to go home before leaving for the hospital. Actually getting 9 of us into my car was a breeze compared to the 16 that were in it earlier today. No new records though, the record still stands at 21 from the day that I took Ronny’s family and friends to the beach. I managed to drop off 2 more people on the way home from the hospital so I figured that 7 of us was not worth cooking for, besides that the playground equipment at Burger King gave the kids a great way to get rid of a bit of energy. I wanted to tire them out as much as possible because 4 of them are spending the night. I am not sure how well it worked though because they are no using my living room as a soccer field. It has already been determined that since Guatemalans are not known for their modesty, and in order to save on electricity, tonight’s showers will be done in 2 shifts, Mine and then theirs.

Yours in Christ: Dick