* 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, 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


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