* GUATEMALA * * * * * * * * Dick Rutgers *

An ongoing journal of life as a Missionary in Guatemala. It will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

My Photo
Location: Chimaltenango, Guatemala

I work in Guatemala with Hope Haven international and Bethel Ministries. Along with my friends Chris and Donna Mooney and their family, we share the love of Jesus in various ways. Although giving out and maintaining wheelchairs is our primary ministry, we are involved in many other things as well. Building houses, feeding the hungry, providing education to handicapped children in orphanages and villages, and hosting a camp for the handicapped are just a small part of the things that God has given us the privilege of getting involved in. For several years now I have been keeping daily journals. Once a week I try to post new journals and pictures. My e-mail is dick@dickrutgers.com Guatemala Cell Phone # 502 5379 9451 USA Phone # 360 312 7720(Relays free to Guatemala)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Journal June 28-July 6

(Click on any picture to enlarge)

Saturday, June 28, 2008, 8:01 PM

I had planned on taking a shower before sitting down and writing tonight’s journal entry but when I found that 3 kids were already in it. I decided to be polite and wait my turn. One of these days I am going to figure out how to put a lock on the door to the outside bathroom. That may be a bit of a trick though since it is nothing more that a shower curtain.

It is going to be Moises’ birthday next Wednesday and I am planning on being out of town so we decided to celebrate it today. I had planned on going into Antigua anyway because a lady from the USA has just arrived to volunteer at Hermano Pedro for several weeks and I had promised to show her around. After spending a few hours at the orphanage Moises and I headed for Chimaltenango. On my way there I called Calin and Abner and asked them if they wanted to join us at the mall for some lunch and a movie. I also asked Abner to invite Fernando but Abner said that he did not want to take Fernando along. I told him that was not his decision since I was the one that was throwing the party. When I got home Abner told me that he still did not want Fernando to come along and if I invited hid he would stay at home. Fernando, Calin, Moises, and I had a good time at the movies. The Karate Panda is not the title of a movie that I would choose to go to but it was actually quite funny and we all enjoyed it.

Well the kids are finally out of the shower so I guess that I will get my turn in while I can.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, June 29, 2008, 5:28 PM

Lots of Kids, an hour and a half at Church, a big Lunch, a while at the Orphanage, and lots of Rain. Like I mentioned a few weeks ago I am going to try to keep my weekend journal entries short.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, June 30, 2008

Alex was in the hospital for a few days but is now back at Hermano Pedro. They took him off from oxygen 2 days ago and he seems to be doing a lot better. Even though he still runs a light fever and the pneumonia has left him weaker he continues to give a big grin whenever some one says his name. His back has been getting more and more crooked in the past few months so today I gave him a new wheelchair that I carved a back rest for. He seems to be a lot more comfortable in it than he was in his old one and hopefully it will help keep his back from worsening.

At noon 3 of us took 3 of the younger men from Hermano Pedro out for lunch. I love doing this because it means so much to them but with 240 full time residence at Hermano Pedro it is always difficult deciding who to take. Even though most of my day was spent working on wheelchairs it did not mean that I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with the kids. The number of little helpers that I have when working on wheelchairs at the orphanage seems to be growing. I must admit that having them help does not speed up the process of fitting or repairing a wheelchair but fixing wheelchairs is not what our ministry is all about. If you could see how happy these kids are to be able to feel like they are doing something constructive you would know why taking twice as long to get the job done is a worth while investment.

I am seeing the same thing take place at home. When I got home this evening Abner offered to wash my car for me while Fernando took in the laundry that has hung out through several of mother natures rinse cycles. Fernando and Alex then made supper. After supper Calin cleared the table while Daniel and Elder did the dishes. I kept Etiline busy by having her sweep the floor. Did they all pitch in and help with out being asked? No, but several of them did. Did they all do a perfect job? No but most of them tried to. My car still has a few streaks of dirt showing. The French toast had a few eggshells in it. The frying pan still has a bit of French toast stuck to it, and the floor actually looks as bad as it did before Etiline swept it, but the neat thing is they all did their part and several of them didn’t even ask me to pay them for their work. Nor did I ask them to pay me for the food. Even though many of these kids do not have much of a family to go home to they are more and more learning what it means to be a family.

After supper some of the older boys entertained us by doing some break dancing. I stood by with first aid kit in hand waiting for some one to break something but fortunately everyone survived. How Alex can stand on his head with out the use of his hands is beyond me. I get a sore neck just watching him. I am not sure how good it is for him but then I am sure that it is safer than being out on the streets and belonging to one of the gangs that many kids his age belong to.

Well the kids are gone for the night so I think that I will sweep the floor and head off to bed. Goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Alex accompanied me to Hermano Pedro today because he had no School (Sick Teacher??). I had planned on taking 2 groups of people through Hermano Pedro today but got a phone call last night saying that one of the groups had decided to cancel because they thought that seeing so many kids with disabilities would be to hard on them. I guess they were afraid that they might get emotional and shed a tear or 2. I would have hated for them to get that far out of their comfort zone. Of coarse this meant that 10 less kids got to go to the park but at least these Americans get to go home without having to shed any tears. The group that showed up was great with the kids though and even seamed OK with stepping out of their comfort zone even though a few tears were shed. The 9 kids that we managed to get to the park had a great time even though we had to head back to the orphanage a bit earlier than usual due to impending rain.

We headed back to Chimaltenango at around 1 because I had promised Alturo that I would stop by the wheelchairs shop and help him work on a power wheelchair that had some problems. This evening I had supper with the group that is here form the USA. They will be working with us for the next several days. After dinner most of them came over to my house to meet my neighbor kids. They brought some left over pizza along with them and were quite amazed to see how fast it disappeared right before their eyes. Their time playing and visiting with the kids and adults that came over went by all to fast for everyone but at around 9 PM I took them back to their hotel. Fernando seems to be the only one left in the house but I have not yet checked all of the usual hiding places. I guess that if there are any other kids left in the house they will either find their own way out or do like Fernando and spend the night.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Yesterday Chris, Donna, and the group went to the markets and bought bags of groceries that they then divided up so that we could deliver them to several families today. Today there were about 20 of us in all that went out to various homes to deliver the food and pray with the people. This many visitors can be a bit overwhelming to Guatemalan Families, who often live in small one room homes but all of the people that we visited today were people whose homes we have brought food to in the past so we were welcomed with open arms. I wish that I could personally introduce you or at least tell you more about each family that we visited but my daily journal entries and your attention span would have to be extremely long. I will say that the needs were great and the visits were something that none of us will soon forget. We visited with one man whose wife and family had been praying for him for years. Not only had he been an alcoholic for most of his life but also sickness had caused him to no longer be able to walk. A little over a year ago he accepted Christ and has not touched a drop of alcohol since. A man at another home that we visited accepted Christ the last time that we visited, has also stopped drinking. Today while we were at the home of a blind lady a young lady, that lived next door, rededicated her life to the Lord. Not everyone that we visited with had a life changing experience but they were all happy that we cared enough about them to bring food, visit, and pray with them. At one of the homes that we went to, there lived a man who has not been right in his mind ever since he had been tortured during the war. Maria, the lady who’s husband had been struck and killed by a truck a few months ago, was also glad to see us but she is still having a difficult time without her husband.

Most of the members of our group had never before witnessed so much poverty or suffering but even though there were plenty of tears they handled things well. They showed a lot of love to each family that we visited today and the people that we visited knew that they genuinely cared about them.

It has been a busy day but a good one. The group that we have with us this week is a great one and we are enjoying their company.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Today was orphanage day for the entire group. Each group that I take through the orphanage reacts a bit differently. Some are so overwhelmed that they never seem to warm up to the kids. Most do quite well after an hour or 2 of getting used of things. This group had done a lot of praying that the kids would see nothing in them but pure love. That is exactly what each and every kid that came in contact with them saw today. I always ask the people that I take through the orphanage to stick to gather as a group for the first 45 minutes or so while I am walking them through the different sections of the orphanage. I also tell them that after the initial tour, that I will take any of them back to any of the sections of the orphanage that they choose so that they can spend as much time as they want with what ever person that they want but that while we are on the initial walk through we would have to keep moving. Today most of the people had a very difficult time doing that because they instantaneously fell in love with each child, teen, or adult that they met. When we got to the kids section I ended the tour. This group did not need to be introduced to the kids they were introducing themselves and instantly bonding.

I was glad that before leaving home this morning I had made out a list of kids and teens that we were going to take out to lunch because having to choose who to take would have been impossible for this group because they had fallen in love with all of the people at the orphanage. They had even brought gifts for the nurses and handed them to the nurses as they thanked each one of them for getting the kids ready to go out with us to lunch. After lunch we let the kids play on the Camperos’ playground equipment and then took them back to the orphanage and spent the rest of the day with them and some of the other kids.

Just when I got to thinking that this was the perfect group they blew their cover by telling me that they wanted to go souvenir shopping. I tried to get them to go to the garbage dump instead, but they told me that they were willing to pay for their garbage so we took them to the markets. I found myself a comfortable bench out front of the garbage dump, (I mean Markets).

Now what I am about to share with you has to be kept between you and me because I do not want to embarrass Ronda or her husband Steve.

Up until now Pastor Bill Vandyken (The name Bill Vandyken may have been changed to protect the innocent. Then again perhaps it wasn’t changed.) has had the honors of being the worst barterer in all of Guatemala. For years the stories have been handed down from Guatemalan merchants to their children about the day that Pastor Bill went into the markets to buy a hat. The lady that was selling the hat started out at 40 Q, which is a little over $5. Being a seasoned visitor to Guatemala, Bill was fully aware that a shrewd shopper never pays the asking price when in the markets, and after a half hour of bartering he managed to buy the hat for 60 Q. ($8). It is my daily prayer that Bill never changes vocations and becomes an accountant.

You are perhaps thinking that I am not allowing the truth to get in the way of a good story and perhaps you are right but I assure you that Bill is known for a lot of good things but bartering is not one of them. The following account of what went on tonight is 100% true though.

After about an hour of shopping our teem of shoppers came out of the markets to the bench were Chris and I had been waiting. Each of them had several items that they had bought for some poor unsuspecting family member at home. Each also had a story of how they managed to get the merchant who sold them what ever it was that they bought to come down to at least half the amount that they originals wanted. Chris and I simply smiled and nodded when we were told how much they had paid. I am sure that the merchants that sold them these treasures were also smiling. I have to admit though that both Chris and I were a bit surprised when Rhonda and Steve showed us 2 hammocks that they had purchased and told us that they got them for 50. We told them that the cheapest that we had ever seen hammocks go for was 65 and that they had indeed gotten a good deal. On the way home Rhonda proudly showed the hammocks to a few friends that had not yet seen them. It was only then that I realized that she had not paid 50 Q ($6) for them but $50. I never did find out if the person that took her money had a gun and threatened her or if she actually thought that they were worth it. At any rate I am afraid that Pastor Bill will have to hand over his title to Ronda and Steve.

Speaking of robberies, Carlos, the bookkeeper at our shop was robbed at gun point today. Two armed men came into the wheelchair shop and asked him for some money that he had just withdrawn from the bank. No one was hurt but they get away with a considerable amount of money and it gave Carlos quite a scare.

I was going to tell the kids that they would have to stay out tonight so that I could gat caught up on some work but when I saw how happy they were to see me I just could not do that to them. They are making supper though and they even promised to clean up afterwards so that I can get caught up on my journal. Well I’m going to go and spend some time with them so I will close for now.

Yours in Christ: Dick

From time to time we have groups that come in who journal their daily activities much like I do. I love it when some of their members allow me to post their daily journals in place of mine. Not only does it give me a break from writing but it is also great to see the same things that I experienced, through someone else’s eyes. I am sure that you also enjoy reading something other than, Guatemala According To Dick. I hope that you are blessed by the following. I know that I will be.

Thursday, July 3, 2008 (as observed by Tera Rye)

(Written by Tara Rye)

Jesus has a way of appearing quite unexpectedly. When our eyes are open He meets us in those around us as they serve Him. As our mission team serves in Guatemala this summer Jesus came to me in many faces. One face I will never forget came through a man that serves sacrificially. Dick Rutgers is our missionary with a passion for the children of Guatemala. As he prepared us for our tour of Hermano Pedro Orphanage, he told us of the children and their stories. He named them by name and their suffering they know. As I stared at the wrinkles surrounding his eyes, I realized each of the indentions shined joy and compassion, as I have never seen. My breath caught because I felt I looked at Jesus as He said, Let the little children come to me as He called each of them by name. He then showed us his favorite people. Each of us walked the halls with the echoes of a sweet devotional Robbie gave focusing on the truth that GOD created each of them in the womb and it was very good. We met a young man that wrote with his toes. His toe writing is better than most doctors. Can you imagine the determination and perseverance it would take to learn how to write with your toes? Would you have that kind of determination? This young man does. Humility washed over me as I realized how easily I give up on tasks that honestly I should stick to. A young child name Moises with an incredible mind locked in a body that cannot perform demonstrated that a great mind is not determined by the shape of ones body. We met Jesus as a teacher named Ninette. Daily she teaches skills sacrificially to people that most would not even give a second glance, much less believe they can learn. Yet, she teaches faithfully important skills to provide liberty that sets captives free! We spent the day playing and singing. We even took 9 of the children to Pollo Campero for chicken at lunch. Molly, Mikayla, Tiffany, and Carley brought laughter to the house. I watched Jesus play ball with a child that could not throw a ball. Jesus also ran crazy all around the courtyard through our beloved missionary Chris. As I watched the young man laugh when the ball touched his hand I was reminded of the wonder of the gift of simplicity. How often do we rob ourselves of the joy right at the tip of our fingers? This time it was through Molly, Mikayla, and Carley that I saw Jesus playing, he blew bubbles as squeals rang out through out the courtyard. At one point when the children needed changing the courtyard was empty of all but the team, the quiet seemed eerie. How many days and how many hours does this courtyard stay this quiet? How many days and nights do these little ones wait to have someone come to sing and play? Suddenly, it occurred to me that Jesus waits! Jesus waits with expectation for love, laughter and touch. Did He not say, what you do to the least of these so also you do to me?

Friday, July 4, 2008

(Written by Deb Reeg)

Today while the rest of our mission team went to San Jacinto to build a house, Pat Duff, Dick and I (Deb Reeg) went to see a man in Jocotenango to do a dressing change on his feet. Dick has been seeing this man weekly for some time and he had huge wounds on both feet. They were so bad that he might lose his right foot and leg. After a while, 3 children came in and gave Dick a big hug. I was taking pictures of them and letting them look at the pictures on my camera. They were so excited to see pictures of themselves and kept posing for me. When we were getting ready to leave one of the little girls took my camera and started shooting pictures of us. I don’t even know the names of these children but we bonded over something as minute as a camera. It is amazing seeing the little things that make the children of Guatemala happy. It was such a blessing seeing the relationships that Dick has with the families that he works with in this wonderful country. He has established trust and love in towns that are normally scared of “Gringos”. After finishing the dressing change, we drove back to Antigua and spent some time at Hermano Pedro. Dick and I went up to the malnutrition ward and I rocked little Lucy who is about 2 ½ years old. I remember thinking as she fell asleep in my arms that she probably never gets rocked to sleep as the nurses have so many children to care for and not enough arms. The afternoons are a sad time at Hermano Pedro because most of the volunteers have gone home and most of the children have been put to bed. These children usually spend about 20 hours per day in bed. They love when Dick is around because he will get them out of their cribs and play with them showing them Christ’s love. What an awesome ministry. We met up with the rest of the team (minus Chris Mooney, Steve Sell and Rick Warren who stayed to finish the house) and we drove to the hotel in Santa Lucia. The hotel has a huge pool that is probably close to Olympic size. Tara Rye was the first one in fully dressed, followed by Pastor Jim Moorhead. I had just planned on sitting quietly by the pool with my legs in but after Jim cannon balled me, I decided to go for it and dived in fully dressed as well. All in all, most of our team took a nice swim and it felt so good after a long and exhausting day. The guys didn’t arrive with our bags until about 8pm and we had a late dinner and off to bed.

Oh, one more fun
ny story….When we finished the dressing change in Jocotenango, we were leaving and walking up the stairs to the street with Pat Duff she apparently said something sarcastic to Dick. Dick gave her a gentle pat on the head but the man’s wife saw it and asked Pat if her husband beat her. She was very concerned. Pat just laughed and explained that she and Dick were just friends and he was just joking with her. I guess you had to be there

Friday, July 5, 2008
(Written by Pat Duff)

One thing I´ve learned after hanging out with Dick is truly to expect the unexpected (Godincidences?)to occur on a regular basis. Usually when you're least expecting it!

 We left early this morning for Santa Lucia to paint a cement block house previously constructed by a team through Bethel Ministries. Some of you who follow Dick's blog might remember Ronnie, a young man with six brothers and sisters. We began at Ronnie's grandmother's house, She also has a metal house constructed by a previous team, but it needed to be set on a concrete slab. About 20 of us managed not only to lift this house (approx. 800 lbs.) but also rotate it about 180 degrees to put it on a cement foundation. (This gives a whole new meaning to "Flip That House" for you TLC viewers in the States.) After this was completed, the men stayed behind to mix and pour the slab, and, most especially, construct a ramp so Ronnie can visit his grandma independently. This is one of the things I´ve come to appreciate the most about Dick and Bethel--whatever they do, they do with excellence. Whenever possible, they include little things to remind the families they serve how much God loves them; how special they are.

Meanwhile, the ladies made their way back down the muddy lane to Ronnie´s house to begin painting. Watching them work together, painting next to, over, under and around each other with such love and graciousness was amazing. With the fifteen gallons of paint we had, we were able to just about completely paint the house. Now, as you drive from the "road" to their group of houses, you suddenly see this bright blue house which seems to just pop out amid the lush green trees. Quite a beautiful sight.

Our adventures for the day were not over, however. One lady on our team, Tara, had scratched herself behind the ear earlier in the week at another building site. Now it was infected and needed medical attention. So off we went to town to find a doctor Dick knows, bringing with us 5 kids from the house. Unfortunately, Dick forgot it was Saturday, and the office was closed. This lapse may be understandable, though, given Dick's advanced age and mental status.

(Sorry, Brother, I couldn´t resist!)

(No Problem Pat. Hopefully this will not happen to you in a year or so when you are my age. D.R.)

Since the clerks in the pharmacies often have a reasonable amount of medical knowledge, we asked their advise and they were able to recommend the appropriate medications and treatment for Tara's infection. God was not done with us yet, though. The clerk asked if we were Christians, and was very excited when we said we were. As they asked about our mission, a lady standing behind me said she owned the pharmacy, and gave us her home phone number in case we needed anything more after the pharmacy was closed. She then hugged my neck and began to pray for me. Her prayer specifically spoke to a number of questions which I had asked God during the previous week. . .almost like receiving a telegram from Him in Guatemala. 

While I was still praying with my new friend, I heard Dick calling to me to translate for him. While waiting in the street, he'd spotted a young man carrying his mother, slung in a blanket across his back. Her legs were short and twisted, and appeared to have no movement at all. We were able to give them the forms to fill out to enable her to be fitted with a wheelchair, telling them that the doctor (who we had not been able to locate today) would be able to help them complete them if they would come to his office on Monday. Dick then gave them his card and showed them where the office was. So, another Guatemalan mother will have a wheelchair because Dick "JUST HAPPENED to meet" her on the street.

 These are just a few of the "Divine Appointments" we've kept this week. If you've ever wondered if God still works directly in our lives, our response would be a resounding "YES!" Our thanks to Dick and Chris and Donna Mooney (of Bethel Ministries) for letting us hang out with them and see what God is doing here.

Sunday, July 6, 2008 5:18 PM

(Written by Dick)

This morning we drove up to Panajachel. When we got to the motel we had a church service out on the lawn in front of the motel.
We plan on just hanging out here until tomorrow afternoon, mostly resting and reflecting on this past week. Every day here in Guatemala is awesome but this week has been particularly great. This has been a very special teem that has been with us this week and we have all become very close. Both working with them and the devotional times have been very special. Tonight each of us is going to be given the opportunity to share what God has shown them this week. I think that it will be an extra special time. I have a feeling that most of the members of this teem will be back. I am also quite sure that there enthusiasm will bring others. Thanks teem for making this a very special week.

Yours in Christ: Dick


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home