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

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

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Location: Chimaltenango, Guatemala

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

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Journal September 27-October 3


Saturday, September 22, 2008
Heavy rains kept us from doing a lot today but the kidsenjoyed hanging around the house and playing. We managed to get out to Burger King because I did not want the kids to have to eat all junk food today. That’s right, Burger king is health food compared to some of the things that I whip up. We did fairly well this evening though because the kids helped me make pancakes and eggs. The little guy in the picture, stirring the eggs is Elder. A few years ago his mother decided that she no longer wanted him or his brother Esben. The mother of Marcos, the boy in the picture that is helping me cook, adopted Elder and Esben, but a few months ago Marcos’ mom got sick and died. Marcos’ father had died in a drowning accident not to long before that. Marcos’ older brother and his wife are now trying to raise Elder, Esben, Marcos, and their own children. This is one more family that needs your prayers.

This weekend I am going to stick to my word and keep my journal entries short.

Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick



Sunday, September 28, 2008, 5:53 PM

(Click on any picture to enlarge)

I feel a bit mean. I just told all of the kids that I needed an hour or two to myself. Perhaps I should not feel too mean though, especially considering that even though they moaned and complained when I asked them to leave for a few hours, they know that they had it pretty good the past few days. Granted they had to put up with my cooking this morning but after church the 10 of us went out to eat at Martha’s and for $3 each they all got more food than they could eat. (I take that back, everyone but Calin got more than they cold eat.) Even Calin was satisfied after he cleaned up on the leftovers that the nine of us gave him.

After lunch the 9 kids convinced me into taking them to the hot springs to swim. Even though it was pouring down rain it did not take a lot of arm twisting to get me to take them swimming. After spending most of the day in the house with these 9 plus about that many more I was getting a it of cabin fever. I knew that the kids were to. I never did find out how Calin put his hand through one of my windows but it was time for us all to get some fresh air. Swimming was great as long as you stayed in the water and it seemed to be just what the doctor ordered.

Well I have used up about half of my time to myself writing today’s journal. I am going to close for now and just kick back and enjoy the silence. Ops, there goes the doorbell.

Yours in Christ: Dick


Monday, September 29, 2008

(Lionel 6 weeks ago)

I finally got to spend a day at the orphanage today. It was great to see all of the kids but hard to give each of them the one on one time that they were crying out for. I managed to swim with a few of them and after that 3 of us took Sonia, Veronica, and David out to lunch. No kid’s meals for these 3 they all 3 of them have big appetites.

. . . . . .(Lionel today)

I got a chance to see Lionel this morning and made it a point to go up to the malnutrition ward and spend about an hour more with him this afternoon. I am happy to say he is doing good and what ever medication that are giving him for the seizures that he had last week are not turning him into a zombie. On the contrary he seemed to be more alert than I have ever seen him. Unlike when he first arrived he now makes eye contact and smiles a lot. I even managed to get him to laugh a few times. The rest of my afternoon was spent repairing some of the kid’s wheelchairs. I did not make great progress on that but all of my little helpers sure enjoyed themselves.


On my way home from the orphanage I stocked up on groceries. Judging by the number of kids that were here tonight I only misjudged what I thought was a week’s supply by about 6 days.

Well I better close for now. I have several kids that can’t understand how I can be sitting here writing when I could be giving them my undivided attention.

Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick


Tuesday, September 30, 2008, 7:42 PM

Miguel came over to my place at around 7:30. I had talked to Chris about giving him some work at the wheelchair shop. A good friend of mine has decided to sponsor Miguel so that he can continue his schooling. He has been working in for some one for $6 per week just so that he can go to night school but working 10 hours a day plus going to school and then averaging 2 hours a day doing homework is wearing him out. I talked with Miguel’s sponsor about having him work part time instead of just giving him a free hand out and she agreed that it would be an excellent idea to have him work part time and feel that he is paying most of his way through school. He is a neat kid and I think that he well be an asset to our shop as well. Miguel come from a good family but the $130 per month that his father earns is simply not enough to pay the rent, put food on the table, and keep all of his kids in school.

I really wanted to go to the orphanage again today but it has been several months since I a family brought their son to the wheelchair shop to see if we could give him a power wheelchair. This bright young man was not only unable to walk but also had virtually no use of his hands. I realized at that time that the only way that he would ever be able to operate a power wheelchair would be with his head. Since I have been on the road so much lately today was the first day that I had the opportunity to see what I could put together. I was hoping that I would be able to put something together in one day but having no working head controller proved to make this a bigger job than I had planned on. After a full day’s work I now have a head controler made and a wheelchair running so now all I have to do is find a free day to mount the controller and get the wheelchair set up. Some of these projects are a lot of work but all it takes is one look at the smile on the face of the child that is moving around on his own for the first time in his life to make it all worth while.

I stopped off and got some supper before facing the crowds tonight. Then when I got home I laid out 2 dozen hot dogs and some bread and told the kids that it was the cook’s night off. Several of the boys said that they had homework to do so they have left early so that they can get it done. I can’t quite understand why they have had no homework last night but have lots of it to do tonight. They didn't even have school today. Why no school today??? I think part of their leaving was due to the fact that the girls beat them to the computers tonight.

Some men came a cleaned the dirt out of my water meter again today so that means that I should have running water for the next few days. Even though my water is only on from 5:30 AM to 8 AM the supply tank that I mounted on top of my house give me enough water for all day provided the meter is not plugged water the water is on. I am not going to take any chances on running out of water though. Especially considering five neighbors have already used the shower since I got home.

I still wish that they made locks for shower curtains. For some reason a shower is not nearly as relaxing when you have an audience. (Sorry no pictures)

Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick


Wednesday, October 1, 2008, 9:53 PM
Although the City is not my favorite place to be, today I went there to meet with a man that is in need of a power wheelchair. Just a little over a year ago this husband and father of 3 was shot in the neck and paralyzed by 2 men who decided that they wanted his car. Fortunately this man has a supportive Christian family and even though there lives have been deeply affected by this senseless act of violence, I could see a bond of love that each member of this family shared with him and with each other. It was refreshing to see how they were holding on so tightly to their faith in God. We had a good visit and I promised that I would set up a head controlled wheelchair for him as soon as possible.

On my way home from Guatemala City I stopped off at Hermano Pedro so that I could check and see how Lionel was doing. He seemed to be doing well today and has not had a seizure in several days, but I could not help but think about how fragile he is. Please continue to pray for him and for his family.

Since I was at the orphanage anyway, after feeding Lionel, I stuck around the malnutrition ward and helped feed a few more of the kids .



Tonight my house stayed empty for about a half hour, but then it quickly filled up with kids. We had another spaghetti feed tonight and the kids did a great job of helping out. The dirty dishes are still in the sink though. I don’t know what happened but the water tank on the roof of my house, that was full this morning has somehow emptied itself out. Dirty dishes aren’t all that bad but I hate going to bed without a shower. Abner and Fernando wanted to stay but I know that with out a way for them to wash there feet I would not be able to ever get to sleep. Calin is staying here tonight but he changed his sox just a few days ago.

Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick




Thursday, October 2, 2008, 8:14 PM

This morning the water came on at 5:30 but it was only a trickle. I went out into the alley to see if the men that came yesterday to fix the meter had accidentally forgotten to turn the water back on all of the way. Even though it was turned on there was only a little water flowing into through the meter it was not registering anything. I guess that is one way to keep the water bill down but I would prefer more than one gallon per hour of water, especially considering that they only turn the water on for 2 and a half hours a day. I also discovered that their method of fixing my meter the last few times that they were here had done more damage than good. There was more water leaking out of it than there was flowing through it. I guess that disconnecting it and then beating it against a rock is not the proper way to fix it. I had to admit though that it gave me water for a day and since I had been 24 hours without a shower I was willing to try anything in order to have water, even if it was for a short time. I wasn’t sure that I had the right wrenches to take the meter off and I also feared that the men from the water company might see me disconnecting it and accuse me of breaking their already broken water meter. Funny how things that your teacher told you back in grade school suddenly come back to you, even though you did not understand them at the time. It was more years ago than I care to think about but Mrs. Glensey, my old fifth grade teacher came up with this one. It had something to do with being easier to bring Mohamed to the mountain than the mountain to Mohamed. Sure enough hitting the water meter with a rock had the same results as hitting a rock with the meter. My water suddenly started flowing again. I must admit the meter started leaking a little bit more than it had been leaking before I worked on it but I don’t think that I caused any more damage than the method that the water repair men would have caused doing it their way. After a good shower I headed off to Hermano Pedro to repair some wheelchairs. I gave some thought to leaving my tools at home today and just taking along a big rock but was not sure weather or not the rock that I had used on the water meter had been designed for working on wheelchairs.



I actually managed to get quite a bit of work done today and finally got Evelyn fit into a wheelchair. Evelyn had outgrown her old wheelchair. Today I went into the storage area of Hermano Pedro and hauled out Jefferson’s old wheelchair. Jefferson is a little boy that died a few months ago. The wheelchair needed a lot of modifying but by the end of the day Evelyn had something that worked quite well for her.







Today was not all work and no play though. Three of the volunteers and myself took 4 of the kids out to Camperos for lunch. Ervin was one of the kids that was on my list to take but his continual screaming this morning gave me cause to change my mind. Jo-Jo was more than happy to take his place. We also took Minor, Beverly, and Bobby. I was glad that one of the ladies that came along had the sense to take a few umbrellas along because even though it was clear and sunny out when we left for lunch our walk back was in a rainstorm. The 3 ladies and myself got wet but we managed to keep the kids dry.

Tonight it is still raining so the kids are playing a modified game of soccer in the house. This game has not been sanctioned by the NSA (Not So-happy Adult), but it was tolerated. The kids all promised that if anything were broken they would pay for it. All that means is that if they broke something I would have to come up with a paying job for them.

Well it is about time to start pointing at least some of them towards the door so I will say, “Goodnight".

Yours in Christ: Dick


Friday, October 3, 2008, 8:16 PM

Another busy day today but I loved it. I have met a lot of people who cannot wait until the retirement years when all of the kids are out of the house and there is nothing to do except sit in a hammock and relax all day. I tried that once but got sick of it after what seemed like an eternity. I still rate it as the most boring day of my life. I have to admit there are days that I think I could stand that hammock thing for an hour or 2, but I would not trade where I am or what I am doing for anything.



I had only intended on spending an hour or 2 at the wheelchair shop today and then head to Hermano Pedro but plans have a way of changing around here. The boy that I was scheduled to seat in a chair this morning some how turned out to be 2 boys. One of them took less than an hour to seat but the other one took me until way past lunchtime. Christian’s body was very deformed and twisted and at first when ever I got near him he would tense up so badly that there was no way to keep him in a seating position. It did not take long before he got used of this funny looking white person though and we were soon friends. You should have seen his face when I finally finished and took him for is first ever ride in a wheelchair. No, Christian could not propel himself, but he certainly enjoyed going out side for a ride.



The other little boy, Who’s name slips my mind, loved his wheelchair as much as Christian did. One of his arms was somewhat paralyzed but he was happy that he could at least go in a circle on his own. After I moved the rear wheels of his wheelchair forward a bit he actually tried using both hands. His mother promised that she would keep working with him and I have little doubt that he will gradually be able to go where ever he wants with his new wheelchair.



Not only did these two kids go home happy but also both of their families seemed as thrilled with the wheelchairs as they were. Since I did not have anyone to interpret for me most of the time I was not able to strike up much of a conversation with either of these families but when they thanked me I pointed towards heaven and told them that the thanks was to go to God. Some times I feel a bit guilty because I am one of the fortunate ones that is there when the person receives the wheelchair so I also get the hugs and the thank yous. There are many people that are involved that are behind the scenes and often never receive a thank you. If I were to list them all it would take hours. Besides that I don’t personally know most of them, but to all of you that are in any way connected with giving, collecting, storing, hauling, fixing, building, shipping, sponsoring, distributing, seating, praying, or are in any other way connected with this ministry, thank you from the bottom of my hart, and the harts of those that are seeing the love of Jesus being shared in a tangible way.

. . . video
. . . . . . ^ (Click button to play movie.)

Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick

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