* 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, September 11, 2008

Journal September 6-12

(click on any picture to enlarge)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Since there were 9 of us going to church this morning I allowed plenty of time, because it seems that something unexpected often happens that causes us to have to hurry to get there on time and I wanted this to be a relaxing Sunday. This morning everything ended up going like clock work, and we found ourselves in the car and ready to go a good half hour ahead of schedule. I thanked the kids for helping out with breakfast, and with getting the house straightened up, and we were on our way. Or were we? Dead battery. No problem. I had just been over to Abner and Fernando’s house to get permission for them to come along to church and their uncle was still at home. He has one of the few cars that are in my neighborhood and I knew that he would be willing to give me a jump start. I asked Abner if he would quickly run home and ask his uncle if he would help me out. Abner being Abner, quickly passed that responsibility on to Fernando, and Fernando being Fernando gladly went. However it was not long before he was back telling me that his uncle had just left. No problem, he could not have gone far he had just been there five minutes ago. I got on the phone and uncle said that he would turn around and come right back and help us. Even though he had been gone for only five minutes the drive back some how managed to take him a good half hour. No problem, we still had time to get my car running and make it to church. Problem, even after hooking up the jumper cables my started did little more than make a feeble attempt to turn the engine over. Perhaps the battery that was in Juan’s pick up was no better then mine. There has been more than a time or two that I have had to help push or jump start his pick up for him. About that time another car came up my alley to pick a neighbor up for church. The lady that was driving it was not all that eager to help me out but I finally convinced her to give me just 2 minuts of her time. 121 seconds later she drove off and my car was still not running. I went into the house and got my battery tester and it was soon determined that my 13 month old battery had a dead cell in it. I guess that the company that makes these batteries must know what they are doing when they put a 12 month guarantee on them. Anyway a walk into town, a little over $100, and a tuke tuke ride back fixed the problem and my car was once again running. I no longer had to worry about being late for church because church was now over. “How would you all like to go to the park near Guatemala City?” I asked the kids. Dumb question. The only problem was that it was now lunchtime so we stopped off at Martha’s for some lunch. The restaurant was packed with people so we had to scatter out a bit to eat.

When we got to the park it started to rain so we opted for plan #2, the hot springs. I wish that we would have thought of this first because the hot springs is much closer to my home than the park is and had I known that we were going there we would have all brought swim suits. One good thing about the hot springs is that underwear is acceptable attire so there was no problem there. Well lest just say it was no problems for the kid or for many of the Guatemalan adults that were already there. This Gringo still has that modesty thing so I chose to be a spectator rather than a swimmer. It ended up being a rather relaxing afternoon though and since the rain had stopped the only time I got wet was when I got too close to the edge of the pool. I only got splashed though and felt that I was much more fortunate than a lady that got thrown in with all of her clothing on. From the story that I got it was some of her friends and not one of my kids that threw her in though.

Hay wait a minute this is the weekend and this is getting much to long.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, September 8, 2008

Lionel’s parents and little sister were already at Hermano Pedro when I got there this morning. The nurses told me that they have been there from sun up to sun down every day since they have arrived.

I had taken Abner (who had no school ????) along and we had intended on swimming with the orphanage kids but the pool had gotten polluted by all of the rain that we have had lately so that did not work out. That was perhaps for the best though because a large group of people from the USA who have been working with the church that I attend, when my car is running, showed up at the orphanage and I spent a good part of the morning showing them around while Abner played with the kids. They had to leave at around 11 AM but at noon 2 people from Guatemala City showed up that I had promised to show around as well. They got a quick introduction to the kids because a few volunteers and my self met them at the door with 4 of the teen age kids that we took to lunch. This couple that joined us brings a lot of mission teems in from the USA and they wanted to see the orphanage so that they could possibly bring people in to volunteer from time to time. Even though they have no children of their own they had no problem relating to the kids at the orphanage and I have little doubt that, teams or no teams, they will be back.

This afternoon Abner, Marry Margaret Scott, and myself went to work on Cesar’s leg. It is looking much better and other than a few small places new skin has grown over what was once large open sores. There is little doubt in my mind that Cesar will not have to have is leg amputated.

This evening was wall to wall kids. I was tiered but since I was going to be on the road the rest of the week I let them all stay until around 10:30. I must admit though that supper was not much but then again even corn flake is better than nothing.

Abner and Fernando have made them selves my self appointed overnight guests. They are already fast asleep and I am half way there so I will once again say goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

At 6:30 AM I was at the door of Casa Defay. I had promised Lionel’s parents that I would pick them up and take them to the buss this morning. After getting them to the buss I headed over and picked up Saul and Hanna. They are planning on joining me this week for this, our first week of camp recruiting. Not unlike other years, our expectations of how many campers we are going to visit in one day seems to get shot down after the firs few days. This year it got shot down the first day but then that is what it is all about. Not only is each and every family that we visit as anxious to see us as we are to see them but besides just visiting old friends and catching up on what went on since our last visit we are often introduced to new people many of whom are hurting in some way. Since there has been a lot of flooding in the low lands along the coast lately today was filled with meeting people that had lost homes or were having health problems due to all of the water pollution and mosquitoes that were a result of the flood. What was going to be to drop off a few water filters and say a quick hello to the people that work at the clinic that introduced me to some of the families who’s children we got into the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro also proved to be much more than a brief visit. You perhaps remember a few weeks ago when they had taken me to see a 9 year old girl that was starving. When we got to her home we discovered that she had died a few days earlier. Today they told me about a 14 year old girl who had also died. When I asked them what she had died of the doctor told me that as far as he could see there was nothing wrong with her other than that she starved to death. Even though today’s goal was to see the families that had members that we wanted to invite to camp we unanimously agreed that we would go and visit a few families that the people at the clinic were especially worried about.

Our first stop was at the home of another 14 year old girl. She was actually doing quite well considering that just last week the national hospital had removed a tumor from her stomach. Her parents had brought her into see the doctor because they thought that she was pregnant. Even the doctors at the national hospital recognized that she was not pregnant so they operated and removed a 34 pound tumor. That is exactly the total weight of the last 2 kids of 9 and 10 years old, from the same area that I brought into the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro. The primary reason that the workers of the clinic wanted us to meet this family was because they are trying to get a bathroom built that can be used by this girls family and the other 2 families that live on the same small lot. They feel that the hole in the ground that is used as a toilet may be polluting their drinking water since it is located a few feet from their well. I have more than a feeling that they are right.

Other visits included 2 schools that are serving as temporary shelters for families who have been flooded out of their homes. After going and looking at some of these homes I think that the people would be better off staying in the school. One such home that was still standing in 3 feet of water was made out of corn stalk walls and had some dried grass and a piece of black plastic stretched over the top for a roof. The 65 year old lady that was planning on moving back into it when the river went down has also been suffering from a Hernia for the past 35 years. She told us that she was hoping to get it taken care of some day but just hasn’t been able to scrape up enough money for an operation.

One of the 7 campers that we got to see today was Ronny. I was glad that we had built their new house as high off from the ground as we did because even though the heavy rains had come and the water had taken out most of their plants that they had decorated their front yard with they were all sitting high and dry. I can still remember one night when I had stopped in at their old house, seeing them all standing inside of their house knee deep in water.

Tonight we are staying in Santa Lucia. We had planned on making it to Mazatenango but here in Guatemala things seldom go as planned.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008, 9:57 PM

Fact # 187 Remember that just because the fruit trees that surround your motel look nice you may not appreciate them by morning.

Fact # 188 Many of the cars in Guatemala have alarm systems installed on them.

Fact # 189 All of the cars that were parked under the fruit trees at our motel had alarm systems on them.

Fact # 190 Highly sensitive car alarms can detect any movement. Even a piece of fruit falling from a tree can set them off.

Fact # 191 All of the alarms of all of the cars that were parked at our motel last night were highly sensitive alarms.

Fact # 192 Most alarm systems keep going until the owner shuts them off.

Fact # 193 95% of the people that stayed at our motel had to either be stone deaf or have simply learned how to sleep through the sound of car alarms going off.

Fact # 194 Saul, Hanna, and I are in the 5% minority category.

Another event filled day today. We got a fairly early start and managed to get into Mazatenango at around 9 AM. After picking up Donya Marya we headed out ot our first home. This was the home of Lesley, a girl that has been coming to camp for several years now. We were glad to see that her and her family were all doing fine. # years ago flood waters left their house with over a foot of mud on the floor. They told us that last Friday the river had reached it banks and they were ready to move out but then it started to go down again. Lesley’s neighbor lady has seen us stop in a Lesley’s home over the years but up until today we had never visited with her. Today she came over to us and told us about a friend who has a one year old daughter who seemed to have some physical problems. She told us that the little girl was very week and could not even sit up on her own and that she wondered of we could get her a wheelchair. One year of age is awfully young for a wheelchair but after being told that the child has never been to a doctor I wanted to see her any way so we agreed to see her. Mom was a sweet lady and I could see that she had a lot of love for her daughter but she also had a lot of concern. The little girl had a wondering eye that I am fairly certain can be corrected with eye surgery but there were some other thing going on as well. I have a feeling that she may have had spinal meningitis but that is only and uneducated guess. Mother told me that the little girl has never seen a doctor and when I told her that I thought that we could have her examined by the doctors in Hermano Pedro she jumped at the opportunity. A few minutes later I got off from the phone and her and Donia Maria will be catching a buss to Antigua the first part of next week.

Today we saw a lot more people and there are a lot more stories but I am getting tired so once again I will let the pictures do the talking.

(Click on any picture to enlarge)

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, September 11, 2008, 8:13 PM

Home sweet Home, but is it when the mud, in your house that is made from black plastic and rusted out sheets of tin, is several inches deep, and the roof of your house has large holes in it? How about when it rains and the river that runs along side of your home edges its way up to your home. This is the same river that you use to bath in while other members of your family are using it for a toilet. At lest the sleeping arrangements are not bad. Now that father has died there are only 6 of you sleeping in the only bed that your family owns. Carlos the 13 year old boy that we visited with today had to admit though that now that some of his brothers and sisters are are full grown adults it does get a bit crowded at night. Fortunately though due to lack of food no one in Carlos’s family is overweight. Carlos told us that one of his older sister still attends school and so does a younger sibling. His 15 year old brother dropped out of school so that he could try and find some work. He told us that the small amount of money that his mother gets from cleaning house for some one in town was not enough for his family to live on. I asked Carlos why he was not in school and he told me that he had been kicked out for fighting. Although Carlos was very polite as he showed us around what little there was to see of his house I could not help but wonder what he must do all day. So many of these kids end up steeling or getting into gangs simply to be accepted. I asked him if he had any desire to go back to school and he responded with a quick yes. The man from the mayor’s office that had taken us to visit this home assured us that even if Carlos could not get back into his old school there were others public schools that would take him but his mother simply could not afford to send him back to school. Unfortunately in the past 7 days alone I had met far to many Carloses and I know that I could not promise each one of them that I could find some one that was willing to help pay for their schooling. The best I could do was hand him a few pieces of candy that I had in my pocket and tell him that hopefully we could some day help get him back into school and that we would do our best to come in and put up a house that this family could at least stay dry in. He thanked us for coming and then walked off with a few friends who were obviously not in school either. People keep telling me that we can only do so much, but I keep wondering if what we are doing is enough.

Yours in Christ: Dick

6:00 AM, Friday, September 12, 2008

We are still on the road but I got up early so that I could get this published and sent out this morning. We are planing on working our way back home today and when I get home I am planing on putting the computor away for the week end so that I can spend my time with the kids.

Have a good week end.
Y0urs in Christ: Dick


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