* 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)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Journal October 18-24

(Click on any picture to enlarge)

Saturday, October 18, 2009
Today Calin and I met at Hermano Pedro with most of the rotary group from California that worked with us on this week’s wheelchair distributions. Only a few of them had ever been in Hermano Pedro before so I gave them a bit of a tour. Even though they had seen kids that had medical problems during the past several days of wheelchair distributions, seeing the kids at the orphanage and being told some of their stories still brought plenty of tears.

I think that the one that got to them the most was nine year old Alex. Alex seems to be fading away. He has lost another pound this week and is now down to 18 pounds. I have been trying for years to see if they will move him up to the malnutrition ward but for some unexplained reason they refuse to. Monday is a holiday here but on Tuesday morning I am going to go in and see if anything can be done to get him moved up there. I try to pick my battles carefully but unless something more can be done for him I fear that he will not survive much longer.

At noon we took 7 of the kids out to Camperos for lunch then we went to the open house that Hope Haven was having at their new wheelchair factory in Antigua. When things get really rolling they are hoping to be able to supply many countries with the children’s wheelchairs that they have started manufacturing.

Tonight I had a meeting to go to and actually got back late enough that there were no kids left at my gate when I got home.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, October 19, 2008, 10:51 PM
Eight kids came along with me to church this morning. Six of them were from my neighborhood and two of them were from the orphanage. After church we had lunch and then the entire crew came over to my house. More kids soon joined us and my house resembled Hermano Pedro orphanage. Moises and Byron, the two from the orphanage were not all that eager to go back to the orphanage this evening but I promised that I would let them come over again. All of the kids that hang out here are great with the kids from the orphanage and make them feel right at home. I think that since most of my kids have gone through a lot they have a special place in their harts for the orphanage kids.

When I got back home tonight I was ready for some piece and quiet. I may have been ready but I certainly did not get it. My house quickly filled back up with kids. I guess that is what I get for being away from home so much lately. At least some of them have gone home now but that still leaves 5 of them that decided that this is not just a place to hang out and have supper but that it is also a bed and breakfast.

Well I am going to head off to bed before it gets taken.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, October 20, 2008, 8:47 PM

Today I had planned on going to Esquentla to do some visiting but one of the people that wanted to come along with me had other commitments, plus I remembered that it was a holiday and that the clinic that I had planned on stopping at would not be open. After a large breakfast that was made entirely by the 5 kids that spent the night, I told the kids that I needed the house to myself so that I could get caught up on some bookwork. You would have thought that I was going into hibernation for the entire winter and not just for a few hours but they finally shuffled out of the gate. All but Fernando did quite well at allowing me to have some time to myself. He kept ringing the bell and making me go to the gate every few minutes, each time claiming that he left or lost something in my house that he absolutely needed. I finally told him that what I was about to lose was something that he did not need. He got the hint and I actually got a chance to do some work without any interruptions. The only time that I left home was at around 4 PM when I went grocery shopping and stopped off at the wheelchair shop for some supplies that I will need tomorrow.

Whatever lack of company I had today was quickly made up for when I got back from grocery shopping. In fact now that supper is over I once again have to go grocery shopping. I have often wondered if the kids that eat here get enough to eat when I am not at home. From what I am seeing and being told by some of my regulars, many of them do not get more than one or two meals a day and often times the entire meal is nothing more than a few corn tortillas. Miguel and Caser, two brothers who are starting to be some of my regulars, live with their parents and four other siblings. Father brings home the equivalent of $130 per month. After paying rent on their small dirt floor house there is little money left for food and clothing. Thankfully we now have a sponsor for Miguel who is also now working part time in our wheelchair shop. Thankfully he no longer has to work each day for $6.25 per week just so that he can go to night school.

Some of the kids are still outside playing soccer and others are playing games on the computers. Usually the computers are used for schoolwork but school is now out for the season.

Calin is rummaging through my cupboards looking for something to eat, so I think that I well send the rest of the crew home before they decide that they need a second supper as well.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, October 21 2008

This morning Calin, Abner, Marcos, and I stopped off in Antigua and picked up Mary Margaret then the 5 of us headed down towards the coast to visit with some of the people that we are working with. Our first visit was with the people that work at a clinic that we have been working with. Not only are they helping us locate kids like Milton and Julio who were starving to death before we got them into the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro but now that these kids are back with their families the workers at the clinic are delivering food and medicine to them for us and monitoring there progress.

After leaving the clinic we went to see Milton. He is a 4 year old boy that we borought in to Hermano Pedro about 6 months ago. After a few months of doing all that they could for Milton it was decided that he would be just as well off at his home as in the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro because he was running fevers and continuing to loose weight. Basically we all felt that this 4 year old was going home to die. Before stopping in at his home today I had prepared myself for the worst. When we arrived at his home I saw only his mother and one of his brothers standing out side. After saying hello to them I asked mom about Milton. She told us that he still runs some fevers but over all he was doing a lot better. About that time his sister and another little girl came into the yard carrying Milton. Although he must still weigh less than 20 pounds he looks much healthier and was much more alert than he had been when I had last seen him. We were told that Milton had received some food and medicine from the clinic and it had helped him a lot. Mom told us that it had been a one time gift though because this clinic has a very limited budget. We gave Milton’s mom some more food and contacted the clinic telling them that we would give them whatever was necessary to keep Milton supplied with what ever he needed in the way of more food and medicine. They told us that it had been costing them around $25 per month. (Milton needs a sponsor)

Next we drove out through the sugar plantations to Julio’s home. Julio who we do have a sponsor for is doing well. He was lying in a hammock in front to the home that we put up for him while he was in the malnutrition ward a few months ago. His grandmother told us that the food and medicine that the workers of the clinic are bringing in on a monthly bases are a real blessing. I also saw a contentment in both of these kids that tells me that even though their environments are harsh ones they are much better off with their families than being in any hospital or orphanage.

From there we headed cross-country on a maze of dirt roads that led us to Ronny’s house. The entire family was waiting for us because I had told them that we were coming. Ronny had been having some problems with his wheelchair so they had contacted me earlier in the week to see when I could come out and fix it. Ronny has muscular dystrophy and has lost some weight and his health is slowly going down hill. He was happy to get back into his power wheelchair though. The rest of the family is doing well but when I asked about school Ronny’s father told me that he has only registered Ronny and his younger brother for next year.


When I asked why the 3 girls that had been in school this year were not going he reluctantly told me that the family simply did not have the money for their books or uniforms. I asked him why he had not told me this before and he said that since we had helped his family out so much already he was not going to burden us with this. After asking the girls if they wanted to be in school I handed him some money so that he could keep them in school and told him that we would pray for a sponsor. Our visit with this beautiful family that I have known for several years ended all to soon so we set down the children that we were holding and said good-bye.

Our last stop of the day was at the home of Carlos. This is a 10 year old boy that was having daily seizures until we found a sponsor that is helping us provide medicine for him. I had accidentally gone a week to long between visits and his mother had run out of medicine for him. His mother told us that he had started having seizures again. I felt terrible but she reminded me that up until a few months ago when we found a sponsor for him this was a daily occurrence. This time we made sure that he was given a 2 month supply.

There were still more people that I wanted to visit but it had been a long day and we were all tired. Besides that we still had an hour and a half drive home. On our way back home we stopped off a Seriates and had some supper. Seriates is a bit more expensive than where I generally take a crew of this size but the boys had done an awesome job of interpreting so I wanted to buy them a good meal.

Just before reaching my place I told the kids that I was not going to open my house up tonight because it was getting late and I was tiered. When we got to my house and saw how many kids were waiting at my gate I quickly changed my mind though. We had full stomachs but the kids at my gate were hungry. They have now all been fed and I am still tired so I am going to say “Goodnight”.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, October 22, 2008, 7:57 PM
After stopping off at the shop and picking up 2 new wheelchairs and some other supplies Fernando, Esbin, Cesar, and I headed for Hermano Pedro. Today we didn’t take anyone to lunch because I had told my crew that it was going to be a workday. Or at least as much of a work day as I can make of it considering that I had the 3 kids with me and knowing that there would be another half dozen of the orphanage kids that would insist on helping out as well. Actually the kids all stayed quite focused and we managed to get a lot of repair work done and also got two new kids fitted into their new wheelchairs.

I had intended on going to the home of Cesar, the man who’s leg I have been working on. This visit was not going to be to work on his leg but he had found a man with a similar condition that he wanted me to see. Just before heading out to his home we got a down pour that left rivers running down the streets of Antigua so I had Fernando call him and say that we would have to try again on another day

This evening we have simply been hanging out around home. The meal of the evening has been a choice of corn flakes or Coco Crispies but no one has complained. They know that whoever does will be appointed tomorrow night’s chef. Some of the kids have already left but most of them are playing games on the computers. I have not yet asked them how many are staying but by the looks of it most of them look like they are settling in for the night. I think that I will go and get in line for the shower because we still only have water for two and a half hours a day and as much dirt as there has been in the lines that has not been enough to completely fill the new storage tank that I put on top of my house.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, October 23, 2008, 9:59 PM

Today was one of those never get out of town days. Work to get done around the house and bills to pay. I thought that I would perhaps get a chance to get into Hermano Pedro this afternoon but by the time I got everything done it was past 3 PM. The neighborhood kids loved it though because this meant that I was home earlier than usual so they had more time at my house. Other than tracking a lot of mud into the house they did quite well and once again all of them pitched in and made supper. They even washed the dishes and cleaned up after themselves kid stile. Fortunately that runs neck and neck with bachelor stile so we were all happy with the results. I have always believed that a little dirt helps you build up resistances, and that if you keep things to sanitized you are more than likely to pick up the first germ that comes along. Having a little food stuck to the edges of yesterday’s pots and pans also helps me remember what we had for supper last night.

Well I think that I will take a shower and then head off to bed. I guess if I really wanted to save water and also make sure that the dishes got clean I could take them into the shower with me. The only problem is my bathroom is quite small and all of those dishes would leave less room for an audience. I’m still paging through my Spanish Dictionary when I find the time, but so far I have not found a Guatemalan word for modesty. On second thought, since there are still a lot of people in my house perhaps I will just go to bed dirty and take my shower in the morning.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, October 24, 2008, 10:20 PM

Well I managed to get that shower in with only one or two spectators so that is an improvement from the standing room only audiences that I used to get when I first moved here.

(My future bathroom)...

This morning Abner and Marcos accompanied me to Hermano Pedro. It has now been over a week that Abner has been happy and helpful. I am beginning to think that is might last. Today he helped interpret for me, played with the orphanage kids and even helped work on a number of wheelchairs.

Cathy Mullhaland and a friend are here for a few days. Cathy is a physical therapist and seating specialist who has a hart for the people here in Guatemala. Even though she is unable to visit as often as she used to she still manages to show up once or twice a year and work with us.

The first part of the day we mostly just played with the kids. We even took 5 of them out to lunch. This afternoon we got a bit more serious and went over to Hope Haven’s new wheelchair factory and helped seat six kids that had come in for a mini distribution. Actually it turned out to be another one of those Godincidence days because this morning the staff of Hermano Pedro informed me that a little boy that was in malnutrition was unexpectedly going back to his home with his father. I had not yet brought in a wheelchair for him so his father was delighted when he was told that he and his son could come along with us to the other side of town and receive a wheelchair. Everyone an the orphanage has been in love with this little boy ever since he came into the orphanage a few months ago. He loved to be held by anyone who was willing to hold him. Today though I really saw the importance of as many of these kids as possible being with their families. There was such a bond of love between this boy and his father that there was no way that he would be held by anyone else. Fact is he put up quite a fuss when I placed him in his new wheelchair.
When we asked one little girl that was there today how she like school we were told by her mother that she did not go to school. Mom who lives right in Antigua told us that since her daughter could not walk she just figured that there was no way that she would be excepted in a school. I told her about Nanette the teacher that works for us at Hermano Pedro. I also told this mother about Sonia and how through a lot of prayer and persistence Nanette helped get Sonia into a school right in Antigua. Both mother and Daughter were delighted when I promised that I would talk to Nanette so that we could set up a time when they can go and talk with her.

It looks like it is going to be another busy day tomorrow so I think that I will close for now and see if I can possibly get this journal out tonight.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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