* 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)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Journal September 4-10 2008

(Click on any photo to enlarge)
Saturday, October 4, 2008

This morning two of the boys and myself went over and visited with the Mooney family for a while. They are great people to visit with but I have to admit this time I had an ulterior motive to my visit, it is rainy season and they have a close dryer. While we were there I took a look at Donna's Macintosh Computer. It is having some problems. It is slowing down to the point that you would think that she was using a Windows computer instead of a Mac. I will probably get some feed back about that remark from those of you who are using Windows’ operating systems. That is if they are working well enough to receive this journal. Anyway we had a good visit and I think that we narrowed down the problem with the computer.

This afternoon I swapped off the two kids that came along with me this morning for six new ones. I had planned on taking only three kids along with me but I hate seeing kids cry. There is a new restaurant just a short distant from town that is located on an old plantation that is being converted into a camp grounds and conference center. It is a beautiful place but I don’t think that they are going to get much business unless they can do something about the dirt road that leads to it. My main reason for taking the kids there was that they have all kinds of room to play there. There is even a soccer field and my kids made good use of it. The kids all had something to eat but I didn’t order much to eat because I had already had lunch with group # 1. After lunch I let the kids play until dark. They had a great time and I found that a lot less of my things get broken when the kids have an actual soccer field to play in.

Tonight I have the house to myself. I have once again picked up a head cold so I told the kids that I needed some quiet time. I guess that I will go out and remind whoever it is that is ringing the doorbell that I am not opening up the house tonight. You would think that the other 12 that have already showed up at my gate, one at a time, would have gotten the word out by now. I think that they are working at letting me know that I would get a lot more rest by letting them in than by having to go out to the gate every 5 minutes.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Woke up feeling lousy so I spent the day at home.
Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, October 6, 2008
I think that my head cold is getting better but then again I have not had much time to think about it. I got up at 5 AM and shortly after 6 Howard, Juan, Juan Luis and myself were on our way to Mazatenango with two pickup trucks loaded to the brim with tools and a prefabricated house. This one was going to a family that live in a small town about 20 minutes drive from Mazatenango. You may remember me telling you about them when Donya Marya took us to their home a few months ago. That day only Carlos, a 12 year old boy was at home. His mom was cleaning house for someone in town and the other 4 kids were either in school or working. Carlos was not in school because he had been kicked out for fighting. The entire family lived in a one room house that was made from black plastic and rusted out pieces of tin. They had one bed for the entire family to sleep in and the river that was less than 50 feet from their home served as bathtub and toilet. Even though we had other houses scheduled to build we felt that this one was a priority.

Today tearing down the old house only took us about a half hour. I have little doubt that had we waited until a good wind came through Mother Nature would have done the job for us. Once we got the old house out of the way we could see that the ground had a lot more slope to it than we had first thought. Fortunately we were able to hire five of the High school class mates of the oldest boy in the family and they helped us carry in rock and dirt to level up the ground that the new house was going to be built on. The mayor of the town also came over. He and some of the men from the town offered to supply some of the sand, gravel, and cement blocks that would be needed to level up the ground and put a cement floor in the house. He even supplied 2 more men to help us for at least one day. These 2 men were paid by the city but we had to come up with the $10 to pay the high school boys for a half days work. I know that they took a little advantage of us since Howard and I were gringos but we figured that giving the 5 of them $2 each was worth it even if they were only working a half-day. I mentioned that 2 of us were gringos but the other 2 were not neither were any of the 5 high school boys that we hired, or the 2 men that the mayor supplied. I guess that is why a lot of what got done today got done the Guatemalan way. I have gotten accustom to everyone and everything being at least a few hours late however when you are waiting for truck loads of sand, gravel, or cement block to arrive so that you and your crew can go to work it gets a bit annoying when all 3 truck arrive at least 2 hours late. This especially bothered Howard who is very punctual. What bothered me more than that was that even though Howard and myself agreed that once the sand which had been hand shoveled off from the trucks was shoveled into wheelbarrows and feed sack it would be best to carry them directly to the job site which was located down a Maze of narrow paths that zigzagged between sporadically placed one and two room dwellings. However we were quickly outvoted and it was decided that the dirt and rock would be unloaded at a half way point and then reloaded and piled a short distance from where we were building the house. From there it could once again be reloaded and used as needed. Funny thing is we already needed it two hours before the trucks arrived. Howard and I looked at each other and agreed that we were the foreigners and that we had to remember, when in Guatemala do as the Guatemalan’s do. I could not help but notice that Howard kept looking at his watch though.

We got the old house torn down and the sand and gravel moved to at least one of our many transfer sites we also got the edges of the place where the new house is to be built shored up with rocks that are the same size and five times the weight of bowling balls. Then our workday was cut short by a thunderstorm. Now let me tell you, all of us had agreed that we were not going to let a little bit of rain keep us from working but this was more than a little bit of rain. Fact is as we were driving out I ran the pick up truck right into the side of a small cement bridge that I did not see. Fortunately since the road was bumpy ant the visibility was bad I was moving very slowly so more damage was done to my pride than to the pickup truck.

Tonight we are once again at our home away from home, the Bamboo hotel. I don’t know if it is my imagination or what, but after hauling rock and sand, and carrying boulders all afternoon these cement beds feel even harder than usual.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, October 7, 2008
After breakfast we headed out to the job site. We had been promised that the cement block would be delivered by 8 AM. For the next two hours Howard spent a lot of time looking at his watch. Once the block finally arrived we convinced our helpers that it would be beneficial to them if they carried the block the full distance to the job site rather than unload it at various check points. I am not sure that they fully agreed but money talks. Today the workers seemed to understand my English “No listen, No pay.” They told us that they could only work until noon though because they had school in the afternoon and even though we were paying them good money they could not miss a second day of school. We were glad to see that these young men were conscientious about there schooling because this was the slum area of this town and undoubtedly many of the young people from here were gang members and not going to school.

Howard and I had a talk with 12 year old Carlos because the last time that I was there he told me that he had gotten kicked out of school for fighting. His older brother told us that he had also been trying to convince Carlos that he needed to get back into school but so far Carlos had refused. I told Carlos who had also been helping us that I could see that he was a good worker and knew by talking with him that he was very intelligent. I asked him to at least think it over and that if he decided that he wanted to resume his schooling that we would help him get back into school.

Today the afternoon rain held off for a bit longer than usual and we were able to get the outside foundation of the house put in. Tomorrow morning we plan on having our helpers carry in fill dirt to level up the floor while we start construction of the house.

I made several attempts at taking a picture of the polluted river that runs near the house but every time I went down there some one was using it as a toilet or a bathtub. They did not seem to be embarrassed that I was standing there with a camera in my hand, but I was, so I refrained from taking any pictures of the river.
"I don't know about you Pedro but I am not sure that I can hold out for much longer. In fact I'm starting to wonder if these Gringos are even going to put a bathroom in this house."

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Today we managed to get most of the wall of the house up before a heavy rainstorm came in. We were instantly soaked to the skin but kept working in it until we got the siding up on one of the outside walls that had insulation exposed to the rain but then we went under a neighbors porch where we were out of the rain. Even though it was only 2:30 we nearly called it quits for the day because it was raining so hard that there was no way that we could work in it. However contrary to most Guatemalan afternoons during the rainy season this storm let up after a while and we were able to get in another few hours of work. One thing that we keep trying to remind ourselves though is that our main reason for being here is not to get a house built or a wheelchair handed out, and some times it takes a rain storm us focus on that. Here we were sitting on the front porch of the home of some one that we had not met until 2 days ago visiting with at least 20 people that knew that we were there to share Christ’s love with them by helping a widow and her children have a better life. Pastor Juan who is one of the 4 of us that came to build this house could have preached a sermon to these people while we waited out the rainstorm. He certainly had a captive audience. He didn’t though. Instead much like the rest of us he just visited. Yes there was talk about how God had led us to this family and how it was because of the love of Jesus that we were there, but there were no sermons, just Christian friendship. I think that these people had already gotten their sermon watching pastor Juan and the rest of us while we were on our knees in the mud constructing this house.

Tonight we are all tired and a bit stiff and aching a bit more than usual, but are any of us sorry that we came. Not on your life. We love what we are doing and we love the One who we are doing it for, and He has given us a love for these people.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, October 10, 2008

This morning Pastor Juan and I put on the roof while Howard, and Juan Luis built a porch. If we had to do this project with the 4 of us we would likely be here several weeks. We are not alone on this building project though. The longer that I stay here the more in love I become with these people. Even though we are in what you would consider the slum area of a small town the people here seem to have a camaraderie that I do not see in many other places. I have seen some jealousy in some of the places where we have built homes but here it seems that all of the neighbors are very excited and happy for this widow and her 6 children. Granted we are paying some of the older boys a few dollars each day to help but today they even came back after school and offered to do more work for free. Even the women and younger children pitch in and help in whatever way they can. Today most of them spent a good part of the day bringing water up from the river or carrying in sand and rocks so that we could pour a cement floor. Every day since we have been here some of the women prepare lunch for us.

This afternoon we had enough help that I took some time to simply enjoy the kids. As you all know by now that is a hard job for me but I managed to enjoy myself. They seemed to enjoy the attention as well. Even one little guy who cut his foot when we were roughhousing a bit to much became my best buddy when I took the time to clean and bandage the cut on his foot. The kids took great delight in trying to teach me some Spanish as I tough them some English. I guess that I am a better teacher than a student because they must have learned 10 words to my 1. Fact is I can’t even remember what that word was now. Since the rest of the crew stuck to their work a lot did get accomplished today and the house is nearly complete. Tomorrow morning we plan on doing just a few odds and ends that should not take more than an hour or two. We hope to be on our way home by 10 but have heard that they are going to have a dedication of the home in the morning as well. Here in Guatemala no Christian family ever considers moving into a new home until they give thanks to God and have a Christian dedication. We are all wanting to gat back to our homes but we would not miss this for the world.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, October 10, 2008

We had planned on heading for home early this morning but there were a few finishing touches that we wanted to put on the house that we had built before leaving. So the four of us headed back there and worked for a few hours before heading for home. When we got there we were pleasantly surprised to see that last night some of the boys from the neighborhood had finished up on some cement work that was needed around a corner post of the porch. When we arrived several of them quickly showed us what they had done so that we could admire their work.

Along with the money that a gracious family had given us to build this house they had also sent some money to buy some thing special for this family. Considering that mom who is a widow has to share a bed with her 5 children some of whom are adults, the decision on what to use the money for was a fairly easy one, so about an hour before the others finished up Donya Marie and I went into Mazatenango and bought two double beds. Since our shopping trip took a bit longer than expected and the house dedication was not going to be this morning as I had first thought, I never did get back to where we built the house to say goodbye, but Donya Marie will see to it that the beds are delivered this afternoon. Perhaps it was best that I did not get a chance to say goodbye because it would have been hard. Besides that this gives me a good excuse to go back and visit with these wonderful new friends as soon as possible.

As hard as it was to leave it was sure good to get back and see the kids. I had thought about sneaking of to the shop to work on this journal when I got home but there was no way. Fernando, who was standing guard quickly notified the other kids that I was home, and soon my yard was full of kids. Suddenly the kids were more far more important than any journal. They wanted to spend time with me and I wanted to spend time with them. Perhaps I will get this sent out tomorrow but right now I have to go pay the man who is waiting at my gate with the 4 large pizzas.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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