* 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, November 13, 2008

Journal November 9-14 2008

(Click on any photo to enlarge)

Sunday, November 9, 2008, 9:00 PM

Tonight I am once again in a motel room in Rabinal. I decided to try this one because it is rated one of the top 2 motels in this town. Of course that doesn’t mean much considering there are only 2 motels in this town. 2 weeks ago after staying in the other one I decided that I would try this one even though people that I talked to in town told me that it was not all that great. After spending a night in the other motel and discovering that the only thing that was soft about the beds were some of the fuzzy bugs that were in it I decided that this one couldn’t be any worse. I was right it isn’t any worse. I am afraid that it isn’t much better either though. At least here the water has stayed on and the shower has an electric widow maker showerhead. It does not work but at least it has one. There is some kind of a tree outside that keeps dropping seeds on the roof but I will hopefully be able to sleep through that. I guess I should count my blessings though because it is not a coconut tree and there are no visible holes in the roof that are large enough for any seed to drop through.

Abner and Daniel have come along with me on this trip and they are staying in the motel room next door. Since most motels charge by the person and not by the number of rooms that you take I decided to get them a room of their own. That way they can watch TV as late as they want to. This morning we headed out with 40 water filters that we are planning on distributing in a village tomorrow. Julia and her husband Luis who are friends that live in Rabinal will accompany us. They have found a village that is in need of them. I had hoped that we could bring some more filters into the village that we brought some into last year but the river is still to high to cross with mules and that is the only way that we can get them into that village.

Today instead of staying on the mane roads we went cross-country. This cuts off over 50 miles but it is certainly not Corvette country. There is a lot of beautiful scenery along the way though and we even stopped off at one river and went for a swim. About an hour further down the road I nearly had to turn around because of a truck that was stuck on the road. The truck that was half buried in mud was not all that big but neither was the road so I barely squeezed my way past it. I thought about seeing if I could pull it out of the mud but when I saw that it was loaded with cement blocks and bottomed out in the mud I decided not to take a chance of doing a lot of damage to my land cruiser.

Well either the wind has died down or the tree outside is running out of what ever it is that is falling from it because the racket has died down to where I think I can get some sleep, so I will say goodnight. Now all I have to do is decide weather to go to bed smelling like sweat or take an ice cold shower. Come to think of it I did swim today so I guess the shower can wait until morning.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, November 10, 2008, 11:21 PM
After breakfast we went and picked up Luis, Julia, and their two kids and headed for an aldea (Small village) that I have never been to before. We were able to drive nearly all of the way to a school that also serves as the local meeting hall but had to walk a last bit of the way because a section of the road is gone due to a land slide. The landslide has also caused part of the school to drop down a few feet but they are still using it. We had no trouble getting the water filters the rest of the way because nearly all of the 100 plus residents of the aldea were waiting for us and everyone pitched in and helped. Abner had his hands full because he was the only one that knew both English and Spanish. Conversation got a bit tricky because Abner’s voice is not all that loud so what ever I said to him was translated to Luis who in turn repeated it to the villagers that knew Spanish than one of them translated it to the people of the village that only know their Mayan language. This could have gotten a bit confusing, especially since I was explaining proper dosages of the parasite medication that we were giving out and the amount of bleach to add to the water that was to be put into the water filters that were also given out. Everyone did a great job of interpreting though and all of the instructions seemed to be understood.

Abner has come so far in the past few months. It was not all that long ago that I vowed that I would never again take him into a village with me. That was after he had a temper tantrum while we were hiking in to bring some medicine to Erica. It is not a good situation having a crying Guatemalan kid with you in a strange village. Especially if you don’t know the language and the kid is mad enough that given the opportunity he would likely tell the villagers that you were kidnapping him. Today this same young man was standing beside me sharing with the people that we had come to their village to share the love of Jesus with them. Both he and Daniel did such a great job of helping out today that I am going to reward them by taking them to Champey tomorrow.

It took a few hours to get all of the water filters assembled and handed out but we finished up at around noon. Before leaving we hiked in to visit the family of Rubin, one of the teens that comes to camp. I have never hiked in to see this family before because Julia and Luis usually deliver his invitation on Luis’s motorcycle. We had a good visit. Seeing his home and others that we passed by on the trail going in reminded us of just how much poverty there is in Guatemala.

Well it is getting late so I guess that I will head off to bed. It better be a good one because this motel is costing the 3 of us $35. That’s about 50% higher than last night’s motel. Then again they claim that this one has hot water. I will soon find out.Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, November 11, 2008, 9:28 PM

Guess what. I managed to get that hot shower last night but only after operating on the electric showerhead. While working on it I tried to be careful because I was quite certain that they did not call them widow makers for nothing. I would have felt better if there would have been a shut off switch some where but that was long gone and some one had wired it in to direct current. However, even though I was standing ankle deep in water from a plugged drain, I felt reasonably safe because since I am not married, I figured that the name widow maker could not refer to me.

Today we went to Champey. This has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. Were it not for the fact that it is at times impossible to get to even with a 4 wheel drive vehicle, I think that it would be more popular. In a way I am glad that it is not easily accessible though because its remoteness is part of its charm. Anyway enough writing since this is unofficially a day off for me, so here are some pictures.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Last night we stayed in the same motel. We got the same room so the shower worked fine. Standing in the same ankle deep water was not all that bad other than the fact that it was the same water that was in it last night. This morning it was a bit deeper though. I think that was due to the fact that the toilet tank sprung a leek during the night.
We once again decided to head cross-country to get back home today. I even found a new road today that cut off about another 25 miles. (The word road in Guatemala refers to anything that has ever been driven down with any type of vehicle, even if it was 50 years ago.) This one can even be found on a few Guatemalan maps though. I have an idea that these are maps from the fifties because none of the bridges that had at one time crossed any of the rivers were there anymore. At least this gave me the opportunity to get the lower half of my car washed four or five times. There were a few times that I wondered if I was going to get it completely washed but fortunately it had not rained there recently so we managed to find fairly shallow places to cross. Since it was a hot day we even got out of the car and swam in a few of the rivers that we crossed.

We finally pulled into my alley at around quarter to eight. By eight a dozen kids were in the house and things were back to normal. Calin told me that his sister Claudia’s wedding, that is going to be on Friday was nearly canceled due to no bridegroom. Claudia’s future husband and his father had withdrawn some money from the bank for the wedding, and were followed to there home that is only a half block from mine and robbed them. Much like the many other robberies that have been going on around here the robbers knew exactly how much money they had taken out of the bank. As the three robbers were leaving one of them turned and aimed his gun at Claudia’s boy friend. He was sure that the robber was going to shoot him but instead the robber hit him over the head with the gun and left. I am not sure if this was related but that same day a man about a block away from here was shot and killed.

Some more disturbing news that I received today was from my friend Rolland Elf. He called to say that Ana Marib, a little girl who lives north of Huehuetenango whom we had measured for a wheelchair on a visit in September had died. I remember her well because her Father had refused to let us see her at first because he did not trust white people.

Well there is still no place like home and it is good to be back. I am tired though so I think that I will say, “Goodnight”.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, November 13, 2008, 10:58 PM

Calin, Fernando, and Marcos came along with me to the orphanage today. Shortly after we got there we were met by David Black. His wife Luanne spent about two months volunteering at Hermano Pedro during the summer. David and Luanne have both been in Guatemala several times prior to that. Today David helped the boys and myself fix some wheelchairs in the morning and then at around noon we took five of the kids out to lunch. After lunch I showed him around the orphanage and introduced him to some of the kids. His wife had fallen in love with Lionel when she was here and David also took to him the minute that he saw him. This evening as we headed out of the orphanage David shook my hand and told me that today was his birthday and that he could not have thought of a better way to spend it. I think that we will be seeing a lot more of both David and Luanne here in the not to distant future.

A few hours ago Alex came into my house demanding supper. Not 30 seconds later Alex was on his way out of my house with little more than an empty stomach. Every now and then I have to not so gently remind the kids that this is not a restaurant.. Poor Alex just last night he asked me for some money so that he could buy some white shoes for Claudia’s wedding. I had to remind him that just last week when I asked him if he wanted to make some money by doing some work for me he had said no. He is a good kid but some times he needs a little reminder that I am his friend but this is not a bank or a restaurants.

Fernando on the other hand put me to shame earlier this evening. It is my prayer that some day I become as wise and compassionate as this 12 year old. Since the three boys did such a good job of helping out at the orphanage today I stopped off and bought them each a few pieces of pizza. They sell it outside of Camperos for just over a buck for 2 slices and a coke. As I walked up to the pizza stand a little boy whom Fernando had already struck up a conversation with, asked me if I wanted him to shine my shoes. Not that my shoes could not have stood to be shined and 2Q (25 Cents) isn’t all that much but, I was tired and hungry and I just wanted to sit down and enjoy my pizza so I politely said “No thank you,” picked up my pizza and walked over to the table where Calin and Marcos were already at. A few minutes later Fernando came over to the table and sat down. After we prayed he looked up at me and asked me if it would be all right if he gave one of his pieces of pizza to the little shoeshine boy. I told him that it was OK with me but reminded Fernando that he was the one that had told me how hungry he was and that was the main reason that I had stopped for Pizza. Fernando then told me that he was indeed hungry but the little boy that he wanted to give half of his pizza to had not eaten all day and had to be hungrier. A few minutes later the little shoeshine boy had his own 2 pieces of pizza and a coke. We asked him if he wanted to join us but he told us that he had to get home before dark. He said that today had been a good day. He had made 10Q shining shoes, and that was the amount that his father required him to bring home before he was allowed back into his house.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, November 14, 2008, 7:16 PM

Today I made the first of many runs into Guatemala City to pick up some of the Ameriacn volunteers that are coming here to help out at camp. During the next 3 weeks.we plan on having 3 one week camps for some adults, teens, and kids with dissibilities. Please pray for this our ninth year of camp. It is always a buisy tiem but a rewarding one.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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