* 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)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Journal December 12-20

(Click on any picture to enlarge)
Friday December 12 - somewhere around Tuesday December 16, 2008

You guessed it. I somehow managed to get five days behind on my journaling so once again you are going to get a condensed account of what has been taking place during the past several days.

A lot!

OK I will try to go into a bit more detail and will keep this as accurate as possible but since so much has taken place you will have to forgive me if I get the order of events and exact days that they took place wrong.

Due to snow storms in Texas. It took a day or 2 before everyone that was involved in the four days of wheelchair distributions arrived here in Guatemala and even longer for some of their clothing and supplies to arrive but fortunately the gift shop that is located in the hotel that we are staying in had a lot of deodorant on hand so none of us had to room by ourselves. Even though this was primarily a Joni and friends wheelchair distribution I counted at least nine other ministries that took part. I would love to mention all of their names and the names of all the people that took part in this outreach but fear that I would accidentally leave a few of them out. All I can say is that when Christians unite with the common goal of sharing the love of Jesus Christ a lot can be accomplished. It is not often that you get the opportunity to work along side of such a verity of people and I loved it. Some of the people on our team were wealthy businessmen from the USA. Others were people who wondered where their next meal was coming from. My interpreter was an x-gang member who had spent the better part of his life in jail. He and some other x-gang members spent all four days with us not only interpreting but also helping fit the wheelchairs. I never thought that anything could bring more tears to my eyes than seeing some of the suffering that those that we gave wheelchairs to were going through, but watching these once hardened criminals cry and pray over them was simply awesome. These men are sold out to God. Life is not easy for them or their families though. Most of them are covered with tattoos that they received wile they were in their gangs, so even though God has changed their lives no one will give them jobs.
All of the X-gang members loved helping
out with the wheelchair distribution.

They are also targets for other gangs and they had to be very careful when we went out to other parts of the city to do wheelchair distributions. Funny thing though many of them reminded me of my kids at home. Much like Calin and some of the other kids that hang out at my house these men just want to be recognized as human beings. It amazed me how much a pat on the back or a thank you meant to them. I think that many of these grown men never got that at home and that is why they turned to the gangs. For most of these men the gangs were the only family that they knew. Now that they were part of a new family, the family of Christ, I felt honored to call them my brothers. Fact is they are going to contact me in a few weeks so that they can come to Antigua and help me take some of the orphanage kids out to lunch.

This is one of the houses that was built this week.

Actually during the past few days there were a number of things going on at once. Chris for the most part spent his time with a group of men that had come here to build two houses in a village not far from Chimaltenango, while I spent most of my time in Guatemala City with the wheelchairs distribution teem. Actually Chris some how managed to be both places at once. This is a feat that am finding a bit more difficult to do at my age. All of us stayed busy though and even though I would not have missed the past four or five days for the world I will be glad to get back to Chimaltenango and spend some time with the kids. I have spent only one night at home in the past ten days and my kids are not all that happy about it.

I could write volumes about the marvelous ways that we saw God working in the past few days but I simply do not have the time so I hope that these pictures will at least tell part of the story.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Being born with no legs
and only one hand
has not slowed this
two year old down.

Receiving a walker as well as a wheelchair made for one satisfied customer.



Receiving early
Christmas presents

This single mother of three children has a large tumor. She will likely die soon unless we can find help for her. Her 15 year old daughter is trying to make enough money to keep the family alive.

The 26 year old girl in this picture has a body that is so twisted that I decided to fit her in a few weeks. It will likely take a full day to get her seated properly.

All of the people that came in to the distributions were visited with, prayed for, and given the opportunity to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008, 8:56 PM

The past few days have been great but it sure feels good to be back at home. When I got home last night the kids quickly started showing up. I am not sure just how many there were, partly because I was to tiered to count but mainly because it was after dark and I had no electricity. I had water though, so two out of three wasn't all that bad. Even though I was able to run an extension cord over to my house from the neighbors, Having no lights gave me a good excuse to load all of the kids into my car and head off to burger king for supper. Since I had been gone so long the kids were anything but quiet. I loved it though.

Today I knew that things were really back to normal when the soccer game that tool place out in my yard produced two broken windows. I managed to get into town and pay a few bills. I made sure that my electric bill was the first one that got payed. The electric company told me that my lights should be back on by tomorrow morning. I am not holding my breath though. They seem to be much faster at disconnecting things around here then they are at reconnecting them.

At last count there were 15 people in my house that is roughly 10 less than an hour ago. Everyone found out that several of my friends have brought school shoes for the kids so they are coming in and picking out which ones they want for Christmas. I will not let them take them home yet but am allowing each of them to tape their names to the bottom of the pare that they want.

It looks like five of the kids are staying so I guess I better go and heat up some water so that they can take showers. A shower is mandatory for any kid that stays here over night. It helps cut down on unwanted critters.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, December 18, 2008

This morning Keven, one of the five kids that stayed over last night showed me a sore that he had gotten on his foot while I was gone last week. At first he did not want to tell me how he got it but then he told me that he and another kid had gotten into a bit of mischief by throwing water balloons at people that were walking by.
Evidently one of these people did not think to highly of what they thought was fun, and he pulled a gun out and shot at Keven. Fortunately the bullet only grazed Keven's foot but it gave him quite a scare.

around 10 AM 5 of the kids and myself headed to the coast for a birthday party that Ronny's family was having for him. He turned 15 today. Since Ronny had not been able to attend camp this year I had promised him and his brother Arlando, that they could come over for a few days so after the birthday party they came home with us. Fernando offered to sleep near Ronny because he often wakes up at night and asks to be repositioned. As rapidly as Ronny has been loosing strength I can not help but wonder how many more birthday's he will be celebrating. Calin is also staying here tonight. It is actually easier having all four of them stay because they all get along marvelously and Fernando and Calin watch over Ronny like a mother hen.

I had to send Esben and Elder home early tonight because they were acting up. Three weeks ago they returned to live with their mother who had originally deserted them. Marco's mom had adopted them, but she died a little over a year ago and it was difficult for Marco's older brother to take care of them and his own brothers and sisters. After I sent them home I was told that they are once again living with Marcos and his Brother. I guess their mother once again decided that she didn't want them. After hearing that I can't say that I blame them for acting up.

.. . . . .. . . . . .. . .Elder

Well it is getting late and I thing that the kids that are still here have wound down enough that they will soon go to sleep, so I thing that I will do the same.


Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, December 19, 2008, 10:09 PM

The night went fairly well but Fernando who was sleeping next to Ronny did not wake up nearly as easy as I did so I ended up getting up several times during the night. Not only is Ronny unable to role over on his own but he can no longer move his arm more than a few inches. He is still able to drive his power wheelchair but if his head happens to fall forward or to the side he can not lift it back up on his own. At least he seem to be enjoying himself because he even asked if he could stay a few more days. I still plan on bringing him home tomorow though.

Today we spent a good part of the day just hanging around the house. Fernando and Arlindo made breakfast while Abner and Calin put up the Christmas tree. At around 2PM Several of my regulars, Ronny, Arlindo, and myself went down to the mall to see a movie. This was a first for Ronny and Arlindo and they really enjoyed it. I think that I have spoiled them rotten the past few days but they don't get spoiled all that often. After seeing the movie and then getting something to eat. We took my car to the upholstery shop to pick up the drivers seat that I had left there in the morning. Had it not been for the honesty of the man that ran the upholstery shop, my $20 upholstery job may have cost me a lot more in time and money. I had accidentally left some very important paper work stuck between the springs under the seat. Had the man that found it decided to he could have sold them for a fare amount of money. I seldom loose things but these past two weeks have been a bad ones. First my Passport, now my Guatemalan Identification papers. Thankfully I found my passport, got my identification papers back, and even found my cell phone that I had lost. Oh, I didn't mention loosing the phone. It evidently fell out of my pocket at the movie theater. Fortunately Madagascar II is a rather noisy movie so who ever sat in the row that we were in during the next two showings failed to hear it ring so it remained on the floor under the seat where is was sitting for several hours.

Tonight Alex, and Windy's mom came over to my house. her kids have already gone through the two large boxes of shoes that I have and picked out the school shoes that they want me to give them at Christmas. This family has very little ,but tonight mom was not looking for help fer her family but for a family that lives next door to them, whom I had never met before. Alex's mom told me that her neighbors are a widow and her five children. Two of the boys that come along with her but the others were to shy to come. The two boys hat were with her were also quite shy and very dirty. One was waring a pare of shoes but I was told the other one was bare foot. His feet were very dirty so we washed them before he tried on any of the shoes. When I told him that he could keep them he lit up brighter than the Christmas tree that my kids put up earlier today. Alex's mom told me that he had not owned a pare of shoos for as long as she could remember. Alex's mom told me that one of the little girls needed a pare as well, so I gave her a pare to take home to her. By the looks of the two boys that were here here I think that this family may be in need of a lot more than just a few pare of shoes.

Well, Fernando, Ronny, and Arlindo are fast asleep on the two soffas in the living room. Abner is in a mattress that is on the floor of my bedroom and I am ready to head to bed so I will say, "Goodnight".

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, December 20, 2008, 9:01 PM

I don't know exactly what happened during the night but at around 2 AM I heard Ronny calling from the other room. He told me that he had to use the bathroom so I got up and carried him there and back. When I turned on the light to put him back on the sofa I discovered that Abner who was originally sleeping on the floor of my room was on the other sofa where Fernando and Arlindo were originally sleeping. The two of them had evidently traded places with Abner with out my knowledge. I really didn't care but I found that Fernando had pulled all of the blankets off from Arlindo and the poor kid was lying there shivering. I managed to find some more blankets and get him covered up but he evidently got cold again because I woke up at around 5 AM to discovered that I had company in my bed. Little Arlindo had evidently decided that he liked my bed better than the mattress on the floor. He was actually lying very still and I doubt that I would have even noticed that he was there had it not been for the amount of soda that I allowed him to drink when he was at the movies yesterday. Talk about a scare. Not only did I think that I was getting old and forgetful but for a minute there I was afraid that I was also starting to loose control of my bladder. Thankfully my electricity is back on because I hate cold showers at five o'clock in the morning.

This morning we headed out at about 10 AM. The past few days were not quite as restful as I had anticipated but if you could have seen how much fun the kids had you would know that it was worth it. I can always take a few days off some other time but I have a feeling that Ronny will not be around long enough to have too may more fun filled days. Please pray for the other six kids in his family as well. Each of the for girls have a fifty fifty chance of being carriers of muscular dystrophy and Arlindo and his baby brother have a fifty fifty chance of having it. If Arlindo has muscular dystrophy it will likely show up in the next year or two.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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