* 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)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Journal December 21-25

(Click on any picture to enlarge)
Sunday, December 21, 2008

Well things are finally back to normal. That is if you can call a 24 by 22 foot house that seldom has anything less then a dozen kids in it normal. I totally enjoyed all of the groups of volunteers that have been here the past few months but all of the activities that went on kept me away from home way too much. I have decided to spend a good deal of the Christmas holidays doing stuff with my kids. Nothing special just mostly hanging out with them and letting them come along with me when I do go places. When they are allowed to be part of what I am doing they love it. There are of coarse times when I can not include them but I feel that the future of Guatemala lies in their hands and they will be the ones that will be able to impact there generation a lot more than those of us who were not born and raised here.

Today we went to church, then out to lunch, and then up to the cross that over looks Antigua. There are a lot of trails up there and it is a great place for kids that have had to sit still in church for a few hours to go and burn off some energy. The nice thing is there is also a road that runs to the top of the hill so I always make myself designated driver and meet the crew at the top of the hill. After that we headed for home and just hung around there. Kids kept showing up all day, picking out the shoes that they wanted for Christmas from several large boxes that friends from the States have brought down throughout the year. Even though every one of the kids knows exactly what they are getting for Christmas they insisted that all of pairs of shoes get individually wrapped and put under my tree. Abner and Alex offered to do all of the wrapping but I don’t think that they realized what a big job that would be but fortunately they talked some of the older girls into coming over and helping out as well. Funny thing, even though the kids know exactly what they are getting for Christmas they are still shaking their gifts and trying to poke little holes in the wrapping so that they can have a peek at their new shoes. Tonight my house looks more like a dormitory than a house. I think that the kids are worried that their gifts will disappear if they do not sleep near my tree and guard them.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, December 22, 2008

After the kids and I made breakfast four of us headed to Hermano Pedro. Even though far more than three kids wanted to come along with me I only took three of them. Since the first three that asked to come along were three of my more energetic ones (Nice way of saying hard to control) I figured that three kids would be plenty.

When we got to Hermano Pedro we discovered a long line of people that were waiting to get inside. Every year they hand out gifts to families that are in need. It was still a good two hours before they were going to start letting people come in to receive their presents but the line up was already over a block long. Fortunately the priest that was guarding the door knows me so he let the boys and myself come inside. Benjamin, my friend from Canada, offered to help us take some of the kids out to lunch, but since most of the kids that remain at the orphanage during the Christmas season are some of the more severe ones, and two of the three boys that had come along with me were not my usuals, and the third was Abner. I decided not to have them be responsible for feeding any of the kids. We still went to lunch though and Benjamin and I each took one of the adults that stay at Hermano Pedro along to lunch. I did a bit of visiting with the kids after lunch and even managed to get up to the malnutrition ward for a bit.
Lionel is doing great and they seem to have his seizures under control. I am going to try to have a meeting with the staff of Hermano Pedro in a few days to see if he can continue to stay there until his parents feel that they can care for him at home. It must be so hard for them. They would love to have him at home with them but realize that his chances of surviving there would not be good. Hopefully in a year or two that will change. Alex is still up in the malnutrition ward and seems to be doing a bit better. He is still very week though and certainly needs our prayers. Just today I was told that three of the kids that returned to their homes in the past few months have died. Two of those three kids were in great shape when they went back to their homes. It is so hard to know what is best. I would hate to see these kids stay in the orphanages for life, but in some cases their families simply cannot give them the care that they need.

At around 2 PM I decided that it was time to get my three boys out of the orphanage before we got kicked out. They were not doing any thing bad but it was not hard to see that yesterday’s hike up to the cross had not burned up enough of their excess energy. By 3 PM we had picked up another 6 kids from home and were on our way to the hot springs for a swim. Normally If I saw 30 drunk Guatemalan men having a party at the hot springs I would turn tale and run but I figured that if we did leave, that dealing with 9 kids that I had promised to take swimming would not be much safer so I chose swimming. Things went all right but it would have been far more relaxing had the drunks not been there. Fact is one of the men who had previously asked me if I wanted to fight him became my friend after I grabbed hold of him and pulled him to the edge of the pool when he was going under for the third time.

It may not look like it, but my new friend on the right is the only one in this picture that has been drinking.

On the way home we stopped off for hamburgers and now some of the kids are playing on the computers while others are guarding the Christmas tree. I promised a few of them that I would play a game with them where we see who can be the first to tell me the English word for pictures that I show them in a book, so I better close for now. We have tried the game in reverse, where they would point at the pictures and I would try to say the name in English but we all unanimously decided that it would be far easier for my entire neighborhood to learn English than for me to learn Spanish.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Today the kids and I gathered up all of the toys, tooth brushes, shoes, stuffed animals, what ever else we had in the house, bought some groceries, and headed out to visit some of the families that we know that will not be giving each other gifts for Christmas. Before heading out we picked up Benjamin and Mary Margaret from Antigua. When I called them they were both excited to come along with us but after the teasing that they got from my boys I am not so sure. I think that some of my boys have found their calling in life, but I am not sure what the need is here in Guatemala for "Meet a Mate" services.

We all had a good time though and it was great for my kids to be able to give gifts to people who had far less than they have. Many of the kids that received the remainder of the shoes that we handed out would not have been allowed back into school in January with out them.

I am not sure where the day went but it is getting late and I am down to a reasonable number of overnight guests so I think that I am going to call it a day.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, December 24, 2008, 8:43 AM

I woke up to the smell of breakfast cooking. Fernando and Esben had decided to make breakfast. I must admit they did an excellent job of it to. We had pancakes and eggs and unlike when some of the other kids try their hand at cooking, most of what they made ended up on our plates rather than on the floor and ceiling. Some of the other kids are now sweeping the house and doing the dishes while I get caught up on my journal. Tonight I plan on going over to the neighbors to celebrate Christmas eve so I think that the kids and I will go pick up a cake and some fire works for the party.

7:10 PM

I ended up going all the way to Antigua for the cake. Not simply because I am Dutch and cakes are about a dollar cheaper there, but because I got a phone call from a lady that wanted to see the orphanage. Calin and Esben came along and played with the kids while we were there. We did not stay very long because I knew that my alley would be swarming with kids that would be eagerly waiting to open their Christmas presents. I had told them that we were not gong to open them until 6 PM but having once been a kid myself I knew that they would be there early. Back when I was a kid we always opened our presents one person at a time so that everyone else could see what the other person had received. At 5:59 I announced that we were going to do that tonight. At 6:01 I discovered that any of my kids that had know any English had mysteriously lost any comprehension of it and all of the gifts had been opened. I am now catching my breath for round #2. In a few minutes I will go over and wish some of my neighbors a Merry Christmas. The number of homes that I visit will be regulated by the amount of food that my stomach can hold because none of my neighbors will allow me to leave until I have eaten some fof the food that they have prepared for anyone who happens to stop by. After that I plan on going over to Abner and Fernando's uncle and aunts house for supper. I hope that they do not expect me to eat to much. This is always followed by a bonfire and fireworks out in the alley. I am not sure that it will be quite as exciting as last year because the neighbors that have always put a Christmas tree on top of their house didn't do that this year. I guess they were afraid that Etiline would once again throw a sparkler on top of their roof and burn the tree up. At midnight everyone in town lights of what ever fireworks they have left and then everyone starts hugging each other and wishing them a merry Christmas. After that it is more food and then more fire works. I am writing all of this ahead of time because if I head back to my house anytime before 2 AM, and try to do some journaling before heading off to bed I will be considered the neighborhood party pooper. Anyway it is time to go and find my earplugs and then go out and join the neighbors.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, December 25, 2008


I did not get up all that early this morning due to the fact that I did not get to bed until 2 AM. Even at that I still hold the title of neighborhood party pooper. Going to bed earlier than most of your neighbors has other disadvantages as well. One of them is discovering at 3:00 AM that your neighbors still have a good supply of fire works left. For some reason a string of fire crackers landing on your roof while you are sleeping seems to get your attention no matter how tired you are. I did manage to drift off to sleep once I calmed down and stopped shaking though. (That must have been about 2 hours later) When my door bell rang at around 7:00 AM Cesar and Keven had a hard time understanding why I did not invite them in or why I did not respond all that enthusiastically to their, "Merry Christmas". I sure hope that neither of them knows the Spanish interpretation to "Baa-humbug".

After a bit more sleep I got more into the spirit of Christmas and opened up the house to the kids. Most of them were not all that energetic either because they had stayed up even longer than I had. At around noon I went to Chris and Donna's house for a wonderful Christmas dinner. My kids were not all that thrilled about having me leave for a few hours but I promised them that I would take them somewhere later this evening. Once I got to Chris and Donna's house it felt a lot like home. They have about as many grand kids as I have street kids, the only difference being most of theirs have faded skin and blond hair. We had a great time together and the food was delicious. Chris, Donna, Benjamen, and Cindy will be leaving for the States tomorrow and plan on being there for over five weeks. They seldom find the time to take a vacation so I hope that they really enjoy themselves.

Even though I was anything but hungry tonight I took 10 of my kids out for supper. Camperos was closed for Christmas but fortunately our second favorite gourmet restaurant was open. I don't know what we would have done if Burger King had been closed. Three of my older boys were going to boycott going when they discovered that I had invited Etiline along, but hunger got the best of them and they jumped into my car just as we were pulling out of the alley. They chose to eat at a separate table though but once everyone had finished eating and started playing around on the playground equipment they forgot about being to grownup to be with the littler kids and joined right in.

Well it is nearly midnight and the festivities of Christmas are just about over. Neat thing is the true gift of Christmas is with us 365 days a year. Looking at everything that is going on in this world now days I can not imagine what it would be like to be without the gift of Jesus Christ. Have a marry CHRISTmas for ever and ever.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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