* 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)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Journal December 26, 2008 - January 2, 2009

..Real children.

. .Real stories.

. . .Real life.

Don’t just read it.

. . "Live it.”

Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.
If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?
James 2:15&16

"One reason why I don't drive a VW Bug"
(Click on any picture to enlarge)

Friday, December 26, 2008, 9:45 PM

This morning I actually headed for Hermano Pedro all by myself. I think that much like the night before most of the kids once again stayed up all night last night shooting off fire works so none of them were around when I left for Antigua. I gave some thought to taking my tools out of the car and doing some needed repair on some of the wheelchairs that are at the orphanage but decided that today would still be a day off, so I ended up spending most of my day just visiting with the kids. Since the kids that do not go home for the holidays are the ones that have no families they are some of the kids that also receive little or no attention so today I decided to spend time with as many of them as possible. Benjamin was already at the orphanage when I arrived and between him and I a lot of kids got at least a half hour of one on one attention today. We even took two of them to Camperos for lunch. One was actually not a kid but a lady that is in her early twenties. I had taken her out one time before but that was a long time ago. I have never seen anyone do more smiling than she did when we told her that she was going. Our other guest was Jo Jo a little boy who has come along with me before but due to congested lungs he has not been along in several months. Jo Jo is a bit unique looking because he has a large head due to water on the brain and a small body because he has dwarfism but his smile and personality make him one of the cutest kids that you have ever met.

This evening Ben came back home with me from Antigua. He is great with the kids and loves to just hang out with them. Calin brought over some fire works that resembled sticks of dynamite. The kids put one in an old warn out shoe and demolished it. It also set off my car alarm and two of my computers that were in the house crashed. Not the safe and sane fireworks that they sell back in the States. Shortly after a few more of these bombs whet off one of the neighbor kids from across the alley came over and asked if we could be a little more quiet because her mother had just given birth to a new little girl. This is daughter number 8. I am still trying to find out if the fire works was simply disturbing the baby which was already born, or if it prompted the birth. Nevertheless I made piece with the family by bringing over a baby blanket and promising that we would keep the fireworks down to something that is a bit quieter than hand grenades.

My group of about a dozen kids dwindled down fast when I asked them to help pick up the shredded shoes and other unrecognizable things that they had blown up. All but two of the kids just sat there and looked at me when I asked them to help clean up. I think that they were having a Guatemalan stand off to see who would move first. It didn’t work though. I am not sure if it was the tone of my voice or the sincerity in my face but they all jumped up at once when I pointed to my gate and shouted, “OK everyone except the two kids that are helping are out of here for the day!!” Esbn and Elder tried the, (If we help now perhaps he will not kick us out, thing.) but I have fallen for that one once to often so when they were through helping I thanked them as I walked them to the gate and told them had they responded when I had originally asked they would not be leaving for the day. Some times I would love it if I would not have to be so strict with these kids but most of them have no rules at home so they need guidelines. Funny thing though none of them are mad at me. In fact most of them have been hanging out at my gate for most of the evening. They have even asked what time I am going to let them back into the house in the morning.

Saturday, December 27, 2008, 10:23 PM

It is the weekend so I will try to keep this brief. The first part of the day was spent at home just hanging out with the kids. I am beginning to realize how important it is to spend more time with them. So many of the kids that hang out here are from far from pleasant surroundings so when I am not here they spend more of their time just hanging out in the alleys then they do in their homes. As the older ones grow up more and more younger ones start showing up. You would think that the numbers would stay pretty even that way but they don’t. I always figured that as they got older they would not come over as often but I still see a lot of the older teens and even some of the ones that have gotten married since I have lived here. Fact is Elmer and his new wife were here a good part of the morning playing basketball with several of the kids. Yes it gets crazy at times but it sure beets sitting around in a rocking chair getting old.

I think that Melissa and Scott, some friends of mine, now realize just how wild it can get because they invited me over to their house for supper tonight. They asked me to take some of the kids that hang out at my house along as well. I sent them an e-mail asking how many some was, and they replied by saying the more the merrier. I sent another e-mail saying that I had once heard that saying as well, but reminded them that not all sayings are true. They replied by saying that they loved kids and I could bring as many as I wanted. I must admit all 12 of the kids that I brought along to their house tonight had a ball and so did our gracious hosts. Had I known that they lived in a two bedroom apartment I may have kept it under a dozen though. As we left Scott told me that his landlord lived in an apartment just down the hall from them so tonight at devotion time the kids and I prayed that if they do get kicked out of their apartment, that they will not have a hard time finding a new place to live. Thanks Scott and Melissa, we all had a great time!Eight of the kids have now gone home so I guess I will get out some blankets for the other four then head off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, December 28, 2008 6:50 PM

This morning’s breakfast crowd beet last night’s dinner crowd by one and by the time we headed off to church there were a few more. Fifteen people in one car can be a bit comfy but no one complained, not even Abner. Then again perhaps he did and I just didn’t hear it over all of the noise. I promised the kids that I would take all of them that were good to lunch after church and to my surprise that ended up being all of them. Ben joined us as well so now we had 16 of us in my car. Before going to lunch we stopped off and the bottom of the hill that overlooks Antigua and all of us got out and hiked up to the cross. Usually I drop the crew off at the bottom of the hill and then drive to the top and meet them, but this time I figured that if they did not burn up some built up energy I at least wanted to be tired enough that even if they were rowdy in the restaurant I would be too tired to care.

Our first choice of restaurants was Martha’s. This was the kid’s choice because they serve large portions of food, and my choice because it is cheep. However when we got there we discovered that it was the choice of many other people as well. The normally good looking buffet that they have there looked so picked over that you would have thought that my kids had already eaten there. Burger King was our next choice mainly because it was with in walking distance of Martha’s, which meant we did not have to try, and stuff 16 people back into my car. This would not be all that difficult had it not been for the fact that my car has four windows that you can sit by and if we were to load 16 people into the car more than 3 times some kids would get a window seat more than once. According to several of my kids that would not be fair.

I don’t know why but when we got to my house and all of the kids got out of the car I told Ben that I would drive him back to Antigua. He was originally going to go on the buss but some how a car ride with only myself and another adult sounded kind of good to me. Had it not been for Calin yelling at me we may have pulled it off. When I stopped to see what Calin wanted he told me that the neighbors across the alley from me were wondering if I would drive them to the hospital. Their new baby girl was a bit premature, (No it was not the fire works.) She was born a day before the fireworks. She had been having some breathing problems so they had kept her there for a few days. Anyway since an interpreter was needed Calin came along as well but one kid is still less than 14 of them.

When we got to Antigua we stopped of at the orphanage for a while. I know, I know, but I haven’t seen those kids in two days. Alex remains about the same. Some of his days are better than others. Lionel on the other hand seems to be doing better by the day. Even though he does not talk he has a great personality and if you give him the slightest bit of attention he will respond with a smile or a laugh.

Now that we are back home I set my foot down and locked all of the kids out of the house so that I can get some writing done in this journal. See, I can get hard nosed when I have to. I sure miss them though. But an hour and ten minutes isn’t all that long. I promised them all that I would open the house back up to them at 8:00 PM.

Just in case I am to busy to say it later tonight I will say it now. Goodnight.”

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday & Tuesday, December 29 & 30, 2008

Both of these days were packed with fun filled stuff like paying bills, cleaning house, and having a root canal done on a broken tooth.

(Click on any picture to ENLARGE)
{but only if you really want to} . . . ... .

Actually I only stopped off at the dentist to make an appointment but walked out less than an hour later having had the root canal done. No insurance here so I had to dish out $90. There are cheaper dentists here in town but this one doesn’t use rusty needles. Seriously he was very professional and I would recommend him to any one that comes to Guatemala. Next week I plan on going back to him to have a gold crown put on the tooth. He wants a whopping $200 for but I think that he will come down if I have him replace the two $75 gold crowns that another dentist here in town put on a few years ago. Not quite as cheep as my $3:50 visit to an eye doctor a while back but I hear that prices are actually a bit higher in the USA.

I did manage to do a little work on a head controlled power wheelchair that I am putting together for someone but then Mark Richard gave me a call and asked if I could run down to Antigua and seat a little boy that was coming in for a wheelchair.
Other than that it has been wall to wall kids at my place. Seems none of them are getting much to eat at there places so my grocery bill is going to be a big one this month.

Friday, December 31, 2008, 11:34 PM

This morning Fernando, Marcos, and Cesar came along with me to Hermano Pedro. These three kids are easy maintenance so even though I would have to leave them unsupervised part of the time I did not have to worry about them getting into any trouble. We met Ben at the orphanage and after doing some wheelchair repairs we took three of the teen age girls out to lunch.

At around 3 PM the boys and I headed for home. The kids were not all that happy with me when I told them that I was going to the shop and that I was taking no one along with me. I had to get some work done that took a lot of concentration and no matter how well behaved these kids are three of them can somehow manage to distract you at times. I don't know where the time went but befoer I know it the clock on the wall said 9:45 PM. Since I hadn't had any supper I figured that I would stop off at Burger King on my way home. What I did not figure on was that all of the stores in town would be closed because it was new years eve, so I headed for home. Several of the kids met me at my gate and told me that the neighbors wanted me to come over and have some supper. They also wanted me to stay over and do fire works until 3 AM but after finishing supper I told them that I was once again going to be a party pooper and headed off for home. I had planned on going to bed but the fire works out side keeps setting off my car alarm so I guess that I am going to see the old year out, like it or not.

Thursday, January 1, 2009 10:12 PM

Most of my neighbors stayed up all night. I stayed in the house and tried to sleep but by the sound of things you would have thought that the entire neighborhood was right in the house with me. I did not get a very early start this morning but I got out of the house before any one other than Calin showed up. He and I went to the wheelchair shop today. I know it's suppose to be a holiday but try and tell that to some one who has been waiting for a head controlled power wheelchair for well over a year now. I started working on this one several months ago but since I could not locate any head controllers it has sat in the corner gathering dust for quite some time now.

Today Calin and I were finely able to make a phone call to the 10 year old boy who has been waiting for this wheelchair for far to long. He and his family are planning on coming in to the shop on Monday and after a few final adjustments he should be moving around on his own for the first time in his life in no time at all. Calin has taken great pride in helping me put this wheelchair together and I am hoping that he can be at the shop with me on Monday to see why all of our work was well worth it.

January 2, 2009 7:45 PM

It was Abner's turn to come along with me to Hermano Pedro this morning but at the very last minute he had one of those Abner things and decided not to come along. Calin and Fernando were more than happy to take his place and the two of them are always a lot easier than the one of Abner. I did find that they and Fidel got a little wild when I left them by themselves while I showed a group of people around the orphanage but they stayed in an area that is closed during the Christmas season and I think that the floor was a lot shinier after they had finished being drug behind Fidel's wheelchair than it was before they started.

. . . .. .
Click arrow to play movie.

It was to late to take any of the orphanage kids out to lunch by the time I had shown the group around but just being able to go out side of the building proved to be a treat for the three kids that we took for a walk.

This after noon we gave a power wheelchair to one of the older ladies that is a resident at Hermano Pedro. A few days ago one of the nurses brought it to my attention that this lady no longer has use of her right arm. I don't think that this dear lady has ever operated anything that was any more mechanical than a light switch but Calin patiently explained everything to her and a few of the nurses, and soon she was driving her new power wheelchair all over the building.

On our way home Calin, Fernando, and I stopped off at the barber shop and we all got haircuts. their haircuts didn't turn out to bad but the guy who cut mine must have wanted to make sure that I got my money's worth because he did a lot of cutting. Then again it might have been a language thing. I held my fingers close together and indicated that I only wanted him to take a little bit off, but instead he only left a little bit on. Oh well the hair on the top of my head usually grows back pretty fast. I wish that I had not asked him to trim my beard though. Sorry no pictures. You are going to have to use your imagination.

One of the boys just came into my house with the basketball hoop in his hand. I guess one of the slam dunks went bad. Oh well basket ball hoops are easy to replace, kids are not. I lot rather have them horsing around in my yard than being out on the streets. One of Abner and Fernando's cousins and a few of his teen age friends are visiting here from Guatemala City for a few days. These guys are sticking pretty close to either their uncles house or my house because this cousins brother was visiting here a few years ago and was murdered in broad day light only a few blocks from here. I have a feeling that the cousin that is here knows who did it but knows that his life would be in danger if he said anything.

Well I think that I will try to get this sent out while I can. I have been having a lot of problems connecting to my web server this week but things seem to be working well tonight.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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