* 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, January 20, 2009

Journal January 17-22 2009

Saturday & Sunday January 17 & 18, 2009

This weekend was about as normal as as it gets around here.



. A few soccer games,

. . .

. . .

.. . . . . church,


Monday, January 19, 2008
This morning Jason, Fernando, and I headed to Antigua where we picked up Junior and his wife Carol. Junior is in charge of Hope Haven’s wheelchair factory in Ireton Iowa. I first met Junior about six years ago at a wheelchair distribution in Mexico but have only seen him once since that time. The five of us had breakfast in Antigua then we headed to Hermano Pedro to see the kids. It was neat for Junior and Carol to actually get to meet kids that were using wheelchairs that he and other volunteers in Ireton had made. They had a great time with the kids and had a hard time putting the kids that they held back to bed when it was time to say goodbye.

After leaving Hermano Pedro we headed for Chimaltenango. Our first stop was at my house. We had only intended on picking up my computer before leaving again but the kids started showing up the second I opened the door so we ended up staying and visiting with them for a little while.

Next we went to Bethel’s wheelchair shop where I showed Junior and Carol around and introduced them to the workers.

From there we went to Rosa’s house. She had called me a yesterday asking if I could take her and her family back up to the aldea where I had picked her up before bringing her in to see the doctors at Hermano Pedro a few days ago. I never did got the story straight as to why she wanted to go back there instead of staying in Chimaltenango but it gave me a good excuse on going back there since I wanted my friends to meet Maria and her children. The winding mountain roads are a bit different than the roads in Iowa so Junior and Carol really enjoyed the scenery. They also enjoyed visiting with the people that lived in the aldea where we visited. Since Rosa was not feeling all that good and one of her daughters is blind we helped carry the few bags of clothing that they had taken with them up to the house that they used to live in. It was nothing more than a wooden shack with a dirt floor. There was no furniture or any thing else in it and you could see that streams of water had run right through the house whenever it rained. I asked Rosa where her and her four children were going to sleep and she pointed to the ground. Fortunately it is not the rainy season right now because they hadn’t even taken any blankets along with them. I am not sure how long they plan on staying there but I think that their one little room in the otherwise deserted building in Chimaltenango will look like a mansion to them when they return.

While I was at home I had picked up my computer because I am continually taking pictures of Maria and Rosa’s families, and of some of the other people that live near them so I thought that it would be fun to show them their pictures on my computer. I have my doubts that any of them had ever seen as much as a television set so seeing themselves on a screen proved to be quite a treat. I had a blast to it was really fun watching there expressions and listing to their comments while they viewed each picture. All to soon it was time to say goodbye but I promised that I would return again soon.

Junior and Carol treated us to dinner before we brought them back to their hotel and then we headed for home. Even though we were still full when we got home the other kids told me that they were indeed hungry. Supper was simple, even by my standards but no one complained. I guess baloney sandwiches are not all that bad if you are hungry enough. Three of the kids have convinced me that lodging comes with a free meal so I told them that it would be OK. I made them take showers though and had them put their dirty sox in plastic bags and leave them on the far side of the yard so that the smell does not keep me awake. I kid you not I can still smell them even though the kids tied knots in the top of the plastic bags.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, January 20, 2009, 8:35 PM

Calin accompanied me to the wheelchair shop today. I had planned on spending only an hour or two there and then heading over to Hermano Pedro orphanage, but a man that I met in Guatemala City nearly a year ago has been lying heavily on my hart. Shortly before I met him he had been senselessly shot in the spine and paralyzed by some robbers to whom he would have willingly given up hid pick up truck. Since that time he has been lying in a bed in his home unable to move anything but his head. When I visited him nearly a year ago I had promised him, his wife, and his children that I would do my best to get him set up with a head controlled wheelchair as soon as possible. Unfortunately up until now I have not been able to locate a head controller that worked. Today Calin and I came up with something that will hopefully work out for him until we can gat something else. It is a bit antiquated but we finally manage to got it to work properly. The wheelchair itself will still need a few days of work before it will be ready but at least we got things going well enough that I was able to call this man’s father and tell him that I should have something for him with in a week. I apologized for the fact that it was taking so long but he told me that the family knew that we were doing our best and that they were simply happy that someone cared. I could not help but think back to a few years ago when I had my gallbladder removed. I thought that I was going to go crazy having to spend just a few days in bed.

A few of my kids have already started school but most of them will be heading back next Tuesday. About a week ago I promised them that I would take whatever came up with 20 Q. ($2.50) to the water slides. I had to figure out some way to thin down the crowds because having 21 people in my car like I did when going to the beach a few years ago is just a bit to crowded. Now before you start sending me hate male telling me that it is unfair that I take only those with money, let me explain. None of the kids that hang out at my house have any money but I do have odd jobs for them whenever they ask. The 20 Q really showed me which ones truly wanted to go and who simply wanted a free ride. Besides that my house, car, and yard have never looked so clean. Yes I do have a few sad kids that are still hoping that Dick will get soft harted and let them come along even though they did not lift a finger to do anything, but hopefully they will catch on when we wave goodbye to them tomorrow morning and hopefully I will have to come up with more jobs and perhaps borrow a larger vehicle the next time that we go.

This evening I took Cesar shopping for school supplies. He will not be coming with us tomorrow. Not because he is not a willing worker but because he has already started school. At the end of the school year his father informed Cesar’s principal that Cesar would not be returning to school. Not because Cesar’s father thinks that his son should not have an education but simply because he does not have the money to keep Cesar or his brother Miguel in school. Thanks to a good friend of mine who was willing to sponsor these two boys they are both going to school this year. Since Cesar’s father had told the principal of the public school that Caser had been attending that his son would not be returning to school someone else filled his spot but thankfully we found another school that Cesar can attend. Since this is a few miles away Cesar has to get up fairly early to walk there but he does not mind as long as he can go to school. I am keeping my eye out for a decent used bicycle for him though.

Well it is getting late and even though I told the kids that we will not be leaving until 9 AM I won’t be surprised if my doorbell stars ringing at around 6 AM.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, January 21, 2009, 9:45 PM
The kids and I just got back from the beach. I had originally planned on taking them to a cheaper water park that was not quite so far away but I figured that they deserved one last big outing before school starts on ?? (That's right no one seems to know exactly when the public school that most of my kids go to is going to start, not even the teachers.) The manager of this park gave us a good deal though and the kids enjoined being able to swim in both the ocean and in the fresh water pools. I have to admit I backed down just a little on the 20 Q thing though. Elder who is one of the younger kids that hangs out here had tried to earn enough money to go but the bigger kids beat him out on the higher paying jobs so I ended up taking an IOU of 5 dish washings. For sanitary reasons I may not have him wash them five times in a row though because he does not always get them all that clean. I have gotten used of finding a few traces of yesterdays meal on some of my dishes but I have a standing rule that the same food cannot appear on a dish for more than two washings. After all I wouldn’t want the kids or myself to get sick. Actually I am convinced that living at and eating in my house helps build up immunities. We did put the baloney sandwiches that we took with us to the beach in an ice chest though because I heard somewhere that meat should set out in 100 degree temperature for more than five or six hours. Had I known that the temperature in my car was going to get even hotter than that I would have bought ice for the cooler. On our way home we stopped off at one of the better gourmet restaurants here in Chimaltenango and had some supper. After leaving Burger King we headed for home.

Well it has been a long day but a fun one. Who knows, perhaps tomorrow I will do some work.

Thursday, January 22, 2009, 5:11 PM

Hard as I tried I never did get a wrench out of my toolbox the entire day. It seems that the first several hours were filled up with unscheduled visits and phone calls. I managed to get my car in to my mechanic. The sun has pretty much baked the paint off from the hood and roof of my car so he is going to paint them. I had considered having the entire car painted but knew that I would do nothing but worry about the kids hitting the car with a soccer ball or bicycle, so I decided to only have him paint the places that really need it.

Some times the needs here seem so overwhelming that you do not know what way to turn. While I was at my mechanics he and his wife introduced me to her brother who recently lost an arm in an electrical accident. I told him that I would see what I could do about locating someone who could make him an arm at a reduced price but told him that I could not guarantee that I could find some one. While we were still talking my cell phone rang. It was Dora, my landlord. She asked me if I had time to meet with her. I told her that I would make the time. When we met she told me that the school that her son Geraldo has been attending has moved to a location in a nearby town so it does not look like he will be able to attend there any more. She was quite upset because her son has special needs so a public school was pretty much out of the question. She said that she had located another school but the price was about 3 times as much as the one that he had attended. I suggested that she look into some other private schools or even look into what it would cost for her son to ride a buss or tuke tuke to the school that relocated. She promised to look into it. Next I had a phone conversation with Roland, a friend in Xela. I told him that I was planning on coming down that way in about a week because Pat another friend of mine is bringing the artificial leg for Rudy a little boy that lives in the village that we plan on going into. I said that I would also see what I could do about taking wheelchairs along for a couple of the eight people that we know of that are need of wheelchairs in Rudy’s village. I told him that I would like to take more chairs but we have stacks of applications from people all over Guatemala who have been waiting even longer than these people. We also made arrangements for bringing a girl that has continual seizures back to Hermano Pedro when we return. Next I went to the shop and helped Alturo figure out what the problem was with a power wheelchair that he was trying to get running. I thought about spending the rest of the day there because the head controlled power chair that I have been working on still needs work but remembered that Blanky and Petrinally are starting school in a few days and I had promised Judy Kerschner that I would get there repaired wheelchairs into Antigua. When I got to Antigua I met with Jessica and Marvin to see if anything could be done about getting and artificial arm made for my mechanics brother in law. I also asked them how we could get therapy training for a teacher that works with some special needs children up in Nebaj. Before leaving Jessica showed me a rather long list of names of people in Hermano Pedro that were having problems with their wheelchairs. I looked at my watch and realized that it was not even noon yet. Funny thing though I had not even started doing any of the work that I had planned on doing today and I was already tired. I knew one thing though. I had come to the orphanage to take one very special little boy out to lunch and no matter how busy things seemed this was going to be my focus for the next hour or so. A few days ago I had asked for permission to take Lionel to Camperos for lunch. The doctor that had to give permission for Lionel to leave the malnutrition ward was not in that day but the nurses there promised me that they would see what could be done to take him out today.
It has been just over five months ago since I brought this 17 pound ten year old into the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro and up until today he has not left the hospital. Today we got a green light from the doctor. I was given strict orders not to let him get cold when I took him out. It had to be 80 degrees today but getting cold seems to be a big worry of all Guatemalans. The minute we got out side of the orphanage Lionel’s whole countenance changed. His occasional smile turned into something permanent as his eyes gazed in amazement at his new surroundings. On our entire walk to Camperos he never stopped smiling or looking around. Lionel is not the world’s fastest eater and everything that he eats has to be very soft but I ordered mashed potatoes, flan, and strawberry ice cream and that seemed to suet him just fine. It must have taken me well over an hour to feed him but I didn’t mind in fact I think that this was just what I needed. It seems that some times we can get so busy trying to help people that we forget to enjoy those that we are helping. I found that Lionel somehow brought calmness to what was turning out to be a less than calm day. Sure all of those other Lionels were still out there, and they all needed to be held, fed, or taken care of, but for right now it was this little one that I was devoting my time to and that was exactly what the both of us needed. I thought about the story of the good shepherd when he went out after the one lost sheep. Perhaps it felt good even if for only a short time to step away from all of those other noisy sheep and just focus on one of them. I know that this afternoon it was good for me, and Lionel loved it. Fact is after leaving Camperos we went to the park and just sat for, I don’t know how long. When I finally got him back to the orphanage I did not bring him back to his bed. Instead I sat and visited with a lady that was volunteering there. She told me that she started coming to the orphanage close to nine years ago and whenever she is in town she tries to take a day or two to come into the orphanage to just sit and hold kids. I told her that I thought that was a great Idea. When I looked down at Lionel I could see that even though he did not understand one word of the conversation that this lady and I were having, he wholeheartedly agreed. About an hour later I brought a tired little boy to his crib. By now it was past 3:00 PM so I decided that there was not much use in trying to get any work done, so I spent the next hour and a half holding a few more Lionels.

Mark 10:15-16

"I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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