* 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 30, 2009

Journal January 23-29 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009
This morning I took Abner, Fernando, and Calin along with me to Hermano Pedro. I am not sure that the combination of these three boys was the best choice, but then I have yet to find the right combination when Abner is part of it. I honestly believe that he has a lot of potential and believe that is capable of becoming a fine young man some day. That is if I don’t strangle him first. I let him off with a verbal warning after he slugged Fernando for no apparent reason while we were at the orphanage, but when he slugged him again, because Fernando told me that Abner slugged him I told him that he would not be allowed to come into my house tonight. Guess what? I no more than turned around and Abner slugged Fernando a third time for telling on him a second time. Abner is now out for two days. As far as I know he has not retaliated with a third slugging so hopefully he is getting the point.

Before all of this took place we managed to get a few wheelchairs repaired, visited with the kids, and even took a few of them out to lunch, so our entire day was not a battle. When we got home I made Spaghetti for the crew. There were 13 of us altogether. 14 if you include Abner who was standing just outside of my gate. I think that he was hoping that I would lighten up and at least bring some food out to him, but then again perhaps he was just waiting there to ambush Fernando. Never the less Fernando and the rest of the kids have now gone home. Well almost all of the kids have gone. It seems that I once again have two that have included lodging with their free meal.

I don’t hear any crying out side of my gate so I assume that Fernando has made it home safely and that Abner realizes that I made sure that no one is going to bring any food out to him. Boy I feel mean some times. If I didn’t love that kid so much I would probably have made sure that he had gotten something to eat.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Here is an update on a few people that
I had previously asked prayer for.

Mary Tieken,
who fell and broke her femur when she was visiting here a few weeks ago, was flown back to the USA for surgery and the last time I herd from her she was doing well.

Silvia, the single mother of three children, who has a tumor, made it in to Hermano Pedro for a check up a few weeks ago. The doctors there referred her to a cancer clinic in Guatemala City but the results were not good. The cancer has spread to a point that there is nothing that the doctors there can do for her. Her pain is increasing by the day but she has no money for the morphine that the doctors have prescribed for her.

Alex, is still up in the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro. He has gained some much needed weight and overall seems to be doing better than he was doing a few weeks ago.

Sam Sam,
was moved to a different orphanage in Guatemala City a few months ago and I have heard nothing. I am going to try to go and see him soon if they allow visitors.

is still in the Malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro. Since he has gained a lot of weight and his seizures are now under control I think that they will soon move him downstairs with the other kids.

Saturday, January 24, 2009, 3:22 PM

This morning all of the kids (except for Abner who is still being punished) helped make breakfast and then everyone just hung around the house until about 12:30. I had once again reserved a soccer field for the kids. It was a bit warm for playing soccer on a cement surface but they all had a good time and it was $3:50 well spent. I don’t like playing soccer on cement because at my age I don’t bounce very well, besides that the kids needed someone to be spectator and cheer them on so I took on that job. You should have seen their mouths drop though when I announced at the end of the soccer game that I was going to be gone for a few hours and that I was going alone. It is not often that I do that but today I needed a kid break. Believe it or not right now I am sitting in a hammock in what used to be an old plantation and as far as I know there is not a kid with in miles. Fact is I have the place pretty much to myself. A few years ago this place which is located only 15 minutes from my house was fixed up as a conference grounds, restaurant, and hotel, but I don’t think that many people think of Chimaltenango when they want to do that sort of thing. There was a group of six people at another table in the restaurant when I had lunch but they left and as far as I know, other than a few of the workers I have the entire plantation to myself. I plan on returning home in time to make supper though because I am sure that the kids (especially Abner) will be hungry. I think that I will just kick back and enjoy the silence for an hour or two before heading back home so I will say, “Good afternoon.”

Yours in Christ: Dick

9:12 PM

I have returned home and back to reality. I just regained use of my computer because a number of kids were using it to call parents that are in the states. Some of the kids are still finishing up on their dinner. Guess they are making up for lost time because I did not make any lunch for them today. Others are playing uno and I think that 2 or three are in the shower. Things are definitely not as peaceful as they were when I was relaxing in the hammock up at the old plantation a few hours ago but then again two or three hours of that can get rather boring compared to this.

Miguel just walked into my room and asked if he could talk to me. Wow what a kid! You may remember me telling you about Miguel. He is the boy who had been working in a bicycle shop here in Chimaltenango for the equivalent of $6 per week just so that he could afford to stay in night school. A few months ago a friend of mine offered to sponsor Miguel and his brother Cesar so that they could stay in school so Miguel was able to quit his job that was basically paying him nothing and was not allowing him time for his studies.

Tonight Miguel asked me if he could come along with me more often to the orphanage and help me fix wheelchairs. He said that he wanted to earn more money for school. I explained to him that his sponsor was giving a set amount to him and that if schooling cost more than that he would have to find part time work somewhere else. I told him that I simply could not give him more because there were other kids that we had promised to sponsor that we still had no sponsors for. Miguel told me that I did not understand what he was asking. He said that he thought that he could make it on the amount that we were giving him for his schooling. He then explained to me that he simply wanted to work for the help that he was already getting because he did not want a free handout. Wow! Monday Miguel will be accompanying me to Antigua orphanage.I have made it a practice to seldom ask for money in my journals. That is not why they are written. Fact is you will not even see a neat little (IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO GIVE BUTTON) anywhere on my web page. I figure that if God lays it on the hart of some one to help out financially they can contact me and I will them tell them where to send it. That gives them more time to think about it and make sure that it is God’s will and not just a spur of the moment tug of their emotions. I want you to know though that we have kids that we are helping that have no sponsors and others that will not get medical help or be able to get a wheelchair or go to school this year because we simply cannot take on any more kids until we get sponsors for some of those that we are already helping. If God lays it on your hart to reach out to one of these kids please contact me.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, January 25, 2009, 10:01 PM
After church the 10 of us went out for pizza and then I took the crew up to a park that is located about 15 minutes out of Antigua. Once again the kids wanted to play soccer and since today’s game was on grass and dirt I joined them for part of the game. About half way through the game they replaced me with a six year old because our side was loosing. After I quit playing It did not take long before our side caught up and won though. After soccer the kids asked if it was OK if they swam in a small pool that is located in the park. I said that it was fine with me but told them that I had not realized that they had taken swimsuits along. I was right, but all of them except Elder swam anyway. It’s not that Elder didn’t want to swim, but I talked him into going horse back riding instead because he didn’t have any underwear to swim in.

When we got back home I told the kids that I had to take the Toyota truck that I had borrowed back to the shop and that I could only take two of the kids with me because I was going to have to ride a tuke tuke back home and there would not be room in it for all of us. A big argument soon broke out with some of the kids about who was going to go along with me. I told them that if they did not stop arguing I would simply go alone. They didn’t, so I did. Wow two evenings in a row of being alone. You know I think I could get used of this. Fact is it felt so good that I didn’t even take a tuke tuke home. I walked home and I even managed to sneak into my house with out being seen. The doorbell and the phone have been ringing for hours but as far as they know I am still not back home. Sure it is a bit boring but every now and then it feels good to have a little boring instead of hectic.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, January 26, 2009

True to his word Miguel was at my door bright and early this morning. Before heading to Hermano Pedro Miguel and I went shopping for some school supplies that he needed. After that we headed to Hermano Pedro to repair some wheelchairs. Fernando and Marcos joined us as well. With the help of these three kids we got a lot of chairs fixed and adjusted this morning.

At noon Ben my friend from Canada, and another young man joined us and we took three of the kids from the orphanage out to lunch. Usually I take as many kids as we have helpers out to lunch but a few of those that we took out today are not that easy to feed and those like Jo Jo have to be watched especially closely because of breathing problems. All went well though and we had a great time. I was especially impressed with Miguel who is not only becoming a good wheelchair mechanic but his love and compassion for the kids is right up there with Fernando’s.

After lunch we worked on a few more wheelchairs and then headed over to see Caser. Caser is the man whose leg I worked on for several months. He had called me a few days ago asking when we would come and visit. He said that his leg was doing fine but that he and his family had missed our visits since I stopped treating his leg a few months ago. Before heading to his house today I found Father Bernardo, the 90 year old priest that had introduced me to Caser and his family. Father Bernardo was more than happy to come along with us. I think that he is getting even more forgetful though because more of his conversation to me was in Italian or Chinese than in English. When we got to Caser’s house we were mobbed by kids, all of whom wanted to be held. Cesar was sitting up on the edge of his bed. His leg was covered with a towel. When he uncovered his leg to show it to us he got a big smile on his face. I would consider what I saw a miracle. It was not all that long ago that three of the four doctors that we brought in to see Caser told him that the only way that he was going to stay alive was to have his leg amputated. I can remember that it was so infected that I could not even tell if he had any toes. Now all of the swelling is gone and skin has grown back over the open ulcers that covered 75% of his leg. We had a good visit and promised to come back again soon.

Before leaving I asked him about his Friend Cecile. This was a man with a similar condition that I went to see a few months ago. After one Unno Boot treatment Cecile had called and asked me not to return. I am not sure if the treatment was to pain full of if Cecile had simply given up, but I had to respect his wishes. Today Caser told me that Cecile had died. I have seen many people die here in Guatemala and it never gets any easier. I am not sure weather or not Cecile would have made it if he had been treated in time but I know many adults and kids that have died because there were either no doctors or there was no money to see a doctor.

Tonight I took Alex shopping for a new pare of school shoes. Even though friends have brought in dozens of shoes from the States I have once again run out of many of the sizes that are needed. This year Alex’s mom simply did not have the money to buy him shoes and his teacher told him that he had one day to come up with black shoes or he would not be allowed to come to school. Alex needs a sponsor.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Most of my kids had their first day of school today. Calin had spent the night and was up by six. He seemed a bit surprised when he discovered that last years school uniform no longer fit him. He was sure that everything had shrunk but Calin is the one that has changed sizes and not the clothing. The teachers usually give a one or two day grace period before the uniforms that have actually been outlawed by the government will be required. I haven’t quite figured that one out but there are a lot of laws here in Guatemala that are simply on the books but are not enforced. This morning Calin said goodbye then headed out of the door. He only made it a few steps the he turned, walked back to me and gave me a hug. “Thank you for school.” He said. It was hard to believe that this was the same kid that used to spend his days steeling from people while other kids were in school?

Esbin has not started school yet. I am not sure just why because he goes to the same school as Calin and most of the other kids in my neighborhood, but he was told that his teacher will not be there until next Monday. In a way I am glad that he could spend the day with us though because he is a bit of the underdog and seems to get more than his share of teasing by the other kids. I talked to a few of my kids about it and they promised to try to be nicer to him. Calin even thought back to a few years ago when several of the kids at school teased him because of his weight and told me how badly it made him fill. I asked Calin, who has not lost any weight if he still got teased. He looked at me an grinned. “No but now I am so big that no one dares to tease me.” He said. Talk about a problem solving itself. I know that there must be a moral there somewhere but I haven’t yet figured out just what it is. Anyway today Esben got to come along with Ben, Andy, and me to Esquentla, and I think being the only kid along was good for him. I had promised Ronny’s family that we would show up there today and take the five kids that are going to school this year shopping for school supplies. Not to my surprise, mom, dad, and the two younger ones also joined us. Thirteen people in my car seemed like a breeze though. Unlike the day that we had 21 people in my car today we actually had room to breathe. The nearest town where we could get school supplies was about an hour away but everyone seemed to enjoy the ride, especially Arlindo who sat on my lap and steered my car most of the way there and back. When we got to the store that sells the school supplies the kids looked around with a seance of wonderment as one of the clerks in the store started gathering up the items that were on the five lists that the teachers had given them. I also took on a sense of wonderment when I saw the supplies begin to pile up on the counter in front of me. For a while there I wondered if I had taken enough money along with me but the total bill came to just a little over $20 per kid. Unfortunately that and the price of shoes, backpacks, and school uniforms keeps a high percentage of kids out of school.

No day into the city is ever complete with out dinner at Camperos, especially considering one of Ronny’s sisters was celebrating her fourth birthday. Ben went and got some pop and a small present for Ronny’s sister while I bought some chicken and with in a few minutes we were having a birthday party.

Today we were also able to get money to Carlos’s mother for the medicine that her son needs so that he does not have seizures. I had not found her at home the last two times that I stopped there so unfortunately she ran out of medicine four days ago and he had seizures each of the four days that he was without medicine.

We also gave a six year old girl who has never been able to walk her first wheelchair. She was delighted with it and even though she is partially paralyzed on her left side she managed to do quite well propelling herself around.

It has been a long day so I am heading off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, January 30, 2009

A good part of my day was spent in gathering wheelchairs and other supplies for a four day rip that Fernando, Pat, and I plan on taking to Huehuetenango tomorrow. That’s right Fernando did start school yesterday but after two days his teacher announced that he would not be able to make it in to school for the rest of the week. Pat brought the artificial leg that was made for four year old Rudy down with her when she came from the States so we are anxious to go to his home and give it to him. Loren Decker a man in the states whom I have been in contact with only by phone and e-mail donated all of the parts and labor and made the leg for Rudy after I sent him pictures, measurements and a plaster cast that I had made. I know that his labor of love is going to completely change this little boy’s life.

I managed to get into the orphanage for a short time this afternoon where I met up with Pat Duff, a friend that is visiting from the USA for a week and a half. We spend some time with the kids that are at the orphanage. A few of the kids are already back after spending close to two months with relatives and all of them should be back by the end of the week. Ervin is one of them that is back and since he immediately got into some mischief the nurses already had him locked up in his crib. I know that he can be a real pain but locking him up 20 hours a day is not the answer.

Tonight I sent most of the kids home at about 9:30 and only Calin and Fernando are left in my house. Calin does not think that it is fare that Fernando gets to go along with us to Huehuetenango tomorrow so he is being a bit of a grump. He gets over things fast though and I figure that he will be his usual happy self by morning.

Well it is bedtime once again.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tonight we are in Huehuetenango. It has been a long day because we drove to Nebaj before coming here. Don, a friend that operates a small special needs school in Nebaj had asked for some therapy supplies so we delivered them to him before heading up to Huehuetenango. Since we passed right by the home of a man who needed a wheelchair, that we met on a previous trip that I was on we stopped off at his place and gave him a wheelchair as well. You may remember me telling about this man in a journal entry that I made a few months ago. He was another one of those Godincidences that we ran into one rainy afternoon.

The following paragraph was written just a little over four months ago.

September 20, 2008 The next hour went well. It looked like we were going to make it home before dark. It was raining but we were in the comfort of a warm car and since I had kept my cool and had not gotten out of my car to tell the buss driver what I thought of his driving, I was nice and dry. That is when it happened, that “Lord I’m here to serve you but today it’s just raining too hard,” thing. Three people were coming towards us down the road. Two older boys were pushing another boy down the road in what appeared to be an old go-cart or a soap box racer. My first thought was why are these crazy kids out on the middle of the road in the poring rain? I said nothing to Fernando though because the earlier incident that I had with the buss driver and the police officer had taught me not to be too judgmental. I could not help but comment on the radical way that the boy that was in the go-cart was driving though. Unlike the bus driver that had been in what I thought was my lane this young man was staying somewhat on his side of the road but he was doing a lot of swerving. As I slowed down to go by the three boys I thought to my self that I was at lest grateful that this contraption did not have a motor in it. At least it could go no faster than the speed of the two boys that were pushing it. As we drove by I took a better look at the boy who was doing the driving. It was then that I realized that it was not a boy at all but an older man who was obviously disabled. He was doing his best to steer this cart that he was driving in a straight direction but it was obvious that it was difficult for him. I gave a friendly smile as I drove by. That is when Fernando spoke up. “I wonder if that man has a wheel chair?” he said. I told Fernando that it appeared that he was doing fairly well in this cart that he was in, so there was no need to worry about a wheelchair. “What about when he is in his house?” Fernando asked. Why had Fernando not stayed asleep just a little longer? I almost commented to Fernando that it was raining but could not help but think abut more than once seeing him scale the bars of some of the cribs that are in the orphanage just to be with the kids that were not allowed out of their dungeon like cribs. As I turned the car around I thought to myself, “If only it were not raining.”

Well today it was not raining and giving this man the wheelchair we had promised him four months ago made his day and ours. Once again he was so excited to see us that it was hard for us to get a word in edgewise. He did stop talking long enough for us to share with that the mane reason that we were there was because of the love that Jesus had for him and for us. He raised his head and looked towards heaven. The smile on his face told us that he already knew this same Jesus that we were talking about. Fernando had a huge smile on his face as well.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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