* GUATEMALA * * * * * * * * Dick Rutgers *

An ongoing journal of life as a Missionary in Guatemala. It will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

My Photo
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)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Journal January 3 - 8

(Click on any picture to enlarge)

Saturday & Sunday, January 3 & 4, 2009This weekend was exactly that, a true weekend. A good part of my Saturday was spent swimming at the hot springs with the kids. In fact we had such a good time at the hot springs on Saturday that we went back there again after church on Sunday.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A bit busier today but I still enjoyed it. At around 9:30 the family of the little boy that Calin and I have been building the head controlled power wheelchair for showed up at the shop. Father confessed that he had felt that we had forgotten about them but I explained that we simply had not been able to find any head control units so I finally gave up and built one. I must say though if this family had been discouraged they shurly did not show it by their attitude today. Especially not the boy that was receiving the wheelchair. He was so egger to try it out that I found it difficult to make some last minute adjustments. When I finally got him inot his new power chair and he started moving his family let out a cheer that would have made a Guatemalan soccer game seem rater quiet. At first he had a good deal of difficulty driving it but a few modifications made a big difference and I am confident that with a little practice he will soon be doing as well as Byron does with his head controlled chair. If anyone there was more excited than him or his family it had to be Calin. Although I have to admit that I ran a close second. We have put countless hours into this wheelchair but watching the joy on the faces of this family made it all worth while. Since the little boy's father spoke English I was also able to share with him and his family that the reason we give out these wheelchairs is because of a much greater gift that we have received. No three point sermon here, but by the look on their faces I know that they understood.

After leaving the shop we picked up Abner and Marcos, stopped off for some hamburgers, and then headed to Hermano Pedro. Even though it was to late to take any kids out to lunch, after refitting a few kids in their wheelchairs, Ben joined us and we took five of them to the park. Several of the kids that we took today were younger ones that had not gone before and they had a ball. It was great to see that one little girl and one little boy who's chairs we had just done some modifications to were finally sitting properly and seemed so much happier.

After we got back from the park the boys played while I went and met with some of the staff from Hermano Pedro. I can not believe that this is the same place that not that many years ago I would walk into each day wondering if I was going to be kicked out on my nose. Today I found all of those that I met with to be nothing but caring and helpful.

The first person that I wanted to talk with them about was Lionel. A few weeks ago I wrote about my last visit to his family. Even though his family dearly loves him they realize that at least for the time being his chances of survival would be very slim if he were to return home so his father had asked me if I would check with Hermano Pedro to see if they would be willing to keep him longer. I had been practicing my speech for days and was praying that they would hear me out. I can still remember back a few years ago when we had a similar situation and had it not been for a miracle Luis Andras would have been sent back to a far worse situation. Today however both the staff of Hermano Pedro and social work were one step ahead of me. They informed me that they had concerns about Lionel’s well being and wondered if I could get the message to his family that they would be willing to keep him for as long as the family feels necessary. Thanks to a generous sponsor who is going to help Lionel's family get on their feet. I am praying that it will not be all that long before Lionel can be reunited with his family but praise God that both Hermano Pedro and his family see that going back to his home right now would not be wise.

An other thing that I wanted to find out was weather I could get Silvia, a lady that we met at a recent Wheelchair distribution into Hermano Pedro to see a doctor about a reoccurring tumor that is growing rapidly. Once again the staff at Hermano Pedro was more than willing to help out. In fact they asked me for her phone number, called her up and asked her if she would be able to come in and see a doctor tomorrow. They even promised me that they would talk with Social work and see if most if not all of the expenses of seeing a doctor could be waved.

We also discussed a girl that I met a few weeks ago when I was up near Huehuetenango who started having severe seizures and lost here ability to walk a few months ago. I was told that there would be no problem bringing her in and that all I had to do was let them know when she was coming.

It is days like this that I am reminded of what my 90 year old friend Father Bernardo said to me a few months ago as we were walking out of the home of Cesar, a man with a badly infected leg, that he had brought me to see. Father Bernardo asked me if he could come along with me more often to help treat patients or give out wheelchairs. I told him that I would love it but, reminded him that even though I spent a lot of my time at Hermano Pedro I was Evangelical and not Roman Catholic and I wanted to make sure that he did not have a problem with that. Father Bernardo who wears the traditional clothing of a catholic priest, looked at me and told me that in case I had not caught on, he wanted me to know that he was Roman Catholic and not Evangelical, then said. "Enough theological discussion, now lets go do God's work." Will I ever agree with his theology? Not on your life, but I found what he said very refreshing in a society that finds churches splitting up over issues like what type of music (God) likes, or the length of the pastors sermons.

On our way home we stopped off at the home of a lady that works in the laundry of Hermano Pedro. We had given her forty year old son a power scooter a few months ago and it was having some wiring problems. Marcos, who is one of my quieter ones jumped right in and started helping me once I pointed to a bad switch that needed replacing. Not only are the kids doing more and more work around the house but they are also starting to show a bigger interest in setting up and repairing wheelchairs. Who knows one of these days I may be able to just sit around while they do all of the work. I hope not to soon though because I would really miss it.

Tonight the kids did supper. Baloney sandwiches aren't all that hard to make but I appreciated their willingness to help. It seems that about half of the kids from across the alley are starting to come over again. Father pretty much made his eight daughters and one son stay in their small three room house but not ever since there second son was born. Now a number of the kids spend a good deal of their time at my house. I guess having twelve people living in one three room house finally got to him, especially ever since he lost his job.

Well it is getting late and I have another exciting trip to the dentist scheduled for tomorrow so I better call it a day.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Today was one of those more exciting days, unless of course you don't consider going to the dentist, sitting for over an hour at the telephone company and doing bookwork exciting.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

This morning Calin and I went in to Antigua to meet with Mary Tieken, her granddaughter Megan, and friend Toby who had just flown in from Florida. I have been looking forward to seeing Mary for several months now. We have worked together on wheelchair distributions in Vietnam, Columbia, and a few other places. The five of us met for breakfast with Mark Richard to plan out a full week of activities that included, orphanage visits, home visits, giving out wheelchairs and a number of other things. After getting everything down on paper Mark and I reminded our USA visitors to remember that here in Guatemala things seldom go as planned, and told them not to be surprised if things would change. Less than an hour and a half later we found out just how true those words were.

Calin and I went straight to Hermano Pedro orphanage while Mark took Mary, Megan, and Toby to see Hope Haven's new wheelchair factory. We all agreed to meet in front of the orphanage at 10:30 so that I could give them a tour of the orphanage and have them meet some of the kids. While waiting for them I met with Silvia and her family. Silvia is the lady with the tumor that I had met at a wheelchair distribution in Guatemala City. Thankfully she had gotten transportation and showed up as planned to see a doctor at Hermano Pedro. After examining her they told her that a teem of specialists were scheduled to be at Hermano Pedro next week and that if she could get some tests done in Guatemala City and the results were right she could have the surgery done when they were here. The only problem was she and her family had spent everything that they had on hiring a car to bring them from the city and the tests would be $200. We quickly took care of that problem and they were on their way. To us $200 isn't all that much especially when it could save a life but I have seen people suffer and even die because they didn't have aeven $5 for needed medicines.

After saying goodbye to Silvia and her family, Calin and I went back into the orphanage and got Jo Jo and Hiler. I figured that we could push them around while giving the tour. We had barely gotten outside when Mary and the others showed up. Fidel had also joined us in his foot controlled power wheelchair and our guests had a great time visiting with them. Marry asked if it was OK to take pictures and I told her that it was OK while we were outside. That is when it happened. As she stepped back to take a picture she tripped over a small ramp that leads into one of the doorways of the orphanage. Several people rushed to help her back onto her feet but I could see in her eyes that she was in a great deal of pain and quickly told them not to pick her up. Fortunately there were doctors inside that were on duty and within minutes she was in Hermano Pedro's ex ray room. The ex ray's confirmed what I had thought. Mary had broken her femur in two places. The ex rays also confirmed that she would indeed need surgery. Since the two doctors that were on duty were not orthopedic specialists and the American teem that was there this week did only plastic surgery, it was decided that she should be taken to a private hospital on the other side of Antigua that specializes in this sort of thing. Hermano Pedro graciously offered the use of their ambulance but told me that there driver was not there, so guess who suddenly became a qualified Guatemalan ambulance driver. All of you who have ridden with me in Guatemala would have been shocked though. Even though we had the red lights flashing and used the siren to get through a few intersections I don't think that I ever exceeded 10 miles per hour. Even though the doctors at Hermano Pedro had given Mary an injection for pain the cobblestone streets of Antigua were almost more than Mary could tolerate.

The hospital that we took Mary to is also called Hermano Pedro but as far as I know it is not connected with the orphanage. The doctors there are very professional and ran all kinds of tests. After consulting with the doctors and contacting Mary's friends and relatives in the USA It was decided that trying to get Mary back to the States for surgery would cause too much trauma and was out of the question. The doctors in Antigua were hoping that they could operate later in the day but when they were told that marry is on a blood thinning medication she was told that they could not operate until she was off from it for over 48 hours. The head doctor also told me that it will be at least 12 days after the operation before she can even consider flying back to the States. Tonight her granddaughter Megan is staying at the hospital with her. Calin who has been one of our main interpreter throughout this whole ordeal graciously offered to stay there as well. This was a big relief to both Mary and Megan who speak little Spanish. Mary's Daughter is flying in at 6:15 AM so I will leave for the airport at around 5:00 AM. Please keep Mary in your prayers. She has had some hart problems in the past and her blood pressure was very low this evening.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Early this morning I headed to the Airport and picked up Mary's daughter Julie. It will be good to have her here with her mother because she knows all of Mary's medical history and can make the decisions on what is best for Mary. From what I am hearing medivacking her back to the USA for surgery is still an option.

Mary had a fairly good night but Calin and Megan didn't get much sleep. Nevertheless they decided to join us for the day so the two of them joined Toby, Alex, and my self and we went up to Santa Maria DeJesus to see Judy Kerschner and some of her students. Several of her students have either warn out or out grown their wheelchairs so we spent a good deal of time measuring some those that had gathered at her school to see us and then went to some of the homes. This was a real eye opener to Megan and Toby who had never been in Guatemala before. Even though Santa Maria DeJesus is less than a half hour drive from Antigua You find your self in a totally different world once you get there. The town is nearly 100% Mayan and although most of the people are friendly they are not all that fond of tourists.

Not all of the people that we visited were students that attend Judy's school. She also introduced us to some adults that were in need of wheelchairs. One of these was an old man that seemed to have some type of CP. All of his life he had to walk with the use of a long stick that he used for a cane. Judy told us that even though it took him forever to get even a few blocks he spent most of his time visiting and praying for sick people that lived in Santa Maria DeJesus. When we got to his house He told us that he was afraid that he was going to have to stop visiting people because he could no longer walk more than a few feet at a time. When Judy told him that I was there to see if there was a possibility that we could get a wheelchair for him you should have seen him and his family light up. This man was such a delight to visit with that we all hated to leave. Even though he had nothing he had a radiance about him that made me wish that I could be more like him. This man was so filled with a God given love for others that he had forgotten about the poverty and pane that he himself was in. From there we went to more homes. None of them were anything fancy but that didn't seem to matter. You could instantly feel which ones were filled with love and which ones were simply dwellings.

After saying goodbye to Judy we headed down the mountinan and after having some lunch we went over to the orphanage and hung out with the kids. Magan and Toby hadn't goten much of an opertunity to see many of the kids on Wednesday's visit due to Mary falling and breaking her femur but they more than made up for it this after noon. I think that they have fallen in love with the kids. Fact is they asked me if we could go back and spend more time there tomorrow. As much as I dislike orphanages and kids it took a lot of begging but I finally agreed to go back there. (Just kidding, there is no place that I would rather be.)

I must admit I was extremely tired when I got home tonight (Perhaps it had something to do with becoming another year older today) so I told the kids that I was going to head off to bed early and that I was not going to open up the house to them tonight. They are great kids and seemed to understand and promised that they would not make to much noise if I let them play soccer in the alley in front of my house. It is only a little after 8:00 but I am ready to call it a day.

Yours in Christ: Dick


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home