* 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, February 24, 2009

Journal February 20-26

(click on any picture to enlarge)

Friday, February 20, 2009, 9:18 PM


Today was the start of a 5 to 6 day road trip. This morning I headed out of my yard with a car load of wheelchairs, walkers, canes, crutches, and other medical supplies. Before picking up Abner and Alex I headed to Antigua to pick up David Black. Dave has offered to do a bit of journaling for me so I am going to let him take it from here. Bear in mind that Dave speaks Canadian so you may have to have an interpreter for at least part of this. Also remember that even though most of what Dave says tends to be the truth he has been known to exaggerate a bit especially when he talks about my driving. I have already proof read his journal entry of today and found most of it to be true but I want you to know that some of the places where he quoted me have been greatly exaggerated. For instance I have never used the word stinkin in my entire stinkin life. (Well almost never.)



Friday February 20 2009. (So far Dave is being truthful. D.R.)

(Dave wrote)

Dick picked me up in Antigua where we also picked up 2 wheelchairs from Mark at Hope Haven International. After tying them to the roof of Dick’s car and rearranging luggage to make room for Alex and Abner, Two of Dick’s boys (our translators) who had gotten out of school to come with us, we stopped of at McDonalds. After lunch we hit the road. Anyone can drive on pavement. Right? I asked Dick if he needed a map. (Here is where Dave’s imagination starts to take over. D.R.) I think Dick replied, “We don’t need no stinkin map!" (Way to go Dave! Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. D.R.)

We gave a ride to Ervin a 20 year old man who teaches 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in San Juan Sacatepezeus from Monday through Friday then returns to Robinel which is about 4 hours from there on the weekends. It was quite the journey down the bumpy dirt roads and we even paid 5 Q to drive down a road that led to a river where we all had a refreshing swim. After the swim Ervin, Abner, and Alex stayed busy visiting with each other all the way to Robinel.

When we arrived in Robinel we stopped of at the home of Luis Andrias, a little boy that stays at Hermano Pedro. Hid mother had brought him back there last Tuesday but had left some braces that he needed at home. We then found a motel that charged us a whopping 60 Q $7.50 per room. I told Dick that since he is Dutch and I am Scottish we should get bye quite cheaply this trip. (Actually I am finding Dave to be even cheaper than I am. At least I didn’t put the unused half role of toilet paper in my suitcase when I left. D.R.)

Manana more of the same. I love this off road stuff.

Dave


Saturday, February 21, 2009

(Dave wrote)


After having a HOT shower, we hit the road for Saloma and Camperos for breakfast. Then we took another of Dick’s ‘shortcuts’ which took an hour off our drive to Coban. The shortcut actually turned out to be quite smooth, and we had amazing scenery of mountains and valleys.

We stopped at the mall in Coban, where Dick found some 10Q t-shirts, and Alex and Abner bought some socks. We grabbed a pizza from Domino’s for a picnic lunch later, which we ended up eating on the warm hood of Dick’s Land cruiser.

Our smooth ride in the a.m. turned a little rougher and bumpier in the p.m., but it was well worth it.


We stopped in an aldea near Chisec where we delivered a wheelchair to a man named Licordio. His old chair had broken several years ago.




We also brought a chair (Dick says the ‘perfect chair’) to 20 year 0ld Alberto, who because of a brittle bone disease, cannot bend his legs. This new wheelchair is now Alberto's second favorite possession. The first is his Bible that his brother taught him how to read.

Dick had not intended to bring this specific type of chair, but Calin had reminded him just before we left about Alberto’s condition. Me thinks another ‘Godincidence’.

Then we delivered another wheelchair to Griselda Noemy in the same village. She is a 15 year old girl who has never had a chair, but with practice with this one, should be able to move around herself. I facetiously remarked to Dick how it was hardly worth it to drive 8 hours to deliver 3 wheelchairs! Actually, I don’t think it can get much better than delivering those chairs.

On our drive into Playa Grandey, Dick was talking about how we get the ‘thanks’, when really there are so many people involved – from the donors at home to Mark and Chris at HOPE HAVEN and BETHEL. It is amazing how God puts people into certain places, isn’t it?

I don’t know if tomorrow can top today, but I know God has something in store for us.

Thank you, Lord for this day:
Dave.



Sunday, February22, 2009

(Dave wrote)






Today we headed for Cuatro Pueblo Nuevo (loosely translated – New Village #4), which the government established about 10 years. Ago for people coming back from Mexico after the civil war. There are approximately 400 families living here, very close to the border with Mexico.













This is the home of Onias, whom Dick has known for about 9 years He is now 19. We brought him a new walker, which he was thoroughly enjoying when we left. He is one of Dick’s favorites.















We then left some school supplies with Marcos, the father of a very committed young man, who goes from house to house in this village teaching 5 of these handicapped children. What a blessing he is to these kids, as they probably would not get any schooling without him doing this. Thank you, Lord. This father and Onias’ father, Pedro, very graciously guided us all day through the village. They took us to Mario, a 13 year old sweetheart of a boy, to whom we gave a 3- wheeled walker.




. . . . . . . . . . video.
. . Click on ^ Arrow above to see movie of
. . . . . Mario using his new walker.

We then delivered a new wheelchair to a very timid young 6 year old girl, Micaela. God even gave us a couple of smiles from her. Another of his ‘sweethearts’.




We brought another new chair to Maria, 5 years old, whose father, Javier, is a primary teacher, and is going to home teach her 1st grade with the books we brought. She loved her new chair, especially the tray attachment, which she was using to draw pictures on when we left. Javier knocked down some coconuts for us to drink from, while sitting in his backyard overlooking some beautiful lush greenery.







We went back to Onias’ home for lunch, where Alex and Abner proceeded to try to become ‘cabilleros’ (After finding out that I have been proof reading Dave’s journal entries he has decided to try to throw me off by inserting some Spanish here and there. I guess he has forgotten how fluent I have become in Spanish after living here so many years. Unfortunately caballeros is not one of the ten Spanish words that I already know so I am going to trust that Dave is not saying anything bad about my boys. D.R.) on their horse. They were doing pretty good until Alex jumped off, as the horse came down a slight incline. Abner slid over the horses’ head, and did a face plant (he wasn’t hurt). Most of the neighbors and all of us had a good laugh over that one.




We still had one large chair left, and didn’t know what to do with it. Onias’ mom knew a neighbor whose mother has severe arthritis in her knees, and has trouble walking. This chair just happened to fit her perfectly. Thank you Lord.












One more stop to visit Felipe, a 8 year old boy whose dad said was ‘born dead’. He now loves school and has classes with Onias.

After yesterday, I didn’t think we could have had a better day, but God took care of that. We drove back to Playa Grande, Alex and Abner sleeping in the back, Dick and I ‘un poco cansado’ (a little tired) in the front. Both Alex and Abner have been a great help, Abner translating and Alex being a wheelchair mechanic. So, manana we are going to take them to Semuc Champey, where there are underground rivers and caves.





Thank you, Lord, for helping us to shine a little of your light in that village today.

Dave



Monday,February 23, 2009, 3:30 PM

(Dave wrote)

We are presently sitting at a highway (??) in the middle of nowhere on our way to Semuc Champey, waiting until they open the road at 6 p.m. Don’t know why they are improving this particular stretch of dirt road (it is by no means a highway), as it is in the middle of nowhere, not really connecting any major towns. Oh well, the scenery is beautiful – lush green hills and valleys, aqua blue rivers, and the beautiful faces of the children here. We are taking a route that Dick has never taken before, and we are seeing more of God’s wonderful handiwork. We slept in today, and left Playa Grande about 10 a.m. Dick let Abner and Alex steer for a while today. Fortunately Abner steers a vehicle better than he rides a horse! While we are waiting, we take a walk up the hill to a tienda and probably make the girl’s day with a 20Q ($2.50) purchase of pop and chips for the 4 of us. It actually feels good to stop and enjoy the splendor here. The flagman finally allows us through just before 6 p.m., and we make it to a hotel near Lanquin at 8 p.m. in the dark. Dick shows us a cheap way to wash his undies – they drop into el bano while he is reaching for his towel after showering! (The problem is they didn’t need washing. They were my last pare of clean ones. D.R.) We are all pretty tired and crash early – no T.V. anyway!



Tuesday February 24, 2009

(Dave wrote)




After breakfast, we head to Las Grutas de Lanquin (the caves of Lanquin), (Dave is trying to impress you with all of these Spanish names. Actually he only knows about 100 Spanish words. Then again that is about ten times more than I know. D.R.) just 5 minutes away. They have strung (?) wires and lights in a ways to see. Hopefully this is one of those rare days when the electricity stays on all day. It really is spectacular – hard to put into words. There are various rocks that look like a monkey, an elephant, a frog, an owl, and a tower. It is quite large and open inside and surprisingly quite warm. It is very slippery walking though – thank goodness for the ‘handrails’ (not really O.S.H.A approved )



Now we head to Semuc Champey, where a river flows underground, and then into some pools, and down some waterfalls. We hope the sun comes out and it does! So we all don our swimsuits ( Alex and Abner in their Guatemalan speedos – their undies and dive in. The water is so clear. Dick and I both wear our running shoes as the bottom is very rocky and slippery. Mine need a cleaning from the mud yesterday, anyway. Mucho little minnows. We walk up to where the river goes underground, and jump in and swim through pools back to our clothes. Talk about paradise! High cliffs on one side and howler monkeys on the other. I tell Dick it is well worth taking an extra day to come here. Dick says this is his most beautiful place in Guatemala, and I believe him. We stop at a place outside the park to check out their accommodations. Turns out the rooms and food there are very good – we have a really good homemade meal for lunch overlooking the river and discover that a 4 bed ‘dormitory’ is 35Q each per night. Unfortunately the boys have already missed enough school so we have to get back home by tomorrow night. Staying in Coban tonight – have promised the boys that we would let them visit the mall there.

Hasta luego,

P.S. I think I will call this trip,
'Abner, Dick, Dave, and Alex’s Excellent Adventure!'

Dave


Wednesday, February 25, 2009, 10:04 PM

(Written by Dick)

We are back at home and things are pretty much back to normal (what ever that is like). I know that my kids don't starve when I am gone but they certainly act like they are going to if I don' t feed them when I am here. I guess it must be my cooking they miss. Not everyone has the talent to make gourmet junk food. Tonight I fed about ten of them pancakes and eggs. I can' take full credit for making the meal though because most of the kids took turns flipping the pancakes. Nothing on the floor tonight but perhaps there will be when the pancake that is stuck to my ceiling lets go.

Our trip home from Cobon went well but it seemed that Abner and Alex grew more and more quiet the closer that we got to to Chimaltenango. I don't think that any of us were ready for this trip to end. Actually we had originality planned on getting home yesterday but the crew talked me into taking them to Champey. I'm glad that they did. Between David doing my journal the past few days and having a true day off yesterday, I feel like I have had a Vacation. David is the one that convinced me that everyone should have a DO DAH DAY once in a while, and I must admit it was pretty relaxing. (Thanks Dave!)






The tall one in the green pants is not me.



After dropping Dave off in Antigua I met up with Rolland Elf. He arrived in Antigua by buss about a half hour after we got there. A man and his daughter were with him. The little girl could not walk and Roland had brought her and her father to Antigua so that they could see one of the doctors at Hermano Pedro. Since neither Roland nor the man and his daughter have ever been to Hermano Pedro before I brought them there and helped them get a place to stay for the night on the other side of town. At first they were told that they would have to be at the hospital by 5:45 AM tomorrow just to assure that they would be able to see a doctor later in the day, but a friend that works there managed to work things out so that they will be able to see a doctor with out having to stand in line, so they were told that they did not have to show up until around 7:30. I have to go to the dentest in the morning but plan on going to Hermano Pedro after that. I want to see to it that Helen (the little girl) gets a wheel chair. She has never had one so her father and mother have to carry her where ever she goes. To my surprise Helen does go to school but since she has no wheelchair the other students have to push her around on an old bicycle that has training wheels.

Well, I have lots of kids still hanging around, and they seem to have lots of news that they feel I have to catch up on, so I think that I will say, "Goodnight"

Yours in Christ, Dick

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Journal February 15 - 19


Sunday, February 15, 2009, 9:48 PM

Jason almost made it along with the other nine of us to Church this morning but on the way from my house to my car (Approximately 10 feet) he started two fights so I once again had to send him home. His track record has not been so good the past few days but I am praying that it will improve soon. Funny thing though as hard as I am on him he keeps coming back. I just wish that he could stay a bit longer than an hour or two before he is asked to leave again.Those of the kids that made it to church did quite well. A few got verbal warnings but all of them got to come along for lunch. My friend Dave who is from Canada came along with us and bought lunch for he entire crew. The neat thing is ten meals at Martha’s cafe cost about the same as two meals at some of the restaurants in Antigua and the plates of food are much larger. After lunch we brought all of the kids except Miguel home and then headed to Hermano Pedro. Shortly after we got there some friends from the States met us, and all of us went inside and loved on the kids.



(Click on any picture to enlarge)

Lionel is still running a fever and they have inserted a temporary feeding tube. He has had a fever for four days now and it is worrying me. Tomorrow I am going to try to speak with one of the doctors and see what else can be done for him. I was unable to get him to smile today but he did reach out and take hold of my hand as I was taking him out of his crib to hold him.

I am amazed at how my friends that are here from the USA and Canada have taken to these kids. They are naturals with the kids. They are showing them unconditional love and the kids are thriving on it. Tomorrow we are planning on taking around a half dozen of the teen age girls out to lunch.

I didn’t make any supper tonight but no one complained much. I think that the meal that we had at Martha’s this afternoon was enough to hold us until morning. If not we are in trouble because I have not had time to go grocery shopping in the last few days, so my cupboards resemble those of Mother Hubbard.

Only Calin and Cesar are spending the night. More kids wanted to but I decided that two was enough. It seems that when ever more than that stay over it is hard to get them to go to sleep on time and as far as we know tomorrow is a school day. We think so anyway because last week none of the teachers announced that they planned on being sick this week.

Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick


Monday, February 16, 2009




Today we took six of the teen age girls out to lunch. Even though four of them cannot even have solid food it did not dampen their spirits. Just being able to get out of the orphanage for an hour was more than enough to make their day.









After lunch Tony, Marcia, Dave, Cathy, and her daughter Emma came to Chimaltenango with me. We picked up three of my boys and then headed to where Maria and her family live. Maria seems to be doing better every day. It seems that the hopelessness that she felt when her husband died is more and more disappearing. I think that this is happening because of the strong faith in God that her and her family have. They know that some one cares and they know that there is far more to life than simply existing. Their life is so different than other families that I see who seem to have given up on life simply because it is not going the way that they want it to. It is strange how we come back from visiting this widow and her four children with a feeling of having been uplifted by their spirits. They have nothing in the way of material positions so why is it that sometimes I leave there feeling perhaps a bit envious of them?

When we got back to Chimaltenango we picked up eight Pizzas and headed for my house. At first it looked like there was going to be about one pizza per person but that quickly changed. Adults and kids alike had a great time and everyone got at least one piece of pizza. We ended the party at around 8:00 because I still had to bring our American friends back to Antigua. Four or five of my neighborhood kids came along as well so we ended up with a pretty good car full.

It is now 10:15 PM Miguel just got out of night school and showed up at my door. He is wondering if I saved him any Pizza. I did. He told me that some men cornered him when he left school and asked for his cell phone. When they saw that he owned one of the $10 ones that most of the kids have they gave it back to him. I guess that the robbers in my neighborhood are a bit picky. Miguel has asked to spend the night though because you never can tell, there may be robbers out there that are not as fussy.

Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

This morning I met the crew at Hope Haven’s wheelchair factory in Antigua. Mark had been giving them a tour of the factory while I got caught up on a few things at home. After the tour we stopped off at Domino's and picked up 14 large Pizzas and brought them up to the School at Santa Maria Dejesus. (If nothing else good happens this week we at least helped out the pizza places in Guatemala). Amy, Judy, and close to 70 students were eagerly waiting for us to arrive. Then again perhaps it was the pizza that they were waiting for. At any rate they were happy to see us and we were greeted by a lot of handshakes and hugs. This was an especially awaited moment for Tony and Marcia because they got to see Rodrigo, a boy that they have been sponsoring. Before having Pizza the students entertained us with some songs. Seeing these kids now it is hard to believe that they were once the outcasts of their village. They were the ones that either did not attend school because of a physical or mental disability or if they did attend school they were being shoved through the system without ever learning how to read or write. It is amazing how a little praise and lots of hard work from Christian teachers and staff can change so many lives in such a positive way.

After pizza with the kids we went back to Hermano Pedro and the group spent time with the kids that are there. Lionel seems to be doing quite a bit better today and I even managed to get a lopsided grin out of him. Moises and Byron also got him to smile when they came up to him and held his hand. These two have really taken two him. Moises has also taken on the responsibility of making sure that Byron’s power wheelchair gets plugged in each night. This seems to be a task the care givers can not handle. I personally think that they intentionally allow the batteries to go dead so that Byron is not underfoot during the day. It is much easier for them if, like most of the other kids he is put to bed by 1 PM and left there until the following morning.

This evening I had supper in Antigua with David, my friend from Canada. No we did not have pizza. I may have to have some tomorrow though because it is my understanding that it is not healthy to withdraw from something like that all at once.

Eleven year old Emma has been keeping a journal of her own this past week so I thought that I would share it with you.

I looooove Guatemala!!!!!!!!! Everyone (well most people) are so kind! At first I was kinda resistant to go to Guatemala, but it all good :) When I heard we were going to go to the Hermano Pedro orphanage, I was worried I was going to be a little overwhelmed, but the minute I walked through the door, I realised that all those kids needed was love. A little boy named Elmor has my heart! But when he didn't get his way... Another kid I liked was Minor(Elmor's bro). He laughed at everything my mom or I would do!! We got to take them out to Pollo Camperos, as well as the teenage girls. I had a blast!! Everyone had a blast. During our time here, we got to visit a boy named Ronnie and his family. Ronnie, sadly, has MD. When we came, we saw a smashed table caused by Ronnie's uncle who threatened to kill the whole family because he was jealous of Ronnie's wheelchair and all the attention Ronnie was getting. Dick helped build the family a knew chimney out of a sturdy stick and piping. While he was doing that, Dick's boys and I played with Ronnie and his siblings. Even though we couldn't speak the same language, we could communicate without words. Before we left, we prayed for the family and their house. While we were praying, a breeze flew right through the front door. We knew the holy spirit was watching over us. We also visited Maria's family. They lived way out in the hills. There were at least 12 kids, but not all of them belonged to Maria. After we gave them some groceries, we toured their home. A little while later,we saw their pigs, we took the mother out of the pin and held her two piglets. About two minuets later, we put the mom back in the pin and put the piglets out. A moment before we left, Tony taught the kids how to sing the Hallelujah long and left. The next day we went to Judy's school. We had a huge pizza party. When we took the first step into the school, the kids started to hand out hugs. Before pizza, I handed out my classes letters. That was very successful!! I had a wonderful week!

Adios
In God's name, Emma Christensen


Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

This morning I went in to Hermano Pedro and once again I met with the group from the USA. and Canada. Father Bernardo asked me if I would take him to visit Caser, the man whose leg we had been treating. So all of us brought him there. The entire group which consisted of lot of various denominations, wholeheartedly agreed that Father Bernardo was not only the most enthusiastic 90 year old that they have ever met but indeed a brother in Christ. They all listened in amazement when he told them about taking two groups of hikers in one day, all the way from Hermano Pedro up to the cross on the hill that overlooks Antigua. I reminded the group that he was not 90 years old when he did this though, but that it was a year ago when he was only 89. Since there were seven of us, and Caser’s home is not all that large the six of us visited for only a short time and then left Father Bernardo to stay and visit there for about an hour on his own.


I am now back at Hermano Pedro but I have gone into hiding for a while so that I can get half way caught up on this journal. It seems that God’s timing is always perfect because about the time that I think that writing in this journal takes up too much of my time I receive e-mails like the following.

(Kimberly wrote)

Dear Mr. Rutgers, I have been reading your journal entries for the last few days. While I am not a member nor do I go to any church, God has been whispering in my ear for some time now. And when I "accidentally" came across your blog, I finally understood . I know fully in my heart I did not stumble across your blog but was lead to it.

It has struck a major chord within my heart and soul. For you see, my husband was born and raised in Antigua Guatemala. There were instances that his family did indeed go through some hard times, yet compared to the families in which you write about, he was a privileged boy. I myself, never took the time to read nor learn much about the country in which he was from. Pretty much only the terrible things it had to offer. But your journaling has opened my eyes and heart, for I have COMPLETELY fallen in love with this country and its people. And my husband and I would like to do as much as we can to help.

We are interested in sponsoring, donating, or what ever God sees fit. Please give us the info that we need so that we may start helping as soon as possible. I also know that within the next few years we will be visiting my in laws in Guatemala City and I hope that will give us the chance to meet you, and get to sing and hold in my arms, the children of Hermano Pedro. ( I have even started to study Spanish on my own )

You, all the "kiddos" and the people of Guatemala will be in our prayers everyday.

Kimberly and Andreas

Cruz Buenos Dias Dick !



Thank you SO much in your prompt reply considering the fact of how busy of a man you are.

My husband and I would like to sponsor specific children that you know that needs sponsorship. We would like to either sponsor 4 grade age children, OR 1 grade age child and 1 child that is in a higher schooling.

FUN FACT ~ I told my husband how you sometimes take the children up to the cross that over looks Antigua. He said that area was right up from his old house and that he use to go there all the time when he got mad or just needed to think. He also said that it was a pretty good hike up there for anyone. I replied...." Yes , but I believe Mr. Dick drives up there." HAHA ! He says he doesn't blame you one bit!

Godspeed my friend, Kimberly and Andreas



(Dick Wrote)

Wow! Talk about a Godincidence! You are not going to believe this but Chris and Donna Money whom I work with, just notified me of 4 kids all brothers and sisters who are in grade school need sponsors.

Blanca Elizabeth Tesagura is a Widow, 45 years old who lives in Tecpan. Her husband recently passed away after a long illness. She has 4 children. She is very poor. The children had to stop studying half way through the year due to their father's death and their lack of provision.

The children live in Ticpan and their names are.




1. Sandra Jannet -- 13 year, 5th grade.

2. Jeimy Emiliana -- 10 years, 1st grade


3. Paulina Fernanda -- 7 years,1st grade


4. Ariel Marcelino -- 5 years,Kinder.



Yours in Christ: Dick



(Kimberly wrote)

We are so happy that God has allowed us to help a whole family to continue their education.

The oldest girl has my mothers name and the youngest one has my grandmothers name, how ironic is that! ?

I will be writing out my checks tonight. Also we are planning to donate $60.00 every four months to sponsor a wheelchair.

I cant stop reading your journals! One minute I am bawling my eyes out, the next I am laughing out so hard that I am sure the neighbors can hear me. But most of all, I see the love that you have, and the love and power of Jesus Christ.

Bless you kimberly and Andreas



Hello Dick! ................ Can I confess something to you? Doing this is not only helping families in Guatemala, but it is helping my husband and I become closer to God ourselves. I personally think I have a long way to go, but I am starting to see and understand the big picture more and more and what he has planned for me.

Bless you Kimberly and Andreas




As hard as it is to break away and do these journals people like Kimberly and Andreas make me realize that I must continue to share with others what God is doing not only here in Guatemala but all over the world.


Goodnight:
Yours in Christ: Dick


Thursday, February 19, 2009, 11:12 AM

I am doing today's journal a bit early because tomorrow I am planning on heading out on a five day road trip so I want to have free time this evening to spend with my kids. It has been nearly six months since I last visited Onias and some of the other kids that we are putting through school in the area where he lives. During that last visit Saul, Hanna, two of my boys and myself found other kids that were in need of specialized schooling and several people that have been confined to their homes for most of their lives because they had no wheelchairs. Tomorrow Dave and I plan on loading up my Land Cruiser with wheelchairs and text books and heading up that way. Several of my kids have already volunteered to come along as interpreters but I am still weighing that because they would miss two to three days of school if they came along. Another hard part would be deciding which two got to come along if I did let them go. Please pray for us as we travail into this very remote part of Guatemala.


Another matter of prayer concerns two children that Mike and Karen Rhea, from Rio Dulci and myself have been trying to get into Hermano Pedro. Mike and Karen contacted me a few days ago concerning a five year old girl, also named Karen. When we gave her a wheelchair during a Jony and Friends wheelchair distribution a few years ago she was not doing all that bad. The pictures that Mike and Karen sent me yesterday shocked me though. This precious little girl is now starving. I had a meeting with the pediatrician at Hermano Pedro yesterday and he agreed to admit her into the malnutrition ward providing she has no fevers or nothing contagious. I contacted Mike and Karen and they assured me that other than having cerebral palsy and the obvious starvation she seem to be quite healthy. Since I am planning on being out of town until Tuesday night we made arrangements for them to bring her in to Hermano Pedro next Wednesday. This morning I got a phone call from Jessica at Hermano Pedro. She told me that several of the kids in the malnutrition ward have come down with a flue like sickness and the doctor there felt it would be wise for us to wait until that had cleared up. Karen seems to be healthy enough that a few more days at home should not hurt her so we are postponing things for at least a few days. Please pray for her though. Also pray for the little ones at the hospital that are sick. Some of them are so fragile that even something as simple as the flue or even a bad cold can sometimes be life threatening to them.

Karen and Mike also asked me if I thought that we could get Deri, a boy who we brought into malnutrition half starved a few years ago back into Hermano Pedro. He is not starving to death but his parents have all but deserted him.


Here is part of the e-mail that Mike and Karen sent me yesterday.


Dear Dick, We went to see Deri today and he looks a lot better than the last two times we saw him. We took pictures so you could judge for yourself if he can qualify for the malnutrition ward. I think the parents would like to be relieved of duty. It seems that they are keeping him locked up alone in the kitchen that adjoins the Church of God Evangelico Completo. The rest of the family lives next door in the pastorage. The father (Milton) is still a pastor! Deri is being warehoused, alone. When we got there today, unannounced, The mother and other children were in the house next door and after questioning them on the whereabouts of Deri they finally came clean that he was in the kitchen/shack by the church and no, we couldn't see him because he was locked in there and someone else had the key. I told her to please have her younger son crawl in a window or something and unlock the door. In other words, I wasn't leaving until I saw Deri. So finally she came out with him. I can't stand the thought of what his life is like with no stimulation. But if you think he can't make it into malnutrition, its better not to bring him this time but maybe you could help us get him on the waiting list for permanent status? He would positively bloom with therapy and stimulation. He wants to walk but his left leg is too weak still. It is very clear that they will do nothing to improve his life. Its just heartbreaking to see Deri abandoned by his family like this. He has potential, Dick, we both know that. And he could be so much happier in Hermano Pedro.

Thanks: Mike and Karen


I wish with all of my hart that I could tell Mike and Karen to bring Deri along with them when they bring Karen to Hermano Pedro in the next week or two. Unfortunately the waiting list of kids that need permanent placement is so long that only those that are physically dying can be admitted right now. Deri who for the time being, is only starving emotionally is in too good of shape to be admitted into Hermano Pedro. Does one pray that he get worse so that he can at least have a chance to live a somewhat normal life? I wish that I knew the answer to that.

Yours in Christ:
Dick








Saturday, February 14, 2009

Journal February 6-14

Friday, February 6, 2009

Tonight I am finally back in Chimaltenango. In the past few weeks I have spent far more time in motel rooms than at home so it feels good to be home. I had planned on getting back home on Thursday but the drive from our hotel in Huehuetenango to Lisvi’s home is a grueling one even though it is only two hours each way. If ever an auto manufacture wanted to do an advertisement for a four wheel drive vehicle it should be here. I honestly believe that several of them would scrap the idea once they saw where they had to try to drive to though. After asking Lisvi’s father what the little monument that was along side of the trail near one of the switch backs represented I wished that I hadn’t asked and then paid extra care to my driving. I also made up my mind that if as much as one drop of rain fell from the sky I was going to park my car and camp right there until we had at least a week of sunshine.

When we got to Lisvi’s house her father and mother insisted that I stay and have lunch with them. We were up at over 8000 feet and it was an exceptionally cold day so we mostly huddled around the fire and visited while mother and one of her older daughters prepared the food. As we visited various family members took turns holding this precious little girl. When it was my turn I held her for a long time. Even though we will hopefully return with some wheelchairs for others in this area, I knew that this could have easily been the last time that I will see her.



Before reaching Xela I stopped off in San Francisco (Guatemala). Christopher, a boy that has a power wheelchair lives there. His mother had notified our shop in Chimaltenango that he was having some problems with it so I figured that since there was no way that I was going to make it home tonight I just as well stop off and see if I could fix his wheelchair. Christopher’s mom informed me that he is starting to have more seizures and the doctor that she has been taking him to is not doing much for him. I told her about Silsi and that she will be coming to Hermano Pedro to see a specialist near the end of March. I asked her if she wanted me to see if I could get an appointment for Christopher on the same day. I figured that if I am coming out that way I just as well pick up a full carload of people.

I am not sure if the kids had given up on waiting for me or if they didn’t think that I was going to be back home until tomorrow but the amount of kids that showed up at my house after I got back stayed under a dozen. A few of them have already told me that they are spending the night though so I guess I better start hauling out the blankets.

Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick


Saturday, February 7, 2009
(Click on any picture to enlarge)

It looks like the word has gotten out that I am home because my house is now wall to wall kids. I managed to get out of the house with only the three that spent the night coming along with me to the orphanage this morning but by the number of kids that are here right now you would have thought that the entire orphanage came back home with me. I came back home at around 3PM because I promised those that were here last night that I would rent a soccer field for an hour at 4 PM. I was a bit worried that not enough kids would find out about it and they would not be able to put two soccer teams together. Silly me! We had fourteen kids before the game even started and the numbers continued to grow throughout the game. I played for a little while but after watching a few of the kids trip and fall on the cement I came to my senses and became combination medic and spectator. It always amazes me that no one ever seems to get more than a few scrapes but these kids are tough. Besides even if they are playing soccer on the cement it sure beats being out on the streets. After the game I took a few of the kids shopping. I had missed Abner’s thirteenth birthday while I was up in Huehuetenango so I had promised that I would bring a cake over to his house later this evening. It is hard for me to believe that he is thirteen. I still remember celebrating his seventh birthday. I also remember celebrating his thirteenth birthday just a year ago but yesterday he told me that his aunt and uncle had recalculated and decided that they had made a mistake and he was actually turning thirteen this year. Lucky kid, why can’t I get by with repeating birthdays instead of having new ones?

Well it is getting late and I once again have house guests.

Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Nine of us headed off to church this morning but we rounded the number off to an even ten by stopping off at the orphanage and picking up Moises.

The new building that we now have church in is a real blessing, especially when it comes to taking Moises or any of the other orphanage kids along to church. No stairways! Our church is growing so rapidly that Pastor Mike decided to choose a church board. I first told him that I was just to busy too be on it but he convinced me that we all have just 24 hours in our day so I finally said OK. I did not feel good about my decision though so last week I asked him if he could find some one to take my place. He told me that he understood and believe it or not he chose the exact person that I had in mind. All of the men on the board are really good God fearing men and I know that they will do a great job. The fact that I am at least 30 years older than any of them gives me a feeling that even though just like me they only have 24 hours in their day perhaps they have the energy to put more into this task than I would have had.

After Church the kids and I went to Martha’s for lunch and then we came home and just hung out. Once again Jason was asked to leave early. This time not for swearing but for lying. A few weeks ago he put a game on my computer that I did not approve of so I asked him to remove it. A little while later he told me that he had taken it off and I believed him, silly me. Fernando, who loves to snitch on people, is the one who told me about it so I confronted Jason about it and he told me that he had removed the game. He had not. We had a good talk as I walked him to the gate. He is only out for two days but was told that the punishment doubles every time the same offense occurs. I still remember Calin working his way up to two months. I hope that Jason learns before that because I think that it is harder on me to have to kick on of the kids out of the house than it is on them. I know what kind of trouble they can get into if they do not have a place to just hang out.

At 3:30 I suddenly remembered that I had to have Moises back at the orphanage by 4:00. I had almost forgotten that he was here because the other kids are so good with him that I do not have to lift a finger to help him with anything. I didn’t take any of the kids along with me because a friend from the States wanted to meet with me and talk over a few things. When I got back home the third group of kids in as many days asked if they could spend the night. I think that they have made an agreement to take turns staying at my house so that they can make sure that I am not going to leave for Huehuetenango for a several days again. I do plan on going some where over night on Wednesday but have not broke that to them yet. Well the kids have been trying to get me to come out and play a little basketball with them for the past hour so I guess that I will give in and shoot some hoops with them before bed.

Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick


Monday, February 9, 2009, 10:26 PM

Most of today was spent at Hermano Pedro orphanage. Almost all of the kids are back now and it seems that the ones that did not break their wheelchairs while they were gone during Christmas time, outgrew them. Dave, a friend from the USA helped me work on them most of the day and even though we only made a small dent we did get quite a bit accomplished. However we can not give ourselves all of the credit because we had lots of little helpers. Moises and a few of the other kids are actually becoming good at helping out but the there are always those like Ervin and Elmer who manage to shorten a 30 minute repair job into nothing more than an hour and a half. That is not including the hour it take to find all of our tools back at the end of the day. Dave is a real sucker for kids so I some how let him talk me into taking Ervin and Jo Jo to lunch. Actually I am the one that suggested Dave but it sure didn’t take any arm twisting on my part. We had a great time with the kids and Ervin, whom some people refer to as Monster, was so good that I am seriously thinking of calling him by his real name.


Lionel is doing well and seems to be adjusting to his new surrounding ever since they moved him down stares from the malnutrition ward. He and Moises seem to hit it off great and Moises has no trouble getting him to laugh. I still hope that we can help get his parents the help that they need so that they feel that he could survive if he went back home, but for now I am glad that they are having him stay at Hermano Pedro.

Well since I did more writing than normal last weekend I am going to even things out a bit and keep this one short.

Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick


Tuesday, February 10, 2009, 7:02 PM

This one is going to be short as well, because it was another one of those exciting go to the dentist, pay my bills, get my car fixed days. Actually the car fixing part of it was only suppose to last for about thirty minutes but today my mechanics abilities seemed to be right up there with Ervin’s. My original reason for going there was to see if he could sand down some of the bigger bubbles and runs that he left on the hood of my car when he repainted it for me a few weeks ago but then I decided to have him change my oil and replace a stud that broke off from one of my wheels on my last trip to Huehuetenango. Actually he did a fairly good job of replacing the broken off stud, at least I think so because my wheel has not fallen off yet. It was the oil change that seemed to be the problem this time. Seems that he some how stripped the threads on my fuel filter so I have to go back there tomorrow and get that fixed. He managed to Jerry rig another filter to my car so that I could drive it but I only got a hundred feet down the road before I turned around and had him redo that. I am not sure what kind of a filter it was but I quickly discovered that diesel only flowed through it fast enough to allow me to go about five miles per hour. It was probably a good thing that I had to go back though because while I was gone he found my air filter that he had entirely left off from my car. Oh as far as smoothing out the paint on the hood of my car is concerned, I have no Idea because it was pitch dark by the time that I got out of there.

I am still not at home because I had to stop off at the shop to pick up a few things. My computer was one of them. I intentionally left it there. Not that I think that my mechanic would steel it because he is one of he most honest men that I know. It’s just that I am a bit afraid that he may decide to do me a favor and try to repair or repaint it. I am going to leave those kind of things to professionals like Ervin and Elmer.


Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick


Wednesday February 11 2009

It seems that ever since school started back up the computers that are in my house have been going non stop. Knowing that I have computers that they can use most of the kids that had the opportunity signed up for computer classes. As long as the waiting lines are I may have to see if I can find one or two more that they can use. Yesterday I let a few of the kids use them while I was gone but I don't really like the idea of having them on them when I cannot monitor what they are looking at.






This morning I headed to the shop and got an electric wheelchair going for a man in Mazatenanto who up until now has only had a homemade wheelchair that some one had welded together for him from reebar. Dave Black, my friend from Canada decided to come along with me to Mazatenango. His Spanish is about as good as mine so we may have a fun time talking to the family of the man that we are going to give the power chair to.








On our way to Mazatenango we stopped off at Hope Haven's wheelchair factory in Antigua and helped seat a few kids that had come there to receive wheelchairs.



















It seems really different not having any of the kids along. I miss them but have to admit it has been relaxing. Tonight we are staying at the Bamboo Motel. Why they call it the Bamboo when everything in the room including the beds are made from Cement is beyond me. Oh well I have been up since 4 AM so I have a feeling that I will be able to sleep on them. The only thing that I am not 100% sure of is weather or not I will be able to walk after sleeping in one. Guess the only way to find out is to try it, so goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick


Thursday, February 12, 2009, 9:41 PM

This morning Dave and I met Albergito’s father out on the Pan-American highway and followed him in to where he and his family lives. Albergito was sitting outside in his homemade wheelchair waiting for us. It had been over four months ago that I had met him at a wheelchair distribution that Bethel Ministry had near Mazatenango. At that time I had promised him that we would get a power wheelchair to him as soon as possible. Little did I realize at that time that as soon as possible would be four months but things have been a bit busy lately. If he or his parents had done any worrying that we would never show up they certainly did not show it today. Albergito who has CP was so excited that his hands were flailing all over the place so I had some doubts if he would be able to control his new power chair until he calmed down a bit, but once we showed him how to drive it and did some minor adjustments he did quite well. I have an idea that in no time at all he will have it down to a science. Since neither Dave or myself knew much Spanish we were wondering how we could convey to the family that we nor Bethe Ministries wanted the thanks but that this chair was being given to them because of the love of Jesus and we wanted God to have the glory. I guess that they some how knew because the entire family kept looking up towards heaven saying “Thank you Jesus”. Before we left Albergito’s father said a prayer of thanksgiving that had us all in tears.



On the way back home I asked Dave if he wanted to get off from the main highway and see some back country. He told me that he would like nothing better. The trip home took an extra hour and a half but was well worth it.

After dropping David off in Antigua I stopped in at Hermano Pedro for a few hours before heading home. When I went to Lionel’s bed I was surprised to see that he was not there because all but a hand full of kids were in bed. And he was not with the few that were still up (3 PM). Moises who was one of the fortunate ones that had not been put to bed at noon took me over to a crib that was on the other side of the room. There lay Lionel with an IV tube in his arm. He looked at me but I did not get the big smile that I usually get. Instead he just stared. When I reached down to pick him up I quickly discovered that he was running a fever. One of the care givers told me that it had gone down considerably since this morning and that he had given them quite a scare. I asked if he had experienced another seizure but she said no. I hope that she was right but often times the care givers are out of the room and seizures can go unnoticed. I pulled a chair up to his crib and took him out and held him for a long time. He certainly was not the smiling little boy that he was a few days ago but he did manage to give me a lopsided grin and even reached out to take hold of my hand. More and more I am realizing how fragile some of these kids are. I also realize how important it is to make their lives as pleasant as possible while they are with us. It takes so little but it means so much to them. I can not count the times that I have been asked by well meaning people what can we bring along from the States for the orphanage kids? I tell them that any toys that they bring them will be gone with in a few hours but if they are willing to give them their love it will mean more than they can imagine. After finally putting Lionel back into his crib I walked over to Jo Jo’s crib. He always feels bad if I do not at least come over and say hi to him. To my surprise Jo Jo who we had just taken to lunch on Monday also had an IV in his arm. He did not seem to be doing to bad though so I carried him out side for a few minutes. One at a time Moises, Byron, and Ervin, who were the only three kids that had not already been put to bed for the day came over and held on to Jo Jo’s hand for a while. Before leaving I went up to the malnutrition ward and checked to see how Alex was doing. I have not seen him for a while and I can see that he has actually put on some weight. I fear though that once he reaches 25 pounds they will move him back out of the malnutrition ward and he will once again fall back below 20 pounds. Not a good weight for a ten year old.



Since I was gone last night I had a big spaghetti feed for the kids tonight and even though there were about a dozen of us I managed to have some leftovers. That is a rarity around here. Usually I do not allow the kids to take any food home with them but tonight I told Alex that he could take what was left to his mother.

Well it is getting late and everyone that is going ot leave has left so I guess I will head off to bed.

Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, February 13, 2009. 10:13 PM

This morning I picked up Tony and Marcia Banks, Cathy Christensen and her daughter, Emma, who came in from the USA late last night. After breakfast we went to Hermano Pedro where we spent a good part of the day. Both Tony and Marcia have been there before so it did not take them any time to warm up to the kids. Cathy and her daughter, Emma, had not been there before but they fit in like they had spent their lives with the orphanage kids. I later found out that Cathy has a daughter at home that has CP so that helped her and her daughter fit right in. We had a great time playing with the kids and an even better one taking five of them out to lunch. Dave Black also joined us so we were able to take five of the more active kids. After filling up on chicken and French fries we let the kids play on the playground equipment at Camperos. I think that the next time we do this I am going to invite some of the therapists from Hermano Pedro along. I often see them spend an hour trying to get kids like Ervin to move a few feet. Today he was climbing ladders and crawling all over the place. He even walked when he had something to hold on to for balance. If only the therapists could recognize that these kids are a lot more willing to do things if a little fun is involved.


















After lunch we played with the kids for a while then we headed to Chimaltenango. Rosa, the mother of the girl that is blind had called last night telling me that she was out of blood pressure medicine, so we brought her some along with some groceries. Her 13 year old daughter told us that they have decided to stay in Chimaltenango so she started going back to school. Her little brother will also be starting school on Monday. I am very happy for them because they did not think that they would be able to attend school this year.


After a nice visit I took them to see Bethel’s wheelchair shop. Chris was there so he gave them the grand tour. I could see that they were impressed by how many people this ministry has reached.

After seeing the shop we headed to one of my favorite restaurants for supper. Unfortunately it was closed so we decided to go to Antigua where we had a good meal.

It is now 10:33 and the three kids that have decided to make my place their home tonight are getting hungry. If it were not for the need for food I think I would have a lot of free time on my hands.

Goodnight:
Yours in Christ: Dick


Saturday, February 14, 2009 7:25 PM

Today Tony and Marcia, Cathy, and Emma, joined Abner, Fernando, Alex, and myself and we went and visited Ronny and his family. Actually almost all of my kids wanted to come along today but I simply did not have room for the entire crew. I promised some of the others that they can join us on Monday because we plan on visiting Maria and her family then.

It is about a two hour drive to Ronny’s home but we did a lot of visiting on the way. Fact is I must have been right in the middle of one of my stories when we got to where I was suppose to turn off from the Pan Am Highway and go south, because we found ourselves a few miles beyond our turn off before I realized that I had driven right past the road that we were suppose to take. It sort of reminded me of my Grandfather who use to get so involved about the story that he was telling that he would ramble on and on without even . . . . . . . . . . . . Any way you get the point. Now where was I? O yah, any way at least we didn’t end up in Mexico before I realized my mistake and it gave my visitors the opportunity to see a bit more of the countryside.

Ronny and his family were delighted to see us and it did not take long before each one of my guests was either visiting with Ronny’s parents or holding a child in their arms. I wish that I could say that everything is going great at Ronny’s place but Alverto, Ronny’s father told us that just yesterday his brother who lives just up the trail, came onto Ronny’s yard with a machete and said that he was going to kill Ronny’s entire family. Alverto showed us the plastic table that once sat on their porch. Ronny’s uncle had chopped it to shreds. There are also dents and large scratches that were made with the machete on the metal door to their home. Uncle never did get in but said that he would be back. I am sure that there is more involved but From what I am being told a lot of this has to do with the fact that Ronny is in a wheelchair and not only uncle but his entire family, and Ronny’s grandmother hate the fact that they have a handicapped relative. For the time being just to avoid getting anywhere near to where uncle lives Ronny, his brother, and sisters have to take a much longer and rougher trail to school. This makes it a lot more difficult for Ronny to get to school in his wheelchair. Please pray for piece in this family.

While we were there we cut a small hole in the roof of Ronny’s house and reinstalled the chimney of the airtight stove that we had built shortly after building their home. The old chimney had run out of a window at an odd angle and from my days of grade school science I seem to remember that smoke rises better then it goes down hill. At least it is my hope that mother will now be able to cook without breathing in a lot of smoke.

Before we left Tony prayed for the family. Just before that all of the kids had brought out workbooks and proudly showed us what they had been doing in school. I looked over at their parents and through the fear and uncertainty could see a bit of pride in their eyes. I think that it is their prayer that an education will help give their children the opportunity to at least a bit of an easier life than they have had.

Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick