* 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)

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.

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.

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!

In God's name, Emma Christensen

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.

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:


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