* 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)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Journal March 25-31 2009

(Click any picture to enlarge)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Today's entry is going to be a short one.

I was sick today so I spent the day at home getting caught up on answering e-mails. Don’t worry the kids ate well, perhaps better than when I do feel good. I sent Marcos (One of the boys who has not had his bicycle stolen) to the market for a roasted chicken. So we all had chicken and refried been sandwiches for supper. (Don’t knock it until you have tried it.)

I think that I will go back to being sick again for a while so I will say goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, March 26, 2009, 10:26 AM

This may seem like a strange time of the day for me to be writing in my journal but I am sitting in the shop waiting for some of the ladies that are here from the States to come back from the market. No they are not souvenir shopping! They are out shopping for food for the 12 families that they plan on visiting on Saturday. I do not mind shopping for food but since I am still coughing and sneezing a bit I am not sure weather anyone else would care to buy any of the food that the merchants in the markets have lying out in the open air once I had christened it.

The rest of their group headed out early this morning to start the construction on one of the 2 homes that they plan on building this week. We plan on driving up to Tecpan and joining them later today.

I just talked with some of the members of the group and Guess what. Some of them are journaling while they are here. It may be a few days before I get copies of their journals but I am going to sit tight and do no journaling in the hopes that they will get them to me. Bye for now.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, March 28, 2009


by Ronnie “Nacho” Cordrey

WARNING: my mind is a highway with many exit ramps … and I usually take every one (translation: this blog entry is completely random)

I live in Louisville, Kentucky, I am happily married (8.5 yrs.) with 2 beautiful, healthy girls (Kinsley—6 months & Ella—3.5 years old), and it’s official: I am a spoiled, white American. I knew this before coming to Guatemala, but it is official now. I have never been hungry for more than a few moments, I tend to look in my walk-in closet & complain that I have nothing new to wear, I get upset when the lady from Starbucks puts foam instead of whip cream on top of my drink, I complain when my TV recorder doesn’t tape a favorite show correctly, and I use “Christian cuss words” when it rains the same day I wash my wife’s black, Honda Pilot. How easy it is for me to lose healthy perspective, forgetting how blessed I am … how easy it is for me to forget that God has blessed my life (tangibly & intangibly) in order for my life to be a river (not a dam) … allowing His blessings to flow through me to bless others.

That’s one reason why I love my new friend Dick Rutgers! I was talking to Dick at breakfast 2 days ago, and he was telling me how when groups come in and go to orphanages and wear green gloves all the way up their arms & hold babies far from their faces, Dick says, “Hey, if you are that sick, please don’t hold our babies – I don’t want them to catch your disease!” I love it! I’m just glad Dick told me this before going to the orphanage tomorrow, where I might have lost perspective and put on my NASA space suit before holding these same babies.

Then, 2 nights ago, after having a pizza party at Dick’s bachelor pad with all his kids, we were getting ready to leave when one of our team members speaks up, “Hey, did you all see the new baby?” … to which I walked over to the mom who was holding the baby who's head was covered with a blanket & pulled it back to find out in shocking form that this baby is not on formula – so I jumped back and found Dick laughing—laughing because he had just done the same, exact thing recently, himself … what can I say: I’m sharp as a bowling ball!

Today, we got to witness the dedication for the new house we participated with in building for Blanca, a lady who is widowed with 4 kids, and I have to be honest: her house is 12x18 and looks like something we would not even allow in our backyards for a shed … but to see how truly grateful she and her kids were – and how she kept thanking God for our generosity led me to tears. So here I am struggling to process all of these emotions in the midst of this life-changing experience: what is God wanting me to learn? and perhaps more important … what is God wanting me to do with what I am learning after I go back to Louisville and sip my Venti Carmel Macchiato extra hot with whip $5 drink (which is about what the average person here makes in an entire day)?

I believe James 1:27 is a good start: please contact me @ ronnie.cordrey@necchurch.org with your suggestions / comments.

Ronnie “Nacho” Cordrey

Saturday March 28, 2009

(Written by Dick)

I know, not much of Thursday and none of Friday’s house building, bed building, or home visitations have yet been mentioned but other members of the teem plan to write about them so I hope to have those journal entries in a few days and will try to post it then. Fact is the following will not be an account of our entire day but will only cover a 30 second phone call that I received this morning while driving some of our volunteers to Tecpan.
I wrote the following paragraph on February 5, 2009

It is 1:30 AM and I am sitting in a motel room that is about a five hour drive from Antigua. I am unable to sleep because in a few hours I will be bringing Lisvi and her family the rest of the way to their home. Lisvi is a six year old girl that I have fallen in love with. Not because of any outward beauty. At fourteen pounds Lisvi looks more like a shriveled up old lady than a little girl. Lisvi who is unable to talk and scarcely has the strength to change expressions has stolen my hart because she is one of God's children. Her parents recognize that as well and could not love her more if she were the most beautiful princess in the world. I have struggled for several days now trying to convince them that it would be best for Lisvi if they admitted her into the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro. ……..Two days after convincing Lisvi's parents to let me take them to Antigua they decided that they could not bear to be separated from her and asked me to take her back home with them. I must admit I was a bit bitter at first but during our car ride towards home yesterday I watched both father and mother as they took turns holding their precious daughter. The love that they had for her was unquestionable. I began to realize that she needed them far more than she needed any silly hospital.. ………. Lisvi needs to be home with a Father that can hold her tightly.

Yours in Christ: Dick

(Back to)
Saturday March 28, 2009

Yesterday (March 27) I was about half way to Tecpan when my cell phone rang. Since the man on the other end knew no English I quickly handed the phone to Hanna. After just a few seconds Hanna asked me if I knew someone named Lisvi. Indeed I did. Lisvi is a six year old girl that I had brought into Hermano Pedro from north of Huehuetenango a little over a month ago. After changing their minds several times her father and mother had decided to come along with me to see a doctor and then make the decision on weather or not to leave their 14 pound 6 year old daughter stay in the malnutrition ward of the hospital for at least a few months. At that time they decided that even though the doctors told them that their daughter would likely die if they took her back home with them they simply could not bare to leave her so many miles from home with perfect strangers. I must admit I was very troubled by their decision at first but after reading a letter from Mary Margaret Scot, a dear friend of mine and then spending the next day and a half with this family I began to see that perhaps her parents were right. Sure she could have gotten better medical attention at Hermano Pedro but witnessing the love that her mother and father had for her during our 7 hour car ride back to where they lived, and then seeing her brothers and sisters flock around her like she had been gone for 3 years instead of 3 days made me think that perhaps they had made the right decision. I still wanted so badly to see her get the help that she needed but I have also watched far to many children give up and die simply because they were starving for love. Even though I found piece with their decision I could not help but think about this little girl on a daily bases. If only her parents would bring her into the hospital for a short time. I knew that she would miss her fathers loving arms but even a week or two on a feeding tube could perhaps give her the strength to make it on her own. That is why today when Hanna asked me if I knew Lisvi my hart jumped a bit. Had her father called to say that after a month of bringing them back to their home they had changed their minds and wanted me to come and pick them up? A few second later Hanna told me that Lisvi had died. Was I mad? I must have been or I would not have subconsciously startled the others that were riding in my car by slamming my hand against the steering wheel. Was I sad? I nearly had to pull to the side of the road because of the tears. Was I angry because of the decision that her parents had made? I am not sure. Like I said I have seen other kids that were not in as bad of shape as Lisvi, who did not make it even when given the medical help that they needed. Did I question what I was doing, some times going on the road for several days to bring a child or an adult into the hospital? Perhaps so, but only for a moment. Yes, Selsi came to mind. It had only been 4 days ago that after driving 6 hours to her home, that her parents told me that they had changed their minds about having her come to Hermano Pedro to see a specialist. They had found some one who claimed that he could heal their daughter if they handed him one hundred dollars for some snake oil. My thoughts quickly switched to Christopher though, he and his mother had come back with me that same day and he was now getting the help that he needed. And what about Lionel? He lives only about an hour away from Lisvi and even though he was in as bad of shape as Lisvi he is now doing well. Are we going to save them all? No but by God’s grace as long as we stay faithful, jut like the little boy that was seen throwing star fish back into the ocean, we can perhaps make a difference to this one. Lisvi is now in the loving arms of a Father that will never let go of her and I am already seeing that her death is not in vane. I just received an e-mail from a friend in the USA who shared with me what an impact Lisvi and her family have had on her life. Just the fact that Lisvi’s father called us to tell us that his little angel had died is proof that we have been recognized as someone who cares. That alone is a big step forward in a location that has been told for years that Americans only mean them harm. We already have a list of people in Lisvi’s village that want wheelchairs and the day that I brought Lisvi back to her home and held her for the last time her father and I talked about the possibility of bringing a doctor or even a teem of doctors into their village with in the next few months. Who knows perhaps Lisvi’s family will be responsible for seeing to it others do not have to needlessly see one of their children die. For Lisvi’s parents, this was the third one of their children that they have had to bury. Yes missionary work should supposedly be more about saving soles than saving lives, but I am finding out more and more that my lack of Spanish does not keep me from witnessing to these people. Besides that no one cares how much we know until they are able to see how much we care.

CLICK HERE for a link to my February journals where there are several articles about Lisvi and her family.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Later Saturday night

Since my friend Pat Duff had been with me when I first met Lisvi and her family and had also accompanied us from Lisvi's home to Hermano Pedro she had gotten every bit as attached to Lisvi as I had so she was the first person that I phoned when I received the news that Lisvi had died.

Here is what Pat wrote in her journal.

My friend Dick called last night to tell me that little Lisvi had died yesterday. My heart is so sad, and yet so peaceful at the same time. A while back, Dick had journaled that perhaps more than being in a hospital, she needed to be in the arms of the Father who loves her the most. That image keeps me from too much sorrow. Picturing her in the arms of our Father in heaven, no longer weak and starving, but whole and healthy. How I can't wait to meet her in heaven!

But I do grieve for her parents, who loved her so much and cared for her so well. I pray that they will know the comfort of the Father who loves them the most. I can't even imagine what Francisca must be feeling today. This is the third little one she has buried. I know there will be an empty place near their stove where Lisvi always sat to keep warm.

And I can't help but wonder why God brought her into my life at this time. It seems somewhat ironic that she would live six years and die shortly after we tried to get her help. I believe though that God timing is always perfect, and that our meeting was part of his plan for both of us. What I gave to Lisvi, I can't imagine. What she gave to me is immeasurable. Lisvi touched a part of my heart that I've kept hidden and protected from almost everyone. The part of my heart where I feel the most intense pain, but also the most immense joy. In a way, I think that through Lisvi God gave me back my whole heart.

Why did God let me fall so deeply in love with her, only to have it hurt so much? And I suddenly remember what I'd journaled on Feb. 6:

"As I prayed on the plane coming home yesterday, God showed me that Lisvi did not need to meet me. I needed to meet Lisvi. I needed to willingly let my heart be touched, and wounded, and trust that He will give me everything I need to heal. I needed to learn again to risk letting my heart be touched, knowing it might be broken, but trusting it will heal."

A month and a half later I realize even more how true those words are. Each time I look at her picture on my office wall, I feel a stab of pain at the same time I feel a surge of great joy. Gradually over the days since I've returned, the theme of my heart has changed. For so long it has been,
"Lord, I want to serve you, but it hurts too much." I have held back in fear that if I gave my whole heart I would be hurt beyond what I could bear. During the days since my last time in Guatemala, it has evolved to, "Lord, I need your help, because serving you hurts so much." I believe my healing began as I held Lisvi for the first time. It continues each time I remember her.

In my flesh, I want to get angry. To believe that if they had just admitted Lisvi to the hospital, she would be okay. And then I laugh at my foolishness. How can I say I believe that God numbers our days, and then think any of us are powerful enough to change this? The Perezes did what they believed was the best thing for their little one. The sad truth is, it is better that she died in the arms of those who loved her, rather than alone in a sterile crib in hospital eight hours away from her family. We don't know yet what doors our encounter with this family will open for others who live in this remote area, but God does.

So I rest in that knowledge, and in the picture of her in the arms of the Father who loves her.

And I thank Him for the progress Lionel has made at Hermano Pedro, doubling his weight in the last 5 months, though his absence from home continues to grieve his family greatly.

And I praise Him for Zachary (my grandson), who is strong and healthy, and wants for nothing. And I pray that the Lord will place a fire in the Zacharies of the world, to love and serve and fight for the Lionels and Lisvis.

Now we need to follow Daryl's advice to his daughter when she broke into tears the first time that she saw the kids at Hermano Pedro.

"Cry over them, then dry your tears and get to work!"

Pat Duff

Saturday, March 28, 2009, 10:05 PM

I had first planned on going out with some of the members of the teem that would be delivering more food and clothing to several poor families up in the Tecpan area today. I had relly enjoyed doing this yesterday but must admit that I was a bit relieved when I received a phone call from Chris telling me that Saul had offered to take my place today. Even though I had enjoyed myself yesterday I must admit I had gotten a bit tired from climbing onto the roof of my car at every home that we stopped at and bringing down the 4 giant suitcases that were packed with clothing so that the ladies that were with me could carefully go through them and pick out just the righ clothing for each member of every family that we visited. I must say though that the looks of apriacation that the families gave as hey received the food and clothing that this group of ladies had delivered was well worth the sore back that I have today. These ladies were not just handing out some tangible items to some people that they scarcely knew they were doing it with Christ like love. Not only were they bringing these families much needed food and clothing but they were also showing their love for them by holding their children, weeping with them, praying with them, and allowing these peoples suffering to touch their lives in a way that felt good but did not go with out hurt.

Why then did I not want to go along and do more of the same today? My kids. I have only been able to spend a few hours in the orphanage all of this week and other than the Pizza feed that we had at my house on Thursday night I have not been able to spend nearly as much time with the kids from my neighborhood as I would have liked to. That is why I am so grateful for the ever growing number of younger people who are stepping in and taking over. People like Saul and Hanna who are becoming more and more involved with not only the teams that come in but also the total ministry. I hate to admit it but those that are in their teens and early twenties seem to have more energy than some of us who are in our sixties. That is why I am grateful for my kids as well. I am seeing kids like Calin, Fernando, and yes even Abner more and more being able to take over and do things on their own. Each and every day I see them taking on more leadership qualities, and not only do they love helping out in any way that they can but they love their people. Even Marcos and Caesar who know less English than I do Spanish did a marvelous job of helping out at the orphanage today. Not only did they help Dave and myself repair some wheelchairs but they demonstrated such a Christ like love to the kids that they helped feed at lunch time that several people came up to our table and commented on it. Was I proud of them? Couldn’t be prouder even if they were my own flesh and blood. Can I take the credit for it? I wish that I could but only God could reach kids like this who themselves have been through more than anyone should have to suffer. God is doing a great work here in Guatemala and I feel so honored that He is allowing me to be here even if it is only to observe.

Like my friend Dave said just a few days ago. “Thank you Lord for this day.”

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Calin, Fernando, Abner, Alex, Elder, Daniel, and several of the other kids have gone for a few days to San Martine to a house dedication that their grandfather is having. I was invited along but had other commitments. You would think that with having so many of my kids gone that perhaps I had the day to myself but I still had eight kids and the teem of 13 people from the States that have been here all week came along to church.

After church Dave and I took the eight kids from my neighborhood out to eat at Burger King for lunch. Dave is heading back to Canada tomorrow so he wanted to take the kids out to lunch. We had thought about having lunch the same place as Chris and the volunteers but Antigua was packed with people because of all the processions that take place before Easter and finding a restaurant that had room for two dozen people was impossible. Besides that when my kids discovered that the group from the United States wanted to eat traditional Guatemalan food they protested. What kid wants to eat healthy food when there is Burger King?

I had promised the group that was here that I would show them through the orphanage after lunch but I was not sure how I was going to do that and keep eight kids under control at the same time. Dave came to the rescue though. After lunch he hiked my boys up to the cross that overlooks the city and then took them out for ice cream while I spent time in the orphanage with the group.

I told the group that I would give them a quick tour but since they could only stay for a few hours we would make it a fast one so that they could spend the rest of their time holding and playing with the kids. To my surprise the tour did not go fast enough for Scott, one of the members of the group who about 15 minutes into our walk through blurted out, “When can we hold the kids?” I must admit I was taken by surprise at first because it usually takes a while before I can even get some one who has never been in an orphanage before to hold one of the kids. Especially a child like the little girl that this man was looking at, who looks like she will break in two if he held her wrong. I could see in his eyes and the eyes of the others that no more adjustment time was needed though so the tour ended there and with in two minutes each and every member of the group had a child that would have remained in their cage until tomorrow morning in their arms and were falling in love with these children. (I have been criticized in the past for calling the children’s cribs cages but just a few days ago a friend of mine wrote that they are beds when a child spends the night sleeping in them but they are cages when they have to be in them 18 to 20 hours a day. I have to agree.) My only regret was that this group could not have stayed longer. It was their regret as well because as the time neared that they had to leave several asked me if there was any way that they could stay longer. Thanks group for showing these kids that you cared!

I keep getting sent bits and pieces of the journals that members of this teem share with me, and even though I already had today's entry typed out before receiving the following I felt that this would be a good place to post it. It was written by Scott, the tough looking guy that wanted me to to end the tour of the orphanage so that he could hold Lesley.

I am haunted by a thought as we pass an open-front funeral parlor with several child caskets stacked up inside. Two days ago Dick received a call from the father of a little girl, named Lisvi, who died from malnutrition. She was a little girl that Dick had invested his heart in. He was devastated, as he had hoped beyond hope that her time at Hermano Pedro would have made her healthy enough to survive at home.

Yesterday God allowed me to connect in a supernatural way with a little girl at Hermano Pedro. When I laid her back in her crib at the end of the day, literally forced to unhand her by irritable nurses, I whispered in her ear. "Lesley, please grow up. Please meet me in Heaven so I can tell you how much this day has meant to me." So, my haunting thought is this. Dick loses at least a half dozen children every year. How would I react if I learned tomorrow that my Lesley's family was visiting the funeral parlor for a little child casket tomorrow?


Any dry eyes left in the house? Not mine. If a day ever comes that I can not cry for these children I will know that it is time to move on.

I had promised Dave that I would take him to San Lucas where he would meet up with a friend who would take him the rest of the way in to Guatemala City, where he was going to spend the night. After that I had intended on taking the boys home and then returning to Antigua to have supper with the group from the USA but finding that it took us over a half hour to get out of Antigua even though I had parked my car out side of town I quickly realized that there was no way that I would be able to get back into town in time to join the group for supper. I love Antigua but not during Easter time. I have never seen so many people in one place at one time as I have seen today. So instead of going back to Antigua before heading home we stopped off at Burger king for supper. I guess after having lunch there I could have made a better choice but McDonalds was further away and the kids were getting hungry, especially Elder who had gotten car sick and thrown up his entire lunch all over Miguel’s new jacket and the back seat of my car. Elder remained in good spirits though and got filld back up with a new hamburger.
Even though Elder is the youngest of the group he does quite well. I thought that the hike that David took the kids on would have tired him out but David said that he never complained once. He did take one tumble and skinned his knee. But that patched up easily. I am also going to try to get him a belt or at least some underwear because his pant are a few sizes to big for him and a few times today they feel down to his knees. I never did ask Dave if that is what caused elder to trip and fall. I do know for a fact though that it did cause a few startled tourists to run into each other while they were looking over at him.

So ends another not so dull day here in Guatemala.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, March 30, 2009
At 7:30 this morning I met with still another group of American volunteers. This was a group comprised of mostly high school students. I had breakfast with them at there motel here in Chimaltenango and spoke to them for a while before we headed out to the orphanage. I wanted them to have a bit of an idea of what was going on today because stepping into an orphanage that is full of special needs kids can be a bit frightening if you have never done something like that before. I have seen some groups of teens come into the orphanage and never allow them selves to get involved with the kids. Some of the members of this group seemed quite uncomfortable at first but it took no time at all before nearly all of them were holding or playing with one of the kids. We even took 9 of the kids to Camperos for lunch. Since there were 18 of them and only 9 orphanage kids they saw to it that the kids got lots of attention.

At 2 PM the group left for a guided tour of old buildings followed up by a shopping trip for trinkets. Why I am not sure if this was a test to see if the could endure suffering or what, but even if they made some bad decisions after leaving the orphanage the kids and I were sure glad that they had spent most of their day at Hermano Pedro.I stuck around Hermano Pedro Until I finally got a phone call saying that the group had gotten the foolishness out of their system, and then I went and picked them up. I must admit I was a bit nervous when I pulled up in front of the souvenir markets. I was worried that some one I knew might see me parked there and jump to the conclusion that I actually buy that junk. I would likely then be the laughing stock of all of my Guatemalan friends. Fortunately we loaded up my car fast enough to make a clean getaway. A few of my passengers offered to show me some of the bargains that they felt they had swindled the merchants out of but since my throat is still a bit sore I said "No thank you." I did not want to irritate my throat by doing a lot of uncontrollable laughing.

After dropping the group off at their motel I headed for home. I gave some serious thought to stopping off somewhere and having a relaxing supper but I know that the kids would be waiting for me. I love days like this when I feel that I am to tired to face a dozen kids because that is when God seems to take over and give me the love and patients that I am feeling like I am running out of. 13 kids for supper and I would not have traded it for the world. I must admit when Marcos reached across the table for his third helping of spaghetti and tipped over his second glass of coke, I did have to ask God for an extra helping or two of patients but other than that things went well.

It is now nearly 11 PM. 10 of the kids have gone home. 3 of them are calling this their home and I know beyond a doubt that this is my home. Yes it is only a rented 3 room house with the only running water located out side of the back door. And if I wanted a view of the mountains I would have to paint a picture of them on the 14 foot high cement walls that surround my house, but never the less it is home, and I would not trade it for a mansion. (However if anyone here in Chimeltenago knows of a quiet little place that I could rent for one or two nights a month just to get away from the kids and be by myself, please let me know. (After all I’m only human.)

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Journal March 18-24

(Click on any picture to enlarge)

The group from Jericho Ridge Church is still with us and since they are journaling their entire stay I will continue to post their journals for the next few days. I am sure that most of you welcome reading some one else’s account of what is happening here as much as I welcome the break from sitting at my computer for several hours each night. I’m Sorry I could not find anyone that was willing to translate these next few entries from Canadian into English so you are going to have to struggle you way through it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

– Food & Clothing distribution // 2nd House building

We did 5 additional distributions today. The first family had 5 kids. They were a very shy family. They were cooking in the house and the smoke pretty much fills up the place. The baby was sick so we prayed for the baby and for God’s grace and presence in their lives.

At the second house, the lady opens up her house as a church for the local community. There are about 19 people who meet there regularly. She had three kids and the eldest was out working in the field. She served us Coke in the traditional round plastic bucket. The walls were painted bright blue and there was artwork on the walls. There were cobwebs on wooden rafters filled with spider eggs. The kids were very proud to show us their schoolwork and we were so proud of them. The primary school goes up to grade 6 but many many kids are not able to attend. It is illegal for schools to kick kids out if the don’t have supplies or black shoes but that doesn’t stop them from disallowing them from attending.

At the third home, the eldest son Ephraim, hauled the heavy 60-pound bag of groceries. The 3 boys were all wearing gumboots and when we said we were going to pray for them, they all hit their knees. The father had been in an accident and it was great to see him show a level of leadership and pride in his home and family – something you don’t always see in Guatemala. Chris told a fabulous story about hauling a refrigerator up a hillside on his back and they serious mom even cracked a smile.

Meanwhile, back at the building site, we started out differently by having to haul materials out of the center of the ?...? (Brad must not have known the Canadian word for this so he left it blank. Had I been doing the writing I would have at least inserted the word EH.)

Many people complained during our time here about the lack of industriousness amongst locals. But our team – Saul, Jorje and Carlos – man, those guys can work! If they hadn’t assisted us, we’d still be there mixing concrete.

When Chris had gone up the week prior to tell this lady about the home and he told her that she was going to receive a concrete floor she cried. She has two kids – for some reason her and her husband were separate and she wasn’t too sad about it. It must have been a tough situation for her. Chris told her ‘when we build you this house, people won’t be able to look inside your house anymore through the cracks’. She laughed.

The houses themselves are 16x15 and they look fantastic and are highly functional. This one had a bit of a back yard so we allowed for a second exit at the rear. It’s a great situation. We had a great team leader in Howie. He’s a builder and a professional but has an incredible way of giving a team ownership of the project. He was a patient leader but would say what needed to be said to keep things on project. There was a pride on doing a good job of the project and so we dedicated it and then piled into the van for the 30-minute ride home to Coban.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

– Second Wheelchair distribution at Tactic

We pulled up to what we are now feeling like and affectionately referring to as ‘our neighborhood’ – just off the main road in Tactic just underneath the cemetery. We had about 30 chairs to distribute and there were many stories that came out of this experience. Here are just a few…

• One older lady had been carried in by her family. When they picked her up she was covered in fleas. Some of our team fitted her for a chair and afterwards she was so pleased that she said ‘I don’t want to leave’. At the prayer station we noticed that she was falling out of her chair so we went back and got Saul and he put a seatbelt on her chair. This was the same lady who had Alzheimer’s and didn’t know her name or her age. This story really touched me because my grandmother passed away from Alzheimer’s in December.

• One of our team members collects wheelchairs in the Vancouver area and he commented on how much he appreciates coming down and seeing the end result of the collection projects. From collection out of rest homes and from private individuals and clinics right through shipping to in-country distribution – it’s an amazing motivation and fulfilling experience to see the smiling faces of the people.

• We had a blind lady who didn’t want to let go of anybody and so she became number 1 on a list. She was precious, as were all the older ladies. One team member commented on how they all reminded her of her own great grandmother and how she wanted to take them all home.

• Ralph told one lady that we came all the way from Canada for this hug and so she made a point to come around to every station and gave hugs out again and again. Too fun!

• There was a man named Pedro who was injured in a fire and only had one leg. We were able to provide him with a wheelchair and crutches and when he came to the prayer station, the pastor’s wife asked him if he was sad. He said ‘no, I have the joy of the Lord in my life!’

• and there were the children.

We also went over to the house we built on Tuesday for Odelia and her 6 daughters for a food and clothing distribution. The girls were so excited. They were going to school that afternoon and we provided them with new backpacks, several outfits apiece, and some silly putty. We rolled the silly putty into balls and since the floor was cement and they hadn’t moved in yet, the silly putty was flying around that house! They gave us about 6 hugs on the way out the door and we felt like we had a special connection with them. Odelia’s story is a tragic one. Her husband died suddenly 13 months ago.

I just got off from the phone with Stephen Snell. Many of you know Stephen from stories that I have told about him. Others have had the privilege of meeting him. Stephen father Ray has been fighting Cancer for several years now. This morning Ray passed away. I considered flying home for the funeral but since it is spring break in the States it looks like getting a ticket will be impossible.

FRIDAY, March 20, 2009

– Visiting Hermano Pedro Orphanage, Antigua
This morning, we went with Dick to the orphanage. What a blast! For some of our team they were a bit nervous and apprehensive but it became a very emotional and powerful experience. For some of our team, they have grown kids and haven’t fed kids in a while but the love and compassion that came out today was incredible to behold. A good amount of our team cannot speak the language, but here, all of that melts away as the only language you need to speak is love.
Dick gave us a tour of Hermano Pedro, where he spends about ½ of his time. He took us through the teens, the school they have sponsored in one of he rooms and then onto the pediatric ward. Here we met kids from all different backgrounds with one common theme – their infectious smiles. They have a saying here that these kids are little thieves because one encounter with them and they steal your heart.

Some of our team had been here last year. They were so excited to connect with kids they had seen. One was named Jo Jo and he is an amazing kid. Immediately today, when he saw them, he lit up like a Christmas tree! That’s how much affection means to these kids. Many of them spend much of their time either in their chairs or in their cribs.

We took the kids out to lunch at Camperos (while some went to visit another wheelchair production facility here in town for Hope Haven).
Lunch was so much fun! These kids love spending time out and about in the square and in the play area. I had a little guy named Bobby. He was a French fry monster. If you think that Dick thought Bobby was messy with his eating until today, I finally found a man who loves condiments as much as I do! We mixed ketchup and ranch sauce and mustard and we were all set to go. We got so dirty – it was a blast! Eventually, we decided that fries were just a receptacle and we should go straight to the source. It’s probably against Camperos policies, but we began dumping ketchup straight from the bottle right into his mouth! Cutting out the middleman, that’s what it’s all about for Bobby!

I also had a neat experience… There was a businessman sitting across from us and he kept looking at us. I wasn’t sure what he was thinking but as he finished up his meal he came over and asked if he could say something to me. I wasn’t sure what he would say but he insisted that he wanted to share in English. He shared that he was a local hotel manager and he told me that he was so impressed with our group and how we showered love on the kids. He expressed in his broken English that emotion was welling up in his heart and he began to cry. It was a very emotional experience for me to see his heart softened and touched in that way.

Dick often asks teams about the highlights of their trip and they say “The orphanage.” He then asks them “What has been the hardest part of your trip?” and they say “The orphanage”. It’s a mix of emotions and it stays with you forever.

One of the amazing learning experiences was, what elements of this will translate into our lives and experiences back home? There are people with disabilities everywhere and they are marginalized in many ways. This kind of experience gives us the courage and motivation to step out in love and meet the needs of the people around us.

One other huge take-home experience was the reminder that every person is made in the image of God. That these people are image bearers and that everyone is of value and dignity and worth. From getting right down in the dirt with people in their homes to pray, to massaging old ladies feet or gals with CP… There is sometimes a sense that you are coming from your position of affluence and comfort to minister to the least of these. But what ends up happening is that you learn so much about courage and compassion and the love of Christ from these people. What beautiful people with so much to teach us.

This week has been spent with another one of those teems that we hate to see leave. They came here with a common goal - To love and to serve - and that goal was met. It did not seem to matter that most of them could not speak Spanish, because they all spoke a language that rang out much clearer than that, it was the language of love, not just any love but the love of Christ. Thanks gang for allowing not only the Guatemalan people but all of us here in Guatemala to be able to see Jesus in each and every one of you!

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, March 21, 2001

Wow, I am not sure if I can do this but today I am going to have to write my own journal. I was going to try to get the Jericho Ridge Group to do it again but those that I asked said that they didn’t think that they could find the time since I would be picking them up at their motel at 4:15 AM to take them to the airport.

I got back home at around 6 AM and had full intentions of going back to bed for a few hours but some how got doing other things and before I knew it it was 8 AM and time to leave for Huehuetenango. I had promised the mother of Silsi (See February 2 journal) that I would pick her and her daughter up and bring them to Hermano Pedro to see the doctor on Monday and since they are over five hours away I decided to leave a few days early so that I could see some other people that lived in the same area. Today David, my friend from Canada who has been doing a lot of traveling with me, and two of my boys, Calin and Fernando came along with me. Since the boys are only going to miss one day of school I gave them the OK.

About 4 hours into our trip we turned of the main road and drove up to San Francisco. This small town is well named because much like San Francisco California everything is located on a hillside and all of the streets are very steep. Even though I have finally memorized the roads that lead to the trail that we walk to get to Erica’s house today we had a rough time getting there. Several of the streets in town were dug up and the only one that seemed to head the right direction was marked with a one-way sign. Going the wrong way down one-way streets is generally not a problem here in Guatemala, and even though this one had a lot of blind corners on it and was also located on the side of a cliff would have made it a bit more of a challenge we would have been willing to try it had it not been for a rather stern looking policeman that was holding a very intimidating looking rifle in his hands. After at least a half hour of driving around we finally reached the place where I usually park my car. I noticed that some work had been done on the trail and since there were no one way signs on it and no cops around I put my car into four-wheel drive and continued on. About a half-mile further we got to a spot in trail that proved to be too much of a challenge for even a Land Cruiser. It wasn’t very steep or even all that muddy but there was simply no way that my Land Cruiser was going to fit on the narrow foot bridge that crossed a small river. At least we had made it to with in a quarter mile or so of Erica’s house. Usually I am not all that lazy and I actually like walking but today we had lots of medicine to carry in. Everyone helped out though and in no time at all we were at her house. Erica’s mom told us that they had run out of medicine about a week ago and judging by the way her skin looked I was glad that we had gotten to her when we did. Erica and her family were in good spirits though, and when it was time to go it was hard to say good-bye. Before leaving I gave Erica’s mom a bag that contained some Urea. I told her that it is a more powerful medicine than the Ammonium Lactate that they are presently using but said that I wanted them to try it on one of her legs to see if it gives better results. It seems that the Ammonium lactate is working well on the rest of Erica’s body but her legs and feet continue to have leather like scales on them that seem to grow back instantly even when they do fall off. I told mother to stop using the Urea if she saw any side effects and to contact us immediately. Some times it is a bit scary playing doctor, but in Erica’s case and many others there are few alternatives. I am very grateful though for doctors that have been willing to go with me to places like Erica’s and continue to correspond with me giving me advice on how to treat some of these things that we run into. If there are any doctors reading this that would like to spend some time on the road with me please let me know.

After leaving Erica’s house we hiked up to where Christopher lives. I think that he and his family had seen my car parked down the trail while I was at Erica’s because he and his entire family were waiting for us in front of their home. Christopher’s mother told us that he is now having seizures on a daily bases and is also suffering from frequent nosebleeds. She had been taking him to a doctor in Xela but when she ran out of money the doctor refused to see him anymore. One of the reasons for this visit was to talk with her about having her and Christopher come back to Antigua with us on Monday so that he could see a specialist at Hermano Pedro. She told us that they would go so we are planning on going to their home after picking up Silsi and her mother on Monday.

There is a foosball table here in the motel and the boys have challenged me to a game, so I guess I better get my priorities straight and go out and play for a while.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Once again I have been given a night off. David has offered to do today’s journal. I am not sure if everyone is offering to do this for me simply because they want to be nice or if it is because they are tired of reading what I have been writing. Either way I am grateful when ever I can get a night off.

Here then is,

“Sunday According to Dave.”

Well, I am back on the road again with Dick, Roland (Dick´s Swedish friend who translates and keeps good records), Fernando and Calin ( 2 of Dick’s boys from Chimal ). We are in Huehuetenango, visiting some families and bringing 2 (hopefully), children back with us to Antigua on Mon. to see a neurologist on Tuesday.

We are staying at a very nice hotel in Huehue, where we enjoyed a 40Q brekky (I'm not sure if this is a Canadian word or a Dave word. Dick) this a.m.

We then went to the new Maxi store here ( the local Wal-Mart ), where Dick bought some groceries for 2 families we are to visit today. Before leaving the store, we think we asked the security guard where the A.T.M. was , but with our Espanola, we could have asked ,¨Where is the money?¨ God must have been translating for us, because we did find the A.T.M., and no shots were fired!

Our first stop was at Maria Garcia’s house in a village north of here. She is a wonderful lady who helps Dick distribute school sponsorship monies and groceries to local families here.

She also looks after her 4 yr. old grandson, Luis, whose mother deserted him about 2 years ago and then his 28 year old father passed away last yr. By the sound of things a good doctor could have done something for him. Unfortunately he went to three bad ones first and each one told him that he had something different. By the time the family got enough money together to see a fourth doctor it was to late to do anything for him.

Most of Maria’s daughters and other grandchildren also live with her - what a beautiful family. Dick is going to see what can be done to get sponsors for a few of Maria’s grandchildren because Maria spends countless hours helping others in her community while she and her family go with out even the basic necessities.

After about a 2 hr. meeting with Maria, we headed to Gabriela´s to repair her daughter’s wheelchair. Ever since her husband deserted her Gabriel has been having a rough time providing for her three children. One of them is in a wheelchair and Gabriel herself suffers from frequent Seizures.

We had a lunch at a small tienda on the Pan-Am highway, where some men loading a dump truck with sand offered me a shovel. I politely declined. (What Dave has failed to mention is that when we paid the bill for the food the lady that served us told us that even thought this was not a place that normaly served food we were welcome to eat here any time that we were in the neighborhood. We are all still wondering what kind of a place this was if it wasn’t a tienda.)

After lunch we headed to Lionel’s family house, with Maria in tow - she speaks Spanish and Mam, the local Mayan dialect. We dropped off the groceries, and discussed with Lionel’s mom and dad when would be a good time to return Lionel to his family. He has more than doubled his weight since arriving at Hermano Pedro last Aug., but misses his mom and dad.

The doctor had told Dick on Friday past, that Lionel could go home, only if he received proper food, otherwise he would probably lose all that he has gained. After talking with mom and dad, they thought it was best to keep him in Hermano Pedro, and bring him home only for the Christmas break. They really do not have the money or resources right now to properly care for him.

After visiting with Lionel’s family, we visited the ¨medicine lady¨, whose daughter’s son Edgar, needs a special chair. We found out today that she was headed to the States, and was attacked and raped in Mexico. She returned to Guatemala, had her son, and even though he is severely handicapped she loves him very much. We gave this family some groceries, and Dick measured Edgar for a chair.

Our last stop was at Rolando’s house, a 21 yr. old young man who runs a tienda, and very much wants to learn, so Dick, Maria, and Roland have arranged for a teacher to come to his house and teach him. Rolando brought us 4 Pepsi’s, and opened them all for us - this time with a bottle opener, last time it was with his teeth!

I should mention that Dick had 4 yr. old Luis on his lap steering most of the day, and taught (?) him to honk at all the ladies!
(Only because I though it was more polite than the whistling and wolf calls that Dave was telling my boys to do.)


(Hay Dave, what about trinket shopping?) :<{)

Thank you Lord, for this day.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Written by Dick

Today was one of those bittersweet ones. My original reason for heading up to Huehuetenago on Saturday was to bring Silsi, the girl that we had taken there to see the doctor a few weeks ago, back in to Hermano Pedro to see a neurologist. A local doctor who had already taken every cent that Silsi’s family ever had, has now somehow convinced the family that a $100 injection will cure their daughter so they decided to go that route. He also told her family that he needs every cent of the money before he works his magic. Unfortunately I have a strong feeling that the only magic that they will se is a vanishing act of the money that they have borrowed from friends and relatives. How some of these so-called doctors can live with them selves is beyond me. Our hands are tied but we told the family that we will still be there for them if things do not go well and they decide that they want their daughter to see a specialist.

The good side of this trip is that we were able to make lots of contacts and get a lot done in terms of children and families that we are finding sponsors for. Most of these people are kids that we are putting in or helping stay in school but some are being helped out with life giving medicine and a few are simply going to receive groceries. I know that it is better to teach a person how to fish than it is to simply give them a fish to eat but I think that it bares repeating that it is difficult to fish if you have not eaten in several days. Perhaps once they are strong enough to walk to the river we will teach them how to fish.

Another positive note is that Christopher and his family came back to Hermano Pedro with us. I guess Doctor Cureall did not get to them. Tomorrow Christopher plans on seeing the neurologist that Silsi’s family were suppose to have an appointment with.

It was quite late by the time I got Christopher and his family a place to stay and even later by the time that I got home because I had promised them that I would take them to Camperos for supper. (I am seriously looking into seeing if I can buy stock in Camperos in hopes that I can get a bit of a discount every time that I eat there.

When I pulled into my alley this evening I was greeted by at least a dozen kids. By the time the corn flakes box hit the table there were at least another four or five. It seems that they think that visiting with them is more important than my writing in this journal so I am going to close for now.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, March 24, 2009, 8:11 PM

Wow, I am finally caught up enough that I am writing my journal on the actual day that I am writing about. It seems that even though others have done several of my journal entries for me I have still been at least one to two dasy behind for the past few weeks. Today I had enough down time while sitting at Hermano Pedro for Christopher to see various doctors that I actually got caught up. Normally I would have gone into the orphanage part of Hermano Pedro and spent time with the kids between Christopher’s doctor appointments but I picked up a bad cold while I was up in Huehuetenango and did not want to share it with the orphanage kids. I am not pointing any fingers, but Roland had a bad cold when we met with him on Saturday night and soon after that David, who roomed with him developed one as well. None of the kids seemed to catch it but Roland and Dave managed to share it with me as well. I guess that I can’t complain though because I did manage to get a lot of e-mails answered today and also got caught up on this journal.

Helen, the little girl from Comolapa also came into Hermano Pedro today. Both her and Christopher have to go into the city to have further tests done on May 3 so Roland and I are planning on taking them there. A day in the city is not my favorite thing to do but I didn’t want them to try to get there by buss, especially considering that both of the kids are in wheelchairs. One good thing though they originally had us going to a place in Zone 1 but have now changed it to zone 9. Zone 1 is not exactly the place where 2 gringos care to wonder around asking for directions.When I got home tonight I was feeling rotten but there was no way that after once again being on the road for a few days that I could tell the kids that they could not come in. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do for supper because I did not feel well enough to stop off for groceries. Fortunately Alex’s mom came to my door selling some traditional street food. I have learned from experience that it is not wise to buy street food from just anyone, especially when there are so many of you and only one bathroom, but I have eaten at Alex’s house and his mother is a great cook. Besides that her floors are much cleaner than my dishes. Alex’s mom was delighted with the money, (about 36 cents per kid) and I was delighted with not having to cook. I know the kids would have gladly cooked but since I had not stocked back up on groceries we would have had to settle for pancakes again. Don’t get me wrong, I like pancakes but getting the missflipped ones removed from the ceiling still proves to be a chore.

Calin’s half brother Daniel was relieved of his bike yesterday. Two men with knives not so politely asked him for it. Daniel felt that a $30 bike was not worth his life so he gave it to him.

I let the kids stay until about 8 PM and then told them that I needed some quiet time. I am not sure if they are listing better or if I looked sick enough that they had pity on me but they all left with out a lot of threatening.

Well all of my sneezing is starting to fog up my computer screen so I guess that I will call it a night.

Yours in Christ: Dick