* 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)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Journal March 13-17

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Friday, March 13, 2009
This morning four of the Therapy students from the USA, Saul, Hanna, David, and myself all went to the orphanage and spent time with the kids. Out of all the things that we are involved with here in Guatemala I still think that going to Hermano Pedro and spending time with the kids is one of my favorite things to do. I see how much difference it can make in the lives of these kids to simply have some one there who has the time to show them that they are loved. Even though it is one of my favorite places to go it can also be one of the hardest places to be. It is never easy to see kids like Karen, (the little girl that Mike and Karen Rhea brought in the day before yesterday) come in half starved. Seeing children like two year old Jose who is still weighing only 8 pounds is not easy either. They thought that he was lactose intolerant but even though he has not been on any dairy products for several days now he still cannot hold down any food (Today my shirt bore evidence of that). Just last week a stranger that was touring the orphanage asked me how the parents of these children can be so cruel that they allow their children to get this bad before they find help for them. I tried to explain that there are so few places for these parents to take their children that they simply can not get any help even if their child is starving. She simply did not seem to understand though, and told me that if someone really cared they could get these kids the help that they needed. I held my tongue but wanted to ask her what she was doing to help. It is so easy to sit back and judge these people saying, “If only they did not have so many Children.” or “Why can’t they get a better education or find a better paying job?” I wish that I could answer these questions, but then again I really don’t want to be the president of Guatemala. I do have one question that I would like answered though. How can those of us who have the time or finances to reach out and make a difference turn a blind eye and let these children die? I probably just lost half of my readers by asking that but it has to be said. I know that many of you are reaching out to people in need, and praise God for that, but if you are reading these journals and doing nothing to help some one less fortunate than you, weather it be a next door neighbor or some one in a distant country perhaps it is time that you reevaluate your life, especially if you consider yourself a Christian. There now I lost even more readers. Sorry about that but I am getting tired of saying to hurting people, “Sorry we are simply spread to thin to help you.” Saying “I will pray for you.” or “God Bless you goodbye.” does not seem to make much of an impression on them. I don’t think that it means much to Jesus either. If one of us sees some one in need and says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? If you are uncomfortable with those words perhaps you better tare the book of James out of your Bible because that is exactly where they came from. (James 2:16)

Today we were able to take eight of the kids and teens out to lunch. This was partially a celebration for Fidel. We have been trying to get him admitted into a school out side of the orphanage for quite some time now. Back in January we thought that he had the green light but then someone from the orphanage decided that it was not a good idea. Both Fidel and our teacher were quite discouraged but neither of them gave up. Today it became official. Tomorrow Fidel will be starting Computer classes at a school that is located a few blocks from the orphanage.

After lunch I worked on a few wheelchairs and then headed for home. When I got to my car I discovered that my drivers side mirror had been stolen. I don’t know what it is about my car mirrors lately but they have really been taking a beating. Just yesterday two men on a motorcycle ran into the one on the passengers side of my car and nearly tore it off and the past several mornings two birds have fallen in love with there reflections and spend an hour or two admiring themselves in them. I don’t mind them looking at themselves in my car mirror but I do wish that they were potty trained.

This evening I replaced plants in my yard that recent soccer games have claimed while the kids did versus odd jobs for me. They all like having a little spending money on the week ends so Friday night is a good time to get tem to do some work.

It was Spaghetti night tonight and we had a big crew. Three of the kids are staying the night but the others have already headed for home. I am trying to get them to head for home a bit earlier lately because I do not like them out on the streets late at night. Just the night before last there was another shooting about two blocks from here. I had intended on taking the kids swimming at the hot springs tomorrow but we are changing our plans on that as well. Last Sunday Calin’s Grandmother and a group form her church were there for a baptism and a several men with guns threatened and robbed the entire group. A person should not be down here if he or she lives in fear all of the time but I do try to be careful especially if the kids is involved. I don’t think that god wants us to be foolish. Praying for safety and then crossing the freeway with my eyes closed is not something that I feel God wants us to do. If he did I doubt that he would have given any of us common sense.

Well it is getting late so I am going to call it a day.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, March 14, 2009, 2:27 PM

This is perhaps a strange time for me to be writing but right now I am right in between soccer games, lunch, weddings, going out and finding a new mirror for my car, and picking up a group form the airport. I guess this is what you could call one of those laid back Saturdays. Actually it has been a rather relaxing one. Since there is no school on Saturday none of the kids set there alarms for 5:45 AM and once we did get up the kids made breakfast. Actually it wasn’t quite all that easy we sort of had a Dutch verses Guatemalan stand off but us Dutchmen are known for our stubbornness and I prevailed. I sort of had the deck stacked in my favor though. I hold the key to the house and I pay the rent. I also hold the car keys so I can always drive off somewhere and find a quiet place to eat. The kids on the other hand do not have those options. Once the kids decided to make the breakfast they all did a great job. After breakfast we voted on what we wanted to do for a fun activity today. Since it is not as warm of a day as usual we deiced to rent a soccer field for an hour. I think that I must be getting a little better at soccer because today I was not the last one picked. Then again it could have something to do with the fact that Fernando was one of the teem captains and he is so kind hearted that he would even forfeit a game if he thought that I my feelings would be hurt if I were once again chosen last. Six year old Elder did well with it though because even though he knew that he was a far better player than me he did not complain about being chosen last. Since we are planning on taking the Canadian teem that is coming in tonight to Cobon tomorrow I will not be able to take my kids to church tomorrow so after the game I took them all to Burger King for lunch.

Well all but a few of the kids have now left for a wedding. This is not some one that I know sow I will not be going. Calin is the only other one not going. I am not sure just why he was not invited but it could be because they know that they would have to order twice as much food if he were to go. I think that I will take advantage of the lack of kids at my house and go and see if I can find a place that sell electric mirrors. Not the kind that defrost automatically there is not much need for that around here. What I want is ones that give a shock to any bandits, birds, or motorcycle drivers that come in contact with them.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, March 15, 2009

This week we are out on the road with a teem from Canada. Several of the members of the teem have offered to share bits and pieces from their journals so I am going to let you see this week from their perspective. I have attempted to correct some of the spelling mistakes but unfortunately I do not have a program on my computer that translates Canadian to English so I will have to print this in Canadian hoping that there is nothing in it that should have been edited out. A few hints though. Whenever one of them uses the word (WILD) especially when referring to my driving the word (WILD) translated into English means (GOOD). When they use the word (WILD) when referring to Chris’s driving no further translation is necessary. Also bare in mind that the word (EH) translated into English generally means (HUH) but it can also mean just about anything else that you want it to.


Hi guys... We’re having a team meeting and debriefing tonight and there happens to be a computer here and so I thought I’d pass along some stories from today. Brad

By Rachel Cottrell, Brad Summer and Chris

On the 6 hour drive up to Coban, there were 14 of us in the van plus luggage and the hills are steep. On the way up a major hill, we had to pull over because the van had overheated. We all got out and poured out water bottles in the radiator - everything was boiling over and every time we tried to pour water in, everything boiled over - it was that hot. After we were finally able to get so water in, we were going to throw the bottles out but we thought, hey, we might need these. We prayed that we could get somewhere that had water so we could deal with the situation. Chris hooked us up to his truck and pulled us up to the top of the hill - `we found out that in Guatemala, every vehicle is a tow vehicle. When we got up the hill about 500 meters, god answered our prayers. There was a little restaurant with an ancient service station - the only one around for miles - and there was an oasis over to our right with an old pool with water that we used to fill our bottles and the radiator again. We jokingly called the pool the pool of Bethesda - the healing pool.

Many hills later, we had to stop again at another ancient service station as we overheated again and again and spewed the water out about every 20 minutes. It was getting serious and Chris didn’t think we were going to make it to Coban. Saul and Chris were dumping water on the engine and the group gathered in the group to pray. The amazing thing is. That god did something. This thing was pitching its water out regularly and we drove for 90 minutes after that prayer meeting, we drove another 90 minutes today and thought we’d have to refill the reservoir and the radiator again. It never lost another drop of water. You can’t explain this except for the grace and intervention of a God who hears and answers prayers.

It’s amazing how we hate it when things go wrong but it is a good lesson for us to embrace this and to acknowledge that God allows things to develop in us through these experiences. It’s good to put ourselves in situations where we need his intervention and his help and it’s been a great learning experience for us already in the past two days.

Monday, March 16, 2009
- Distribution of 70 wheelchairs in Coban.

We gathered early for breakfast and then headed into town to a local social club for a distribution. The people and their families gathered early and began to pack out the auditorium style area. There were lots of kids and so it was great to have Dick, Chris, Saul, Hannah, Ben and Carols along to assist and coach us. We got a primer in fitting techniques and then after Chris introduced the team and why we were there, we get to work.

1- Our first fitting of the morning was a young man who was 19 years old and was healthy as could be until December. He was a part of a gang and was beaten with a baseball bat on his head. Such a tragic story but Sue and Brad were able to pray with him. Dick Rutgers was quite touched by his story and held him and wept over him. We prayed that God would mark his life in a new and fresh way as of this day.

2 - There was a dad and a son being fitted together. He has spinal bifida and he was a bus driver - they were both in

4 - For some patients, we had to do a dual translation... English into Spanish then Spanish in to Ceque - a local dialect. God provided a great set of translators - many from the community who came out and who assisted with the distribution today.

5 - One of the highlights of the day was pulling up a seat and conversing with people. Taking time to get to know their story, learning bits of Spanish and sharing in their joy. The kids especially were beautiful and there were lots of kisses and hugs.

6 - For those who were new at this, at the start, there were moments of fear and anxiety as some of the kids were deformed and twisted, but this was quickly overcome and as soon as the team got involved and worked hard, any apprehension left. Some of our guests were nervous as well but we explained lots and everyone had a sense of humor.
7 - There was a lady named Sandra who was fitted up by brad and sue. She was 23 years old and had c.p. She was very twisted and in the end, we were able to fit her up with a new chair and saw her go out the door fitted up and so full of joy - she also loved having her photo taken.

8 - The smiles were so deep and genuine and made our day.

9 - There was one lady who was carried in on a lazy boy recliner. She has the kinds of friends that we want. She loved her chair and was full of joy - she thought she would only be in it for 15 minutes but now it’s not just the lazy boy, they are going to have to take me places. She has become a source of joy and encouragement for everyone around her. Her mission is to help people stop complaining and see the joy of God in their lives.

10 - There were many requests for walkers and crutches.

11 - We had one station of all kids: Ben, Rachel, Ben and nick. They did 6 specialty chairs for kids and did an excellent job.

12 - It seemed that whenever we needed a chair, god provided one. Whatever parts we needed were there. Tools. The team from bethel helped and god was so gracious. All the people left with perfect chairs.

13 - We had a team from the local physio clinic assisting and they were fabulous. They are students are the local university and they were organized by a wonderful family.

14 - there were 4 or 5 people who came to us from the local hospital. One had her foot amputated just this last weekend and the social worker from the hospital came. One lady was abandoned by her family in the hospital, and she was so glad that someone cared about her. The medical system here is under resourced and is not able to properly assist people. Bedsores are a major source of death.

Around 3 o’clock we wrapped things up with a meal and heard that many people had prayed to receive Christ with local pastors. It was tiring but god provided strength and the team did an excellent job. Then we headed out to a local caves for some r and r.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Written by Brad Summer

Today, our group split into three for several projects. Here are the stories from the day and some reflection on our experiences to date.

1 - food and clothing distribution - Arnie, Debbie, Nick, Rachel, Chris, Hannah and brad.
We started the day on the road to the town of tactic with some adventure. We got pulled over at a military checkpoint. They wanted to see the vehicle registration - and they asked with their m-16s out so naturally we obeyed. They kept us for about 2 minutes which felt longer as the rest of the team waited up in the van and truck ahead... Bit nerve racking but felt safe and secure in God’s hands.

One of the highlights was watching Chris minister to the families. There’s a song that goes ´love in any language´ and we certainly saw it in any and every language today. We often had opportunity to pray with people and ministered with 5 families as we dropped off 40 pound bags of food and clothing for kids and families. We had opportunity to see spiritual renewal occurring right before our eyes - people rededicating their lives to God, prayers for healing and wonderful connections and friendships.

Our first home, we visited with a family. The man had hearing problems so his wife had to work. They lived just off the highway. A family in the church had offered them free rent on their property. They had two kids and one kid was so enamored with the toothbrushes. We were all very struck with how gracious and hospitable people were - inviting us right into their homes and allowing us to pray with them and talk with them as we blessed them with food.

Our second home, we visited the local primary school at recess for a game of soccer. Then we spent time with a wonderful lady, her two boys and two girls - including a one year old. We drank tea with them and Debbie had about 25 kids surrounding the van looking for candy. Again, you don’t have to know Spanish

Our third home, there was an older lady who expressed that she had walked away from God. Her husband was an alcoholic and left her and this had made her bitter and indifferent towards God.

The fourth home was a local missionary couple. We prayed over the sons that they would grow up to follow the lord and be men of thunder.

At the 5th house, we visited with two sisters - one with 6 kids and one with 2 kids. They ranged in age from 2-11 and they both expressed that they were angry with god. Chris took wonderful freedom and liberty and prayed for them - one man prayed to receive Christ and we prayed for his healing - I think he had diabetes. This family really had nothing... A small wooden crib on the dirt floor. No beds. No furniture. It was striking to see. The missionary family accompanied us on this trip and prayed with passion and compassion for the two women. There were tears, there were hugs and there was and incredible sense of God’s hand at work.

What an incredible opportunity to share the love and power of god with people.

2 - Additiona
l specialty wheelchair distributions - Dick, Sue and Bina.

There were a few people who were not able to be at the distribution yesterday. The fist was Elmer, he is 17 and has cancer and is bed ridden so was not able to come to the distribution yesterday. Just standing up to put the chair under him caused him to collapse and he had to be put back into bed. What a sweet family and a great experience to fit him in the perfect chair and pray with the family.

One of our translators from yesterday, Juan, came with us on the road towards playa grandee up towards Mexico. There we met hector and his family. He was 12 or 13 and was very bright. He spoke quiche - a local dialect. We parked in the school grounds - the kids had fun with that, kicking the truck tires and making the alarm go off . We walked up to his house and were struck by his position. He sits there on the ridge everyday and watches everyone at school every day. He tried one day at school and it didn’t work out. They don’t accept him. There is a lady who does come in a teach him and he was so proud to show us his books and school work.

One thing that we saw that is newer in Guatemala, was a father who was affectionate. He came all the way to Coban yesterday to arrange this - took the day off from work in the fields just hoping that we might show up. It took a while to fit the chair and while all this was going on, the mom and grandmother were making a wonderful fresh meal for us. We went into this dark room and they brought big bowls of food for us and we shared a meal with hector and his family. We don’t know what he has and are really praying that we could ensure that he sees a doctor in town. If that doesn’t progress, we’ll work on getting them into Hermano Pedro to see a specialist about the pain he is experiencing.

One funny story - after all that emotional stuff, we discovered that the chickens in finka Trinidad were suicidal. It looked like they had been waiting all day to jump out in front of a truck. Too crazy.

March 17, 2009

Sue & Bina wrote

Today we had the privilege of accompanying Dick to deliver two wheelchairs to people who couldn’t make it to yesterday’s distribution. The first was to a young man named Elmer who has cancer and is bedridden. His mother met us at their gate and showed us to his room. Elmer seemed happy to see us and made us feel welcome but we could tell he was in pain. The chair Dick brought was the perfect fit and allowed for Elmer to be fully reclined which we learned was his preference.

After leaving Elmer’s house we headed into the hills to Finca Trinidad with Juan who knows the people we were going to see and speaks (Quetche?). Once we turned off the main road the fun began. After about 20 minutes of adventure driving Juan pointed to a school and indicated we were headed that way. All the kids came pouring out of the school when we pulled up in Dick’s Land Cruiser. Dick thought it would be best if we met Hector who we’d come to see before bringing the two chairs we had with us. Hector and his Dad greeted us and we quickly learned Hector was using a borrowed chair that was clearly not the best fit for him. Hector and his Dad spoke to Juan in Queche, then Juan would translate to Spanish then Bina would convey what she could over to Dick and Sue in English. We think his name was Hector.....
We had a view of the truck down below in the school yard where the kids were playing. Every now and then we could see one kick the tire to make the alarm go off. Even though Hector’s family lives right beside the school he doesn’t go. We asked why this was and were told he doesn’t want to. He does however study at home and was glad to share with us some of his work. His brother came home from the school while we were there and wanted to help Hector.

You could see the love that Hector’s father has for him. He had traveled to Coban yesterday to our distribution and stayed home from work today to meet us. He was such a gentle man.

Once Dick worked his magic and one of the chairs we brought became a fit for Hector we were graciously invited for lunch. Only then did we realize what Mom and Grandma had been so busy doing. It was quite an experience to share a meal in their home.

We each had moments that were overwhelming. One was when we found out Hector wasn’t going to school but each day sat in his chair overlooking the schoolyard. Later we sat down at the table for lunch and were handed big plates full of chicken, rice and tortillas which was clearly extremely generous of the family to share with us.

It seems the chickens who dwell along the back road to Finca Trinidad aren’t so smart. They seemed to wait at the side of the road and then dashed across as Dick’s truck approached. We all decided they were suicidal.

When we learned we were back in Coban approaching our hotel Sue quickly started asking Dick if there were anymore wheelchairs that needed to be delivered. We did not want today’s adventure to end.

Sue & Bina

3 - House building project - Curtis, Rhi, Edmund, Bryan, Little Ben, Big Ben, Ralph, Saul, Howie, Jorge.

"Today, we built a house!"

How often do you get to say that?

We had the expertise of Howe, a local missionary who works with constructing houses. He was a real pro and supervised well. The building supplies had been ordered well in advance and came up with the wheelchairs in the truck. They were offloaded at the site and the team got right to work. For the house we built today, the foundation was laid last week and so after arrival on site we began to put up the sheet metal and the frame right away. After a break for a full gourmet buffet lunch that was provided at the local rest home, we began to work with cement - mixing it all from scratch and pouring a concrete floor.

It was a lot of work but such incredible satisfaction to see a woman who had previously been living in a house that was falling down be given the keys for her new place. We had a dedication and it was so neat to see the joy and wonder on her face and the faces of her daughters.

One big thing that struck us that it doesn’t get any easier no matter how many mission trips you have been on... And this is a good thing. We want to stay open to the things that break the heart of God. To shed tears. To love people deeply and care about their spiritual, emotional and physical state. What a wonderful day.

Tomorrow, it is house number 2 and more food distribution, this time further afield.


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