* 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


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