* 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, April 29, 2009

Journal April 25-30

(Click on any picture to enlarge)
Saturday, April 25, 2009

A few of my neighborhood kids and I went to the orphanage and picked up Moises. The kids love having him over and he loves getting away form the orphanage for a while. I was suppose to have him back there by 4 PM so that he would not miss supper. Time just sort of slipped by on us and I got him back there about an hour late. The nurses didn’t seem to mind though because we had stopped off and gotten him a hamburger.

When I got home I opened up my house to the kids in the neighborhood and before long it resembled the place that I had just returned Moises to.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I am in a hotel room in Huehuetenango. This is a rather unscheduled trip but my friend Roland e-mailed me Saturday night telling me about some families that he visited a few days ago. After hearing about them I decided to come up and see how we can help at least some of them. There are many other families in this area that need help for food, schooling or medical needs.

Here is part of the letter that I received last night.

Hi Dick,

Thank you for your journal! Wonderful to hear that you finally getting over that bad cough, I have not been coughing the last week. I am including very small archives with photos of the boy Fredy and his mother and Maria Garcia.

Visit to Fredy Emilton 8 years old who can’t walk: On the 20th April I left at 5 o’clock in the morning to take a bus to the department of Huehuetenango to visit a handicapped little boy who lives in the remote high located village Xoconilaj, in the municipality of Santa Barbara, department of Huehuetenango. The village is very high located. We walked over 3 hours by foot in the mountain to arrive to their home, later we found out that there is a road that is much closer to Freddy’s home! The population in this municipality is over 4000 persons, the majority; 99% is Mayan, and speaks the Mayan language Mam. 75 % of the population of the municipality Santa Barbara is illiterate. One of the great problems in this area is water. The poverty in this municipality is enormous, and the reason for the poverty goes back several hundred years when the indigenous people of this area were much oppressed. After that the hurricane Stan had passed this municipality received very little help, one can see in my photos a road still in very bad shape, with next rain season that road we walked will probably be completely destroyed, but very good is that we find out that there is another better road to arrive to the village. During the last journey I recently did meet Roland’s new teacher Eloida, I came to know Justo a poor farmer from Santa Barbara during journey we talked a lot and he told me about a very poor mother who have a handicapped son, and he asked me to visit their home, a week later I already know the family, I went with Maria Garcia and her niece Malvin and we met Justo at the market and we started the long walk to the home of Fredy. Freddy is 8 years old. Freddy can’t walk or stand up without support. He has convulsions every day, sometimes the convulsions, last long periods. He can’t talk, but he can hear and he understands, Freddy smiles a lot. He has been sick a lot, he was having fever and he was coughing during my visit. Freddy drools lots of saliva all the time and he is wearing a bib all the time. When I was talking with his mother his noose started suddenly to bleed, the noose bleed lasted for some minutes. His mother said she can’t afford to buy the medicine for his convulsions. It is a very poor family.

Freddy’s mother Rosaria Lopez Sales
has been sick over ten years she is suffering of daily pain in her stomach and of headache, she said that sometimes she can’t sleep and she said that many times she has been crying of the pain in the night and because of the handicap that her youngest son has.
She said she feels a big ball inside the centre of her stomach and sometimes it feels like fire burning inside, and that she sometimes has pain also in her arms and legs and her back, she said - I feel like I am having chili in my body, a smarting pain. She said sometimes it come out matter from her ears. She said she many times is having great difficulties to sleep, and sometimes she faints while having the pain. I hope I also can find a doctor for exams for her in a near future. She has given birth to 4 sons, and 2 of them have died. Rosaria is illiterate. She said her husband drinks liquor a lot, he is working but with a very low income. Fredy’s mother asked me if there is a possibility of receiving monthly help to buy medicine for the convulsions, diapers and milk, and incaparina for her son (Incaparina is a powder used to prepare a very nutritious drink). Rosaria’s father has died and her mother has almost no eye sight, and Rosaria asked me if I can come back next week to meet also her mother.

Little Fredy also has a cousin, Mary Marleny Godinez Carrilloa, little girl who has problems with her eye sight, she is 6 years old, The other friend I have sent you emails about the last time is, Giovanni the little boy you came to know last year and who need operation of his both feet; clubfoot. Both children need wheelchairs and medical attention. There are also 2 others that I would like you to see who are from a community in Solola,

Catarina Guarchaj y Guarchaj, 24 years old she has never been able to walk and she need a wheelchair. She would also very much like to attend school.

The other one is a boy named Dario, he is a 3 years old who need operation of his foot
God bless Roland

During the next few days Rolland and I plan on visiting these families and several others. The needs are endless but if we can help even one of these families it would be a real blessing to them.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, April 27, 2009

Roland and I had told Maria Garcia that we would pick her up at 7:00 AM. We did not leave Huehuetenango until after seven and got to the place where we were to meet her at around 8:00. It worked out OK though because Maria also runs on Guatemalan time so I do not think that she had been waiting for us for very long. Maria Garcia is a Mayan lady that lives in a small village about an hours drive from Huehuetenango. Even though Maria herself is very poor and has children and grand children some of whom are orphaned, living with her, she spends a great deal of time caring on the work of her 25 year old son who died last year from a sickness that a good doctor could likely have cured. Much like her son Maria has great compassion for her people and spends countless hours doing what ever she can to help them.

We had a long drive ahead of us because today we were going to go and visit Giovanni and his family. They live up in the northern part of Guatemala very close to the Mexican border. The area that we visited today is not exactly one where you see to many tourists. This has been a hot spot for drug trafficking and there have been a lot of kidnapping and murders in this area lately. Had we not been reminded of Luke 15:4, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” we would perhaps have thought of a better place to spend our day. We try not to be foolish in our travels but we had done a lot of praying and all 3 of us had peace about going in and seeing this family.

I had met this family a few months ago when they had brought their son to see us in the village where Maria Garcia lives. Today we went to their home to set up a time when Giovanni and his father could come in to Hermano Pedro to see a doctor. A teem of orthopedic surgeons are scheduled to be there in June and if we can get the pediatrician that works at Hermano Pedro to give Giovanni a referral they will likely be able to operate on his 2 club feet so that he would be able to walk. Giovanni’s father also needs to see a doctor because he has been ill for quite some time now. Even though Giovanni’s family is very poor they insisted on making lunch for us and although an ancient looking egg floating in watery black beans is not Roland’s or my favorite meal we graciously accepted it and even drank the unrecognizable liquid that we were given.

After lunch we I went to my car and found shoes and vitamins for all of the children in the family. Even though not all of the shoes were a perfect fit the children were delighted with them. I was even able to find a pair of cloth shoes that somewhat fit Giovanni’s deformed feet. He was thrilled with them.

We really wanted to get out of this area before dark but were establishing a friendship with this family that made it hard to leave, so when Giovanni’s father asked us if we wanted to take a walk with him and his family to see where their water came form we said yes. Part of or reason for saying yes was because we knew that the more exposure that we got in this village the better it would be for us the next time that we returned. Since this was a place that is not visited by many outsiders we could see that several of the people were a bit frightened of us and I am sure that they were suspicious of why we were there. Knowing that Giovanni’s father would introduce us to the people that we saw along the way and that once a hand full of villagers knew who we were and why we were in their village the word would spread like wild fire and everyone would know that we meant them no harm. Another reason for wanting to walk to where the family got their water from was because I was curious to see what it was that we had just drank with my meal. We figured that if we got sick and had to see a doctor when we got back to Huehuetenango we could at leas give the doctor a clue as to what it was that we had drunk. As it turned out the stream that we hiked to looked quite clean and Father also told us that they boil all of their drinking water. By the time we returned from our hike we had met several of the villagers. Some of them that had previously jumped behind trees every time that we looked their direction were now asking us if we would take their pictures. Not all of them were that brave but that well come with time. As I compare of the places where we are now welcomed with open arms with the way that the people reacted to us the first few times that we visited I can not believe the difference.

One of the best things that happened to us today had to do with about 6 feet of old rusty chicken wire that managed to wrap itself around my rear tire and axle as I drove in to where Giovanni lived. We did not discover it until we were ready to leave but it was evident that we were going nowhere until it was removed. I had no sooner gotten out my wire cutters and started cutting at it than several of the men from the village offered to help me. Soon my car was surrounded by some of the same people that had run and hid from us earlier in the day. Giovanni had a great time supervising the wire removing party from the hood of my car. While the men worked the women and children watched. My only regret was that my tire was back on my car and we were ready to go in less than a half hour. What I had looked at as an inconvenience had clearly become a Godsend. As we claimed into my car and began to leave one of the men that had been working the hardest to get the wire unwrapped from my car told us that he had a grandson who was sick. Yes we know that it was getting dark and that we should be on our way but it was already evident that most of our trip home was going to be in the dark anyway, so we got back out of the car and walked over to where this family lived. We were then introduced to the daughter of this man and one year old Oliver. The mother told us that her child had suffered high fevers shortly after his birth and that he now has many seizures every day. Other than a one time visit to a national hospital where it seems more harm was done than good, this child had never been to a doctor and no medicine had ever been given for the seizures. Well praise God; it looks like we will soon be getting this child out to see a good doctor.

Praise God, we also made it home safely. When we got back to our motel I received a phone call from Mark Richard. A few days ago I told Mark that I was going to be up in this area for a few days. Mark called to tell me that some Guatemalan missionaries had just been kidnapped. He went on to say that they had been working in the same are where we had been. I do not have their names but know that they work with farmers in showing them how to better raise and care for their livestock. Their car has been found but so far they have not been found. Please pray for these people. Pray also that God will change the harts of those that kidnapped them.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This morning Roland and I drove in to where Freddy and his family live. This is the home that Roland and Maria Garcia had spent 3 hours hiking into last week. Thankfully (for me) while they were there they discovered that there is road that comes in from a different direction that allows you to drive right up to Freddy's house. It is in no way a super highway and you will be hard pressed to find it on any map but it sure beets walking.

Much like Roland had described this family and most of the others in this area live in extreme poverty. This aldea actually has running water but there is such a water shortage here that it is only turned on for a few hours once every 3 or 4 days. Today happened to be water day so most of the family was busy filling up any available containers that they had and trying to do the family laundry.

We found Freddy and his brother sitting on a bed in the smaller of the 2 adobe structures that they and several relatives call home. Freddy has suffered some brain damage due to high fevers that he had when he was only a few week old. Mother, who had already lost 2 of her 4 children, told us that she frantically tried to find a doctor for Freddy but it took 4 days to locate one. By the time the doctor got the fever under control a lot of brain damage had already been done. Even th0ough Freddy cannot walk or talk he is a delightful little kid. For the most part he is very happy and is usually laughing and smiling. Mother who herself is in poor health told us that Freddy gets sick a lot though and has seizures several times a day. She did get Freddy to a doctor several years ago and he prescribed Phenobarbital. This is a medicine that is seldom used in the States any more because of its side effects. Mom told us that it helped to control the seizures some but it virtually knocked Freddy out so that he was like a zombie all of the time. When I told her that he certainly did not look like a zombie today she said that it had been months since she had been able to afford any medicine for her son. She sad that he was much happier when he was not on the medicine but some times he would get seizures that would last for hours. He had also been running a lot of fevers lately and just 2 weeks ago she thought that he was going to die. She pleaded with us for help for her son. I try not to make these journals a plea for sponsors but Freddy will likely die if he does not get one. I gave Roland some money from our rapidly depleting medical fund, so that he can take Freddy and his mother along with Giovanni and his father in to Hermano Pedro to see a good doctor next Tuesday. I am quite sure that the doctor will prescribe one of the newer seizure medicines for Freddy. I know that Freddy's mother does not have the money to buy this medicine for her son. She told us that often times she is not even able to feed her children.

We made more visits to more hurting people today. Thanks to caring people like yourselves some of these people will be getting new wheelchairs. Lionel's family even received the promise of a new house. Praise God that we can help some of these families but I still have to search my soul every now and then and ask myself are we doing enough. Or is there some way that we can reach out a little further and help just one more Lionel or Freddy?

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Today Roland and I drove from Huehuetenango to Mazatenango We had one more child Dario, who has clubfoot that we wanted to visit. We figured that while we were in the neighborhood we would also visit a few people that were in need of wheelchairs.

Catarina Guarchaj is one of the mast delightful 20 year old young ladies that I have met in a long time. Even though Catharine can not walk, has no wheelchair, and has to drag herself along the ground with her hands this young lady has a radiance about her that lights up the sky. I am not 100% sure why Catarina cannot walk. It apears to be some type of CP but I am not sure. her family does not know either. Catarina has never been to a doctor. One thing that we do know is that Catarina is now on our waiting list for people that are in need of wheelchairs and Lord willing she will soon have one. Catarina also told me that her second biggest wish is that she can some day get an education. We made her no promises but said that we would look into it.

Not far from Catarina lives a little girl named Ingrid. Ingrid is also in need of a wheelchair. We took down her measurements and did the necessary paper work so she is now on our waiting list as well.

From there we drove about 45 minutes to our final stop of the day. Yesterday I had thought that I had not seen so much poverty before but I think that if it were possible this family is even poorer than Freddy's. Dario his mother Margarita, and his 4 siblings live in one small room of a rusty tin structure that is called home for them and at least 5 other people. Father left for the states because he could not find any work in his village. Problem is work in the States is no longer all that prevalent. From what I am being told even the minimum wage jobs are getting hard to find. At any rate father is now in the States with no job and no way to get back to Guatemala and mom is being threatened with eviction form her home that most people would not keep a pig in, by the man that her husband borrowed money form so that he could get to the States. Here we could offer little in the way of financial help but we did tell mom that her son looks like a perfect candidate for the surgical teem that is coming in to Hermano Pedro in June so we are going to see to it that he sees the doctor and gets a referral with in the next few weeks. While we were visiting we got one of the seasons first rainstorms. This was not just any rainstorm but a torrential downpour. My car was parked about a half mile away so Roland suggested that we wait this one out. I reminded him that rainy season here in Guatemala lasts 6 months and that although the storms usually last only a few hours I was not going to stick around and find out. By the time we reached my car we were walking in ankle deep water and soaked to the bone. The only way that I could keep my windows form completely fogging up was to run the air conditioner at full bore. I will know in a few days what that is going to do for my ever lingering head cold. What should have been an hour drive to our hotel took us well over 2 and a half hours. This was partly due to tree limbs and things floating and blowing across the road but we also found that once we reached the Pan-American highway that traffic was at a stand still for miles. We finally made it to the hotel though and discovered to our surprise that a 6 foot long tree limb that was as fat as my leg had not done any damage when it fell onto my car. Actually the end of it had struck my windshield but it the only damage that it had done was wipe out my drives side windshield wiper blade. Guess we've kept those guardian angles a bit busy the past few days.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, April 30, 2009, 12:01 PM

Roland has caught a buss and headed back to his home in Xela. I should have headed out hours ago but I am still in my motel room in Mazatenango putting the finishing touches on my journal. I have been gone form home since Sunday and I really miss my kids so I am going to make this entry short. As I read thorough this weeks journal I realized how good God is. Yes there are hurting people out there and I do not always know why this has to be, but I do know that God loves them. Most of them seem to know it as well. As much as these people suffer I still find my self envying some of them at times. It seems that so many of them that should be angry at God are thankful to Him for what they have no mater how small that blessing seems to us. These people have taught me so much about true Christianity. It is my prayer that they have seen a little bit of Christ through me.

Thank you for your prayers.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, April 24, 2009

Journal April 17-24

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Friday, April 17, 2009, 9:12 PM

Bethel Ministries had a wheelchair distribution this morning but I actually took the advice of my doctor and at least a dozen people that advised me to get some rest. Some times I think that trying to rest is harder than working though. I did manged to get caught up on my journaling and even got it published so that was a good feeling. I have not heard how the wheelchair distribution went but Chris told me that it was going to be only about 20 chairs and there were going to be no specialty fittings. Nice thing is that more and more of our people here are getting good at fitting even the difficult cases so I do feel like I have to be there. I still miss it when I am not there though.

I kept the gate locked until later this after noon but that did not keep the kids from knocking. My doorbell finally gave up the ghost. I think that at an average of at least 25 rings a day it must have set some type of record before it finally gave out.

There were 15 of us for supper tonight but I honestly did not have to lift a hand. I did have to lift my feet to keep them out of the coke that Calin spilled on the floor though. He did a fairly good job of cleaning it up but it still feels like you have suction cups on the bottom of your shoes when you walk through my house.

There would have been 16 of us for supper but Jason left early. Not his choice but mine. I finally got the printer the kids use for home work going again. I think I am going to have to find a place where I can buy printer ink by the gallon. Jason asked if he could print one small picture and I told him yes but made him promise that he would only print the one picture. Most of my kids are now trustworthy enough that I do not have to watch them like a hawk. Jason has not yet proven himself to be one of them. He will be allowed back into my house tomorrow night. But will not be allowed to use the computer for a week. Seven of my kids are delighted with the seven full page color pictures that I confiscated from Jason before sending him out of the gate.

I told three of the kids that since it was Friday I would let them spend the night. Come to think of it I am not sure that Friday had much to do with it because that is the exact number that stayed over last night.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Defying gravity

I was still coughing a bit this morning so I decided to give my self a day off, head for the beach, and just relax in the sun. The nine kids that came along with me thought that it was a great idea as well. Actually it was a relaxing day and seeing how much the kids enjoyed themselves made it a lot more enjoyable than it would have been had I gone alone. One thing that really helped was that Lesley, Fernando’s 19 year old aunt, came along and helped keep an eye on the younger kids. I may have to do a repeat of this trip in a few weeks because there were just too many kids with good report cards for me to take the entire group today.

We stopped off at Burger King for supper because I did not want to cook for 12 of us when we got home. It didn’t do much good though because there were 8 or 9 others at the gate when I got home and there was no way that I could say no to them after taking the others out all day.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

An even dozen kids came along to church this morning and then Burger King for lunch. I really had planned on healthier food for lunch but everything else was closed because the electricity has been off all day.

After lunch I broke away from the group. I had not been to the orphanage in quite some time and I wanted to see how the kids were doing. My kids from home were not al that happy about me going there without them but last time that I took a few of hem along they got a little lively and Fryer …… was not to pleased. Actually in the nine years that I have know him I have never seen the man smile but then again perhaps the poor man has a permanent case of indigestion. I only stayed at the orphanage for a few hours but it was good to see the kids.

Lionel seems to be doing well but he still misses his family. I spent a lot of time visiting with him, which he truly liked but he was not to pleased when I had to put him back to bed. It looks like we are going to be able to fix up and add on to his house sometime in June. I am not sure weather or not his family will be able to care for him even after this is done but at lest his Father, mother, and five siblings will be more comfortable. I know that Lionel’s parents really love him but I can also see their concern that he might not make it if he returns home. Who is to say what the right thing to do is in some of these situations. Not all that many weeks ago Lisvi’s parents, who live little more than an hour from Lionel, acted out of love when they made the decision to take her home instead of leaving her at Hermano Pedro and she died a few weeks later.

Many of you have been asking about Jose, the Two and a half year old boy that weighed in at 8 pounds. I personally think that Jose is proving that if you are feisty enough you will survive. Jose still has a feeding tube and is in no ways fat but he is doing much better. Fact is he seems happier most of the time and was happy as a clam while I held him today. Putting him back into his crib was another story though. I think that he could give ErvIn a run for his money if they were to have a screaming match.

Karen the little girl that Mike and Karen Rea brought in a few weeks ago seems to be doing well. Other than finding out the hard way that her diapers were not leek proof, I enjoyed holding her for a while.

Another little angle is Lesley, a little girl that arrived at the orphanage about same time as Karen. Lesley was not as malnourished as Karen when she arrived so she was not put into the malnutrition ward but was put in to the regular ward. Lesley is blind and has some other complications but she has an extremely sweet personality. I am going to try and find a wheelchair for her as well as Karen and several others with in the next few days.

At 4:30 I headed for home. Why? I guess you might say I sort of bribed the kids when I went to the orphanage on my own. Before leaving for the orphanage I stopped off and reserved a soccer field for 5:00 PM. I guess I sort of spoiled them this weekend but I figured the $3 that I paid for the soccer field was a good investment. From the looks of the number of kids that showed up I think that they agreed. The hour’s fun ended up costing me 20 cent per kid.Jason has been allowed back into my house but lately he is requiring me to spend as much time on my knees praying for patients with him as I do praying that I have patients with Etiline. Not many of the kids that come to my house are from 2 parent families. Jason is. I am beginning to wonder if his parents send him over here so that they can get a rest or if they perhaps have something against me. Jason can be a very nice kid and I think that he is quite intelligent. I guess his problem is he just doesn’t think. It is hard to explain. I know that he hears me when I ask him not to put a loaf of bread or a dozen cellophane wrapped hot dogs into the microwave for 45 minutes but as soon as I turn my back he goes and does it anyway. I have also tried several times to tell him that a drinking glass will not hold 3 liters of coke but he just doesn’t seem to get it.

Well all of the kids that are leaving for the night have left. I am tying to decide weather or not to mop my floor before going to bed. Since Jason is one of the kids that is staying I think that I will wait until after breakfast in the morning.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cesar and Abner had no school so they accompanied me to Hermano Pedro this morning. After meeting with Jessica and going over a long list of kids that have outgrown their wheelchairs the 2 boys and I took 3 of the orphanage kids out to lunch. Guess what we actually had a lunch that was good for us and it was not at Camperos. The coffee house that my church runs has turned into a restaurant that has great food and a wonderful atmosphere. There is a large grassey courtyard that the kids love to play in. After lunch we went back to the orphanage and spend some time with the kids.

Today I met some ladies that are from the town where Lesley lives. To my surprise Lesly is from Santa Rosa. This is the same town that I brought Daniel and Byron in form to see the doctor last week. This is also the town where we had a wheelchair distribution and built a house in the week before that. I guess we missed a few people though because today the ladies that were at the orphanage showed me pictures of Lesley’s family. Lesley’s mom cannot walk and has to get around on all fours. I also discovered that the house where and here other 4 children live in is not fit for a pig. Tomorrow I plan on copying down all of the information and turning it in at our office. I wish that I could have promised the ladies that saw me today that something would be done, but our list of people that need houses and wheelchairs is an ever growing one so it makes it impossible to help everyone. Praise God for those that we can reach though.

. . . Lock out night tonight.

The kids hate it when I do that and actually so do I but some times that is the only way that I can get caught up on things. I had to go out and get in Alex’s face a few minutes ago. He got the idea that if he continued to knock on the gate long enough and hard enough he would get results. He tried to get my attention by doing that and making at least 20 phone calls where he would dial my number and then quickly hang up before I answered my phone. It worked, Alex got my attention. When I finally went to the gate I got his attention and I think that he now understands that he is not to do that again. I finally opened the gate at around 9 but all but a few of the kids scattered. I guess that they had heard my conversation with Alex and did not want to stick around for a repeat performance. Nancy’s boy friend and Abner came in for a while but all of the other kids are staying clear of me until they know that I have calmed down a bit. I hate it when I get mad at these kids but they know that I love them and they will all be back tomorrow night and perhaps instead of demanding to come into the house they will politely ask.

Well I am tired and bed looks pretty inviting so I guess that I will call it a night.

Yours in Christ: Dick (the neighborhood grouch)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Either my kids are forgetful or perhaps they are just quick to forgive; then again they may have been hungry enough that they were willing to take their chances.
Earlier today I went to the orphanage and refit a few kids in their wheelchairs. Lesley, the little girl that came in a few weeks ago finally has a wheelchair. Now I have to come up with one for Marvin, the little boy whose wheelchair I gave to Lesley. I usually do not rob Peter to pay Paul but Marvin had clearly outgrown this wheelchair.

All of my neighborhood kids had school today and I could not find any adults to help me take any of the kids to lunch so I could only take Byron along today. Ervin clearly vocalized his disapproval. If he has stopped his screaming by tomorrow I may take him then.

Well my house is still full of kids and several of them are in need of some first aid.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Another day at the orphanage today. There were lots of groups of volunteers there today. Some of the visitors looked a bit shell shocked and just stood motionless staring at the kids. I think that they wanted to help but were just too overwhelmed to know where to start, so they did nothing. Others were dressed up like clowns and animals. They did their best to entertain the kids. This is a good way to do something for the kids without getting too emotionally involved. It doesn’t hurt quite as much that way. There were others that made them selves a bit more vulnerable. They actually took hold of the wheelchairs that some of the kids were in and pushed them around the courtyard. I even saw a few of them reach down and touch whoever it was that they were playing with on the head. Some of them even did this with out reaching for their bottles of hand sanitizers immediately after touching a child. There was another group there that really caught my eye though. I could see it in their eyes that they were there to love on these kids whatever the cost. Oh yes they were a bit nervous being in the orphanage for the first time. It can be a scary place. They had no idea weather or not they were even allowed to hold the children, and I am sure that they were afraid that they would possibly hurt a child if they did pick one up and hold him or her wrong. There was something about this group though that told me that once they were told that it was OK to hold the kids and once they were shown how to hold some of the more severe ones, they would swoop them up into their ungloved hands and love on them in a way that the children really needed to be loved. All I had to do is pick up one little girl and ask who wanted to hold her and soon the entire group asked if they could hold someone. I am sure that these people know that it was going to be hard to say goodbye to these kids when it was time to go. They probably even know in advance that they would likely get emotional and shed some tears. I am not sure if they know that it would have been wise to take a change of clothing with them but I don’t think that mattered much to them. You see, they came to love, unconditionally and with no strings attached. They came to show these kids that they cared because Jesus cared. They came to love on them and pray over them in a "Jesus way." In the same way that Jesus put our needs before His, these people put the needs of the children ahead of their own. What if Jesus had said, “I am uncomfortable with this I just can’t do it.” Once again today, I had the privilege of seeing Jesus shine through in some of his children that were indeed images of a Father that loved them. Thanks Gang. I don’t think that I caught any of your names of even the name of your group, but you made it evident that you are my brothers and sisters. You made that evident to the kids as well.

All of the groups had other commitments for lunch so I was only able to one of the kids along with me. Ervin has not had an easy time watching me take other kids the past few days so today I decided that I would take him. This choice was a good one . This kid who is generally locked in his crib from 1 or 2 PM had the time of his life. I must admit though he certainly has a mind of his own. I have watched the therapists at Hermano Pedro try to get him to walk. If he is in the mood he will take a few steps for them but if he decides that he is going to sit down and not move you couldn’t get him to move with dynamite. This afternoon after we ate I took him over to Camperos play ground equipment and once I got him out o his wheelchair there was no stopping him.

I spent the rest of my afternoon with a Christian Brother, 90 year old Father Bernardo. Cesar, the man whose leg we have been treating for quite some time, and his family are Roman Catholic. Since it is still difficult for Cesar to get out of his house Father Bernardo had offered to go to his home and do sacraments with him. Father Bernardo knows that I am not Roman Catholic but he asked me if I would take him there so that he could perform the Sacraments with Cesar and his brother who also has difficulty walking. While Father Bernardo and Cesar were doing sacraments I had a great time visiting with the rest of Cesar’s family. This family has been so grateful that some one has been willing to take the time to help Cesar that they can’t stop thanking God for what they consider a miracle. Do they differ with me on Christian doctrine? Undoubtedly. Are we able to pry together and thank the one true God for what he has done? Unquestionably! I see the love of God shine through in this family in a way that is unbelievable. It is my prayer that they see that same love in me.

On our way back to the orphanage Father Bernardo and I had a lengthy discussion about true Christianity. I would love to share that discussion with you but unfortunately this was one of these days when Father Bernardo could not remember witch of the four languages that he speaks, I can understand. So I did not get much of what he said. I think that it had something to do with loving orphans and widows. I am not sure though but we still had a great time of fellowship.

I guess the word got out that I had sent 2 of the boys to town for some roasted chicken because tonight there were 17 of us around the dinner table. What was going to be a chicken dinner for 10 to 12 had to be stretched out into chicken sandwiches for 17 but everyone left the table satisfied. Well almost everyone. Calin complained that he was still hungry. Then again I could have given Calin both chickens and all three loves of bread and he would have likely asked for more.

At 9 PM I told the kids that it was time to leave. Three of them told me that they were spending the night and two more asked if they could. I had no problem deciding what to say to the three that told me that they were staying, but I still needed to get some work done and did not want to get up at 6 AM to get the kids off to school so I told the two kids that had asked, no as well.

Well it is getting late so I think that I will close for now. I am not going to head straight off to bed though. Instead I think that I will just sit here and listen to the silence.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Before leaving for the orphanage this morning I received a phone call from the clinic that I had just visited last week. Doctor Jose speaks about as much English as I do Spanish so our conversation was brief. I understood enough of it to know that it was about Melvin though and I knew that things were not good. I told him that I would call Donna and have her call him. Fifteen minutes later Donna called me saying that the doctor said that Milton was at the clinic and the doctor had told her that things did not look good. The doctor said that Milton appeared to have pneumonia and was wondering if we know of a hospital that he could come to. As hard as it was I had to tell Donna that because of their fear that they may be contagious, Hermano Pedro will not accept anyone into the malnutrition ward if they are running any type of fever, and about the only choice was the national hospital. Neither Donna nor Chris knew of any other alternative either so Donna had to call the doctor back with the bad news. I have not heard anything back from the Clinic yet but may try to call them this evening or tomorrow.

When I got to the orphanage I got a few more wheelchairs fixed and took another kid to lunch. Today Roberto (Bobby) got to come along to Camperos. What ever money this restaurant made on the kids that I brought in this week I doubt that they broke even because of all of the napkins that I used trying to keep up with everything that Bobby spilled. I tried to only mop up when absolutely necessary because the messier Bobby gets the happier he becomes. The combination of colors in his hair from the ranch dressing, ketchup, and sweet and sour sauce would have put any punk rocker to shame. He was a bit disgusted with me for trying to clean him up before pushing his wheelchair back to the orphanage but I was afraid that I would get fined for polluting the streets if any of that stuff fell off from him.

After returning to the orphanage I worked on a few more wheelchairs. This was not a fast process because the only 3 kids that had not already been put to bed for the day decided that they would help me. There were about 40 other wheelchairs sitting around in the courtyard but they were all empty. While Bobby and I were eating lunch all of their occupants had been put to bed, and that is where they will stay until tomorrow morning.

I left Hermano Pedro at around 3 PM because I had a few things that I needed to do. Calin had talked to the brother of the little blind girl who lives with her mother and 3 siblings in a vacant building here in Chimaltenango. He discovered that the family has been with out food for several days now. I had called Chris and he had Carlos go to the market and pick up some food for them. This afternoon Alex and I brought it to them. The reason that I took Alex along was because his school shoes had warn out and I had none on hand that fitted him. He had gone to school today wearing some brown shoes that he had but his teacher told him that he would not be allowed back in school until he had black leather ones. Requiring public school students, here in Guatemala to wear uniforms or certain color shoes is against the law. Convincing the school principals of this is another story though. After visiting the family that needed the groceries we went and bought 2 pare of shoes. It just so happened that the little boy who had told Calin that his family was out of food no longer had school shoes either. I will try to bring him his new pare tomorrow so that he to can once again go back to school.

I felt a bit mean tonight but instead of going home and cooking supper for the kids Alex and I stopped off in town and got something to eat. When I got home I explained to the 15 that were at the gate that this was the cooks night off. We did find enough junk food to satisfy most of them and later I fed the two kids that had decided that this was going to be their home tonight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, April 24, 2009, 12:40 PM

I had breakfast with Chris this morning. Some times things get so busy for bouth of us that we don’t get as much opportunity to just visit as we would like. We discussed the upcoming wheelchair distribution that we will be having with Johnnie and Friends next week. You would think that between this distribution of over 200 wheelchairs and a distribution of about the same size that Hope Haven is having we would be some what caught up but that is not the case. Chris told me that he still had to turn away40 kids because number of kids that need chairs has exceeded the number of available kids chars that are on hand. Praise God for these Christian organizations that are shipping or manufacturing wheelchairs, Hopefully as God continues to bless them they will be able to continue to supply more and more wheelchairs to those in need. It is our prayer that the 40 kids that had to be scratched from next weeks distribution will be able to be given wheelchairs soon.

I planned on returning home and doing some bookwork there after breakfast but knew that at 12:30 the kids would be home from school. I love hose kids but trying to write a journal while several of them are talking to me tends to make it hard to concentrate on what I am doing.

I am actually hiding out up stares in front of the malnutrition ward at Hermano Pedro. I must admit though that I do not know how long I can hold out. No, I am not afraid that the kids will discover that I am here. I am afraid that I will come to my senses and realize that spending time with them is more important than writing in this journal. Fact is I think that is exactly what is hap……………….

Yours in Christ: Dick