* GUATEMALA * * * * * * * * Dick Rutgers *

An ongoing journal of life as a Missionary in Guatemala. It will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

My Photo
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, April 5, 2009

Journal April 1-6

April 1-6 (With a bit of March thrown in for good measure.)
I am sorry but my commitment to daily journal writing has taken a nosedive the past few weeks. I am not sure if it is because there have been so many teems in and some of the teem members have graciously written some of my journal entries for me or if it because I have been finding it harder and harder to squeeze 30 hours of activities into a 24 hour day. Either way once again you will be hard pressed to find a neat little Saturday, April 4, 2009, 11:58 Am at the top of each day’s entry. Although that is exactly what day and what time it is right now. Unfortunately I have done no writing since March 31 so I am about 4 days behind. Anyway here is my feeble attempt at getting caught up. Fact is the following entry was written about a week ago by one of the members of the teem that was here then.

March ??

His Grace is Enough
By Kim Crouch

We are in another country, but somehow it feels much more dramatic than that, almost like another planet. It doesn’t make me feel ashamed to be an American, but ashamed of the way we live. I have never seen such poverty in my life. You often see these images on TV, but how easy it becomes to separate yourself from it and not let it affect you. But when you’re in it, really in it, like we were today, it is impossible to separate yourself from it. I will never forget this experience; I will never get over it. My heart aches for the way these people live. I have so much to say, but am having such a hard time processing it all and getting it all out. It’s almost like I fear I won’t do justice by trying to explain it. It is so real, so raw, and so unexplainable. It is a hard life here in Guatemala, there is no denying that. They wear it on their faces…they are the faces of poverty.

As we went from house to house for food/clothing distribution today, the stories were all very different, all so tragic. The only similarity is that somehow in the midst of all this heartache, they have found God, they all praise Him, and they all say over and over how truly blessed they are!
Wow! They praise Him in the midst of circumstances that we can’t possibly fathom!

The first home was in a very rural area. We had to use 4-wheel drive and had to stop so they could move an ox out of the way (and yes, I did just say there was an ox in the road!!) When we pulled up, the children came running out. It was the home of Maria and her children. Her husband was recently killed when he was struck by a truck. The children were so beautiful!! They were all smiling and just beaming with God’s love. They were so dirty from head to toe, without shoes, they had dirt caked under their nails, their clothes were filthy, and they had snot and dirt on their faces. Yet, through all of this, you couldn’t help but notice how beautiful they were and that they were smiling from ear to ear in the midst of all this poverty! Maria showed us their home…it was surrounded by garbage, clothing hanging on lines, you could smell the raw sewage, there were chickens running all around.

We dropped a large bag full of rice, black beans, sugar, coffee, noodles, vitamin drink, cooking oil, etc. for her and her children (this typically lasts about a week). We gave them clothing and shoes. The smallest boy, who was about 2, was so excited about his shoes that he kept looking down at them and wiggling his toes…he couldn’t walk a straight line because he stared down at those shoes the entire time, so excited to have on shoes!!! I pat the 7 year old on the head and gave him a smile. He quickly made a noise like he was in pain and leaned over to show me a large wound on his scalp. It was about an inch and a half long, a huge, black scab. I asked him what happened and he went on to explain that the 2 year old had been playing with a machete and hit him over the head with it. I still sit here in disbelief every time I tell this story or read it over again…I can’t come to grips with it…it haunts me…he was playing with a machete. No toys anywhere to be seen, nothing except the clothes on their backs and the dirt at their feet. But this is where God comes in….all their hope lies in him! All their strength lies in Him! They completely depend on Him! In the midst of this poverty, they have absolutely nothing, but they have Him! And it is enough…his grace is sufficient! How powerfully that speaks to me!


Wednesday, April 1
(Looks official but I am actually writing this on Saturday)

On Wednesday morning I took the other half of Caleb and Alicia’s group of 36 high school students through Hermano Pedro. I had taken the first half of this group through the orphanage on Wednesday. Once again I saw a few scared faces on several members of the teem when we walked inside of the orphanage but in a short time most of them warmed up to the kids and soon they were having the time of their lives with the kids. At around noon we took 8 of the teen age girls out to eat at Camperos. I think that a few of the members of the group were hoping that we were taking younger kids out to eat but they hit it off well with the teens an d once they saw how excited they were I do not thing that they were one bit sad that we had taken the older girls out to eat. After lunch we played around in the park a bit and we then headed back for the orphanage. I then quickly said my good byes, partially because just like Monday’s teem this one was scheduled to go and look at old building and then go souvenir shopping but mainly because I still wanted to make it to Xela today.

Christopher who had seen a neurologists in Hermano Pedro a few weeks ago is scheduled to have some tests done in Guatemala City on Friday and since his seizures increasing and also getting m ore severe I did not want him to have to travel from Xela to Guatemala City by buss. My friend Carlos who is from El Salvador came along with me today and due to a lot of construction we did not get into Xela until after 6 PM.

Thursday, April 2, 2009
(It is still actually Saturday though)

Roland met us at our motel here in Xela this morning, and then we drove up to San Francisco, Guatemala where Christopher lives.

Rule # 170 (or thereabouts) Never try driving through San Francisco on Market day.

After our third time circling of the same one-way streets we seriously thought about parking my car and leaving it in the town square as a monument to the memory of dumb Americans. Other than going the wrong way on one way streets that had venders scurrying to move there merchandise out of the way of may car there was no way out of town. These few one way roads were the only ones that were at all open but you would be hard pressed to get a bicycle down them yet alone a land cruiser. Not just once but 3 times. I did make one attempt to go a block or 2 the wrong way down a one way road but after going only 50 feet I met another person who was foolish enough to try to drive through this mess. No big deal because we were both going at a snails pace due to the crowds of people that were on the road so I motioned to the driver of the other car that I would back up and turn around at the intersection that I had just come out of. Evidently I did not back up quite fast enough to suit him though because just as I was making the turn into the side road he got impatient and tried to go around the front of my car. I guess he must have thought that he was on a motorcycle or something narrower than his car because it was about an inch to wide and he scraped my front bumper as he tried to sneak by. Had he given me about 2 more seconds my car would have been out of his way. That was a $100 mistake. His mistake, my $100. He admitted that he had gotten impatient but insisted that since I was facing the wrong direction but backing the right direction down a one way road he had the right to get impatient and run into me. Who was I to argue, especially considering that there was now a large crowd of people from his town gathering around my car and the color of Roland’s skin and the color of mine did not seem to match any of theirs. Every one remained calm though. (In Guatemalan terms that means no Machetes were drawn) and after finances were settled a few people even offered to show us how to get out of town fast. At least I think that is what they were saying. But then again perhaps they were simply saying that we would be wise to get out of town fast. We finally made it to the trail that led to Erica’s house, and yes we did have to once again go the wrong way up another one way road to get there but this was a more typical Guatemalan one way road in that half of the traffic on it was already going the wrong way.

Before picking up Christopher we dropped off his repaired power wheelchair at the home where he keeps it. The trail to and his home is too rough for a power chair so his mother packs 14 year old Christopher about a quarter mile to this home and then he drives the power chair the rest of the way to school.

After dropping off the power chair we walked in to where Erica lives. I had just been there less than 2 weeks ago but wanted to stop by to see how the new medication that we were trying on one of her legs was working out. As it turned out we are going to stick with the Ammonium Lactate that we have been using. The Urea that we experimented with is drying out the skin to rapidly and Erica said that it itched like crazy. Erica is quite a trouper though she told me that if I wanted her to keep trying it that she would but when I told her that we were going to stop using it she gave me a big smile and said thank you.

Next we hiked into where Christopher’s house is. It is not a long hike but Carlos chose to stay in the car. I think that he is starting to realize that thong type sandals do not make good hiking shoes. I offered to carry Christopher to the car so that his mother who is smaller than him could have a break. How this lady hikes him up and down the trail to their home is beyond me. Up until a few months ago she did this several times a week but now that Christopher is having more seizures he generally goes to school only a few days a week. In fact while we were waiting for his mother to get ready he had one and then several more throughout the day. Christopher’s brother Kevin came along with us as well and knowing that Christopher’s mom needed one good night’s sleep I told her that I would take the boys along to my house while she stayed at Cassia Defay. Abner, Calin, and Fernando stayed over as well and the five boys had a great time together. Christopher did have another rather violent seizure during the night but all of the other boys slept right through it.

Friday, April 3, 2009 (you guessed it, it’s really Saturday but we are getting closer.)

At 11 AM Christopher, his brother Kevin, Fernando, (who has become best friends with Kevin) and myself headed Burger king. No we did not go there for a hearty breakfast. The boys had already made pancakes and eggs at home. We went there to pick up Helen and her family. Helen is the little girl from Comolapa that has brittle bone disease. She was scheduled to go to the same place as Christopher today so her and her family were going with us. Then the 7 of us headed for Antigua where we picked up Christopher’s mom, who had stayed at Cassia Defay and Rolland who found a $6 motel in Antigua, and then we all headed for Guatemala City.

Both Christopher and Helen underwent some extensive test in a facility that would match many of the best in the states. They put Christopher in one of those magnetic Photo machines that takes pictures of the brain as though it were cut into thin sliced sections. I believe the cost of that test alone in the USA is several thousand dollars. Today I had to fork over a whopping $100 for his tests and around $75 for Helen’s tests. No this was not insurance co pay it was the entire cost of the tests. I hope that they got all of the pictures that they needed of Christopher’s brain because right near the end of the test he had another seizure so they had to end the test a bit early.

Since Easter celebration starts 4 weeks before Easter Friday night traffic out of Guatemala was unbelievable. What should have been an hour drive back to Chimaltenango ended up taking more than 2 hours. Since Roland had to be back in Xela he caught a buss in Guatemala City at around 5 PM. Christopher, his brother, and his mom decided that it was to late to gat back to San Francisco so I made arraingments for them to stay in Chimaltenango for the night. Hellen’s family had intended on taking a buss from Chimaltenango to there home in Comolapa but by the time we reached Chimaltenango the next buss scheduled to go that way would not be leaving until morning. I offered to put Helen and her parents up in the same motel that Christopher’s mother was going to be staying at but they told me that they had left their oldest daughter in charge of their other children and they did not want her to stay alone with them. After a quick supper at Burger king I found myself taking an unscheduled drive to Comolapa. Christopher, his brother Kevin, And Fernando came along with us as well. I had told Christopher’s mom that I would keep him at my place tonight so that she could get one more much needed nights rest. Of course this was before I know that I would be on the road until nearly 11PM but as excited, as the boys were to come over there was no way that I could back out on my promise.

Saturday, April 4, 2009 (There I finally got caught up to Saturday. The only problem is that it is now Sunday)

Christopher slept soundly until he had a bad seizure at around 4 AM. At around 9 AM we went and picked up his mother at the hotel. She looked like she had gotten a good rest. I am sure that it is hard for her to get much sleep knowing that Christopher has these seizures. I know that I slept with one eye open most of the night. Please pray that the doctors can do something about these seizures because they seem to be getting more severe and more frequent each day. He had another bad one while we were having breakfast at Camperos just before putting him and his family on the buss. I gave some serious consideration to driving them back to San Francisco but knowing that I had not had much sleep I did not think that would be a good idea. I got a bit of rest when I got back home though.

I promised the kids that if they did not bother me for a few hours I would rent a soccer field for them this evening and then take them out for hamburgers. Deciding that I needed some exercise I even joined in on the game. I think that I must be getting better at soccer because I was not the last one picked for a teem this evening. Elder the 7 year old that was picked after me was not too happy about that though. After the game the 12 of us headed over to burger king and filled up on health food.

I got home at around 7 PM and had time for a quick shower before heading to Guatemala City to pick up the teem of 17 people that was coming in for a week. They managed to get out of the airport in record time and by 10:30 pm we had them at their motel in Chimaltenango and shortly after that I was home and in bed.

Sunday, April 5, 2009, 5:36 PM (It really is!)

I did it I actually got caught up. I think that I may stay caught up this week as well. Not because I will have more free time to write but because several members of this teem have agreed to take turns doing daily journal entries.

Here then is the first of those entries.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

“Always speak the truth, but leave immediately following.”

We left our hotel “Santa Amillia” in Chimaltenango at 7:00 a.m. John knocked on our doors at 6:00 am for a wake up call. We had breakfast at Polo Campero’s. We actually loaded wheelchairs before we ate breakfast. We had extra time before church started so we looked in many shops. Don & I bought two pair of sunglasses for $5.00(US). We went to Chris & Donna’s church at 10:00 am. They welcomed us with hugs! Chris interpreted the message for us in English. There was lots of singing – like Christ The King Church in Lynden. It was an eye opening experience for some members of the team realizing, to worship God you don’t have to speak English! We witnessed a 4 ft. 6 in gal sing with a 6ft 10 in voice! The service lasted 2 hours. After church we had lunch at Burger King. We arrived in Barberena’s at about 3:00pm and unpacked at our hotel. We sorted all the gifts for the distribution for tomorrow. Praise God, we again had a safe journey!
Don & Tres

Monday, April 6, 2009

This morning Hanna, Ammi, and I took the ladies around to a number of poorer families to distribute food, clothing and shoes, and to pray for these families. Most of these families consisted of only a mother and her children. Some had been deserted by the father. In some cases the father had died, and one of the families had a father that had been in jail for the past 8 years. All of them were hurting and all of them welcomed the food, and clothing that we brought them. All were happy that we came. Happy just knowing that someone cared. There were tears as we shared with them that we loved them and that God loved them. It was a privilege for us to be able to pray with them.

Even though we had been given a list of only 6 families to visit other people with needs showed up everywhere that we stopped. We did not have enough food and clothing for all of them but we tried to help those that appeared to have the most need. It is always difficult trying to figure out which people you have to say no to but fortunately 2 ladies from the area had accompanied us to see them, and they knew most of these people.

Byron an eight year old boy really stands out in my mind. His main concern seemed to be the kids around him that were in need. As we were visiting with the families that were already on our list Byron came over and take me by the hand and lead me to a little boy who was in need of shoes. I guess the reason that this really got to me was because Byron put this child’s needs before his own. Not only did Byron himself need shoes but Byron who is an orphan is also deaf. Byron’s grandmother does what she can to look after him and his little brother but it is hard because she is too poor to own a home of her own so she and the children have to stay where ever they can. Byron has never seen a doctor to see if anything can be done about his deafness so I got on the phone and set up an appointment for him and another little boy that we found who has a problem whit his eyes.

This afternoon we also discovered a little girl who has a large tumor on the side of her head. While talking with her grandmother I discovered that not all that many weeks ago she had seen a doctor at Hermano Pedro. I wish so that I could be taking her in to Hermano Pedro with me next week when I pick up Byron and the other boy but a phone call to the hospital confirmed my suspicions. She is dying and there is nothing more that the doctors can do for her.

Here is the journal entry that Shelli DeJager made today.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I knew today would be a full day however; I really had know idea what to expect. We are separating into two groups today. One group will be distributing food, clothing and shoes and the other will be building an 18’X16’ metal house.

I was in the group that distributed the food and supplies. We distributed the items to 6 different families. All were in great need. It was such a special experience to be welcomed into their homes and to pray for these families. There were many hugs and kisses and smiles and tears. The children really touched my heart with their beautiful brown eyes and wide grins. They certainly enjoyed the candy we had taken along. I am glad we had plenty for all!

During the distribution we met a little deaf, orphan boy name Byron who lives with his grandma. Byron’s tender and compassionate nature really touched us as he was looking to the needs of others despite his own. Dick was able to make an appointment for Byron with some doctors next week.

My son Gary (16) worked on the housed building project. This was a new experience for him. He enjoyed it very much. He thought it was a lot of fun and would love to do it again. He was surprised that the living space for families here is so small. He is very thankful for the experience and said it felt good to be tired from the hard work of helping others.

As I reflect back on this day I am so thankful to have had this experience and pray that God will work through our team and use us to bring the love of Jesus to all those we meet.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amiable dispatch and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you seeking your information.

Sunday, January 17, 2010  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home