* 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)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Journal April 11-16

(Click on ny picture to enlarge)
Saturday, April 11, 2009

The teem from the USA has gone home so I got to spend a much needed weekend just hanging out with my kids. Actually the teem from Washington State has gone home but two other teems have arrived. Don’t take me wrong I love seeing teems from the USA come to Guatemala, especially teams like the last one that came with the purpose of loving on the people in such a way that the love of Jesus oozes out of them. I must admit though that during this time of year when everyone is coming down during his or her spring vacations it occasionally gets a little overwhelming.

Please pray that God gives all of us down here the wisdom to know how to spend our days exactly the way that God wants us to.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Since it is the weekend I will also keep this one short.

Twelve of the kids and I went to church this morning then to Martha’s for lunch, after that we just sort of hung out until 5 PM then we went out and played soccer.

Jason and Franklin. . . . . . . .
Two brothers that come along to church.

Monday, April 13, 2009

This morning Steve Otto and his son Nathan joined me and we went down to the Esquentla area to see some of the families that we are helping out with housing, food, medicine, and schooling. Steve and his family came here a year ago to work with Iglesia Del Camino, this is the church that I go to in Antigua. Steve’s primary responsibility at the church is working with short term mission teams that come in from the States. His schedule is often a rather busy one but he had today free so today he and his son Nathan were more than eager to get into a few of the villages and meet some of the Guatemalan village people.

Our first stop was in La Gomera. I have been working with the people that run a clinic in La Gomera for several years now. The doctor there is from Cuba and even though the funding for the government program that he came there on ran out several years ago he continues to work with the people that he has fallen in love with for a very small wage. This takes a lot of dedication especially considering that his family had to remain behind in Cuba. After purchasing some groceries Walter the Guatemalan nurse that works at the clinic joined us as we went and visited several families.

Our next stop was at the home of Milton and his family. You perhaps recall our first encounter with this family about a year ago. Even though Milton was starving to death his father was anything but friendly to us and we doubted that he would even allow us to get Milton the help that he needed. It is amazing how much God has changed this family because after talking with Milton father and mother and explaining to them that contrary to their neighbors accusations that Milton was a curse that was given to them because of some great sin they had done, there son simply suffered from cerebral palsy. Today we were unable to see Milton. Not because the family had him hid away in their house but because the other children had taken him along with them to play. Wow! What a difference. Milton’s health is still not all that great but at least he is now being loved.

, , ,. . . . . . . . . . . , , ^ Julio today . . . . . Julio at Hermano Pedro . V

Next we went to see Julio. About a year and a half ago I had taken 7 year old Julio in to the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro wondering if he would survive the car ride there. At that time he weighed in at 17 pounds. Julio is no longer 40 pounds like he was when he left Hermano Pedro to go back home 6 months later, but he seems fairly healthy and it looks like his family is giving most of the food that we are bringing in once a month to their son. A few months ago we had to tell them that if Julio kept loosing weight we were going to have to consider not bringing food in to them anymore. That may sound harsh but since there is a shortage of food for the entire family we had fears that Julio was getting little or none of it. It is now harvest time for the sugar cane so thankfully Julio’s father has a small income for the next few months. We will still continue to bring food in to Julio though because father scarcely makes enough to feed his family and work is only available for about 6 months of the year.
This photo was taken the day we first found Julio

Our next stop was at Ronny’s house. This is always one of my favorite places to visit. I have known Ronny’s family for several years now and they have become great friends. Several weeks ago I made a promise to all of the kids in Ronny’s family that I would take the entire family some where special if they all did well in School. Needless to say ever since report cards came out two weeks ago my phone has been ringing off from the hook. We had originally talked about going out to the ocean but my throat has been bothering me a lot lately and I did not feel that going swimming would be the best idea. Today I came up with a place that seemed to satisfy everyone though. Camperos! I still don’t quite understand how the fact that the five kids that go to school had good grades entitled mom, dad, and the two younger ones to a free meal but they all really enjoyed themselves. Steve, his son Nathan, and I totally enjoyed ourselves as well.

When I got back home tonight the house quickly filled up with kids. Supper was junk food even by my standers but the kids did not seem to mind.

Well it is getting late so I guess I will head off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I woke up feeling lousy this morning. Yesterday I had the doctor at the clinic in La Gomera. Look at my throat. He told me what everyone else has been telling me, that it is just allergies. He gave me some allergy pills and told me that I should feel a lot better in a few hours. Wrong! I really don’t feel sick but I can’t stop coughing and my throat feels like it is on fire. OK enough about my health. I always hate it when some ones favorite thing to talk about is their health. Those of you who knew my mom when she was alive will understand that it is a family thing though.

I didn’t have as much time as I wanted to feel sorry for myself though because some one was at the gate. I must admit though that I did a bit of muttering to my self on the way to see who was there. Why couldn’t they realize that I was not feeling well and that I really didn’t want any company this early in the morning? When I opened the gate I was greeted by the same little old man and his grand son that had been here begging a few months ago. Fernando had taught me that day that giving some thing that you really don’t need is not really giving. That day I had given them an old pare of shoes that I didn’t need and a toothbrush. Fernando gave them his best Christmas present. Today I carefully went through the supply of shoes that I had and gave them my best pare.

I then headed to the wheelchair shop and picked up a small sport wheelchair for Oliver, a little boy in Santa Rosa. This is the aria where we did one of the wheelchair distributions last week. I had promised some people there that I would be back on Wednesday so that I could take 2 kids into Hermano Pedro to see a doctor. The wheelchair that I picked up was for Oliver, a little boy that had come to the distribution for a wheelchair. He was the only one out of over 100 people that did not receive a wheelchair because we simply did not have anything that was right for him. Good Lord willing, by Tomorrow we will be able to say that everyone that came to both distributions received wheelchairs.

I had intended on heading out to Culipa early on Wednesday and only spending the day there but at around 3 PM this after noon I decided to make the trip down today and return tomorrow. Calin who’s turn it was to come along with me was delighted. Actually it was Abner’s turn to come along with me this time but he was having one of those Abner days. Yes he still gets them every now and then but thankfully they can now be called Abner days instead of Abner weeks or months.

I have learned to take it in my stride when the widow maker showers heads in the motels that I stay at do not produce hot water but tonight I really wanted a hot shower. That is about the only thing that clears my plugged head. Woops there I go again talking about my health. Anyway tonight I wanted a hot shower bad enough that I went to the motel office and complained. The lady at the desk was very nice about it and told me that I could change rooms. I am not superstitious or anything but I should have gone by my gut feeling and asked her if there was another room available when she handed me a key with the big number 13 on it. I can even make myself believe that the widow maker showerhead in room 13 would have worked had it not been for the fact that there was no running water in room 13. I was too tired to fight it so I decided to count my blessing. Since I was not going to get a shower my nose was going to stay plugged the entire night so what did it matter if I was sweaty? Anther great blessing was that Calin had come along with me and not Fernando. Fernando’s feet can smell so bad if he does not wash them that they can keep you awake all night even if you do have plugged sinuses.

Any way I am heading off to bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick (Better known as stinky)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009, 9:39 PM

When I woke up this morning the first thing that I did was to check and see if somehow magically during the night the water had come back on. Nothing magic but I did manage to get a trickle of cold water to come out of the shower head. Problem is widow maker shower heads have a set of points in them that only make contact and cause the heating element that is in the shower head to work when there is sufficient water pressure. A trickle is not what one would call sufficient water pressure. I have run into this problem before and found that if you take the plastic cover off from the top of the shower head you can bend the points closer together thus causing even a dripping shower head to produce hot drips. Up until now all of the shower head that I have done this to had a breaker switch located some where in the bathroom, this one did not. At any rate I got a hot shower. I am still not sure though if the water heated up when it passed over the heating element or if it got hot after touching my electrified body. Had I been a married man I would have been more concerned but I knew that being a bachelor there was no way that a widow maker could electrocute me.

Oh, Oh! I just looked up widow maker showere head on the internet and discovered it is also listed under Suicide Shower Head. Now they have me worried.

Our first stop of the day was at the home of Oliver, the little boy that needed the wheelchair that we had taken along with us. Let me tell you something if this kid is handicapped he surly doesn’t let it stop him. Even though up until now the only way that he could get around was by using a warn out pare of crutches is did not stop him from mixing it up with the other kids in his neighborhood. Fact is I think that he could beat most of them in a foot race. When I first saw him I questioned that he would even use a wheelchair but due to severally deformed knees I think that he welcomed being able to sit down at least some of the time. Besides this was no ordinary wheelchair. It was a snazzy looking little red sports chair. These are the type that the men in our shop use when they play wheelchair basketball. Oliver had never been in a wheelchair before but took to it like a duck out of water. I promised that we would get him a new pare of crutches though because I would hate to see him using the wheelchair all of the time. Not to worry though because much of the terrain near his home cannot be navigated by wheelchair.

Next we headed to the town of Santa Rosa where we picked up Eric Gonzales. Eric runs a small bicycle repair shop in Santa Rosa. He and his daughter also do a lot of cross-country bicycle racing. In there training they often ride up into the nearby mountains. On one of their rides into the mountains they met Wilmer a 9 year old boy who has most of the symptoms of muscular dystrophy. Eric is responsible for getting Wilmer and his family to come to the wheelchair distribution that we had in Barberana last week. It was while I was seating Eric in his new wheelchair that I discovered that he did not attend school. His mother said that he tried it for a year but he was teased a lot by the other kids plus he simply did not have the endurance or strength to attend classes every day. When I talked with Wilmer it was evident that he was very bright and he told me that he really wanted to get an education. Mother said that Wilmer’s older sister would often times sit down and do some school work with him but that he had no schoolbooks of his own to work from. We promised then that since I had to come up there in a week or so to pick up two other children for doctors appointments at Hermano Pedro that I would bring Wilmer some school books. We also told Wilmer that if he did a good job of studying, that next year we would see what could be done about finding him a sponsor and some one who would teach him at his home. Guess what. Wilmer now has schoolbooks and a teacher. Usually we try to do the sponsor thing first but then again you were not there to see his face light up when he got the schoolbooks. (Did you catch that? Wilmer still need a $15 per month sponsor.) The school that he is unable to attend is only a stones throw from his home. I have hopes that with in a year or two we can get him back into school but for now one of the teachers from the school has agreed to come to his house once or twice a week and work with him. This will only add up to 12 hours a month but Wilmer’s sister is also going to work with the teacher and they will see to it that he gets a good education. It was hard to believe that we got this all arranged in less than an hour’s time.It was only when we were leaving the school that the principal and the teacher that we hired confided in us that we had given them a bit of a scare when we drove into their Aldea and later waked into the two room school house. They told us that a car that looked similar to mine had pulled up to their church a few weeks ago and several men got out and walked into the church and grabbed one of the members of the congregation then drove away with him. A few hours later his body was found with 27 bullet holes in it.

I asked if I was in any danger from the villagers since my car so closely resembled that of the murders. The principal grinned and said that I may have been on my way into the village but now that I was there everyone knew who I was and there would be no problems. It is days like these that I sure am happy for your prayers though.

After dropping Eric off in Santa Rosa Calin and I found a restaurant and got some lunch. Our next stop was in Barberana at the home of Daniel and his family. Daniel is a boy for whom I set up an appointment with the eye doctor at Hermano Pedro. Several years ago his mother took him to a doctor who told her that Daniel needed eye surgery if he was ever going to be able to see properly. Since she did not have the money needed for the surgery she was quite certain that her son would have blurred vision for life. Last week when I told her about Hermano Pedro she asked me how soon we could go.

Our next stop was at the home of Byron and his grandmother. This home was a little harder to locate because since grandmother had no home of her own. Her and her 2 orphaned grandchildren tend to move around a lot. Today we found them at a relative’s home not too far from where we met them last week. That was one of those Godincidence meetings where we were bringing food and clothing into another family. Byron and his little brother just sort of showed up at our van out of curiosity.

Last week I wrote the following.

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 took 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 also Byron who is an orphan is 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.

Today Byron and his grandmother climbed into my car hoping and praying that perhaps something can be done about his deafness.

We got our four guests settled in at Cassa Defay by about 5:30 and then headed for home. I promised that I would try not to talk about my health any more but I feel rotten. I know I probably asked for it by going on another road trip before getting over this crud but knowing that the 4 kids that we saw today possibly have a brighter future made it all worth while. To all of you old mother and father hens that have been writing me lately I do promise that I will rest up soon though. It is going to have to wait a few days though because I have pick up the two kids and get them in to Hermano Pedro in the morning.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, April 16, 2009, 9:47 PM

I woke up feeling a bit better this morning. Then again I don’t think that it would have been possible to wake up feeling any worse than I did last night. Both Daniel and his mother and Byron were eagerly waiting at the door when I pulled up to Cassa Defay at 7:30. The Staff at Hermano Pedro had been kind enough to hold appointmet number 1 and 2 for me. Had that not been the case I would have had to show up at Hermano Pedro before 6 AM to assure that we had even gotten to see a doctor today.

Guess what. Jessica even had an appointment set up for me to see a doctor. I guess the fact that all I could produce when I talked with her over the phone yesterday was a whisper and a few squeaks was a dead give away that I needed a doctor to. I don’t know what was in the injection that the doctor gave me but I am already feeling 90 % better. That is about an 89% improvement from last night. The doctor told me that if I stay on the antibiotic that he gave me, and continue to take it easy, the bronchitis that I have should clear up in a few days.

Daniel and his mother got some great news from the doctor. The doctor who original saw him was right. The problem that he has with his eyes can be corrected with surgery. I guess it is a rather delicate surgery and only one teem of eye specialists per year comes in to Hermano Pedro that does this type of surgery. Since they were just here a few weeks ago it means that Daniel is going to have to wait nearly a year but since he is one of the firs on the list it sounds like it will be a sure thing.

I don’t know what it is about Byron but he and I hit it off from the minute we met. This little guy is so skinny that I fear he will be blown away by the first wind that comes along. Perhaps is the fact that Byron speaks even less Spanish than I do. Fact is Byron cannot speak at all. One thing that I really like about him is the fact that he is not at all critical of my lack of Spanish. I guess his being totally deaf may have something to do with that. Byron speaks though, not with his mouth but much like Mercedes, one of my favorites at Hermano Pedro, Byron speaks with his eyes. It is hard to explain but God has gifted these two and some others that I know to do that. Anyone who has ever taken the time to really get to know Mercedes knows exactly what I mean. It takes a little bit to catch what they are saying at first because you have to train yourself to listen with your eyes. Once you learn it you will love it though because the conversations that you can have with these gifted people can be some of the best that you have ever had. I guess that is because when they speak to you the words are not coming from their lips they are coming from their harts so you never have to question their sincerity. Some of you may be thinking that the medicine that the doctor gave me today has a few side effects but there are others who have met some of these precious people that know exactly what I mean.Now where was I? Did I mention that Byron and I became best friends today? If I were a bit younger I would take him home in a hart beet. His grandmother dearly loves him but she is getting on in years as well.

The highlight of our day was taking Daniel and his mom, and Byron and his grandmother out to Camperos for lunch. I doubt that Daniel or his mother had ever been to Camperos before and I doubt that Byron and his grandmother had ever been out of their Aldea. Daniel at time could not contain himself and would shout out for joy. Byron had a lot to say to and even the untrained eyes of many of the people in Camperos knew exactly what he was saying. I guess if there was one thing that he did not understand it took place when we got into my car after lunch. Perhaps it was because my eyes were filled with tears that he could not hear me, but it was not until I pulled up to the buss stop that he realized that he and Grandmother were being let out of my car to take the buss back to their home. As much as it hurt his grandmother to do it she finally had to drag him from my car.

She was herself crying and Byron covered his face so I could not look into his eyes to talk to him. I quickly reached for my phone to dial Calin’s phone number. He and Byron had hit it off Marvelously on our drive to Antigua yesterday. If only I could have Calin interpret for me and tell Byron that he was scheduled for 3 more visits to Hermano Pedro with in the next three months and I would see him then. Suddenly I remembered Calin’s Spanish was not going to help this time. I looked back up at grandmother who still had a firm grip on Byron’s arm. She was still crying. How she must have been hurting for her grandson who wanted so badly to have a father or mother in his life. I motioned for her to let Byron come back into my car so that I could say good-bye to him. She nodded and released the grip that she had on his arm. When she did Byron looked up at me and climbed back into my car. I explained to him that his home was with his grandmother, but I would see him again, and that I loved him. He understood. He believed me to because he knew that you can’t lye when you talk with your eyes. I held him for a while and then we said goodbye. As he climbed out of my car and took hold of his grandmother’s hand she smiled at me with tears in her eyes and said in Spanish “God bless you.” I replied in English, “He certainly has.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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