* 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


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