* 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 10, 2009

Journal April 7-11

(Click on any picture to enlarge)
Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Since the teem from Washington State is still here and members of that teem are taking turns journaling each days events, And since (so far) they have not said anything bad about me, I am going to continue to post there journals. Unfortunately they are leaving on Saturday, so after that you are going to have to put up with my writing for a while.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009 – 1st wheelchair distribution-

I want to start out by thanking God for cameras. Such a simple luxury, but there are so many things I will remember about this trip because of it. Today was a great learning experience. I went into it kind of worried that I wouldn’t know what to do and might hurt the kids. However the whole morning was blessed.
One family really stood out to me it was an old man. He was little and skinny and couldn’t lie down. At first we thought this meant he needed a regular char that wouldn’t recline, but we found out that in fact he needed some thing to recline because he couldn’t sleep flat. This was really cool for me because I was able to use my little it of Spanish and figure it out. The man was so grateful and what must have been his daughter was almost crying. You could literally read in her eyes that this was a prayer come true. They were so generous on the smiles, hugs and blessings The woman specifically made a point to tell me tat God was her protector and very important in her life.

They were so easy to love.

"Thank you God
for that kind
of acceptance
and love!"


Wednesday, April 8, 2009- 2nd wheelchair distribution

Today was amazing! Thank God! We started off by eating breakfast at 6:30 it was a brunch at the hotel. Then we left for the school where we would do the wheelchair distribution. Most of the group started on that while my dad, Troy, Gary and I went back to the families’ house that we built a couple days ago. We were going to help this lady and her two children move in and take down her old house so that she could use it as a fence. When we got there we discovered that she had already moved in and even gotten her wiring done. I played with the kids and used the little Spanish I knew while the boys took down the house. When that was completed we headed back to the school. There were so many people with needs and thank God that we helped all of them. Alex and I played with the kids that were there and took many photos. Even though we only knew a little Spanish it was still amazing. I can see now that you don’t even need Spanish to love them. After it was all done we went to a house across the road and the ladies there made us an amazing lunch. It was the best food I’ve had here so far! After lunch we went back to the family that we had built the new house for and did a dedication thing. It kinda reminded me of the show “Extreme Home Make Over”. Chris interoperated the thanks they were giving us. It was a very emotional and amazing time. After it was all done we drove about two hours back to the first hotel we stayed in. Now we’re sitting around the empty pool. Ha Ha. :=] It’s a great peaceful way to end this great day!
Manda Tucker

Thursday, April 9, 2009

We started the day with John doing devotions and a group prayer. We then went to the wheelchair shop and everyone moved stuff out of the way for the demolition. There’s not much to say about the demolition except that it was dusty, hot and a lot harder than I figured it to be. Tonight we are going to Dick’s for pizza.
I would like to share a few thoughts about the wheelchair distributions. I went in not knowing how or what to expect. The first day we fitted was pretty easy. A few adjustments and he was ready to go. We showed his father how the chair worked. Then for some reason that I don’t know, I put his hands on the wheels and pushed him forward and that was all it took. He was moving himself. Turning and he had a huge smile on his face. I think putting his hands on the wheels was something that God did. The gratitude and emotion shown by the people how received the chairs was an awesome experience. I earlier are still ringing in my ears, “Don’t forget the ministry is you interacting with the people and loving them, its not just giving them a chair.”
Gary DB

The trip to the dump on Thursday was truly an eye opener. The buzzards were circling overhead, while people were searching the pit for anything of value.

Today while half of the group was working in the wheelchair shop the other half went to the orphanage. It was a real eye opener. I couldn’t believe some of the things I saw. It made me want to take every single kid in there back home with me. Two things that were really special to me was Fidel, a young man, who did everything with his foot. It was absolutely amazing! And secondly this little girl named Leslie. She was 6 years old but only looked 2. I felt so sorry for her but seeing her smile was a real gift from God. That is something that will always stay with me.


Going to the orphanage today was an experience I won’t quickly forget. We were only with the kids for about an hour, but in that time you basically saw their lives; sitting in chairs, eating, and sleeping. One thing that was really incredible to me was how the nurses put the kids to bed right after lunch. To me, even sitting in a wheelchair all day is better. Also the nurses we saw weren’t very loving in how they fed and clothed the kids. It was purely a job for most. Even in these negative things though, there was so much good. Dick told us how the relationship between the orphanage and his ministry is improving, he has such an impact in the kids and it was very cool to be apart of that for a little while.
Author unknown

I have known Howie Atherton and his wife Nan for several years now. Through a series of Godincidences that would take a novel that would be even larger than the ones that Howie writes, several months ago Howie and Nan got hooked up with us and are now vital part of a lot of things that Bethel ministries is involved in. Howie is more than a little bit involved in our house building projects and Nan plays a vital part in keeping the paper work up to date. Along with their ever growing responsibilities with Bethel ministries they are also involved with other construction and bookkeeping project not only with the church that I attend in Antigua but they some how manage to find the time to help out other Christian organizations and individuals that are in need of their services. After reading Howie's last two news letters I think that I am going to see if he can squeeze in the time to write all of my journals for me. as well. (Just kidding Howie, but if you could do six or seven of them for me each week it would sure be nice.)

Here then is "Guatemala According to Howie"

Update, Thursday, April 9, 2009

The phone just keeps ringing.
Offers from publishers all over the world willing to pay big bucks for my new book “

. . . .. ."What it is like to be 60"

Since it’s only been one day it will be a very short book. It reads. Juanito called on Tuesday the 7th and said we needed to install a block foundation for a small house to be built next week. Birthday morning I’m up and gone by 7:30 to meet him, buy materials and get to work. What better way to celebrate a birthday than to start a home for Carmen and her two sons? Supper out with Nan and a quiet evening at home.

The End.

Looking back to my last update, it’s hard to believe that there are 15 new homes for 15 happy families in Guatemala. Thanks to significant help from work crews from the States and Canada and materials from Florida we’ve been able to do this. There are 4 more on the books in the next two weeks. Last Sunday, Nan and I followed a team from Washington State to a place called Nueva Santa Rosa. The plan was to construct a home the next day a few miles outside of town. The hotel was new to us but very attractive. The room pleasant with a fan and a TV with at least one English Channel. I was blessed to watch the first half of The Last of the Mohicans having seen the second half several months before. I must report that the hotel may lose its 5 star rating. Some of the group was a bit put out to find that there were not enough towels for everyone, that the water pressure did not reach their rooms on the second floor, the sheets had not been changed (evidenced by the beer bottle caps found in someone’s) and the pool was 4” of green scum. I’m thinking their rating is 4.5 stars at best.

(I think that Howie is being hard on this motel. I found it to be a 7 star hotel in fact if I held my head just right on the pillow I could see up to 8 stars through the hole in the ceiling. Dick)

Monday saw us up and moving early and off to the job site. Please close your eyes to picture this. You walk down this alley about 4’ wide to the lady’s house. Take a right thru her kitchen (two pieces of metal roofing over her cook fire) and you are there. The site is 18’ wide by 24’ long. Her existing house on one side, barbed wire on two sides separating them from a coffee farm that clearly served as the bathroom, and a block wall on the other. Our new structure will be 18’ by 14’ leaving an area of …you do the math. Add to this several and various pieces of her stuff including a 4’ square chunk of concrete and a 55 gal. oil drum, mix in all the wood and metal sheets to build the new house, sprinkle with a few chickens and lots of kids, season with a 12’ deep hole in the corner(future bathroom) and stir in 10 willing gringos tripping over each other to help. Bring to a boil with a 3PM deadline to complete the house and concrete floor. And you know what? By 2:30, supper was served and I’m pretty sure that poor family thought it looked delicious. I was totally frazzled, whipped. And just like the old days running marathons, next day, I couldn’t wait to get the next one started. Amongst all this, we had a group in from Florida that worked on the children’s’ Malnutrition Center about a hour away in San Juan Sacatepecas. People were inside painting and a few of us were working outside replacing soffits and gutters. One area in particular had become home to a group of honeybees and it was decided to try to remove them as opposed to killing them. In comes the expert scheduled for Thursday promptly on the next Tuesday. Thursday was a none work day for us, Tuesday was the day we set up staging 20’ from the bees nest so naturally it was the perfect day for our bee man to arrive. Did you know that smoking bees in the middle of the day doesn’t necessarily calm them down? I think the ones that stung me on the nose and arm were actually quite upset.

We found another area where there were no bees, just hornets. Imagine my reaction when I torn down a piece of soffit and stared at a nest of hornets, at a distance of 2’ from my sore nose. After a slow retreat I sent Juan Luis for the hornet spray that was clearly on the materials list. He returned with this large, pump-up spray apparatus filled with a milky liquid. No, no I want those cans that allow you to stand about 150’ away and kill on contact. Sorry, Howie, this is it. Now back to a distance 4’ I blast those suckers with enough white liquid to drown them. And I wait for them to start dropping, and wait, and wait. I am pretty sure I saw them pull out towels to dry off from the shower; soon they shook off the stuff and flew away. Maybe that was the plan. At least I didn’t get stung again. These rascals were the size of humming birds; well from 2’ they looked pretty big.

So, we’re alive and well and very busy.

Nan is really busy maintaining the finances at church where there are 7 people spending and only her tracking, where the concept of providing receipts for expenditures within the same month is met with a blank stare, and where “available cash” equals the balance in the checking account. Actually, it’s not really that bad. There are a lot of things going on and ministry gets the nod over accounting. She enjoys the challenge.

Thanks again for making our work here possible.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Last day here, had the opportunity to distribute food today. We went to three families, only one was home because of Holy Week and Easter Celebrations.

How grateful people can be for things we take for granted. (food & clothing).

Also went to the orphanage. (Hermando Pedro). This was something I wasn’t sure I wanted to do. We started with the older kids and worked our way through. These kids love just having some attention and love. Had the opportunity to play ball with an autistic crippled boy. When I walked into the ward where the younger kids were housed, I walked up to a crib with a girl who was probably 3 years old. She could not talk or walk, and was fed with a tube. When I put my hand on her arm she turned her eyes to look at me, and I for the first time in my life seen Joy & Love in someone’s eyes. She had no voice, no movement, it was just her eyes and smile. All that Love and Joy was from nothing more than a touch. Love and attention truly is our most important gift.
Troy Dykes

More of Friday April 10, 2009

Today is the last day here. We ate breakfast at Camperos and walked to the wheelchair shop. Some went out on a food & clothing distribution, others stayed and continued with the demolition and hauling of the adobe walls in the shop. We saw this dump again with all the children and adults scavenging for recyclables, etc. It is a shocking sight to see them through the smoke of the continually smoldering garbage surrounded by scores of buzzards and dogs.

So much poverty and need, yet such a happy and sharing people. We cleaned up at noon and headed to Antigua. We parked at Howie & Nan’s place and walked through Antigua to Hermano Pedro, the Catholic orphanage where Dick spends a great deal of time.

I was able to hold and feed Jo Jo.

Always a tough place to go and also to leave

It’s Good Friday, so Antigua is alive with people of all kinds, parades, floats and costumes of black and purple for Lent. The sawdust paintings and street carpets of flowers, plants and colored sand were amazing! We met everyone for dinner and had a good closing time together, some tears and a lot of laughs.

Back to Chimaltenango to sleep, Then Troy and I were up at 3:30 am in the morning to the airport in Guatemala City, with the others to follow 2 hours later. It will be a break to get back to work!

As a recap of the week – a few short lines. The travel is never boring. The driving in Guatemala was exciting as usual! The building project in Santa Rosa was a real transformation of this widow lady’s property from a shack we wouldn’t put animals in, to a tin house that is middle class in that area. There were two wheelchair distributions, one in Santa Rosa and one in Jalapa. We were blessed with cool weather and a good place to work. The number of “Godincidences” that Dick talks about, would take your breath away. As time after time we had the chairs and supplies we needed, even for people who were not scheduled to show up! The smiles, hugs and thanks from these people are very humbling. 100+ chairs were given and fitted. Working with the whole team for a common goal without the usual interruptions of work and life, allows a focus that is hard to duplicate in everyday life. Special appreciation for their tireless work in this ministry goes to Chris & Donna, Hannah & Saul, Carlos, Jorge, Dick, Howie & Nan, Benny, John & Arlis and all the others I am forgetting.

Dan Kuiper

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Going Home

John once again was our wake-up-call. Early this morning around 4am, he knocked on all the room doors to head out to the airport. Troy and Dan were already gone and probably at the airport. So, 5am we’re on the road again, but this is the road home. No more work, wheelchair distributions, kids, food and clothing distributions or “uno photo”(haha). No, we’re leaving, but I hope that we can leave a little “salt” behind for these people. This week we were the gift of the earth. We worked for the Name of Jesus, and I think that was awesome! Less materialized and more Light shone in Guatemala. Yet, I hope there was not only this small affect on Guatemala, but a small affect on our own lives. I know the orphanage and the wheelchair distribution touched me. I went to the orphanage the first day (Thursday) and WOW! It was sad to see these kids basically in a jail all their lives. (and not all of them were even there)

Dick kept saying, “just love on them.” And that we did. Whether just holding them, playing catch, or racing their chairs around (haha), we were loving on them. I played with a boy named Saul. A small, skinny, little boy who would just smile and laugh. If I would make some silly noise, he would just copy me and then start laughing. It was like this kid was so joyful and full of life in a place so gloom.

You see these kids are purposeful and it’s like you want to do something for them and “just loving on them” is what we did.

Jill Kleinhesselink


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Sunday, January 03, 2010  

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