* 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)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Journal, June 26-July 4, 2009

(Click on any photo to enlarge)

Friday, June 26, 2009

This morning we went to the airport and picked up a teem of ladies that will be with us for about a week. They had been traveling all night but when we got to Chimaltenango they all eagerly helped us load up Jorge’s truck with wheelchairs and a house kit that we will be taking with us to the coast on Saturday. The teem plans on doing a wheelchair distribution there on Sunday, then building a house and distributing some food to needy families on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Please pray for Pat because this is what she ate for breakfast. So far so good but I get sick just looking at the picture.

Today was suppose to be a leisurely 4 hour drive for the teem that was heading to the coast but 3 out of the 4 vehicles that were heading there got caught up in traffic that was due to road construction and sat in line for over 5 hours. The three of us that were in my car had stopped at a store for some junk food and gotten behind the rest of the group. I knew of a way around the traffic but by the time I got there the others were already past the turn off and were unable to turn around. I guess the moral of the story is that stopping off to eat junk food really pays off. Actually I felt sorry for the others because they were very tired when they arrived at the motel this evening.

Sunday, June 28, 2009, 4:20 PM

We had a wheelchair distribution her in Champerica this morning. Even though this was a first time experience for every member of the team that was here from the USA everyone did well. There were not as many difficult cases as usual but we all stayed busy. Both Chris and I reminded the team that even though the wheelchairs are an important part of the ministry it is not the reason that we are here. We told them that the reason we are here is to show the love of Christ to these people whether it be by actions or with words. This team did exactly that.

I will likely be coming back here in a week or 2 because today we found another little girl who is very malnourished. I would have guessed her to be 3 years old at the most but her mother and father told me that she was 6. They said that even though she is very sickly they have never had the money to take her to a doctor. I told them about Hermano Pedro and asked them if they would like it if I could arrange for them to see a doctor and possibly even have her admitted into the malnutrition ward for a few months. They didn’t even need time to discuss this with each other but both responded with an immediate yes. This little girl needs help so please pray that they do not change their minds.

Shortly after we got back to the motel John, Pat, Donna, and myself headed over to the home of a little girl that lives only a few miles from here. Chris and I had given this little girl a wheelchair nearly 3 years ago and I was certain that she would have outgrown it by now so we wanted to give her a new wheelchair today. When we arrived at her home relatives told us that her mother had taken her to the hospital in Xela a few days ago. We were told that she was having convulsions, and also that her lungs were very congested. I would have loved to leave the new wheelchair with her relatives but this little girl Had CP and needed to be fit properly.
The rest of the team has already headed down to the beach so I am going to close for now and drive down there and join them for supper.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Today we drove for about 2 hours through sugarcane fields and an old rubber plantation to a remote little village where we were to build a house. We had met the family for whom we were going to build this house at a wheelchair distribution that we had in Ratio Laio a few months ago.

The family is very poor and the mother cannot walk. This village is rather remote and the weather gets down right hot. Knowing that Americans embarrass easily I have taken the liberty of adding fig leaves to a couple of my pictures.

We had a big crew so I was able to act my age and not work as hard as I did yesterday. Actually we all worked hard but I did break away from time to time to visit with some near by families and took a lot of pictures. On their last trip here John and Arles Bosman brought me a battery operated printer that can be attached directly to my camera. What a hit! It gave me the opportunity to go into several homes of people that I am sure that I would have never met had it not been for the fact that they wanted me to take a picture of their families. By some of their reactions you would have thought that I had given them a $1000 bill. Most of them would put on there best clothing before I photographed them others will have to learn to draw fig leaves.

Even though the weather was extremely hot, the bugs were bad and everyone got very tired, the crew finished the house in record time and by around 2:00 PM we were celebrating a home dedication with this family.

Howie and Nan have headed back to Antigua. The rest of the crew went back to Champerica , where we have been staying for the past few nights. Tomorrow they plan on giving out food to some needy families. I am at the Bamboo Hotel in Mazatenango. Tomorrow morning I plan on heading the rest of the way home. Stephen Snell is coming for a visit so I will be picking him up from the airport tomorrow night.

Well it is getting late so I am going to say, “Goodnight”.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Most of my day was spent either driving home from Mazatenango or driving to and from the airport. It was well worth it though because Stephen has come to visit. I first met Stephen who is now 24 back when he was 8 years old. I worked for a number of years with Stephen who has cerebral palsy. I can’t really call it work though because from the very start Stephen and I were best friends. Even though we have not seen each other much in the past several years we remain in contact and having him here for a week after not seeing him in well over 2 years is a real treat. I really want to think the members of Faith Community Church for making Stephen’s visit possible. I am especially thankful to Gary and Pat Hawkens who accompanied Stephen on this trip.

Even though I had to return home in order to pick Stephen, Gary, and Pat up from the airport the rest of the group is staying 2 more nights at the motel in Champerica Instead of me telling you what they did I am going to post a few of their journals.

Wednesday, June 30
Written by Rachel

After awaking to a squawking bird an hour before my alarm went off, I took a quick shower, had a Guatemalan breakfast complete with ice cold “jugo de naranja” (orange juice), and we headed off for our food distribution day. Today has been the most draining day, both emotionally and physically. Basically, we would drive to a neighborhood, walk to the home, spend a few minutes talking a praying with the family, and then leave the food and move onto the next house. Though I wish we could have stayed longer with each of the families, this was truly the only way we were able to distribute as much food as we did.
Today I saw a woman living in an abandoned train car, Guatemalan children with yellow skin because of malnutrition, a 24 year old boy who couldn’t speak but had a smile as bright as the sun, a child screaming and crying when we walked up because of myths about North Americans, a man who loses parts of his home and belongings to the nearby river if it rains for more than an hour, a woman crying and praising God because of what He had given her through us, a handicapped girl laughing because a young American boy held her on his lap, and many other glimpses of what is taking place in the nearby communities.Though I don’t understand all the political or social problems, I do know that suffering is part of life. I don’t know why these people go hungry while I whine because my mom didn’t buy the kind of cereal I like. I don’t know why a woman works all day and yet still does not have enough to provide basic necessities for her and her son. But I do know that I don’t need to have the answers; we serve a God who knows, and sometimes that has to be enough for me. I am grateful for the blessing He has poured out on the United States, and I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to get to know His children here in Guatemala. God is here in Guatemala and He is just as faithful and just and loving and wise as He is in America. This morning God led me to my favorite Bible story about the Samaritan woman at the well. Throughout the day, so many parts of the story ran through my mind. The food we brought those people will last a month, but the Bread of Life is eternal. Christ took time out of His journey to talk to one woman, and because of that, her entire village was saved. Though it seemed like we didn’t have enough time with these people, we told them why we were there. We brought them food and told them why we came; the Holy Spirit will do the rest. Christ’s disciples didn’t understand what He was doing at the well or why He was talking to such an outcast, but He knew it was the will of His Father, and that was enough for Him. I’ve been on missions trips before and sometimes people don’t understand why we come, why we pay money to sweat and cry and hurt, why we spend all this time and energy when we may not even see the results. I do it because I am called. I may not see any of these people come to salvation, I do not know what will happen to the house or the food, but I know that we are serving Christ and loving His people, and these people’s lives and hearts are blessing and teaching me.

Wednesday, June 30,

Written by Kristin

My favorite part of this day was experiencing the amazing way the Hispanic culture prays. Although my Spanish speaking skills are minimal, I truly understood the meaning of these prayers. Chris or Pat would begin the prayer, and would be followed up by many Spanish speaking voices in the background. Each voice thanking God and asking for prayer among the family we were visiting. All the voices in prayer would occur at one time, and were so powerful. I could feel it in my heart the words they were saying even though I could not understand them. Sometimes we pray by saying words but not feelings. Today, we all could really FEEL the prayer, but not from words. It was such an amazing experience that meant so much to many of us and really helped us feel that God was with us all and taking action. This by far is my favorite experience of the whole trip.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Stephen, Garry and Pat arrived last night. Stephen who is now 24 years old has always been like a son to me. I started working with him 16 years ago when back when I volunteered at our local public school. Having CP and not being able to walk did not stop Stephen from leading a fairly normal life. I can still remember the day when Stephen who was only 10, was at my house and his mother showed up unexpectedly. I had just cut down a large tree that was threatening to fall onto my house. When mom pulled up to my house she asked me where Stephen was. I sheepishly pointed to the pick up truck that was towing the tree to the other side of my field. “Who is he with?” his mother asked. “He is by himself," I said. Mom looked at me in disbelief. “My dad let me drive when I was that age.” I exclaimed. “Yes but you don’t have CP” “If you don’t want me to let him drive my truck or ride on my motor cycle anymore just let me know.” I said. “No, I realize how good it is for him to do these things but being a mom I do have the right to get a bit nervous.” Maria did well at letting her son be a normal kid when he did things with me and she even got used to most of the things that we did. Although I must admit she did turn a few shades whiter the day that Stephen came home and told her that I had taught him how to fly my airplane.

(Note to Maria)

Don’t worry Maria I am taking good care of your son. I do not have an airplane here in Guatemala. You will be happy to know that I did manage to talk him into getting a haircut. I told him that he would likely get his hair caught in the pulley if we went zip lineing.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Today we joined back up with the group that I was with earlier this week and we all spent the entire day at Hermano Pedro. Gary and Patty have worked a lot with special needs kids back at home so they took to the kids right away. The 7 people that are here with Pat Duff did equally as well. The highlight of our day was taking 9 of the kids out to Camperos for lunch even though it was a bit of a challenge getting them and Stephen back to the orphanage in a thunderstorm.

On our way back to Chimaltenango I got a call from Alex’s mom telling me that Alex was back in the hospital. He had been over to my house a few nights ago and other than feeling a bit week he told me that he was doing OK. Today he had another episode where his hands and legs went numb and he also experienced chest pains. When we got home Garry and Pat Stayed at my house with Stephen while I took Alex’s mother over to the hospital. Alex had been there since 1 this afternoon but due to the swine flue panic no visitors were allowed into the hospital. We were able to talk to Alex on the phone and he was crying because he was all alone. When we got to the hospital the night watchman told us that we were still not allowed in but after pleading with him mom was finally allowed to stay.

Friday, July 3, 2009

This morning Gary, Patty, Stephen, Mario and I headed down to the coast. There is a 16 year old boy there who has outgrown his wheelchair. I stopped at his place a few days ago and had decided that it would be easier to bring a new wheelchair to him than to have the family come all the way to our shop to receive one. On Thursday Gary and I spent some time at the wheelchair shop setting up this chair according to measurements and photos that I had taken earlier in the week. Today we did some final adjustments but the new chair fits Minor well. Mario did a marvelous job of interpreting for us and we had a wonderful visit with this caring Christian family.

After stopping off at Seritta’s for ice cream we headed out to Where Ronny lives. Ronny’s mom told us that he had gotten so sick last week that they thought that he was going to die but today he looked better than I had seen him in over a year. The family is doing well but it seems that there is still a lot of feuding going on between them and some of their relatives. Last week one of the uncles once again came on to there yard and threatened to kill them.

While we were there we gave out some shoes, clothing and vitamins. It was hard to say good bye because everyone that was with me had fallen in love with the children but I felt that it was best to be out of this neighborhood before dark. We did stop off at one of the not so friendly uncles and gave some shoes, and vitamins to his children. The family was a bit standoffish at first but by the time we left they had become a lot friendlier.

We made one more stop at Seritta’s on our way home. This time we stopped off for supper. When we got home Alex’s sister came over and told me that Alex and his mom were still at the hospital. She said that Alex was still having some problems and mom did not dare to even go out for food because she was afraid that they would not let her back into the hospital. I do not say no very often but when Gladys asked my if could take her to the hospital so that she could bring some food to her mom I told her that she would have to wait until morning. As tired as I am tonight I don’t think that I should be driving.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, July 4, 2009, 10:12 PM
This morning I picked up Garry and pat from their motel and brought them to my house for breakfast. Stephen, and the 3 neighborhood boys that had spent the night were just getting out of bed when we got back to my place. We were soon joined by a number of other kids and everyone pitched in with making breakfast. Even though Pat and Garry have never been to Guatemala before they seem to fit right in where ever they go. Today’s visit to my house was no exception. My kids loved them and they loved my kids.

After breakfast Calin, Cesar, Stephen, Pat, Gary and I headed over to the Maxi mall to do some grocery shopping. We wanted to visit Maria and her children today and knew that they could use some groceries. About a mile before Maria’s house we saw a large number of people standing in front of a home. I nearly drove by until Calin said that he thought that he had spotted Maria and her children. As soon as I stopped the car we were surrounded by most of the kids that had been standing in front of the house. I recognized 2 of them to be Mari’s kids. Evidently they had told the others who we were because everyone wanted to have a look at these faded people that are called Americans. Not long after that Maria came to the car. She told us that this was the home of one of her relatives. She said that the large gathering of people was their to morn the death of her 10 year old nephew who had been run over and killed by a car. Maria later told us that her nephew’s death had been exceptionally hard on her because it brought back memories of when her husband was run over and killed by a hit and run driver. She told me that the funeral was now over so she would meet us up at here house. Some of her children and other children quickly jumped into my car but the rest of them headed up a trail that was too narrow for my car. Even though Mari’s home was over a mile away we only beat them there by about 30 seconds. I must admit that we did not drive all that fast because the designated driver that was sitting on my lap had never driven a car before.

Maria still misses her husband and her children miss there father but overall the family seems to be doing OK. They are still as poor as church mice but over all they seem to be a happy family. After giving Maria some groceries we invited her family and several others out to my car. It was obvious by looking at their feet that most of the shoes that he children had been given when school started back in January were in need of replacement. The next half hour was spent sorting through the supply of shoes that we and taken with us and finding that perfect pair for everyone that needed them. Thank to the portable printer that I had been given we were also able to give several of the families pictures of themselves. This may not seem like a big deal but for many it was the first time that they had a ever owned a picture of them selves or of their children.

All to soon it was time to say good-bye. I had promised my neighborhood kids that we would rent a soccer field at 4 PM and we did not want to be late for the big game. All of the kids that had ridden with us from the home of the little boy that had been killed jumped back into my car and road back down the hill with us. Several of them scrambled for my lap because they all wanted to drive but I finally convinced them that I could only allow one of them to drive at a time.

We managed to get back into Chimaltenango just in time to wolf down a hamburger and then get to the soccer field. To my surprise when we got there none of the kids were there. A quick phone call confirmed that the kids had thought that they were supposed to meet at my place but within in a few minutes 14 of them were at the soccer field. Once they saw that soccer here is played on cement Patty and Gary quickly volunteered to be spectators along with Stephen. I played goalie but at times felt more like a target.

Since I had not gotten all that much chance to visit alone with my company I told the kids that I would help rent the soccer field for an additional hour so that they could play soccer while I took Gary, Patty and Stephen some where and just visited. We then went to Camperos and visited. I figured that I had burned of enough calories playing soccer so I ordered a piece of pie.

Tonight was suppose to be lock out night for the kids but that did not happen. As I was walking into the door of my house I received a phone call from Gladys asking if I could bring her and her sister over to the hospital to bring some things to there mother. Alex is still not doing well and I am not real confident it the doctoring that he is getting at the National hospital. On Monday we are going to check with a few places that are in the City.

When I got back home I told the kids that had been staying here with Stephen that they were going to have to sleep at their own homes. Not a way to win friends and influence people but tonight I needed to work on my journal. Fernando was so mad at me that he would not even say goodnight when he stomped out of my house but knowing Fernando he will be all smiles when he shows up at my gate in the morning.

Even though it will be several hours before I get to bed I am going to say “Good Night.”

Yours in Christ: Dick


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