* 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)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Journal, August 22-27, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

This was pay off day for some tinkering that I had been doing at Bethel’s wheelchair shop the past few days. Since we did not seem to be getting any closer to receiving any head control units power wheelchairs for 4 people t that have been in need of them for quite some time now, I decided that I would see what I could do about coming up with something that would work as an alternative. Considering that head control units sell for around $3500 for just the control unit I figured that it would be time well invested. What I came up with was a chin control unit that I made from a standard hand controller. I am not saying that I wouldn’t rather have a head controller units but the head controller can be made from spare parts that we have in our shop and now that I have made one and mounted it to a power wheelchair it will take no time at all to make several more.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Click on any photo to enlarge)
This morning my friend Scott joined Jason, Fernando, Esbin and myself and we headed down to San Pedro La Laguna to deliver the Chin control power wheelchair to a young man named Manuel. I had met Manuel about a year ago and have been doing everything possible to get him into a wheelchair that he can maneuver himself ever since. that day. Manuel has no use of his arms or legs but is a real inspiration to anyone who meets him. His mother pushes him to high school in a normal wheelchair everyday. He is an excellent student who writes and paints with his mouth. He loves sports but during PE you will not find him on the sidelines cheering for his favorite soccer team. That is because he is part of the team. Manuel plays goalie. Even though he has no use of his arms or legs Manuel manages to scoot around on the floor and swing his body in such a way that his lifeless arms can hit the ball nearly as far as you or I could if we used a baseball bat. I figured that someone that had that much determination was a perfect candidate for a chin controlled power chair. I think that Manuel’s enthusiasm was contagious because my 3 boys were as excited about Manuel receiving this wheelchair as he was about getting it. The enthusiasm overflowed to Miguel’s family and Scot and myself as well. It took a bit of time to get the chin controller set at just the right angle and to program the wheelchair to Manuel’s specific needs but Manuel patiently waited while Esbin and I made all of the final adjustment. Fernando was kept busy interpreting and Jason took tons of pictures. It was finally time for Manuel to try droving his new wheelchair. The first few passes up and down a narrow hallway were a bit interesting but Manuel's mom assured us that the tire marks could be washed off from the walls and Esbin said that his toes did not hurt all that much and in no time at all Miguel had driving the chair down to a science. As he and his family thanked us over and over again we were given the opportunity to tell them that this chair was not a gift from the 5 of us but that it was the combined effort of countless people ranging from the people who originally donated it on through those that picked it up and shipped to those that refurbished it. We also shared that the real thanks was to go to God because it was because of his Love that all of these people gave of their time to see to it that this chair and countless others are given out to those that are in need of them. No, unlike last week this was not a Saturday spent at the beach but none of us would have traded it for the world.

. . . . . . . . . . .. .
Video of Manuel in his chin controlled wheelchair.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, August 22, 2009

This morning 10 of the kids and myself went to church in Antigua than came back to Chimaltenango for lunch and then picked up another 6 people that wanted to come along to Jason’s baptism. I must admit my car gets a bit crowded when ever there are over a dozen people in it but I was thankful for all 15 passengers that were accompanying me to Jason’s baptism. I was especially thankful that Jason’s mom, dad, and brothers and sisters came along. This was especially exciting for Jason considering that his parents do not attend any church. The baptism took place in the town of Agua Caliente (Hot water). That may have been the name of the town but the water in the swimming pools there was anything but hot. None of the 6 people that were baptized did any complaining though nor did the dozens of kids that swam in the pool before and after the baptism. They even had a soccer field there so my kids had the time of their lives. Ever since Alex was baptized a few weeks ago several of the kids in my neighborhood have given their harts to the Lord. Last night Abner and Daniel were over and they told me that they are planning on being baptized in a few weeks. When I questioned them on what it meant to be baptized I was thrilled with the answers that they gave. Both of these young men have definitely given their harts to the Lord. Today Abner and I talked more. As much as I miss not seeing him as often since he moved out of his aunt and uncles house he seems to be much happier and at peace with himself. He told me that he still fears that aunt and uncle will try to force him to move back in with them and since they live so near to me he feels uneasy coming to my house. I told him that I would make a point on stopping in where he now lives and visiting him there though.

Please pray for all of the kids that hang out here it seems that nearly all of them are doing a lot of growing spiritually.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, August 23, 2009

This morning my head was churning with dozens of things that needed doing. I was reminded of a number of people that live in various villages that needed specialty wheelchairs built. I also had a long list of repairs and replacements that needed to be done at Hermano Pedro. It seems that there is never an end to it. A phone call that I received last night reminded me of something that I had put off for a few months now and after Milton’s death last week I decided that I needed to make this priority number one. Ronny lives only a half hour away from where Milton’s family lives and I have been promising him that he and his little brother could come over and stay at my house for quite some time now. Oh I guess I could have put it off for a few more weeks but would I be any less busy in a few weeks than I was now? I doubt it. Besides that Ronny has been feeling a lot better lately. The last time that I let him come over he had a high fever all night long. This morning I gave him a call and told him that I would pick him up after he got out of school at around noon. His mother said that my timing was perfect because neither he nor his brother had school tomorrow so they would not miss any.

Cesar, and Scot accompanied me to Ronny’s house. Scot will be heading back to the States on Wednesday and he was hoping for an opportunity to once again see Ronny’s family. Cesar had school but his stomach was bothering him this morning and they lock the gate that goes into his schoolyard at exactly 7:30 AM. Anyone that is not there by then is out for the day. Funny thing how he had an almost miraculous recovery at around 8 AM but I have seen that happen with many of the teachers so I guess the kids should be allowed to get by with it from time to time.

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap,
but by the seeds you plant."

Even though Ronny is feeling a lot better then he was a month or 2 ago he is still very week. Cesar had to help Ronny hold his head up most of the 2 hour car ride back to my place. I am not anticipating much sleep tonight because Ronny has to be turned from one side to the other about every hour and a half. Judging by the smile on his face and the look in his eyes I think that allowing him come here was a good choice.

I had originally told Fernando that he could spend the night as well. It actually makes it easier when he does because he can translate for me if Ronny is trying to tell me something important. Unfortunately Fernando’s stay was cut short when he refused to set the table. When I sent him home he told me that he is never coming back to my house again. That was about an hour ago and he has already come to the gate 3 times. Unfortunately I had to explain to him that tomorrow may feel like forever but that was when I was going to let him back into my house.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ronny and his little brother Arlindo had the time of their lives today. It is funny how things that we take for granted are totally exciting to someone who has never experienced them before. The 2 boys had a ball using the computers but the highlight of their day was the six block walk to the shopping mall to buy medicine for Cesar’s little brother. Actually I was the one that did the walking because Ronny drove his power wheelchair and Arlindo hitched a ride with him.

Fernando (Yes the same Fernando who was never coming back again) and Marcos came over as soon as school let out and then after lunch at Camperos we took Ronny and Arlindo back to their home. Ronny’s family was glad to see the boys and enjoyed hearing about all of their adventures. After giving out some coloring books, vitamins and school shoes the 3 of us headed for home.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009, 9:14 PM

This morning Miguel rode along into Antigua with me. Yesterday I set up a doctor’s appointment for him at Hermano Pedro. His skin is breaking out in some sort of a rash and we want to know if it is contagious. He has also been coughing a lot lately so after seeing the dermatologist he saw another doctor. I was not able to stay with him through all of his appointments because I had promised Mark Richard that I would spend the day at Hope Haven’s wheelchair factory seating several kids.

When I got there I met a group of engineering students from Cal tech. They are looking for some projects that they can do to help some of the people here in Guatemala. I had a few ideas that I shared with them. They seemed quite interested so we will see what happens. They stuck around for about an hour and helped out with seating one of the children. I think that they were quite surprised at how technical seating a child in a wheelchair can be. Two of the children that I seated today seem to have the same type of Muscular Dystrophy that Ronny has. They were both younger than Ronny sand they still had use of their arms and hands but I am fairly certain that within a few years they will have to trade their manual wheelchairs in for power wheelchairs. All of the seating went well though and it was an enjoyable day.

I was tiered tonight so I stopped of for some thing to eat before going home. I seem to be getting better and finding secret paces to eat because tonight I was discovered by only one of my kids. Nonetheless I still had to feed the rest of the crew when I got home. They were not all that pleased with what was on the menu but I promised them that tomorrow night we will have Pizza instead of corn flakes.Only Cesar and Fernando are left here and it looks like they have settled in for the night so I am going to call it a night as well.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, August 27, 2009, 9:30 PM

We just got finished with a big pizza feed. The 5 men that have come from Southern California for a week to help Bethel Miseries build several houses decided to treat my neighborhood kids to Pizza tonight. I am not sure of the exact number of kids or adults that were here tonight but I know that 12 large pizzas (96 pieces of Pizza) were devoured. Everyone had a great time and the group from the USA really enjoyed meeting my kids.

I have been busy working on wheelchairs and doing other things so I did not get in on the house building but before heading to Antigua this morning I stoppd by one of the building sites.

Cesar had no school again today, (?????) so he helped me work on some wheelchairs.

I managed to get back home a little before 5 and rented a soccer field for the kids for an hour. I played for a while but am still nursing a sore wrist from last week’s game so I sat on the sidelines and acted my age for a good part of the game. Boy was that boring. I am glad that I don’t have to act like I am 63 too often.

Have you ever wondered why most Guatemalans think that Americans are giants?

Etiline still has a way of getting under my skin at times but overall I am finding that she does not drive me crazy quite as easily as she use to. She loves to do odd jobs around the house and not as many things get broken when I keep her busy.

Well I think that I am going to head off to bed. Us old people need all the rest that we can get. Funny thing is, as hard as I try to get the house cleaned up and everything (or everyone) picked up off from the floor after a pizza party something (or someone) is always left lying around.

"A hundred years from now it will not matter
what my bank account was,
the sort of house I lived in,
or the kind of car I drove...

but the world may be different because
I was important in the life of a child."

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, August 21, 2009

Journal August 15-20, 2009.


June 5, 2005


August 20, 2009

It is Tuesday night and I have suddenly become aware that I have not done any journaling since last Friday. This will be my feeble attempt at catching up on 4 days happenings in one evening.

Saturday I took the 7 kids that I did not have room for a few weeks ago to the beach. Even though he had come along a last time Fernando also joined us. I needed one kid that spoke both English and Spanish and since he is having a birthday soon he got to come along. My friend Scot who is staying in Antigua also joined us. Hard to believe this makes 3 Saturdays in a row that I have been to the beach. Who said that I never take a day off? True it would have been a little more relaxing had I gone alone but I have discovered that relaxing isn’t half as much fun as seeing 8 kids have the time of their lives.

Sunday was a bit quieter as only 3 kids came along with me to church. Several of the others had a football game in the morning. This was more kid withdrawal than I could stand so after church we went to Hermano Pedro and played with the orphanage kids. Over the years I have seen some improvements in the way that the orphanage kids are treated but I have also seen areas that need a lot of work. Arriving at the orphanage at 1 PM and discovering that all but a hand full of kids had been put to bed until tomorrow morning was not a shock to me but I still cannot understand the logic behind this. I don’t think that the care givers were too happy with us but we got several of the kids out of their beds and took them out into the court yard. My neighborhood kids were great with the kids. I some times wish that they could replace the paid caregivers. Perhaps things would not be quite as tidy but at least the orphanage kids would be allowed to do something besides stare at the ceiling for 18 to 20 hours a day.

This evening the kids and I just hung around home and played some games.

Monday morning I headed to Guatemala City to pick up the paper that had to be taken down to the first floor. Last week I was told that no one in the building could do this for me so I would have to take the hour drive from home to the city and do it myself. What I was not told is that the morning rush hour would be exceptionally bad and that it would take me 2 and a half hours to get into the City. Another thing that they failed to mention to me was that when they told me to show up on Monday they automatically assumed that I would show up some time after 2 PM. At this point I was almost thankful that it had taken me 2 and a half hours to get there because now I would only have to wait around for 3 hours. Fortunately there is a large shopping mall only a few blocks away so I walked over there just to kill some time. Unfortunately my love for shopping malls runs a close second to trinket shopping in the Antigua tourist trap markets. Knowing that there was little else to do I stuck it out as long as I could though. Now what to do with the remaining 2 hours and 45 minutes? Actually compared to the shopping mall, sitting in my car and staring at the cement wall that it was parked against was not all that bad and the 2 hours and 45 minutes went by much faster than the 15 minutes that I had been in the mall. At precisely 2 PM I went to the second floor of the immigration building to pick up the pink paper that I was suppose to bring down to the first floor. To my amazement the paper was not the pink one that I was told that I needed but a white photocopy that I had left with them on my first visit. When I asked about the pink paper that I had been told that I needed the lady at the counter explained to me that the photocopy that up until a few days ago was in my possession was all that I needed. “Why then was it not all that I needed a few days and several gray hares earlier?” Easy explanation. It now had a signature on the backside of it. I wanted to ask how it could possibly take anyone that many days to sign there name, or was it that the only ball point pin in the building was only available for use by the people on the second floor at 2 PM on Mondays but I held my tong.

About 30 seconds and one flight of stares later I arrived at the desk of the lady that for some reason could not go and get the paper herself. She informed me that my passport would be ready at 3 PM tomorrow. Evidently the pen only stays on the second floor for a day and then it takes another hour to find some one that is willing to bring it down to the first floor. I asked what time they closed tomorrow and was told that they close at 4 PM sharp. I then asked if it could be picked up during business hours on Wednesday. I was told that would not be a problem but that I would have to pick it up in person. She said that the reason that they wanted me to pick it up in person was so that they could once again see my smiling face. I have a feeling that she was either nearsighted or joking. Anyway that pretty much did in my Monday for me, especially considering that I got stuck in the evening rush hour.

"Have you ever noticed? Anybody going slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac."

Tuesday I managed to spend most of the day at Hermano Pedro. In the morning I repaired and refit a few wheelchairs. I had lots of little helpers today so no records were broken in the amount of repair work that got done but the kids sure loved helping out. Several of my little helpers didn’t even have enough hand use to hold a wrench or a screwdriver but placing their hand in mine while I worked gave them a feeling of accomplishment. I could relate because I have a Heavenly Father that often does that with me.

I also spent time with a family from Esquentla that brought their son in to see the doctor. I first met Sylvan and his family a few months ago at a wheelchair distribution that we had near Esquentla. Ten year old Sylvan was having lots of seizures so I arranged for his family to bring him in to Hermano Pedro to see a doctor. On his first visit Sylvan saw a pediatrician. Today he had an appointment with a neurologist. The neurologist wants Sylvan to undergo a series of tests at a place called Techniscan. I have brought other kids there in the past. In the United States these tests would cost several thousand dollars. Here in Guatemala they normally cost $500 but knowing that Hermano Pedro works with people who have little or no money Techniscan does the tests for $100. Hard to believe that Sylvan’s parents shook their heads and said that there was no way that they could take their child there because to them $100 could just as well be a million. They didn’t even have the 45 Q ($6) to pay for bringing their son in to Hermano Pedro. Fortunately we have a medical fund set up for such cases but Sylvan family is the 4th in a week that has needed these tests and our medical fund is dwindling fast. Just a few days ago I had to tell Roland not to bring in 3 children that he had found. Not only does it cost money to see the doctors but often times these children need medications that run $20 per month. It is hard especially after you have held one of these little ones in your arms but why give these families false hope by finding out what they need if we cannot follow through with getting them the needed medicines?

Scot showed up at the orphanage at around 11 AM. We then found a few other volunteers and took 5 of the kids out to Camperos. After that I headed home and went over to Alex’s house for a birthday party. Alex’s mom felt bad because father who is in the states is out of work so all that she had for the party was a few pieces of fruit. Fortunately there is a bakery not all that far away so in no time at all were enjoying a birthday cake as well.

This evening Alex, Abner, Daniel, Elder, Fernando, Calin and I brought some groceries over to a family that has been with out food for the past several days. Even though Calin is not allowed in my house I am letting him come along when we do stuff like this. Especially since he is the one that originally found this family. He has such compassion for people in need. I honestly think that he would willingly give some one the shirt off from his back. The only problem is that there would be a good chance that he dishonestly took the shirt from my house.

Well it is getting late so I think that I will call it a day.


Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, August 19, 2009, 8:26 PM

I know that a pare of sox isn’t all that much, especially when they are my old ones but stealing is sealing and Jason is out for a few days. It may seem trivial to follow a kid all the way to his house just to ask him to give you back the pare of sox that you told him he could not have, but these kids need structured guide lines, in fact they are crying out for them. Unlike Calin, Jason apologized and even agreed that not being allowed back into my house until Sunday was fare punishment. Actually the punishment for taking anything from my house is usually a bit longer than that but he is being Baptized on Sunday so I had to cut it a day short.

Why 4 of the boys wanted to ride along to Guatemala City with me to get my passport is beyond me but that is exactly what they did. All but one of them is a teen but they still like to hang out with me. Funny thing is I have had to crack down on a few of them from time to time but I still have not scared them off. I think that it may have something to do with the fact that they know that they are loved.

Today I let the lady behind the counter in the immigration office know that I loved her as well. Fact is were it not for the seal bars and the bullet proof glass that separated us I would have given her a hug for finally having my passport ready for me. This time the smile on my face was genuine. I could not help but smile knowing that I should not have to go through this ordeal again for another 10 years.

On our way home we stopped off for lunch and then headed to the orphanage for a while.

Next we went to visit Cesar a man whose leg I have been treating for several years now. Things have flared up a bit again so I am once again going to stop in and treat his leg about once a week until we get it back under control.

From there we went to the orphanage in Parromas to see Leo the boy that I gave a power wheelchair to last week. He has come a long way in a week and I don’t think that it will be long before he will be able to drive his power chair with out a watchful adult being at his side.

When we got home the boys offered to wash my car for me. There was a small fee attached to their generosity but as dirty as my car was they earned every cent of it. I had intended on going to the wheelchair shop and working on a few power wheelchairs but it would be closing in a little over an hour so I asked the 4 boys that had gone to the City with me if they thought we could find enough kids that wanted to play soccer. What a silly question. An hour later 17 of us were out on the soccer field. The only injuries that anyone sustained today were a lightly sprained wrist and a hard kicked ball directly in the face. My face is no longer throbbing but it may take a day or 2 before my wrist stops hurting. I have been told a time or 2 that a 62 year old should be content just being a spectator but I love the exercise and the kids love it when I play. Besides that I am not all that sure that being a spectator is any safer than playing. I got hit in the face with the ball while I was on the sideline tending my sprained wrist.

Even though it was kids all day you would have thought that I had given the kids the death sentence when I told them that I was having the house to myself tonight.. A few of them have been back a time or 2 to see if I have perhaps changed my mind. I am not sure if it was the tone of my voice or the look on my face but the last time that I had to go to the gate was about a half hour ago so I guess they somehow got the point. Tell you what though. This evening as I sat on the side line nursing my wounds I looked around at the 16 kids that were playing soccer and even though a few of them have given me a bit of grief lately I would miss any one of them if they were not in my life. These kids are like family and they know it. I am truly blessed.

Live as though Christ died yesterday, rose from
the grave today, and is coming back tomorrow.


Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, August 20, 2009

This Morning I received a phone call that I had been anticipating for nearly a year now. Milton the 4 year old boy who I met about 16 months ago had died. The doctor at the clinic that I frequently visit down near the coast had brought Milton to my attention at that time.

Here is part of what I entered into my Journal on May 14 2008.

Soon we were at the first home. The father greeted us at the gate. Through the open gate we could see 2 children sitting in a hammock and a mother that was holding a child that appeared to be starving. At first the father seemed a bit apprehensive about letting us in but after a while he motioned for us to follow him to the house. As we visited we were told that the family had taken 3 year old Milton to doctors shortly after he was born but they had been told that there was nothing much that could be done for him. The father told us that a few other doctors looked at him as well but as soon as any money that the family had was used up the doctors would no longer help them.
Milton’s father told us that he was giving up and later confided in us that he wished that his son were dead so that the family could go on with their lives. He explained that they had no money for a wheelchair and some one had to always be holding Milton. He asked if we knew of any orphanages that would take his child because he was at the end of his rope. As we talked I realized why this father had such bitterness in his hart. He told us that neighbors and friends were continually reminding him and his wife that it was their fault that they had a child like this. They were continually being told that Milton was a curse from God because they had done some great sin. I handed Milton back to his mother and walked over to the father and put my hand on his shoulder. I had been studding Milton as I was holding him and was convinced that Milton had cerebral palsy. With the help of Carlos interpreting I explained to the parents that I had been watching Milton’s eyes and he had been taking everything in. Yes it was true that Milton had many physical limitations but he was very bright. I also told them about Stephen who is back in the States and about several of the kids at the orphanage who have CP. I told them about what they were able to do and about what a blessing they were to all of us who knew them. I then told Milton’s parents that some times God puts things into our lives for reasons that we do not fully understand, but that the reason that Milton had CP was not a result of something terrible that they had done but caused by a lack of oxygen at birth. When I said that I could feel father let out a sigh of relief and the stern look on his face disappeared as his eyes filled up with tears. Mother who had been staring at the ground looked up and said “That is exactly what happened!” She went on to tell us that Milton had indeed suffered oxygen starvation at birth but she had never been told by any one that the lack of oxygen was the likely cause of Milton’s problems. Both parents looked like the weight of the world had been lifted off from their shoulders.

Not long after that we had Milton admitted into the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro. Every thing possible was done for Milton but his condition was so bad that after a few months it was agreed upon by all of us that Milton would be better off whit a family (including the father) who now realized that this child was not a curse but a gift from God. Even though most of us didn’t think that Milton would last more than a few weeks he proved us wrong. This was due in part to a generous sponsor who made it possible for us to bring in food and medication on a monthly bases but an even larger factor in what kept Milton alive was that he was now surrounded in love. Now whenever I stopped in to visit the entire family welcomed me. On numerous occasions I would be told that Milton was not at home because one of the other children had taken him for a walk in the wheelchair that we had provided. On the rare occasions that we did find him at home he was always in the arms of some one that loved him. This included his Father. Yesterday Milton went home to the arms of his heavenly father.

Milton will be missed by all of us.

Here are five more kids that I have had the privilege of knowing that have died within the past year.





Ana Maribel

It never gets any easier to loose any of them but I count it a privilege to have known them and I try to remember that,

"Death is not extinguishing the light from the Christian;

it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come."


Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, August 14, 2009

Journal August 7-14 2009

Sorry that I have not done any journaling for the past few days but after stopping off and visiting a few families on our way from Xela, we all took a few days off and went to the beach.

Monday, August 10, 2009

OK I am sort of getting with it again but am going to start out slow. I don't want to strain myself after lying around the past few days.

I did manage to get in to the orphanage this morning and had it not been for the half dozen kids that were in the pool with us I almost felt like we were back at the beech. As much as I enjoyed a few days off I must admit it was really great getting back to the orphanage and spending time with the kids.

Most of them are doing OK but Florenda who is up in malnutrition is once again running a fever. A friend of mine had a few American pediatricians take a look at her a few days ago and things are not looking favorable for her.

I only stayed at the orphanage until around 11 because Scott and I headed up to Huehuetinango to pick up 3 more kids that have doctor's appointments in Antigua on Wednesday. Tonight we are staying at a motel in Huehue and tomorrow morning we plan on driving another 2 hours to pick up these children and their parents. It seems the the needs never end but hopefully these 3 can receive the help that they need.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Scot and I got up early this morning and headed up to a village that is located near the Mexico border. There we met up with 2 families that had children that needed medical attention. One was Isabel, a young girl that appears to have rheumatoid arthritis whom I had given wheelchair to on a previous visit a few months ago. The other was Eric a 13 year old boy whom I had never met before. Both Issibel and Eric's father's also joined us. Not all that many months ago we had taken an other child, a little girl named Lisvi out of this village to see the doctors at Hermano Pedro. Unfortunately Lisvi's parents who had accompanied us to Antigua decided that they could not part with their daughter for even a short time and 2 days later I brought her and her parents back to their home. Less than 2 weeks later her father called me and told me that Lisvi had died. I had fears that Lisvi's death would close this area off to us but here death seemed to make the villagers there more acceptable of us and today there were confirming that by allowing 2 children to come along with us to see if they could receive some much needed medical attention.

When we got back to HueHuetinango we picked up Freddy another little boy that we have been working with, Freddy's mother, and Roland Elf. Then the nine of us headed for Antigua.

A Fathers Love

All three of the parents that came along whit us were very loving with there children but Eric's father really stood out as a father that had unconditional love for his son. Eric is an average looking boy who is a little less than average in intelligence. Due to an illness that Eric had at a young age he is a bit slower than most kids his own age. His speech is a bit slurred and he did not learn to walk until he was 9 years old. Although Eric is a pleasant boy he shows little emotion, he seldom smiles and by most standards would not be an easy son for a father to love. Watching Eric’s father when he is with his son whom he dearly loves is a pure joy. On our journey to Antigua Eric’s father was always there for him. Although Eric can now walk he still stumbles and falls at times. A fresh cut on his leg was evidence of that. Eric’s father was right at his side when he stumbled and fell. He had reached out his hand to his son but Eric chose to walk the rough terrain with out the helping hand of his loving father. Father quickly helped his son back to his feet and as he treated the wound he gently reminded his son that he was there for him. Even when Eric had fallen His father had been there with an out stretched hand. It was Eric that had decided to declare his independence and go it alone. Even at lunchtime father let Eric feed himself. After a little while Eric who has difficulty swallowing asked his father if he would feed him. Father had the wisdom to give Eric small enough portions and feed him slowly enough that Eric was able to comfortably swallow every bite. I could see that even though Eric was not perfect and even though he made his mistakes his father loved him with an unconditional love. Yes he scolded him a time or to but it was because he loved him and wanted the best for him and Erica knew that. The unconditional love that this father has for his son reminds me a lot of the love that God has for us, His children.

After we got the group settled in at Cassia Defay I headed for home. There I was greeted by a bunch of my kids. I had intended on taking the three families that we brought down from Huehuetinango back to there homes on Thursday but after spending a few hours here at home with my kids I think that I will see if the families that we brought here can take the buss back to there homes. Several of my kids have been going through there share of problems lately and I think that I need to be close enough to them that they can reach out to my outstretched hand when ever they choose to.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I left home at around 7:00 AM this morning because I had to stop in at Cassia Defay and pick up the 3 families that we brought in from near Huehuetinango yesterday. Roland was suppose to be there as well but when I got to Cassai Defay he was no where to be found. Not having anyone to interpret for me made things interesting but some how I got everyone registered with the proper doctors and by 8:30 all of the necessary paper work was done. It was about then that I received a phone call from Roland. He apologized for not being there but explained that the restaurant that we had stopped at on our way from Huehuetinango yesterday had given something that he had not ordered. Yesterday Scot had a touch of the same thing from a café that he and I had eaten at in the morning. I must admit neither of these places were on any tourist map but were we were there were not a lot of choices. Besides that where else can you feed a car load of people for around 10 bucks. Roland showed up a bit later and told me that he was feeling much better.

Two of the kids got to see specialists and the other child saw a good pediatrician. Today’s visits only cost around $6 each but all 3 are now scheduled for some fairly expensive special tests in Guatemala City around the middle of next month.

The highlight of my day came this afternoon shortly before taking the 3 families to the buss station. Although I met Freddy a few months ago up until today I have never had the opportunity to give him a wheelchair. This morning while the 3 families were seeing the doctors I drove over Hope Haven’s factory where they gave me 2 new wheelchairs. You should have see the faces of Freddy and his mother this afternoon when I told them that Freddy was going to be the proud owner of one of these wheelchairs. In spite of his inability to walk and countless seizures Freddy always does a lot of smiling but when we put him into his new wheelchair he outdid himself. If nothing else came out of this trip seeing how happy Freddy and his mother were with Freddy’s new wheelchair made the entire trip well worth it. An hour later I waved goodbye to all three families. Next week Roland plans on catching a bus with them and getting them to the City for their needed exams.

Tonight the kids made the entire supper and I did not have to lift a hand. I still have anywhere from 8 to 12 kids at the supper table on the nights that I am at home but am missing a few of the regulars. Calin is still banned from my house but I try to talk to him every few days. I love that kid but cannot trust him and unfortunately I see little remorse for what he has done. Abner stops by occasionally but is hesitant to stay for long periods of time because he is fearful that his uncle and aunt will discover that he is here and that they will force him to move back in with them. It is still uncertain when Daniel will be leaving for the USA and also undecided weather or not Abner will go with him.Last week Alehandro, an older boy that is dating Nancy, and hangs around here from time to time touched his head to some power lines while leaning out of an upstairs window of a building in the City. He was knocked unconscious and has suffered some physical damage. Nancy told me that he is gradually improving but is still unable ot walk and has only limited hand use. Tonight Nancy’s family asked me if we could give him a wheelchair.

Well it is time for bed so I will say “Goodnight

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, August 13, 2009, 9:25 PM

Today was one of those fun days. NOT! I just love spending the day in Guatemala city trying to get all of the necessary stamps put back into my new passport. DOUBLE NOT!! The highlight of my day was discovering that I have to come back into the City on Monday only to go up to the Second floor of the immigration building to pick up a paper that for some reason they could not complete today and then bring that paper down stares and turn it in to an office that will put an official stamp on it and give it to me when I return on Wednesday. Hoping that I would only have to make one unnecessary trip back to the city I asked if there was perhaps some one there that could take the paper from the second floor of the building and deliver it to the office on the first floor but I was told that was not possible. All I can say is that I am thankful that passports only have to be renewed once every 10 years.

Tonight all of my kids wanted to earn a little money so I once again have a spick and span car, house, and yard. I had planned on having the house to myself for a few hours but Jason is still here doing homework on the computer and Cesar just showed up and told me that he has no school tomorrow.

Oh well just last weekend I had a quiet 2 days at the ocean without any kids and who know next time I may not let 2 years go by before I do that again.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Here is a picture and an update on some of my kids.

(Click on any photo to enlarge)

Alehandro #1 - Last week Alehandro, an older boy that is dating Nancy, and hangs around here from time to time toucheed his head to some power lines while leaning out of an upstairs window of a building in the City. He was knocked unconscious and has suffered some physical damage. Nancy told me that he is gradually improving but is still unable to walk and has only limited hand use.

Jason #2 - Jason had a foul mouth and was making a lot of bad decisions when I first met him a few years ago. He has come a long way in a short time and is a pleasure to have around.

#3 - Cesar and his brother Miguel are from a poor family that lives near me. After father pays the rent on the tin shack that they live in there is scarcely enough left for food and nothing left to keep Cesar or Miguel in school. Thanks to a sponsor they are both back in school now.

Elmer #4
- Is now married but he and his wife come over and visit frequently. He is currently working 5 days a week but only receives 800 Q ($100) per month.

Fernando #5
- Who has not seen his mother since he was one year old and does not know who his father is, continues to be one of my favorites. His love and compassion for the children in the orphanages and the villages is something to behold.

Daniel #6
- Just turned 16. He is planning on going to the USA as soon as his brother Walter who is already there sends him the money to go.

Christian #7
- He and his mother moved into my neighborhood from Guatemalan City a few months ago. They came here to escape an abusive husband and father.

Abner #8
- Abner stops by occasionally but is hesitant to stay for long periods of time because he is fearful that his uncle and aunt will discover that he is here and that they will force him to move back in with them. It is still uncertain when and if he will be leaving for the USA.

Miguel #9
- Brother to Cesar. Miguel is doing well in school and is a good Christian inspiration to my other kids. Miguel wants to be baptized later this month.

Marcos #10
- Marco's father died in a drowning accident about 4 years ago. last year his mother got sick and died. Marcos' 24 year old brother is doing his best to raise Marcos, 4 other siblings and the 2 boys that his mother had adopted.

Calin #11
- Calin is out of my house for stealing, but not out of my hart.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cesar had no school today (???) so he spent the day with me. Our first stop was at the wheelchair shop where we intended on picking up a few parts and then going to Hermano Pedro to work on some wheelchairs. It seems that I some how got sidetracked while I was looking for wheelchair parts though and found myself an hour later still talking with Alturo about several people who are still need of power wheelchairs. Some of these people have been waiting for far to long but are in need of specialty parts like head control units and we simply do not have them. We got one chair in a few weeks ago that has a broken head controller on it so I promised Alturo that I will spend a few days with him next week seeing if we can repair that one or possibly design one of our own.Alturo showed me that he had gotten a hand controlled power wheelchair going that was the perfect size for a boy that I had recently met in an orphanage over in Parromas. Since it had gotten to late to get over to Hermano Pedro in time to take any of the kids out to lunch Cesar and I decided to get a bite to eat and then take the power chair over to the boy in Parramos. I mentioned yesterday how happy Freddy was with his new wheelchair. Well this boy's enthusiasm ran a close second. It is going to take him some time to get on to driving it but this orphanage is well staffed and judging by the enthusiasm of the workers at this orphanage I know that they will work with him and he will soon have it mastered. I must admit it made me feel sad that there are other orphanages that consider it a nuisance if a child becomes at all mobile.

When we got back home my house quickly filled up with kids. About a half hour ago I told them that I needed an hour or 2 to myself so that I could get this weeks journal published. Usually the kids protest when I tell them that but considering that tomorrow I am planning on taking the kids to the Ocean that did not get to go there last week, they quickly left when I explained that I would have to stay at home and work tomorrow if I did not finish up tonight.

Hope that you all have a great weekend, we plan on having one.

"Let there be kindness in your face, in your eyes,
in your smile, in the warmth of your greeting..."
"Don't only give your care, but give your heart as well."

Yours in Christ: Dick