* 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, 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


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