* 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 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


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