* 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)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Journal, August 28- September 4, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

Today Fernando and Cesar accompanied me to Hermano Pedro. (SURPRISE!!) They had no school. After working on some wheelchairs we met up with Carlos and took 4 of the orphanage kids out to lunch. Today, instead of taking them to Camperos we went to the cafe that our church runs. The food there is a lot healthier and the atmosphere is far more relaxing. I thought that the 4 kids that we took with us would not have as much fun since there was no playground equipment but after lunch they had the time of their lives playing on the grass. All to soon it was time to bring them back to the orphanage.

When we got there we visited with several of the kids who had already been put to bed for the day.

Even though we had a large pizza feed at my house last night the kids insisted that they were hungry so tonight we had a spaghetti feed. The kids know that I am going to be gone for a few days so I think that they are really trying to fill up before I leave.
(Click on any photo to enlarge)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

This morning Fernando, Cesar, Jason and I headed up to Robinel. I realize that Fernando and Cesar just spent the day with me yesterday but I needed Fernando along because he does such a good gob of interpreting and I need some one as well behaved as Cesar to make up for Jason. Actually Jason is doing quite well. A few months ago I would not have even considered letting him come along with me on an overnighter. We decided to take the shorter rout, which cuts off over 100 Kilometers it is narrow unpaved though and saves little time, but this rout is more scenic and there are a number of rivers that you can stop at for a swim.

Sometimes my boys can be a bit childish, like when they try to look cool simply because their picture is being taken.

I try to tell them that they are being immature when they do that but some kids never seem to grow up.

Our primary reason for going to Robinal was to try and make Contact with Luis and Julia. We have worked with them for several years now and they do a lot of the leg work and make a lot of initial contacts for us when ever we bring in water filters or have a wheelchairs distribution in their area. For several weeks now Chris and I have been trying to contact them so that we could arrange to bring some new water filter cartridges in to a village that brought water filters in to about a year and a half ago. We were not sure just why but try as we may we could not reach either of them by phone so I finally decided to take a 5 hour drive and see if I could locate them. I was not sure weather or not I would find Luis or Julia at home but knew a few of there relatives and was hoping that I could at least get the word out that we wanted to talk with them. There is never much traffic on this dirt road but you do have to keep your eyes open the entire way. It is extremely narrow in places so you always have to be on the lookout for some one that is coming from the opposite direction. This is especially interesting considering that the road is nothing but hills and curves. About a half hour before entering Rabinel I met a pickup truck that had a number of people in it. The road happened to be wide enough for us to get by each other but when the driver got about 50 feet from me he swung into the middle of the road and opened his door. A lady quickly jumped out of the passenger door and started waving her arms. Both people had large smiles on their faces. If this was a robbery they were sure looking Happy about it. Since there was a steep cliff on my side of the road I had no choice but to stop. When the dust cleared I realized that it was Luis and Julia. What were they doing way out here? Next time I see them again I will ask them but I was so surprised to see them that I didn’t even ask. I guess you could just chalk this one up to being another Godincidence. What ever it was I was sure glad to see them. Julia asked me if I HAPPENED to have any walkers with me because she know of 4 people that needed them. It just so happened that I had thrown 4 walkers in my car before leaving home. So I gave them and the water filter cartridges to her. If things work out I plan on going back to Robinel next week end so that we can hike the filters into the village that is in need of them.

Robinel is not much of a tourist town but there is a small hotel located behind a gas station that has fairly decent rooms. It even has a swimming pool and a soccer field. If you are into clean you may want to stay else ware but most of the critters that we found in the rooms or the pool were only about the size of a spider and none of them were any larger than a mouse or a frog. I came out of the shower feeling like I needed a bath but the price was right. The cost of one room was $15 for 4 people. I paid a bit more though after convincing the lady that ran the place that we wanted 4 single beds and not 2. She looked at me like I was a crazy American and told the boys that families of 10 or more often stayed in one of the 2 bed units.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

This morning we met with Julia. She said that she knew of a boy that could use the wheelchair that I HAPPENED to have taken along with me. When we arrived at his house we discovered that he was not at home. After his mother showed me pictures of him I was convinced that he needed a larger wheelchair than the one that we had taken along anyway.. I felt a bit bad that Godincidence # 3 hadn’t worked out exactly as I had prayed that it would. Little did I know that the wheelchair that I so badly wanted to give away would be needed if a little boy an hour further down the road was to continue to go to school. I often forget that God's answers are wiser than my prayers.

After bringing Julia back to her home the boys and I went back to our motel and had a teem meeting. Since there was no school on Monday (?) and Champey was only 4 ½ hours away why not spend an extra day on the road and make this a real adventure. The vote came in at 100% and soon all 3 of the kids had phoned home and convinced their families that it was a great Idea. Jason’s family seemed a bit uncertain at first but once he convinced them that I was not ready to strangle him yet they also agreed.
Ludwig is a little boy that has muscular dystrophy he lives about an hour out of Robinel. Since we were going through is town we decided to stop in and see how he was doing. Ludwig and his family are doing great but his wheelchair had a broken wheel on it and was virtually useless to him and with out it he could not get to and from school. Now let me share something with you about wheelchairs. There are about as many makes and models of wheelchairs as there are cars and much like cars most parts are not interchangeable. However when the one and only wheelchair that you have in your car HAPPENS to be exactly the same make and model as Ludwig’s wheelchair finding the right parts can be a breeze. As far as repairing it goes I had 3 eager mechanics that had it done in no time. It sort of made me wonder if perhaps God had not made a mistake when we were unable to give that wheelchair away earlier today.

If there is anyone reading this that believes that all of these things that HAPPENED the last few days were not Godincidences but simply coincidences that’s OK because I am convinced that,

“A coincidence is when God performs a miracle, but decides to remain anonymous.”

Tonight we are staying in the loft of a cabin that is located in Champey. No mice or spiders but plenty of Mosquitoes. I think that we are in the high rent district though because tonight I had to pay $20 for the 4 of us. There are 4 beds though. When the electricity shut down for the night Fernando who is afraid of the dark climbed into bed with Cesar. I didn’t mind because I wanted Fernando’s mattress. I discovered something interesting though. Piling 1 lumpy mattres on top of another does not smooth things out it simply increases the number of lumps. I guess it is sort of like adding more rocks when you already have one in the bottom of your shoe.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, August 31, 2009

It rained all night. ( I know that for a fact because I was awake.) We woke up (or I guess I should say got up) to a sunshiny morning though and after a quick breakfast we hiked over to the river and lakes.

As often as I have been to Champey I still cannot get over it’s beauty. This was Fernando’s second time here and the first time for the other 2 boys. For the next several hours all we did was hike and swim.

Cesar entertained us but may have scared away a few strangers by proving that he could get his entire body into his stretch swimsuit.

We would have all liked to have been able to stay longer but we still had an 8 hour drive ahead of us so at 11:30 we hiked back to my car.

About a month ago I lost 1 of the 2 transmitters that I have for the burglar alarm of my car and have been a bet paranoid about what would happen if I lost the other one. Not only will the alarm not shut off but my car not start with out it. That is why being here in Champey which is in the middle of no where I was especially careful to hide it in a good place while swimming. No I didn’t put it in my pocket and swim with it I hid it under the cover of my spare tire and that is exactly where I found it when I got back to the car. Why then did it not work? Good question, but I do not have the answerer. Try as I am I could not get it to work. It let up so I knew that the battery was good but it certainly did not unlock the doors to my car. I managed to get my door open with a spare key that I had hidden under the car the day we headed out on our trip and I even managed to get the alarm shut off by removing my battery cable, but now what? Every time that I reconnected the battery cable the alarm would come back and there was no way to start the engine with out deactivating tit A few prayers later I decided to hold the remote right up next to the alarm and sure enough it worked.

Most of our trip home was quite uneventful but the traffic and the rain storm that I encountered while driving through Guatemala City made me wish that we had taken the dirt road that we had driven on Saturday.

It was a good trip but it is good to be back home where there are no mosquitoes or frogs, and the spiders are much smaller than the ones that were in the motel in Robinel. Now if only that darn mouse would quit making so much noise I would like to get to sleep.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, October 31, 2009, 3:35 PM

Spent the morning putting my car back together and then went and got a new burglar alarm installed. This afternoon I have been hiding out working on my journal at restaurant 56. Now that I am caught up I am going to head for home and spend some time with the kids.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I spent most of my day at Hermano Pedro today. Alex has been in need of a new wheelchair for a long time and today I finally got him fitted into a new one that is much better for him. Nine year old Alex had been loosing weight for the past several years and had crept down to 18 pounds. Around a year ago they finally moved him up to the malnutrition ward. And slowly but surly he gained weight. He is no longer in the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro but continues to hold his weight. He still has to be on a feeding tube but appears to be much healthier than he has been in years. However his back is becoming more and more deformed. Because of this deformity and the fact that he is now much fatter Alex’s old wheelchair no longer fitted him properly. Today I had to make a lot of modifications to Alex’s new wheelchair but the end result paid off. Alex seems to be more comfortable than he has been in years and the new chair should help improve his breathing and his overall health.

Since there were no other volunteers available to help take any of the kids to lunch I was only able to take Fidel. He seemed to enjoy the one on one time that we had though and between his limited English and my limited Spanish we were actually able to carry on somewhat of a conversation.

When we got back to the orphanage I did some repairs on more of the wheelchairs but at around 2 PM I received a phone call from Mark Richard over at Hope Haven’s wheelchair factory, asking me if I could come over and fit a little boy with downs syndrome into a wheelchair. He was not all that hard to fit into a wheelchair but I was glad that I had gone over to help because I was able to convince his mother to let me set up an appointment for him with the doctors and therapists at Hermano Pedro. I have a feeling that with proper treatment this little boy can learn to walk.

Before heading home I stopped off at the place that had installed my new car alarm yesterday. The sensitivity had to be readjusted. What brought this to my attention was the fact that it went off every few minutes while it was parked at the orphanage. One time it went of fwas when a man who was walking on the other side of the street sneezed.

My kids wanted to play soccer tonight but I told them that I was not footing the bill so if they wanted to play they would have to come up with the money for it themselves. I once again have the cleanest yard, house, car, and dishes in town. We could not get the soccer field until 9PM but it was a fun way to finish out the day.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, September 3, 2009, 9:35 PM

Cesar once again had no school today because (???????), so he spent the day with me. After breakfast we stopped off at the wheelchair shop and picked out a power wheelchair that we planned on converting to a foot-controlled chair later this after noon. We then headed to Antigua and did some work at Hermano Pedro. Like I said we did some work but we also did a lot of playing with the kids. In fact we took Sonia and Henry out to lunch with us this at noon and didn’t get back to the orphanage until around 2 PM. We had planned on going back to the shop and to work on the power chair that needed to be converted to a foot control chair but there were so many things that needed to be done at Hermano Pedro that we decided to finish out our day there. The mane part of our afternoon was spent in trying to get Nelson fitted into a new wheelchair. I am not satisfied with the way that the chair turned out though so I may go back tomorrow and try a few different things.

I went up to the malnutrition ward this afternoon and looked in on Florinda. She is still in isolation, in fact they would not let me go in with out putting on surgical gloves and a gown but she was looking better than I have ever seen her. She has gained a lot of weight and seems much more alert, and she has not had a fever in several days. The doctor is still not sure weather or not she will fully recover but praise God she has made a lot of progress.

Little Jose is also doing well. His mom and brother were there today and they are great with him. Tomorrow this spirited 11 pound boy will celebrate his third birthday.

When I got back home tonight I was greeted by an alley full of kids. On our way home I had told Cesar that I had a lot of work to do and that I was not going to let the kids in tonight. How do you say no to nearly a dozen kids that greet you like they have not seen you in years? You don’t, or at least I didn’t. I made it clear to them though that I had lots of work to do so I was only going to let them stay for a half hour or so. That ridicules announcement was made at 6:00 PM. At 8:00 I told them that I really meant it. It is now 10:00 PM and there have been no kids in my house for at least a half hour. I am sure glad that I can be stern when I have to be. Now The silence is driving me crazy so I guess that I will head off to bed. Marcos has asked me if he can spend the day with me tomorrow. He has no school (?).

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, September 4, 2009, 10:25 PM

I was scheduled to meet at Hermano Pedro with a man and his wife who came in from the USA yesterday but just before heading there this morning I received an e-mail saying that they would not be there. The e-mail did not go into much detail but Dave told me that his wife was admitted to the hospital shortly after they arrived here in Guatemala. I don’t know what the problem was but It sounds like she will be getting out some time today. I actually had plenty of work to do at the wheelchair shop but I had already promised 3 of the kids from the orphanage that I was taking them out today and I could not go back on my word. Nothing to worry about though, because neither Marcos nor Cesar had school today, (?!?) so they both willingly came along to help me out with the orphanage kids.

Today we took Bobby, Diago, and Ervin out to eat. If you don’t think that all of the rigmarole of getting the kids signed out, taking them down the not so wheelchair friendly cobble stone roads and then having to hand feed them is worth it take one look at these pictures.

Before heading for home I managed to get Nelson seated better in his new wheelchair. This was not an easy task either but the end result was well worth it.

Unlike last night, tonight I did not even attempt to get an hour or 2 to myself. After all it is Friday tomorrow and that means that 100% of the kids have no school . About 12 were here for supper, 7 wanted to spend the night. Report cards came out today and after looking them over 5 are spending the night. At least they shouldn’t be carrying in any bugs because they have been in the shower the entire time that I have been wring tonight journal.

Well that is about it for now so I am going to say “Goodnight”.

Yours in Christ: Dick


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home