* 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)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Journal, September 26 - October 2, 2009

(Click any photo to enlarge)... . ., , . . .

Saturday & Sunday, September 26 & 27, 2009

It's the weekend.

So I am spending
time with the kids.

I did manage to
get my hair done,

& play a little foot ball.

I even found the time
to do some fun things like
work on Caesar's foot,

But most of the time
I just hung out
with the kids.

Monday, September 28, 2009, 9:12 PM

Tonight Benjamen, Cesar and I are in Huehuetenango. We plan on spending the next 4 to 5 days on the road recruiting for camp. Benjamen is home schooled so he has taken his school work along so that he can work on it in the evenings. Cesar is out of school for the year. We tried our best to get Cesar back into his school after they kicked him out but finally had to throw in the towel. It does not seem fare that they can kick a kid out of school simply because he gets sick during exam week but that is exactly what they did. Cesar's father missed nearly a weeks work trying to meet with the principal of the school but would some times sit out side of the principals office the entire day only to be told at the end of the day that the principal was sorry but she did not have time to see him. On the rare occasion that Cesar's father or one of us were able to meet with her we were told that the letter that we got from the doctor saying that Cesar had indeed been sick, or any other paper work that we had been told to bring was inadequate. It slowly became apparent that there was no way that we were going to get Cesar back into school this year. Cesar's father finally told the principal that he would go along with their wishes and keep his son out of school until the new school year which starts in January. The principal looked at him and said that she was sorry but they would not allow Cesar back into their school because they had a policy that anyone that had to repeat a year of school was not welcome there. Even though it is not fare and it will likely be difficult to find a new school for Cesar I think that we are fortunate that he will not be going back to this one.

Since most of our day was spent in getting here we were only able to see 2 campers today. Our first stop was at the home of Erica. Actually our stop was quite a ways from her home because the trail leading into where she lives is not accessible by car. We had a large suitcase full of medicine for her so the boys and I took turns dragging it down the trail. I don't think that Samsonite had this kind of terrain in mind when they put those little plastic wheels on their suitcases. Never the less we made it and a suitcase is still a suitcase even without wheels.

Erica and her family were excited to see us. I felt bad that she had run out of medicine over a week ago but told her mom that they had to let us know a few weeks in advance when she was getting low on medicine instead of waiting until the day that they ran out. Not only were they happy to receive the much needed medicine but mother told us that Erica had been getting worried that she was not going to be invited to camp this year.

Our next visit also required a bit of a hike but was much easier because this time we did not have 50 pounds of medicine with us. Christopher and his family were happy to see us and mother said that since we were a few weeks later than usual they were also worried that Christopher was not going to be invited to camp this year.

I wish that all of you could spend just one day on the road with us. I think that you would be amazed at not only how essential these visits are but also how important camp is to these people.

Well we are now settled into the San Fransisco hotel. This will be our home away from home for the next 4 nights. The price is right (about $13 each per night) and the rooms are very nice.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, September 29, 2009

Today we did more camp recruiting. Some of the places that we drove to today brought us to altitudes that were over 11,000 feet above sea level. Driving some of these steep mountain roads can prove to be a challenge but that is nothing compared to having to get out of you car and hike for nearly an hour at this altitude. Today's hike into where Marven and his family live has to be one of the most breath taking of any of the places that we visit. not only is your breath taking away by the view of the valley that lies thousands of feet below but descending over 700 feet knowing that you will have to climb back up to your car after your visit can also take your breath away.

I am not complaining though because the view alone makes it well worth the effort. I could not help but think about how exhausting it had to be for Marven's father who up until a few years ago would carry Marvin on his back every morning to the school where we left our car and then back home every afternoon. This was no easy task especially considering he had to carry Marven's wheelchair to and from school as well.

A few years ago when Marven finally got to big to be carried in and out from his home on a daily bases Father and mother told him that he could no longer continue his education. This was hart breaking to both Marven and his parents but father had to work the fields to make enough money to feed his family and the 2 trips a day up and down the mountain were simply taking up to much of father's time and energy. Thankfully we had known Marven and his family for several years so when we became aware of the situation we found a teacher that was willing to hike in to where Marven lives and teach him at his home. In spite of numerous health issues Marven's is doing great in his schooling and is thinking about studding to become a lawyer. His father told me that Marven has dreams of some day owning a computer but since the family has no money they only look at it as a dream. I have not made any promises but knowing how much that could help him in hid studies, I am going to keep my eye out for a used one.

One other place that we visited today was at the home of Jamie and his family. Jamie is an old man (perhaps my age) that has been coming to camp for years. A few months ago he told us about a family that had 2 children that were in need of wheelchairs. Even though we did not have wheelchairs with us that we could give them today we decided to go and visit this family so that I could examine the 2 children and see what size and type of wheelchairs they needed. When we reached there home their grandfather told us that his daughter and his 9 year old granddaughter who was one of the children that needed a wheelchair, were at a house that was a short distance from there. He quickly sent some one to get them. Grandfather then informed us that his 12 year old grandson who had also been in need of a wheelchair no longer needed it because he had died a little over a month ago.

It has been a long day and both of the boys have already gone to bed so I think that I will do the same.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Another day of recruiting for camp today. Once again we spent most of our day in the mountains outside of Huehuetenango. Moast of the people that we visited today are old friends that have come to camp before. Several were families that we have helped out over the years. Some we have given tools to so that they could do carpentry work. Some are receiving education. Some who are to old or to week to work are receiving some groceries each month.

One of the families that we hiked in to visit with today was Ernesto's family. Ernesto is a shy little boy who lives with his father and his sister. Ernesto is in a wheelchair and his father is in poor health. Ernesto's older sister is even shyer than he is and will scarcely come out of the house when we are on the yard. Since her mother died several years ago and father's health is so poor a lot has been left on her shoulders. When father's health permits he tries to work the fields so that he can bring in a little money to feed his family. It is not enough though and often times the family goes to bed hungry. Father told us that his daughter is talking about moving away and that he does not know how he will be able to care for Ernesto by him self. We have been helping this family out some in the past but I feel that they are going to need even more help or they will starve to death.

Nearly all of the families that we visited today are struggling to put enough food on the table, but most of the people that we invited to camp said that they would do their best to make it. It was hard for me to tell them that we could not let the entire family come to camp but had to limit it to the family member that had a disability and one care giver. This has always been the policy but up until this year we allowed it to be bent or broken. This year due to lack of sleeping space we are going to have to enforce the rule.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Today Benjamin, Cesar and I headed into the high back country to a remote place that lies near the Border of Guatemala and Mexico. This is the area where Lisvi, the little girl that died shortly after we brought her home from Hermano Pedro, had lived. The first time that Roland and I went back into this area we found several people that were in need of wheelchairs. I have visited there a few times after that and on each visit I brought in a few wheelchairs but we still had three people that had requested wheelchairs on that first visit that we had not gotten to. We sent them invitations to come to a wheelchair distribution that we had in Huehuetinango about a month ago but received word that even though they desperately needed wheelchairs there was no way that they could get to the distribution. If you could see the so called trail that leads from the nearest settlement over 4000 feet below to where these people live you would understand why. on a dry day it can be navigated by 4 wheel drive but it is indeed a challenge. Today's the trail was in worse shape than I have ever seen it but my good old Land Cruiser made it. I must admit I got a bit nervous when some clouds rolled in while we were there but we only got a drizzle and the trail stayed fairly dry. Had it rained hard we would have had to spend the night and prayed that the sun dried things out enough that we could make our descent tomorrow.

Most of the people in this area never see strangers yet alone Americans so on our first few visits they were quite afraid of us. Even though we had already picked up a local man named Luis when we pulled into the school yard to meet with Araldo our contact person most of the children who were just getting out of school kept their distance. Curiosity finally got the best of a few of them though and after a while the came close enough that was able to show them my camera. Several of them scattered like flies when I asked if I could take their picture but a few of them stood their ground and came up to me to see their picture after I had taken it.

Araldo was not at the school but Luis and another man that worked there offered to take us to where the people that we were looking for lived. What we were told would be a 10 minute ride to where they lived turned out to be more like 20. I think that as rough as the trail was we could perhaps have made it faster by walking it. In fact I am sure of it because by the time we got to the place where they asked us to park my car several of the children that we had seen at the school were already there waiting for us. We did not see any one there that needed a wheelchair though. After waiting for quite a while a woman came walking down off from the mountain with a child in her arms.

I recognized the child as being Samuel a boy that I measured for a wheelchair on our first visit. What ever fear the children and adults had of us when we showed up quickly disappeared when we got the wheelchair that we were going to give Samuel out of my car. Judging by the interest that the villagers showed you would have thought that we were assembling a space ship instead of a wheelchair. I am not sure if it was a fascination in the wheelchair or the fact that we were doing some thing to help one of their people but any fear that the people had of us or our cameras seemed to vanish. They showed even more interest when we gave Samuel a walker and soon had him taking a few steps.

When we had finished we asked where the girl and the lady that we had wheelchairs were at. We were told that the lady was back at the school where we had come from and that the girl lived up on the hill that Samuel had been carried from. Her father had come down to see us but said that since his daughter Eufemia was much heavier than Samuel there was simply no way that they could carry her to us. I told him that I did not want to give him a wheelchair with out seeing his daughter because we wanted to make sure that the wheelchair fit her properly. Father said that the hike up to his house was a steep one but that it could be done in around 5 minutes. I reminded him that I was an American and an old one at that. He then said that it would be a 10 minute hike. Remembering how long our 10 minute drive had ended up taking I figured that if we made it in a half hour we would be doing good.

. . . . . . .
. . . .. .^ Video
. . . .Delivering A Wheelchair To Eufemia's House

Soon we were on our way up the mountain. At first several of the kids tried their hand at carrying the 2 wheelchairs and Samuele's walker up the steep trail but soon it proved to be too much for them. Eufemia's father grabbed her wheelchair and put it on his back. Samuele's mom handed Samuel to her daughter who was not all that much bigger than Samuel and a few of the older kids grabbed the walker and off we went. I was tired and my legs were aching but there was no way that I was gong to let this girl carry her brother up the mountain. I must admit though that I was happy when mom told me that they did not live as far up the mountain as Eufemia and her family did. As it turned out they were only 25 minutes from the car compared to the 30 minute hike that we made to Eufemia's home. The hike was well worth is though because Eufemia and her family were thrilled with the wheelchair. Even though she lives on the side of the mountain her yard is level and smooth so she will now be able to move around on her own.

The down hill walk back to my car went much faster and soon we were on our way back to the school. Soon Manolia a lady that has great difficulty walking was also enjoying a new wheelchair.

Before leaving Luis and the man from the school asked me if I had any more wheelchair forums. I told them that I had about a half dozen. They said that would be a start but informed me that they know of at least 20 more people that needed wheelchairs and were quite sure that if they did a little looking they could find a lot more. I had assumed that at most there were a few hundred people in this area but they told me that there were over 2500. They also informed me that because of their remoteness most of their people have never seen a doctor. They said that if I could ever bring a doctor up there for even a few days it would be a big blessing to them. They said that he could set up shop in the school. I told them that I would get the word out. . . . . . Now I have.

On our way down the mountain Louis asked me if we could stop off at the nearest town and see a friend of his that had been injured in an accident a few months ago. This friend had been building a house and some how touched a steel rod to some power lines. His friend lost his left leg as a result of this accident. Today we were able to give him a walker and a pare of crutches and we promised that we would get a wheelchair to him as soon as possible.

.. . ^ Video
.Our 4500 Foot Decent Down
The Mountain


Tomorrow the boys and I will head for home. It has been an action packed week and I have enjoined every bit of it but I am missing the kids from my neighborhood and it seems like it had been forever since I have been able to spend any time at the orphanage.

yours in Christ, Dick

Friday, October 2,, 2009

We are back in Chimaltenango and even though we had a great time, after spending five days on the road it sure feels good to be back at home. I really missed the kids and I have a filling that they missed me as well. Within 10 minutes 10 of them had once again made themselves feel right at home. After helping me unpack my car, one of the first things that they did was remind me that we had not played soccer all week. 5 minutes later 16 of us were heading for the soccer field to have some fun. I was a bit worried though, 15 kids in 15 minutes what would things be like an hour from now. At around 7:30 PM things thinned out a bit because some of my older kids scraped up enough money to rent the soccer field for another hour. I must be getting old, or 4 of the younger kids are getting to be pretty convincing liars because they convinced me that before leaving home on Monday I had promised them that they could spend the night. I didn't feel much like cooking for them though so about an hour ago we all headed down to Burger King. The past hour has actually been rather relaxing because while I have been on the computer the 4 of them have been in the shower. I am once again glad that my bathroom is not anything all that fancy aid since it is not connected to my house any excess water simply flows outside. A few minutes ago 3 of the kids came running through the house in search of the soccer ball. My only worry is that if they are planning on having a soccer game in the shower they will have a hard time remembering who is on who's teem because when they came running through the house none of them were wearing uniforms. I think I will go and tell them to limit their game to a half hour though because when I was a kid my mom always warned me that if anyone stayed in the shower too long their skin would shrivel up. Well that's about it for another week so I will see if my spell checker can make sense of at least a few of these words, and then I will try to get this published.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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