* 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, October 30, 2009

Journal, October 24 - 30, 2009

After being on the road with the Joni and friends teem for nearly a week I spent most of this weekend hanging out with my kids. They understand that what I do involves being on the road quite a bit but still hate it when I am away from home for several days at a time.

(Click on any picture to enlarge)
Monday, October 26, 2009

Today Chris and Donna headed out to do the last few days of camp recruiting. Because of all of the other responsibilities that they have I did most of the recruiting this year. I love doing it but since was happy that they found the time to do these last few days so that I could spend some much needed time staying closer to home.

This morning Fernando Esben and I went to Hermano Pedro. We had figured on swimming with a few of the kids but once again the therapists came up with a reason not to swim. I am not sure exactly what that reason was but it had something to do with the pool not being ready for them. Or then again it could have been that they were not ready for the pool.

We made good use of our day though. the boys played with the kids while I got together with Jessica and filled out paper work on all of the kids that need new wheelchairs.

At noon the boys and I took 3 of the kids out to Camperos for lunch. I some times wish that my kids could run the orphanage. They are so good with the kids. The orphanage kids absolutely love it when they come along to the orphanage with me.

When we got home my house quickly filled up with kids but after an hour I told the kids that I needed a kid break. This does not happen too often but I think that they could tell that I was ready for a break because the minute that I said it most of them quickly quit what ever it was that they were doing and headed for the door. I think that it could have something to do with the fact that I promised to take them all swimming tomorrow and in the past I have been known to forget these promises when the kids chose not to listen to me. Never the less I have the house to myself for a few hours.

I hate to do it but once again I am going to have to searchå the kids when they leave the house because once again some small items have been disappearing from my house. So far it has only been small things but I am going to let the kids know that the punishment will not be small. A few of them still have not gotten the message that it is wrong to take things. It seems that there is a mentality here in Guatemala that if some one has more then one item you have the right to one of them. Tonight it was only candy and a flashlight but I am going to do what ever it takes to see that it stops.

I told a few of the kids that they could come back at 9 so I am going to kick back and relax for about a half hour.

yours in Christ: Dick

Even though the distribution that we did with the Joni and Friends team has ended, Rachel has added an entry to her blog that I want to publish. The following actually took place about a week ago.

Rolando - From Door on the Floor
. . . . . ., , ,. . ... .to Upright in a Chair.

By Rachel

One man in particular stands out amongst the rest. Rolando was carried in to the distribution center on a wooden door covered with a sheet. He lay on the door on the floor which has been his life for several years after being paralyzed as a result of a kidney operation and infection. The Team diligently worked to adapt a wheelchair for Rolando's use. Cindy Stroup was the seating specialist that worked with Dick to accommodate Rolando:

The mechanics Elmer, Ross and Monte used one of the recline kits that Greg Cowen made very useful. They also made a lap tray so that Rolando can eat and do other work from his chair.

When the chair was finished, the entire team posed with Rolando for a picture, his smile BEAMED. It was as if he felt like a man again, not a beast on the floor. He was holding his head up high and he could see and feel that he was Valued, not only in our sight, but Valued by Jesus. That is the Joni and Friends mission, accomplished.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009Believe it or not today I took another day off just to have some fun with the kids. Since I have been on the road so much lately and camp is Just around the corner I have decided to make a point of sending some quality time with them while I have the opportunity. A new swimming pool has recently been built between here and San Marteen. Actually it is located out in the middle of nowhere. How this location was picked for a swimming pool is beyond me but the price is right and it is only a 15 minute drive from here. I don't think that this facility would exactly be OSHA approved but if you don't mind ducks and geese in the dressing room and survive the walk over the river on the not so new suspension bridge the pool itself is actually very nice. Although a few of my kids who had head colds did not swim all 15 of us had a great time and the kids asked me when we could return again.

After returning form our swim I ran a few errands, or at least I tried to run a few errands. Not until after I had signed a fairly large check did the clerk at my bank inform me that the banks computer was down so there was no way that I could deposit it. Not wanting to carry a signed check in my pocket I decided that I would get cash for it then hopefully make it across town with out getting robbed and pay a few months rent with the money. Then the clerk informed me that with out their computer there was no way that she could give me cash either. She told me that she could keep the check and my bank book and deposit the check for me when the computer came back on but knowing the track history of Guatemalan banks I decided that I had less of a chance of loosing the check than the bank did.

It has been a little over a month ago that I had my my new car alarm installed. After about 6 attempts the place that I bought it from actually got it working properly the only problem has been that they only gave me one transmitter. Guess why I bought the new alarm system in the first place. After loosing one of my old transmitters I was worried that I would not be able to start my car if I lost or broke the only transmitter that I had. The man that sold me the alarm system is very nice but for the past 30 days I have really gotten to know the true meaning of mañana. Since it has been nearly a week now since he told me that he would have a second transmitter for me and since he sounded even more sincere then he did any of the other 20 or more times that I stopped by, I actually had my hopes up today. Silly me, perhaps mañana.

Then again I could go back to my original car alarm,
but dog food is getting expensive.

Well the kids are fed and all but the 3 that are staying have headed for home so I guess I will call it a day. More mañana.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This morning Calin, Miguel, Cesar and I headed out to see some families that live near the coast. This is The first time that I let Calin come along to interpret for me since I caught him stealing from me several months ago. Hopefully though it will not be his last because Calin has a real hart for his fellow Guatemalans. On a recent water filter distribution a lady from that area told us about several children that appeared to be starving. She told us that Dominica, the small town that she was from had a small clinic but told us that they did not have much medicine and they were not equipped to help kids that were severely malnourished. Her plans today were to meet here at the clinic to meet with the mayor's wife and the doctor. When we arrived I saw several people outside of the shabby building that served as the clinic. At first I thought that they were waiting for it to open but once I stepped inside I saw that there were so many people waiting to see the doctor that there was simply not enough room inside for everyone. (Sorry no pictures but since this was my first time here I did not want to take out my camera.) We were led to a small room in the back of the clinic. That served as the doctor's office, drug store, and examination room. The room could not have been more than 8 feet by 10 feet and the drug store was nothing more than a few small shelves that had medicine on them. We were introduced to the doctor who was a lady that appeared to be in her twenties. She told us that she had recently graduated from medical school and that she had only been at the clinic for a few months. I asked her how many other doctors worked there and she told me that she was the only one. She went on to say that there were severl families that had brought in malnourished children that were severe enough that they should be admitted into a malnutrition center. She had herd of Hermano Pedro in Antigua but did not know how to go about getting any of the children admitted there. I told her that I was fairly certain that we could get these kids into Hermano Pedro and that I would gladly help them do that. I was hoping that we could go and visit some of these families but was told by the social worker that she did not have clear directions as to where they lived and that it would take a few days to locate them. I am planning on returning on November 9 and am praying that it is not to late for any of them.

The picture above is of 8 year old Julio when we found him not to far from this town a few years ago.

A five month stay at the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro made a big difference for Julio. Please pray that the children that we were told about today can receive help as well.

Last night I got a call from Ronny and his family asking me when I was going to pay them a visit. They were delighted when I told them that it would be today. While we were on our way there I received a call from Ronny's mom telling me that Clara, one of Ronny's sisters had just fallen and broken her arm. I told mom that it would be still be a few hours before I could get there but if she could not find transportation to a doctor before we got there we would help get her to one.

When we arrived at Ronny's place Ronny's father told us that mom, Clara, and another daughter had already left by buss for the National hospital in Esquentla. I can only imagine what an hour and a half ride on an old school buss down bumpy dirt roads feels like when you have an unsplinted broken arm.

Our trip was not a wasted one though because we had a good visit with dad and the kids. We also discovered that the family was out of groceries and in need of medicine. Besides that I have sort of fallen in love with this family.

Our final visit of the day was at the home of the family that we are trying to relocate. I guess I can actually say the family that we are going to relocate. Thanks to a generous sponsor we are in the process of purchasing a plot of land near the coast and in February a teem is coming in to put up one of the prefabricated homes that we have been building.

When we arrived six of the kids were there but they told us that mom was doing layndry for a family that lives in a village about a mile and a half away. Up until now I have not seen any of the kids show any emotion but after visiting for about an hour I actually managed to get them to laugh while I was taking a picture. I won't say what I did to get them to laugh but I was sure glad that I was not the one that was having his picture taken.
When I got home my house quickly filled up with kids. I let them stay for a while but then told them that I was taking only Abner and Alex out for dinner. They both graduated from 6th grade today so I had promised to take them out to eat to where ever they wanted to go. I figured that since there were only 2 of them I could afford to take them out some where besides Camperos. Besides that I was looking forward to a good meal. How was I to know that they would choose Burger King? Oh Well it was fairly inexpensive. When we got back home I discovered that the entire group had not moved from my front gate. At least Abner, Alex and myself got hamburgers. Tonight I fed the rest of the kids corn flakes.

It is getting late and I still need a shower. Hopefully the 3 kids that are in it right now are water logged enough that they are ready to get out. I sort of figure that an hour long shower should be enough for anyone.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, October 29. 2009

Today was pretty much a stay at home and get caught up on things day. Esbin, Elder and Fernando, stayed over last night and this morning they made it quite clear that they wanted to spend the day here as well. However after breakfast I told them that they would have to go home for a while so that I could get some book work done. I told them that I would let them back in after I had finished but that would likely be about three hours. Three and a half hours later I opened my gate and found the 3 of them sitting there waiting to come back in to my house. I asked them when they had returned and they looked at me and said that they had never left. I may have to reevaluate just how important it is to have the house to myself when I am writing these journals. Especially when there are kids outside that are not welcome in there own homes. All three of these kids have uncles or aunts that they stay with but Fernando has never met his father and has not seen his mother since he was a year old. Esben and Elder went back to live with there mother after the lady that was caring for them died but after a few weeks mom decided that they were a nuisance and kicked them back out of the house. This after noon I scrapped my plans to go to the orphanage and flew kites with the kids instead.

This evening I had to go to the airport. Esben and Elder's uncle had sent Marcos over to tell them that he wanted them to come home and do some work but Fernando was still hanging out here. I knew how much he wanted to go along but I had already promised 2 of the other boys that they could ride along with me. I told Fernando that I didn't think that I could take him along because the person that I was picking up was coming with a lot of luggage and I was not sure how much room I would have. Fernando said that he understood but I could see the tears building up in his eyes as he walked towards the door. As it turned out Fernando, Cesar, and Kevin had no problem fitting in with the luggage and I am glad that I let all three of them come along.

Jack Cregs, the man that we picked up from the airport plans on staying for a week. Jack who is a wheelchair specialist brought a power wheelchair and a number of head control units along with him from the States. During the next few days he and I plan on getting a number of head controlled power wheelchairs going and hopefully deliver three of them to people that have been waiting for far to long.

I am actually writing this on Friday. Jack's plane arrived in Guatemala 2 hours late so the boys and I did not get home until close to midnight. When we got home I decided that sleep was more Important than writing in my journal so I put that off until 6:00 AM. Come to think of it that is only 6 hours of sleep. Think I will close for now and see if I can catch another hour of sleep before the kids wake up and turn on their rap music. They keep insisting that I should like it because it is Christian rap but I still have not acquired a taste for it. I guess I could tell them all to go home for a few hours but they would probably just tell me that they are at home.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, October 30, 2009
For the next few days we have the blessing of having not one but 3 seating specialists here from the states. Since we do not have any large wheelchair distributions planned we plan on using their talents setting up delivering some wheelchairs to several people that have been waiting for quite some time for wheelchairs that are specially designed for their specific needs. Most of our day today was spend in Bethel Ministries wheelchair repair shop getting some pediatric wheelchairs and head controlled power wheelchairs set up.

Seven year old Elder did most of the cooking tonight. Alex seldom complains but did mention that his french toast tasted a bit funny. I guess he must have gotten one of the peaces that Elder dropped on the floor.

Tonight's dish washing crew also consisted of 3 of the younger kids. Unlike some of the older kids the younger ones never have to be asked to help out with household chores. I think that is because no one has ever told them that work is not suppose to be enjoyable.

Tonight some of the girls actually managed to get the computers away from the boys.

Well that's about it for now. Thanks for your prayers.

Yours in Christ:


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