* 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 16, 2009

Journal, October 9-16, 2009

(Click on any photo to enlarge)
Friday, October 9, 2009

Tonight I once again find myself 140 kilometers from Chimaltenango. Actually my GPS shows that if the road we traveled on had been straight we would have traveled less than 50 kilometers from home but the short cut that we traveled was anything but short. Why then did we take the short cut to Robinel? Because the paved road adds another 60 kilometers to the journey. I must admit though the dirt road is a lot narrower. Fact is I got behind a slow truck and was unable to get around it for nearly a half hour. Those of you that have ridden with me know that does not happen to often. I finally got around the truck when an oncoming van ran him off the road . That did not speed things up much though because we spent the next half hour trying to tow him out of the ditch. Now before you go jumping to conclusions and think that a land cruiser cannot pull a truck that is at least twice it's size out of the ditch let me explain that my car had the power and the traction to get the job done but every time I tried to pull the truck out my tow rope doubled in quantity and shrunk in size. We finally managed to get the truck out and other than needing a new tow rope and a bath I was no worse for ware. I think that most of oil and grease that the truck had was under it and not in it.

Alex and Cesar are accompanying me on this camp recruiting trip. Since Cesar can not get back into school this year he has been joining me on a lot of these trips. This is one of the first trips that Alex has ever been on and he seems to be really enjoying it as well. Neither of these 2 boys are all that great at English but both have promised to do their best at interpreting for me.

We arrived in Robinel shortly before dark and after checking in to our motel we went and found a place to eat. Let me tell you about the restaurants in Robinel. To my knowledge there are 4 places to eat. I have labeled them Cafe Bad, Cafe Worse, Cafe Worse Yet, and Cafe NO Way. Tonight we decided to go to Cafe Bad but after our food was brought out to us we decided that there are now 2 Cafe No Way's in this town.

The motel that we are in is the best of the 3 that I have tried out in this town. Actually I have only stayed at 2 of them all I had to do is look at the other one to put it on my Motel No Way list. The 3 of us could have rented one room for $7.50. but there are only 2 beds and I get sick of watching cartoons all night so I got the boys a room of their own. This was a bit hard on the pocket book because it is now costing us $5 per person instead of $2.50 per person to stay here. The place has a swimming pool but we have decided that since the sun has gone down we will wait to use it. Not that it gets all that cold after dark it's just that we want to see what color the water is and if there are any critters in the pool before using it. Well it is getting late and besides that I am hoping that there are less bugs under the covers than there are in the rest of the room so I am going to head off to bed.

Goodnight, (I hope)
Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, October 10, 2009 1:47 AM

Beautiful PeopleWhat more can I say?

The longer that I live here in Guatemala the more I love these warm and friendly people. True there are the bad ones but you can find them anywhere that you go, but over all the Guatemalan people are gentle and loving. Because of civil war an the way that many of them have been treated in the past and are still being treated there is still a lot of mistrust, especially of foreigners but once you get by that they are worm and friendly.

This morning Alex, Cesar and I went and had breakfast at Cafe Worse. Guess what? It appears that Cafe No Way has bought out all of the restaurants here in Robinal and has evidently brought in all of their own cooks. It looks like we will be boycotting restaurants and living on junk food while we are here.

After breakfast (or what ever that was) the boys and I went over and picked up Julia at her house. We had planned on hiking some water filter cartridges into a village today but it rained all night so there was no way that we could safely walk across the river. We ended up delivering the cartridges to a house that was located on our side of the river and when the water is a bit shallower one of the head men from the village promised that he would get them to the people. These people were given water filters about a year ago and have been using them ever since and cartage replacement is fairly easy so even though I was dissipated that we could not go in and visit with the people I am fairly confident that they will be able to install the new cartridges themselves.

We spent the rest of our day visiting people that we are inviting to camp this year. Translation was a bit of a challenge but with my limited Spanish and the boy's limited English we managed quite well. Julia knows no English but she has helped us recruit for camp in the past so she was able to fill in any details that the boys or I left out.

At about 1 PM we dropped Julia back off at her house and then headed to a town that is located about an hour from Robinel. Not only did we want to give Ludwig, a boy that lives there an invitation to camp but ever since he left the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro several years ago I have made it a practice to pick him and his family up and take them out to Camperos. Unlike other years that I have stopped there, this year I missed his birthday by about a week. However it is going to be his sister's birthday tomorrow so today's outing was in celebration of both of their birthdays. Mom dad and a grandson also joined us. Not only was the one hour drive that we made worth it to Ludwig and his family but it felt really good to be eating some thing that could be recognized as food.

Last night I slept quite well. Tonight is a different story. I was going to wait until morning to write today's journal but decided to get up for a while. I am hoping that this will give the bugs that have found a way into my bed a chance to either relocate or fall asleep. They are not biting me but seem to enjoy bugging me. They seem to have set up some sort of hiking trail that runs from my big toe to the top of my head. I have shook out the sheets several times but they seem quite persistent and within a few minutes they are back. Since there are 2 beds in my room I think that I will turn out the light and sneak into the other one. Hopefully they will not find me there for at least a few hours.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, October 11, 2009

This morning we found a place that sold whole baked chickens so we bought one, divided it up and had it for breakfast. Alex had a bit of a cough this morning so he did not go swimming but Cesar and I spent about an hour in the pool before loading up my car and heading for home. Originally we had planned on being away from home until Monday night but failing to hike into the area where we had planned on bringing the water filter cartridges gave us an extra day. The trip back home went well but things got a little tense when we met 2 motor cycles that were traveling side by side around a narrow corner. Some how we all squeezed by each other with out exchanging any paint or parts but it was a close one.Only a few kids showed up this evening because as far as anyone knew I was not going to be back home until tomorrow night. I am sure that the word will get out fast though so tomorrow morning I will stock up on groceries.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, October 12, 2009

More swimming today, but this morning it was pool therapy with a few of the kids at the orphanage.

Cesar came along with me today, and he had a great time swimming with Lionel.

We even took a few of the orphanage kids out to lunch at Camperos, but some how
we still managed to get a lot of wheelchairs repaired.

Strange thing,
but often times
when I get back home
from the orphanage,
I feel like I am still there.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, October 13, 2009, 9:11 PM

The kids have all been fed and the majority of them have gone home. The number of overnight guests is at an all time low. Only Keven and Miguel are spending the night and they are 2 of my quieter ones.

I had planned on returning to Hermano Pedro today but that was before I found another broken stud on one of the front wheels of my car. I think that my mechanic thinks I am crazy because I always get them fixed when ever I find a broken one. I think that most people here in Guatemala believe that there are 6 of them on each wheel so that you can wait until 4 or five of them break before worrying about getting them fixed. Unfortunately I have seen to many cars, trucks, and buses loose tires and go over cliffs to go along with that philosophy.

(File Photo)

"I am afraid that I will wear my camera out
if I take a new picture every time my car breaks."

I also put new tires on my car today. The man that installed my new tires gave me the same look that my mechanic did. I am sure he was wondering why I wanted new tires when the cords were not even showing on my old ones. Guess I'm just a big chicken but I hate blowouts on curvy mountain roads.

After getting my car fixed I took 4 of my kids out to eat. Today was Cesar's birthday and he had asked me a few days ago if we could do something special on it. I had given him several choices some of which included most of the kids but he opted for going out to eat at a place that was a little more expensive and having only his brother Miguel and 2 of the other kids join us. We went up to my favorite place Restaurant 56. They originally came by this name because they were located a mile post 56 on the Pan American Highway. About a year and a half ago they moved to an old plantation and are now no longer on the highway but the name still stuck. Sure makes telling some one how to get there hard but it is a great place as long as you can find it.

After ordering their meal the boys decided to play a little soccer while they waited for their meal. I never did get the story straight but while playing soccer Marcos some how fell into a plastic swimming pool. When he complained that he was getting cold Miguel unselfishly traded clothing with him. I have a feeling that there may have been a little guilt involved in Miguel's generous offer though because I overheard the other boys saying something about Marcos being helped into the pool.

After lunch and a little more soccer we headed up to the home of Maria Isabel and her family. Maria and her brother and sister were campers at our first camp 9 years ago. With in the past few years both her brother and sister have died but in spite of deteriorating health Maria continues to come to camp.

While we were at Maria's we were introduced to a lady that had a relative that was in need of a wheelchair. So after visiting with Maria and her family the lady and a few of Maria's relatives climbed into the car with us and we drove to where this other family lives. When we reached this home we received a warm greeting from a family that I had never met before. The man that needed a wheelchair was in his mid twenties. He was lying in the dirt playing with a few sticks and some plastic bowls. The family told us that he had been mental handicapped from birth and that he usually just laid on the ground. We were told that his mother could no longer lift and move him because she broke her arm a few months ago. Her arm had not healed properly and it appeared to be infected. After taking measurements and feeling out the paper work that would be needed to get a wheelchair for this young man I talked to mom about getting in to Hermano Pedro and seeing a doctor. The conversation was actually quite interesting because I had to speak in English to Fernando who would then speak in Spanish to a brother of the man that was lying on the ground. This man would then speak Queche to his mother who would then answer back to him in the same language and the son would then speak to Fernando in Spanish and Fernando would speak to me in English. If you think that my explanation of the conversation was confusing you should have herd the actual conversation. Some how though we seemed to communicate and soon we will be making plan for mom to come in and see a doctor.

Our visit was cut short by a thunder storm and plans to visit a few more campers were also put on hold. An hour and a half later we were back at home and not only were the 10 kids that didn't get to come along to lunch with us today hungry but the 4 that came along acted like they had not eaten in days.

Well that's about it for another day so I am going to say, "Goodnight".

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I know that a lot of you have been praying for Florinda and for Chris and Donna's daughter Lezeth. Both underwent surgery on Monday and both are doing well. This morning Roland sent me this picture of himself and Florinda that was taken just one day after her surgery. Please pray for a fast and total recovery of both Lezeth and Florinda.

I did a bit of bill paying this morning and then headed over to Hope Haven's wheelchair factory in Antigua. Mark had contacted me a few days ago telling me they were going to be giving wheelchairs out to about a dozen kids today and wanted to know if I could help out with the seating. Wheelchairs? Kids? how could I say no. I remember back not all that many years ago when I often went half way around the world to get in on a wheelchair distribution. This one was only half hour away.

We had some interesting cases today but got most of the kids set in wheelchairs that were manufactured right in the factory where we were working. One little guy who was really severe and having frequent seizure activity required a different make of wheelchair. Mark had a used one that had been shipped in but it required some work so we had to ask the family if they could return in a few weeks, after the chair had been repaired. I hated to see them go all the way back to their home with out a wheelchair but we wanted him to get the type of wheelchair that he needed. This poor little guy had several seizure while the family was there. He even had one while I was holding him.

Thanks to the efforts of the crew that works at the wheelchair Factory and others that came to help all of the other kids went home with exactly what they needed and not only will they be a lot more comfortable and mobile but moving them around from place to place will also be a lot easier for their parents.

We did not finish up until after 6 PM so I got home a bit late. Several of the kids were waiting outside of the gate and as usual they were all hungry. By the way all 3 of the kids that were not allowed in my house because they stole from me, or while they are with me are now allowed back but they know that they have to earn my trust back and that they are being watched closely.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, October 15, 2009

Today I spent another day at Hermano Pedro. Believe it or not I spent the entire day there with out taking any kids out to lunch. Not that I did not get asked by no less then 25 kids but I simply had too many things to do. My Main focus today was on Alex who once again no longer fit into his wheelchair. I wish that the reason that Alex's chair needed to be modified for the third time in six months was because he has been growing that fast but even though he has finally been putting on some weight that is not the main reason that his wheelchair had to be modified. Alex has to be one of the happiest most content people that I have ever met. All it takes is some one to say his name or pay him the slightest bit of attention and his smile lights up the room. It sort of makes me ashamed of myself because when I am not feeling 100% or am having a bad day, I am afraid that I do not do a lot of smiling. Alex on the other hand has a lot of bad days and as twisted as his little body is becoming I am sure that he has to be hurting a lot. There have been several evenings in the past few years that I have left the orphanage wondering if Alex would be there to greet me with that smile of his the next day but miraculously he is still with us, and I think that I know why. God has put Alex and other kids like him on earth so that they can minister to us. No Alex does not preach to me when I see him. The fact is Alex can not talk at all, but this kid, Mercedes, Ascension and many of the other kids at the orphanage have taught me more than I could have ever imagined. Today I attempted to make Alex's life just a little better for him by modifying his bed and giving his wheelchair a new seating system. Today Alex made my life a lot better by simply being Alex.Goodnight:
Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, October 16, 2009

I was awaken at 6:30 by a pounding on my gate and the ringing of my doorbell. I figured that it was Fernando who was gong to come along and interpret for me today but he was an hour and a half early. I tried to ignore the knocking and ringing but after about 10 minutes of it I decided that that this nights sleep had ended. Had it been one of the other kids I would likely have reacted differently, but it was Etiline. This morning it was the doorbell, but Etiline seems to have a knack for pushing a lot of wrong buttons whenever she is around. In a not to pleasant voice I told her that she know better than to come to the gate that early in the morning and that I had told her and the other kids a hundred times that if I did not answer the gate after they had knocked 2 times it meant that I was sleeping or busy with something else. True I had told all of the kids the same thing but had I told them all in the same tone of voice that I was now using on Etiline? It made me think. Do I always treat the kids that come into my house or other people that I deal with in the same manner or do I let some of them get under my skin and retaliate by showing in my voice or mannerisms that they are not one of my favorites? I wonder how I would feel if my Heavenly Father did that to me.

"Father please help me to treat each and every child that comes into my home with the same unconditional love that you give to each of your children.

Surprise! Fernando had no school today. Good reason though, his teacher said that he had to get some work done and didn't any students around to bother him. Fernando was a great help to me though because I wanted to do a bit more camp recruiting and could find no one that could come along and interpret for me. Cesar was more than willing but his English is no better than my Spanish. Before heading out to see any camper the 3 of us made a quick trip down to Hermano Pedro. A man was there that lived very close to the man that I met a few weeks ago that had lost his leg in an electrical accident and he was willing to deliver the wheelchair to him when he returned home in a few days.

After dropping off the wheelchair we headed to San Martin and visited several people that we wanted to invite to camp.

We got home in time to gather up the rest of the crew and have our weekly soccer game. I am happy to say that for the first time in several weeks I didn't go home with any new injuries. I wish that I could credit that to finally getting into shape but the real reason is that since 13 of my kids showed up to play 2 of us decided to be fans instead of players.

After the game the entire crew came over for supper. Tonight's supper was an easy one. This evening just before we went to play ball Alex's mom was going around the neighborhood selling tamales. When I told her that I wanted to buy 2 dozen of them she told me that she would make me a good deal and give me 2 more at no additional cost. The 13 of us got 2 tamales each and Alex's mom had her biggest sell of the week. The only part that I am still trying to figure out is why she only gave me 2 tamales for free when 3 of the kids that a fed were hers. Some how I think that she came out a little better on this business deal than I did.

Never the less the kids all went home with full stomachs. Come to think of it they didn't all go home with full stomachs. Five of them are calling this home for the night.Goodnight,
Yours in Christ: Dick


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