* 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)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Journal November 19-26

I mentioned in my last Journal entry that during the 3 weeks of camp my journal entries were likely to be hit and miss. Fortunately 2 more of our American volunteers have come to my rescue. So here is what Amie and Anne wrote.

(4 pictures were necessary just to get all of the teen campers to fit in.)

Camp in Chimaltenango Guatemala

Week One Teen Camp

Amie Spriensma wrote

God has used this week to reveal more about His love in any language. Edgar Garcia and many others have blessed me with their beautiful smiles. Marvin writes and recites such passionate poetry, he should write a book. He definitely has a good word for the people of his generation. Debora cannot hear and her speech outside of sign language is limited; nonetheless, her vibrant eyes and patient touch have spoken volumes to my heart. Rene David likes to draw in his spare time, but he has difficulty making people’s noses look realistic in his drawings. Every person with a disability also has abilities and a unique story to be discovered. It has been my true pleasure to see the joy of our Lord revealed in all different spaces, faces, and places these past few days. I wish I could give this special camp experience to everyone I know at least once! It would give each one of them many great memories to cherish and delight in as they face every day that is yet to come!


Anne Longo

What an amazing week! We met many people with disabilities at the beginning of the week and said goodbye to those same people as friends at the end of the week. God moved mightily in the hearts of the campers and the staff. The staff were united with one accord as the Scripture says; as you give to the least of these you give to Me. Most of the campers were not only disabled but poor. But I came to realize that we were the ones who were poor; poor in spirit. They prayed before they did anything. Beautiful hearts; the Guatemalan teens who volunteer for 3 weeks were loving; giving and caring a wonderful example of the compassionate heart of God. The America staff were here as servants of God’s hands and feet doing and performing as needed.


We had a banquet and closing ceremonies on the last night of teen Camp. I was honored that Ascension who has been my friend for nearly ten years, saved her last dance for me.


I must admit though that we had one highly talented person at camp that outdid any dance that Ascension, myself, or any one else at camp attempted to do.


...............^ Click button to play Pastor Bills rendition of Swan Lake.

Please pray that Pastor Bill still has a job and a wife after this video is posted.

I am not sure if it was just a pastor thing or what, but during the weekend Pastor Chris got a bit flaky on us as well. On a visit to the orphanage he did little to stifle the superstition that Americans eat Guatemalan children. Although Lionel who is thoroughly enjoying Chris's antics may help to convince them otherwise.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Week 2 Kids Camp

Between airport runs, kids camp, the kids in my neighborhood, and everything else that has been gong on I have not had much to time to do any journaling this week but this morning I will try to take the time to write about some of the highlights.Most of Saturday was spend bringing some of last week's American Volunteers that helped out at teen camp to the airport while picking up new ones that were coming in to help out at this week's kids camp. This week we have right around 18 American volunteers here at camp. There are also close to 15 Guatemalan teens that are volunteering their time to make sure that those that attend the camp are well looked after and that they have a wonderful time. I can not say enough about the dedication of all of our volunteers. With out them we would not be able to have a camp.

I have been managing to keep myself busy as well. Mat Smeltzer and I are rooming with 6 energetic boys that are here from 2 different orphanages. They are a blast but they are definitely keeping us busy. Nearly all of them are taking medications that have to be administered several times a day and only 2 of them are potty trained. Fortunately even though Mat and I are the ones staying with these boys there are lots of volunteers so several of them come over and help us out at bed time and when we get the kids up in the morning.

I have been letting a few of my neighborhood kids come along to camp and help out as well. I do not want them to feel left out. Besides that they know a lot of the kids that attend camp and do a great job of helping out with them.

Tuesday afternoon 3 of the American volunteers and myself left camp for about an hour to meet up with 15 of my neighborhood kids for a soccer game. Torrey Babb and his wife met us at a soccer field that we had rented. Tory and his wife have ministry called The Mission Ball that involves sharing the gospel and giving out Soccer balls that have scripture texts written on them, to kids all over the world. My American friends were amazed at the talent that many of my kids have when it comes to playing soccer. We had a great time and the soccer balls that were given to my kids were greatly appreciated.

On Wednesday we took all of the campers to a park that is about a half hours drive from here. This may sound like an easy task but loading up 3 buses and one car with kids, family members, volunteers, wheelchairs, food, and (don't forget the) diapers involves a bit of work. A great time was had by all though.

I think that the highlight of everyone's day was the horse back riding. Although some enjoyed just hanging out and making new friends.

The sleeping habits of some of these kids leaves a little to be desired. Tuesday night Henry had a rough night so I ended up getting about 2 hours of sleep. So last night one of the volunteers took my place so that I could go home and get a good night sleep. I plan on returning to camp later today but want to spend the morning at home getting caught up on a few things like this journal. I am not sure that being at home is all that much more relaxing than camp though because 2 kids spent the night and 4 are now here for breakfast. Oh well at least these 4 are potty trained.

I just got off the phone with Pastor Bill. He told me that they had quite a scare at camp last night. Stephanie, one of our Guatemalan volunteers had a serious asthmatic attack last night and almost died. They rushed her to the hospital in Chimaltenango and then to Antigua where she stopped breathing and had to be revived 3 times. Bill said that she is now doing well and that she is even talking about returning to camp later today.

Yours in Christ: Dick

I saved the best for last. My friend Joseph Starling has also been doing some journaling this week. Joe just handed the following to me. I think that it sums up what camp is all about.

Chilmaltenango, Guatemala Missions 2009

“Living Inside Out"

This is a summary of this week’s awesome missions week here in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. The theme of this year’s missions is “Living Inside-Out” and it was truly shown. God’s beauty and love has been all over this place! Titus 3:1-8 is a prime example of what is good. Sharing and showing God’s love, Agape Love. Not only that, but also using our gifts and talents from a simply smile that shines bright as the sun that shines the Son, Jesus Christ, to saving a life in an unexpected time. Prayers have been answered throughout the week and tears have shed.

James 1:27 says “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep one’s self from being polluted by the world.” We have being obedient to God’s calling by doing His will. We have been Romans12. We are God’s living sacrifice. There has been prophesying, serving, encouraging, contributing, leadership, and showing mercy throughout the week. In some way or another all of these have been done.

Even working with the volunteers from Guatemala has been great and greatly appreciated. The teamwork has been like fresh flowing streams of water from Guatemala, Ireland, Canada and North America coming together as one to do God’s mission. This teamwork is teamwork that only God can create. The body of Christ Jesus, the Church was represented here.

There were families that came from distances from as far as 9 hours away and from near by. Some had to borrow money just to make it here, and some had to use what little that they had just to make it here. They made the sacrifice to take care of that family member that is in need of have medical attention taken care of to receiving a wheelchair. Some haven’t even had a decent meal. Just talking about this brings tears to my eyes.

I haven’t been back since 2003 and I’m so grateful that God opened the doors for me to come back to be obedient and serve. God is awesome in this place! It was great serving side by side with familiar faces and with new faces as well. I’ve made new friends in the process. The people that God put together for this week to happen were so greatly designed. Watching Dick R. and his little and not so little guys just love up on each other and others at the orphanage and here at the camp was so great to see. There was such faithfulness in Dick’s labor and love. The rest of the team that I want to include are Pastor Bill, Pastor Chris and his whole family, Tim, Christian, Joan, Matt, Margaret, Hank, Alice, Anna, Leah, Katlin, Lindsey, Amy, Lauren, Maria, Heather, Helen, Liz and Peyton. There was such servant-hood shown here and it wasn’t for selfish reasons or gains. What’s even more awesome is that I was able to share this whole week with my son Peyton. This was his first missions away from home. I am in total awe of watching him grow up right in front of my eyes. From the fireworks going off at “NO o’clock” in the morning to the roosters crowing and dogs barking in the middle of the night, I wouldn’t trade this week for the world. The Word says in Mark 8:36, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” I’d rather lay down my life to do God’s will and His way than to sink in the quicksand of worldliness and its worldly pleasures. I choose to be transformed whole than to be conformed to this world.

The mission does not stop here at the end of this week. It continues on even when we return home to our families. We must run the race and run it, (life), as a marathon. God is not finished with us yet! It is so good and pleasing to look after the cares and interest of others than those of my own. Just as Jesus said, “I did not come here to be served, but to serve.” It doesn’t stop at the washing each others feet. It’s continuous and contagious for the glory of God. It was an honor and pleasure to do the photos for the campers that were here for the week I was here. It was a blessing to bless the families with acts of love and kindness. Some of the comical tidbits that I want to add are Tim with his black eye and his duck “Quacky”, “Afro-kid”, Peyton, BUffalo Christian, Pastor Bill, Matt, and Pastor Chris dancing, smashed fruit on one of the ladies dorm room door and more.

There is one of the campers out of all the campers I’ve met here this year and had a great time to spend with and serve is Rodney and his family. I enjoy and will miss greatly all of the campers but Rodney is the one that I connected with. His mother allowed me to walk with him, feed him, and just be there for them. The time with them was so precious. Just giving his mother time to eat and take care of her little daughter was much needed for her. Just by looking into Rodney’s eyes told me that God was in him and letting him know that everything was alright and that He was in control. I’m so blessed to be there for them and it isn’t for me but to glorify God, obey God and to do the will of God.

It’s time to take the limits off of what we do in our regular everyday living and thank God for who He is and for the relationship we have with Him through His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. God is getting all the glory for what He is spreading across this land. His love, AGAPE LOVE.

Joseph D. Starling
Tampa, Fl

Thank you Joe, and thank you to everyone that helped to make this camp a reality.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Journal, November 16-18, 2009

(Click on any picture to enlarge)

One thing I love about camp is that we try to make sure that our campers do not only hear about Jesus, we also do our best to show them Jesus.

Camp officially started on Monday. I have been promised by a few of our American volunteers that they will give me copies of some of their daily journals so I will try to add pictures and publish them as soon as I receive them. I have not personally spent all that much time at camp yet this year. One of the reasons being the numerous trips that I have made to the airport picking up volunteers. Due to the untrustworthiness of our van one of these trips took 7 hours instead of the usual 2 to 3 hours. This year I am also trying to spend more time with the ever growing number of neighbor hood kids that are more and more considering my home their home as well.

The number one thing that has so far kept me from spending much time at camp though has been a cantankerous power wheelchair that I have been trying to get set up for Gustavo. Gustavo is a 24 year old resident of an orphanage in Guatemala City. Cerebral palsy has left Gustavo with arms and legs that refuse to do what his brain tells them to do. Fact is they have to be anchored down to keep Gustavo from accidentally hitting or kicking himself or any one that comes near him. Even though Gustavo's arms and legs do not work well and it is difficult to understand him when he speaks Gustavo is an amazing tender harted young man. For nearly 2 years now I have been promising Gustavo that I would do what I could to get him set up with a wheelchair that he could drive himself. It seems that there have been countless obstacles though. The first of which was convincing the mother superior who runs the orphanage where Gustavo lives that he should have a power wheelchair and that he would actually be able to drive one if he were given one. Once that less than easy task was accomplished there was the problem of locating the components to build a head controlled wheelchair. New head controllers are very costly and it seemed that any used components that were sent to us were broken or warn out. A few weeks ago Jack Craigs a seating specialist from the United States came down and brought some head control units. While Jack was here we got a head controlled power wheelchair going for a man in Guatemala City that had been shot and paralyzed in a robbery, but Jack's stay here was far to short so even though I had promised Gustavo that I would have a power wheelchair ready for him by camp time neither of us had found the time to work on a wheelchair for him. That is why for the past several days I have been spending my time in the shop trying to peace together a head controlled wheelchair. I don't know why but this particular project has been one of the most difficult hat I have ever worked on. In the past few years I have put to gather several similar wheelchairs but this one was a nightmare. Monday night I finally got it going though and other than a few finishing touches it was ready to go. Guess what. When I showed up at the shop this morning and turned on the switch everything was dead. These head controlled chairs have dozens of components and I know that the problem could lye anywhere. After nearly throwing in the towel I did a lot of praying and finally traced the problem down to the main computer. Alturo and I did an extensive search through our shop and found a used one that worked. Another hour of reprogramming this computer and the wheelchair was finally ready. After all this work I was still not 100% sure that Gustavo would even be able to control a wheelchair with his head. What I did know is that if this did not work for him there would be no other way that he could control a wheelchair and that he would have to spend his entire life relying completely on others for making his every move. I knew that I had to at least give him the opportunity to see if he had enough control of his head to drive a wheelchair.

Were all the hours spent setting up Gustavo's wheelchair worth it?
Watch this video and then you be the judge.

.................^ Click button to see video.

I only wish that I had not run out of memory on my camera before Gustavo entered a wheelchair race this afternoon. It didn't matter that he came in well after everyone else, Gustavo is still a real winner!

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Journal, Sunday, November 15, 2009, 3:35 AM

Not Enough Unfolded Hands.

I cannot sleep so I thought I would get up and do some writing.

(Be careful because often times when I get up in the middle of the night to do my journaling I say what I think.)

A few days ago I received a letter from a friend who visited Guatemala awhile back. While she was here I took her and the group that she was with through Hermano Pedro orphanage. Over the years most groups that I have taken through the orphanage do quite well with the kids. There have been a few that view the kids as nothing more than a disfigured person from whom they may catch what ever it is that has caused this less than human looking creature to become this way, but most see beyond the disfigurement or illness and recognize the child for what he or she is, a living breathing, human being, a real person with a real hart and soul, someone just like ourselves who craves to be acknowledged, to be held, to be loved, someone who was created in the image of God. During her visit to the orphanage my friend Christie did exactly that. She saw the children as the precious human beings that God had created them to be. She fell in love with them all but one particular little girl grabbed onto her hart strings. Physically Perla is not the most beautiful girl in the world but God allowed my friend to see Perla for what she was and took away any blindness that some of us who look only at the outward appearance of a human being often see. Christie was able to see the real beauty of this precious child and was able to look into the eyes of an angel. She knew that she was having the privilege of holding and loving on one of God's children. A child that had been created in His image.

Here is part of the letter that I received from Christie after she returned home from her trip.

Hi, Dick, I was with the Joni and Friends group that left last week. I saw on your blog the picture of me with Perla Garcia in the middle of the heart. Wow! That really meant a lot to me..... This email is to ask the biggest, hugest favor of you... Because of what Perla meant to me, and because I was able to make her smile, laugh, and giggle... I would like to ask you to spend at least 5 minutes with her any time you go to the orphanage. She has changed my life and I'll never forget her and the children of the orphanage! If you put your face right next to her face or her arms and legs and blow all over her and then gently tickle her legs, under her chin, under her arms and the bottom of her feet...I'm sure that you will be given the immeasurable gift of her laughter ... and knowing that Jesus is dwelling in her.


I thought about ending today's journal here leaving you with a nice warm feeling but I just cannot do that. I would love to have been able to write Christie back and tell her that ever since I received her letter I have made sure that every time I got into Hermano Pedro I rushed over to Perla's crib, scooped her up in my arms and reminded her that she was loved, but the truth is I have been so busy lately that I have not been able to spend nearly as much time there as I would like. I had to tell my friend Christie that I could try to make her feel good by saying that I would do that, but I could not make a promise that I can not keep. There are over 240 residence at Hermano Pedro. Spending only 5 minutes a day letting each one of God's children that live there know that they are loved would take 20 hours. So most days Perla and over 200 children like her have to spend their day lying in a crib staring at the ceiling hoping and praying that just perhaps another Christie will walk by, pick them up and remind them that they are loved.

Undoubtedly many of you who reed this will be praying for these children and others like them. I thank you for that, but these children need more than just folded hands they need loving arms. Could it be that God is telling you that it is now time to get up off from your knees or what ever part of your anatomy you are presently on, so that you can be His hands and His feet?

Yours in Christ:

Camp will be starting tomorrow. It is likely that during the next 3 weeks of camp I will not be able to make journal entries every day. I am working on getting some of our volunteers to do a bit of journaling and will post their entries or mine when ever I find the time.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Journal, November 6-11, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

Once again Daryl Fulp has journaled today's happenings, so once again I am going to take the day off from writing and let you read Daryl's account of what took place.

Another side of Guatemala

by Daryl Fulp

There are some days that are very difficult to summarize in a blog. Today is one of those days, but I will do my best.

This morning, my good friend Dick Rutgers picked our team up from the hotel and, along with two of his little amigos, Fernando and Cesar, exposed us to some of the incredible needs and opportunities that Guatemala has to offer. We drove to the coastal region near the town of San Jose where we spent time with four families who made a strong impact on our team.

Our first visit was with Irma, a lady with whom Dick has worked for several years. She had been disowned by her mother as a child due to her disability and for several years she was dragging herself on the ground from place to place in her village. Bethel Ministries whom Dick works with, supplied her with a wheelchair and she has been an attendee of the yearly camp in Chimaltenango. Today we delivered a new chair to her and spent time visiting with her family.

While we were in Irma’s village we were swamped by children who wanted to see the Gringos and get some of the candy we offered. We planned to give one piece per child, but quickly abandoned that plan and gave seconds!

From there we drove to another home that is about three miles away, as the crow flies, but involved nearly an hour’s drive. There we visited with Julio, a little guy that Dick had found some time ago severely malnourished in a hammock behind the family’s house.

He convinced the family to allow him to take Julio to Hermano Pedro for treatment where he was fattened up and then returned home. With the help of a sponsor, Dick is providing food for the family on a regular basis in order to assure that Julio does not return to his former state. The father is a hard worker who is currently without work and is awaiting the coming sugar cane harvest which will provide him with employment for the season.

We were able to deliver groceries to this family, including the lunch we had packed for ourselves. We decided that we could do without in light of the need we were seeing. Julio was such a wonderful little guy and Kathlin, Rachel, and Bev had a wonderful time holding and playing with him and the little ones.

As we were preparing to leave it was discovered that the rear passenger tire of Dick’s Land Cruiser was flat. It was raining and muddy and we prepared ourselves to get very messy changing the tire. However, a group of men from the village stepped forward and did most of the work. One of them even laid down in the mud to position the jack properly. When all the work was done, Dick and I had dirty hands, but the men who helped were filthy. As we left, Dick told us what a blessing that flat tire was. When he first came to the village to help Julio the men in the village told the family not to trust him. They said if they allowed Dick to take Julio they would never see him alive again. But now, through the relationship he has built with the family and the help he has offered, he is trusted by those same men. It was both wonderful and humbling to see their eagerness to assist Dick in return for the help he has so freely offered.

After we left, we air dried for a little while with the windows rolled down and then stopped for lunch at a roadside burger stand. All the guys ate a cheeseburger, but the women opted out. I think they were a little concerned about food-borne illnesses. The rumbling in my stomach makes me wonder if they were right!

From there we went to the home of Henri, a little guy with cerebral palsy. When Wanda and I came to Guatemala in September we brought along a wheelchair that was donated by our friends the Riffels. We had left it at Hermano Pedro for Dick to use as he chose. As it turns out, Henri was the perfect candidate for the chair, so our team had the privilege of delivering the chair and assisting with the fitting. What a joy it was to see Henri sitting up straight and unassisted in his new chair!

Once again our team was overwhelmed by children as we worked on the chair. More candy was passed out and a good time was had by all, especially Bev who was in grandma heaven!

Our last stop was at the home of a young man named David. David is preparing to graduate after a long and difficult road. He was disabled from birth by spina bifida and his mother fought for his education.

Mother would carry David to school each day on her back, across a stream, to deliver him to school. However, the teachers would leave him in the corner of the room and not work with him. In fact, he was often teased and made fun of by the teachers. Finally his mother withdrew him from school after third grade and he remained unschooled for several years. Through sponsorship Bethel Ministries, whom dick works with, was able to arrange for a tutor and eventually to get him back in school. On Monday this fine young man will graduate and move on. It was a privilege to meet him and the mother that fought so hard for her son’s education.

I am sure by now that you understand how difficult it is to put a day like this into words. While this blog cannot do it justice, I pray that I have at least given you a glimpse of the impact this day has had on me and the team. Thanks, Dick, for providing us with a great day of ministry and memories!


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Today I spent my entire day here in Chimaltenango. Once again part of my day was spent putting my car back together. The last trip did in a tire on my car that was just a little over a week old. If your read yesterday's journal you would know that it was the best $100 that I ever spent. Funny how we can some times question why God allows what we consider bad things happen in our lives only to later discover that God used them for something good. I guess that I have to read Romans 8:28 more often.

At around 1:00 Pm I went over to Chino's house. Chino was having a graduation party. There were lots of people at his house to celibate and over all it was a happy occasion but both Chino and his mother started to cry when Chino expressed his wish that his father could have been at the graduation. Several years ago Chino's father left to find work in the States . The family is praying that he will come back home by Christmas. The trouble is they have been praying that same prayer for 6 years now.

I gave some thought about going to Hermano Pedro orphanage after the graduation party but I knew that my kids here at home needed some of my time as well. Besides that I knew that, at least for today, my bases were covered. Not that there are ever too many volunteers there for all of the kids, but my friend Daryl Fulp and the groups that he brings along with him when he comes here from the States does a wonderful job when they are here. Many well meaning groups come into the orphanage and most make a gallant effort of entertaining the kids. Granted Darryl and his groups love to entertain them as well but they have learned that there is something that has to go along with the entertainment and that is loving on the kids. I guess puppets and clowns are OK but what these kids need the most is a real person. A person that is willing to hold them , to play with them, to laugh with them, to cry with them. A person that is willing to let each one of these precious children know that he or she is a real person. These children need people that are willing to show them the kind of love that our Heavenly Father gave to us when he sent his only Son here to earth to be a real person that was willing to die for us.


The following is what Daryl wrote in today's journal.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

It Keeps Getting Harder

I am sitting in the Guatemala City airport after having said goodbye to the kids and adults at Hermano Pedro yet again. It seems like saying goodbye should get easier, but it doesn’t. In fact, this was harder than ever before.

This is the off-season for tourists and volunteers at HP. The number of people who come in to help with the kids is at the lowest point of the year, so I wonder how often these kids are spoken to, caressed, held, and loved. And when they are, will the person doing it know what each child needs.

Will they know that Estuardo is soothed by having someone mimic the creative noises he makes with his mouth? Will they know that Diego loves to be pushed backward in his wheelchair? Will they know that Leslie is comforted by softly clapping? Will they know that Ervin acts out when he feels abandoned but is a sweet little guy when he knows he is loved? Will they know that Louis loves a gentle breeze on his face and hates loud noises?

The answer to all the questions is, “Likely not.” They cannot know these things because they will probably not know the children. (Just yesterday I had to explain to a group of volunteers that Gloria was nearly deaf and needed to feel the vibrations from their chest and that Leslie was blind and needed their touch instead of their hand puppet.) And this highlights the problem. These children are a part of an institution, not a family.

Within a loving family, a child is known. Their likes, loves, hates, and fears are known by the family that loves them. And that knowledge is used to create a place of safety and joy. And that is why our family is so desperate to get to Guatemala and create a home for these children based on family. So, I return home once again to continue our furious preparations that will enable our move. And as I do, I pray that our house sells quickly, fund raising goes smoothly, and that we reach our new home soon. Children are waiting.


Daryl, his wife Wanda and their 10 children are selling everything that they own so that they can move here to Guatemala to serve full time.

Click here to see Daryl's web page.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, November 8, 2009This has got to be the first time in years that I did not have between 8 and 12 kids come along to church with me but believe it or not this morning I only had one. Some of them were sick, some had football games, and a few went to another town to see relatives. At any rate it ended up being just Fernando and myself. It so happened though that about 8 or 9 kids wondered into church off from the streets and just for a moment there I thought about inviting them along to lunch with Fernando and myself. Like I said I only thought about it for a moment then I thought about next week when my 12 kids would likely be back. 20 kids id just a few to many to handle so I said a little prayer that some one else would take them under their wing. I am afraid that didn't happen though because about an hour later I saw them wondering the streets. perhaps next week I may have to re-think that 12 is enough thing.

After lunch Fernando and I headed over to Hermano Pedro and had some fun with the orphanage kids. Sonia, Veronica, David and Moises,were out in the courtyard. The other 50 or more kids from their section were in bed for the day. Fernando managed to use his charm to convince one of the nurses to allow him to get Henry out of bed and the 2 of them had a great time playing together. Fact is before I knew it Fernando had Moises and Henry in their walkers and had a wheelchair, walker soccer game going in the courtyard. I have said it before but it bares repeating. I wish that they let 12 year old's run orphanages.

While the kids were playing soccer I went up to the malnutrition ward and checked in on a few new arrivals. I got to know a few of these kids when we gave them new wheelchairs a few days ago. At that time Walter, a new little boy caught my attention. I had guessed that he was around 6 years old but my guess was off by 5 years. Walter is 11. He has to be one of the saddest looking kids that I have ever met. As skinny as he is I have little doubt that he would have survived for long in his village but here in the orphanage he appears to be in shell shock. New arrivals are always kept in isolation for a few days but today I convinced the nurses to let me take Walter outside for a little while. Outside consists of an open area that is just out side of the door to the malnutrition ward and although you are still in the confines of the building you can see the sky if you look straight up. Walter seemed to enjoy getting out of the malnutrition ward but never once smiled and would say ma ma to every lady that walked by. When I carried him back to his bed he threw his arms around my neck and refused to let go. It was hard for me to put him back into his bed not that his grip on my neck was all that strong but it was still hard.

When I got home I received a call from Jason. He wanted to know if I could come over to his home and have dinner with him and his family in celebration of his 14th birthday. The 10 kids that were in my house were not all that fond of my leaving but I said that I would open the place back up when I returned and even promised that I would give them supper. Jason, his mother, father, and 3 siblings all live in a small room in the back of their grandfather's house. Mother, father and 3 of the kids stood while Jason, his grandfather, and I got served. We were on the only 3 chairs that were in the house. I offered my chair to mother but she refused. She told me that I was their guest and that they would stand to eat. I felt a bit awkward when I noticed that my portion of food was twice the size of anyone else's but knew that the family would be offended if I offered any of it to any one else. There was no cake and there were no presents just a simple dinner. I wish so that I had brought a cake or a present but I was not given much notice. Jason and his family thanked me over and over for coming. To my understanding this was the closest thing to a birthday party that Jason has ever had.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ever feel like you have been conned? I can distinctly remember talking to the kids last night and promising 2 and only 2 of them that I would be letting them come along with me to Democratica this morning. Why was it then that there were now 4 kids in my car with me? I could go into a lengthy explanation but I still don't have it figured out myself. Oh well why am I complaining it was only yesterday that I was hoping for 12 of them to come along and only got one.

My reason for the hour and a half drive to Democratica was to have a meeting with Edna a social worker and the Mayor's wife. I called Edna a half hour before we arrived and she told me to just wait for her outside of the clinic because she was going to be a few minutes late. About an hour later one of the workers from the clinic came out and told me that Edna was not going to be there today but that the malnourished kids that I had come to see were there and that the doctor would show them to me. When the doctor and I walked into the small room where the children were we were both shocked to see that most of the kids there looked relatively healthy. I scratched my head and looked over at the doctor who was scratching her head. Oops wrong kids. A quick phone call to Edna confirmed that they had not been able to locate the malnourished kids that she had told me about but she promised that she would do her best to find them and get back to me. Had I been conned twice in one day? I am not sure but I did ask the doctor to e-mail me pictures before I make another trip. I think that this place is on the up and up though because I saw a lot of people there that were in need of medical treatment. I also met a dedicated doctor that appears to be in her mid twenties. Unfortunately her stay at the clinic is only temporary. In December she will be moving to Esquentla.

Since we finished up a lot earlier than expected the boys and I decided to take a more remote road home. There were several rivers to cross but no bridges. Some of the villages that we traveled through were among the poorest that I have ever seen. I am sure that if we had stopped at any of them and asked we would have found that her were enough needs in any one of them to keep us busy for a life time. Perhaps another day but I had already given the clinic in Democratica what ever medicine that I had with me.

When we got back home I took an hour long kid break and then we all gathered up on a soccer field that I had rented. I actually played an entire game with out getting hurt (to badly).

Tonight was just going to be sandwich night for the kids but that was before I discovered that my refrigerator had quit running. The kids and I cooked up anything and everything that needed refrigeration and sat down to a feast. Looks like tomorrow we go refrigerator shopping.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Today was one of those go to the orphanage but don't bring your tool kit days. I need days like that every now and then. I have found that when things start closing in on me and I get the feeling that I will never catch up on everything that needs to be done it is sometimes best to step back and take a deep breath. My breath of fresh air is going to the orphanage and just chilling out with the kids. Oh yes I still got bombarded by doctors, nurses, therapists, and residents that wanted wheelchairs fixed or replaced but I just politely smiled and told them mañana. I told them that today I had simply come to the orphanage to hang out with my friends. Fernando, Esben, and Elder had also come along with me but they were no bother. All 3 are skilled at just hanging out and having fun. The 3 kids that we took to lunch were pretty good at hanging out and having fun to so over all we had a relaxing day. Funny thing is now that the day is over my list of things that need doing is even longer than it was this morning but for some reason it is not stressing me out any more.

1 Peter 5:7
"Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you."

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, November 11 , 2009

Today Bryan and Fernando spent the day with me. I usually have the kids take turns comeing along with me but this week Fernando has had more than his fare share of being able to come along with me. Several of my kids are doing quite well at English but Fernando, Calin and Abner are the 3 of my kids that do the bes job of interpreting, so when ever I need a good interpreter I try to take one of these three boys along with me. Problem is Calin has been sick for the past few weeks and Abner has been sting with relatives in Guatemala City. The only one of the kids has not been complaining about how often Fernando gets to come along with me has been Fernando. At least it is giving the others an incentive to learn English.

This morning we got my refrigerator back from the repair shop. I am not exactly sure what they did to get it running but there are now a few extra wires coming out of the back of it so I told the kids that hey have to be careful not to get a shock when they try to dry wet clothing on the coils on the back of the fridge. At least it is working and actually seems to be running quieter than it ever did. That isn't saying much though because now it sounds like a Honda instead of a Harley.

We only spent a few hours at the orphanage today but that was long enough to take 3 more kids out to lunch. Shortly after we got our food 3 girls that are studding to be therapists showed up at Camperos with 3 more of the orphanage kids. These girls have been spending the past month at Hermano Pedro as part of their training. Today they decided that they wanted to take 3 of the kids that they have been been working with out to lunch. Wow! Once they graduate they certainly have my vote if they want to work at Hermano Pedro.

After lunch the boys and I invited 90 year old Father Bernardo along with us to visit 2 people that live in Antigua. Father Bernardo told us that he hated to decline our invitation but had other commitments today.

Our first visit was to a home where another priest had been staying. I had visited him a few weeks ago to measure him for a wheelchair. This man who was 35 years younger than Father Bernardo had suffered a stroke that left him nearly paralyzed. When we got to the home we were told that only a few days ago they had moved him to a home in Guatemala City. I will still try to get the wheelchair to him but since it needs to have some special side and head support I will have to try to find the time to bring it to him myself.

Our next stop was at the home of Cesar. Cesar is the man the Father Bernardo introduced me to About a year ago. At that time 3 doctors had told Cesar that his infected leg would have to be amputated. Father Bernardo does not know much about medicine but he felt that the doctors were giving up on Cesar to quickly. A visit by an American doctor that I borough in to see Cesar confirmed Father Bernardo's suspicions and thanks to a strong stomach and the treatment that the doctor showed me how to do Cesar's leg has been saved. A few months ago the infection flared up again but once we resumed treatment Cesar's leg has once again improved. I will never forget coming back form our firs visit to Cesar's house with Father Bernardo. He told me that he loved what doing this kind of work and that he wanted to work with me. I enjoyed Father Bernardo but felt that I better let him know that even though I spent a lot of time at Hermano Pedro orphanage I was not Roman Catholic. Father Bernardo looked up and informed me that he was not Evangelical but Roman Catholic. Then he said, "Enough theological discussion. Now lets go out and do God's work." Father Bernardo has taught me a lot. No he has not turned me towards Catholicism nor will he sway my beliefs, but he has taught me that we do not have to agree on everything in order to work together.

Yours in Christ: Dick