* GUATEMALA * * * * * * * * Dick Rutgers *

An ongoing journal of life as a Missionary in Guatemala. It will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

My Photo
Location: Chimaltenango, Guatemala

I work in Guatemala with Hope Haven international and Bethel Ministries. Along with my friends Chris and Donna Mooney and their family, we share the love of Jesus in various ways. Although giving out and maintaining wheelchairs is our primary ministry, we are involved in many other things as well. Building houses, feeding the hungry, providing education to handicapped children in orphanages and villages, and hosting a camp for the handicapped are just a small part of the things that God has given us the privilege of getting involved in. For several years now I have been keeping daily journals. Once a week I try to post new journals and pictures. My e-mail is dick@dickrutgers.com Guatemala Cell Phone # 502 5379 9451 USA Phone # 360 312 7720(Relays free to Guatemala)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Journal December 12-18, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I think that I may have accidentally gotten up on the wrong side of bed this morning. Then again perhaps it was a good thing that I did. Otherwise I would likely have stepped on one or more of the kids that claimed my floor as their bed last night.

(Click on any photo to enlarge)

Breakfast went quite smoothly considering that the number of kids had more than doubled by the time we sat down to eat. Oh yes one or two cups of hot chocolate managed to make it onto my floor instead of into the mouths of some of my younger guests but that almost always happens. It didn't matter much though because it just sort of mixed in with the Pepsi that had been spilled there during supper last night. Usually my floor gets swept 2 or 3 times a day but last night the kids convinced me that playing a few games with them was more important than sweeping the floor or doing the dishes. Now I sort of wish that I had let them do their chores before sending them out of the house today. I don't do that often but one argument to many sent me over the edge. Actually 2 of the kids had what you might call a little more than an argument because arguments do not usually draw blood. Never the less once I got the tears stopped I announced that our plans to go swimming were on hold for a few days and then ushered the entire troop out of the front gate. I was surprised that there was not more weeping and gnashing of teeth but they all took it quite well. It does not happen often but I think that they have learned how to read it in my eyes when I truly need a day off, or at least part of a day off. I told all but the 2 of them that had been fighting that my house would be open to them later this evening.

Now I had a big decision to make. What was I going to do with an entire day all to myself? Suddenly I got a terrific Idea why not head on down to Antigua and spend the day with the kids there. I know, I know! but the kids at the orphanage never fight with each other. Then again I guess it is impossible to fight when you are all locked in separate cribs. I had full intentions of going to the orphanage all by myself but when I opened my gate I discovered that Calin and Fernando were out there staring at the ground and kicking rocks.

When I told them that I was heading to the orphanage to love on the kids there they reminded me that there were far to many kids there for one person to love on by themselves. They also reminded me that they were not the ones that had been fighting. Two minutes later the 3 of us were on our way. I know, I know! but there was no way that I could take 3 orphanage kids out to lunch all by myself.

I must admit that at first my hart was not in it nearly as much as it usually is but it only took one magic word, (Camperos) and the excitement that was on the faces of Fidel, Bobby, and Lionel made me forget about the chocolate milk, coke and blood that still had to be mopped up at home. Besides that the 2 boys that came along with me are professionals at showing the orphanage kids unconditional love.

I had intended on heading straight home after bringing the 3 kids that we took out to lunch back to the orphanage but Calin and Fernando convinced me that the kids up in the malnutrition ward needed some loving as well. Yes, the malnutrition ward is off limits to kids, but the nurses there know my boys and have no problems with me sneaking a few of the orphanage kids to a fenced off area just outside of their door. Any way that is how I spent a relaxing day away from the kids.

I've got to run. I think that the crew is gathering at my gate.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Closed for the weekend.
(Went on a picknick with the neighbors and forgot to take my Camera)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Took 4 of the kids along with me to Hermano Pedro where we met up with 2 ladies from the States. We then took some of the orphanage kids out to lunch.

The girls have a saying around my house.

............................"The Boys Rule"

Not tonight though.

It does not happen often but for a few hours this evening the girls out numbered the boys.

I think that a few of my boys
may have actually felt
a bit intimidated.

Fernando hung in there,


most of the others reluctantly gave up the computers until the girls left.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

On The Road Again
Tonight 3 of my Boys and I are in Coban. This is the first day of what will likely be a 6 day road trip. Our main objective of this trip is to get into the remote area abut 2 hours north of Plya Grandi to visit with 5 families that have children that we have been sponsoring or plan to sponsor this coming school year. Although this is primarily a work oriented trip the boys and I have full intentions of making it a fun time. Believe it or not I think that it will be a relaxing time for me as well. One thing that I am grateful for here in Guatemala is that most motels charge by the amount of people and not by the room. Don't get me wrong I love these boys but after spending all day riding in a car with 3 teen agers a bit of peace and quiet are more than welcome. Tonight the boys are in room #8 and I am in room #2. I can still hear them but having 5 rooms between us at least muffles the noise somewhat. I asked for rooms 1 and 9 but they were taken.

Today we opted for cutting off close to 100 kilometers by traveling dirt roads instead of staying on the main highways. Some people think that you have a better chance of getting robbed if you travel the back roads but I personally believe that any bandit would starve to death just waiting for a car to come along on some of these dirt roads. Some of the roads were extremely bumpy but we took our sweet time and even stopped off at a river for a swim.

Most of the people that live in the back country have no wells so the rivers are used for washing clothing, bathing, collecting drinking water, and some times as rest rooms. That is one reason that we always try to swim a bit up stream from where the the villagers hang out.

..................No this is not my crew.
...................We brought our swim suits.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, December 17, 2009
Today we had planned on relaxing a bit and spending the day at Semuc Chanpey. Champey is about a 2 hour drive from Coban. The first hour is on paved roads but after that the road changes to dirt. The 2 hour drive is well worth it though because it has to be one of the most beautiful places in all of Guatemala. There is one thing about jungles though. Rain! Not only was it raining there today but it was a cold rain. We had 3 choices, stay there and get wet, backtrack 2 hours to Coban, or cut cross country on a road that made anything that we traveled on so far look like kids stuff. We took a vote. It was unanimous. What are Land Cruisers built for if not a bit of a challenge? Besides that retracing our steps back to Coban would only allow us to be on pavement for a few hours and then we would still have to drive on 5 hours of dirt road that was comparable to this before reaching Playa Grandi. I must admit the next 7 hours were some of the bumpiest that I have ever driven. I am not sure how my car kept from shaking apart but other than a few new rattles it seems to be OK.

We did have one experience where we had to do some fast talking. Some men who were filling in some pot holes (Talk about job security) told us that we would have to pay them 100Q to use the road. Between my lack of Spanish and Calin convincing them that we were poor missionaries, they finally backed down and let us go on without paying. It was dark by the time we reached Playa Grandi and we were ready to get out of the car and into our motel room. The clerk at the desk of the motel was very courteous but politely told us that there was no room in the inn. He told us about another hotel that he thought would have room so we went there and checked it out. No hot water but the had a single room and a triple and the 2 rooms were a good 50 feet apart. How was I to know that the people in the room next to mine had teen agers. Oh well I think that I will wad up some Kleenex, stuff it in my ears and try to get some sleep.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, December 17, 2009

This morning the boys and I drove another 2 hours to a settlement simply known as Nuevo Pueblo Número Cuatro (New Village Number Four). Some of the larger rivers along the way actually have bridges that you can cross once you adjust the remaining planks to your liking.

Many of the smaller rivers have no bridges.

...................^ Click button to play video
Nuevo Pueblo Número Cuatro is one of 4 settlements near the Mexican border where the Guatemalan government relocated Guatemalan's who had fled to Mexico during the civil war, which took place here in the seventies and eighties. It took several hears but the government finally followed through on their promises to build small homes for at least some of the people that relocated here once the war was officially over. Other than a few people who have been able to purchase solar cells that charge one or 2 old car batteries during the day none of the people have electricity. The nearest town is Playa Grandi and that is 2 hours away by four wheel drive. There is a public school in the village but it does not allow anyone to attend if they have any type of disability.

Onias, one of the kids that we visited today lived at Hermano Pedro orphanage for about 2 years. He was one of the first kids that we ever got a sponsor for so that he could attend school. About 6 years ago his family took Onias home for Christmas and never did bring him Back to Hermano Pedro. His leaving Hermano Pedro was bitter sweet for both Onias and for those of us who spent time with him at the orphanage. He was a neat kid and we would miss him but we knew that he wanted to be with his family. They loved him and he loved them. I guess one of the hardest parts about seeing him leave was knowing that he would no longer be getting an education. Even though Onias could not talk he was exceptionally bright and loved going to school. Nearly a year went by but I was still haunted by the fact that Onias Could not go to school. I discussed this with Chris and Donna and they felt the same way. That is why early one morning Chris and I packed up the old 4 wheel drive van and headed out to Plya Grandi, a town that was not even on the map. It took us 2 days to get there and once we arrived we realized that we still had no idea how to locate Onias. When we found a hotel we asked the manager, who appeared to be slightly inebriated, if he had any idea where Nuevo Pueblo Número Cuatro was located. He told us that he had been there once but it was still a 2 hour drive and trying to explain how to get there would be next to impossible. When we told him why we wanted to go there he said that he would go along and show us the way in the morning. I was glad to hear that the generator that at that time operated the lights to Playa Grandi shut down at 10 PM because that would mean that the bar that our room was attached to would also close down at that time and so would the jukebox that was separated from my bed by only a thin wall. This would perhaps also give our self appointed guide time to sober up a bit before we headed out in the morning.

That was five years ago. During that time not only has Onias been able to receive an education but so have 3 other children whom the public school in Nuevo Pueblo Número Cuatro would not allow to attend. Today I had the opportunity to once again visit with each of these kids and their families. The teacher that they had last year will not be able to work with them next year but we have located another one that is willing to go to their homes and teach each one of them privately twice a week.

One of the people that we visited with today was Mario. Mario is a spirited 12 year old boy whom thanks to a sponsor has been receiving private tutoring for the past few years. Mario who loves school is not allowed to attend public school because he uses a walker and crutches to get around.

Abner relaxes in a hammock
as he interprets for Mario's mother and myself.

Miceala is a very shy little girl who is confined to a wheelchair. It took a long time for her last teacher to gain her trust. I am praying that it will not take too long for our new teacher to gain her trust.

I hurt for Filipi. He is a sweet little boy who has suffered just enough brain damage at birth that he can't quite fit in at a so called normal school. His parents had thought about once again asking the principal if he could attend the public school but it is located a long way from where they live and walking any distance at all is difficult for Filipi.

Maria is a bright little girl that has CP. Although I met Maria and her family nearly 2 years ago, this will be the first year that we will be providing a teacher for her. Last year her mom and dad worked with her using some books and school supplies that we provided. Maria is still in need of a sponsor.

Onias's mom also took me to visit the home of a 5 year old girl who has downs syndrome. Since she is only 5 I told her mom that we would visit again next year but that I could make no promises. This little girl would be a real challenge to teach. Our new teacher will already be spending 30 hours a week with the 5 student that he has and we do not want to overload him.

Before heading back to Playa Grandi we returned to Onias's house where his mother served us lunch. While we were there Onias's father returned home from working the fields that are an hour away by horse back. Both Calin and Abner jumped at the chance when he asked them if they wanted to ride his horse.

Marcos politely declined after seeing Abner's attempt to get on the horse and Calin's not so graceful dismount.

Onias did not attempt to ride the horse either. He was having too much fun with the new walker that we had brought him.

It has been another long day.
but a good one!

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, December 18, 2009

Rainy season is suppose to be over but some one has evidently forgotten to relay that message to mother nature. We needed four wheel drive just to navigate the streets of Playa Grandi so we had a pretty good idea what the normal 5 hour drive back to Coban would be like. I have seen lots of pot hols here in Guatemala but I would consider some of the ones that we encountered on our way home to be sink holes rather than pot holes. We did not see many cars or trucks on our way to Cobon and most anything that was not four wheel drive was either stuck in the mud or pulled over to the side of the road until things dried out a bit. Who knows that could be days.

In spite of the mud and rain we stopped off in one little village. About a year ago I had brought 3 wheelchairs there after Saul and Hanna who were with me a few weeks earlier happened to see a warn out wheelchair sitting out in front of a house. This turned out to be a real Godincident because the visit with the owner of that wheelchair resulted in us being told about 2 other people in the village that were in need of wheelchairs. Today we decided that we would pay a visit to these 3 people just to see how they were doing.

Our first stop was at the home of the man who's warn out wheelchair had led us to himself and 2 others. Today he was sitting in an old wooden chair but he told us that he uses his new wheelchair a lot. He shared with us that after his old wheelchair completely wore out he was virtually a prisoner in this wooden chair for several years. His wife who id quite feeble would manage to set him in it in the morning and then get him back to bed each night. He told us that his new wheelchair has given him a whole new lease on life.

Our next visit was at the home of Alberto. Alberto has brittle bone disease and up until we brought him a wheelchair last year his bed was his prison. Alberto lives in a dirt floor house that has chickens running all around in it. If this were the USA I am reasonably sure that the humane society would come in and remove the chickens saying that this dwelling was not a fit place for them. In spite of the poor living conditions and the poverty that surrounds Alberto he is a delightful man. Even though he has never been to school a friend has taught him how to read and Alberto who is a Christian spend most of his time reading his Bible.

We had planned on seeing one more person who we had given a wheelchair to last year. This was a little girl who lived with her family in a one room house. I feel bad because I can not even think of her name. I do remember though how grateful her family was that some one had cared enough to come and see them yet alone give them a wheelchair. I am reminded as well that we have a Heavenly Father who cares far more than any of can ever imagine. Not only does He know us by name but he even knows the number of hairs on our head. More than that he loved this little girl so much that He gave his only Son to die for her so that she could spend an eternity with him. Today we were told that this little girl is no longer confined to a wheelchair. Two months ago she went home to a loving Heavenly Father who calls her by name.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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