* 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)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Journal, January 19 -23, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Yesterday I had the privilege of going to the opening ceremonies at the school that Cesar will now be attending. Cesar's father and I placed our hands on Cesar as the pastor from the school prayed over him and the other students that will be attending this small Christian school that has welcomed Cesar with open arms. What a contrast compared to the 2 public schools that turned Cesar away for no legitimate reason. After the prayer Cesar's dad looked at his son with tear filled eyes. I could see that his sons education meant a lot to him.

It was not until today that I realized just how much it meant to him. At 8 AM he and Cesar were at my gate. I had promised to take Cesar shopping for some school clothing and supplies. Even though it meant that he would once again have to pay another man to take his place at work Cesar's father had decided to take a few hours off from work to go along with us. Fernando came along as well because his English is a bit better than Cesa's and I was hoping that I could get more of an opportunity to visit with Cesar's dad. After getting the school supplies and fabric for Cesar's pants I asked Cesar's dad and the kids if they would like to stop of at Camperos for breakfast before going to the tailor shop. Naturally the boys jumped at the opportunity. Cesar's dad was a bit more hesitant but agreed. I have an idea that this was the first time that he has ever been in a restaurant. While we were eating Cesar's dad and I struck up a conversation, with the help of the 2 boys as interpreters. When I asked Cesar's father how he felt about Cesar going to this school I saw his eyes fill up with tears. He told me that he had been praying that Cesar would be able to continue his education but had never expected that he would be attending a Christian school. He then looked down and said. "I wish that I could have had the opportunity to go to school myself." He went on to explain that after the second grade he had to drop out of school so that he could work. He told me that his mother and father had both died when he was 8 months old and his 2 brothers who were scarcely school age ended up raising him. Since he was the youngest they tried to keep him in school while they worked but at age 8 he had to quit school and go to work with them so that the 3 of them could stay alive. Since Cesar's dad can neater read nor write he has never been able to get a job that pays very much. Even though he works 16 hours a day he still brings home less than $200 per month. No wonder he is so proud of his son.
Late this afternoon 5 of the boys and myself went and got haircuts at the barber shop where Cesar's brother Miguel works. Miguel is a great kid and a hard worker. We have a sponsor for him so that he can attend night school. He also spends 48 hours a week at the barber shop but for now is getting no pay because he is in training. While we were there Cesar and Miguel's father came by with a wheelbarrow loaded with fruit that he was trying to sell. When he saw us he stopped and loaded some tangerines into a bag and handed them to me. He then once again shook my hand and thanked me for helping get his to sons into school.

It is days like this that help me see more clearly that we are not wasting our time even if it is difficult to get some of the 64 kids that we are providing sponsors for into school. Thankfully many hands make the work load much lighter. Donna and Hanna, are spending countless hours communicating with sponsors and updating our ever growing spread sheet that helps us keep track of who is sponsoring what child and who is still in need of a sponsor. Carlos is also helping us keep track of sponsors and those that are being sponsored. Little did we know that when we started with a hand full of kids not that many years ago that what we then looked at as a little side line project would be so blessed by God and such a big part of this ministry. We pray that God continues to allow us to minister to more and more families in this way but do not want it to grow so fast that it is no longer personal. At this point I can truthfully say that either Chris and Donna or myself personally knows each child that we are sponsoring. Seems like personally knowing each family has one drawback though. It makes it harder to say no. This month we went out on a limb a little bit by putting some kids into school that we do not yet have sponsors for. Had these kids not been registered last week they would not have had an opportunity to attend school for at least another year. We are trusting God that somehow the $350 per month that is still needed for school sponsorship of unsponsored kids that we have enrolled in school will be supplied.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, January 20, 2010
My good friends Dave and Lou plan on being with 3 of my boys and myself for the next 3 days and Lou has graciously offered to do a few days of journaling for me.

(click on any picture to enlarge)

Today we headed out for a wheelchair distribution. We got an early start…the distribution isn’t until tomorrow but the sun is hotter where we are headed. We spent most of the day on the road, Dick, Dave, myself (Louanne…better known as Lou) and three awesome Guatemalan boys, Carlene, Fernando and Brian. Before we left Antigua we stopped in at Hope Haven where they make and assemble the wheelchairs. The work is done mostly by locals, many in wheelchairs themselves. We sorted through parts and threw extras into boxes so that we wouldn’t find ourselves running short when we got to the villages. When we left Carlene was a gentleman and let me have the window seat. I soon found out it was really the pillow seat (I was the pillow). We had a great time traveling with the boys and they seem to feel quite comfortable with us.

Mid afternoon we stopped in Santa Lucia for an ice cream and picked up a few snacks at a grocery store. We then went on to San Bernardino where we visited with Dona Maria and her daughter Deborah who is deaf and mute and is an amazing artist. She mixes painting and embroidery to make the most incredible pieces of art. Apparently Dona Maria is the lady, in this area, who finds most of the people in need of wheelchairs.

After that it was on to Matzatenango and the Bambu Hotel where we drowned the kids…or should I say they drowned us (and I have the red eyes to prove it). The hotel had a great pool with a water slide which we took advantage of before dinner and the boys did again after dinner.

That’s it for tonight.
Your sister in Christ:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Today I became the perfect wife. My husband is always bugging me about the Proverbs 31 wife. He says that I have it down pat with the exception of getting up in the morning and getting him breakfast. I tell him that the chapter reads that the wife is to get the servants organized to make the breakfast and if he supplies me with servants, I will gladly organize them. Well today he was greeted with smiling waiters and waitresses who provided him, and the rest of us, with a fantastic breakfast….finally allowing me to gain that “perfect” wife status. We left the hotel and headed back to San Antonio where the wheelchair distribution took place. What an amazing process that was. A group from the States was here to distribute P.E.T. chairs which seems to be a cross between a hand-pulled wooden cart and a hand-driven bicycle. Mark was the leader. He had asked Dick to come along to distribute about 13 Hope Haven chairs. That’s where Dave and I and the boys fit in. We are here to help Dick assemble and fit the chairs for the recipients. Well actually, I took pictures while the others worked. Two of the boys, Carlene and Fernando not only did the manual labor (that’s labor for you Americans) but they also do the translation. They really are amazing young men (about 11 - 14 years old). After the work was completed and the grateful locals had left, we were treated to a late lunch.

During the distribution we met a lady whose son already had a chair that needed alterations made to it so that her son could sit more comfortably. After everything was cleaned up, we headed over to her house so that Dick could make the adjustments. While he was working on the chair the mom led me to the back of her house where she had some half-grown chickens. Through Fernando’s translations, she asked me if I had room at my house for a chicken as she would like to give me one. When I explained (or rather Fernando explained) that just wouldn’t work, she took off into the back fields and came back with a bag of freshly picked tangerines. Wow, are they tasty! We still have some left for tomorrow. Following that we went to our hotel, did some more swimming, went for dinner and now here I am.

Have a good night.
Your sister in Christ: Lou

Friday, January 22, 2010

Written by Dick

Today we had another wheelchair distribution in Esquentla. It was not the easiest distribution that I have ever been at but it did result in lots of happy people receiving wheelchairs.

Some of the parents that came for wheelchairs for their children got a bit nervous when they realized that we had not taken along quite as many wheelchairs as there were children. 2 families actually tried to sneak out of the door with chairs that had not been given them but things calmed down a bit when we told the 3 families that we did not have the right wheelchairs for that they could bring their children to Antigua on Wednesday and we would give them the type of chairs that their children needed. Over all it was a good day though and the majority of the families went home praising God for answered prayers.

Saturday, January 23, 2010
Well I am back home and things are pretty much back to normal. Well as normal as a house full of kids can be. With in 15 minutes after arriving back home there were no less than a dozen kids in front of, on top of and inside of my house. At bed time I had narrowed the numbers down a bit but there are still enough kids camping out here that I will have to watch where I walk if I have to get up to use the rest room during the night.

While we were having supper the kids told me that I looked a bit tired, so I think that I will try and get some sleep myself, but first there are still a few band-aids that need to be put on wounds both visible and non, so I guess I will go and see how many hurts I can do something about. Giving enough love and attention sometimes seems a lot like giving out wheelchairs. No matter how much you give there still seems to be a few that are left wanting.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders,
but they have never failed to imitate them.


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