* 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)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Journal, February 11-13, 2010

I realize that I just published a journal a few days ago but the the teem that has been here since Sunday just left so I thought it would be fitting to publish the journal entries from the final days of their stay as well. Some of the members of this group seem to love journaling so I am going to take full advantage of there writing skills and publish what they wrote.

Thursday afternoon, February 11, 2010

Brad wrote,

(Click on any picture to enlarge)

The second half of our day was spent handing out water filters. We drove to the town of La Gomera which is led by the mayor who dedicated the house earlier. His wife runs the clinic in town, and has social workers who know all of the people and their stories in town. I am actually amazed at how organized they are. They seem to take excellent records of everyone to know who is in need.

We gathered in the clinic and assembled water filters and buckets. We were told that almost all of the people who received water filters a few months ago were not using them due to the taste. What we figured out is that the water does not taste bad…it just does not have a taste at all, because it is CLEAN! What the people have been living with is impure water that has a taste that they have grown accustomed to. When the Sawyer filter purifies it, it removes the particles that give it the flavor they remember. So, they decided they would rather not drink it. We also learned that they did not prefer to have the filter hooked up to their faucet. They seem to prefer the bucket system, as that is what they are accustomed to. These were invaluable pieces of information to know before we left to hand out more. We tailored what we were going to teach the families. We made sure that the families were told that the difference in taste was to be expected, and the reason. I know that being able to warn them about that probably changed the result of each person’s acceptance today.

Dick, Jeff, Larry and Brad walked around with the Mayor’s wife and a social worker. Chris, Jeff, Bill and Mark walked around together. I want to share the most awesome experiences they had.

As Chris was handing out filters, he would ask them about their daily lives and share the Gospel with them. One woman they worked with was a young and college educated. It turns out that she had been recently fired for what were probably unfair reasons. She had been sad, praying for guidance and hope. She mentioned that Jehovah’s Witness missionaries had been visiting her. But, she knew that God wanted her to find the truth. Chris gave her words of encouragement, sharing that God does indeed want her to find the truth, and that if she earnestly seeks it, through the Bible, she will find it. So, they gave her one of the Bibles we brought. Here’s the coolest part. As they were walking away to go to the next house, the woman called out to stop them. She told them, “I know that God has sent you to me today. I know that because I have been praying to God that he would send someone to me with a Bible”. Wow! Did you catch that? As Jeff said, “It was like the ultimate punch line”. By her taking the time to tell them about her prayer, it gave them the most awesome conformation ever of being in the center of God’s will. What an amazing moment!!!

They also met a man that was previously a security guard. One day, 4 armed men shot him 5 times. Once in the neck and four other places in the chest. He said that when he was in the hospital fighting for his life, and being operated on, a man in white clothes visited him in the room. The amazing thing is that when the man in white left the room, he did not open the door…HE WALKED THROUGH IT! Whoa! Chris said that the Holy Spirit was truly with them as they were talking. Chris said that it was obvious that God was doing some kind of work in that man’s life.

Needless to say, when Chris, Jeff, Bill and Mark returned, they were on a huge spiritual high. What amazing moments.

Over the past week, we have not been able to distribute a lot of the Bibles, water filters and shoes that we brought. That is understandable as Bethel works with a smaller group of needy people. But, the people that have received things, from a house, to filters, shoes and Bibles were the exact people that God intended to receive them. It may take some time for Bethel to hand them out. But, it will be done with consideration, patience and God’s hand. After seeing the power that one Bible had in a woman’s life, it makes me smile thinking of what all the rest may do.

We then went to have dinner at a restaurant named “Sarita”. I especially loved it as one of my daughters has that same name.

Tomorrow is our last full day. We will be going to Antigua to volunteer at Hermano Pedro with Dick Rutgers in the morning. Then, after taking a few children to lunch at Pollo Compero, we will go distribute some shoes to children who need them for school.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Brad wrote,

We started the morning off with a nice walk from the hotel in Chimaltenango to Pollo Compero for breakfast. We walked through the city square as people were beginning their day in Guatemala. Dick Rutgers met us with two of the boys that help Dick at Hermano Pedro and serve as interpreters. The two boys were Carlin and Fernando. They were two absolutely amazing boys. Carlin says that he wants to grow up to do exactly what Dick does…spend time helping people. He is well on his way to doing that already. Both boys have a special way with the children at Hermano Pedro, and with people in general. Carlin decided that he wanted to arm wrestle Larry. Larry never stood a chance.

We then loaded up in Dick’s truck and headed for Antigua. He gave us a quick briefing and a tour of Hermano Pedro and then headed for where the kids were staying. We had a great time playing with all of the kids. Scott immediately found little Leslie, who was attached to Scott all day last year. Well, nothing changed. She was like Velcro to his shoulder. She never slept. She was just extremely peaceful just hanging out.

Mark, Jeff, Bill, Brad and Larry floated from child to child holding hands with the kids, throwing balls with them, and spinning them on a merry-go-round style piece of toy. The kids at Hermano have special needs that range from Cerebral Palsy to Parkinson’s Disease. It was really great getting to be with them. You could tell that even though many of their bodies did not work at all, their minds were still fully there. They responded to all of our words with smiles and a desire for more attention. About 11:30, we took seven kids to Pollo Compero. The restaurant never knew what hit them. These kids have a great time, and though they are in wheelchairs, live life at full speed. I spent time helping Erwin eat his chicken. He really didn’t need a lot of help. As long as I kept french fries, chicken and ketchup on his plate, he was happy.
After they got done eating, we took them to the indoor playground. Wow, what an experience. We took all of the kids out of their wheelchairs and they buzzed around the room for the next 30 minutes. They crawled over everything and loved to slide…mostly head first. For kids that people consider to be disabled, they sure were amazingly active and joyful. They never wanted it to end. We then headed back to Hermano Pedro to return the kids to their rooms.

Dick then drove us to meet Chris where we were going to meet families to distribute black shoes for school children. We met many families with absolutely amazing stories. Almost all of them were single moms. The most amazing one had been run over many years ago by a car. They thought she was dead. The ambulance had already put a sheet over her body and were prepared to take her away, when one person noticed that one of her fingers began to move. They immediately rushed her to the hospital, where they had to do major reconstructive surgery on many parts of her body. She has made an amazing recovery and is full of spirit and life. She has a job as a supervisor of the city street sweepers. She and her crew of 23 sweepers get up early in the morning and make their way through parts of the town. She has three children who all attend school. It costs her $100 U.S. a month to send her children to school. We met two of the children, and I was so impressed with them, especially the daughter. She is studying English and is such a sweet girl. Chris was helping her practice with one of her books. She did great. As we all praised her for how well she did, she broke out into the most beautiful smile. That entire family is amazing. They do not have any financial support for their education, though Chris says they really do need help. $100 a month is overwhelming to a single mother. After seeing how interested her daughter was in school, there is no doubt she will do very well in life if given the opportunity. I am really praying for someone to help this mom educate her children.

We then met many other moms with their school aged children. They kept showing up as they found out we had shoes. Almost all of them have houses that were built by Bethel. They were all so extremely grateful for the shoes, as it was obvious they really need them. I took a photo of one young man’s shoes he walked over wearing. I can’t believe they even stayed on his feet. In the end, all of the children left with shoes that will allow them to go to school. Everyone had a huge smile on their face…including us.

Our last few minutes there were spent with a mom who has had her eyes severely damaged by smoke coming from an indoor fire. If there is a single person who is the ultimate representative for the need for the ONIL Stove, she is that person. Both eyes are milky from exposure. She went to Cuba seeking treatment, but they were unable to help her. She has at least stopped burning fires in her home. But, she just had a small can she cooked on outside against the house. I am making sure that she no longer has problems with fires. I made arrangements for Bethel to install an ONIL Stove for her family. She is not alone in her need. All of the families we met are in great need for a stove like that. Hopefully we can find families and organization who can help.

We then headed to town to do some power shopping and then head to dinner. We had a great meal, and our last good night of fellowship. Chris, Dick and all of us sat around eating a delicious meal sharing our thoughts and memories from the last week. We all had a great time.

It has been a very special week for all of us. I think we are all ready to go home, but we are also ready to discover what God has in store for each one of us. After living through incredible experiences with Bethel every day in Guatemala, we are ready to do the same in each of our home towns.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Jeff writes,

As the majority of our team is now in the sky, I think it’s pretty safe to say that our return to the land of snow will feel quite surreal, as if we somehow found our way back home through a wardrobe door. It seems difficult to comprehend the fact that on this same day and under the same sun there is a land of burning sugarcane fields, smoldering volcanoes, and miles of unpaved roads that lead to millions of desperate untold human stories. It is there though, and though we’ve been privileged beyond belief to share God’s love with these beautiful people, their stories are real and their need will continue long after we reunite with our families.

I looked into the eyes of Chris Mooney and Dick Rutgers this week and realized that though their work is overwhelming and difficult at times, it is fulfilling beyond any vain or selfish achievement I could ever attain in the comfort of my safe suburban existence. That is a truth that I want to take hold of and run towards as my wife and I seek the Lord’s daily call of obedience for our family. I trust that this feeling is mutual with the rest of the guys.

Twice during our last day I witnessed Dick and Chris both shed tears over the pain and struggle of the individuals they have come to know and love. I then felt my own tears as I contemplated the gift God has given each one of us through the forgiveness of sin, and the promise of eternal life through his Son. It is the prayer of my heart that I wouldn’t waste a single day as I’m given the opportunity to serve Him by sharing this same love with the people He places in my path.


Dick wrote,

I guess Jeff is right about the tears. The fact is that they seem to come easier now then they did when I first came to Guatemala a little over 10 years ago. I am not ashamed of them though. I think that every Christian should allow their hart to be broken with the things that break God's hart. I feel that if ever I allow my self to get so calloused to the suffering that it no longer bothers me then I will no longer be effective in my ministry. I know that I can not let things get to me in such a way that they get me down, but I there is nothing wrong with shedding a few tears and then going to work on finding a remedy for what ever caused those tears. This morning as I visited with a mother who wanted a wheelchair for her 2 year old son I actually had one of those teary eyed experiences.

Christian's Father abandon Christan and his mother shortly after Christian was born. I am not sure weather or not it was because Christian was unhealthy but nevertheless mom was left to care for her son on her own. When mom noticed that her son's head was growing much faster than normal she got her son to a doctor and was told the obvious. Her son was hydrocephalic ( He had water on the brain ). The doctor told her that she had 2 options, she could have an operation preformed on Christian, where a shunt (drain ) was put in. Or she could take him home and watch him die. Actually mom only had one option and that was to take her son home and let him die a painful death because the doctor would do nothing unless he was given money for the operation up front. Mom didn't even have money to buy enough food for her son yet alone have enough for an operation. That was almost 2 years ago when Christian was only a few months old. Some how mom has managed to keep her son alive all this time but without a shunt chances are Christin has only a few months left at the most. Did I shed some tears? You bet I did. Juan and I then had prayer for Christian and his mother and then after wiping away the tears we went to work on seeing what can be done. I made a quick phone call to my friend Roland and on Monday he is going to phone the Neurosurgeon that operated on Florinda and see if he is willing to at least look at Christian. We are praying that he will once again offer to do the surgery for free but we will still have to come up with money for hospital expenses. I know that there are thousands of children out there that need help but God has placed this one directly in my path. Please pray that something can be done and that it is not too late for Christian.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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