* 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)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Journal, February 20-24, 2010

My good friends Dave and Lou Black have been spending the past few Days with me and once again they have graciously offered to do my journaling for me. Although this is a blessing to me I have been made aware by many of you that since the 2 of them speak only Canadian, much of what they say is difficult to understand by those of you that speak real English. Although I do not have the time to translate all of what they wrote, I will do my best to interpret the first few paragraphs of Lou's journal into true USA English. Hoping that it will give you some idea of what Lou is really trying to say. All translations will appear in the same shade of red that my face turned when I first read the following.

(Click on any photo to enlarge)

Saturday February 20, 2010

Today had a couple of those “ahaa” (the word ahaa in Canadian means "Wow this is great!") moments for me. The first “ahaa” ("Wow this is great!") came when I realized that maybe aftershave is not meant for everyone. (Is meant for only real men like Dick) When we got into Dick’s car I, who have virtually no sense of smell, (I never carrie a handkerchief and allows my nose to plug up or run) could smell this overpowering sweet smell. (wonderful sweet aroma) Dick tried to pass it off as (assured me that it was) sugarcane water which he had driven through the day before but who knows for sure. (and I know that he was right) All that my husband had to say was (My husband even liked it and said) “Sweet ride, Dick”, but I knew better than to say anything about it at all. (but I am still fuming because I didn't get the last word in.)

The second “ahaa” ("Wow this is great!") came when I looked around Dick’s Land Cruiser and realized that when people are plunged into the depths of terror, (overwhelmed with the splendor of the day) everyone reacts differently. Saul was sleeping. (meditating and praying in thankfulness for such a wonderful day) It must be the way that his brain takes precautionary measures to ensure that he does not lose his sanity. (This was obviously his way of showing gratitude for knowing that he was riding with one of the most competent drivers in all of Guatemala, and a way of focusing his thoughts on the beauty of the surrounding country side.) Amirilis was grasping, for all she was worth, the “Oh my Goodness” handles above her door. (Amerillis had her hands lifted heavenward in obvious praise for this marvelous day.) Dave was grasping, in desperation, the handle grip on the dash, (Dave was obviously enjoying the ride as well, as he sat with outstretched hands pointing out the beautiful country side.) and me?, well I don’t think I screamed the entire way but I’m pretty sure I left my hand prints embedded in the seats in front of me. (as for me? I could not contain myself and at times found myself shrieking for joy. At one point I became so overwhelmed that when I reached out my hands in praise I accidentally snagged a fingernail on the seat in front of me and caused a slight tare in the fabric.) Kind of makes you wonder why Dick’s favorite joke goes like this...

"I want to go quietly in my sleep, like my grandfather did, not screaming in terror like the other people in his car!

(Dick added to the enjoyment of the day by reminiscing about his childhood days and telling us about some of his favorite relatives.)

I wonder why he likes that joke so much? (Dick has such a marvelous sense of humor.)

The third “ahaa” ("Wow this is great!") came while we were at a restaurant, eating lunch. I came to the conclusion that Dick’s English must be almost as bad as his Spanish. (No matter what language he uses, Dick has such a way with words.) What we heard him ask was “Would you guys like to take a dirt road? It will be much more scenic.” It didn’t take us long to realize that what he must have meant to say was “Would you guys like to take a goat’s path? (Drive through a lovely park like setting on a well maintained meandering dirt road). It will be much more scenic.” In his defense though, (as I expected Dick was absolutely right) it did have some of the most incredible scenery that I have ever seen. (Sounds like Lou is starting to get her USA English down a bit better so I will stop translating from here on out.)

Every time that I am driving through the hills of Guatemala the words from “These Thousand Hills” by Third Day, ring in my head. For those of you who don’t know the words, they go like this:

These thousand hills roll ever on
In footprints of a Mighty God
They bring me to my knees in praise
Amazing love, amazing grace
Was on a hill my Savior died
A broken heart, a bleeding side
Hill of the skull, Mount Calvary
The blood He shed, He shed for me

Today we ascended and descended hills on hairpin curves, varying heights from above 6000 ft to below 200 ft. I am always humbled by the fact that the very God who formed these amazing hills, suffered and died so that I can have a relationship with him.

When we reached our final destination of La Tinta we met up with the rest of the team who have already built a house and bunk beds and installed the cement floor and a cinder block stove.
Once again Dick, all kidding aside, thank you for an incredible day!

Your sister in Christ,

Sunday, February 21, 2010
Written by Dave.

After a 'fitful' night of sleep - Our room faced the main street of La Tintla. Between the church next door maxing out their 'Peavey' speakers, street dogs barking, and car racing 'wanna bees', - I think I got a couple hours of sleep.

I managed to get up on time for our 7 a.m. 'desayuno' at a comedor down the street. We then drove to the Salon Municipal where the wheel chair distribution was to take place. After what Ralph, from Washington State, described as comparable to the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, in length, we started fitting people into chairs at about 10:30 a.m. Actually, with my limited espanol, I did hear "The Lord" mentioned quite a few times in the speeches.

I was 'assisting' Dick with fitting specialty chairs, which Saul was also fitting. Dan, Lou, Ralph, Debbie, Jen, Kelty, and Mark were working on regular wheelchairs. Marcia and Chris were keeping things flowing, while Marcia's husband, Alejandro, fitted people with walkers and crutches (his specialty). What an amazing team! Chris said that 51 people received chairs and we were finished by 2 p.m.!

Dick and I fitted a boy with spinal bifida with what we thought was out last chair. He was pretty happy with it. Then just at the end, a 16 year old boy came in by ambulance. Apparently, recently, he was playing basketball and got caught in some cross-fire. He is now paralyzed with a bullet still inside. And to top things off, his parents have abandoned him, leaving no one to look after him. Please keep this boy in your prayers as he looks lost and rightfully so.

Because we finished early, some of the group went up the hill to the home they had built on Thursday and Friday to install bunk beds and give the family a water filter. My heart said "Go" but my metal hips said "No", so I decided to stay behind.


Dick writes,

Dave made a wise decision in staying back at the hotel. All of us were completely out of breath by their time we finally reached the place where Chris, Howie, Juan and the teem from Washington State had built the home. How they managed to get all of the cement block, corrugated metal and other material up the steep trail from their vehicles nearly a half mile below is beyond me.


Dave writes,

I should mention how Lou and I came along on this trip. Friends of ours from Canada arrived in Mexico last week and asked us to come and visit them. After checking flights ($700 U.S.), and buses (17 hours), we declined. Then Dick asked us to go to La Tinta. Thank you, Lord!

p.s. I think the only reason Dick asked me to assist him, was because he has a sore thumb and I am "all thumbs"...

Dick drove us back "off the beaten trail", through one lush, green valley, then through one very dry one. What amazing scenery, Lord!


Monday February 22

Written by Lou.

Today was another travel day. There will be no shots taken at Dick today as he brought us home safely over some incredible terrain which included some of the steepest hills and the sharpest hairpin curves that I have ever witnessed. He even brought us through some river beds that were for some reason or other, missing their bridges.

Since I had lots of time to think, most of my day was spent reviewing an incident that happened at yesterday’s wheelchair distribution. After I had helped to fit a wheelchair for a woman, she tried to thank me through the interpreter. My response to her was that she was welcome but the wheelchair was actually a gift from God. At this point the interpreter straightened up, turned to me, looked me in the eyes and said, “We realize this, but someone had to be His hands and His feet and today, that was you.” Even writing this chokes me up. That very morning I had prayed that I would be exactly that, His hands and feet, and He had the grace to use this little, old lady to let me know that I had been. What an awesome God I serve.

By the way when I say little, I mean little. I’m pretty sure she was only about 4 feet. When I say old, I mean old. She was just a few months shy of 90. When I say lady, I may be pushing it. She kept hiking up her skirt, trying to show Dan the scar that she had from her hip surgery. That poor man. I’m glad he has a great sense of humor.

So Dick, no shots today. Just a big Thank you Brother, for this opportunity.

Your sister in Christ

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dick Writes

This morning my friend Rolland Elf and I headed up to a village that is located about 45 minutes drive from Tecpan. A few weeks ago I had gone to this same village along with pastor Juan to see a little boy that he had heard about that needed a wheelchair. When we arrived at the home of Christian and his family we quickly realized that Christian needed much more than a wheelchair if he was expected to live more than a few months.

Thanks to the efforts of my friend Rolland and a wonderful Guatemalan neurosurgeon who was willing to to see Christian; today we were going to take Christian in to Guatemala City to see if there was any hope for him. The doctor that we were meeting with today was the same man that had without charge operated on and saved Florinda's life only a few months ago. This doctor is known to be one of the top neurosurgeons in all of Central American and has a very full scheduled but he acted like he had all of the time in the world when he examined Christian and took his time in answering all of our questions. I wish that I could say that Christian's prognoses looks good but after examining Christian and looking at the MRI results. The doctor told us that there is little hope for Christian. Christian has almost no brain left. The doctor explained that at this point even if a shunt were put in it would eliminate the pressure that is inside of Christian's head but Christian would never improve. The doctor was gracious enough to tell Christians mother that he would preform the surgery for free and even provide the shunt if she felt that she wanted her son to have the surgery but made her aware that at best, all it would do is make her son some what more comfortable. Mom told him that she would go home and think it over. If mom elects to have the surgery done there will still be hospital expenses. I never want to be accused of trying to out play God, I am wondering if perhaps the money (most of which we do not have) would be more wisely spent on food and medicine for Christian and his family and perhaps improve their quality of life even more that a shunt would at this point. Please pray that God shows us what should or should not be done.

When I got home tonight a few of my kids accused me of being grouchy. I an afraid that they were right. With tears in my eyes I told them about Christian. I looked up and saw tears in their eyes. I am proud of my boys they are becoming real men. They are learning that it is OK to cry.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I am beginning to wonder if the schools here are ever going to reopen. All but a hand full of the public schools are now on strike. During the past few days many of the teachers have blocked several of the highways some times for several hours at a time. I am not sure that this is a way to get the general public to take their side and not too sure weather or not the president cares much or even knows about it. At any rate I am once again being bombarded by kids that want to spend the day dooing what ever it is that I am doing.

Today Calin and Jason accompanied the 6 people that are here from Washington State and myself to Hermano Pedro Orphanage. Since this is old hat to my kids and 5 of the 6 people that are here from the States have been to the orphanage on previous visits I opted not to give them the usual half hour to one hour tour. Instead we went straight in to the orphanage and started loving on the kids. This was another one of those thumbs up groups that needed no coaxing in order to get them to react with the kids. The only hard part of the day was when we had to decide which 7 of the nearly 250 residence to take along with us to lunch. I ended up once again being the bad guy who had to make that decision. It did not take long for the 7 kids that we did take to lunch to convince us that at least as far as they were concerned we had made the perfect choice.

Bobby who always manages to get more food on him than in him outdid himself today when he some how managed to dump his entire plate of french fries all over himself. It would not have been so bad but much to Bobby's delight Deb who helping him had already topped them off with every condiment imaginable. It is amazing what an assortment of colors a combination of Ketchup, honey mustard, barbecue sauce, hot sause and who know what else can produce. It would have made any Hippy from the Sixties who was wearing a tie die shirt green with envy.

After lunch we took the kids over to to playground equipment that Camperos has. The kids and adults had an absolute ball. I am slowly getting the kids to realize that if they put up a fuss when it is time to leave it is likely that they will not get to go again for quite some time. I think it is working because today we had no problem with the kids when it was time to leave, and the teem from the USA promised me that they will have a talk with Ralph before letting him come back.

Before leaving Camperos we tried to get Bobby cleaned up. (Actually he did not look much better after our attempt to get him some what cleaned up but you should have seen what those of us that held him looked like.) (This will definitely be the last time that I wear a white t-shirt to lunch.)

On our way back to the orphanage I had an elderly gentleman who was wearing a pony tale give me the piece sign. I shouted to him that I liked the flowers that were painted on his buss. He put his homemade cigarette back into his mouth, waved and drove off.

After bringing the kids back to the orphanage we all headed back to Chimaltenango. After a quick stop at my place to change my shirt we all walked over to the soccer field. My friends from the USA wanted to meet my kids so we figured, what better way to get them together than to have a soccer game followed by a pizza feed. I will save the Americans any embarrassment by not posting any photos of them attempting to play soccer with the kids but know I have some what of an idea of what I look like when I attempt to play soccer with them. About the only way that I can explain it is, have you ever seen a bulldozer try to outmaneuver a bumblebee? Everyone had a great time though and judging by the looks on the Americans faces the scrapes and welts that the bulldozers received from the bumblebees were well worth it.

After the hour long soccer game that some of the Americans swear lasted 3 hours, the 22 of us walked or waddled over to Camperos for Pizza. Thanks Teem for making this a day that the kids from the orphanage and those from my neighborhood will not soon forget.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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