* 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, March 4, 2010

Journal, February 25 - March 4, 2010

(Click on any picture to enlarge)...............

After posting my journal last Wednesday I decided to take a few days off from doing any writing. Quite a lot took place between Thursday and Sunday but since I did not write any of it down as it happened it has now all sort of ran together. Here are a few pictures of some of the things that took place but please do not hold me responsible for telling you what took place on what day. Come to think of it there is a chance that some one else took some of these pictures with my camera and I wasn't even there.

I do remember going to see some
of my kids play a Soccer game or two.

Several of my kids helped me fix some of the wheelchairs at the orphanage.

Others simply hung out with the orphanage kids.

Part of the ....
time we even...
managed to ....
just hang out ..
around home. .

Daryl Fulp to my rescue.

Just when I figured there was no way to weasel out of writing today's journal, my good friend Daryl Fulp comes to the rescue. Daryl and his wife Wanda showed up on Saturday with a teem of people that are here to serve. Daryl keeps a journal and unlike Lou who posted some of last week's journal entries, Daryl and his wife are from the USA so there will be no need for me to translate Daryl's journals from Canadian into English.

Here then is what Daryl wrote.

Mixed Feelings

As I type these words, I am flying over the Gulf of Mexico en route to Guatemala. Wanda and I are once again leading a team of 12 people to work with orphans and street children, and as always I can’t wait to get there.

Our time away from Guatemala is always difficult. We miss the children from Hermano Pedro and the other ministries so much. We are always concerned about the attention they receive (or don’t receive) when we are not there, and we find ourselves aching to hold them. So, as we begin another ministry trip I am exciting to see my kids and love them in person again.

But there is another feeling that is always present each time I return. It is fear. As I prepare to once again walk the wards of Hermano Pedro I am afraid of what I will find.

I am sure that Big Melvin has lost even more weight. Each time I see him he is thinner, and he is already a skin covered skeleton. I am afraid to see how drugged Ervin will be. Dick has told me that the staff has upped his medication to keep him subdued and I don’t want to see this wonderful little guy in a drug induced stupor. I am afraid to see Delmi. This often ignored and neglected girl becomes very withdrawn without loving attention, so I am afraid to see how long it will take for her to smile at me again.

And the list goes on...Louis, Gloria, David, Roberto, Diego, etc. What have they had to endure in the three months since I was last here? How much of life have they missed while imprisoned in at three by five foot cage?

But my excitement far outweighs my fear. And for the next nine days our team will love these kids with the love of Jesus. And they will have more of an impact on us than we will have on them. So we plunge in, with both excitement and fear as to what we will find.

Note: We have arrived in Guatemala and spent time at Hermano Pedro. One thing we did not expect was to find Louis not there. He has apparently not returned to HP after his time away and is still with his mother about 5 hours from here. The same is true of little Brenda. We are deeply concerned about their well-being. Please pray for Louis and Brenda.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Spotting the need- by Daryl Fulp
Our team just completed our first full day at Hermano Pedro. The team was excellent as they rolled up their sleeves, embraced the children, and spread love generously. I am so proud of all of them.

When you enter an institution like HP, it is completely overwhelming. There our 240 children, teens, and adults who desperately need attention, yet only 12 people on our team. In a situation like that, who do you choose to embrace? Do you spend all day hopping from child to child, or do you simply pick a few?

Over my numerous visits here, I have finally arrived at an answer. My time is best spent by choosing the ones who meet the following criteria:

1) The ones that I do not find attractive at first glance. If, at first, I don’t find them attractive, it is likely that none of the other volunteers that regularly come through find them attractive either. The ones who are not cute, from a human perspective, are most often overlooked and ignored. And even though many of them are cognitively delayed, they eventually learn that they are ugly and embrace that identity. They suffer the most and need my attention more than the others. And, once I get to know them, I realize how beautiful they have been all along, but my sin-blinded eyes couldn’t see that truth.

2) The ones that are angry. If there is a child who lashes out in anger and frustration, they have good reason to do so. Trapped in a steel cage day after day, treated like an object, and seldom spoken to, they tend to be little vessels filled with hurt, loneliness, and rejection. If we were in their place, we would likely act the same way. It is often hard to earn their trust because their trust has been betrayed so often, but when you do, it is worth it. These little guys and girls are like sponges who are eager to soak up love once you break past their defenses. Plus I have come to realize that they are much like me before my Jesus broke through my defenses.

3) The ones that will not initially respond. These are the ones that have shut down and simply stare into space. They may have cute faces, but their faces are blank and lifeless. They have received so little stimulation in their short lives that they no longer attempt to engage people with their eyes and expressions. They are in a coma-like trance, so people assume there is no one inside and walk right past. But there is someone there. Behind those blank expressions are seeds of life waiting to be nurtured and cultivated if someone is willing to take the time.

Now if I take these three criteria and apply it to the residents of Hermano Pedro I have narrowed down the need from 240 to about 150 to 170 people who are created in the image of God but are ignored and overlooked. So the need is still overwhelming for a team of 12. We need so much more help.

"Lord, please awaken your church and light a fire in them to care for the unattractive, the angry, and the unresponsive. And please do it soon."


James 1:27

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Fresh Eyes-by Daryl Fulp

This afternoon we returned to Antigua and spent more time at Hermano Pedro. As usual, we returned to an empty courtyard as the children had been placed in their beds for the rest of the day. That quickly changed as we liberated them from their cages and filled the courtyard with laughter and squeals (of both the children and our team).

My day was made as I exited a ward to find little Louis in Wanda’s arms. When we arrived on Saturday, we found out that he had never returned to his ward following the holidays and our hearts were broken. We have fallen in love with this little guy and were extremely sad not to see him during this trip. That despair quickly returned to joy upon finding that he had returned this morning! Thank you, God, for that gift!

I have never seen the kids of Hermano Pedro as happy as they were today. Paulo, who rarely smiles or even makes eye contact, was laughing aloud as Don, one of our team, played with him. Delmi was smiling broadly as Marisa talked and played with her. And Ervin, who rarely has anything to do with anyone except Dick Rutgers and me was crawling around generously dispensing hugs and kisses to everyone who would have them! Love flowed freely and the place was filled with joy. As I looked across the courtyard I couldn’t help but feel that it was a little taste of heaven!

As I share this with you, I have to make a confession that shames me. I have gotten used to the living conditions of the children at HP. I bring team after team into those wards and explain the conditions and introduce them to the children. And I tell them, often through tears, how hard their lives are. But there are nights that I tuck the children into their cribs and walk away without stopping to remember how wrong it all is.

Tonight was not one of those nights. As I was preparing to place Lionel back into his stainless steel cage the Holy Spirit nailed me right in the heart and I saw that place anew. And as I laid him in his bed and kissed him goodnight I broke down and wept like I did the first time I entered those wards. It continued as I laid Jo Jo in his bed, and Miriam in hers. I lowered the side of Ervin’s crib and hugged him, and as he held me tightly and would not let go, I wept again.

I cried for two reasons. First, because no human being should ever, ever, ever have to live that way! It is a violation of all that is holy and good. I was weeping tears of sorrow and frustration that our sinful world has fallen so far.

Second, I wept out of shame that I had allowed myself to ever get used to that abomination. I cried because I fail to cry every time that I say goodnight. Lord, please forgive me for not being broken every day by the things that break your heart.

And so, I will go to bed tonight with a fresh commitment to my Jesus to remember to see each day and each need with His eyes.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

This morning I went to Antigua and picked up 3 Americans that are volunteering here in Guatemala for a few weeks. After going out and buying groceries for 3 families that we were going to visit later today we went over to Bethel's wheelchair shop. Earlier this week I had promised Christian's mom that I would do my best to set up a wheelchair for Christian as soon as possible. I knew that this would not be an easy task because Christian's head Is larger than his body. When we got to the shop Chris and Saul helped us find a wheelchair that looked like it could be modified to accommodate Christian's needs. For the next few hours my 3 American friends and I worked on resizing this wheelchair to Christian's measurements that I had previously taken.

This afternoon the 4 of us went to my house and picked up Fernando and Marcos who had just gotten out of school. That's right the kids are actually back in school. The strike ended yesterday and the kids have actually had school for 2 days straight.

We first headed up to the area about 20 minutes north of Tecpan where Maria, her children and 2 other widows and their children live. All 3 of these families are extremely poor and up until we found sponsors that made it possible for us to supply food, clothing, schooling and housing for these families all 3 families were going hungry and none of the Children were going to school. Now that these families are being sponsored the children from all 3 families are getting enough to eat, the kids are attending school and 2 of the 3 families are living in new homes. By this time next week the third family should be moving into their new home that a teem from Canada is going to help us build. Exciting? Yes! but there are many more families like these that are waiting for some one who cares. It was hard to say goodbye but we still had nearly and hour's drive to where Christan and his mother lived and we wanted to at least get back to the main highway before dark.

Christan's mom was surprised to see us and even more surprised we had brought in a wheelchair for her son. She told us that she did not expect one so soon. After holding Christian for about a half hour the day we brought him into Guatemala City to see the neurosurgeon I knew first hand how heavy he was and how hard it was to hold him for any extended period of time. I also wanted mom to know that even though we did not believe that surgery was an option we were still going to be there for her and her son. Only a few minor adjustments were needed and soon Christian was sitting comfortably in his wheelchair.

We managed to make it out to the main road before dark but still had an hour drive ahead of us, so we decided to stop off at aresturant for some supper before heading for home. Shortly after leaving the restaurant I rounded a corner and met a buss that was passing a long line of traffic. A good part of the road that we were driving on had little or no shoulder to swing onto. Praise God! There was a bit of a shoulder exactly where we met the buss. Had we met the buss a few feet earlier you would likely have been reading about this in the news paper instead of in my journal. I want to thank those of you who continually pray for our safety. Please don't stop!

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Today was one of those fun, try to pay the bills days. With a big emphases on the word try. My first stop was at the electric company. Actually due to the long line of people that extended out side of the door I never did get inside of the building. Judging by the speed that line was moving I figured that I would be lucky if I got inside of the door by noon and even luckier if I managed to make it to the counter to pay my bill before closing time. Oh well who needs electricity? I have a good flashlight. My next stop was at the bank where my water bill has to be paid. The line was not nearly as long as the one at the electric company, besides that I have heard that a person can only survive wiht out water for 3 days. I think that they would change that figure to about a day if they smelled the feet of some of my boys after a soccer game. Not even a skunk could survive for more than a few hours around some of those feet. I may have to borrow water from the neighbors though because when I finally reached the desk the nice man standint behind it informed me that I was 5 days late in paying it wo I would not be able to pay it until next month. I tried to ask him if my water would be shut of before that time but the only English word that he seemed ot know was, "Next."

After spending the morning not paying my bills I went over to Hermano Pedro and worked on a few wheelchairs. Lots of little helpers today so I didn't get to much work done there either. I didn't count that a wasted afternoon though because the kids that scattered my tools around had a ball.I must have looked tiered when I got home tonight becasue the kids took one look at me and told me to sit down while they made supper. They even did the dishes afterward and swept and mopped the house. No you can't send your kids to me so they can learn how to work with out being told unless you are willing to take a dozen of mine while yours are visiting. Besides that I think that my kids may have had an underlying motive. It is getting closer to the week end and they are hoping that I rent a soccer field.

Well it is getting late and all but the 4 that have declared that they are staying have gone so I guess that I will call it a night. I hope that the electricity stays on until morning. With out lights I worry about stepping on kids if I have to use the bathroom during the night.

Yours in Christ, Dick

Here is a word of wisdom for this week. "Always end the name of your child with a vowel, so that when you yell the name will carry."


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