* 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)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Journal, February 7-11, 2010

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.
James 1:27

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Today Chris and I went to the airport in Guatemala City and picked up 6 men that have come here for a week with the intention of serving God by being used in what ever way He wants them to be used. Although their primary reason for coming down here to Guatemala was to show God's love to a needy family by building a home for them they also came to serve in a lot of other ways. One of the ways in which they richly blessed my life was by volunteering to do all of this weeks journaling for me. Thanks Gang!

Here are some of their journal entries.

If you would like to see Brad's web page that tells even more about
their mission trip to Guatemala click on > James 1:27

Day 1
Scott writes,

How do I explain the joy of actually being where God wants me to be? I suppose I could begin by explaining how He brought us here safely or made sure that all of our bags arrived without a single loss. I might even tell you that after 2 meals in country none is sick yet. Also, that I have enough energy and patience, after traveling through 3 airports and two sets of customs, to write this quick blog entry. I even had a hot shower!! However, I would be missing the mark completely if I focused on those things, because those things happen to those who do not trust in God also. Here is what is true, and why joy is seeping out of my pores…God is here. He met us on the plane when we were able to have an hour long conversation with our Flight Attendant Amy who was struggling to understand what plans God had for her life. He let me lock eyes with the Guatemalan guy with the Jesus hat, who told all of his pals about the Bible bearing Gringos in the terminal. Tonight, Enrique and all his buddies and their families have access to the Word of life that their Creator intended for them. Is it the only Bible they’ve ever had? Who knows? But I have never had a pack of guys over 60 swarm me at the Louisville airport asking for a bible then leave with tears in their eyes. Have you? Tomorrow we build bunk beds and head for the coast. We will be working 12-hour days in 100+ heat. We’ll use the bathroom outside and don’t have a clue what the hotel will be like. We don’t know what we are going to eat (save the Clif bars we brought from Target). It is all a mystery and we are all humbled and honored to even be a part of something so close to God’s big heart. The worries of everyday life are dissolved and we are ready to go. Selah.

Brad writes,

It was really good to be back in Guatemala. We were amazed that the bags made it here. We got stuck with a tax on some of the items we brought in. When they saw the blue plastic containers, they knew they had a great revenue source. For the amount of items we brought in, it was not bad at all.
We started off with a visit to the king...Burger King. We then checked into our hotel, which is actually not bad. We then dropped our stuff off at the wheelchair shop and made our way to the Mooney’s house for some fellowship and a fantastic dinner made by Saul’s mother. It was truly amazing! It was so good to sit down with the Mooney family and Dick Rutgers. What special people!!! We were able to sit outside and enjoy the nice cool evening. It was a great change for all of us. Most of us left snow at home this morning.

I look forward to a great day tomorrow where we will build the bunk beds, load all the supplies up and head to the coast.


No privacy

Chris Mooney shows us the way to get privacy while on the toilet....Just close your eyes and pretend that no one is there.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Day 2
Brad writes

The bunk bed king was in rare form today. Scott did a fantastic job pulling it all together. We got kind of a late start to the day. But, once we got to the wheelchair shop and laid out all of the supplies, we really worked fast and efficiently. Larry really added so much to the effort through a lot of carpenter experience. Between Scott and Larry, there was no doubt we would finish the bunks in really short time. Mark, Jeff and Larry worked in one group while Bill, Scott and I worked in another.

It was great being back at the wheelchair shop again. The men who work in the shop were having Bible fellowship when we got there. How cool to see men studying the same Bible, but in a different language.

Dick was fixing a power chair while we worked on the bunks. It was fun to see how he took parts and fabricated a custom head control for a chair. He was motoring around the shop in no time. I am amazed at how creative he is with the chairs. He really cares for the people he is working on these for. He is all heart.

The funny moment of the day was when it came time to move the bunks and supplies into the truck. There was a car parked in our way. So, all of us went out and literally picked the car’s front end up and moved it. It was a front wheel drive car, so we had to lift the front up (which happens to be the heavy end with the engine). We finally got into a rhythm and moved the car out of our way. The owner showed up later and obviously didn’t realize what had happened. He just got into his car and drove away like nothing happened.

We then drove to the coast to where we will be building the house. While it is hot, it is not too bad. It seems like a pretty small town. We will get up early and get started as we have a lot of work to do. Tomorrow is the messy day. A whole lot of dirt moving and mixing!

Jeff writes,

It’s difficult to know where to begin since it seems that so much has happened over the past two days. My thoughts are still swirling over my first sights of Guatemala City with its streets that pulse with a seemingly never-ending flow of traffic and masses of people. Cities and smaller towns alike seem to be a hodgepodge of store and home fronts painted in bright oranges, reds, yellows, and greens. There are the ubiquitous sights of corrugated tin roofs, cement block homes, and barbed wire. Dogs, pigs, and chickens roam freely throughout the streets, and in between the slats of improvised doorways, and through chain link fences I see children and young mothers living out an existence I can’t even begin to comprehend.

In the midst of this deep and seemingly endless tunnel of poverty there is evidence of hope. Last night Bill Wagner and I tagged along with Dick Rutgers who invited us to join him as he watched three of his “kids” play in a championship soccer game. One of the many facets of Dick’s ministry is to offer guidance and loving support to dozens of children who spend most of their time on the street due to abuse or the loss of their parents. When the children arrived at Dick’s, Bill and I spent a few minutes amusing them with our attempts at their language before piling into Dick’s Land Cruiser and driving to the game across town.

I looked at their smiles and saw shadows of my own children. The youngest one of the group (a boy of about 5 or 6) climbed onto my lap and began to curiously rub at the stubble on my chin. Within moments another would remove my baseball cap and begin rubbing the additional stubble on the top of my head. I think of my own daughter who had done this same thing as I knelt over her during bedtime prayers just two nights before, and I feel my eyes begin to well up. I miss her and the rest of my family, but my heart breaks more at the realization that these children are just like my own but face realities that none of them ever deserved. At the same time, I watch Dick as he interacts with these little ones and I hear him talk about his commitment to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ into each one of there lives. There is hope in that, and the smiles on their faces bear out that this is true. Though I will only be here for one week, this is the message that I will keep in my heart long after my return. I want to live and love others with this same commitment. Time is too precious to waste.

Dick Writes,

The following is something that I have carried inside of my bible for over 40 years. It was written by Amy Carmichael a missionary who served in India for fifty-five years without furlough.

The Cry of the Blood

The tom-toms thumped straight on all night and the darkness shuddered round me like a living, feeling thing. I could not go to sleep, so I lay awake and looked; and I saw, as it seemed, this: That I stood on a grassy sward, and at my feet a precipice broke sheer down into infinite space. I looked, but saw no bottom; only cloud shapes, black and furiously coiled, and great shadow-shrouded hollows, and unfathomable depths. Back I drew, dizzy at the depth.

Then I saw forms of people moving single file along the grass. They were making for the edge. There was a woman with a baby in her arms and another little child holding on to her dress. She was on the very verge. Then I saw that she was blind. She lifted her foot for the next step . . . it trod air. She was over, and the children over with her. Oh, the cry as they went over!

Then I saw more streams of people flowing from all quarters. All were blind, stone blind; all made straight for the precipice edge. There were shrieks, as they suddenly knew themselves falling, and a tossing up of helpless arms, catching, clutching at empty air. But some went over quietly, and fell without a sound.

Then I wondered, with a wonder that was simply agony, why no one stopped them at the edge. I could not. I was glued to the ground, and I could only call; though I strained and tried, only a whisper would come.

Then I saw that along the edge there were sentries set at intervals. But the intervals were too great; there were wide, unguarded gaps between. And over these gaps the people fell in their blindness, quite unwarned; and the green grass seemed blood-red to me, and the gulf yawned like the mouth of hell.

Then I saw, like a little picture of peace, a group of people under some trees with their backs turned toward the gulf. They were making daisy chains. Sometimes when a piercing shriek cut the quiet air and reached them, it disturbed them and they thought it a rather vulgar noise. And if one of their number started up and wanted to go and do something to help, then all the others would pull that one down. “Why should you get so excited about it? You must wait for a definite call to go! You haven’t finished your daisy chain yet. It would be really selfish,” they said, “to leave us to finish the work alone.”

There was another group. It was made up of people whose great desire was to get more sentries out; but they found that very few wanted to go, and sometimes there were no sentries set for miles and miles of the edge.

Once a girl stood alone in her place, waving the people back; but her mother and other relations called and reminded her that her furlough was due; she must not break the rules. And being tired and needing a change, she had to go and rest for awhile; but no one was sent to guard her gap, and over and over the people fell, like a waterfall of souls.

Once a child caught a tuft of grass that grew at the very brink of the gulf; it clung convulsively, and it called – but nobody seemed to hear. Then the roots of the grass gave way, and with a cry the child went over, its two little hands still holding tight to the torn-off bunch of grass. And the girl who longed to be back in her gap thought she heard the little one cry, and she sprang up and wanted to go; at which they reproved her, reminding her that no one is necessary anywhere; the gap would be well taken care of, they knew. And then they sang a hymn.

Then through the hymn came another sound like the pain of a million broken hearts wrung out in one full drop, one sob. And a horror of great darkness was upon me, for I knew what it was – the Cry of the Blood.

Then thundered a voice, the voice of the Lord. “And He said, ‘What hast thou done, The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.’”

The tom-toms still beat heavily, the darkness still shuddered and shivered about me; I heard the yells of the devil-dancers and weird, wild shriek of the devil-possessed just outside the gate.

What does it matter, after all? It has gone on for years; it will go on for years. Why make such a fuss about it?

God forgive us! God arouse us! Shame us out of our callousness! Shame us out of our sin.

It has been 3 over years since I have been back to the States. I am often asked when I will return home. My reply is that someday I may come back to the USA to visit but Guatemala is my home.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 3
Brad writes,

What a day! The thing I warned the guys about the most before the trip was that the first day on the worksite would be filthy, hot, hard work. Well, God did not disappoint us at all.

The first thing we did was start mixing the cement. It is a highly precise mixture of rock, sand and cement. Well, not really accurate! Ten wheelbarrows full of sand (150 shovels full), 5 bags of cement (430 pounds), and 5 wheelbarrows full of rock (65 shovels). The funny thing is that by the end of the day, I know the shovel amount got less and less. Oh well, it didn’t seem to matter as it all worked out perfectly.

We were so tired! But, nothing gets you motivated more than a man half your size coming over and doing twice as much work as you. That is exactly what Juanito did. We were not mixing the volcano shaped piles of ingredients fast enough. So, instead of complaining, Juanito just came over and worked very hard. It really got me going.

Jeff began to feel a little ill, which turned out to be more later. Jeff told me later that as he went over to the fence to get sick, Juanito came over and placed his hand on him, and began to pray. Jeff refers to him as the “Prayer locomotive”. Juanito is very quiet and mild. But, when he prays, he is a completely different person. Jeff said that when Juanito began to pray for him, he had never felt that kind of feeling. I have experienced something like that previously in my own life, and I have to agree with Jeff that no words can describe the emotion that runs through you. Jeff headed back to the hotel to rest. I hope he is doing better tomorrow.

Bill and Dick were our trowel men. As we mixed the concrete, Jeff and Dick spread all of it where needed. I think Bill has a second calling in life! He really did a great job. Especially when you consider how hot it was on the site. We mixed the cement in the shade, Bill and Dick were in the direct sun all day.

Our team was completely amazing. We were so fast! After we finished the foundation, we still had time to assemble all of the walls and the ceiling. This will save us so much time tomorrow. We need it as we still have to install the ONIL Stove, the Pila, water line, and electricity.

We had a great moment when the mayor’s wife visited the site. She has been so involved behind the scenes in getting the land purchased and things prepared for us. She invited us to her restaurant off the coast for dinner. We gladly accepted her invitation, though we knew we would be worn out. Boy, am I glad we took her offer.

After jumping into the completely refreshing pool and then getting cleaned up, we headed for the boat launch. We took a 15-minute boat ride along a river to the restaurant. As Scott describes it, “It seemed completely pre-historic”. Scott said you almost expected to see a dinosaur walking along the shore. I personally thought I heard banjos playing and pigs squealing!

The restaurant and its location were beyond words. It was so beautiful! The sand on the beach was black as it was volcanic material. The water was so beautiful, and to top it off, the sun was setting. It would have been the ultimate romantic moment had our wives been there! But, it was still very beautiful and magical. The food was terrific. Most guys had shrimp…fresh shrimp. Dick said one time he had to wait 3-hours for his dinner as they literally went out to catch his shrimp. Fortunately, we did not have to wait that long.

As dinner was finishing, Chris said that he wanted us to pray for the Mayor’s personal protection. He said that Mayor’s in Guatemala need personal protection as many have lost their lives over the years. This woman’s husband has served three terms and faces daily threats. So, all ten of us placed our hands on her shoulders and Juanito led an amazing prayer. While I was not able to understand it all, you could feel the power of God’s presence. What a moment. You could see the love and appreciation in her eyes and face. Chris had truly received a leading from God as what she needed at that moment.

We headed back to the boat and the adventure continued. The sun was up when we arrived. But, it was completely pitch black on the return trip. I am amazed that we did not run over something on the way. It was so dark that it was funny. Well, maybe not that funny.

It was a day full of amazing moments. God never ceases to amaze any of us. He blessed us with experiences that we never imagined at the beginning of the day. I love it! God is good!!!

As I write this, two cats are attempting to kill each other (or something else) outside. I really hope they just get it over with. It may be hard to sleep with the wailing and gnashing of teeth outside our window.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day 4
Scott writes,

Two marathons, back to back…that is how Bill Wagner, a.k.a. “Forest”, described our last two days of work. I did not expect it to be easy, but I certainly did not train for this. At the end of today’s labor I watched each man drag himself back to the van with a smile, though. We were so grimy we were unrecognizable. We literally had Guatemala all over us, and in us (from breathing the constant clouds of dust).

Yes, you are right, this is what we wanted. The Holy Spirit is all over this project. So, is it cliché’ to say that during a Christian mission trip? Who cares! When was the last time that there was no room between you and God? Aren’t you sick of the layers of junk that get between you and the Creator of the universe?

Look, last night we took an old motor boat through a prehistoric forest with alligators on the shore so that we could get to a place where we could see the ocean and eat some dinner. No one could deny there is a Creator after seeing that. The whole beach was black volcanic sand and we watched the most enormous red sun sink away into the water. No one could deny there is a powerful God after seeing that. Afterward we ate fresh prawns that were big enough to ride. No one could deny that His gifts are the best gifts after tasting those. While we were eating, Jaunito, our Guatemalan pastor, spoke with our hostess. He discovered that she and her family were in need of some intense prayers for protection. We dropped our forks, surrounded her, and prayed right there in the middle of the restaurant. No one could deny the Holy Spirit was flowing through that place like the crashing waves outside.

Brad writes,

Today was not what I expected. I told my Dad as we were getting dressed for today that it should not be as dusty as yesterday. But, I decided to wear the same pants just in case. I don’t know what it is, but I seem to attract dirt more than the other guys. I am amazed at how hard everyone is working on this trip. Chris Mooney was saying how much we had gotten accomplished in the two days. One of the things that made the difference was having Jeff back with us today. It’s amazing how 24 hours can make a difference. Yesterday, he was not feeling well at all. He slept most of the day. Today, he was on the worksite eating Jalepeno Doritos and ice cream! Jeff also had a great time playing with some kids that took up residence on the worksite. He took pictures, tried to talk to them and watched them as they picked up three poisonous frogs. None of us would pick them up. One little boy finally picked up a plastic wrapper and moved all three without any fear. The kids were really funny. They slowly made their way around us this morning; almost testing the boundaries to see how far they could go. They were constantly eying our food and asking for Gatorade. They loved watching everything we did. They really gained confidence as the day went on. By the end of the day they were helping us shovel dirt, chasing each other through the house with a machete and smiling. Glad my kids don’t do that!
Tomorrow morning, Dick, Jeff and I will drive up to get the family. We will bring them back for the dedication, spend time with them and take them back to their place. The family is not quite set up to move down to the coast. The staff at the clinic that has helped care for them will hold all of their donations until they are ready. Hopefully, that will be soon.

Oh, one last highlight is the ONIL Stove we installed today. I have been wanting to see one installed for a long time. I finally got to witness it. It was really awesome seeing it. Some women from around the neighborhood were standing admiring the stove. They were obviously very interested in it when they heard that it takes so little firewood.

I am so thankful to have my dad with me on this trip. It has been a wonderful time. The memories that we are building together will last a lifetime.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 5
Brad writes,

Today was the “Big Reveal” for the house. After breakfast, Dick, Jeff and I traveled 45 minutes to where Rosa and the children live. It turns out that Rosa has actually been living with her sons in a separate house for the past month. She was offered a temporary job and chance to live in a small house in exchange for watching a piece of land for another person. The two girls were staying alone in their old house so they did not lose it. It was good to see them in their typical daily life. It made the house we built them even more special. Their conditions were not good. It was sad and not filled with much hope. I do have to say that it was very well kept.

Rosa was so nice. She smiled and laughed, which was both heart-warming and spirit lifting. I imagined that she would not be as joyful since her pictures always showed her sad looking.
The kids were cute but very shy. The 6-year old, Marvin, looked like he was 4-years old. He was so tiny. We loaded them up in Dick’s car and drove them to the house in Sipacate. They laughed as Dick drove over the rough Guatemalan roads. Jeff and I really wished that we could speak Spanish. There were so many things we wanted to ask her.

When we arrived, the rest of the guys were setting the donations up and finishing the electrical work. There was a huge crowd gathered as the Mayor of Gomera and his wife and entire entourage was there. The Mayors in Guatemala must have armed protection. So, his guards blocked off the road to keep traffic away. He was so nice. He spoke many words of gratitude for what we and Bethel had done. He thanked God for the blessing to the family. He did a wonderful job of welcoming Rosa into the town.

I thanked the Mayor, his wife and the community for allowing us to be a part of this wonderful event this week. Juanito finished with a prayer to bless the family and house.

We went inside and Bill explained all of the donations to Rosa. She will not be moving in for another 5 days. She took many supplies back with her.

The Mayor’s wife was getting all of the information on each child. The Mayor asked if they wanted to go to school. Bartolo (14), Luis (11) and Noemi (15) all said they wanted to go. Dick had told us that it was possibly too late for them to enter as the deadline was past. The Mayor said that they would all be allowed to enter. He also offered a job in one of his factories to the 20-year-old son who was not there. He also said that Bartolo could go to school and also work in a factory to make extra money, only if education came first. This blew us away!!! What an awesome blessing! We will still need to raise financial support, but at least they have the opportunity.

After giving each of the children black leather shoes, we went outside and sat down with the family to talk. We each shared thoughts and hopes for her. Chris then shared the Gospel with them all. Bartolo seemed very interested as he listened to Chris. Chris has a very good way with people. Rosa also seemed very touched as well. Only time will tell what impact the Holy Spirit has made to this point. All we can do is pray for them. Rosa shared with us that her life has been very tough as she has been sad for her daughter’s medical conditions. It breaks my heart to know what kind of burden it has been for her. My prayer is for her to find rest and peace in Christ. I would love for her to finally know that she can put all of her burdens on His shoulders.

We all said goodbye as Dick, Jeff and Mark took Rosa back to her house. She went home with a new hope, a new future and keys to a home that will change her daily life forever. What an awesome opportunity to serve God. I absolutely loved it!!!


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