* 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)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Journal, March 10-15, 2010

(Click on any photo to enlarge)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Today I said goodbye to the American teem that I had been doing the 2 day wheelchair distribution with in Santiago and headed back to Chimaltenango. They will be returning this evening but were first going to spend some time at a senior center and the do some souvenir shopping. Those of you who know what I think of souvenir shopping know why I chose this morning to head for home. Nuff said.

My main reason for leaving though was so that I could join a teem from Canada for a wheelchair distribution that we plan on having in Chimaltenango tomorrow. This group has been here since Saturday night. They have been building houses with Chris, Howie. and Pastor Juan. Today on my way back home from Santiago I stopped off and visited with them and the widow, and her 5 children that they are building the house for.

Here is what I wrote about this family back in early December.
As we were about to leave Maria's place a neighbor came over and asked us if we would take a look at her home.

She and her 5 children live in a one room shack that is made out of dried mud and corn stalks. Just like Maria, this lady also lost her husband a few years ago. I plan on handing her name in to Bethel Ministries but the waiting list for people that are in need of homes is staggering.

Since that first meeting in December we have found sponsors for this family so now they have enough food to eat and the 3 oldest children are able to attend school. Had it not been for a sponsor 12 year old Samuel would still be working 12 hours a day to earn the only money ($11 a week) that the family had to live on.


Since I have not been able to be at the orphanage for a few days I thought that I would let my friend Daryl Fulp have the honers of posting the first part of today's journal.


Love in Action

My bag is unpacked, I have gotten some sleep, and I am well on my way of catching up on the mound of work that was waiting when I returned. I have also had some time to reflect on our trip and gain some insight that I would like to share. Specifically, I want to share a powerful truth and give you several examples to illustrate that reality.

The powerful truth is this…love in action can heal wounded hearts. How do I know?

1) Ervin

Ervin is rather large and strong for his age. As a result, he is not seen as cute by the nurses who keep him tied to a pole much of the time he is out of his crib. His anger is revealed when he lashes out at his captors through hitting, kicking, and biting. He is not liked by most, but I absolutely love the little guy! When I am at Hermano Pedro he follows me closely and clings tightly to me…unless Dick Rutgers is around. In that case, I am quickly discarded and Dick is his #1 buddy! It has been very difficult getting him to interact with anyone else except the two of us.

Last week, something amazing happened. After the first two days of working at HP with our excellent team, I noticed that Ervin wasn’t stuck to my hip. When I looked around for him, I found him playing with another team member, giving her hugs and kisses and having a grand time with her. By the end of the week, he was freely moving through the courtyard loving on children and team members alike! I have never seen him happier! The simple reality was that Ervin knew that he was loved by our entire team, and he was eager to love back.

2) Estuardo

Estuardo has Autism. He stimulates himself by making noises with his mouth that are amazingly loud. He also likes to spin in tight circles using awkward steps. He, too, is known for lashing out through hitting and biting and has a reputation of displaying massive temper tantrums. Whenever there is a special event, the nurses like to drug him and put him in his crib so he doesn’t disrupt the party. He typically does not bond with anyone, but that changed last week.

Early in the week my daughter, Brittney, pulled him from his crib and started loving on him. While she readily admitted that he was quite a handful, she also saw past his behavior and fell for this little guy. Through much patience and some frustration on Brittney’s part, we all began to see a change in Estuardo. Gradually his behavior improved and he became more affectionate. By our last day, he was hugging on anyone who would accept it, including Ervin! (Estuardo and Ervin could be considered arch enemies. I have seen them both clobber one another in a moment of conflict, leaving one or both in tears.) I choked up watching these two guys hugging and laughing together.

3) Paulo

Paulo is a teenage boy with pronounced CP. He struggles with chewing and swallowing and cannot speak at all. He is also a very unhappy young man. Prior to this trip the only noises I have ever heard from him were moaning and crying.

One day as I was playing with several of the kids in the courtyard I heard the sounds of laughter coming from behind me. I turned to find Don, one of our team members, pushing Paulo around backward while he laughed aloud! I was so surprised that I went over to double check and make sure that it was Paulo. I had never seen him smile before, much less laugh! I can honestly say that it made my trip!

Don and Paulo became buddies and spent a lot of time together. And I am happy to report that I saw a lot more smiles and laughs throughout the week!

4) Delmi

You have read about Delmi in my blog before. This young lady has very little that is attractive in her outward appearance. She is often ignored and passed over by both staff and volunteers as they move on to the cute children. As a result, Delmi is not a happy teenager.

In our last several trips, I have spent time with Delmi trying to coax a smile. And I have been successful in that effort. But it has always taken a lot of effort to achieve the smallest of smiles.

Early in the week one of our team members, Marisa, began to invest in Delmi. She spent long hours talking to her, stroking her hair, feeding her, and being her friend. I noticed her work and was excited to see the two of them bonding. But I was surprised at the results she achieved. At the end of our second day I stopped by Delmi’s bed to say “Buenes Noches” and, as soon as I did, she broke into a huge grin! The joy on her face was so evident and I was caught completely off guard. This girl from whom I had always struggled to coax even small smiles was literally beaming…all because of Marisa’s love!

There are more stories that I could share with you. Each of our team members did an excellent job of loving on the children, and the results were astounding. As I shared in an earlier blog, I have never seen Hermano Pedro more filled with joy than on this trip. And the reason for that joy was the obvious love of Jesus displayed through our team to each one of these children and teens.

What a difference love makes!


I have been known to repeat myself at times but never intentionally do so in my journals. Bear in mind though that when you get to be my age not everything you do is always intentional. I have been known to repeat myself at times but never intentionally do so in my journals. Bear in mind though that when you get to be my age not everything you do is .............. . I guess you get the point. I want you to know though that I am aware that I originally wrote and posted the following on December of last year. After some of the comets that I received and then after reading what Daryl wrote in his journal entry above, I felt that it would not hurt to republish Delmi's Story. Here then is a repeat of the journal entry that I made on December 1, 2009.

Hi, my name is Delmi.

I live at Hermano Pedro Orphanage. I am the ugliest child here. Oh, it's alright for me to talk about it, everyone else does. Most of the people that walk by my crib where I am locked up most of the day don't actually say it with words but they still tell me that I am ugly. They say it with their eyes. Most look away and quickly walk on to other cribs but I still here what there eyes are saying.

They rather spend their time with the beautiful kids, kids like Jo Jo who has dwarfism and a beautiful round head that is bigger than a basket ball. I know that Jo Jo is beautiful because he gets a lot of attention from the visitors that walk through the orphanage. Oh yes there are a few people that walk by Jo Jo's crib and quickly look away but most at least stop and talk to him, some even reach out and touch him. Oh how I wish that God had created me perfect like Jo Jo.

Once a man named Daryl came and visited the orphanage. Daryl actually stopped by my bed and looked at me. He even reached out and touched me. When Dick asked Daryl which of the kids he wanted to take along to lunch at Camperos Daryl actually chose me. After lunch he even brought me to the park and put my feet into a pool. When I looked into the pool I saw a reflection that told me that I was no longer ugly. When I looked into Daryl's eyes they told me that I was beautiful. I will never forget that day. For a day or two I actually believed that the pool had made me beautiful but within a few days that beauty evidently faded. I could once again see it in the eyes of the visitors that would glance at me and then walk on to one of the perfect kids like Jo Jo.

It has now been several months since that wonderful day when Daryl took me to lunch, and up until today I was starting to wonder if perhaps I had only been dreaming that I had been beautiful for a day but then it happened again today. Dick dropped by the orphanage today. Dick sometimes makes me feel beautiful for a minute or two but there are so many kids that he seldom seems to have much time for me. Today Dick took two of the boys from his neighborhood along with him though and one of the boys named Fernando asked Dick if he could spend time with me. Fernando even asked if he could feed me. I was amazed because no one ever wants to feed me. At first I thought that Fernando had something wrong with him. He didn't seem to see my ugliness. I wondered if perhaps Fernando was blind. When I looked up into Fernando's eyes I saw my reflection. It was the same reflection that I had seen in Daryl's eyes a few months ago. It was the reflection of a beautiful little girl, some one nearly as perfect as Jo Jo.

Was this really happening or was I only dreaming? If it was a dream I never wanted to wake up. It felt so good to be beautiful. I wanted it to last for ever. When I looked back up into Fernando's eyes my reflection was gone. It didn't seem to matter though because I suddenly saw an even better reflection. It was the reflection of Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:18

"So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image."

Delmi's story was narrated to me by Delmi. Although Delmi can not talk she spoke every word of it to me through her eyes.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A good part of our day was spent at a wheelchair distribution right here in Chimaltenango. 56 wheelchairs were given away but that's not the exciting part. The best thing that happened today was that 10 people asked Jesus to be their Lord and Savior.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Today all but 3 members of the Canadian teem that is here went and Climbed a volcano. I thought about it but decided to wait until the movie comes out.

The 3 that stayed behind went with me to visit the orphanage. When we got to the orphanage we were joined by 7 of the therapy students that I worked with earlier this week. I gave the entire group a tour of the orphanage and then we took 8 of the kids out to Camperos for lunch.

In the afternoon I went to work on Byron's power wheelchair. Praise God it is running again. I think that I am going to have to get to work on setting up a newer one for him though because this one has seen a lot of miles and it is getting difficult to find parts for it any more.

I could probably say the same thing for my car. It has been in the shop for the past 2 days. This time I had a lot done to it. New bushings and a new rear end were some of the major things but the mechanic took care of a lot of other things that have needed doing for quite some time now. I put on about 50,000 kilometers a year. That may not seem like much but you aught to see how many of those kilometers are driven on dirt roads that would not even be considered trails if you were in the States.

Later this evening we picked up the 8 members of the Canadian teem that scaled the volcano and then we rented a soccer field and most of them got out and played Soccer with my kids. It may have been that they were tired from climbing the volcano but then my kids usually outplay any visitors that we get. Everyone had a lot of fun though and the pizza party that we had at my place after the game was a lot of fun as well.

When I returned home from bringing my 11 Canadian guests back to their hotel I discovered that there were still kids hanging around out side of my gate. I told them that I was tired and that I was planning on heading off to bed. They told me that was no problem because they were tired as well. I guess that if I have to get up during the night to use the bathroom I better use a flash light so that I do not trip over any one.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My boys having prayer before their game.

I am beginning to feel like a soccer mom. 8 of my kids played in 3 different games today and some how I got volunteered to bring one of the teems to Panahajel to play a game next Saturday. I think that Esbin bragged to his coach that I have had up to 21 people in my car at one time. The coach told me that 22 people would be going. I told him that I had no desire to break my own record so he as going to have to find one more person who would be willing to take half of the kids. I guess we will see weather or not he took me seriously when I show up at 6:30 next Saturday morning.

This evening we celebrated Keven's 14th birthday. I told him that I would take him and 2 of his friends out to eat. This time I did not have to be the bad guy because I let Keven pick who he wanted to take along. He chose Abner and Caser. To my surprise the other kids all seemed OK with that.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Church for 13, lunch for 13, and then home where there were even more.Monday, March 15, 2010

Why is it that I have trouble remembering where I put the keys to my car 5 minutes ago but cannot forget things that I do not want to remember? Ever get so busy helping God's people that you find yourself avoiding the people that God places in your path? Several times this week my mind has taken me back to a man that I saw in a broken down wheelchair while driving back from Santiago last Monday. I had made a wrong turn and found myself in a shabby part of an already not to friendly looking little town when I saw an elderly looking man coming up the road in one of the worst looking wheelchairs that I had ever seen. Not only was it dirty and rusted but what really caught my attention was that it was missing one of it's front wheels. How this man kept it balanced on only 3 wheels was beyond me. My first thought was that this man needed a wheelchair, but I found myself driving right past him because within a few short seconds I mustered up a half dozen or more reasons why I should not stop and help this man.

"I am by myself and do not know much Spanish." (This has never kept me from stopping at a cafe and getting some thing to eat.)

"This is a rough looking neighborhood." (This has not kept me from living in the neighborhood that I live in.)

"I might scare this man if I get out of the car and walk up to him." (True, but with my face I have to worry about this with anyone that I meet.)

"I only have a child's wheelchair with me and it has no front wheels." (True, I did not have a wheelchair or even the parts with me to fix this man's wheelchair but I did have plans on coming back this way in a month or 2.)

"I doubt that I can ever find this place again." (I have a GPS)

"I have helped enough people this week. After all we have already given out over 50 wheelchairs and plan on giving out another 50 tomorrow. That is over 100 wheelchairs in one week. Isn't that enough?" (What about the Good Shepard who was willing to leave the 99 for the sake of 1?)

"I just don't feel like it." (That one stuck, so I drove on.)

Why after convincing myself that I had all the reasons in the world not to stop did I not feel very good about myself, and why does the memory of this poor man still haunt me a few days later?

Today I went to Hermano Pedro to do some work on a few wheelchairs. It is nearing Easter and there are a lot of cars in town so I had to park my car about a block away. While walking from my car to the orphanage I met some people who were pushing a man in a wheelchair. This wheelchair appeared to be in fairly good condition so I did not have to drum up a lot of excuses as to why I could not say a simple hello and continue on my way. I was thankful because I had a lot to do and didn't need any more work. As I approached the door to the orphanage I realized that I had forgotten the programmer for Bryon's power chair in my car. After a bit of grumbling I turned around and started heading back to my car. As I walked back I was met by one of the men that had been pushing the other man in the wheelchair. He was heading back to Hermano Pedro with the empty wheelchair. I walked a bit further down the road and saw 3 people who were crossing the street with the man that had been in the wheelchair. After I passed by I realized that these people who had obviously brought this man in to see one of the doctors had only been borrowing this wheelchair from Hermano Pedro to get this man to the pick up truck that they were loading him into the back of. Undoubtedly he did not have a wheelchair of his own.

I thought to myself I am to busy for this. Besides that I am by myself and don't know much Spanish. Suddenly though my thoughts flashed back to last Wednesday when a similar situation happened. I also thought about the story of the Good Shepherd and the story of the good Samaritan. Here I was crossing by on the other side of the street doing nothing to reach out to this poor man.

It took a bit of a pantomime finding out that this man indeed did not own a wheelchair and then explaining that we could provide him with one but the people were patient with me and after handing them my cell phone and putting them in contact with Carlos at Bethel's wheelchair shop they smiled and pointed towards Heaven indicating that their prayers had been answered.

"Thank you Jesus, that today I did not get so busy helping Your people that I avoided helping the people that You placed in my path."

Yours in Christ: Dick


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