* 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 25, 2010

Journal, March 16-24 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Today 2 of my boys, 3 of the men from Bethel's wheelchair repair shop, 2 friends from Rio Dulci and myself traveled down to Mazatenango in preparation for a wheelchair distribution that we are having tomorrow. It is hot and our motel has a swimming pool so I am going to swim instead of write.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'm Glad that we played a bit yesterday because today was a scorcher. Had it not been for a few electric fans that we were given to use I do not know how the 8 of us would have survived working in the unventilated room that we did the wheelchair fittings in. It was a good day though and even though this was a first time experience for nearly half our crew we managed to give out and fit 35 wheelchairs by 1:30 PM. Everyone that came for a wheelchair went home happy. We went home hot, happy and tired but none of us regretted the fact that we had been able to share the love of Jesus with these people.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Today I had the privilege of joining about a dozen people who are here for a week volunteering with Hope Haven International Ministries. For the past few days several of them have been building a house for a widow and her 9 children that live just outside of Ucappa. Ucappa is a small town that is located on the back side of Pwego which is an active volcano. After finishing up on the house we had a dedication ceremony. The father in-law of the widow gave a prayer of thanksgiving that was straight from his hart.

After saying our goodbyes we drove back into town to their central square and did a mini wheelchair distribution. The town dignitaries made quite a ceremony out of it. When we finally got to fit the 3 people that had come for wheelchairs we had to work right out on the street, in the hot sun with loud music blaring in our ears and a man on a microphone explaining my every move to over 100 people that were squeezed so tightly in on us that I could not see what I was doing. I felt a bit bad because I had wanted to let the group from the Sates have the experience of doing some of the seating while I explained to them what needed to be done but it was so noisy that I could not even hear myself think yet alone convey my thought to any one else. I am eternally grateful to an old lady who tried her best to keep my head shaded with an umbrella that she had brought.

A 4th person was suppose to show up for a wheelchair but the people explained to us that it would be a bit difficult for her family to bring her. When the gave us the option of going to her home instead of putting on a 3 ring circus in the center of town we jumped at the opportunity.

When I got home this evening my house soon resembled the wheelchair distribution that looked more like a mob seen but at least I was home. My 13 kids were every bit as loud but at least they did not have microphones and speakers. They were all great about helping out with making supper and even though I could have used a little piece and quiet I would have missed them if they were not here.

Well the roar is now down to a rumble so I think that I will close for now and just relax.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, March 19, 2010

This morning I went to Hermano Pedro orphanage where I was joined by David Black and a group of teens that are here from his church. By the time I got to the orphanage Dave had already signed out 6 kids that he wanted to take to the park. I quickly signed out 3 more kids from the malnutrition ward and soon 9 kids and about 12 volunteers were on there way to the park. I had strict orders to have the kids from the malnutrition ward back within an hour but even though their outing was a short one they certainly enjoyed it.

Out of all of the kids that went I think that Walter had the best time. Walter is an 11 year old boy that came into the malnutrition ward about 6 months ago. Unlike most of the kids at Hermano Pedro Walter can walk. However Walter likes to wonder off so he is either locked in a crib or tied in a wheelchair the entire day. Today when we got to the park we got Walter out of his chair and took turns following him around. He loved it.

At noon the group left to go and teach a bible school class in a nearby town. I stayed at the orphanage. It is not often that I take just one kid out to lunch but since there were no other volunteers available I decided that it would be good for Ervin to have a little one on one time. I wish that the caregivers at the orphanage could see how well behaved he is when he gets a little attention. It was hard to believe that it was the same boy that screams his head off when he does not get his way at the orphanage. If only Ervin could live in a loving home.

Later this after noon Jessica and I met with the head nurse of the children's ward to discuss the fact that most of the kids are kept in bed at least 18 hours a day. Earlier this month I had mentioned that I was beginning to wonder why we kept providing these kids with wheelchairs if they are not allowed to use them more than a few hours each day. I must admit that it was a bit of a bluff but I have tried everything else that I could think of to keep these kids from being locked up in their cribs so much of the time. The meeting seamed to go well and the head nurse has agreed to shorten the length of the afternoon naps so that the kids are no longer put to bed from 1PM to 3:30 PM and then returned to bed at 5PM where they stay until 7 AM the following morning. Not as big of a step as I had hoped for but at least it is a step in the right direction. As an American I have to remind myself that there's a right way and a wrong way to do everything and the wrong way is to keep trying to make everybody else do it the right way.

Fernando and Bryan are spending the night. As Bryan was showing me the welts on his back that his mother made with a belt for no apparent reason, Fernando came over and asked if he could stay over as well. He said that his uncle had come home drunk and tried to beet up on him. Fortunately Fernando's older cousin got between them and kept uncle from beating on him. How these kids stay so well adjusted and are able to show so much love to the orphanage kids and others around them is nothing short of a miracle. When I moved into this neighborhood I thought that I could change a lot of this overnight. That was 7 years ago. It is now my prayer that the kids that hang out at my house will treat their children the way that I treat them. Don't get me wrong. The rules are tough at my house but the kids know that I love them and they also know that I will never lay a hand on them unless it is to give a pat on the back or a hug.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, March 20, 2010

One of the girls that is here from the States for a week has asked if I knew of anyone that was in need of a guitar. It just so happened Godincidence? that Cesar had just asked me for a Guitar becasue his teacher has offered to give him lessons. I told him that I would do my best to help him get one but also reminded him that his schooling is costing quite a bit so I was not sure that we could get him one right away. Needless to say when I told him that we had been given one he was delighted.

This morning 4 of my kids had a football game in San Lucas so 13 of us went there in my car. After the Game we found a place that sold fried chicken for 5 Q per piece so we all ate for around $10. After lunch I brought all but 2 of the boys home and then the 3 of us went to the orphanage and hung out with some of the kids. We got several of them up from their cribs, laid them on mats and visited with them. My 2 boys were great with them and had them all laughing within minutes.

This evening my house once again filled up with kids and of coarse all of them were hungry. Not exactly a gourmet supper tonight unless you have a passion for cornflakes and hot dogs. No one complained though as they were simply happy to be fed.

Well there are only 3 kids left so I guess I will tell them that they can stay.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Not only are most of my kids getting quite fluent at English they are also learning to be as Dutch as I am. We had planned on renting a soccer field for 25Q (about $3) last night but then discovered that they rent for 10 Q if you play in the morning before 8 AM. This morning we got up at 6 AM and played for 2 hours and still saved 5 Q. No what red blooded Dutchman could resist a deal like that.

Actually I am still a little confused on just how much we saved because last night the kids still ended up playing soccer at my house and I am now minus one more window and my favorite plant.

After this morning's game 13 of the kids came over to my house for breakfast and then 11 of them came along to church. Abner and Daniel went to church with their grandmother.

It was really hot in church this morning so a few of my kids had a bit of a problem staying awake. I hate to admit it but there was a time or 2 that I even found myself nodding in agreement to what Pastor Mike was saying.

All of us were wide awake by the time we got to Martha's cafe though and each of us polished off $3 worth of food. I am now at home and believe it or not I am by myself. I told the kids that I needed a few hours of quiet time. The 11 of them promised that they would be as quiet as possible if I let them stay but I told them that would possibly not be as quiet as I was looking for. It seems a bit odd having no kids in the house but this has got to be the first time in weeks that I have been able to hear my refrigerator run. Of coarse with my hearing I still have to open the refrigerator door and stick my head inside to do that.

I recently read that, "It ought to be as impossible to forget that there is a Christian in the house as it is to forget that there is a ten-year-old boy in it."

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, March 22, 2010

Today I spent another day at Hermano Pedro. Part of my day was spent trying to catch up on the never ending list of wheelchairs that need to be repaired refitted or replaced. Even though there are presently more volunteers at the orphanage than I have ever seen before I still find it hard to devote 100% of my time to working on wheelchairs. I guess that it will likely stay that way as long as a kid is more loveabel than a wheelchair. The volunteers that are here this week are really great with the kids though so I am finding it a bit easier to devote at least some of my time at the orphanage to working on wheelchairs. An outing to the park like the one that I took Byron on this afternoon helped me to see just how important these wheelchairs are to the kids. It does not seem like all that many years ago that Byron had no way to move himself around but now he is non stop. Keep praying that his head controlled power wheelchair keeps going until I can find the parts and the time to build him a new one.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, March 24, 2010After getting the front end of my car realigned I headed to Hermano Pedro orphanage in Antigua. None of my kids came with me today because they are all having school exams this week. A doctor from the States and his sister joined me for the day though. This is there first time ever in Guatemala but judging by their enthusiasm and obvious compassion for the Guatemalan people it will more than likely not be their last. We spent a few hours at the orphanage and then took 3 of the kids out to lunch. Things got a bit messy but the 3 kids that we took loved it when we gave them the opportunity to try and feed themselves. The waitress were very patient with us and even replaced the 3 drinks and the order of french fries that managed to make their way to the floor. One waitress in particular simply fell in love with the kids and spent her entire time hovering around our table. This is such a refreshing change from the old days when I felt very unwelcomed when I brought any of the kids into this same restaurant.

Several years ago when I worked with special needs kids for a school district back in Washington State, a grandmother of a boy that I worked with shared an interesting story with me. Grandmother had decided to take Paul to a fancy restaurant in Seattle in celebration of his birthday. Paul was one of the happiest kids that I have ever met but due to the Cerebral Palsy that he had he was not the quietest person in the world and even though he loved nothing better than going out to eat his uncontrollable mussel spasms made it difficult to keep most of what you were feeding him from falling on the floor. Two ladies that were seated at a table next to Paul's were obviously disturbed by this so they asked the waitress if they could speak with the Owner of the restaurant. When the owner came over to their table. One of the ladies pointed over to Paul and said, "Sir this is outrageous, there is absolutely no reason that we should be in a fancy restaurant like this and have to sit next to some one like that and try to eat our meal!" The manager looked over at Paul and then back over at the 2 ladies and said, "Ladies you are absolutely right there is absolutely no reason you should have to be here sitting next to him." He then pointed to the door and said to the ladies, "There is the door, get your buts through it and please never come back into my restaurant again." With a smile on his face he then walked over to the table where Paul and his grandmother were sitting. He then looked into Paul's eyes and said, "Young man I hope you enjoy your meal, I want you to know that you are always welcome here and since it is your birthday the meal is on me." I hope that someday I get the opportunity to meet that restaurant owner and shake his hand.

Later this after noon we had the opportunity to bring a wheelchair to the grandmother of one of the ladies that works at Hermano Pedro. This lady has suffered a stroke and and was in need of a wheelchair. Both her and her granddaughter told us that they did not know how to thank us. We were then able to share with them that the thanks was to go to God because that was why we were there.

We then went to the home of Cesar the man whose leg I have been working on for several years now. Cesar is doing well but had just run out of the una-boot that I was using in treating his leg. Fortunately a friend of mine will be bringing some to Guatemala in a few days.

After that we returned to the orphanage for a while and them went over to Hope Haven's wheelchair factory to seat 2 kids that were scheduled to come in for wheelchairs. Both little boys were delightful and the one that had hand use had the time of is life once I showed him how to propel him self around the shop.

This evening was spaghetti night at my house. The kids know that I am planning on being gone for the next 6 days so tonight I think that they tried to eat enough so that they can go without eating for a week. Moat of them offered to skip school and come along with me but since it is exam week I convinced them that skipping school would not be a good idea. I will miss them but am looking forward to spending several days around the Rio Dulci area doing wheelchair distributions with Bethel ministries and a Joni and Friends teem that is coming in from the States.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

(View From My Motel Room)

This morning 2 friends from the Rio Dulci area, their 2 and a half year old daughter and myself headed up to Rio Dulci. What can be anything from a 5 hour to an 8 hour drive ended up taking us nearly 9 hours. When we got into the middle of Guatemala City traffic suddenly came ot a complete stop. After sitting in one place for about an hour we came to the conclusion that the City was having another buss strike. Just a few days ago the buss drivers in the city blockaded most of the major roads with their buses and for most of the day traffic was at a virtual stand still and it was not until late afternoon that the police moved in and arrested the buss drivers and then moved the buses out of the way. Today we had some hope though because from time to time the line of traffic that we were in was able to move a few feet. It was still not all that promising though because my GPS was showing me that at the speed that we were moving we would arrive in Rio Dulci by mid April. Two and a half hours later we finally started moving at someting a little faster than a snails pace and as we rounded a corner we saw that the problem had not been due to another buss strike but a container had fallen off from a semi truck and blocked the road.

I would like to say that this was our last encounter of the day with semi trucks but it was not. A few hours later as we were descending some mountain curves we were met head on by a semi truck who driver had obviously gotten tired of following a long line of slow moving traffic and decided that he would take his chances and pass them on the hair pin curves. Just a few weeks ago I was met head on by a buss whose driver had made the same foolish decision. Miraculously there had been a shoulder for me to swerve onto and the buss and my car narrowly missed each other. Praise God! Today there was another shoulder. Those of you that have driven mountain roads here in Guatemala know that this is not usually the case. Godincidence?

Chris and Donna are already here in Rio Dulci. They have been here for about a week helping put on a camp for families of people with disabilities. I had supper with them this evening and they told me that the camp went marvelously. I am sure that they will soon be writing about it in Bethel Ministries web page.

I think that tomorrow I am going to just kick back and relax. In the evening Saul and Benjamin will be bringing in the Joni and Friends teem and tomorrow we plan on doing our first of 3 days of wheelchair distributions in various towns. Please keep us in your prayers.

(My Motel Room)

Dwight L. Moody once wrote.

"I believe that if an angel were to wing his way from earth up to Heaven, and were to say that there was one poor, ragged child, without father or mother, with no one to care for him and teach him the way of life; and if God were to ask who among them were willing to come down to this earth and live here for fifty years and lead that one to Jesus Christ, every angel in Heaven would volunteer to go.
Even Gabriel, who stands in the presence of the Almighty, would say, "Let me leave my high and lofty position, and let me have the luxury of leading one soul to Jesus Christ." There is no greater honor than to be the instrument in God's hands of leading one person out of the kingdom of Satan into the glorious light of Heaven."

Yours in Christ: Dick


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