* 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)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Journal, March 25-29 , 2010

(Click on any photo to enlarge.)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

This evening the Joni and friends teem arrived at the motel that we have been staying at here in Rio Dulce. About once a year Joni and Friends sends a teem here to Guatemala to join us for a week or so of wheelchair distributions that are held in various towns and villages throughout the country. This week an added blessing has been that the teem leader Ronnie Standefer has offered to give me a break from writing by allowing me to post her daily journals. Thank you Ronnie and thank you teem. You are always such a blessing to us and to all of the people here in Guatemala that you come to share the love of Jesus with.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Last night our Joni and Friends Wheelchair Team arrived in the Rio Dulce where we joined up with Chris and Donna Mooney and Dick Rutgers so that we could hold our first distribution at Rayo de Esperanza, the orphanage of Karen and Mike Rhea here in the Rio Dulce. This morning when we arrived at the outdoor chapel at the orphanage we had people already waiting for us. What a beautiful sight! The people are so excited about getting a wheelchair and so thankful for this special gift from God. After beginning in prayer, we went straight to work on fitting chairs to the 58 recipients of today.

It is always hard to see the many children who are in need of wheelchairs, but also in need of medical care that we are not prepared to give. The diagnosis of most is Cerebral Palsy, a “catch-all” word for many of the ones who ran a fever as an infant, but were not treated with Tylenol or another fever reducer, but instead wrapped tightly up in blankets (because they are “sick”) even as the temperatures soar and the humidity rises each day. I look at these children and realize that illnesses our infants in the States easily get over with our medicine and proper care are often life-changing or fatal in Guatemala.

We also saw many adults who were in need of a wheelchair due to an accident (most of which did not receive proper care at the time of the accident), or gunshot wounds to the spine that left them paralyzed, and many who have had an amputation due to diabetes, which could have been controlled with the proper medication in most cases. It makes you understand the perils here in Guatemala as we see so many who, with the proper medical help, could have been living a normal life, but are instead the result of unavailable medical treatment, or the finances to afford the treatment and medication. A price cannot be assigned to the value of the work done by the Mooney's and Dick. So many get their life back with the wheelchair they are fitted into.

After each individual receives their wheelchair they are led to a minister who prays with them and tells them of the love of God. Today 12 individuals turned their lives over to God! What a great time of rejoicing! However, for those of you reading this journal I ask you to not only pray for them as they begin their walk with the Lord, but also pray for Marlon and his family who once were walking with the Lord, but turned away from him after Marlon was in a tragic car accident in which he broke his back. He claims he, nor his family, want to reconcile with the Lord. Chris planted the seed, however, as he spoke with him, and I want to you to join me in prayer asking God to continue to put those in their life who will lovingly lead them back to the Lord. We ended our day as we traveled to Poptun to get ready for our next distribution tomorrow. God was truly present throughout the day today!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I cried today. In fact I cried several times. First it was over Isabel who has a debilitating brain injury as a result of malnutrition. Then I cried over the family of Sandra, a 24 year old who is severely disabled as a result of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Her mom has been widowed for the past four years, and besides taking care of Sandra, she has11 other children. Her biggest fear is that the children will be separated because of their desperate financial need. And then I met Brenda, a beautiful 22 year old young lady in excruciating pain from bone cancer which also keeps her from being able to walk. The best we could do was provide her with a wheelchair to make her as comfortable as possible during her last few days on this earth. More disheartening was the fact that she is unable to afford the medication she has needed to properly deal with the pain.

Dick cried too. Both of our hearts broke over precious six year old Pricila who has club feet, a cleft palate, spina bifida, and a multitude of other disabilities. Although both of her eyes are unable to focus on you at the same time, they are beautiful. Even at this very young age she is well aware of her features and will hide her face when you looked at her. I sat there and shed tears as Dick gently took her into his arms and cuddled her to him. That's when I saw his tears. Her mom stood nearby as Dick lovingly examined Pricila to see what type of chair would best be suited to meet her needs, especially since she had good usage of her arms. Unfortunately we did not have one left that Dick deemed perfect for her, but he remembered that we had left one in the Rio Dulce that would be a great fit for her. He immediately started making arrangements on how to get that chair to Poptun, then took Pricila and her mom to their home so that he could find his way back on Monday and fit Pricila in the best chair possible. That's how these guys work. Whatever it takes…whenever it takes…no matter what it takes. Today I saw God work through the heart and hands of Dick and our entire team… from the ones who continually load and unload tools and chairs, to everyone who fits the wheelchairs to each recipient, the mechanics who help make the chairs fit, the ones guiding the families from one point to the other, and the ones who pray over them, give them a Bible, and share with them how much God loves each of them. We are definitely a team…or better yet, one of God's little armies using us as He wills. What an honor it is to serve. And what a wonderful day that resulted in 20 souls turning their lives over to the Lord! Praise Him!

Sunday, March 28, 2010
Today is Palm Sunday and we awoke to streets lined in palm branches. Well, actually we awoke to a rooster who started his song very, very early. We are on the island in Flores at a quaint little motel, but it didn't take us long to get ready and head over the bridge to our third distribution. After wandering around looking for a building that no longer existed, we were led to a new building and were warmly welcomed by the Mayor and his wife who were waiting with a host of people anxious to be seated in a wheelchair. Dick spent most of the day seating two adorable twin girls with Cerebral Palsy (those high fevers again!)

Becky had her second day of seating an individual that absolutely did not want to sit in a wheelchair. Today's child, although she was 7, had never been anywhere but in the arms of her mom or another family member. The feel of the chair was far more than she could bear, and she did not hesitate to let everyone in the building know about it.
We were extremely thankful for the new building to work in. The last time we were in Flores we were in a cinder-block gymnasium with absolutely no ventilation. People were crammed inside waiting to get a wheelchair, which only added to the already unbearable heat from it being 105 degrees outside. This new municipal building was well ventilated and extremely nice in comparison.

The twins that Dick seated were five years old, both females, and had relatively no muscle tone whatsoever. What a blessing it was to have two Kid chairs from Hope Haven that could be adjusted and fitted to meet their needs. What was amazing was how “in tune” the twins were with each other. They would both raise their hands at exactly the same time and in the same way, they would tilt their heads together, hold their mouths alike…something we couldn't explain but couldn't help noticing! I couldn't help but think about the hardship it must be on the mom of these girls dealing with not one, but TWO special needs children.

Today we had 15 more precious people who accepted Jesus after praying and speaking with our ministers. Unfortunately we had another family who had fallen away from the Lord and said they were not interested in restoring that relationship with the Father. Please pray that God will encounter the Moran family and that their hearts will be touched.
It's been a great three days of distributions. We have seated 161 in wheelchairs and had 57 come to know Jesus. Bibles were put in the hands of each family, and local ministers will follow up with these individuals. What a blessing to be a part of this work!

Monday, March 29, 2010

As I type, we are on the road headed back to Guatemala City. Jeanette and Dick Burkhart, Dick Rutgers and I left earlier than the rest so that we could go by Poptun and fit Pricila in the chair being brought to us from the Rio Dulce. We were greeted by her family at the gate and welcomed inside their very humble home. Although we were glad to see Priscila, she wasn't as happy to see us. Although she cried a little, she soon warmed up to Dick as he cuddled her in his arms and comforted her. She latched on to his tape measure (which she was very interested in) and a Beanie Baby fish that we had brought along, and soon afterwords they began to work on the chair. It didn't take long before they had the chair fitting her perfectly! I can't say that she was joyous once she was sat in the chair, but I do have confidence that she will grow to love the mobility it will give her, not to mention the joy it will bring to their family now that she can be pushed rather than carried. Her twin brother was there when we seated her, and his body was in such contrast with hers. But looking through the eyes of Jesus you can see only wholeness in both in them! Dick is working to get Pricila in Hermano Pedro so that her cleft palate can be closed, then following up with her to see what else can be done for her. We covet your prayers on behalf of Pricilia as she gets used to her chair and undergoes much needed surgery.



We caught up with Chris and the rest of the teem about 50 miles outside of Guatemala City. After Lunch Ronnie and my other passengers got into the van with Chris and the rest of the crew and headed for the hotel in Guatemala City, where the group will be spending the night. I had my share of heavy traffic for the day so I decided to head cross country on back roads to get back home instead of staying on the main road. At around 5 PM I pulled into a small motel and plan on spending the nigh here and then doing the 5 hour drive home in the morning. As you can see from Ronnie's journal we had a fantastic week. I really enjoyed working with this Joni and friends teem. They came to serve and to share the love of Christ and that radiated through them in everything that they did.

Thanks Teem!

Yours in Christ: Dick


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