* GUATEMALA * * * * * * * * Dick Rutgers *

An ongoing journal of life as a Missionary in Guatemala. It will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

My Photo
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)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Journal, March 5-10, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

My Friend Daryl has once again graciously offered to write today's journal entry for me. OK let me fess up. I actually stole this off from his web page becauseI simply did not have the time to write a journal entry today.

Fighting for food
written by Daryl

We spent today at Hermano Pedro loving on the kids. Once again we filled the courtyard with every available child. We blew bubbles, played games, and sang songs, and as we did we saw the same marvelous transformation occur. Joy replaced sadness and the entire place brightened.

For lunch we took a group of the older teens and two young ladies out to eat at Pollo Campero. Stomachs were filled with food and paper airplanes made from place mats filled the air. We had so much fun with this group!

My buddy, Elmer, and I put on our special hats and struck a gangsta pose together while Dick hit us with spit wads. In other words, the adults were worse than the kids!


Dick wrote,

Daryl failed to mention that he started things off by throwing paper airplanes that were dipped in Ketchup at some of us. Actually I spent most of my time being very mature by taking pictures and trying to figure out a way to make money so that we can take even more kids from the orphanage out to Camperos.

Here is what I cam up with.For a $1 donation you can win dinner for 2 at Camperos. (Actually it is a 2 piece chicken dinner for one but for a small charge they will bring you an extra plate so that you can split it between yourself and a friend. All yuo have to do is be the first to correctly identify the mystery person in this photo. The only hint that I will give is that this person was one of the members of the group that went to Camperos today. If you can not identify this person you can always try for the booby prize which is an autographed picture of today's mystery guest. The booby prize winner need not identify our mystery guest but must correctly identify what part of that person's anatomy is pictured here.


Daryl wrote,

We returned to HP at 2:00 pm to find almost all the kids back in their cribs. We held another jail break, liberating most of the children into the courtyard where we spent the rest of the afternoon.

Things went well until supper. As usual, the nurses brought out food for us to feed to the children. We all fed the kids assigned to us and the nurses came back around to brush the children’s teeth. At that point, various members of our team began to point out different children who had not received food. After discussing it with everyone we determined that six children had been skipped. When we pointed this out to the nurses, they tried to argue that they had received food, but we were sure they had not. We stuck to our guns and insisted that they be fed. Eventually they relented and food was brought out. However, they had already cleaned up after dinner, so those remaining only received bread mixed in warm milk. But for our team’s alertness and intervention, six children would have gone to bed hungry tonight. Why? Because of a failure to create a simple checklist that would assure that all the kids receive a meal. I confess that this angered me. How many other nights do they miss feeding some of these little guys? And how long will it be until someone cares enough to change things?

On a side note, Byron’s head-control unit for his wheelchair shorted out today. This young man is a wonderfully active guy thanks to the mobility provided by his chair, but until it is repaired he loses that mobility. Dick is working to repair it, but is not sure he has the necessary parts. A new unit is expensive and would not work as well for Byron’s needs. Would you please pray with us that Dick will be able to scrape together the parts necessary to get him back on the road quickly?

Saturday, March 6, 2010
written by Dick

Ever have one of those days when you wake up and everything smells like roses but then it turns out smelling more like the fertilizer that makes them grow? Things started out fairly relaxing. The kids that spent the night and a few others that showed up at my door at around 7 AM and I had breakfast and the loaded p my Land Cruiser and drove over to San Lucas to watch 3 of my kids play soccer. Other then 2 kids that collided and had to be taken to the hospital the game went quite well. No concussions but both boys received stitches. (Neither of the boys that got hurt were kids that hang out at my house so at least I didn't have to be the one that took them to the hospital.)
After the Game I dropped of everyone except Elmer and Fernando. Elmer who is in his early twenties is having a difficult time finding work, (Nothing unusual here in Guatemala) So I am going to let him paint the inside of my house. After stopping off and buying some paint I decided to make a quick stop at the wheelchair shop to see if I could find a computer and a circuit board for Byron's head controlled power wheelchair. I know that it is the weekend but I am planning on being away from home taking part in 2 wheelchair distributions next week and can't bare to think that Byron would be without his power wheelchair for that many days. Out of the 4 power wheelchairs at the orphanage Bryon and Fidel use theirs the most and are lost without them. After scrounging through our inventory of used controllers I came up with a few computers and an assortment of head control parts but none of the parts that I found looked to promising. Since we didn't have any wheelchairs like Byron's at the shop I had no way to test them before taking them to the orphanage in Antigua where Byron was at. Since I was still not 100% certain weather the problem with Byron's wheelchair was in his head control unit or his computer I decided to plug his old head control unit into Fidel's wheelchair to see what happened. Guess what! I now have one wheelchair with a blown head control unit and 2 wheelchairs with blown computers. Evidently something shorted out in Byron's head controller that caused whatever computer it was connected to to short out as well.

It was 8 PM by the time that I walked into the house and I was frustrated and tired. Within a matter of what seemed like seconds I was bombarded by kids that seemed to all be in need of something. Two needed band-aids Three of them showed me that their shoes were worn out. Four wanted to use my computer for home work and another half dozen simply wanted my undivided attention. For a second there I wanted to scream but then I realized how blessed I was and one by one I took the time to hear them out. I sent them home a bit earlier than usual though and five minutes after the last one said goodbye I was fast asleep.

Sunday, March 6, 2010

I would like to say that I had a good night's sleep but the troth is from bout 3:30 on I laid there thinking about Byron and Fidel. I knew that later today I would be leaving for Santiago for a few days and that unless I did something this morning they would be without their power wheelchairs for several days. At around 8 AM I was on my way to Antigua to see what I could do about getting their wheelchairs up and running. After testing out every remaining computer that we had lying around the shop that would possible fit Fidel and Byron's wheelchairs I finally came op with one that worked. At least Fidel is happy. Unfortunately Byron will have to wait until I return from Santiago later in the week. Even then I am unsure just what to do because it looks like we do not have the parts to get his wheelchair going in stock.
I got into Santiago and met up with Saul, Hanna, 3 university professors and 8 of their students who are her for a wheelchair distribution. I didn't have much time to visit whit them when I got here because I was scheduled to get on Skpe and talk with a group from my home church in Lynden Washington who were at a mission conference. Why 200 people wanted to see my face projected on the wall above them while they were eating is beyond me but it was a lot of fun talking with them while I viewed them on my computer screen. Unfortunately the restaurant that I was at when we made the connection closed up before a Question and answer session near the end of their dinner so I had to conduct the last of our visit via flash light from the roof of the restaurant. I was later told that I looked a lot like the magic mirror in snow white and the seven dwarfs. That face gave me nightmares as a child.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, March 8, 2010

Today was our first day of a 2 day wheelchair distribution here in Santiago. Well over half of the more than thirty people that showed up for wheelchairs today were children that required a lot of specialty fitting. Although up until now most of the therapy students that are here with us have not had much hands on experience in working with wheelchairs they were all eager to learn and caught on quickly.

Over the years I have become pretty good at recognizing what type of problem the kids or adults that come to us have, but several of the people that we saw today had aliments that I could not recognize. We were told that this is the case with a lot of people that live near this lake. We are seeing a lot of people especially Kids that have disabilities that we have not seen before and it makes us wonder if there is something in the lake that they bathe in and get their drinking water from that could be causing this.

It was a long day but by the time that we finished every adult and child that had come in had received a good fitting wheelchair.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Another busy day today. One of the people that I worked on today was a young man named Domingo who was brought in from the other side of the lake. Domingo is an intelligent 15 year old who has a disease that I have seen far to often. Domingo has muscular dystrophy. Most of the time the kids that we see that have muscular dystrophy lead a normal life until around the age of 8 or 10. At about that age the muscles start to deteriorate and with in a few years they can no longer walk and soon after that they loose the strength in their arms to the point that they can not even propel themselves in a manual wheelchair. Muscular dystrophy is inherited and if mom is a carrier there is a 50 50 chance that any son that she has will have it. There is also a 50 50 chance that any daughter will be a carrier and pass it on to her children. I have worked with quite a number of these kids and it is always hard to see them slowly weaken. I use the word kids because with this type of muscular dystrophy it is rare that any child that has it lives to be an adult. Just last month I brought a power wheelchair in to a young man who had muscular dystrophy. He had 3 brothers who also had it but within the past year all 3 had died. Not only had mom watched 3 of her 4 children die within the past year but 2 years ago her husband had a hart attach and died. Now all mom has left is her one son who will more than likely not be around much longer.

That is why I do everything I can to make these kids as comfortable and to give them the mobility that a power wheelchair provides. Unlike the young man from Guatemala city that I brought a power wheelchair to last month, Domingo still has enough hand use that he will not require a head controlled wheelchair. We did not have any power wheelchairs with us today so we made Domingo as comfortable as possible by placing him in a manual wheelchair but I made Domingo a promise that I will return within a month and give him a power wheelchair. Not only will this give him the independence of being able to move around on his own but it will also allow him to be able to continue to go to school.

Near the end of our day I met a young man named Sebastian. Just like Domingo, Sebastian also has Muscular dystrophy. 4 years ago when we had a distribution in this same town we had given Sebastian a manual wheelchair. At that time he still had enough strength in his arms to move around on his own. Since that time Sebastian's condition has worsened so it looked like I would be bringing in 2 power chairs next month.

When it rains it pours. As I was finishing up measuring Sebastian for a power wheelchair his mother told one of our students that she had a younger son who also had muscular dystrophy and wondered if we could see him. Mom told us that her and her husband are separated and that the younger son lived with his dad. Within 5 minutes 2 of the therapy students, 2 people that knew the family and myself were in my car and heading to where Sebastian's brother lived. Shortly after turning off down a narrow dirt road we came up on a settlement of cinder block houses. We were told that these were families that had been relocated to this settlement after the village that they lived in had been wiped out by a mud slide a little over 3 years ago during Hurricane Stan. 650 people from that village had lost their lives in that mud slide. Soon we were told to stop at one of the small block houses. We got out of the car and walked around to the back of the house where 14 year old Estebon was sitting. I immediately recognized him as some one that I had seated into a manual wheelchair 4 years ago when we had given his brother Sebastian a wheelchair as well. Although he still had a lot more strength in his arms than Domingo or Sebastian, Estebon had also become to week to move himself around in his manual wheelchair. Fortunately one of the 2 people that had shown us where this family lived knew both Spanish and the Mayan dialect that is spoken here because this family knew no Spanish. Estebon was a bit shy at first (Who wouldn’t be after 5 people 3 of whom were Americans came storming into your back yard.)

After testing his arms for strength I asked him if he know what a power wheelchair was. (Actually I had to talk to one of the American girls who had come along who knew some Spanish. She then asked the man who know this Mayan dialect and he then asked Estebon A bit confusing but it worked.) Estebon had never heard of a power wheelchair and explaining what one was through so many interpreters was not easy. Finally I took out my glasses case and held it up like a joy stick. We motioned for Estebon to take hold of my glasses case and push it forward. As he did we pushed his chair forward. I then motioned for him to pull the glasses case back and as he did we moved the chair backwards. We then had him move his hand to the right and the left and moved the wheelchair in what ever direction he move his hand. As I watched his face I saw the light come on. I have an idea that until we return whit his new power wheelchair this young man will be dreaming of nothing else. Due to language barriers we didn’t really get the opportunity to share with this family about the love of Jesus. Or did We?

Tomorrow I plan on heading back home to Chimaltenango. It has been a good trip. The accommodations have been some of the nicest that I have ever been in here in Guatemala and the group of students that we have been working with have been great, but it will be good to be back. I miss my kids. I also want to get to work on getting Byron’s power wheelchair going again. I know how much he misses his freedom.

Yours in Christ: Dick


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dick, Thank you for setting us up to get your posts. May God give you more and more favor in Guatemala with the work you are doing. As you give out I pray that the Lord refills you over and over again so that you have a strength that is beyond anything natural. May your rest be sweet and your home and children be overflowing with the peace of God!!! Thank you for loving the children and reaching out to them!! L Romnes

Thursday, March 11, 2010  

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