* 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, April 8, 2010

Journal, April 5-8, 2010

"Why is it that a child's death amounts to a tragedy,
but the death of millions is merely a statistic?"

Pat Duff has brought 3 students, Brianna, Laura and Cameron down to Guatemala for a one week mission trip. Brianna has been journaling and since I have been spending a good part of my time with this group I figured that I would once again take a break from doing any journaling of my own and post some of her journals.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Even though I posted my last journal entry on April 4 I have decided to back track a bit and post a few of Brianna's earlier journal entries as well and several of her current ones. I think that you will find all of them well worth reading.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Guatemala Count Down

Guatemala is VERY soon... only 3 more days and then the team boards the plane and we will be on our way! We fly to Dallas/Fort Worth and have a fairly long layover there, which will be kind of fun! I know everyone on the team but it will be awesome to just bond with the group and get to hang out before we make it to Guatemala. Once we are in Guatemala we will get a good nights rest (hopefully) then start out Friday by getting our money exchanged and phone set up then we will make our way to Hermano Pedro in the morning then Jackson House in the afternoon. We spend everyday (minus Easter) at either the Jackson House or Hermano Pedro. I am so glad! I can not wait to spend time with the kids! I haven't even met them yet but it seems like I already have a place in my heart for them, and I know after I meet them that place will be huge for them! I feel like God is probably going to do more in my life while I am there then he will for those kids. Not meaning that in a bad way but I feel like while we are blessing the kids and really just all the people we encounter God will be blessing me and the group ten fold. I am so excited I can barely stand it any longer! I wish it were Thursday now, even though I have a ton to do until then I still wish it were here. As the week goes on I hope God continues to prepare my heart and prepare me in general. It is going to be really hard to adjust to the way things are there. Especially the food and even more so the way the kids are. Pat keeps telling us she will cry.... truth is I am probably going to cry. Even looking at the various blogs from people who go to Hermano Pedro I already get teary eyed. I am sure once I actually am there and with the kids I will for sure cry.

I already am thinking about how blessed I am. The fact that I am sitting in my own bedroom on my own Mac-Book typing this with my pet dog laying next to me shows how blessed I am. I am warm and dry. I have a comfortable bed and a closet full of clothes. I have nothing to complain about yet day in and day out I find things wrong instead of looking at the good. I wonder what other people who have nothing would think if they heard me complaining or saw the greed in my heart... If they had a quarter of what I had they would be so grateful!

"Jesus take my heart and clean it inside and out. Take away my greed! Make me like you!"

Blessings until next time,


Monday, March 29, 2010


2 posts in one day! I am getting crazy with this thing :)

But really I wanted to post this before I forgot what I wanted to say. Tonight at bible study something awesome happened. I was prayed over for the first time! In my 19 years of life I have never been prayed over and tonight some of my closest friends, and my parents were praying over me. It was absolutely awesome! I really enjoyed the experience and I hope I have more chances in my life to have people pray over me. The feeling of tons of people in one room at one time praying for me specifically was just very powerful and I could feel the presence of the Lord around me. It was just really cool!!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Countdown Complete

The countdown to my trip is finished. One more sleep and I will be on my way to Guatemala or Guacamole as 151 calls it. As the time draws nearer my nerves grow bigger. This is my first time out of the country alone. I have been out of the country one other time and that was to the Bahamas so I don't think that one really counts! Even though I am nervous I am ten times that excited!! I can't wait to be there, to love on the kids and be Jesus to them for a week of their lives! I can't wait to have them permanently in my heart and on my mind! To think of them often and pray from them even more often. I was gathering pictures to bring with me so I can share my family with the family we will be staying with in Guatemala and it made me sad because I really will miss my family. Especially my parents and my dog! I will miss having my dad come wake me up on my days off by sitting on the edge of my bed and making me giggle and talking with my mom at night before we go to bed, and who doesn't go out of town and miss their furry little friend! I will also miss someone else near and dear to me. I truly believe that your best friend is the sister God just didn't give you... and my best friend truly is like a sister. I will miss her tons! We typically talk almost every day so to not talk to her for 7 days will be a challenge but it just means we will have TONS to talk about when I get back! Speaking of coming back. I already can't wait to come back and share my pictures and stories with everyone! I am hoping to be able to blog while I am in Guatemala. They have internet and electricity however they sometimes are a little difficult and decide not to work, but hopefully I can get at least a few blog entries in!

I still have quite a bit to do before I go so I will leave you with this:

Curt Dodd says, "As often as you think of them pray for them" So I ask that as often as you think of me pray for me. This next 7 days is going to be hard. I know God is going to stretch me and grow me and use me!


Friday, April 2, 2010

Hola!! Como estas?!

I wish I could say I knew more Spanish than that but I don't.

Today was AWESOME! Guatemala is nothing like I expected it to be! I was actually expecting it to be way worse than it actually is. It is fairly modern here, in Antigua and everyone is so friendly! The family we are staying with are especially nice. Mari cooks so much food and though I am not a fan of all of it. I am sure if I liked the ingredients it would taste great! I also tried refried beans today (I know you are shocked!! I am too!) After breakfast we got ready and went out to Hermano Pedro. Most of the kids were outside watching the processions (more on those later) so we went inside to see the "naughty" kids who didn't get to go out to watch the processions. If you ask me the "naughty" ones were the lucky ones! It was so much fun to get to play with the kids. There was a little boy who's name was Estardo. We took him out of his wheel chair to play on one of the play sets they had and none of us (not even Pat) knew he could walk! He was walking all over the place! He loved walking too! When you would pick him up he would scream really really really loud until you put him down. I however, got to pick him up (he really liked me). I would pick him up and we would spin and he would just giggle and giggle, then when I would put him down he would get his bearing and ask to do it again. A lot of the kids are non-verbal but they have their own ways of communicating! It is so awesome to be with them and see their personalities. After we left Hermano Pedro Pat was telling us how well we did with the kids, she said most teams don't get right in there as well as we did! I was glad to hear that. We really did get right in and play with the kids.

(Click on any of the pictures to enlarge them)
Laura took Erwin who has the nickname of Monster! He really was sweet though. He was walking and playing and climbing and though he could be a handful he was quite sweet at times! Cameron also dug right in and of course Pat did too, but that is to be expected. Tomorrow we are going to the market in the morning and then back to Hermano Pedro in the afternoon so we can get the kids out of their cribs! I already can't wait to be with the kids again, and we are bringing our toys with us. Pat brought bubbles and I brought beach balls and some other things. I can't wait to see how much the kids engage with toys considering how much they engaged with just us playing with them. We also got to go to the malnutrition ward today. We had to get back for lunch so we didn't stay long but hopefully tomorrow we will get to hold some of the kids. They are so little. It is sad but it is also awesome because they are getting the help they need to get better! Now for the processions. They are weird.... very very weird... but in a way kind of cool, pat said she prayed the holy spirit would fill the city like the processions did and that is so true! But anywho... They also have these street painting called Alfombras. People use colored saw dust and flowers and they make these beautiful street painting on the streets the processions go down than once the procession passes they sweep it up. Its kind of sad but very cool because the only reason they do them if for Jesus so after the procession passes they sweep them up and that is that!

Well, I better be getting off here now! I will write more tomorrow and try to post some pictures of the kids!


Sunday, April 4, 2010


It seems like that happens a lot here, one minute I am waking up and the next it is time for bed. Even though the time passes quickly though my days are full of love, adventure and LOTS OF FUN!! I am so sad that tomorrow is our last day with the kids and in Antigua at all. I really do love it here. Me and Laura are planning on coming back for the summer or at least part of the summer next year and we can't wait! The kids at Hermano Pedro truly have found their places in my heart (just like I guessed). They are all so different and have their own personalities yet they are all so much a like in many ways. They all need love and affection. They LOVE attention! It seriously amazes me that just by walking up to a kid and smiling at them brightens their faces. They smile and giggle sometimes and though most of them are non-verbal they even respond if not in words in their own ways.

This is a picture of Arianna! She is probably one of my favorite kids at Hermano Pedro. Her smile brightens my day and she smiles a lot! It makes me feel really guilty sometimes though. After the first time I held Arianna I was thinking to my self of how selfish I am and how ungrateful I am. How many days do I get irritable or cranky because I am hungry or because I am tired or because I have to work. These kids work everyday. Staying alive is work for them. They sit in their chairs and in their beds by themselves for most of the day. The nurses are great but they are so short staffed that it is hard to give all the kids the attention and affection they deserve. As I think about what I will take away most from the trip it is this... I have so much to be grateful for and so much to praise the Lord for! I hope that is something I won't lose after I am home for a little bit. I also hope other people can learn from what I learned too.

There is so much more that has gone on the past couple days! I had planned on blogging close to everyday but time seriously does fly! The first day we were at Hermano Pedro we only brought ourselves. The second day we brought bubbles and puzzles. The kids are so much more fun when they don't have all that stuff. They love the bubbles and the toys but all they truly want is to be loved on and held. Picking a kid up is like the perfect icing on a cake. This picture is a picture of Elmer. He and his brother are both at Hermano Pedro. They are for sure the favorites of the nurses and pretty much have free reign of the place. They are so independent but even still they love to give hugs and Miner (Elmer's brother) will give us kisses on the cheek. It is so cute!

We also went to Chimaltenango which is where Dick Rutgers lives. He has kind of been our driver all week. He is one of the nicest guys I have ever met! He has such a heart for the kids and for Jesus. He even has like foster kids in a way from the neighborhood he lives in that stay at his house and when they don't have school they come on trips with him to Hermano Pedro and to do wheel chair distributions. It is so awesome! Last night we went and met some of his "kids" and played soccer with them and just hung out with them. It was so awesome. Though they aren't handicapped like the kids at Hermano Pedro they still needed love and when we were with them they also lit right up! It was so fun to get to minster to kids in such need of love. Dick was telling us that of the twenty or so kids on the soccer court only 2 of them come from homes with 2 parents (a mom and a dad) a few of them are being raised by their 24 year old brother and the rest may have just one parent and most of which are abusive. That is something that makes me sick to my stomach. Abuse is just kind of accepted down here. Though it is not okay nothing is done about it. It makes me so sad that kids are punished and beaten and it is okay.

There is so much more I could tell you about the trip but I feel like blogging doesn't do it much justice! When I get back you will just have to come and talk to me about it!! Keep praying for the team. Though we only have one day so much can still be accomplished. Also be praying about more teams to come and for Pat's move.

Here are some more pictures from my trip just so I don't leave you hanging to much!

The team!

Hasta Luego mis Amigos!!


Monday, April 5, 2010

Thanks Brianna! Now it is Pat Duff to the rescue. Wow! I love having these American mission teems come and visit, especially when they offer to do my journaling for me.


Pat Wrote,

Today we went with Dick Rutgers out to one of the villages near the coast to pick up Julio’s mom to visit him in the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro. I’ve been to this part of the country before, but was interested to see what Laura, Brianna and Cameron would think of the experience.

Much of the drive is on highway, though the highway experience in Guatemala is much different from the US. I think Dick only has about 2 new cracks in his dashboard from where I grabbed on when things got exciting. The back roads, however, continue to be my favorite (especially since I’m not the one driving) and I loved it as we drove past miles and miles of sugar cane, seldom meeting another vehicle.

On our way we stopped at the clinic at La Gomera to visit Dr. Jose. He is a Cuban doctor who came to Guatemala as part of a government program and fell in love with the people and stayed, even though he has not been able to bring his own family from Cuba. He sees about 70 patients on most days, but always takes time to visit when we come. In fact, I think he is just as patient and relaxed with every person he sees. He runs his clinic on a “shoe-string” (a very THIN shoe-string) but gives quality care to all who need it. Dr. Jose has a great deal of respect for Dick and the work he does (Dick feels the same about him), and took time to lecture Dick on making sure he is taking care of himself as he does his ministry. The doctor mentioned he could use a new sphygmomanometer (blood pressure device) and shared that he was totally out of vitamins for his patients. Vine International provides many of his vitamins, but he said he never has enough given the number of children he sees. Considering the great need we saw, his requests were incredibly simple.

Our next stop was the grocery store where Dick bought food to take to two of the families for whom Bethel Ministries has built new homes. Each of these families receives a food donation monthly through a sponsor working with Bethel Ministries. This month, we had the privilege of delivering the food ourselves. Both families live in extreme poverty, and the new homes (which would be considered nothing more than a garden shed to us in the States) dramatically improve their life-style. The food was warmly received by each family and it was humbling to have the small gift of basic food staples be so greatly appreciated. The difference this food makes to these folks is incredible, especially when you consider it costs not much more than what we would spend to take our families out to eat at a fast food restaurant. How much we take for granted.

We visited for a while with Julio’s family before leaving to return to Antigua. I discovered that not only did mom have a seven month old daughter, Maria (who is too cute for words), 3 of the children in her yard were her grandchildren! They are with her much of the time due to the poor conditions in their own home.

Julio has returned recently to the malnutrition ward at Hermano Pedro after a short trial time at home, during which he lost a significant amount of weight. He quickly has regained weight, and Dick has many concerns about what will happen the next time he returns home. I talked with Momma about her plans for Julio, and she seems determined to bring him home again. You can see in her eyes how much she cares for him and misses him. What is uncertain is if she will be able to provide sufficient care for Julio to stay alive and well if he comes home again. Dick promises, though, that Julio’s condition will be closely monitored, and support will be provided to make sure he continues to stay well.

On the way back to Antigua, the young folks seemed unusually quiet. While they were worn out from the trip and the heat, they had much more on their minds. They had just experienced first-hand what it means to be poor, and now the “poor” had names and faces for them to take home in their hearts. This is hard for me, and I’ve been here so often before. I’m really proud of how they handled this experience. They faced overwhelming feelings during this trip, but this never interfered with their ability to reach out with compassion to those we visited.

Hermano Pedro was our first stop in Antigua. We got Momma registered to spend the night at Casa de Fe (a free hostel run by Faith in Practice for parents of children receiving care at Hermano Pedro), and then took her up to see Julio. My teenagers didn’t mind a bit that Maria could not go into malnutrition, and they would have to “sacrifice” their time to watch her. The kids downstairs in the ward at Hermano Pedro really seemed to enjoy having a baby around for a while, and were remarkably gentle with her.

After dropping Momma off at Casa de Fe, we walked the short distance home. Dick suddenly didn’t either look or feel very well, and we decided we would take care of getting Momma back to Hermano Pedro in the morning. I think maybe our kids didn’t feel so well, either, though they were just experiencing the side effects of staying up WAY too late at night. They crashed immediately after returning home, and Mari and I weren’t able to wake them even for dinner. I do have some cute pictures of this, but value Cameron, Laura and Brianna’s friendship too much to post them!

Mari and I were able to spend a nice, quiet evening eating supper by ourselves in the kitchen and just catching up on each others lives. As we chatted it seemed any stress from the day faded away, and I went to bed completely relaxed. I look forward to many more of these evenings with her after I moved down in June.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

After their full night’s sleep, Brianna, Cameron and Laura were up early this morning and were pleasantly surprised by Mari’s delicious pancakes for breakfast. They were pretty hungry after missing supper last night! We left about 8:30 to pick up Momma at Casa de Fe, and stopped at one of my favorite cafes to get her some breakfast.

Julio’s mom once again reminded me of how difficult life is for many women in Guatemala. She is a very quiet, timid lady, who is so unassuming that I had to go back to the door of the café to bring her in, as she wasn’t sure she was supposed to be coming in with the rest of us. Just the experience of ordering was overwhelming to this lady, and I quickly learned to anticipate what she might like to eat, and offer her two or three meals to choose from. This morning, as the kids were playing with the baby while Momma ate her pancakes, I finally saw her smile for the first time. Brianna had put her sunglasses on little Maria, and Momma actually laughed. It is so evident the joy in which she takes in her children, and I grieve at how little opportunity she has to really enjoy them.

I realized what an honor it was just to bring a little happiness into this dear woman’s life. To care for her, who seldom has time or energy to care for herself while caring for her family. I could see her gradually relax and warm up to us as she ate and the “children” played. I feel I’ve made a new friend in this woman, whose life is so different than mine, but who shares a mother’s heart with me. I am so often awestruck at how accepting the Guatemalan women, even in the villages, are of me as they welcome me into their homes, families and lives. They are truly gracious and loving, and, though I may be going to them with the intention of ministering to them, I always leave more blessed that they are by their quiet examples of strength and love for their families.

Mom went up to see Julio and we played with the kids at Hermano Pedro. We’d brought a variety of balls today, and I was pleased to see that we had some way almost all of the children could participate if we went to them individually. For the first time today I saw Heidi make a deliberate and purposeful movement as she played with a punch ball. Nothing could be as cute, however, as Ervin leading Brianna around by a ball on an elastic band which was attached to her wrist. He was crawling as she walked behind him, and it was clear who was in charge (and it wasn’t Brianna!).

Since Dick still wasn’t feeling well, he asked if I could ride with him as he took Momma home. (Before any of you send sympathy cards or flowers I want you to know that it was just a 24 hour thing and that I am once again feeling like I am not a day over 63. Dick) The group wanted to stay at Hermano Pedro, rather than making another 4-5 hour hot trip to the coast, and I hesitantly agreed to go without them. I knew Hermano Pedro was an extremely safe place to leave them, and that they were all responsible young adults, but I felt a little bit like a mother abandoning her babes as we walked out the door.

We made the trip down in what seemed like no time at all. This drive gave Dick and me some time to catch up with each other, as the last few months have been so busy for both of us that we’ve seldom talked or even emailed. We were soon dropping off Mom, and, because I was the “woman” had the privilege of receiving her hugs and kisses of gratitude. It make any discomfort or inconvenience of the trip well worth it.

Before leaving town, Dick and I stopped for some pop at the corner “store.” We had to drink it there, as it was in returnable bottles, and as we sat Dick shared some of his concerns about his “kids.” We talked especially about some of the girls, discussing ways I may be able to support them when I move down. Once again, I was struck by how deeply Dick cares for these kids—how they truly are HIS kids in every sense of the word. And, once again, I thanked God for the nurturing heart of this bachelor who instinctively knows more about parenting than many of the parents with whom I work. The kids are fortunate to have him, and he’s just as fortunate that they are in his life. As he talks about them growing up with a degree of sadness in his voice, it sounds like someone preparing for “empty nest syndrome." I know, however, that Dick’s home will never be empty as long as there is a kid anywhere in the area who needs some love and attention.

Patricia Duff

Thanks Pat, and thanks teem.
Yours in Christ, Dick


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