* 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)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jornal, July 20-25 ,2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pat Duff has once again offered to let me post her journals from the days that she accompanied me so a good part of this weeks journals were written by her.

Navigating the Clinics

Written by Pat

.........................Maria with her father and mother

When I got to Hermano Pedro today, Dick asked if I would help Maria, a young widow with four children, work her way through the clinic process. I'd only done this once before, but that was one more time than Maria had. Her mother and father had come with her from Comalapa, a small aldea (village) about an hour and a half drive from Antigua. I was particularly happy to help Maria, since the Josiah Foundation has taken a special interest in this family over the past few years.

I didn't know much what to expect from the clinic, except long lines and lots of waiting. I wasn't disappointed. First Maria had waited for the doctor, then for an ultrasound. I joined her when she was waiting for the doctor a second time. This time I went in with her to make sure everyone knew what was going on. Dick had asked me to do this, but why he thought I'd understand with my limited Spanish was beyond me.

I soon learned why I was there. The doctor spoke quickly, giving much information in about one minute. Maria sat there smiling and nodding her head. When I asked her if she understood, I received a "deer in the headlights" look. So I began asking questions, and you could see on Maria's face that things were becoming clearer to her. We also needed this information for a sponsor from the States who has offered to help pay for her surgery. So I learned why I was there--because I was not afraid to look stupid by admitting I didn't understand what was going on. Of course, I've had years of practice at this!

We stopped at a secretary's desk, and she wrote down some information in a ledger, and we were sent to another secretary's office. Here there was a 30+ minute wait, to get a piece of paper to take to the office of a third secretary, this time on the second floor. (For the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to get to the second floor, and then I realized there were clinics up by the malnutrition ward.) This time we received an appointment to see a surgeon--Sept. 12th!

I asked Maria if she would be able to wait this long, as she's been in a lot of pain. She replied that really wasn't a long time at all to wait for a doctor. So she'll come back down then, and hopefully receive surgery the following week.

It never ceases to amaze me the patience of the Guatemalan people, and their good manners, while waiting so long. Dick got stir crazy after about 5 minutes and went to take one of the boys back to Chimaltenango for school. I on the other hand am known to be much more patient- -it took me a full 15 minutes before I wanted to start banging my head on the wall!


(The somewhat true confessions that Pat wrote after her conscience and my badgering finally got to her.)

To avoid losing Dick's friendship (and to avoid being bugged about this for the rest of my life), I want to make clearer what I wrote yesterday. The added material is in red.

It never ceases to amaze me the patience of the Guatemalan people, and their good manners, while waiting so long. Dick got stir crazy after about 5 minutes of waiting in his third line of the day, after having been "at" this for three and a half hours before I arrived at the hospital, and went to take one of the boys back to Chimaltenango for school. I on the other hand am known to be much more patient--it took me a full 15 minutes before I wanted to start banging my head on the wall!

I would NEVER want to imply that Dick was impatient. Those of you who know him know that his patience is exceeded only by his total truthfulness with never an exaggeration. And his love of standing in lines is exceeded only by his love of shopping.

There, now Dick. Is that better?

Apology accepted, As long as I am still allowed to get even!

So why do we do this? Picture a young woman, who until only a few years ago spoke no Spanish but only Katchical (one of the 26 Mayan dialects in Guatemala). A woman who seldom has gone outside of her aldea, and never had been to the city. Picture her coping with a large hospital, multiple secretaries, unfamiliar doctors, and the fear of having to have surgery. Can you imagine what it would be like to go through this alone? A couple years ago it became clear to me what was a distinctive part of how Bethel Ministries offers medical care.

Most mission organizations tell folks they will pay for medical care if the person can figure out how to get themselves to the city and the hospital, and then navigate the "system of care" of that particular hospital. And we wonder why these folks don't take advantage of this generous offer. It would be like me going to the moon to get medical care from a martian--the environment of a city and large hospital is just that unfamiliar to these people from villages. (I need to point out, however, that most of us from big cities wouldn't survive 3 days if we had to live in a small aldea on our own!)

Bethel is different, though, thanks in large part to Dick Rutgers who picks up or meets many of these families at the bus, and walks them through the clinic process. I am grateful that I can be part of this important ministry to the sick and injured. To many this might seem like a waste of our time, but without this individual attention I believe many would not receive the care they need. It kind of reminds me of the Good Samaritan who didn't hand the injured man some money and tell him where he could get help. He engaged with him and brought him to where he could receive care. A good reminder to all of us that we are called to invest personally in those we seek to help.

Pictures from January, 2009, the first time I was with a family in the clinics.

Unfortunately, Lisvi died shortly after these pictures were taken.


Wednesday, July, 21, 2010

Written by Pat

Dick called this morning to say he'd be taking a power chair up to Luis in Santa Maria de Jesus, and wanted to know if I'd like to ride along. This very traditional Mayan village was my first introduction to the "real" Guatemala when Dick took me there four years ago. I was anxious to go back and see it again, so of course I agreed.

I did get to spend some time at Hermano Pedro while waiting for Dick to get into town.

Ervin and I worked together on a number of tasks, and, though at times he wanted to do things his own way, he was pretty willing to follow directions if I was firm with him. One of the greatest compliments I've received I got yesterday from a retired nurse volunteering at the orphanage when she said, "I've never seen him (Ervin) so engaged in anything before!" That's exactly my hope in being here and the confirmation was great to receive.

Dick arrived and we were soon on our way. This chair was for Luis, a young man who attends a private special school (New Life School) in Santa Maria de Jesus run by two Americans. Judy is a nurse, and Amy is an occupational therapist, and together they have managed to build an amazing three story building in which many kids who would not otherwise be in school receive a quality education. I finally got to meet Judy yesterday, and hope that I'll be able to work with them a bit in their school.

Luis has difficulty propelling himself in a regular wheelchair so Dick wanted to give him more mobility with this power chair. In addition, Luis, is kind of an "underdog" among the children at the school, and we're hoping having this chair will improve his status with his classmates. The power chair will remain at school, since Luis lives a number of blocks away, over some very rough terrain. His younger brother has to push him to school each morning, before he himself heads off to another school.

After many adjustments and refinements, Dick decided it was time to give Luis a "test run" in his chair. We all had a blast as he learned to maneuver the chair around the school. His best teacher was not one of us "professionals" though, but the school custodian, who seems to have a great relationship with him. This man was able to direct and encourage Luis in a way none of us "gringos" could. Both he and Luis enjoyed themselves immensely.

. . . . . . . . . First attempts at "driving"

Getting the hang of it! . . . . . . . . .

I was truly humbled by this man when I spoke to him later. I thanked him for helping Luis, and told him he worked very well with him. He responded, without hesitation, "These children are a gift from God to me." I almost burst into tears right there. To truly understand the significance of this statement, you need to know the history of this school. When Judy and Amy came here a number of years ago, kids with disabilities were totally shunned in this village, and were primarily thought of as a curse upon their family. To hear this indigenous man from the same village describe them as a "Gift from God" is truly a work of God in this community. Dick reminded me on the way home that our titles and our accomplishments don't really mean much. When God wants to use someone for His purpose, he will pick the best person for the job--and often this is the most willing rather than the best qualified. Our new friend demonstrated that for us today.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It was one of those Days.

Written by Dick

"We turn to God for help when our foundations are shaking
only to learn that it is God shaking them."

Yesterday I received a phone call from Abner telling me that is 5 year old nephew Dennis had been running high fevers for several days and that he was now having nose bleeds that lasted for hours. His mother had taken him in to the national hospital but after taking a quick look a him the doctor said that he had no idea what was wrong with Dennis and sent him home. It was to late in the day for me to set up an appointment with a doctor but first thing this morning I drove the family down to Antigua to see a doctor. Abner and a few more of my older boys road along to serve as interpreters. Thanks to an understanding staff and a phone call that I made last night we did not have to wait in line for several hours before seeing a doctor. The doctor gave Denis some medicine and set up an appointment with a specialist. I even managed to get everyone back to Chimaltenango so that the boys got to school on time. My older boys have school in the afternoon. Did I mention that all 8 of us were in a borrowed pick up truck? My car is once again in the shop. (More about that later)

After dropping everyone off I quickly headed over to an orphanage in Paramos, a town that is located about a half hour from here. I had promised the people at this orphanage that I would bring them some special cushions for a young man that they had there who had been paralyzed for life from a gun shot wound. After giving him the cushions and a short visit I got on the phone to call my friend Mark. I had promised him that I would go along with him to see a lady that he had met who needed a wheelchair. I had also promised Byron that I would sign him out of the orphanage and take him out to lunch but I had all ready missed that one by an hour. When I got on the phone to Mark he told me that he had a tight schedule as well but if I could make it to Antigua in a half hour he would take me to where this lady lived. No sweat,! Antigua is only 15 minutes drive from where I was. I hung up the phone jumped into the borrowed pickup and turned the key. The engine turned over but it refused to start. A half hour later I phoned Mark and told him that I would not be able to keep my appointment with him because I had not moved from the spot where I had called him from earlier. At this point I was on the verge of having a pity party for my self but couldn't think of any one who would want to attend. I also thought about leaving the pick up truck parked at this orphanage, and walking a few miles to a road where the buss would come by. (I knew the bus passed by on that road because I road that buss yesterday when I was forced to leave my Land cruiser with a Mechanic in Antigua because it was having problems.) Instead of walking I made a phone call to Jorge. He had used this truck only a day earlier so perhaps he had run into a similar problem and could tell me what to do. He asked me if I had accidentally bumped the hidden switch that keeps the truck from starting if you don't want it to be stolen. 10 seconds later I was on my way to Antigua. It was far to late to take Byron out to lunch and I had already missed my appointment with Mark but at least I had time to go to the orphanage and just visit with Byron and some of the other kids. About 10 minutes down the road my cell phone rings. It was the Mechanic from the shop where I had left my car yesterday. I could not understand everything that he said but did understand the part about him thinking that my engine was shot. How could that be? I had that engine rebuilt only 60,000 miles ago. Then again it was a Guatemalan rebuild even though the Toyota shop did charged me American prices for the lousy job that they did on it. I had to also remember that driving 60,000 miles on the type of roads that I drive here in Guatemala is like driving 260,000 miles in the States. Never the less I told the mechanic not to do anything until I got there and talked to him. I was only about 5 minutes away from his shop. Or was I? That is when I glanced down at the temperature gauge of the pick up that I was driving. It was nearly in the red. Was it working properly? I wasn't sure because none of the other gauges were. Ever since I could remember all of the idiot lights in this truck stayed on all of the time. To my recollection the only lights that didn't come on were the directional signals, but this was a gauge and it had been one of the few things that had been working properly so I figured that I better pull over and see if I was low on water. Sure enough the truck needed water. Fortunately there was river near by and with all of the garbage that was floating in it I had no problem grabbing a plastic bottle that was floating in the river. The only problem was this river looked so contaminated that I was not sure if I wanted to put anything from it into the radiator of the pickup. A man who was taking gravel out of the river with a shovel assured me that I did not. He offered to get some water for me from his house and soon returned with a five gallon container of clean water. When we poured it into the radiator I quickly discovered why I had run out of water. A fairly good size stream of water was running out of a hole that was in the radiator. I phoned my friend Howie who lives in Antigua and he came out to tow me in to the shop where my Land Cruiser was. Why not give this Mechanic more work? Perhaps he would give me a fleet discount.About an hour later I was driving down the road in my not so healthy Land Cruiser trying to decide what to do about the problem that seems to heal itself once the engine warms up. Oh well I have a few days to decide. That is when the mechanic will have the new radiator installed in the borrowed pickup.

Before heading home and making beans and rice for the kids. (Which, by the way, turned out to be a disaster that I couldn't even get the neighborhood dogs to eat) I stopped off at a small restaurant in Antigua to have a bite to eat and to feel sorry for myself for a bit. That is when I thought about the wheelchair that was in my car. I wasn't in the best of moods but if I didn't get it delivered today I would just have to do it tomorrow and not knowing the reliability of my car that could be a real inconvenience. I picked up the phone and called Mark. Mark told me that he and his wife Dale were not far away and that they had time to take me to where this lady lived.

If I ever grumble again or the thought even crosses my mind that I am not having a good day, please give me a good swift kick or at least remind me to look at these pictures.This is Dora, the lady that we gave a wheelchair to today. She Is grateful for it because she has bone cancer and lying in her make shift shelter month after month gets a bit tiresome for her.There is a homeless shelter about a block away and she told us that now that she has a wheelchair to get there in she may go there to sleep on the nights that it rains since her shelter leeks like a sieve.

When Dora thanked us for the wheelchair we told her to thank God not us because that was why we were there. She then lifted her eyes towards heaven and did just that.

Thank you Lord!

It has been a beautiful day!

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, June 23, 2010

Today I spent a good part of my day at the orphanage. My Friends Dave and Lue Black are once again in Guatemala. During their 2 week visit they and their daughter who is here with them, are planning on spending most of their time doing medical work in a small town that is located about 2 hours from here so it is doubtful that I will see much of them. Today we spent most of the day together though and had a great time visiting and taking some of the orphanage kids out to lunch.

This evening I brought a few of my kids to youth group in Antigua and then joined the Blacks and Pat for supper. Dave and his wife co sponsor Cesar's schooling along with Pat. So it was neat for them to be able to visit with Cesar before going out to eat.

Another exciting thing that happened this week is that Priscilla the little girl that we found up in Rio Dulci a few months ago came in for her cleft pallet surgery. Unfortunately she has other complications that prevented her from having surgery on her cleft pallet but a lot of other positive things came out of it. The doctors feel that it is best to wait a year or 2 before doing surgery on her cleft pallet but they did make a a removable plate for the roof of her mouth that will greatly benefit her when she eats. It looks like she will also be getting surgery done to correct her club foot and there is a possibility of some needed dental work and a few other things.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It is the week end so I am going to keep this one short.
This morning the kids and I went San Lucas and watched Cesar, Abner, and Marcos play Soccer. The teem that they are on is so far undefeated. San Lucas has a nice soccer field but it does seem a bit odd that the town tree is located on it. It makes for some rather interesting plays when you pass the ball around the back side of it or bounce the ball off from it.

The rest my day was spent working on my car. I am glad that I did not take the mechanics word for it when he told me that my engine was shot because after doing a lot of testing I discovered that the problem was a bad glow plug relay. $25 is going to be a lot easier for me to shell out than $2500.

Well that's about it for now.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, July 25, 2010

It is still the week end so this one is going to be short and to the point as well.


Fed kids


Fed kids



Fed kids


Yours in Christ: Dick


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