* 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, September 5, 2010

Journal, August 31-September 5, 2010

Death is not extinguishing the light from the Christian;
it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.

Although Jojo's death seems to have taken up most of our thoughts this week. I know that you are more than likely interested in knowing what else went on during this our first week of camp recruiting.


Dick takes me to
the nicest places

Written by Pat Duff

It’s been sort of a standing sarcasm between Dick and me, because of many of the roads we’ve traveled here, that he takes me the nicest places. This trip has caused me to revise my statement slightly. He DOES take me the nicest places. . . even though getting there sometimes stinks. While the roads we've been on the last few days haven't been the most dangerous we've ever traveled, they sure have been the most interesting. From drop-off where the road has been washed out by storms (Melissa there was only one bridge washed out!) to driving through heards of cows, to trying to avoid potholes where there is no avoiding them (this makes Dodge Street in Omaha after the winter look like a superhighway in good condition), to traveling through mud holes whose depth you only discover when you are in the middle of them, the travel the past few days has definitely been an adventure. I have learned that Dick does not exaggerate about road conditions as much as I thought he did. Sorry for doubting your integrity, my friend! I gotten to go camp recruiting with him in the coastal area. I have met some of the most amazing people. While I can’t possibly share all the contacts we’ve made, I will give you “highlights.”

Tuesday, we began in the Escuintla area, stopping first at the home of Carlos. This man is getting around quite well, although he now only has one usable crutch. Dick promised him a new pair at camp. Carlos also agreed to help by getting camp invitations to two of the people who live in his area. As we were leaving, Carlos’ 23 day old grandson woke up, and his wife hurried to the car to hand him to me to hold for a few minutes before leaving. This shows how much these folks trust Bethel and Dick, that they would hand a brand new baby to a gringa they’ve never met before, who was sitting in a truck ready to leave—all this in an area where rumors still circulate about North Americans kidnapping children. I felt greatly honored.

Our next stop was at Maria Magdalena’s. While she wasn’t at home because she had gone to therapy, her grandfather warmly welcomed us. He took great pride in showing us the pictures of them from every year she had attended camp. These were kept with other important papers in a special place and handled almost with reverence. The tenderness of this moment almost reduced me to tears. I saw first hand how right Dick has been when he talks about how much camp and these personal visits mean to the people. We left with a large sack of “limones” (limes). Sure hope Dick remembers to take them out from behind the seat of the truck when he gets home.

We also stopped to visit Rony’s family who lives in the area. While Rony is becoming too weak to really enjoy camp, and his parents can’t figure out a way to get him there anyway, Bethel wanted him to know that he was wanted. Also, Dick and I had talked with the kids a few weeks ago about some type of “field trip” as a reward for good grades. At that time both Orlindo and Estrellita had “reds” (bad grades). Today I was absolutely thrilled to see that this grading period all of the children had passing grades. Estrellita couldn’t wait to show me her work this time, though she had hidden it last visit. We had had a long talk about school then, and I was overjoyed to see the improvement.

When we visit, I really try to key in on the girls in this family. This is one family where I can really see that, though they love all their kids, the boys come first. Whenever there is a problem with schooling, the family looks at taking the girls out of school. I was pretty outspoken with the parents about this on this visit, and was afraid I might have overstepped my bounds with them. Dick assured me though, that the girls need to be stood up for, and this family knows me and accepts me well enough that they are not offended by my opinion. I have loved these girls from the day I met them in 2008—and first heard their dreams for the future. I pray they hold on to these dreams in a land where women, especially among the poor, have a hard time following dreams.

After agreeing that Dick and I would return as soon as possible to take the kids for an outing to a hotel with a swimming pool, we were on our way. I’m excited about this, because, in the past, the boys have been able to have over-nights with Dick, but the girls have been left out. They are so excited to come spend a night with me. . . I hope we will sleep as well as visit, but, what the heck. They’ve never experienced anything like this, so maybe it’s a good thing if we stay up all night.

The next few days become a blur, so I think I'll just introduce you to a few of the people we visited through pictures:

Irma is a single mom and grandma, who Bethel built a house for a few years ago.

Jason is a little guy who used to live at Hermano Pedro and now is home with his family. He loves Dick (leaping out of his wheelchair to "attack" him with hugs) and you can see the feeling is mutual. We're looking for a teacher to tutor him at home, since he is no longer allowed in school.

Sergio, has a sponsor and attends school, but has not been feeling well enough to go to school in over a week.

Lillian is a young lady who is non-verbal, but who has eyes which speak volumes.

Leslie, who at 22 is in the 4th grade, receiving teaching in her home. She could not wait to share her work with us.

Owen, who, on his way to his business school graduation
on his motor cycle was run off the road by a buss. While he has a electric chair to enable him to get around town, he seems to prefer using his walker. A bright young man. While I don't have a picture of him, I also met Frolian, a young man with spina bifida, who was lying in bed reading his well-worn Bible when we came in. He would has graduated and would like to work in marketing. Unfortunately, both these men live in remote areas, where the likelihood of them finding meaningful work is slim.

I learned a lot on this trip, realizing first hand how important not only camp is, but the visits Dick and Chris and Donna make yearly to invite people to camp personally. I focus so much on children, that it was very good for me to meet Owen and Froilan, learning how much camp means to these men. One of the first things Owen asked us was for the phone number of a friend he'd made in camp the year before. Knowing how isolated the homes are where many of these campers live, the friendships made a camp are even more vital.

I also learned that, when someone tries to "help" me in climbing a steep hill, I tend to lose my balance even more (it was a nice thought, Dick), that my Spanish is becoming more "passable" daily (I love it when Dick orders something in a restaurant, and the server looks puzzled, and I repeat the same thing, and they "get it"), that there is such a thing a sitting too much, and finally, when one is walking in areas of mud, it's a good idea to make sure your shoes are tied tightly. It's been quite the trip.

Yes, Dick takes me to the nicest places, even if the way there is a bit of a challenge.


Friday, September 3, 2010

This morning we headed for home. I would like to say that it was a leisurely drive but it rained all of the way home. This was no ordinary rain but a downpour. I was glad that the wiper blade that broke yesterday managed to stay together and that the allen wrench that I used as a splint worked out so well but as hard as it was raining it was still difficult to see all of the hundreds of pot holes that were in the road. When we finally reached Esquentla we discovered that the road to Antigua was closed. In the past few weeks several cars have been washed over the cliff due to the heavy rains and it sounded like that may have been the case again today. The rout that we took home is usually a much better road but today it even had a lot of mud slides that were threading it's closer. We finally made it home though and I have now heard that the road that we were on is also closed. All in all it was a good trip and we had a good time visiting with the people that we invited to camp. Next week I plan on heading out again because it will take nearly 2 months to contact everyone that we are inviting to camp and our first camp starts on November 15.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Today was a stay at home day. Well I did get out a bit but I never did get more than a mile or 2 from home. The kids and I talked about going a few places but they seem perfectly content to hang out hear at home so other than renting a soccer field for an hour we pretty much stayed at home. I don't have a TV but I did let the kids talk me into buying a video and actually sat down with them and watched Karate Kid 4. Here in Guatemala you can buy most movies before they are even out in the theaters. The cost for a movie is staggering though. some times you have to pay close to $1 to buy a good one.
Well the kids are fed and those that have some where to go have left so I think that I will call it a night.

Goodnight, Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, September 5, 2010

After church the kids and I went to the orphanage for a while. This was my first time back to the orphanage since Jojo died and I must say that it was hard on me. I do not know what hit me the most Jojo's empty crib or the fact that all of the other cribs had someone in them. It was early afternoon and all of the kids were locked in their cribs for the rest of the day. The Boys and I took several of them out and played with them while we were there but having to put them back to bed when we left an hour later had everyone on both sides of the bars in tears.

My mane reason for heading home a bit earlier than usual was so that I could make plans for heading out on the road to do more camp recruiting in a few days. That was until I received word that around 40 people had been killed in landslides yesterday. I think that it may be wise to wait a few days before heading out on the road again.

This mud slide killed at least 12 passengers and injured 25 who were riding in a buss, happened about 15 miles from where I live. Please keep us in your prayers.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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