* 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)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Journal, October 8-15, 2010

Since I have once again been away from home for several days I decided to spend my weekend relaxing  with my kids, the kids at the orphanage, and some of my friends.  These plans did not include the men that robbed us at gunpoint yesterday but here in Guatemala I have learned not to let  things like that ruin my day.

Friday,  October 8, 2010

Today I went to the orphanage where I had a great time with the kids.  Pat is back from the States so her and I took Ervin and Minor out to lunch.  We would have liked to have been able to take more of the kids along but there were no other volunteers at the orphanage that could come along with us so we decided that 2 kids were better than none.  This week most of my kids are finishing up their school year though, so for the next few months I should have no problem finding people to help take the orphanage kids out to eat.

Food and spending time with the kids from the  orphanage are right at the top of their list of favorite things to do.

 Pat wrote the following. 

Jose #1

While I was gone, Enrique Link one of Dick's favorites, had passed away unexpectedly.  This was the second kid in a few weeks who Dick was really close to who had died, and this was totally a surprise.  Dick had said "good-bye" to him before he (Dick) went to Xela for a distribution.  He'd expected Enrique to go home with his family.  Instead, he has gone home to be with his heavenly Father.  Enrique's death has made it difficult for Dick to go up into the malnutrition ward, but he knows there are other children needing attention up there.  Today he spent time with Jose, and I think Jose's hugs are helping him heal.


Dick writes,
Jose #2

After lunch I went up into the malnutrition ward and with the help of  Jose #2 we got  Jessica into a new wheelchair. Both Jessica and Jose are doing well and are now up to 34 pounds.  That is their combined weight.  They are still only 17 pounds each.  They are still not exactly heavy weights considering they are 4 and 6 years old but both are doing well.

This evening I took 10 of my kids to youth group.  Three of them are still not old enough to attend but they came along and hung out with me until the others got out.  Our church had a group of volunteers there that they were feeding and some how they had made way to much food for them so pastor Mike asked us if we wanted to take it home with us.  Silly question, but the food was great.  My only problem is that from here on out I may have a difficult time convincing my kids that Corn Flakes is the only thing that Americans eat on Friday nights.  Never the less thanks Mike the kids and I loved the food.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, October 9, 2010

October is kite flying weather so today the kids and I decided to do just that.  Most of time we fly them from the roof of my house but today we decided to head out and see if we could find an open field where we could fly them.  Believe it or not here in Guatemala that is not always that easy to do.  Near our house most fields have corn or some other tall plants planted in them and anything else that is remotely smooth usually has a soccer game going on in the middle of it so it is really difficult to find a decent place to fly a kite.  I knew of one rather remote rode not to far from my place so we all hopped into the pickup truck (Car still in the shop) and headed out to find a kite flying field.  There was one that we remembered from a few years ago but when we got there we discovered that the land owner had put a fence around it and here in Guatemala it is not wise to go on to some ones fenced land.  A little further down the road we spotted a flat field but decided that there were to many tombstones to trip over besides that we figured that the people that were attending the funeral that was in progress would not appreciate us all that much.  About a half mile further down the road we finally found a  spot.  It was a field that  was full of weeds and sticks but nothing was planted in it so we were quite sure  that the owner would not mind if we used it.  A  added bonus was that there was an old flooded gravel pit right next to it and there were a few people there that were catching crawdads.  For the next few hours my kids had a ball flying kites and catching crawdads.

Later in the afternoon a few of the kids and I went in to Antigua and picked up some cousins of mine that are here for a few weeks studying Spanish.  When they finish language school they and their 1 year old baby are planning on moving to Honduras where they will be  missionaries. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Another relaxing day.  (Well most of it anyway.)

This morning 9 of the kids and I headed to Antigua for Church.  After church Pat joined us for lunch and then we headed back to the field that we had discovered yesterday to do some more kite flying and catch some more crawdads.  When  we arrived I noticed that there were a few men at the far end of the pond but really didn't pay much attention to them and within a about a half hour they left.  For the next few hours the kids had the time of their lives.  Pat and I both commented on how good it was to just get out here and relax.  After the kids lost all 10 kites most of them got busy catching crawdads.  At around 4 PM I thought about rounding the group up and heading home but they were having so much fun that I decided that we would stay just a little longer.

Most of the kids, Pat and I were on the far end of the pond and Calin and a few of the others were on the end where the pickup was parked when 2 masked men came out of the brush.    One of them had a 45 revolver in his hand and he pointed it at me and said some thing to me in Spanish.  Even though I did not understand most of what he said I pretty much knew  what he wanted.  We all remained calm, fact is Tony who was standing next to Pat took her camera from her hand while the bandits were looking my direction and tossed it and a few cell phones under a bush.  We could right away see that these bandits were not professionals and I could have easily taken the gun away from them but there was no way that I wanted to jeopardize my life or the life of any of the kids  over a silly thing like pride or money.  When one of them asked for my wallet I pretended to not fully understand though and simply took some money out of it and handed that to him.   He seemed satisfied and said nothing when I put my wallet that had a credit card my drivers license and some other important papers back into my pocket.  They did show a fond interest in my camera so I gave that to him as well so I have no pictures of the robbery.   I am not sure weather or not these were the same men that were there when we first arrived but I suspect so because they knew that Pat had originally had a purse with her.  When they questioned her she told them that it was over on the other side of the pond by the pickup truck.  When they headed towards the truck I hollered over to Calin and the other kids who were on the other side of the pond and still unaware of what was taking place.  I told them to walk  to us on the opposite side of the pond that the bandits were approaching them on and they remained calm and did exactly as they were told.  We watched as the bandits ransacked the truck but the only thing that they seemed interested in was Pats purse that had her wallet and 2 cell phones in it.  They stayed by the truck for a while then pointed the gun our way indicating that they did not want us to follow them then headed up the dirt road on foot.  We gave them plenty of time to make their getaway then we gathered up the phones and Pat's Camera that Tony had tossed under a bush and walked back to the truck.  When we got home we all sat down and talked about what had just happened.  My kids did not seem at all upset.  Fact is a few of them joked about the fact that the Bandits had taken Pat's bible and said that it was to bad that it was not a Spanish bible because they doubted that the thieves could read English.  We are not taking this lightly but are thankful that God was watching over us and that no one was hurt and the entire group agreed that other than the last 15 minutes of our little outing it had indeed been a fun and relaxing week end.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Here is what Pat wrote about today's adventure. 

Sunday I met up with Dick and about 11 of the kids after church.  We ate lunch at Marta's, a buffet type restaurant where it is actually possible to fill up most of the kids at a reasonable cost.  It seems that the boys are really beginning to accept me hanging around with them. . .and love to tease me about anything and everything.  They are such good kids, and I love being around them.

After lunch we headed out to a field in the middle of no where that Dick and the boys had discovered on Saturday.  This is the season in Guatemala for flying kites, and the kids flew kites till their hearts' content, or until the kites got away from them.  It seems that the objective of kite flying is somewhat different in Guatemala.  The kids like the challenge of seeing how close they can fly to each other, or to trees or power lines, before they get caught up.  They also love to fly their kites so high that the string breaks and the kite gets away.  It was a perfect kite flying day, and I have to admit Dick found the perfect place to do this.  It felt and even looked like a harvested corn field in Nebraska, so I felt right at home!

Believe it or not, Carlen got this one down!

Next to this field was a pond, or really a mud hole, where the kids went "fishing" after the kites were gone.  Fishing in this instance was using kite string and left over chicken from lunch to catch what looked to me like crawdads.  The boys tried to gross me out by handing them to me, but fortunately my own four kids, and all the kids I've taught over the years, have trained me not to flinch.  I have to admit, though, that holding them was not my favorite part of the day, but at least it got them to stop trying to scare me with these creepy-crawlies.

Elder preparing

Elder waiting. . .

The reward!

Sitting watching the kids just be kids, and enjoying the peace of this place, I couldn't help but think of the "hundredfold" blessing Jesus promised to those who left home and family for his sake (Matt. 19:29).  It had been difficult leaving my kids and grandsons this time, but as I sat watching these kids, I knew I was experiencing a taste of this blessing promised by Jesus.  It was absolutely incredible.

The tone of the day changed rather suddenly when I heard Tony tell me to give him my camera, which he immediately tossed in the brush.  At the same time I heard Dick saying, "Pat, we're in trouble."  I looked up to see two masked young men, and slowly realized we were being robbed.  I even more slowly recognized that one of the men was holding a rather large gun (which Dick later told me was a 45), and seemed rather nervous as he swung it around rather haphazardly.  They very calmly told us they only wanted things that were valuable, and Dick handed over his cash, though managed to keep his credit card and wallet!  Watching him, you would have thought he did this every day, he was so slick!  Then they asked for my purse.  I'd left it laying in the field (Dick maintains this proves I deserved to lose it) and, after considering lying to them that I didn't have one, told them where it was.  It sounds crazy, but all I could think of was that, confronted with this evil, I wasn't going to feed into it with a lie.  I also had no intention of angering a nervous young guy with a gun.  The good part of this was, that because they really wanted my purse, they left us rather quickly, and didn't bother any of the kids.  The banditos took my purse, quickly went through the truck, and were on their way.  (I have to admit, for a fleeting second, I thought about asking the bandits if I could take their picture.  I thought better of it, though, when I realized that to do this I would have to admit to tossing my camera in the brush!  Yes, guess I might be overdoing the photo thing just a little!)

I have to admit this is not something I want to repeat, but also have to admit that thinking about the possibility of being robbed at gunpoint was actually scarier than experiencing it.  It is another testimony to the effectiveness of your prayer support, and the presence of His Holy Spirit with us, that we all remained totally calm throughout this.  We praise God that none of us were hurt, nothing irreplaceable was lost, we were all together and we were left with our vehicle!  A friend from the States asked if I gave the robbers any tracts, and I didn't, though they did take off with my small Bible.  If only it had been a Spanish Bible, maybe they would have gotten the point!

The group that can now say,
"We survived flying kites in Guatemala!"

I've also revised one of my favorite sayings:  "Dick takes me the nicest places, where I meet the most interesting people!"  Thanks, Dick, for another "first" experience as part of my missionary career!  (Wonder what it means that he's been here 10 years and was never robbed until I came along. . .) 


Monday, October 11, - Friday, October 15, 2010 

Dick writes,

This week has once again taught me to never expect things to go as planned here in Guatemala.

When I looked at my calendar on Monday morning I saw that it was filled with things that I was going to be doing this week, or at least things that I thought I was going to be doing.  Monday the mechanic was scheduled to bring my car from Xela then 3 of my kids and I would bring him back home in my car (Sort of a test drive to see if I was satisfied with the job that he had done on rebuilding the engine.) We would then return home Monday evening.  Tuesday I was going to take part in a wheelchair distribution here in Chimaltenango.  I could not miss out on this one because a lot of kids were coming in that needed specialty seating and this is my expertise.  Wednesday and Thursday would be spent at Anini orphanage working with a teem that is here from the USA, repairing and replacing wheelchairs.  Friday would be another wheelchair distribution here in Chimaltenango.   There was no way that I could miss this one because it would once again be all specialty wheelchairs. Or was there?

Well at least Monday started out pretty much as planned with the exception that the Mechanic showed up with my car a few hours later than planned,  but I figured that I still had time to bring him to Xela and then get the boys and myself back to Chimaltenango before dark.  After all driving to Xela and back is only a 5 hour round trip.  I am not going to go into a lot of detail because you would not believe half of it any way but next time we go anywhere the boys and I are taking at least 5 changes of clothing with us.  and I am also taking my computer so that I do not have to do 5 days worth of journaling from memory. How 5 hours can turn into 5 days even here in Guatemala, is beyond me.  Even weighing into it that the mechanic let us know at the last minute that we had to go into Guatemala City to buy an original Toyota radiator cap, and that he then decided to install new universal joints in a parking lot once we got into the City.  We also sat in line on Tuesday or was it Wednesday due to some not so peaceful demonstrators that blockaded the Highway for over 12 hours.  There was also the day in Xela where we were left at our motel the entire day while the Mechanic hunted down some parts for my car that was suppose to  have been completed before we started this 5 hour tour. I guess if you add to it the day that we sat in Xela while they decided weather or  not they wanted to accept a US check you are getting pretty close to 5 days.  Throw in  today when he was going to make a few minor adjustments and then bring my car to the motel at 9 AM so  that the boys and I could finally drive home and you get your 5 days.  5 long days though because he didn't show up until 2 PM and that was only to tell us that he was going to drive us home because my car still was not ready.  

As hectic as this sounds Marcos, Esbin, Elder, and I had a good time.  I think that the mechanic even enjoyed the days that he spent on the road with us.  After about a half dozen meals with us he even offered to say the evening prayer.  Our first hotel was nothing to brag about and after spending a good part of the second night in a line of traffic that was nearly 10 miles long due to the demonstrations, we appreciated just being able to find one that late at night, but after that we had good motels that had swimming pools so the kids would have gladly stayed a few more nights.

Oh, the wheelchair distributions and the work at the orphanages?  I wasn't there but Chris said that they went well.  Saul and some of the others are getting really good at seating specialty wheelchairs and the members of the teem that were here did an excellent job as well.  I did miss not being at the distributions but it was good to know that the world did not fall apart with out me.  I think that some times we all like to make ourselves believe that it will.

"One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important. "

Here is a devotional that I  came across a few days ago.  Do you think that God is perhaps trying to teach me something?

People who are trying to be friendly sometimes ask, “Are you keeping busy?” The question seems harmless, but in my mind it carries a subtle message. Beneath the surface is a test of personal value. If I can’t rattle off a list of things I have to do, I feel as if I’m admitting that I’m not worth much.

But does God determine our value by how busy we are? Does He calculate our worth by how much we accomplish? Does He reward us for living on the edge of exhaustion and not taking care of ourselves?

One of the first verses I learned as a child was Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” It didn’t mean much to me at the time because I didn’t understand weariness. But now that I’m older, I feel the temptation to keep pace with the world so I won’t be left behind.

But followers of Jesus don’t have to live like that. Not only has He released us from slavery to sin but also from the bondage of having to prove our worth.

Accomplishing a lot for God may make us feel important, but what makes us important to God is what we allow Him to accomplish in us—conforming us into the image of His Son.

Christ never asks of us such busy labor

As leaves no time for resting at His feet;

The waiting attitude of expectation

He often counts as service most complete.

"Our value is not measured by what we do for God but by what He has done in us."

Yours in Christ: Dick


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