* 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, October 28, 2010

Journal, October 25-27, 2010

 Monday, October 25, 2010

At 4:30 Am Fernando, Bryan, Arlindo (Ronny's little brother), and I were in the pick up truck heading back to the coast to pick up Ronny and his parents.  The national hospital had refused to admit Ronny, who was suffering from pneumonia into the hospital on Saturday but expected us to be at their door at 7:00 Am this morning so that they could run more tests.  Since Ronny lives 2 hours from me and the hospital is over an hour from their house this was not going to happen but I was hoping that the hospital would still let us in even if we were over an hour late.  Ronny's condition had worsened over the week end and I was not happy that the hospital had refused to admit him after spending a good part of the day there on Saturday.  I must admit I was a bit worried about what I would say to them If they refused to admit him or worse yet even see him today.

Today after about an hour and a half wait in the hall way of the emergency room a lady came up to us and told us that since we were late we would have to come back on Tuesday.  I tried to explain that I had to come in all the way from Chimaltenango and that I would have to get up in the middle of the night in order to get him there on time but she did not seem to be impressed.  Looking across the hall I spotted a nurse that seemed to be listening in on our conversation.  I motioned to her to come over and at least look at Ronny who was nearly unconscious and  lying in my arms.  With the help of Fernando and Ronny's parents we asked why we needed an appointment if this was an emergency room.  She looked down at Ronny and then told us to wait until she returned.  It seemed like hours before we saw her again but when she finally returned she  told us that they had decided to admit Ronny into the hospital.  I got up and followed her into a room that had about 10 other patients in it.  When I looked around I began to wonder why I was trying so hard to get him admitted into this hospital.  All of the patients were lying on old gurneys that were beyond description.  Not only were they falling apart and rusty but they looked like they had not been cleaned in years.  There was one that was not being used and I was asked to put Ronny on it.  There was no pad or mattress on it, only an old bed sheet that was absolutely filthy.  I thought about taking it off from the gurney before placing Ronny on it but the metal deck of the gurney was even filthier than the bed sheet.  I  brushed  several blood stained cotton balls off from the sheet and on to the floor before placing Ronny on it though.  Ronny was scarcely conscious but the still deck of the non padded gurney was more than his frail body could tolerate.

He looked up at me and said "No Good"  I asked him if he wanted me to hold him and he said "Yes".  I climbed onto the Gurney and placed Ronny into my arms and held him for the next few hours while the doctors and nurses  connected IV tubes and oxygen hoses to Ronny.  I think a few of them told me that I had to lye him back down on the steel deck but I managed to loose what little knowledge of the Spanish language that I ever had and paid them no mind.  It took over 5 hours but they finally admitted Ronny into a ward that had actual beds in it.  It was still nothing to write home about but Ronny's bed did have a mattress on it and the sheets actually looked like some one had tried to wash them.

Fernando and Bryan had stuck it out with us in the emergency room for the first hour or so but after a nurse told them that this was not a good place for children to be because there were so many germs they waited out side of the hospital in the hot sun for over 4 hours.  When I finally walked out of the hospital I told  them that I was sorry that they had to wait so long.  They  looked up at me  and said that they would have waited forever if they thought that it would help keep Ronny alive.  I was tired and really wanting to get home but after bringing Ronny's father and brother and sister home (Mom is spending the night at the hospital with Ronny)  I asked them if they wanted to stop off at the motel where Cesar, Kevin, Arlando and I had stayed and go for a swim before heading home.  They said yes so for the next hour and a half we swam.  They tried to get me to stay there over night but I told them that I really wanted to get home and see the other kids because I missed them. 
When I got home tonight I was exhausted but all 14 kids that were there pitched in and made supper and I didn't have to lift a finger.

Just before heading off to bed I received a phone call from Ronny's dad.  He had just received a call from one of the doctors at the hospital.  Ronny had lost consciousness and the doctor felt that Ronny's dad should get back to the hospital as soon as possible. Ronny's dad is going to try to talk a man that has a car and lives in his village to trust him for the money until I get back there and drive him back to the hospital tonight.

I am praying that unlike their older brother Ronny, 8 year old Arlindo and 2 year old Duvon do not have Muscular dystrophy.  There is a 50% chance that they do.  Ronny's was discovered when he was 9 years old.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

 "Let us be the ones who say we do not accept that a child dies every three seconds simply because he does not have the drugs you and I have. Let us be the ones to say we are not satisfied that your place of birth determines your right to life. Let us be outraged, let us be loud, let us be bold."

La Gomera Clinic.  (Oct. 27, part 1)  

Written by Pat

Dick with the Reyes family
Back Row:  Mama (Norma), Blanca (21), Dick (Really old)
Middle Row:  David (10),
Armando (13), Idania (15), Carmon (17), Alex  (8)
Front Row:  Evelyn (Blanca's daughter, age 2), Carmen (8)

Monday Dick had gone to Ronny's home to take him back to the National Hospital in Esquintla.  Ronny, a 16 year old with Muscular Dystrophy, had been admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, and was seriously ill. Tuesday night Dick and I decided to head down to the coast to be nearer to the family and see Ronny at the hospital on Wednesday.

The hotel in Santa Lucia where we usually stay was full, so we drove on to one nearer the coast.  This place was beautiful, air conditioned, and practically empty!  After dinner we even had time for a swim, and the night seemed almost like a mini-vacation.  I didn't realize how much I needed a bit of a get-away.  Even as I was enjoying this respite, though, it seemed God was preparing me for what we would face the next day.

Wednesday morning we started out at the clinic in La Gomera.  Dr. Jose, an excellent doctor from Cuba, greeted us like long lost friends.  What he manages to do in this under-equipped clinic continues to amaze me.  I also finally got to meet Sra. Flori de Vasquez, the wife of the mayor of La Gomera, who helps operate the clinic.  She assists Bethel ministries in getting food to some of the families who live in their area.

While we were there, a young man who works in the community of La Terreno approached us to ask for help for a family seriously in need of food.  When we were introduced to this family, I could not believe the level of malnutrition suffered by each of the eight children.  I have never before seen an entire family malnourished, and this family's need was intense. If the community workers had not brought them to our attention, however, they would have just faded in to the many others waiting to see the doctor.

Carmon age 17
The amazing thing to me, though, was how friendly and receptive these kids were.  For the life of me, I can't imagine how they had managed to find the energy to walk the 6 km from their home to the clinic, but they had.  They sure enjoyed taking pictures and seeing them on Dick's camera.

I was also introduced by Flori to a young mom who has two children, ages 1 and 3, who are currently in the National Hospital suffering from malnutrition.  She seemed to be nothing more than a child herself.  So much need. . . I know I can't help every hungry person in Guatemala, but I also feel a strong conviction to try to help those who God puts in my path each day. 

After checking with Sra. Flori about two other families receiving help from Bethel Ministries through the clinic, we reluctantly left so that we could get to Esquintla in time to see Ronny. Our new friends followed us to the door to say good-bye as we left.  How I wish I could have promised these families help before we left for Esquintla. All we could do is tell them we would do our best to find them sponsors. After sending out an email appeal, I am happy to be able to say that we have help for these families, and possibly a few more in need of food for the next year.



A visit to the national Hospital  (Oct. 27, Part 2)

Written by Pat

After leaving the clinic, we headed on to Ronny's house to spend some time with Dad and the six other children.  This family is so special to me--I've known them for years, and am especially attached to the girls in this family.  They are really struggling with Ronny being so sick and in a hospital far from home.  They seem to understand, though no one spoke it, that there's a good possibility that Ronny is dying and they will not see their brother again.

It is a privilege to be invited into these most intimate moments in the life of this family.  It also is somewhat overwhelming.  What do you say to a four year old who wants to know where her brother is, and why her mom is not at home?  What do you say to a fifteen year old who has been one of the primary caretakers for her older brother who is now so ill?  I guess you don't really say anything.  There is nothing to say.  We can just be with them as they walk through this difficult time.  We can just let them know that we care, because God cares.  But sometimes it's hard. . . really hard. . . to stand beside someone you love and know you are totally helpless to take away their pain.  But, just as I know how hard this is, I know that this is what we are called to do, and so we do it.


After visiting with the family, we left for the hospital taking Jessica, the oldest daughter with us. She was going to be a companion for mom and grandma as they took turns sitting with Ronny.  What an extreme responsibility for one so young.

We got the the hospital at about 2:30.  Unfortunately, the one hour patients are allowed visitors ended at 2 PM.  Both Ronny's mom and I asked the receptionist for permission for us  to spend 5 minutes with Rony.  I have to admit that this lady lived up to to every story of indifference and rigidity I had heard about those who work in the National Hospitals in Guatemala.  Mom looked at Dick, and said Ronny really wanted to see him, and she thought maybe if Ronny could see Dick he would get better.  I thought my heart would break when she said this, and I know Dick's heart did break.  We knew we had to keep trying to get in.

We were fortunate, however, to have a nurse supervising the men's ward who had compassion on this mom whose son was dying and just wanted us to see him.  We also encountered a merciful guard to let us up to see Ronny, though we didn't have proper permission.  So we got to spend some time with Ronny. . . and this time was so bittersweet.  Ronny, who had not opened his eyes in almost 2 days, forced his eyes open when he heard Dick's voice.  Both Dick and I "lost it" when this happened.  I don't know what broke me more, seeing Ronny struggle so hard to see this man he loves, or watching Dick once more say good-bye to a child he has known and loved for years.  I knew the grief I was feeling paled in comparison to his anguish.  I thought my heart would break when I heard Dick quietly and confidently tell Ronny he would see him again. . . knowing Dick was talking about their reunion one day in heaven.

We tried to hold to our word of five minutes with Ronny, but leaving was very hard.  Both Mom and we sobbed as we said good-bye. . . and we thanked her for inviting us into this delicate time in the life of her family. 

I fought tears the entire drive back to Antigua.  I couldn't quite put my finger on what I was feeling--guess I was just overwhelmed at all I had experienced in one day.  And I struggled with feeling guilty, because this really wasn't about me.  I had started out the day asking God to lead my steps where He wanted me to be today. . . and now I was complaining to Him about where He had led me. 


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