* GUATEMALA * * * * * * * * Dick Rutgers *

An ongoing journal of life as a Missionary in Guatemala. It will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

My Photo
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, November 28, 2010

Kids Camp November 22-26

(Click on any photo to enlarge)

Kids camp has just ended and I once again find that I have done not journaling.  Fortunatly Pat duff is back from the States and she had the opportunity to visit camp so once again I am posting what she wrote.  One of  these days I plan on doing more of my own writing but this is so much easier.  It also gives my spell checker a much needed rest.  It know that it needed it when the only thing that it came up with were "Give me a hint." and "You have got to be kidding."

Pat wrote,

Today I went to visit the Hope Haven-Bethel ministries camp in Chimaltenango with Walmer and his family.  Walmer was born in Guatemala, and now lives in the U.S. but has a passion to help his people.  His family is especially committed to the children at Hermano Pedro. We were accompanied by Romie, a man from Holland who works for the Red Cross and is in Guatemala for only a few days.

This week is children's camp, last week the youth were at camp, and next week the adults will come.  Camp is held in a Bible Institute in Chimaltenango, and people with disabilities and their care-takers come from literally all over the country to participate in this special time of fellowship.
And the race is on

Craft time

Camp activities range from crafts, to wheelchair races, to zoo trips to chapel.  For one week, the campers live together in community and it is powerful to watch the bonds that are made.  A key goal is to help the campers grow in their relationship with God as well as with each other.  It really is amazing to watch.

When we arrived we were immediately greeted by Henry from Hermano Pedro.  Dick had just put him into his walker, and he was running around like a maniac and having the time of his life!  It was neat to walk in and hear a number of kids call, "Paty."  I couldn't help but contrast this with my first visit to camp about 4 years ago, when I knew no one.  Now I knew many of the kids not only from Hermano Pedro, but also from villages I have been blessed to visit.  And I finally got to meet Erica, a young lady with a severe skin disease. I've heard about her for years from Dick, and it was so neat to be able to visit with her.  She has a voracious apetite for learning, and would love to be able to speak English.

Christopher and his mom

As I was wandering around talking with campers and their care-givers and volunteers, I was suddenly "attacked" from behind.  It was Moises from Hermano Pedro, who was beaming ear to ear.  At the orphanage he often shies away from talking to me, and never wants his picture taken.  Today he couldn't be more outgoing, and even posed for a snapshot!  His hug made my day.

Since there were almost more volunteers than campers, we decided to head back to Hermano Pedro and spend some time with the kids who could not go to camp.  Jane and Helene, two North American volunteers at camp, Dick, Carlin, Brian and I all piled into the the Land Cruiser (yes, Dick finally has his own car back) and headed for Antigua.  Though the kids were all in bed when we got there, each of them got a special serving of love and attention this afternoon.  All the volunteers joined in working with the kids on activities and in all it was a pretty productive afternoon.


Thanks Pat,  One of these days I will get back to writing and then you can take a break and copy everything that I write. 

Yours in Christ: Dick 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

November 2010 (In a nut shale.)

A lot of exciting things have been taking place this month. Earlier in the month Naneth, our teacher at Hermano Pedro invited us to a graduation ceremony that she had for the seven kids that attend our school at Hermano Pedro.  Unfortunately this took place at the same time that Pastor Juan, his son David, Cesar and myself were down near the coast putting in the foundations to Jessica's house so I was not able to attend.  Pat Duff was there though and has once again graciously allowed me to copy this from her Journal.  (Actually I didn't even ask her permission but from time to time she prints some of my stuff so I am reasonably sure that she won't mind.)

Yours in Christ: Dick

Pat wrote,

The kids had been looking forward to this for weeks—the day they would be promoted to the next grade! Unlike in the US, this calls for a special ceremony and celebration, and each of the four students in the Bethel classroom, as well as three who attend school in the community, could not have been more excited. Nineth, the teacher, and Chris and Donna Mooney who head Bethel, had been gracious enough to invite me to the celebration.

Each child was acknowledged and affirmed by the adult presenting them with their certificate or grade card. I don’t know who was “beaming” more, the kids, or the adults doing the presenting. I was privileged to present Veronica with hers, and it was a pretty humbling experience, since I really have not done much for the classroom.
Donna Moony and Sonia
Chris Moony and Henry

Next we were treated to a “dance” presented by the kids. You may be wondering how kids in wheelchairs can dance. Let me tell you, they did an amazing job, and I couldn’t help but tear up at their pride in their presentation.
Pat has a video posted here but for some reason I was unable to transfer it onto my blog but you can find it on hers by clicking  Here .

Each invited adult was thanked for their support of the school program, and we were presented with photos of the entire class. Believe me, a pop-cycle stick frame has never been so precious, especially knowing the struggle the kids went through to make it. Mine proudly hangs on my bedroom wall.

One of the most tender moments of the day was when Fidel presented Chris and Donna with a picture he’d drawn for them. This may not seem like a lot coming from a twenty-something year old, until you realize that Fidel can only write, draw and operate his computer by using his foot. This simple drawing was a work of love as well as a beautiful present.

As with all Guatemalan celebrations, graduation would not be complete without food—and we had plenty. 

Again I teared up as I watched each adult tenderly helping the children eat their treats. These staff members are amazingly dedicated to the welfare of the kids, and know each of them and their stories. These folks make it a joy to go to the orphanage each day.

This may have been the first time I was able to participate in this ceremony, but I surely hope it will not be the last! Thanks, Nineth, Chris, Donna, Fidel, Sonya, Veronica, Moises, Byron, Henry and Maynor for including me. I love each of you! 

Dick wrote,

About a week after graduation Chris, Donna, a few of the members of the Bethel Ministries crew and myself once again headed down towards the coast and did 2 wheelchair distributions.


Not only did nearly 90 people see God's love in action when we fitted them into their new wheelchairs but  each family was told that God loved them and prayed with.

After the distributions we found some time to hang out at the beach.

A lot of my Saturday mornings are spent watching several of my boys playing soccer.  Quite often my boys and I go and visit the orphanage kids after the game.  On this particular Saturday the boy's coach and the entire teem asked if they could join us so 15 of us piled into my Land Cruiser and headed for Antigua. (Yes!! After two and a half months imy car is finally out of the shop and running well.)

After hanging out with the orphanage kids for a few hours a few of friends from the States took all of the teem and myself out to Camperos for lunch.

I managed to drive down and see Ronny twice this month and he is doing well.  It is hard to believe that he was so ill only a few weeks ago.

Now for the biggie.  

Camp has started!  Other than an outing at a theme park that was anything but tickled to have people with disabilities on their premises camp has been going great.  Fact is today is the second day of our second camp and I have to get back there so I will have to fill you in on what has been going on  at camp at a later time.

One of our campers attempting to go on a train ride.

Two of many not so friendly theme park attendants saying, "No way!"

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Culture That Crawls

I have done absolutely no journaling this week but I had good intension on doing so today, however now that my Mack is in the shop having the camera replaced I have found a good excuse not to journal this week. Granted I do have this Windows computer as a back up but it and I do not get along all that well.  It took me nearly 20 minutes figuring out how to turn it on and then another 20 to shut of all off the warning messages.

Knowing that many of you are interested in Jessica, the starving little girl that we found at a wheelchair distribution less than 2 months ago, I have decided to post 2 videos that KOMU News in Columbus Missouri did about her.  I heisted to post them at first because my ugly face is shown far to many times but I have finally decided to do it any way.  I am thankful to God that he allowed me to take part in what transpired in getting Jessica and her family the help that they needed but without the help of the many people and organizations none of this could have happened.  Had it not been for the people form PET International and Hope Haven International we would  likely never have met Jessica or her mother and it is doubtful that she would be alive today.  I also want to thank the doctors and staff at Hermano Pedro for accepting Jessica into the malnutrition ward.  Two days after writing about her in my journal enough people wrote in offering to financially help this family and we  not only had enough money to supply Jessica's family with food on a monthly bases but Bethel Ministries has received enough money that by the time Jessica returns home from her 3 or 4 month stay at the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro she will be moving into a brand new house that has a cement floor (the only hose in the entire village that has a floor), bunk beds, a cook stove and a water filter. I also want to thank my good friend Pat Duff for being at Hermano Pedro Orphanage  to hold and love on Jessica and the other kids on the days that I am on the road and can not be there.  The films below shows way to much of my ugly mug so please remember that it took a lot of beautiful people to make all of this happen and most of all remember that it had to be nothing less than a Godincidence that made all of this came together.  "TO GOD BE THE GLORY!"

Thank you
Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, November 5, 2010

Jessica's New Home

(Click on any picture to enlarge)

The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was:
"If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?"
But ... the good Samaritan reversed the question: 
"If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"

It has been a little over 6 weeks ago that I first met Jessica and her family.  A lot of positive things have taken place since that first meeting.  Six year old Jessica who weighed only 16 pounds when we brought her into the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro on that day has gained a lot of weight and is now much stronger and healthier.  

 Thanks to a number of people who stepped forward and offered to help, Jessica and her family are now getting  help with food, and soon the shack that mom and her 6 children live in will be nothing more than a memory.

On Tuesday Pastor Juan, his son David, Cesar and I went in and started work on the foundation and floor of the house that we plan on completing in December.  This new house will be a bit of a novelty in this  village because all of the other homes in this village have dirt floors.  This is an extremely poor area and not only can the people not afford such a luxury but due to the remoteness of the village getting cement and other building supplies in is a real challenge.  For the first 2 days Juan, David and Cesar worked out in the blazing sun, preparing the building site while I made 10 round trips with the Toyota pickup bringing in cement and supplies from the nearest town.  Each round trip took at least 2 hours and due to the roughness of the only road (term road used loosely) that leads to this settlement I had to keep the size of each load a lot smaller than usual.  

We were hoping that we could hire a few of the locals to help us but it is coffee picking season and this is the only income for most of the people that live hear so the only person that we could hire was a man that appeared to be in his seventies.  Jessica's mom, brothers and sisters and a number of neighborhood kids pitched right in and helped though.

It brought tears to my eyes seeing these young girls and boys carrying 100 pound sacks of cement from the truck to the building site.  No child labor laws here.  Besides that these kids volunteered to help out for free.

A few of the kids take a quick break before going back to work.

All of the water that was used for mixing the cement had to be hulled in from a river that was about a half hour drive from the building site.  I used the truck for that but even in the rainy season the villagers have to walk about 15 minutes to a small polluted stream to get their drinking water.   About 6 months out of the year they have to walk twice that far for water.  

One morning I went along with a few of the kids when they went and got water.  After seeing the stream that their drinking water comes from I turned down the coffee that mom served with the breakfast that she made for us.  
It took 3 us days but the foundation and cement floor are now in and in December a few of us plan on returning and completing the house.

Because of the remoteness and the heat this project has been even more work than usual but the rewards are well worth it.  Not only will Jessica and her family have a new home to live in but hopefully they and the other villagers witnessed the love of Jesus in action.  It was a big responsibility knowing that we were the only Bible that some of these people may ever read.

I must admit being the only Gringo in the group made me quite an item of curiosity and even though most of the people were  rather shy at first I soon gained enough trust that I had a truck full of people that needed a ride to town to sell their coffee or take a sick kid to the doctor every trip that I made.  In order to have room for supplies I did have to limit my riders on my trips back from town to the one or two of Jessica's brother's and sisters who took turns riding to town and back with me each and every trip.  I must admit I have fallen in love with this entire family.  
I think that the hardest part of the past few days was driving by so many families each and every trip, that were hurting and perhaps even starving whom we were not helping.  Why had we chosen to help Jessica's family over all of these.  I guess all I can say is that  a month and a half ago God put Jessica smack dab in the middle of my path when her mother brought her to that wheelchair distribution.  I guess I could have looked the other way and walked past her or simply given her a wheelchiar, patted her on the head and said, "God bless you." but I know that God did not want me to do that.  It is my prayer that in the busyness of life I never turn my back or simply throw out bread crumbs to the Jessica's that God places in my path.  No we can't help them all but I can't help but wander if we are at times doing to little or even closing our eyes to the Jessica's that God places directly in our paths.

"I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me into your homes. I needed clothes, and you didn’t give me anything to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t take care of me.’
“They, too, will ask, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or as a stranger or in need of clothes or sick or in prison and didn’t help you?’ 
 “He will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you failed to do for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do for me.’
Matthew 25:43-45 

yours in Christ, Dick