* 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)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Journal, December 13-21, 2010

Eight days on the road and I'm going to make it home tonight.

Monday, December 13 - Monday, December 20, 2010

Have you ever spent 8 Days on the road with 3 teen age boys? We had a good time but I think that if I had taken 3 energizer bunnies instead of the boys it would have been more restful. Last Monday Fernando, Bryan. Esbin and I headed out on an 8 day road trip.  Our #1 reason for going was to get up to Playa Grande to visit with 5 sponsored students that we have up there.  Although that was reason #1, reason #2 followed right on it's shirttails, and that was to have some fun.  Normally it takes 2 days to drive to Playa Grande but due to a planned 2 day visit to Champey and a not so planned 24 hour break down of my good old Land Cruiser we managed to get there in 5 days.  
Rule Number 278 - When your Mechanic says he patched up your old battery bracket, Insist on a new one.

Rule Number 279 - Remember that jagged pieces from a broken battery bracket can be sharp enough to  put a hole in your battery and  cut through power steering hoses.

Rule Number 280 - Remember that driving your car for an hour and a half without any power steering fluid can burn up your power steering pump.

 Rule Number 281 - Remember when any Guatemalan (especially a back yard mechanic) says "I Give You Good Price" To ask him weather the price is good for you or for him.

Over all we had a great time though, and we had some wonderful visits with all 5 kids that we went to see and with their new teacher.

The boys took turns driving my car on some of the more remote roads.

Fernando is a kid magnet.


Onias with his 
mother, baby brother, 
teacher and me.

Onias and his teacher.

None of these kids 
are allowed to attend 
the school that is 
in their village 
because of their 

No phone service at Mayra's home but
that did not stop us from pretending.

Mario can not talk but
he can certainly communicate.

Felipe with
my 3 boys 
& his teacher.

Update Dec. 23
 Felipe no longer
has a sponsor.

Update Jan 6
Felipe now
has a sponsor.
but we have
more children 
Felipe proudly shows us 
some of his school work.


Micaela is very shy 
but she is doing great 
with her school work.

Onias' mom prepares lunch for us

It took 8 days 
but my boys 
finally tire out.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How not to rest up after spending 8 days on the road.

We finally got back home last night.  I thought about resting up today but that got rather boring after an hour or 2.  Besides that trying to rest when all of the kids know that you are back home is an impossibility and will remain so until the kids go back to school in mid January.

At 8:30 AM a pastor that I met a few weeks ago brought a young man who attends his church over to my house.  This young man lost his leg in an accident a few months ago.  If any one knows of someone who can help this young man out with getting an artificial leg please let me know.

At around 9:30 AM Cesar and I headed over to Bethel's wheelchair shop and dropped off some wheelchairs that were in need of repair.  After paying a few bills we picked up Marcos and Headed over to the Orphanage.  Pat joined us and the 4 of us took 4 of the orphanage kids out to lunch.

We do not know who it was but when we asked the waitress for our bill we were told that some one had already paid it.  Wow what a neat surprise!  It is hard to believe that it was not all that many years ago that many of the customers at Camperos made us feel anything but welcome when we came in with the kids from the orphanage.  

When we got back from Camperos Pat did some work with a few of the kids while Cesar and Marcos hung out with Fidel.  I snuck up to the Malnutrition ward and held some of the little ones.

Last week just before I left for Playa Grande Cesar and Marcos's soccer coach told me about a lady that had been hit by a car and needed a wheel chair.  Since  Cesar and Marcos were both with me today we decided that this would be a good day to get a wheelchair to her.  So before leaving Antigua we stopped off a Hope Haven's wheelchair Factory and picked up a wheelchair.

When we got to Chimaltenango we met up with the boy's soccer coach and then drove out to where the lady lived.  After being hit by a car her family took her to the national hospital in Chimaltenango but they released her a few hours later without doing anything for her.  I suspect that she has a fractured and or dislocated shoulder broken ribs and internal injuries but the hospital did nothing for her. She is in a lot of pain.  We are going to see what we can do to get her in to see a different doctor.  Meanwhile she and her family are very grateful for the wheelchair.

I just got through feeding the kids and think that I will call it a day.

Yours in Christ: Dick 

Friday, December 17, 2010


It is with tears in my eyes that I write the following.  I just received word that Alex passed away early this morning.  Alex had never been a healthy child and for the past few months he seemed to be hanging on by only a thread and we all know that it would only be a matter of time before he would not be with us anymore, but all of us who knew him will miss him all the same.  In nearly ten years that I knew him he never uttered a word but much like Jo Jo who died a few months ago I considered him a close friend.  Alex could light up a dimly lit room with his angelic smile and Alex stole the harts of almost everyone that ever met him. I consider it a privilege to have been able to call him my friend.

Last Sunday Pat and I decided to drive up to a restaurant that I had never been to, that is located on a hill that over looks Antigua.  When we got up there we discovered that there was a car show going on up there. Now those of you that know me know that I have nothing against cars and certainly have nothing against food but some how I felt very out of place. After just spending the week near Huehuetenango visiting with children that were hurting and staving I had a hard time looking at cars that many people were investing so much of their money and time on.  I could not help but wonder what a difference all those people could make if they spent even half as much time helping some hurting child as they did polishing their cars.  I looked over at Pat and said do you really want to be here?  I think that she was reading my mind because she asked,
"Would you rather go to Hermano Pedro and see the kids?"  

Fifteen minutes later we were both where our harts were and it was one of the best Sundays that we could ever imagine.  You may ask how an afternoon holding hurting and dying children can be a good one.  I am not sure that I can explain but the following Journal entry that Pat recently posted may help.

Yours in Christ: Dick

..Time with Alex and Fidel.....

Written by Pat Duff

This morning I worked on some of the "business" of being a missionary.  When I arrived at the orphanage after lunch, I discovered Ervin had gone home for the holidays.  Again, this is bittersweet for me.  I'm glad he's with his family, and I will much more easily be able to work with other kids, but I already miss him yelling "MA" whenever I walk into the room!

I'd planned on working with him and Julio, but this was one of those days when it seems God laughed at my plans.  Julio, too, was not available because he was going to the "Posada" that was happening at the hospital.  Las Posadas are processions which commemorate Joseph and Mary going door to door looking for a place to stay on the night of Jesus birth.  So, I could not work with Julio either.

I walked from crib to crib checking on the kids.  Many were asleep.  And then I came to Alex.  He is still hanging on to life for all he's worth, though each breath is now a struggle for him.  As I stopped to talk with him and pray for him, I knew I couldn't just walk on.  I needed to spend some quality time with him, even though he was not responsive today.  So we talked and sang and prayed together. 

Soon it was time for his breathing treatment, and he absolutely shrieked when the oxygen mask was placed on his face.  This killed me, as I can't ever remember hearing him cry before.  When the treatment was done, he continued to sob.  Heidi, the nurse in charge today, looked at me and said, "Why don't you just take him outside and hold him for a while."  So, after disconnecting the various tubes connected to his frail little body, that's just what I did. 

I have to admit I'm somewhat fearful holding Alex. He is so frail (I now literally know the meaning of skin and bones) and his back is so contorted from CP that I'm always afraid I will somehow accidentally hurt him.  Today, though, that didn't seem to matter.  He needed physical contact to let him know he was not in this alone.  Alex immediately calmed and quieted when I picked him up, and once we were settle outside in a rocking chair, he fell into a fitful sleep.

While I was sitting there grieving the struggle of this little one, Fidel came to visit me.  Fidel is a young man with CP who only has use of his feet.  He drives a power wheelchair specially fitted with a foot control, and has learned to write and operate a computer with his left foot. (I thought I had a picture of him, but can't find it.  Too bad--he's really amazing!) Usually when I've seen Fidel in the classroom, he pretty much ignores me, so I was particularly pleased that he came to the children's area looking for me.  I know he's very lonesome now that most of the young people have gone home.  I've been a bit concerned for him, too, because he tends to struggle with depression.

Today Fidel was absolutely chatty. He not only talked about his computer activities, but was very interested in asking me questions about myself, why I was here, and where I was living.  We talked of things we both enjoy such as cookies (though he's not particularly fond of chocolate) and checkers.  I promised to try to find a game and play with him soon.  When he asked about my family and why I would not want to be with them for Christmas, I simply replied without really thinking, "Because I want to be with you guys here."  He got tears in his eyes, and all he said was, "Gracias."  Then I teared up and we just sat and looked at each other.  I can feel a friendship forming here!

So, was today what I expected?  Not at all.  But once again I learned that what God has in store for me is better than I could plan myself.  I didn't have to do anything but be available, and He used me to touch two folks who seemed very much in need of a friend today.  I think sometimes I forget that friendship, in itself, is a ministry when we invite God into the relationship. Please pray that these two friends of mine will know they are not alone. 


Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Journal, December 4-10, 2010

 (Click on any picture to enlarge.)
Saturday, December 4, 2010

Today we brought the last of our volunteers from the States to the Airport.  Our final week of camp is over and just like the first 2 camps this one was a big success. 

This afternoon I made an extra trip to the airport but instead of bringing Americans there that were on their way back to the States I brought Alex's entire family there to greet their father who was finally returning home after being in the States for 7 years.  I can still remember the day that they all said goodbye to him knowing that they would not see him for at least 5 years.   Due to a broken leg and lack of work that 5 years stretched out to 7.  Please pray that this family that has been apart for so many years can once again start feeling like a family. 

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, December 5, 2010

When we got up this morning the kids and I had full intentions of going to church but some where between leaving home and actually getting there we received word that an orphanage that is located near San Lucas had been evicted from the home that they had been renting and everyone and everything had to be off from the property by night fall.  I won't go into a lot of detail but for the next several hours my boys and I worked hard in helping take down and move everything from porches to play ground equipment.  It wasn't exactly the restful Sunday that I had been anticipating but we all agreed that we had not missed out on serving God and having fellowship with fellow believers.

Yours in Christ: Dick 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Today John Bosman and Luke Vandervliet, (2 friends from the States) Cesar and myself headed out on a  road trip.  During the next 5 to 6 days we plan on visiting a lot of Children and families that are being sponsored through Bethel Ministries. We also plan on building a house for Jessica and her family and will be giving away a few wheelchairs as well.  Fact is our first stop today was at the home of a little girl who had outgrown a wheel chair that we had given her a few years ago. 

It just so happened 
Big Godincidence
that John and Luke had taken a kids wheelchair that had been given to them along with them from the States that fit this little girl like a glove.  No adjustments necessary, not even the foot rests.  Sort of like God had his hand in this.

Next we went to see Ronny and his family.  This was a special treat because John and Luke had had both taken part in the building of Ronny's house a few years ago.

Tonight we are in a so, so, motel in a small town that is locate about an hours drive from where Jessica's family lives.  Tomorrow Jorge, Pastor Juan and Juan's son, David, plan on joining us and we will start building a new home for Jessaic's family.  Since we put in the foundation and floor a few weeks ago we hope to  be able to complete the rest of the house in one day.

Before heading out on the road Cesar, Bryan and I got together with Pat Duff and made a little Christmas video.  It may take a minute or two to download but I hope that you take the time to watch it.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

We almost did it.  Juan and Jorge plan on returning for a few hours tomorrow morning to put on a few finishing touches but for the most part Jessica's family now has a new house that includes a wood burning cook stove, bunk beds, and a water filter.  It was a long day and a hot one but a very rewarding one.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, December 8, 2010
After spending a restful the night in a good motel in Mazatenango, John Luke,  Cesar and I headed up to Xela where we picked up Roland Elf and then the 5 of us drove up to San Fransisco Guatemala where we hiked some medicine in to Erica's home.  Erica has a rare skin disease and were it not for this medicine she would likely no longer be able to walk and would no longer have her eye sight.   Although the medicine is not a cure it has done much for most of Eric's body.  I can remember back a few years ago when her entire body looked much like her legs still do. 

Next we stopped off and visited Christopher and his family.  Christopher's brother took it upon his self to try and repair Christopher's broken power wheelchair.  It is my prayer that Christopher's brother chooses a vocation other than that of being a mechanic.  After gathering up what was left of Christopher's wheelchair we  promised that the workers at our shop would do their best to get it running as soon as possible.

From there we drove up to Huehuetenango.  We plan on spending the next few days here visiting a number of families that we work with.


Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday,  December 9, 2010

During the past few days we have visited a number of people most of whom we are helping out with Schooling, food, or medicine.  Most of these are people that we already have sponsors for but some are still in need of sponsors. 

Three of Maria Garsia's grandchildren would not be in school were it not for a generous sponsor who sees to it that they are able to buy shoes and needed school supplies.  

 Maria's orphaned grand son Luis hopes to start school next year.

Up until recently Rolando had a teacher come to his house and teach him a few days a week, but Rolando's health has deteriorated due to a lack of food so for the time being the money that was used for his schooling is going to be redirected for food so that he can regain his strength and then resume his schooling.

Esmeralda age 12  is being taught 5 hours per week in her home.  Her teacher is an evangelical pastor that  comes to her village twice a week to preach in a church and to  teach   Esmeralda.  Esmeralda was healthy as a young child but has lost her ability to walk and is now slowly  loosing the use of her hands.  It has not been determined what her problem is but I fear that  she may have a brain tumor.  Roland and I are going to see if we can get her in to Guatemala City to see a neurologist some time next month.

Our final visit of the day was at the home of Ernesto.  Ernesto and his father live alone in a mud house. Ernesto's father is very poor and in poor health.  He can not leave Ernesto alone so even when he feels well enough to work he can not leave home to try and find work.  We recently found a sponsor for Ernesto so now he will have more than just tortillas and coffee to eat.

Yours in Christ: Dick 

 Friday, December 10, 2010

Today I made a  plaster mold of Roudy's amputated leg so that I could send along with John to the USA to have a new artificial leg made for him.  A generous person supplied one for him a few years ago but since that time 6 year old Rudy has outgrown it and has prety much worn it out since he has  been walking on it almost non stop ever since I brought it to him.  Today Rudy was very patient even though it took more than one attempt to make the plaster cast due to outdated materials.  Thanks to a some helpful Guatemalan's  we were able to get new materials and I was finally able to make a good cast that can be used as a mold for a new artificial leg. 

Our next stop was at Lionel's home.  On Monday Lionel's dad came and picked him up from Hermano Pedro to take him home for the Christmas holidays.  Although I am happy that Loinel's parents love their son enough that they wanted him home with them for a month or 2 I can not help but worry about his health when he is with them.  Last year he came back to Hermano Pedro weighing four pounds less then he did when he had gone home 6 weeks earlier.  Four pounds may not seem like much but considering how skinny he is it is a lot.  Although he no longer weighs 16 pounds like he did when we brought him in to Hermano Pedro 2 years ago this 11 year old is still very much underweight.  

Our final stop of the day was at the home of Jose.  I have known Jose for a number of years and this young man is an inspiration to me.  Jose refuses to let a little thing like being confined to a wheelchair with brittle bone disease get him down. Up until when we gave him a power wheelchair a few years ago Jose would propel himself nearly 2 miles to and from school every day in an old manual wheelchair.  This would be quite an accomplishment even on level ground.  Josey's home is on a steep hill far above the town where his school is located.  The distance that he has to travel and the  steepness of the roads and trails are even taxing on power wheelchairs but Josey is getting good at fixing his own power wheelchair and I am willing to help in any way that I can because this young man has a lot of potential. 

It has been a busy week and It will be good to get back home tomorrow but  I would not have traded it for the world.  John, Luke, Cesar and Roland were great to travel with and visiting people that have become true friends over the years made it a real blessing.  

Happiness is not so much in having as sharing. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

Yours in Christ: Dick