* 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)

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


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