* 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)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Journal, June 22-29, 2010

(Click on any image to enlarge)

I have to admit that I have once again fallen way behind on my journaling. Thankfully a few people that I have been with have been more faithful than me in that department so once again I am going to post one or 2 of their journals along with a hodge podge of my pictures and a few comments. I will try to do a better job in the future but no promises. There are only 24 hours in a day and I seem to have a knack for finding more interesting things to do than writing. Here are a few photos of some of those things.

These 6 girls from the teen section of the orphanage
enjoyed going out to the park.

Judging by the expression on Mercedes face they enjoyed Camperos even more.

A few days later several of the younger kids had their day out on the town.

It appears that Camperos was the favorite part of this groups outing as well.

The following was written by Amber Greathouse, one the ladies that volunteered at Hermano Pedro this week.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It would have been very easy for me to turn around and leave. When I first entered the children's ward I was so overwhelmed I thought I might lose my breath. There were what seemed like hundreds of children all lined up against the walls strapped into wheelchairs. Some were covered with mosquito netting so bugs and flies would not crawl into their open mouths and eyes. Most of the children where starring into space and slobbering. I thought to myself I will never make it through this day let alone this trip. There were a few little fellows zipping along in a more open area. Some with stand up wheelchairs and one with a head controlled wheelchair, and they were so darn cute. Angela turned to us and said, "well, OK pick one". Pick one? Was Angela crazy? This wasn't exactly like going to the pond for a new puppy. These were children, someone's most precious possessions, a little person with a heart and a soul and a mind, no matter how functioning, and I was just supposed to pick one? There would be no way I could possibly help any of these kids. This was way beyond a small group of volunteers. I was starting to think hiking Volvan Agua would be a nice way to spend the day, and then Angela handed me Perla.

She had gorgeous black curls and a total of 4 teeth, all that were fully covered with bright silver mercury filled fillings. She was expressionless, just looking out to nowhere. I sat down and said one of the few Spanish things I knew, "hola Perla", and suddenly her face wasn't so expressionless,maybe she had heard me? I was wishing that I had learned at least one Spanish song, but since I hadn't I started counting. By the time I got to diez I got a full fledged smile. This precious little girl, who would never walk, talk, sit up, or probably ever eat solid food, she just smiled at me.

I guess I held Perla there for about an hour or so. I sang the days of the week and counted to ten probably one hundred times and she seemed happy the whole time. It was amazing.

Later I held Patita. She was a little more aware than Perla, she could sit up a little with a lot of help. She didn't have Perla's cute curls. Instead she had a buzz cut, shorter than most of the boys. I really liked her. She wasn't as cute and cuddly as some of the other children. Dick Rutgers, one of the main volunteers that has been there for years, said that she was one that didn't usually get a lot of attention. I liked her so much that she's the one I went and found after lunch that day and every day after. I spent about 3 hours with her that first day. I even fed her, which basically amounted to me holding her while her IV bag drained through her feeding tube. I sang the days of the week, counted, and shouted fiesta over and over again. I taught her the C-A-T-S- cheer and told her about the Wildcats. When I started moving her arms up int he air for the "Fiesta" cheer and the "Cats" cheer she started to laugh. She started to laugh out loud. What an amazing sound! Angels could have came from heaven up above and sang and it would not have sounded so sweet.

I was so overwhelmed when I had first walked in but by the end of the day I had made several wonderful new friends, Patita being one of my favorites. I guess Angela wasn't so crazy after all.

Amber Greathouse

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At the beginning of the school year I promised the kids that hang out at my place that I would take those that got good marks on their report cards to a water park in Esquentla. Nine of them got to go.

No Camperos here
we all had
a great time.

In spite of his good grades I did not allow Calin to go with us to the water park.
but a few days later I let him join us for a neighborhood soccer game.

Thursday, June 24, 2010Marcos, Esbin (They are out of school for a week???) and 2 people that are visiting from the States joined me for a visit to Ronny and his family. This was not a scheduled visit but the night before I received a phone call that Ronny's power wheelchair had quit running. The drive to Ronny's house is 2 hours each way but well worth it knowing how much Ronny's power wheelchair means to him. As an added bonus Mara, one of the people that accompanied the boys and I got to see the Democratica, the town where her adopted son came from.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cesar, Bryan (Who are also out of school for a week) and I traveled down to Jalapa Along with Chris, some of the Bethel workers, and a group of volunteers from the States. Cesar Bryan and myself helped out with the wheelchair distribution that was held in Jalapa on Saturday and then headed back home on Sunday. Chris and the others are planning on staying in Jalapa for several days so that they can build a house for a family who's son received a wheelchair and also to distribute food to needy families in the area.

Kathy Christensen who is here with the volunteer group from the Seattle area is doing some journaling and here is what she wrote about the wheelchair distribution.

Cathy Wrote the following.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor serving the Lord."
Romans 12:11

It is good to be back in Guatemala with Dick and Chris. The wheelchair distribution in Jalapa was simply a blessing. It was a blessing to be able to help pack the truck in Chimel on Friday with the supplies we'd be needing during our time here. Wheelchairs, walkers, wheelchair parts, tools, food, clothing and a house. (No kitchen sink, but rather a stove).

There were a lot of people who attended the wheelchair distribution. To realize that many of them have been waiting decades for mobility helped to keep us focused on each individual chair fitting. An elderly woman we helped was so pleased to have a chair that her eyes sparkled with joy. They were even more sparkling when she was treated, for the first time in her life, to a manicure from one of our team members.

There were a lot of children needing chairs. From previous experiences these require specialized fittings. Though I've lived 18 years with a child in a wheelchair, never would I profess to have the talent for such an undertaking. And yet when confronted with the task, and by God's grace, oh, and Dick's excellent suggestions, my group was able to fit a chair to a precious little girl whose loving father was grateful for receiving. It was a highlight, and a reminder of the power of the Holy Spirit.

To be the hands and feet of Christ is an awesome experience, and does so much more for us than the recipients. To understand that God is changing our hearts and minds while we are serving others is a reminder that these types of trips are so necessary for our spiritual journey. When I am here it is apparent that God calls us to help others not just for their benefit, but for ours. And this team I am on is truly serving with fervor, jumping in and working hard in Jesus' name - with actions and in truth.

This is also an experience in discovering the true meaning of need. These lovely people do not have the services we have come to expect in the States. And having a child or adult with a disability is much more problematic for families living in a country that is impoverished. So sharing our blessings with those in great need not only helps us appreciate what we have, but also shows us why God calls us to share our portion with "the least of these".

Thank you Lord for your lessons in humility, service and faith.


Monday, and Tuesday June 28 & 29 , 2010During the past few days I have spent most of my time at Hermano Pedro Orphanage. Since School is still out (???????) I took 2 of my boys with me each of the days. On Monday Fernando and Elder came along with me and today Esbin and Bryan accompanied me. Watching my boys interact with the kids at the orphanage always does my hart good. If you were aware of some of the things that my boys have been through you would think that they would be angry at the whole world. That is why I always marvel at the love and compassion that they show to the orphanage kids. They are living proof that God can heal the most wounded harts. Thank you Lord for putting them in my life.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Journal, June 26, 2010

Last Week I wrote about the trip that a few of us took into one of the remote ares near Huehuetenango. Dennis McCutcheon of Vine international was one of the people that accompanied me on this trip. The following is part of Dennis account of one of the days that we spent in the back country.

Dennis wrote-

..........Dick Rutgers and Roland our interpreter have a knack for finding handicapped children in the hinter lands of Guatemala. Here some of these children when born in rural villages are either killed at birth as local village leadership encourage the fathers to take the child into the jungle and bludgeon it to death with a stick. If they survive birth – praise God not all fathers do what the witch doctor prescribes - they are kept hidden away in dark corners. There are very little in resources for them. Dick has written about a desire to take doctor’s into homes, because these kids are often not brought out to the big medical teams. Woody Woodson the president of Vine International got together a small team that explored doing what Dick envisioned. Dick told of the audible sigh and visible relief in one dad when Dick told him his cerebral palsy son is not a curse for his sins.

We left the valley floor at about 3,000 feet and climbed dirt track, sometimes concreted roads at 30 to 40% percent grade in ‘GRANNY’ gear. We parked at the top at over 8,000 feet and walked about a mile and a half to a school where we found a small empty room and saw a few patients. I saw a woman that has stepped up to the plate and adopted two special needs children in this highland village, This is so rare. She struggles each week to put tortillas rice and beans on the table a couple of times a day. But two kids are alive…

(Click on any picture to enlarge)
But more moving than that on this awesome Thursday – Guatemalan Father’s Day was going to Ileni’s home. We were literally in the clouds. This dirt floor two room house has the floors and porch neatly swept (yes you can keep a dirt floor home neat and clean). Flowers decorated the yard, hung from porch and walls. Sheep, pigs, and chickens that wanted to roost on my back pack were everywhere. This dear child had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and has been on steroids for two years. Dr. Bruce Allsop examined her. What impressed me most was this child’s dad. He stayed so close that he was always between the child and the mother in fact. Unusual in these villages. When Dr. Bruce explained changing medicine regimen, he asked questions and went over the instruction on more than one occasion. I was ‘moved with compassion’ to see this dad engaged in the care of his daughter.

I asked if I could bless the house and while praying for this family told the father that he had a most difficult job. That God gave father’s to children to represent in a small way Who God is and that God gave him his wife that he may be a picture of Christ to her. When I raised my head the wife had her arms around her husbands neck (gently) and tears streaming down her face. That kind of relationship does not exist in every home we were in this week and it was so good to see.....

First stop in the climb from 3,000 feet to 8,300. You can see in these photos why a mountain man from West Virginia loves the land and the roads.

Mountain vistas on the other side of the mountain we are standing on we could have seen Mexico if the clouds had not been so dense.

Switch back - (sister kisser in West Virginia - because when your daddy took the curve you slid across the bench seat and hit your brother or sister. Why our parents let us live after some of those arguments I will always wonder! HA!)

A family died here when their car left the road five switchbacks up the hill. Praise God for manual transmissions, low range 4 wheel drive and Granny gears.

These young men got to cut class to meet the gringos. They would have carried our stuff if we asked. They could run the road and made it in less than half the time. But being sort of like me, any excuse to cut class is a good excuse. For me the walking at over 8,000 ft. elevation was exercise enough. Dick Rutgers is on the left. He and Roland our translator were the first gringos many of these children had ever seen. Dr. Bruce is in the middle - his usual position always in the thick of things!

Those gringos are quite a show!

More of the "gettin' there."

You will notice that many (gasp for air) of my photos are from behind (gasp for air) that was just for the photography effect, (gasp for air) no seriously.

(Another gasp for air)

Still "gettin there"

It is the "Rainy Season"

Woody talking about Jesus

When Dick first came with 5 wheelchairs a few years ago, these kids would not come onto the same soccer field where he parked his vehicle. By the way he is doing one of my favorite things - sharing the digital photo with the kids he just snapped.

Now these kids flock to him
Our team is against the wall on chairs. We are an attraction that is for sure.

Dennis McCutcheon

Thanks Dennis:

It was a pleasure having Woody, Bruce, and you meet these wonderful people that I have such a burden for. Ever since my first trip up into this village less than 2 years ago I have been praying that I could somehow get a doctor up into this area. The 3 of you were an answer to those prayers.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Journal, June 22, 2010

This past weekend we traveled several hundred miles to reach out to one child.

I must admit that I was a bit proud of my self for being willing to take part in this journey.

Then I remembered how far Jesus had been willing to go for me.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, June 18, 2010

Journal, June 16-18, 2010

I have just returned from a trip to an area in Guatemala that is near the Mexico border north of Huehuetenango. Five of us went in to this rather remote area to assess some of the medical needs of the people in this area. One of the members of our teem was a Doctor from the USA. Instead of putting on a big medical clinic we mostly visited people who were in need of medical care right in their homes. Because of the remoteness of many of these people we were only able to visit with a few families each day but we all returned agreeing that this was truly a worthwhile trip. We may not have reached multitudes but were able to get to know those that we worked with in a personal way. Not only were physical needs met but friendships were strengthened and established and spiritual needs were also met.

I would like to go into a lot more detail and tell you more about these wonderful people that we came into contact with but tomorrow morning I will be heading out with this same teem for a few days to the Rio Dulci area so rather than spend my time writing I am going to post a few pictures and then spend the rest of the day with the kids.

Hiking medicine in to Erica's home.

Doctor Bruce examines Freddy

Doctor Bruce changed Freddy's medication a bit so that he will hopefully be seizure free.

We will soon be Taking Hilda in to see a specialist in Guatemala City to determine weather or not a shut will have to be put in to drain off the water that is building up inside of her head.

The trail in to Christopher's home is so steep and narrow that his mother had to carry him about a half mile so that he could go to school. He is now to heavy for her to carry so we are trying to find a sponsor for him so that he can attend school at home.

Roland does a great job of interpreting.
He even got most of the hand gestures right.

Woody Woodson from Vine International.

Even Land Cruisers
can get stuck.

The last part of this road was too muddy to drive so we had to walk in to this village.

Depending on which member of our teem you talked to the hike was anything from 1 to 20 miles.

It gets a bit foggy at
8,200 feet above sea level.

10 year old Rudy Aguilar Lucas is Deaf. My friend Pat Duff has offered to work with him so that he can somehow communicate with people.

(Actually I haven't told Pat about him yet but she reads my journals so now she knows that she has offered to see him.)

4 year old Heidi Marimar Gomez Lucas has no opening into her ear. We are trying to schedule her in at Hermano Pedro so that she can see a specialist.

6 years old Noe Avidail Gomez Martinet
lives on sugar water and 2 tortillas a day.

Yours in Christ: Dick