* 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)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Wow! Two journal entrys in two days.


It's not that I haven't thought about doing more of my own juornaling, it is just that  Pat seems to be on a role and every time I look she has another one printed out.  Not all of the latest journal entries are necessarily in chronological order so the orders of events may seem a bit strange to you but I trust that you still enjoy reading about how we have been seeing God work down here in Guatemala.

Yours in Christ: Dick

 ..........A visit to a new Jessica.

                                 Written by Pat Duff

On New Year’s Eve, when we were visiting Jessica’s family, Virginia (Jessica’s mom) told us about a little girl “just like Jessica” who lived in a village not far from them. Today Dick, Tony and Brian and I made a trip up to Vera Cruz to meet this family.

After waiting in Patulul for Virginia we were a little surprised to see (well, not really surprised, maybe disappointed is a better word) to discover that not only she, but her daughter and a young man living with them had come meet us. It was a difficult conversation for me to explain to her (though I had done so repeatedly on the phone when we talked earlier) that only one of them could come back with us to Antigua. There were a number of good reasons for this, but it’s still hard for me to say “no” knowing that especially Erma (her daughter) missed Jessica terribly and would love to see her. This in one of those times when I’m learning I can’t meet every need or desire, as much as I would like to.

Though disappointed, they all seemed to understand, or at least accept this decision, and agreed that the young man (whose name I wish I could remember) and Erma would return to their home after visiting the family in Vera Cruz.

With this settled, we were soon on our way to meet this family, whose daughter was also named Jessica. After a short drive on the highway, we were met by Jessica’s brother, who would show us the way to their house along a dirt road. We had expected the house to be “off the beaten path” as most of these homes are, but I don’t think even Virginia and her family were prepared for just how far off the path this was. It took between 20 and 30 minutes of driving on rock, dirt, some cement, and often grass before we reached the family’s home. To think this young man (12 years old) had walked this distance alone, and then waited for us, seemed incredible.

We had been prepared to find a child with severe malnutrition, and we (at least I) was relieved to find this young girl looking well fed and cared for. That would not be the end of our involvement, though.

Jessica could definitely use a wheelchair, and Dick expertly measured her for one. Mom also shared with us that she was a single mother who had to work, and had no one to care for Jessica during the day. Her only solution was to keep her eleven year old daughter out of school to care for Jessica while she was at work. The girl had missed much of the previous school year because of this. Did we think we would be able to help her get Jessica a permanent placement at Hermano Pedro?


It’s hard when asked these questions, because we are not “officially” part of Hermano Pedro, only volunteers. We do have some good friends on the staff, however, who often help us out, and we promised to do what we could. Actually, since there had been five recent deaths in Anibal, the children’s area, it seemed that this might be a possibility, though we didn’t share this with Mother. As we talked further, we discover Mom had already begun the process, and would be bringing Jessica to Antigua on Jan. 20 to begin the first examination. We would talk with our friends, and ask them to meet Jessica and her mom when they are there. Mom did not know about Case de Fe, where families coming for treatment at Hermano Pedro can stay free of charge (kind of a Ronald McDonald House, Guatemalan style), and she was delighted to find out she could actually travel down the night before the appointment. I’ll be meeting her when she comes down and doing whatever I can to facilitate the process for her, though there surely are no guarantees. I’d ask for prayer for this family as they make this difficult journey to placing their child outside their home, and also prayer that Hermano Pedro will open its doors to her if this is for her best.

A number of things struck me today, but nothing more than the kindness and love Dick’s kids show these children we visit. Often they have a better rapport with the kids than two older gringos ever could. The kids seem to trust them more readily, and the ease with which the boys reach out to children with disabilities is a beautiful thing to see.

Today I got to see Tony in action. Tony drives a tuk-tuk and seldom gets to come along on visits, but today he loaned his rented tuk-tuk to a friend to drive for the day. (Tony pays Q200 a day—about $25—to lease his mini-taxi, and at Q5 a ride must drive at least 40 fares to even break even. How he can make money is beyond me.) Though not around kids with disabilities as often as the others of Dick’s kids, he was a natural with Jessica, and she enjoyed the attention from this young man immensely.

I’d had a similar experience the other day when we were at the orphanage in Patzun. I’m used to Fernando being a kid magnet, but Kevin surprised me a little. Kevin is a bit shyer, but once a little one I was holding reached out to him, he, too, rose to the occasion and did a great job with the kids, especially the tiniest ones who seemed most drawn to this gentle young man.

I think Dick sometimes wonders about the time he invests in the kids in his neighborhood—I know he’s had to eliminate some more typical ministry activities to be available to the kids. But the past few days have convinced me of the benefit of his “ministry of hanging out” with these young people, and the impact he has made on their lives and their futures. I’m sure we will get some “home missionaries” out of this bunch, and the rest will be better parents at the very least. Not a bad return on the investment of time if you ask me. . .


Luisa gets a new Wheelchair and Pat gets new friends 

Written by Pat Duff

Dick and Carlin with Julio and Mercedez @ Camperos

I spent much of my morning at the orphanage today. Though there are still not many kids back from vacation, it was good to spend time with the ones who are there. More and more I see that these kids who have no where to go for a holiday are often the ones most overlooked and neglected by the volunteers, including me. I’m trying to use this time to correct that.

Esbin and Julio

Dick was also at the orphanage today, working with a team of therapy students who had come in from Emory University in Atlanta. They were working on repairing and adjusting the kids’ chairs, with Dick’s support and insight. Around noon we decided to take a few of the kids to lunch since it seemed we could both use something to eat. Since many of the kids in Anibal (the children’s area) had been out with us recently, we only took Julio, at the request of Cesar and Carlin. We also took two young women Dick knows well, Colocha and Mercedez, out with us. I really didn’t know these two very well when we left, but by the time we returned felt I had made two new friends.

After lunch, we took the kids back to Hermano Pedro, and picked up two students to come with us to Luisa’s house. Gio, the Celebrate Recovery pastor at our church, had introduced us to this family a little more than a week ago. Dick had managed to find a chair he thought would work for her, and we were anxious to visit her family again.

Though Beatriz is a single mother of six, she is doing everything she can for Luisa. The expenses of caring for her special food, diapers, etc, are difficult for her to manage, but she didn’t ask for any help. She only was grateful for what we were doing. Looking at Luisa, though, it seems she could use some extra income in this area.

I couldn’t help but notice how this house was neat as a pin, despite the four dogs and four children living there. Mom is proud of her family and cares for them well. She also is extremely hospitable, offering us drinks and inviting me to come into the bedroom to visit with her and Luisa while Dick and the others worked on the chair.

Beatriz was quick to share her story with me, one I’d someday like to write and publish in its entirety. For now, it’s enough to say that she’s had her struggles in life, God placed Giovanni in her path, and he gently though repeatedly kept inviting her to join the Celebrate Recovery group at Iglesia del Camino. She said it took a long time for her to take the risk, but once she went she found a group of people who loved and cared for her, and did not feel so alone anymore.

She continues to be involved in the group, and lights up when she talks about the program and the effect it has had on her life. Her affiliation with a group in an Evangelical church has been hard for her mother, a Catholic, to accept, and has caused a significant strain on their relationship. Beatriz regrets this, but is willing to pay the price to grow in her new relationship with Jesus.

After working with CR and recovery for a number of years in my “previous life” at the church, it was wonderful to hear her testimony about the impact it has made on her and her family. I don’t think it was by chance that I just happened to be with Dick when Gio brought him here last week. I know Beatriz and I will continue our friendship, and to encourage each other in our walk. I also have promised to visit again soon to help make some communication symbols for Luisa.

While we were visiting, Dick, the students and the boys adjusted and arranged a great chair for Luisa. We discovered that a tray would also be helpful in allowing her to play while she sits, and will try to find an appropriate one for her. Though Dick warns me not to spread myself too thin (and he’s right, of course) I feel compelled to return to this family about once a week to help them with Luisa, help teach her things she’s not had an opportunity to learn before, and continue my friendship with Beatriz. I don’t think it’s a coincidence (maybe a God-incidence) that they live only a short walk from Hermano Pedro!

I love this picture of Beatriz and Luisa with Dick. 
The look on Luisa's face says it all!



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home