* 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, January 14, 2011

January 4-8, 2011 (With a few gaps)

After only a little arm twisting on my part, and agreeing to post her picture at the top of my blog, Pat has once again graciously agreed to do part of this weeks Journal.  I will verify that most of what Pat has written is fairly accurate, bear in mind though that although Pat passes me when it come to spelling and language skills my recollection of numbers (especially when it come to soccer scores) far exceeds hers.  

Tuesday, January 4, 2010

Outing with Ronny and his siblings.

Written by Pat
For months now we (Dick and I) have been promising the Vincente-Hernandez kids we would take them to a motel overnight as a reward for their good grades in school last year. About six weeks ago, we weren’t sure all of them would make it, since Ronnie was hospitalized with pneumonia and near death (or so we thought).

Yesterday we were gratefully able to load all five school-age kids, including Ronnie, into Dick’s car and head for the coast. Ronnie has made a full recovery (or as full a recovery as is possible for a 17 year old with Muscular Dystrophy), and he, is brother Orlindo (age 8), and sisters Jessica (16), Clara (14) and Estrella (12) were more than excited as we drove away from their house. We also had with us Elder, a little guy from Dick’s neighborhood who was excited to be the only one we had brought with us from home.

We arrived at the hotel about lunch time, and were all hungry, so we headed directly to the restaurant to have a bite to eat while our rooms were being readied. The kids were delighted to find that there were hamburgers on the menu, and for the girls at least, this became their choice of food for every meal we had here, including breakfast! We swam for a long time after lunch, and the kids got progressively braver in the water. I think Dick and I had as much fun, if not more, than the kids did!

It had been at pretty long and hot ride down to the hotel (except for the few times Dick stopped to let the center-pivot irrigation spray into the car to cool us off) and all the kids wanted to rest after dinner. The girls and I settled into our room watching TV. Imagine my surprise when, at 8:30, Jessica turned off the TV and the overhead light, announcing it was their bedtime. I had hoped for some sleep while rooming with them, but never imagined I’d actually get MORE sleep than I do regularly.

They were up bright and early, however, and had a great time in the shower. This is a rare treat for kids who usually have to bathe from a small tub, and they took full advantage of their opportunity to use hot (well, warmish) running water to their hearts’ content. (I later found out that Dick and the boys were still trying to sleep through the noise, but, it was worth it to hear the girls enjoy themselves so much with something I take for granted, even here in Guatemala).

Since the boys weren’t up yet, we ladies made our way to the restaurant to have our morning coffee and play a few spirited games of UNO. We were almost disappointed when then boys joined us and it was time to order breakfast.

This is a great hotel, with the slowest food service in all of Guatemala. I think we got it figured out, though. Today we placed our food order, and then went to play soccer while our meal was prepared. It was girls against the boys (with Ronnie being score-keeper). The girls easily whooped the boys, even though the girls played in dresses and bare feet! (Case in point abut Pat's poor recollection of soccer scores.)  Dick kept trying to talk me into joining the game, but I think that was only because the girls were ahead  (Hard to believe that Pat came here as a missionary.  D.R.) , and he thought I’d be a “handicap” to them winning.

After breakfast we all quickly changed into our bathing suits and went swimming again. Today everyone swam except Elder. For some reason he was very anxious whenever he was around the pool. Dick’s frequent attempts to coax him out were futile, though I think Elder not swimming probably bothered Dick more than it did Elder, who seemed to enjoy himself greatly playing on Dick’s computer.

It was great fun to watch the kids become progressively more comfortable in the water, today even venturing onto the waterslides. Ronnie was even able to swim with Dick’s help. All too soon it was time to check out of the hotel and head for home.

We were all anxious to find out if the new baby (child #8) Mom was expecting had been born yet. None of us were a disappointed as Mom was, though, when she told us that there were still no immediate signs of his/her appearance. Dick suggested she wait until the weekend and deliver on his birthday (the 8th). We’ll see if Mom takes his advise.  


Believe it or not mom did take my advice.  I got a phone call from Ronny's dad on the 10th telling me that his wife had a baby boy on my birthday and that they are thinking about naming him Dick.  

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, January 7, 2011

Miguel Gets his Chair! 
Also written by Pat.
I had visited an orphanage in Patzun in December (See Pat's Dec. 9 Journal) and had met Miguel Angel, who needed a wheelchair.  When I mentioned this to Dick he didn't hesitate for a minute before saying, "Let's do it."  So today, a little less than a month later, Dick, Fernando, Kevin, Heidi (one of the Hermano Pedro nurses) and I headed on our way.

When we arrived at San Fransico Home, we were immediately greeted by kids.  One little guy immediately latched on to Dick, and "shadowed" him most of the time we were there.  Though none of the kids there have families, this group of kids have really become "family" under the guidance of the Sisters and nannies who care for them.  This is one of the happiest places I've visited in Guatemala.


The gift of this chair brought a great deal of excitement, not only to Miguel and his caretakers, but to the other kids as well.  They were all so excited to see him get the chair, and couldn't wait to help adjust it or push him around in it. 
Once again as I watched Dick work I was amazed at how he turns fitting a wheelchair into a true ministry experience.  Though he is highly skilled in seating, it really isn't about the chair for him, it's about the kids.  The one who he is seating, and the ones around wanting to help.  Though as he has said before, his "helpers" can shorten a ten minute job into a one hour process, he makes every effort to include anyone who wants to pick up a wrench.  Today was no exception. 

The seating began with Kevin and Fernando starting work on the chair, but soon many of the children gathered around wanting to help.  Dick patiently instructed them, giving each some small part in the process, even if it was only to hold a screwdriver or turn a wrench.  He really seems to "come alive" during these times, though I don't know how he does it.  The number of kids helping would drive me to distraction, but he has infinite patience with them. 

 Two young men at the home, both named Mario, really caught on to the process, and were great workers, demonstrating real mechanical ability.  Dick had to slow them down sometimes, because they would anticipate (correctly, though somewhat prematurely) the next step before he was ready to move on.  These two guys seemed to blossom under Dick's direction and attention.  Again, each part of the chair was adjusted as perfectly as Dick could get it, even making a trip into town to "rent" a vice to reshape a part that wasn't just right.

When the seat was ready, it was truly a celebration for the whole group, and almost everyone got into the act.  Even the littlest ones got their share of attention, and anyone who could took turns pushing Miguel around in his new chair, as he grinned ear to ear.

We stayed and played with the kids as long as we could, but soon had to leave to get back to Chimaltenango in time to take some of Dick's kids to youth group in Antigua.  It was hard to pull away, especially for Fernando and Kevin, but we promised to come back and visit again soon.  The next time we come, we hope to be able to bring a therapist with us to set up physical therapy programs for a few of the kids.

As we drove away, we couldn't help but contrast San Francisco with Hermano Pedro, where we usually work.  Though both institutions care deeply about their children, there is such a striking difference.  The inclusion of kids with disabilities with non-handicapped kids at San Francisco seems to be the key.  The "special" kids get what they need, but it's part of the natural environment where the Sisters and caretakers try to give each kid what they need.  Nothing "special" about the kids with disabilities.  What seemed special to me was the way the other kids accepted, loved, and supported those who needed a little more help!

Since Pat was so kind to me in today's Journal entry  I guess I better come clean and admit that the Girls did actually beet the boys and me in Soccer the day we took Ronny and his siblings out. but I do want you to know that the girls had more players than us (we only had 3 players and they had a quarter of a dozen), besides that the sun was in our eyes.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, January 8, 2011

......."Happy birthday to me......."

Since I am writing today's journal myself it is going to be a lot shorter than the others. 

This morning 10 of my kids and I headed down to the beach and spent the day at the water slides.  It is amazing how  quickly 9 teen agers and a 9 year old can make you forget that you are 64.  I must admit though that after doing all that  running, climbing and sliding today, a few of my muscles do feel their age tonight.

Tonight Mari and Leo (The people that Pat lives with) had me over for a birthday dinner.  This was the perfect ending to a perfect birthday.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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