* 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)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Journal December 24-31 (but not necessarly in order)

(Click on any picture to enlarge)

While visiting in Robinel about 3 month ago Julia, a teacher that lives there asked me if there was any way that we could get 40 water filters for some families that live in a village that is located in the mountains about an hour out of Robinel.   She explained that the water in that village was contaminated and many of the people were getting sick when they drank it.  I told Julia that we would really like to help but we did not have 40 water filters nor did we have the funding to buy them.  I promised that I would look into it though and let her know if we ever did.  Knowing the need that this village had for clean water I would like to tell you that I went straight to work on finding someone who would take this on as a project, but to be perfectly truthful we see so many needs that we can not do something about all of them so I sort of let it go.  Besides that I did not get home until the week end so perhaps I would give it some thought on Monday.

OK gang, are you ready for another Godincidence?

The following Sunday as the kids and I got out of the car I saw Pastor Mike standing at the door of our church.  As I approached him he asked me if I had a minute or 2 to talk to him.  Knowing that Church would not start with out him I said, "Sure".   Mike said "I have a group coming in from the States in a few months and they are bringing some water filters with them that they want give out to people that are in villages.  Do you know of any villages that would have a need for them?"  "Yes," I exclaimed,  "How many filters are they bringing in?"  "There are a few families in Pastores that they want to give filters to but it looks like they will have enough for 40 families after those are given out."  

This week 4 of the people from the States that brought the filters to Guatemala,  Pastor Mike & Juan Carlos, (who also attends my church)  Calin, and Esbin (2 of my boys) and myself had the privilege of going into this village and giving the people there close to 50 water filters.  Yes, God supplied even more filters than we had anticipated.  Not only were we able to explain to the people how to use the water filters but with Calin as interpreter I was able to share with them the miraculous way that God had supplied the filters and then Pastor Mike shared with them that Jesus had much more cleansing power than any water filter.  Not only was the love of Jesus talked about but it was also demonstrated as the members of the teem that had brought the filters from the States assembled and handed the filters along with Bibles to the people.
Ludwig and his family receiving a water filter.

On Friday 2 visitors from the States, Pat, 2 of my boys and myself went and visited Jessica's family.  Jessica is still in the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro but as well as she is doing I think that she will likely return to her home with in a few months.  Now that the family has a new house and monthly support for food it should be a lot easier for Jessica's widowed mother to care for her.

Today's visit was more of a social call than anything else.  Pat had not yet seen the new house and I simply wanted to see how the family was doing.  Mom and the kids were delighted that we had come to visit and mom insisted that we stay for lunch.  While we were there Pat stayed at the house and learned how to make tamales while a few of the kids walked us down to a small stream that the village water comes from. 

This is a delightful family and none of us wanted to leave anymore than they wanted us to but since it was new years eve I wanted to be off the roads before dark.

Over all it has been a good week but it has also been a hard one.  On Thursday one of the men at Hermano Pedro that I have been friends with for over 10 years passed away and yesterday I received a phone call at 5 AM from the family of  Cesar (The man who's leg I have been treating) telling me that he had passed away.  This is the second son that this family has lost in less then 3 months.  Pat, the kids and I picked up  92 year old father Bernardo and went and visited Cesar's family before heading out to visit Jessica's family. 

I can still remember the day that Father Bernardo introduced me to Cesar.  He was dismayed because none of the hospitals were willing to do anything for Cesar.  On our drive back from Cesar's home father Bernardo told me that he would love to join me more often when I brought out wheelchairs or visited people.  I quickly explained to him that I would love to have him accompany me but that I wanted him to know that I was Evangelical and  not Roman Catholic.  Farther Bernardo (who was dressed exactly like he is in the picture above)  then informed me that he was Roman Catholic and not Evangelical.  

Farther Bernardo then looked at me and said,  

"End of our theological discussion.  Now lets go do God's work."
Yours in Christ:  Dick

Since I didn't get much chance to write about Christmas  I am going to post Pat's journal entries from December 24 and 26, and a short entry that I made on Christmas day here at the end of this week's Journal. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Pat wrote,

Shortly after 3, Dick picked me up and we headed for his house in Chimaltenango, about 30 minutes from here.  He had invited me to spend the evening with him and the kids, and I could think of nowhere I'd rather be. 
Kids came and went throughout the evening.  Visiting, eating, playing, just hanging out.  They came to get not only their Christmas gifts from Dick, but some attention and reassurance that they were loved and cared for.  As much as I missed being with my kids and grandkids (and I missed them more than I had expected to), being with this group blessed me in more ways than I can describe.  I am grateful to Dick for sharing these kids with me, and even more grateful for the kids accepting me as part of the group. 

Many of the kids who started out at Dick's years ago are now teenagers.  They still have no difficulty giving Dick bear hugs, especially tonight, and make no pretense about how much they care for him, and him for them.  There are now some young kids joining the group, and Dick became a bit sentimental as he talked about the time when the older kids were that age and first starting hanging around his place.  I have a feeling, though, that there will be a whole new group of younger kids finding their way into his home and his heart.
I did get a glimpse of why the kids like Dick's so much, too.  At times, he's still a kid himself. Shortly after I arrived, Dick had to show off his remote-control helicopter.  I'd heard a lot about it, since Dick got one a few months ago (though I don't know how many replacements have been purchased for the original), but this was the first time I got to see it, and him, in action.  It's true what they say about little boys never growing up, though this grown up little boy is content with little (rather than bigger) toys.  It was fun seeing this playful side of Dick.  And watching him, I was taken back to Christmas with my kids, only one year ago, when Zach, my grandson got a remote control helicopter.  We sat and watched as the "big boys" (his uncle and his dad) flew it around their living room.

About 9 o'clock Dick and I went down to Fernando's house to share my first Christmas dinner of the weekend.  Fernando's mom made a wonderfully rich meal of chicken, rice and vegetables. We also had a number of cups of  "ponche" a traditional Guatemala Christmas drink of different fruits cooked with cinnamon and sugar. It was a great honor to be included with Dick in the family's Christmas meal.  I think Momma enjoyed having another woman around to talk about recipes, our kids and grandkids, and how we enjoyed all the work that goes into Christmas.  I even got to cuddle her 21/2 month old granddaughter.  When it was time to leave, I hugged Momma and tearfully thanked her for including me, she asked me when I could come back again.  That almost broke me completely.

About 11 Dick brought me back to Antigua, for my second Christmas dinner with Mari, Leo and their family.  I'd been told the REAL celebration begins at midnight, and I was not disappointed when fireworks began exploding in every direction as we all stood outside watching the light show.  Pablo and Manuel also set off their own display right in front of our house.

When the fireworks were gone, we went in  and gathered around the manager for a time of family prayer.  This surprised and delighted me at the same time.  Next we ate our meal of Guatemalan tamales, cornmeal stuffed with turkey parts.  I'm told these particular tamales are made only at Christmas.  Of course, there was ponche, and an olive salad, tortillas, and for dessert we enjoyed a meringue Pavlova, prepared by one of our students from Australia. We finally made our way to bed about 2 am, over-stuffed, over-tired, and well-loved.

While I hadn't been worried about being away from my own family this Christmas, I had wondered a bit how it would feel.  Thanks to Dick, the kids, and Mari and Leo's family, I don't know that I've ever spent a better Christmas Eve.  And there's still tomorrow. . .

Saturday, December 25, 2010 

Today I joined the Mooney family for a traditional Christmas that included a delicious Christmas dinner.  Over the years Chris and Donna have continued to make me feel like part of their family.

Tonight the kids and I are just hanging out at home.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a Goodnight.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, December 26, 2010 

Pat wrote,
As we were leaving church this morning, Giovani, the pastor of our Celebrate Recovery program at Iglesia del Camino, asked Dick if he could go to see a young girl who needed a wheelchair here in Antigua.  So, Dick, about six of the kids, and I headed off to meet Luisa. 

We were greeted at the door by Beatrice, a single mom with six children, four of whom are still living at home.  She graciously invited us in, and introduced us to Luisa, her fifteen year old who has severe physical disabilities, and yet seems to be very much aware of all that is going on.  As I talked to her, I explained that "this man" (Dick) was going to bring her a wheelchair.  She instantly looked up directly at Dick, with an incredulous look on her face, as if saying, "Will you really?"
As Dick measured Luisa, I talked with mom about her kids and her life.  She told me that Luisa sometimes becomes very frustrated, and scratches and bites herself at these times.  I asked her if she thought Luisa could use pictures to let her know what she wanted, and mom became very excited, saying Luisa loves to look at books with pictures.  She also said she thinks a good part of Luisa's frustration is at not being able to let her (Mom) know how she (Luisa) is feeling.

So, next week I'll be heading back to Luisa's house with a trial communication book for her.  Her house is only a few blocks away from Hermano Pedro, so it will be easy for me to go and work with her and Mom.  I still have a lot of assessment to do before we can create a good system for her, but I'm excited to get started on this.  With many of the kids away from Hermano Pedro, it's a great time for me to work with her in her home.

Once again I stand amazed at the way things "just so happen."  It "just so happened" that I was with Dick and the kids when Giovanni wanted to go visit Luisa.  It "just so happens" that her house is near Hermano Pedro.  And it "just so happends" that at this time of year I have some extra time!  What was more astounding to me, was that this very morning I was praying that God would guide me to who He wanted me to serve, and that, rather than getting overwhelmed, I would focus on loving the one person who God has put before me at any time.  And, it "just so happened"  that Luisa came into my life.  Now we are praying that it will "just so happen" that there is the very special type of chair available for her when the Hope Haven and Behel shops open up after Christmas vacation next week.  Many kids are waiting for a specialty chair, but Dick feels Luisa is a priority.

After leaving Luisa's I went with Dick and the kids to have lunch at Campero's (where else?) It is getting to be kind of a routine to eat lunch with him and the kids when Dick is in town.  I'm even getting used to the teasing I take from a group of teenage boys (not to mention Dick!), and I think I hold my own pretty well with them.  (Thank you, Jeremy, Jon and Joel, for training me as you were growing up!)  Today we were joined by Olga, so I at least had another girl to share the teasing with!

 Since the gang had been so good waiting for us at Luisa's, and I had a craving for ice cream, our next stop was Sarita's where I treated everyone to a cone.  Dick reminded me to tell the kids this was a "Christmas treat" or they would be expecting this treatment every Sunday. (With my love of ice cream, did he think this was a bad thing?)

We walked to Central Park to just hang out for a while, and Olga got a "hair weave" while we were there.  The boys all tried to talk me into letting them get one, but I told them this was a "girls only" treat today.  Somehow I managed to escape their attempts to convince me to get a cord braided into my hair.  I'm still recovering from the last one I had a couple of months ago, that it took Mari and me almost an hour to get out!



Blogger Mel~Bulldog said...

God-incidences inDEED!!! Love love LOVE it!

Thank you for sharing...always! God is sooooooo awesome....!

Monday, January 03, 2011  

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