* 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)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

 "Every assignment God gives us is beyond our ability to do."

Every now and then  I seem to forget what is written above and then when I can't handle it on my own I wonder why.  I wish to thank every one who has phoned or written me the past few days saying that they were praying for me and especially thank those who reminded me that God does not need us but He does want us. 

I have fallen way behind on my journaling and unfortunately Pat has done the same so even though we have seen God working in marvelous ways the accounts of the past few weeks will be sketchy at best but rest assured our God is alive and well and so are we.  Below I have posted a few pictures that tell a little about what has been going on.

Good news, Pat just wrote a few journals and I have posted them below my pictures!
Byron's new home

Pastor Juan demonstrates the new stove

Jordon 3 months ago
Jordon now

A few of my kids
Mike and a few more of my kids


A few of the teens at the orphanage

Marcia tries her hand at making tortillas. (They ended up resembling donuts.)
Is Tony really going to eat that chicken foot?

Proud sponsors looking over Alex's school work.

Thor and 2 of my boys operating on my computer
They only let me operate on buckets
Showing Cesar's family how to use their new water filter

Brenda loves her new wheelchiar.

Muscular dystrophy has not dampened this boys spirits

Nor has a bullet through the spine
taken away Jessica's smile.

Funny how we adults often let much smaller things spoil our day.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Building Byron's House 

Written by Pat 


Current home for the seven members of Bayron's family

I managed to get a few hours sleep Sunday night, after going to the airport with Chris Mooney to pick up two guys from my home church, Westside. Caleb Smagacz and Thor Johnson have come down to prepare for a family mission trip the Children’s ministry is sponsoring as part of VBX (Vacation Bible eXperience—not your grandma’s VBS!). This week the guys will be helping to build a house for Bayron and his family, as well as video-taping much of the work we do here in Guatemala.

I’m never too comfortable with people coming in to video, but I know these guys and trust their hearts to tell the story of what God is doing here, and of the many here who are in such dire need.  (Any fears I had about bringing video cameras into the homes we visited were unwarranted.  Thor did a great job not only of being sensitive in the way he videod, but involving the kids in the process!)

After a two and a half hour drive and a quick breakfast at Camperos, we arrived at Bayron’s home. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the family had totally leveled the land where we would be building, and had taken down the lamina that they had been borrowing since moving to this land. Four large barrels of water were also waiting for us, as we had requested. This family had done all that we had asked and more to get ready for the construction of their new home.

We unloaded the truck, including the metal bunk beds we had brought, and Chris began apologizing because we were short one mattress. Dona Maria quickly explained that this would not be a problem—since yesterday someone just so happened to give her one mattress, which just so happened to fit the bed we had brought perfectly. Another Godincident that reminded us this was His work and not ours. He had it all under control.

As we were getting started, Chris had the opportunity to sit and visit with the family for a few minutes. After sharing with them that the house was a gift from God, not from us, he asked them, “How is your life with God?” Every time I have heard him ask this question of someone we were visiting, I could feel the power of his words. Today was no different. After sharing with them about the life Jesus was offering them, four of these young women committed their lives to Jesus. God had readied the soil of their hearts even as they had readied the soil for their home. And now the seed was planted.

I was really quite honored, as well as more than a little panicked, when Chris asked me to sit and visit with these women about how to walk with Christ. I still worry about my inadequate Spanish in situations such as these, but, of course, God came through and we had a wonderful visit about the life set before them.

The Proclaimer
When I asked if they had a Bible, Dona Maria excitedly ran into the house and immediately brought out a small box. In it was a solar powered audio Bible which Melissa and Ryan McCue had brought to the family last July. It was well cared for, but obviously well used, too.

Dona Maria explained that her father had taught her much of the Bible, but she had wandered when she was married to her husband. After his death, she returned to the Lord, but had not been able to really share this with her daughters. She was overjoyed to know they now had a relationship with Jesus.

This was Day 1 of the construction—preparing and pouring the foundation. Pastor Juan and Saul, who are part of Bethel Ministries, expertly measured and strung the foundation.

Cement block was layed along their string lines, and the real work of leveling the earth inside the “walls” began.

All of us, both the visitors and the family, began shoveling dirt into the outline of the house, while Dick and Chris leveled the terrain, working from one side to the other, using only a line strung between two poles to guide them. This was a bit chaotic, with so many people working, but it was wonderful to see the family, even Dona Maria the grandma and the kids, taking a part in building their house.

After lunch the guys began the process of mixing the cement by hand, getting a good bit of help from Bayron. The wet cement was moved by wheelbarrow into the foundation, where Dick leveled it, Thor and Benjamin (Chris’s son) smoothed it with a metal bar, and Chris put the final finish on it. It was astounding to watch this whole process, all done without the help of any heavy equipment, but with a huge amount of team work.

I got to spend much of my time just playing with the kids in the family. . .and was pleased to see just how friendly they had become. Bayron and Edgar had always been comfortable with us, but some of the younger children had been pretty shy on our previous visits.

Today, all of them enjoyed our company, and approached us freely. We spent a lot of time just sitting in the back of the pick up talking, and especially Edgar really enjoyed it when I told the story of Jesus and the children. We then play about an hour of “you can’t catch me,” and I think I was more worn out by the game than I would have been working on the foundation!

As we readied to head back to the hotel, Dick invited Bayron to go with us. We had been a little concerned about how Edgar would feel about this. Our worry was in vain. Edgar explained that he couldn’t come with us, because he had school tomorrow and had already taken one day off to help us with the house! Pretty awesome words from an eight year old. Words that give us much confidence in his future.  

The Morales Family in front of their new house

We were back at Bayron's bright and early Tuesday morning, ready to put up the house. The houses are pre-fabricated and remind me of playing with the old erector set building toys, only on a larger scale. Once the pieces are sorted, the construction really goes pretty quickly.

I think the best way to describe this process is with pictures:

Assembling the frame

And the walls go up. . .

The windows and door go in. . .

The stove is built in the kitchen. . .

The beds were a big hit. . .

Bayron and Edgar claimed the top bunks. . .


                The house is blessed. . .

 God is praised. . .                    

When asked what she liked best about her new home, Dona Maria, the grandmother and head of the family, replied, "The beds and the stove." 

While the team was working on the house, Dick, Thor and I managed to slip away for a couple of hours to check on Walter's family.  We had taken Walter into see the neurosurgeon a few weeks ago, and had promised to bring some nutritional supplements and vitamins on our next visit.  We didn't have a lot of time to visit, but we were warmly welcomed by the whole family.  We had called  yesterday to tell Mom we were coming and the whole family was there to greet us, including Dad who had stayed home from work to see us.

Dick had also brought a water filter for the family.  These filters purify water as it flows through a filter tube, containing the same type of filter tubing used in kidney dialysis.  These particular filters require almost no maintenance, and are very easy to use.  It is important to fully explain why and how to use these filters to the families who receive them, and Dick did an amazing job of teaching the family to use these filters.  He also explained that while this water will satisfy their thirst for a short time, the Living Water offered by Jesus will satisfy their deepest thirst forever.  This was really a "holy ground" moment, as we felt the Holy Spirit in our presence.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Letting Go and Letting God

A lot of things have happened this week but I am not going to write about them right now.  Perhaps Pat will post something that I can use because I am finding it difficult to do much writing at all lately. 

I think that I am slowly learning that one of the greatest dangers of being here in Guatemala and working with so many hurting people is the belief that you can do something about the pain and suffering of each and every person that God places in your path.  I am finding out though that the people that God seems to place in my path and the requests for help have grown to such a staggering number that there is no way to meet most of these needs.  Praise God  that I am connected with some great people and some great organizations like Bethel Ministries and Hope Haven international who can supply things like homes and wheelchairs to those that need them but they can not meet every need.  Just a few days ago as we were building Byron's home we were approached by several people who were in need of homes.  We had to tell them that we already had so many people on file that we could do nothing more than take down there names and wait and see what things looked like in a year or two.

I am personally finding that the same thing is happening when I go into a village to take a child in to see a doctor or get them in to the malnutrition center of Hermano Pedro.  It seems that every time I reach out to one of these little ones I find a half dozen more that are hurting just as badly.  Even yesterday as I showed a few friends around Hermano Pedro I was bombarded by kids and adults that were wondering when I was going to take them out to lunch or when I would get their wheelchairs repaired.  While I was there I managed to hold 2 or 3 kids but there are nearly 250 residence there so it was only a drop in the bucket.  I know that I am suppose to let God show me which ones to reach out to but it is difficult.  Even as I sit here writing this my mind races.  Which 3 kids will we take out to Camperos today?  Which 247 will we not have time for?  Am I  doing to little?  Is anything I am doing here making any difference?  

Granted some of the kids that we are working with are improving but what about others like Walter?  A lot of time and money has been spent on him and all we are finding out is that nothing can be done for him.  What about Alex, Jo-Jo, Ronny and so many others that died this year?  Did reaching out to them really make a difference?  In their cases I believe it did but losing them was one of the hardest things that I have ever gone through. Having Jason disappear has been very hard on me as well. 

I know that we can do nothing on our own and that it is God's ministry but this servant at times gets weary.  Please pray for me.  Please pray for all of those that are down here as missionaries.  We are human and we some times question things.  If we truly care we allow our harts to be broken with the things that break God's hart, but it hurts.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday evening, February 21, 2010

"After I posted the journal above at around 10 AM this morning I nearly went back and deleted it.  It was hard for me to be so honest about my feelings.  E-mailing it to those of you who are on my e-mail list was even more difficult for me.   What would friends think if they knew that missionaries had rough days?  I only hit the send button after much prayer and seconds later was wondering if there were any way to retrieve what I had just sent before anyone could read it.  Thankfully there wasn't.  The amount of e-mail that I had waiting for me when I got back home this evening was overwhelming.  I want to personally thank each and every one of you who wrote and said that you were praying for me and for those that I have the honer of working with.  I also want to thank you for your kind words of encouragement.  Yes it gets a bit overwhelming at times but then I am reminded that when I start looking at God as though He were my copilot it is time to swap seats."

Yours in Christ: Dick