* 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, February 4, 2011

Delivering wheelchiars

(Click on any photo to enlarge)
Visiting Javier  
Written by Pat

Today we are again visiting the orphanage for children with disabilities in Quetzeltenango our first stop on the way to Huehuetenango. According to Dick, this was one of the worst places for kids in all of Guatemala when he first visited it years ago. Now, under the leadership of a very wise and loving Mother Superior and Father Superior, it is a place I would be privileged to work. I hope to be able to spend some time in the future learning from their therapists. It is a joyous place to visit.


We were bringing a wheelchair to Javier, a sweet young man who I had met on my previous visit to the home.  A few months ago Bethel Ministries gave Christopher this power wheelchair.  Unfortunately, as so often happens when power chairs are transported on the rough roads of Guatemala, it only worked for one day before quitting.  Arturo, in the Bethel shop, had been working on this chair for days, and Dick was anxious to get it to Javier.

While he had a manual chair he could propel slowly with his feet, this chair really gives Javier freedom to move about the beautiful campus of the orphanage.  He came with to show me the grounds which I had not seen on my previous visit. 

It is such a beautiful spot, right in the middle of a big city.  I really had a hard time tearing myself away when it was time to leave—there is such an atmosphere of peace and joy here.

  Next stop Cristobal’s
Mountain "Rush Hour"


Christopher's Grandfather and sister

After leaving the orphanage in Xela, we drove up into the mountains to take another power chair to Cristobal (sometimes called Christopher in previous journals), who Dick had met when he was living in the orphanage in Xela.  After Cristobal’s dad died, mom took him home again. A couple months ago his chair stopped working, and his brother, trying to be helpful, had dismantled it trying to find the problem.  In the end, this made even more work for the guys in the Bethel shop, but they managed to get it working once again.

Cristobal lives in a very remote area, and even with his power chair is unable to attend school.  He lives in a part of Guatemala devastated years ago by Hurricane Stan, and in order to get to town, his mother (a very tiny Guatemalan lady) must carry him down a steep path to the nearest road where his chair is stored by some neighbors.  He has become just too heavy for her to carry now, and therefore receives tutoring in his home by a tutor supplied by Bethel ministries. 


We visited with the family in their home, giving Cristobal a chance to show off his school work, and his mom a chance to show us her new grandson.  I still marvel at the hospitality with which we are greeted whenever we visit one of our families.  Immediately we are given a place to sit down, even if it means the family must borrow a stool from a neighbor.  Almost without fail, we are given something to drink.  There is never a sense that we are interrupting the family activities, even though we usually show up unannounced.  On the contrary, the family is grateful we would make the effort to visit them.  I don’t think they have any idea how their friendship blesses us.


While not able to use his power chair for school, his mother still carries him down the mountain to his chair so he can periodically go to town or to church with her.  Without his chair, he has been totally isolated in their home.  Mom said that just the other day Cristobal was wondering when Dick would be bringing his chair back.

He was eager to see and test out his new chair, and Dick packed him in and out of home on piggyback.  Dick earned a lot of respect from me regarding his physical fitness on this trek.  I had to stop to rest a number of times the first trip up the mountain, and only climbed half way the second time.  

Dick was not only able to make it himself, but with a 17 year old on his back.  I’m learning, though, to accept my limits without beating myself up too badly that I physically can’t do all the things I would like to. . .

Each time Dick takes one of these power chairs out of the truck after the rugged trip to these villages, we both hold our breath and pray earnestly that they will work.  Today, we also breathed a prayer of gratitude as the chair started up immediately, even though the batteries had fallen off as Dick unloaded it. 

I’m learning so much from both Javier and Cristobal about the dignity they receive from the freedom of movement a power chair provides.  I’m learning from them how frustrating it is to have to depend on someone else when all you want to do is turn the other direction.  I’m learning of their patience in waiting for these chairs, and their excitement and gratitude when they receive them.  I’m learning to be grateful, that while I may not be able to physically do all I would like to, I can move independently whenever I feel like it—I am learning from them to be grateful for all I have, and not take the “small” things, like the ability to move, for granted.  

Today, Cristobal was a bit disappointed that the chair would not go as fast as he would have like.  Looking at the path he was driving, I was amazed that the chair could climb the steep grade.  It ended up being good that the chair was slow, since with the dust and sand on the road, it sometimes slipped losing traction.  I can understand, though, Cristobal’s desire to race around more freely.

Is it worth traveling miles of difficult roads, often needing four-wheel drive, just to take a chair to a child in a remote village?  Dick is the one who does the real work, doing all the driving, and seating the child.  You can see on his face, he loves what he is doing.  And I love the fact that he lets me tag along with him as he does this.  



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