* 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, April 29, 2011

Journal, Last week of April, 2011

(Click on any picture to enlarge)

Daryl Fulp and 3 of his daughters have been on the road with me this week. Since Daryl's family fears riding in the family car when Daryl is behind the wheel these outing with me are about the only way that they can ride in a car without being in continual fear. Actually I am praying that within a few years Daryl will gradually pick up some of my driving skills and hopefully his family will be as relaxed with his driving as they are with mine. Meanwhile since I have done all of the driving and most of the work I have decided to let Daryl do this weeks journaling. Besides that Daryl is a better speller then me. Bear in mind though that he also exceeds me in stretching the truth when he writes.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Here then is an account of our trip. (according to Daryl)

Bouncing around with Rutgers…again

Written by Daryl Fulp

IMG00398-20110427-1447Today Teisha, Carissa, Taryn, and I took off on another road trip with Dick Rutgers. Unlike last time, Pat is not with us as she is currently home in the States visiting with her grandchildren and getting a break from Dick and me. So, Dick’s car is much quieter and neither Dick nor I are suffering from headaches that usually result from Pat’s head slaps.

As usual, Dick treated us to a flawless drive to the coast. We just hit a few potholes that resulted in a couple of damaged kidneys, but the damage was spread out through us all so we all still have one left.

IMG00397-20110427-1418As we drove toward the coast the temperature rose about 15 degrees and the humidity rose sharply. When we arrived in town all the motels were full except for one that has no air conditioning as. As you can tell from the photo, the ceiling fans are no good as they have gradually drooped and warped from the humidity. But that is balanced by the reality that we have no hot water. Tonight’s shower was the first time all day I have been cool. Earlier Dick and I were trying to decide who would get the better bed (the one without sharp metal sticking in your back). I decided that he could have that bed and I will sleep in the cold shower, but now he wants the shower. We will compromise and alternate hours.


As soon as we had checked into the hotel we took off for Jessica’s house. Jessica is currently in Hermano Pedro and doing quite well after recovering from malnutrition. The journey to their home is quite interesting and involves some pretty bad roads and crossing a couple of streams. Interestingly enough, Dick drives very carefully on those roads.

IMG00406-20110427-1647Someone donated some money to Dick to help with the family’s water situation. They currently only have water at their home for one hour every other day. As a result, they often find themselves hiking down the mountain to fill buckets. After analyzing the situation we realized that we could purchase a 200 gallon water tank that will fill automatically when the water is on and can be used as a supply when the water is off. So we left their home and traveled to the nearest town where we purchased the tank, pipes, and fittings that are necessary and will return tomorrow morning to install the tank. For the time being, it looks nice on the top of Dick’s Land Cruiser, although I had to stand on the back bumper to help it squeeze under the entry arch of our motel.

This evening we found a restaurant that was not top notch, but was quite edible (unlike the shrimp from our last trip). We were also able to purchase some medicine for a nasty head rash that Jessica’s brother, Hector, has. Hopefully this will resolve the problem.

Well, the hour is getting late. I think we are all heading out for a bite of ice cream and then I will return and tuck myself into the shower for the night.

Buenes noches de Patulul, Guatemala!


Tanks, Filters and Low Overhangs

Written by Daryl Fulp

We awoke Thursday morning after a somewhat toasty night, and I took another cold shower to start off the day. When I got up at 5:45 the temperatures outside were nice, and we enjoyed a pleasant walk to the restaurant for breakfast. By the time we finished eating we could feel the temperature and humidity rising. From that point, sweat was our constant companion throughout the day.

DSCF0279As we left the hotel we once again had to deal with a low entry arch and the water tank strapped to the top of Dick’s Land Cruiser. We gradually worked our way through with first me and then Teisha standing on the back bumper to weigh down the rear. We had to do a little bouncing and a little scraping, but we made it through and hit the road. (I think the hotel may be missing a little bit of their arch.)

We headed back up the mountain to Jessica’s family where we spent time explaining the medication we had purchased for Hector’s head rash and applying his first dose. We then set to work installing the water tank which will automatically fill when their water is on every other day. This will be a huge blessing to the family as they will no longer need to fill pitchers, barrels, and anything else they can find to provide a reserve for the dry times.

DSCF0347Dick and I worked well together after he learned to appreciate the Leatherman tool I always wear on my belt. He had spent much time over the last few weeks telling me how useless it is (even insulting it by calling it a Swiss Army Knife), but suddenly found himself needing it a lot. After we worked through his tool prejudices things went smoothly and we were able to complete the job in under an hour. Between Dick and I we had come up with a thorough list of the parts we needed, which was good since the nearest hardware store was about 25 minutes of rough road away. After the tank was installed we prayed with the family and headed out again.

DSCF0379On the way down the mountain we passed a group of ladies who were walking and decided to offer them a ride. We piled five women and two babies into the Land Cruiser and I hoped on the back bumper and hung onto the luggage rack for the rough ride down. Thankfully, Dick drove more like a gentleman than usual. (Gentleman is not a word that is usually associated with a description of his driving, and it is very relative.) However, as we were driving through the river he somehow managed to make sure that his rear bumper dropped below the water, soaking my boots. He said it was accidental, but he said it with a grin and while turning off his hearing aids.


From there we headed to the home of Sergio, a teenager who has Spina Bifida. He had received a new (to him) electric wheelchair the week before and it was not working. Dick was concerned because you never know the extent of the problem in a situation in which a chair has no power. It could be a bad charger, a bad connection, or a bad computer. We were pleased to discover that the battery connections had come loose as the batteries had shifted in transit. Once we discovered the problem it was a simple fix to reposition and secure the batteries.

DSCF0404The wheelchair is extremely important to Sergio because it is his only means of getting to and from school. The journey involves several rough areas with some steep climbs, so he needs a robust chair. While we were there Dick broke out his programmer and made adjustments to assure that he could climb the hills. He boosted the speed and power and made several trips up and down one of the hills himself. The kids in the neighborhood had fun watching the gringo go up and down, up and down, up and down...

By the time we left Sergio’s house we were extremely hot and sweaty and headed for the nearest air conditioned restaurant for a late lunch. I don’t think cool air ever felt so good!

DSCF0423After lunch we swung back by Herlindo’s house. As soon as we pulled up we realized something big was going on because the yard was filled with balloons and people. We found out that after having nine children together Herlindo’s parents finally decided that it would be safe to get married, so we had walked into a wedding reception. We were warmly welcomed by the family, offered drinks, and shown all the kids report cards. We then gave Herlindo the medicine he needed and explained the dosages to the parents. The medications are for a very bad stomach parasite that is in the family’s drinking water. It is the worst kind of parasite and requires strong medications to eradicate.

DSCF0429For some time now Dick has tried to explain to the family that their water is bad and they need to use the filter he had provided for them. Until now, they did not believe that this simple little device would make the water safe, so they just continued to drink it without filtering. Dick and Pat arranged for a doctor to call them and explain the situation and that the filter would work, and that seemed to convince them to use it. Only one problem…they had lost the filter. So, we hooked up another gravity feed water filter and taught them how to use it. Please pray that they make good use of it as it is imperative for the family’s health.

From there we headed home to the cooler temperatures of the inland mountains and refreshing showers. As we looked back on the trip we were blessed and amazed at how God caused everything to come together for such a great and productive trip. Through the heat, work, and rough roads He was with us the entire way.

Good evening from San Antonio Aguas Calientes!

Daryl, Wanda, and the Crew

Here are a few more pictures of our trip:


Thanks Daryl.


Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Journal, April 18-23 , 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Last nigh Chris and I went to the airport and picked up 7 people from Washington State that will be joining us on various facets of our ministry throughout the week. Among them are my close friends John and Arlis Bosman. Today most of the group stayed in Chimaltenango and poured a new much needed floor in Bethel's wheelchair shop while Arlis and I headed for the orphanage in Antigua. For some strange reason the choice was not a hard one when I had to decide weather to stay and pour Cement or go and spend some time with the orphanage kids.

When we got to the orphanage we were joined by Pat Duff and the 3 of us took 3 of the kids out to lunch. We stayed around the orphanage and played with the kids until we were sure that the others had finished up on the cement work and then we headed back to Chimaltenango and joined the others for supper.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

All of the members of the teem have offered to take turns journaling while they are here so even though Pat has gone to the States for a few weeks it looks like I have once again gotten out of writing at least some of the journal entries. Here then is what they wrote.

Arlis wrote

As the guys were pouring the cement foundation for a new home for a family in Chimaltenango Dick took John and I to see Erica and Christopher, (It looks like I missed another golden opportunity to pour cement. Dick)

When Dick called us and asked us if we would like to see Erica and bring her some more of the medical cream she needs for her scaly skin disease we were overjoyed! Yes, we would love to see Erica and her family again! She has become special to us, as we try to help her control her disease by providing the cream for her. We were able to drive part way up to her house, which was a blessing, because we had 2 suitcases and 2 backpacks full of medication for her. Dick and John took the suitcases and Cesar and I took the backpacks. Dick took the lead up the trail with Cesar, while John and I were slowly trailing behind huffing and puffing! Erica, her mom and some of her sisters and brothers met us with a warm welcome. I can't get over how happy Erica was! She had a huge smile on her face the whole time! We gave her big hugs then her mom invited us into their casa and Cesar interpreted for us. He did a great job! We explained how to use the medication again and left after praying for them.

We continued on to Christopher's, who lives a little way down the hill. He was so happy to see Dick because his wheelchair wasn't working right, so his mother was carrying him down the hill to church and different events. When Dick told him he would have to take it with him and bring it back in a couple of weeks Christopher got very emotional and had tears in is eyes. So Dick said he would try to fix it today. We had to walk down the hill where the wheelchair is stored at the neighbors. His mother packed him on her back and headed down the hill with us. Christopher is just about as big as his mother, it was hard to watch. The love and compassion she showed for her son was amazing! Dick was able to fix his chair and Christopher was a happy, smily boy! Dick brought them back as far as he could with the car and then she packed him on her back all the way back up the hill. I walked that hill with a 30 pound backpack and it was a challenge for me - she was carrying Christopher who is maybe around 100 pounds without complaining! I was amazed by the love they have for each other and what they will sacrifice to help their handicapped child. A reminder for me....this is what the Lord wants from me. To give not only out of abundance, but to give sacrificially as He has done for me.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chad wrote

Today we stood on holy ground. For me, the wheelchair distribution stands at the forefront of my most memorable experiences in Guatemala. Not because of our good works, but because it was as if Jesus himself was in the building today. He was working through us to change a world for him, even in the simple act of supplying a wheelchair. The entire distribution took around five hours and the process seemed seamless from my point of view. Adults were given a number that was announced in a sequential format as stations opened. Each station fitted either an adult or child into a chair.
I worked on the adults and was able to finally get the rhythm after a few chairs.
I wish I could remember all the details to convey on paper, but I don’t. But, what I can convey is the importance for Christians to actively engage their faith. Personally, I easily forget how static I have been until I give of my time and resources being the hands and feet. Bethel Ministries is a blessing and an incredible ministry that provides the greatest opportunities to engage your faith for a broken world and to experience the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, today we did stand on Holy Ground.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Loren wrote

Today was such an inspiring day!

When we went to Maria’s house and heard her story, how she was roughed up and yet she is determined to push on and help her people. The homes that we visited, and the look in the eyes of the children when we opened the suitcases of shoes, the smiles and the sparkle in their eyes was so wonderful to watch! It makes you feel like you have really made a difference in their lives. The countryside is so amazing, from urban to tropical, to arid in such a small area. Today makes me think of my favorite song,
“How Great Thou Art.”

Because after today it is truly evident!

Loren VanBeek

Friday, April 22, 2011

Today the crew packed up and headed for Chimaltenango. It has been great few days in Huehuetenango but it was good to see the kids again. This evening the USA crew brought Pizza over. (Lots of it. This is the first time that I can ever remember having left over pizza.) The kids loved it and the Americans loved my kids. Tomorrow the USA crew plans on putting up the 2 houses that they have already laid the foundations for. I plan on spending the day at home with my kids.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Journal, April 12-17, 2011

Once again Daryl has offered to let me use a few of his journal entries. Actually I stole them from him, but if he gets mad about it I will apologize.

Wheelchairs and bumpy roads

Written by Daryl Fulp

Disclaimer: Yesterday it suddenly struck me, through my wife, that there might be some people who read my blog but don’t know me, Dick Rutgers, or Pat Duff very well. As a result, they might be tempted to read in some illusion of truth into my verbal teasing of the other two. I wanted to take a moment to make it clear that my respect and love for Dick and Pat could not be higher. Dick was the one who taught Wanda and I how to love the children of Guatemala and was one of the main influences used by God to bring us here. And Pat has become a sister to me as she has continued our “love lessons.” So, any teasing you see in my blog is just that…loving teasing.

Disclaimer to the disclaimer: Please do not share the above disclaimer with Dick and Pat. I wouldn’t want our relationships to get all mushy!


(Sorry Daryl I already read it and I appreciate your kind words even if they are a bit mushy.)


On Tuesday morning we left our motel in San Pedro Laguna after a quick breakfast and headed to a town on the other side of the lake. Although the town was only 14 miles away as the crow flies, it took us about 75 minutes to drive there. The roads started out nice and smooth, but our nice black top road suddenly came to an end and became a very bumpy and rutted dirt road. I observed that Dick has a talent for avoiding the potholes on the driver’s side but hitting them dead center on the passenger side. Somehow we all managed to keep our breakfast down.

Shortly after we returned to blacktop, we noticed an odd sound coming from the driver’s side rear wheel. Dick pulled over and we inspected the tire. At first glance, everything seemed fine, but then I reached down and turned one of the lugs…by hand. All six of his lug nuts had been jarred loose and spun freely. When I expressed my surprise, having never seen anything like it before, Dick just said, “Oh, it happened last month, too.” (Do I really need to say anything more about Dick’s driving?)

(Just when I was beginning to think that Daryl was going to be nice to me. Dick)

After re-tightening the lugs, we were on our way again.

Our first stop was at a hospital where we were met by Dr. William Boegle. Will was a successful podiatrist in Seattle until he and his wife felt God’s call to move to Guatemala and begin a ministry for women and children in crisis. He also treats patients for free at the Christian hospital in which we met. You can read more about their ministry by clicking here.

A while back Will had introduced Dick to Emi, a little girl with Cerebral Palsy who was in great need of a wheelchair. We were returning to deliver that chair and make adjustments to assure a good fit.

Emi immediately stole our hearts. This precious 4 1/2 year old has bright eyes and a sweet disposition. Even though she is non-verbal, she communicated plenty with her eyes. Each of us had the opportunity to hold her and love on her for a while. Dick and I worked on making the adjustments while the doctor examined and treated Dick’s foot. (Yes, at the same time.) Dick had a run-in with a bike rack last week that resulted in a deep puncture and infection, but Will was able to provide sound advise and additional antibiotics.

What a blessing it was to meet Emi’s family! This is a family who not only loves their child with special needs, but is quite proud of her. They were quick to ask, with the pride evident in their eyes, if we wanted to hold her, and beamed as we did so. The appreciation they expressed repeatedly was both sincere and passionate. They are such a neat family.

We left the hospital, following Will on his scooter, and he led us to the roadside stand of a man named Ernesto. Ernesto was paralyzed from the waist down three years ago when the septic hole he was digging collapsed and crushed his lower spine. He now runs a little booth that sells videos and DVD’s that is about a half mile from his home. Each day someone has to take him to his booth and bring him home at the end of the day. He would like more independence, and Will wanted to know if an electric wheelchair could negotiate the roads to and from his stand. Unfortunately, after traveling the route it was determined that no wheelchair could handle either the incline or the roughness of the roads. However, several options were discussed, the best of which is a used Tuk Tuk adapted with hand controls.

We left Ernesto and went to Will’s house where he and his wife treated us to lunch and gave us a tour of their beautiful place. The view from their home overlooks Lake Atitlan and is surrounded by 70 acres of avocado trees and coffee plants. In addition to the work they do with women and children, this farm also serves as a non-profit ministry that provides income for local workers.

We left Will’s place and headed to Safe Homes for Children, an organization that runs a feeding program for children and a school. We went there to meet some of the children with special needs and see what equipment could be provided to help them. While there we met Angel, a sweet little guy that we believe has CP. He currently has a walker and is quite mobile using it, but it was quickly determined that he could be much faster with a pair of forearm crutches. In addition, we found out about several more children in need of wheelchairs and Dick decided it would be best to return at a later date to meet everyone and do a seating clinic to provide chairs.

From there we headed back home. Of course, very few things here are simple and straight-forward, and the return trip was no exception. We found one of the bridges washed out (we believe from the hurricane last May) and had to do a short detour around that took us through a stream and more dirt roads. Needless to say, by the time we made it back Dick’s vehicle needed a wash.

Yesterday, after a frustrating morning in my office (how could it not be frustrating after the wonderful days of ministry that preceded it) Wanda and I decided to go on a date in the afternoon. We took a crowded chicken bus into Antigua, had a nice lunch together, and spent about 1 1/2 hours at Hermano Pedro with the kids. You might ask, “What kind of date is that?” My response: The perfect one!

Good afternoon from San Antonio!

Daryl, Wanda, and the Crew

Funny thing is Hermano Pedro was where Pat and I hung out on Wednesday as well, and after leaving the orphanage we both talked about what a special day it had been.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Written by Dick

As mentioned above I also spent most of my Wednesday at Hermano Pedro. I spent the first few hours of my day going around Chimaltenango paying bills but I will not bore you with any details other than telling you that everything here takes 5 to 10 times longer to accomplish than it does in the States.

Two of my favorite people at the orphanage have got to be Asension, a young lady who is in her early twenties who atends our camp, and Melvin, who is in his late twenties. Both Melvin and Asension are basically nonverbal and neither of them can walk or use their hands. Fact is Melvn's body is so twisted that he can not even sit in a wheelchair and Asension can only sit in a specialty chair that has every imaginable means of support. You may wonder why then do I consider them 2 of my favorite people. Any of you that have met either of these 2 can no doubt answer that question. Even though Asension and Melvin are some of the most severe of the residents at Hermano Pedro the 2 of them both radiate with happiness.

Today when Pat and I walked into the ward where Melvin spends most of his time lying flat on his back this is what we saw. There were no nurses in the ward so I do not know who brought Asensoin over to visit with Melvin but the 2 of them were having the time of their lives just hanging out together. You would think that they would have every reason in the world to be angry with God for allowing them to be this way but all that can be seen in them is an inner piece that most of us would give anything in the world for. Could it be that they both realize that the most valuable thing in the world, God's own Son has already been given for them and that they need nothing else to make their lives complete?

Another highlight of the day was seeing how well Ervin did at using a walker. Ervin can be quite a stinker and try as they may most of the time the therapists and the nurses at Hermano Pedro can not get him to take a step but today after Pat and I brought him back from lunch we decided to see what he would do if we gave him a walker to use and he must have wakled around for nearly 10 minutes with out stopping. Both Pat and I are strict with him but he knows that we love him and I think that is why he gives it his all when we work with him.

Later in the afternoon Daryl and Wanda showed up on their Perfect Date and loved on the kids as well. I am not just saying this because of Daryl's mushy rebuttal that is posted a few paragraphs above The 2 of them and their enormous family are a God Send. It is now much easier for me to be away from the orphanage when need be because there is not a child there that does not light up when either they and their family or Pat walks in to the orphanage. I think that much like Asension and Melvin God has blessed them with the ministry of just Hanging out.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday and Friday, April 14 & 15, 2011

My past 2 days have been spent over at Hope Haven's wheelchair Factory in Antigua. About 30 kids have been invited in to Hope Haven's factory to receive new wheelchairs. This has been made possible due to a grant from an agency that is headed up by the wife of the president of Guatemala. I think that there is quite a bit of paper work involved but it is well worth it for those that receive a new wheelchair. Not all but most of the wheelchairs that are given out at these distributions are ones that were built in their factory that is in Antigua. You can imagine the delight when the Factory workers who are themselves in wheelchairs get the opportunity to fit some one into a wheelchair that they them selves took part in building.

A few nights ago the mother of the children pictured above came to my door asking me how one of her 7 year old twin sons could get a walker and how the other could get a wheelchair. After walking over to their home and seeing the entire family gathered on their one and only bed I decided that I would do my best to see to it that at least this one need was met in as sort of time as possible. Today mom and little Manuel rode along with Jason and me to Hope Haven's wheelchair distribution and Tonight Manuel has a new wheelchair. Since Manuel was not on the list of people that were to receive wheelchairs I am praying that we can find some one that is willing to sponsor the chair that has already been given to him. Bethel Ministries whom I work with as well is also in need of wheelchair sponsors.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

On Saturday I went to watch a soccer game that a few of my kids played in. After that 2 of my boys, Cesar and Kevin went along with me to Guatemala City to program a power wheelchair for a man that we know. After that we stopped off at a maul, had some lunch and then took in a movie. The reason that I took Cesar and Kevin along was because they were being rewarded for good grades. Bad thing is when we got home about 10 kids showed up who had not eaten all day so it looked like I was still not going to get out of cooking. That is when Nancy came to the rescue. I must have looked tired because she asked me if I wanted her to cook for the gang. After supper I asked her if I could pay her to come over and cook for us once or twice a week and she said that she would love to. I made no promises yet but I think that it will be a win win situation.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

This morning the kids and I decided not to go to church. I have discovered over the years that the normal half hour drive from Chimaltenango to Antigua can take up to 2 hours the week before Easter and it often takes at least that long to get out of Antigua after church. Funny thing is on Easter morning the streets of Antigua are usually half deserted.

I did take the 8 kids that were hanging around my house out to eat at Martha's Cafe though but then sent them all home so that I could get this journal finished. We have a soccer field rented for 5 PM and at 7:30 Chris and I are heading in to the City to pick up a group from Washington State that will be working with us next week.

Yours in Christ: Dick