* 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)

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


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