* 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, June 25, 2011

Pat has once again beat me to another 2 days of journaling. I have been having problems when I change the text layout or color or rearranging the pictures so here then is Pat's journal exactly as it was written.

Yours in Christ: Dick

One Year and Counting.

Written by Pat

June 22, 2011


Today marks one year that I have been living and working in Guatemala. Looking forward to it, I had hoped for a quiet day so I could reflect on the changes, challenges and blessings of the past year. It did not seem in the cards, though, as we were to be at the Lake (Atitlan) working on a chair, visiting a school and heading home.


God knew my “secret” desire, however, and He made it happen. We started out from Santiago fairly early this morning, and reached San Juan La Laguna, our destination, in reasonably good time. I have to say, though, that we traveled some of the ruttiest roads in Guate on this trip. What was fun, though, was literally, a few feet later, the road turned to four lane, divided paved highway. Of course, a short distance later we were back on dirt. Such is life in Guatemala. . .

When we entered San Juan, it looked like there were an awful lot of people on the streets, but we didn’t pay much attention. . .at least not until we hit our first closed road. Following his GPS, Dick tried an alternate route. That one might have worked, except that the road was too narrow to pass through, thanks to two “stands” that had been set up. Dick carefully backed down the crowded street. Alternate routes two and three were blocked also, and we decided to head to the outskirts of town. This was quite a challenge, as most of the streets are one way, and it seemed they all went the wrong way for us!

Finally, we encountered a traffic policeman who informed us there was a “parade” in town, and we would not be able to get through for an hour. We pulled in to a space in front of someone’s house, and decided to wait it out. In short order, though, we attracted the attention of at least a couple of locals, and decided it might be a better idea to go to San Pedro (the next village only a few miles away) and wait it out. After all, one hour in Guatemala is usually two or three in any other part of the world.

We did make it out of town, only because Dick pretended that the roads were going the direction we needed to go. After driving down a couple of one way streets the wrong way, we made it to the exit of the town. (Though the town was filled with police because of the “parade” no one seemed to even notice this huge Land Rover going the wrong way down its streets!)


We got to San Pedro and stopped at a restaurant on the Lake for something to drink. Katie had a ring side view of one of the most beautiful places on earth (at least in my opinion). We all (even young Katie) discovered we were unexplainably tired. (Of course, this had nothing to do with our hike in a thunderstorm yesterday!) We talked about it, and decided we would stay in a local hotel we knew that was clean, comfortable and very affordable. We would try to get to Manuel and his power chair tomorrow.


So, thanks to circumstances beyond my control (but not out of the control of my Generous Father) I got to spend the day resting, reflecting, and enjoying one of my favorite places on earth. Dick and I even took a walk that reminded me once again that he takes me to the “nicest” places—usually off the beaten path! I experienced once again, that my God cannot be outdone in generosity.


Stubborn Brushes and more Blocked roads

written by Pat

June 23, 2011


After a somewhat leisurely breakfast, we headed out to San Juan to work on Manuel’s chair. Today we made it to this small village on the lake without too much trouble. We even found his house on the first try.


Manuel is a very talented young man I met a few months ago who drives a power chair with a chin controller Dick created for him. This has been a God-send to him, but a real challenge for Dick as he tries to keep the chair running for Manuel. About a week ago we received a call that the chair was not functioning properly, and decided to add this stop to the trip we planned this week.

When we arrived, Dick discovered he was right—it was the “brushes” that were causing the problem. (He had used baking soda and super glue to repair one when we were there a few months ago. . .guess super glue doesn’t hold everything!)


Normally this is a very simple task of pulling out the old brush and inserting a new one. Nothing was simple today, however. First, the spring had broken off the old brush, and, using my eyebrow tweezers and an eye-glass screwdriver, Dick finally managed to get it out. We sorted through a can of different brushes, and found a few we thought would work. After putting in a new one, the chair still did not run properly. Then it happened. . .as Dick was trying to remove the replaced brush, the spring broke off of THIS ONE, too. That never happens, but it did today.


This time, the tweezers, tiny screwdriver, and even shaking the chair on its side didn’t work. The carbon part of the brush wasn’t about to budge. Dick tried to remove the motor cap to get at it that way—and discovered two of the three screws were stripped.


We hiked to the local hardware store (really one shelf in a store my mom would have called a “junk shop”) and managed to find a few screws that Dick thought he might be able to “drill” into the carbon with.


This was the large selection of screws Dick had to choose from. Mechanic-ing in Guatemala is no job for the easily discouraged!

Back to the house, and back on the floor, this didn’t work either. Finally, in desperation, Dick broke the carbon into pieces, and was able to insert the new brush. This time the chair worked perfectly.

We visited the family for a few minutes, and, before leaving, I asked Manuel’s mom how we could pray for them. I then discovered she spoke mainly one of the Mayan dialects common around the lake, when Manuel’s sister had to explain to her what I had asked. The precipitated a rather lengthy discussion in Mayan, that none of us could understand, and I wondered if I had somehow offended them. Finally, Manuel’s sister explained what her prayer requests were—evidently they had been discuss what to ask me to pray for! This was a new experience to me, but I assured Mom that I would pray for her family as requested.

We set off for home, and reached the town of San Pablo without any trouble. That was, until we got to San Pablo, where we found the only entrance into the town barricaded by tuk-tuk drivers who were having a dispute with the mayor of another village. One of them came over to talk to us, and after finding out we were heading to Antigua, told us to wait a few minutes and they’d let us through.

They were not so agreeable with the pickup truck trying to pass in the opposite direction, and, when the drive of the truck looked like he was going to ram the barricade, and about 25 men suddenly swarmed his truck, Dick made a quick U-turn and headed back the way we had come. As we pulled away, one of the men whistled to us to come back, but we continued down the road without slowing. If there was to be a confrontation between the locals, we wanted no part of it. Retracing our steps would be a bit longer, but much safer.

We made good time—that is until we came to Santiago Atitlan. Here a procession honoring Maximon, a Mayan god, was getting ready to take place and the one street through town was blocked. We backed up and pretended not to know that the other street through the town was really one-way, the opposite direction. (A number of tuk-tuks were pretending with us!)

The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful, though I know it was very tiring for Dick. Between the frustration of broken brushes, blocked roads, and just general congestion in the towns, he’d had quite the day.


As we were nearing Chimaltenango, where we were picking up some of his kids to ride to and from Antigua with him, God must have saw our fatigue and frustration. In the sky, there was a beautiful, full rainbow that lasted for some time. What a great reminder that, amid all the challenges, He had been with us every step of the way today. . .and a sign of His promise to continue to walk with us, no matter how rough the road!


Thanks again Pat. I think that I now owe you about a month's worth of journaling.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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