* 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)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Visiting more families

June 20, 2011

Hello. My name is Katie Kuhns. I am 19 years old, just graduated High School and I have been called by God here to Guatemala for the summer. I am staying with Pat Duff and helping her wherever she needs help. I have been here since June 1 and will be here until July 27.

Pat, Dick, and I went out to La Gomera a few weeks ago to some families’ houses and got a few people measured for new wheelchairs. So this week we took another trip out to deliver the chairs. When we got to the first house we went to was to see a woman named Paty. She is 28 years old. Its obvious just by looking that her chair was not made for her. She practically was falling out of it. She was there in the front yard when we got there and her face lit up. Paty told Pat that when I go back to the states she wants to go with me so she can find an American husband. I thought that was really sweet. We got the chair out of the car and moved her into it. Then Dick had some work to do on it to get it specifically right for her. Meanwhile neighbors from all over came to watch and to just help celebrate with the family.

There were a lot of kids there and they were all busy either trying to help Dick with the tools or wanting me to take their pictures. They could have stood there for hours getting their pictures taken and looking at them and laughing. I had a lot of fun with those kids.

Finally the chair was just right for Paty and you could tell in her eyes that she loved it. We took pictures and then the family wanted to have a prayer. We all gathered around Paty and Dick started praying. What happened next I was not prepared for but it turned out to be one of the coolest things I’ve experienced. Everyone started praying out loud at the same time. I was surrounded by the sound of many voices crying out to God praising Him and thanking Him for what he has done. After the prayer we said our goodbyes and we left Paty being much more comfortable and happy than when we arrived.

Next we drove just a couple blocks to a boy named Yelsen’s house. Pat and Dick are pretty sure he has Muscular Dystrophy. This very likely gives him only a few more years to live. He doesn’t have enough strength in his arms to push a wheelchair so we brought him a power chair. He didn’t show much excitement outwardly but you could tell by his face how extremely excited he was. We got out the chair and got it fixed up just right for him. Pat and Dick put their heads together and came up with a contraption made out of a strap from one of pats bags and a pant leg from some jeans to support his legs.

Next it was time for driving lessons. He took it out in the street and drove it around for a little bit. He was having a lot of fun. He will get better at it the more he drives it. While we were there I got to hold a really cute baby for a little bit. We said our goodbyes then. We all agreed that that community was very special. Pat said in other communities neighbors would be almost jealous at times when you gave to one family and not to them but in this community the neighbors were all excited for them and wanted to come meet us and celebrate with the family. It is really cool to see the ways God works here.

On the left, Yelsin’s mom and sister watch him drive his chair for the first time.
On the right, Annie (who first introduced us to Yelsin) and her daughter.


Thank you Katie you did and excellent job of sharing. I keep thinking that I should get back to doing more of my own journling but I have still been a little sluggish since surgery. Besides that you and Pat do a much better job of spelling than I do.

Yours in Christ: Dick

June 22, 2011

Pat writes the following.

We spent last night in an “economy” hotel in Patulul near the coast. We had reservations at the best hotel in town, but, when we arrived, were told there was no room. The explanation was that the man who took the reservation was not authorized to do so. This was the third time this had happened to Dick here, though, and we are beginning to wonder if they just don’t like “gringos” staying at their place. This is one of a number of times God has given Dick the opportunity to practice patience and anger management, and he’s doing quite well.

We had dreaded this particular hotel, as there is no air conditioning and the day had been extremely hot. However, as we got to the room and put the fans outside the window to blow in cool air, the temperature dropped considerably. We all attributed this to a divine gift in our situation, and we all managed to get a good night’s sleep.

Our first stop this morning was at Jessica Vanessa’s home. She is the little one in the malnutrition ward at Hermano Pedro. Her family has become quite special to Dick and me, and I was anxious to introduce Katie to them. Thankfully, this is a vacation week for the school there, so all of the kids were there to greet us.

We visited a few minutes, and I talked with Mom, encouraging her to come to Hermano Pedro for an examination. She’s had a number of medical problems plaguing her for a while. She’s been somewhat hesitant, though, even avoiding an appointment when she was in Antigua to see Jessica the other day. Evidently, a “doctor” who came to her house the last time she was down in bed with pain told her she has cancer, and she afraid she’ll need surgery and there will be no one to care for the children. After discussing this, she agreed that an exam would be a good idea, but would not commit as to when she would or could come.

She then asked us if we could possibly help a little boy who lived near her who had a seizure so severe his family thought he was dead. Of course, we were off hiking to their home almost immediately. This later proved to be the “short” walk of our day.

We arrived to meet Noe Jeremias and his brother and sisters. His dad had died about a year ago, and two of the siblings, along with their mother, were doing field work to help them survive. After his second seizure a few weeks ago, Mom had taken him to the National Hospital where the doctor prescribed phenobarbital (a very commonly used drug here), and said maybe it would be a good idea if he had a neurological exam. He mentioned “brain tumor”and “cancer” to the mom, and she is scared to death.

Today, she was not home since she had finally gone to Patulul to get his medicine thanks to the help of the town mayor. A neighbor, though, who helps care for the children when Mom must be gone, came and talked with us, and was quite knowledgeable about his condition. She was sure Mom would be happy to bring him into Hermano Pedro to see the pediatrician and neurologist there. And Virginia (Jessica’s mom) agreed to accompany her on the trip. We are hoping this will happen the second week in July.

Noe is seems to be an example of what so often happens to the people here in Guatemala. They can go to a National Hospital, free of charge. They receive some type of diagnosis “off the cuff” (possibly correct, more likely not) and may even get a prescription. Then they’re on their own.

Most of these families have just barely enough money to buy minimal food to eat and pay whatever they have to to live on their land. Money for medication is pretty much unavailable, unless someone helps them out. Too often, though, this means a month or more wait, such as what Mom experienced in getting assistance with Noe’s medication.

This little guy just captured all of our hearts, and I pray the doctors at Hermano Pedro will come up with an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Please pray with us on this. Noe is one of the reasons we have set up a medical fund, so we have some resources to help in situations like this.

After walking back home with Virginia, we loaded up the car and started off to visit the family of Jessica “2” who is now living at Hermano Pedro. She was admitted shortly after the new year since her mother had to work and this was the only way her sister was able to attend school. This was another family Virginia had introduced us to.

As we started off for their home, Dick casually mentioned that he didn’t think he had marked their home on the GPS, but was pretty sure he could find it. (He was much more confident than I.) We did manage to find the turn off the highway, and started up the mountain trail to their home. Suddenly, her house “appeared” on the GPS! We did fine until we reached a “fork” in the road. Dick remembered going one way in the past, I remembered the other. (The house was on the GPS, but no roads were shown to it.) Dick graciously accepted my advice, and we started up the paved path. After numerous curves that alternately took us toward and away from her house, we finally arrived at the Duran home.

Vanessa, Jessica’s older sister, was washing dishes in the community pila when we arrived. Mom was home and we had a nice visit with her about how well Jessica was doing at the orphanage.

Here, again, Saundra (Jessica’s mom) told us about a child who was “worse than my Jessica.” She hoped someday we could go to see him. When we asked if she could take us there today, she did not hesitate before accepting. She told us the hike was about 25 minutes on “level” ground. Dick was a bit concerned about me attempting this trek, reminding me that in this part of Guate nothing is level.

I really felt we should go, however, and I was the only interpreter, so it wouldn’t be too much help for Dick to go alone. So we set off. The hike was a little steeper than what was originally promised, but, pacing myself I was well able to complete it. And I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Not only did we see some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve seen here as we walked, but I fell in love with the family we met off the beaten path.

For the life of us, we can’t remember the name of the little guy we visited, but he seemed a younger version of Bayron at Hermano Pedro. He was bright, responsive, happy, and very limited in his ability to move. As I entered the dark one room shack in which this family of five lives, I turned to Dick saying, “Look, a Hope Haven chair.” It turned out that not only was it a Hope Haven chair, but Mom immediately recognized both Dick and me from the distribution last March where “Bayron’s twin” had received his chair. Only God could have orchestrated such a meeting.

It was unbelievable to me that this mom had managed to get out with her eight year old, probably carrying him on her back, and managed to get to Antigua for a distribution. The dedication of this lady to do what is best for her child was astounding. (Remember, we had just walked this path in, and it was not a stroll in the park.) We didn’t know what more we could do for this family, but I knew we wanted to do something.

As we visited, we discovered that the two younger boys (age 5 and 3) were quite healthy, given their meager living conditions. The five-year old was really quite a spit-fire, and Mom definitely has her hands full managing his energy and enthusiasm, along with his two brothers.

“Bayon’s twin” however, seemed pretty skinny compared to the other two. Mom explained he cannot chew and drinks only milk. She told us that he drinks two “bags” of milk each day which cost about Q12 each. That means each day, the family must spend about $3 on milk for him alone. That does not leave much for the rest of the family to live on.

We will be returning in the near future to bring vitamins to this family, and I would love to be able to tell them that we have a sponsor to help with the cost of the milk this little guy needs. If you would be interested in investing about $30/month to help feed this child, please email me and I’ll let you know how you can help. Even one month of help would go a long way in encouraging this family.
As we were visiting and eating the “chuchito” (a tamale-like food made of soft cornmeal paste) the sky suddenly darkened, and all at once the sky opened up in a downpour. Of course, since it had been such a warm, sunny day, none of us had brought any raingear back into this area with us. So we began to hike out in the rain.

Dick, was worried that I would not be able to make the hike all the way out, set out ahead of us, planning to bring the car back as far as he could to get us. It was really uncomfortable having him off on his own, with no ability to contact him even by phone (no signal up here!). This was a good exercise in placing our full dependence on Jesus alone.

So Katie, Saundra and I continued to walk out together in the downpour, with Dick soon out of sight. We plodded along steadily in the heavy downpour, and I have to tell you, I was pretty impressed by Katie’s wear-with-all in this situation. At one point she quipped, “You have to have some good stories to go home with!.” She never uttered one word of complaint. What a gal!

A couple of times there were lightening strikes so close you could almost feel the electrical charge. At one point, we needed to leave the path and walk through a field, since there was a tree down, blocking the path. This was really quite the adventure for all of us.

Finally, we saw Dick’s headlights coming up the road. He was pretty surprised at how far we had come. (Though he did give us some advantage by over-shooting the road back to the car by about a quarter mile.) I have to admit, it was a wonderful feeling to see him coming down the road.

We climbed in the car, soaked to the skin, and Dick backed out the whole way to the fork in the road, since there was nowhere to turn around safely. This was really a feat given the heavy rain outside, and the steaming windows inside from our wet clothes mixing with what was left of our body heat.

We took Saundra back to her house, and headed for the highway. The rain made this usually challenging trail even more so, but we made it out without incident. We headed to Santiago, Atitlan, where we stayed in a hotel that more than made up for our mean accommodations last night.

Katie and I shared a small stone cottage while Dick had the one behind us. The beds were warm and comfy, the showers hot, and we even had a fireplace in each cottage. I can’t believe that in June in Guatemala we built fires to warm us, but we sure did and enjoyed every minute of the comfort they provided. What a great end to the challenge of the day.


Wednesday, June 22, 2010

Written by Dick.

This one is going to be short because we are all tired and in 5 minutes it will be Thursday. Today we had planned on traveling around the lake to a village that is about an hours drive from where we stayed last night. Our hopes were to repair the power wheelchiar of Manuel a young man that lives there and then head for home. As we entered the village we were met by a policeman who pointed for us to turn up a road that headed off in a direction that I did not want to go. He indicated that the road ahead was closed but did not tell us why. I immediately realized that this road would not take us where we wanted to go but the road was very narrow and people were beginning to line up on all sides of it. We knew that there was either going to be a parade or a demonstration and feared the latter. We tried a few other roads but they were all blocked off so I got to do a lot of baking practice with my new Land Cruiser. It seemed like an eternity but we finally got turned around and back onto the one way road that the policeman had directed us up. Yes we were going the wrong way on a one way road but it was the only way back out of town. About the only traffic we met were a few police cars though but most of them told us to keep going. We had to hurry though because we had to beat the procession to the intersection and make a right turn before running into them. To make a long story short we made it and are now spending the day in San Padro Lagona a village about 15 minutes away from the activity. We are not suffering though as we have a nice motel ($12 per room) that overlooks the lake. The food is good to but both Pat and Katie are taking it a bit easy on eating. Perhaps something they ate in the village yesterday. The rest feels good to because we are all a bit stiff and sore after hiking out of the village in the thunder storm yesterday. Not only that this is giving us time to get this journal done and hopefully posted. I guess God knows what he is doing. I do hope to get back home tomorrow though because I really miss the kids. Please pray that the roads are once again open and that we have a safe trip home.

James 4:13&14

Pay attention, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such-and-such a town. We will stay there a year, buying and selling, and making a profit.” You don’t really know about tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for only a short while before it vanishes.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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