* 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, July 22, 2011

Journal, July 15, 2011 (Only a week Late)

"I know! I know!! I promised to start doing my own journaling again but Pat did such a good job on this one that I just had to break my promise. Once you read it I think that you will be glad that I did."

Yours in Christ: Dick

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pat wrote

"For a day for which we had no plans, this is one of the longer journals I’ve written—however, shortening it would not have done justice to a marvelous day. . ."

This morning we had planned to do a little bit of computer work, then return to Antigua/Chimaltenango. First we decided to have some breakfast, though, and that changed our whole day. (Funny how small decisions we make can do that...)

As we were paying our bill, our waiter (who had served us most mornings) very shyly asked if he could ask us a favor. He had seen Dick in a village near his home on a previous trip, and today noticed the wheelchair we had tied on top of the Land Cruiser. He had a cousin who needed a wheelchair. Could we help?

I have to be honest. Inwardly I groaned. Not another one. . .Thankfully my spirit won over my flesh, and I began asking him the questions that have become all too familiar to me in these situations: Where did they live? What was his disability? Could he sit up? Could he use his hands?

We told him we could give him a wheelchair application and he could send it, along with a photo, to the Bethel shop. The man would be included in the next distribution. The only problem was, Rocky, our waiter didn’t have access to a camera to take and print a picture. Could we go with him at 3 when he got off work and see his cousin?

We talked some more, and Dick thought he would be able to find the general area if someone would meet us at the main road. Rocky called a friend, and it was arranged. We would go out ourselves this morning.

After breakfast Dick and I began discussing how to handle our day. Should we see the man quickly and then head home? Should we check out but ask them to hold our room? Finally, we decided to stay another night—we could see the man and take a water filter to Amanada, a local woman who often helps us.

We did some work on the computer, I got a map from Rocky, and we set off. When we arrived at the home we discovered that Bartolo, the man we needed to see, was not there. Oh, man. . .we’d rearranged our day for nothing! We salvaged the visit as best we could, filling out what we could on the application, showing Bartolo’s brother how to take the needed measurements, exchanging phone numbers, and finally, taking pictures of pictures of the man. We would call tomorrow to get the measurements and then could at least turn in the application for the next distribution in the area.

Dick realized that the house was near where Silsa lived. I’d met Silsa about two and a half years ago when I had visited this area. We have been wondering about how she was doing and decided to visit her. Two and a half years ago, I’d written about her:

Silsa is a beautiful, shy young lady of 13 who, about six months ago, lost the strength in her legs. She also began having severe seizures. She would be coming with us to find out if the doctors at Hermano Pedro could figure out what is wrong with her, and give medication to control the seizures. Her family has already spent all their money on local “doctors” who have not helped Silsa, and now refuse to see her because the money has run out.

Silsa and her mother were some of the first people I helped navigate the clinics here, and I have felt close to them ever since. Over time, Silsa’s seizures had increase to where they would last an entire nighttime, yet her father had decided not to bring her back in to see the neurologist at Hermano Pedro. He preferred the witch doctors he had been “consulting” on her behalf.

She had weighed heavily on my heart because of this. . .not only a physical infirmity but a spiritual one was plaguing this beautiful young lady. I had known that Gordon, Donna Mooney’s father, had been visiting her and praying with/for her, along with some local pastors. He thought she was getting better. As we approached the house, Sylvestra, Silsa’s mom, came out to see who was there and was ecstatic to see we had come to visit.

Today, we witnessed the result of Gordon’s prayer. Not only is Silsa seizure-free, but she is now able to walk up the hill to her grandfather’s house if Mom helps her balance. While the “miracles” I wrote about yesterday can be explained away as “coincidences,” this is definitely a work of God in answer to prayer. Both Dick and I were brought close to tears by His goodness and mercy to his beautiful young woman.

Silsa had one request—she wants to resume her studies. She was beginning fourth grade when her seizures began, and craves to learn more. While she is still too weak to attend regular school, we would like to provide her with a tutor.

If you or your small group would be interested in sponsoring Silsa by providing $35/month to pay a private teacher to work with her about four hours a week, please email me and I’ll fill you in on the details.

After a wonderful snack of warm tortillas and fresh cheese that Sylvestra makes and sells, we prayed with the family then reluctantly left. Visiting this family today was an amazing blessing to both them and us.

Our next stop was to take a water filter to Amanda. Unfortunately, she was not at home, so we stopped and had lunch. Returning to our hotel, we were surprised to see none other than Amanda standing at the gate waiting for us. I have to admit, this was the second time today my flesh responded, “Oh, No” in response to God’s invitation to serve. Thankfully, Dick had better sense than I and we agreed to drive her home. We were a little surprised when she directed us to a different house. She explained her niece lived there, and wanted to talk with us.

Feeling more than a little “set up,” we hesitantly agreed to talk with her. (Another, “Oh, no” moment)

We found a meeting of their community organization was in progress, and about 10 people were waiting for us. This group attempts to help the poor in their area, and wanted to talk to us to see how we could help. After explaining to them that we work with children and families with disabilities, they were very excited when Dick offered them some children’s vitamins they could use with some of the children in their area who were malnourished. We also dropped off some food packets from Kids Against Hunger. As we talked further, Dick and I looked at each other, thinking the same thing.

Would this be a good place to give a water filter? When asked, Clara, one of the leaders of the association, became very excited, promising to not only use the filter for her family, but to share the water with the other families in her group. Dick assembled and demonstrated the water filter and Clara’s step daughter could not wait to “sample” the purified water.

As we left, we both were convicted of the fact that indeed we had been “set up” but not by Amanda, but by God. It was not hard to decide, therefore, to accompany Amanda when she asked us to visit a little girl they knew who needed a wheelchair.

We soon were meeting Esmeralda, and were appalled to find her sitting in a contraption that is supposed to substitute for a wheelchair. While I don’t doubt the good intentions of the group that manufactures these chairs, a plastic garden chair attached to a frame is a horrible excuse for a wheelchair. They not only are uncomfortable (have you ever spent a whole day just sitting in a plastic chair? Ouch.), they also cause pressure sores. In this country, far too many people die from these sores, and we don’t need to put anyone in a chair that might cause them.


Dick measured her, and it just so happened that for some “unknown” reason he had felt led to take along on this trip a folding wheelchair some therapists had given him. He thought it just might work. After retrieving it from his car with the help of some local boys, he tried it out. He had not even finished setting Esmeralda in the chair when she burst out with “calidad!” (“quality”) Even this thirteen year old knew a real wheelchair when she saw/felt one. She was beaming from ear to ear, and the chair needed only one minor adjustment in a footrest. Almost as if the chair had been made just for her. . .Godincident for sure. . .

It was hard to leave this amazing young woman, but it was getting dark and we wanted to get back to the hotel before dark. Not a bad day’s work for a day in which we had planned not to work.



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