* 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)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Journal, July 23 & 24, 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Calin, Bryan and I got up a at 4:00 AM this morning. We were scheduled to meet at 5 with Chris, Donna, most of their family, several of the Bethel employees and about 10 volunteers from the USA, and then drive for about 2 1/2 hours to the town of Santiaugo for a wheelchair distribution that we were having today.

When we arrived at the school where the distribution was to take place we were a bit disappointed to see only a hand full of people waiting there. We had expected to give out nearly 40 wheelchairs today. By the time we got set up a few more people had arrived so after waiting a little longer we decided to get started. Saul, Benjamin and I partnered up with some of the American Volunteers and my 2 boys and did specialty wheelchairs. Moat of the others either helped Donna with paper work or grouped up in teems that did standard wheelchairs.

Since I had so much help on my teem I let them do the majority of the mechanic work It was fun watching my boys and the volunteers get so involved in what they were doing. I must have gotten more involved than I thought to because I never even noticed that more and more people kept arriving as we worked.

One of our more interesting cases was an 11 year old girl who was absolutely terrified of us. Try as I may I could not seem to gain her confidence and when ever i tried to get near her to take measurements she would go ballistic. We ended up doing a lot of guess work in sizing up her wheelchair and thanks to her patient mom did manage to get her into the wheelchair for a few brief moments to make some final adjustments. Once we were fairly certain that the wheelchair was adjusted correctly for her we decided to do one final fitting. Even with mom's help she was not overjoyed with the idea of getting into the Chair. I have some pretty deep scratches on my arm to prove that she did not like the idea. Funny thing though is once she was in the chair for this final fitting she immediately calmed down and within a minute or 2 got a big smile on her face. During the hour and a half that we had been working with her we had only heard crying and a few screams of protest so we all figured that she was non verbal. It had really surprised us that she calmed down and smiled but we were more shocked when she looked at us and said thank you. You could see in her eyes that she liked the wheelchair but It seemed to be a God thing that she went from sheer terror to absolute contentment in such a short time. She and close to 40 others that received not only wheelchairs but were told of and shown the love of Jesus were not only blessed today but were a real blessing to those of us that had the privilege of sharing the love of Jesus with them.

Our day was not finished though. although the rest of the crew headed back home Calin, Bryan and I decided to spend the night here in Santiaugo. On my last trip to Santiago a few weeks ago I had visited 2 young men who were in need of power wheelchairs. 14 year old Stephen was one of the young men that was in need of a power wheelchair. We had given him one a few years ago but the bumpy dirt road that Stephen has to drive on to get to school had taken it's toll. On my last visit I had taken his old wheelchair back to Chimaltenango with me in hopes that we could repair it but after looking it over it was decided that about the only thing that was worth saving were the batteries.

Today Stephen received a new front wheel drive power wheelchair that should provide better traction on the rough road that leads to his school and hopefully it will not shake apart as fast. Before we left Stephen's mom started to thank us but quickly broke into tears. She told us that she knew that Stephen and his older brother Sebastian, who is also in a power chair that we had previously given him likely did not have long to live but that these wheelchairs had changed their lives. Not only were both boys now able to attend school but they were able to get out in their neighborhood and join their friends.

Next we drove back into town where Alex lives. 16 year old Alex who has CP was delighted with his new power chair and caught on quickly to driving it. Within minutes Stephen, his family, my boys and I were heading down his alley and on to one of the streets of Santiago. Alex will also be using his power chair to get to and from school so this was a good test to see if he could navigate dirt alleys and rough cobblestone streets with it. Both he and the chair passed the test with flying colors. Once again we were embraced by a grateful family and once again we were able to share our real reason for being here. Both families agreed that the thanks was to go to God.

Goodnight from Santiago,
Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, July 24, 2011

This morning we just took it easy. The kids swam for a while then the 3 of us walked down to the lake. I guess they are quite common around hear but I was fascinated by some rocks that were floating on the water. I later learned that they are were pumice and they are formed when a volcano erupts. I took some home with me and my kids were just as fascinated as I was when I dropped some into a bucket of water and they floated to the top.

Not all of our day was spent in play but what we did once we left our motel was even more enjoyable. Yesterday Argentina, one of the ladies that helped us set up the wheelchair distribution told me about a boy that she knew who had no use of his arms or legs. She had met Manuel a boy who lives in a village across the lake from her. A few years ago I had set Manuel up with a chin controlled power wheelchair and Argentina was wondering if the same thing could be done for this boy. I told her that I could not be sure until I met him and agreed to see him before heading for home today. About a half hour later we arrived at the home of Neri. He seemed to have the same condition as Manuel and I am not sure exactly what either of them have. The parents said that years ago they took him to a doctor but all the doctor did is told him that it was CP and that there was nothing more that he could do for him. Unfortunately everything that can not be diagnosed in this country is labeled as CP and any time a family has no money most doctors tell them that there is nothing that can be done and the family is asked not to return.

Neri has a manual wheelchair but a family member must push him to school and every where that he goes. When I told Neri why we had come to visit him he began to smile. I told him that I was quite certain that we could set up a power wheelchair for him that he would be able to control with his chin or his head. I soon discovered that unlike Manuel Neri has some movement in his left hand and after testing how far he could move it I realized that he would be able to use a joy stick. I could not give him the day that we would be back but assured him that I would try to get one ready for him within a month. I will try to get it to him even sooner though because I think that he will be to excited to sleep until he gets it. His father and mother were beside them selves as well. Father told us that he had once seen a power wheelchair and had dreamed of getting one for his son ever since. He told us that he knew that it was only a dream though because he knew that he would never have enough money for something like that. He thanked us but said that he felt that the real thanks should go to God because this was an answer to his prayers. We wholeheartedly agreed.

We didn't get back home until around 4 PM but the word got out fast and by 4:30 my house was once again filled with over a dozen kids. Calin and Bryan did not waist any time in filling the others in on what a great time we had and the kids are already discussing who's turn it is to go with me the next time that I go out on the road for a few days.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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