* 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, August 28, 2011

Trip to Santa Rosa

Once again Pat has offered to write this weeks journal if I did the pictures.

Pat wrote

After a week of being sick a week of being sick, I decided it was time to get back into the swing of things. So Monday morning Dick and I planned to go to Guatemala City to pick up my passport from Immigration. It’s been there about 20 days to get approval for a 90 day extension on my visa.

When Dick arrived, he hesitantly asked what I thought about going on to Santa Rosa since if we went straight from the city it would cut about 2 hours off the trip we had talked about taking later in the week. After a couple of minutes of thought, I agreed (two hours off the highway here in Guate is well worth packing quickly).

So, after a quick trip to my house for some clothes we were off to the City. Our first stop was to buy dog food at WalMart—which I seem to be doing more and more often as Yogi and Booboo grow. I also wanted to get some repairs done on my computer under the extended warrantee—but was told I had to call first for an appointment.

Next we went to get Dick’s hearing aids adjusted, and were pleasantly surprised by the competency of the young woman who helped us. (Dick is no longer saying he can hear better without them!) Our next stop was to pick up Dick’s computer at the Mac repair place (it would be way too simple if we could both get our computers fixed in the same place).

Finally we made it to Immigration, just in time for their lunch break. After waiting more than an hour for the lady with the passports to return, I finally had permission to be in the country again. Days like today kill any romantic ideas I still have about life as a missionary. Most of it is plain old every day living stuff that can suck the life out of you if you let it!
We were finally on our way to Santa Rosa, and arrived in Cuilapa in time for supper and some rest. Running errands sure tires me out more than it used to! When I unpacked I realized that I had packed everything I needed except blouses! So, tonight I am sleeping in my pajama pants and the blouse I wore today. Tomorrow I will be “styling” in my old t-shirt I brought with, planning to sleep in. Any vestiges of vanity are being stripped away by life “on the road.”

The night was made complete when, about 10 pm, we had a 4.4 “tremor” whose epicenter was only about 15 miles from our hotel. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to feeling the earth move under me, especially when sitting in a hotel room which is literally built on the side of a mountain! (I guess it’s better to up the mountain that at it’s base, though, in times like these!)

Tuesday morning I placed a call to Anna, Bayron’s teacher, who we had come up to visit. (Bayron is a little boy who is deaf who is taught privately through sponsors with Bethel.) She was just about in Cuilapa on her way to Barberena where she teaches. Did we want to meet her at the park and go the rest of the way with her? After managing to find the park (by ignoring the directions we were given at the hotel) we were soon on the way to the school where she teaches.

We arrived and were warmly welcomed into the building which serves as the school for roughly 800 children. As Dick put it, we have surely acculturated when we think nothing of a school being housed in a building that would most likely be condemned anywhere in the US. But the staff was warm and friendly, and the principal immediately gave permission for Anna to leave her class and accompany us to visit Bayron and his family. This flexibility was a difference from the States which did not fail to surprise me.

On the way, Anna told us that Bayron has been a bit of a pill—not wanting to work, and sometimes not being at his house when she comes to teach him. We all decided it was good that we were coming to see him together.

When we pulled into their yard we were immediately greeted by Edgar jumping up and down like a monkey. This has become almost a tradition when were come here. He did not have school today for some reason (here in Guatemala, we seldom know why, only that kids have a lot of unscheduled holidays). We visited with Grandma, and with the help of Edgar, Grandma, teacher and our made up sign language, we made it clear to Bayron that he needed to buckle down and get to work. (It has more to say about Bayron’s raw intelligence than our skills at communicating that we were able to get this across. How much he manages to understand without hearing or speaking continues to amaze me.)

It was good to see this family enjoying the house which was built by a couple of guys from my home church and the Bethel folks. There are probably about 8 adults and 5 children living in the new house and some old buildings adjacent. It was also good to hear that Grandma likes using her new Onil stove because it doesn’t take as much wood.

Bayron then showed us his work, and also demonstrated how he is learning to imitate sounds with the help of his excellent teacher. After visiting with the family we soon needed to take Anna back to school. We did promise to return later in the afternoon to take the kids out to eat—where else but Pollo Campero!

Our next visit was to the family of Wilmer and Walter. Wilmer is being tutored through a Bethel sponsor, and a few months ago we had taken Walter in to see the neurosurgeon in Guatemala City. We wanted to check on how they were both doing.

Arriving at their house, we were surprised to see that one of the buildings had been torn down. We were even more surprised to discover that the family had moved. (Note to self: check with Carlos at the Bethel office before setting off on these trips to see if anyone’s moved!) After calling Wilmer’s mom, we were given directions to their new home in Anonillo—a place we had never heard of. Not to worry, Mom said. Her older son would meet us at the highway.

So we back-tracked to what we thought was the highway she was talking about. After calling her we discovered that we had gone quite a way too far. Only then did it occur to us (to Dick, really) that the young man who had waved to us as we were traveling down the dirt road to get to the blacktop was probably Wilmer’s brother! I’m still learning Guatemala-speak. Never in a million years would it have occurred to me to call a narrow dirt road a highway, but here in Guate it was (especially after we saw the roads that led off of it!)

We started back tracking again, this time through town, only to get stopped behind a van which was next to a car going the wrong direction down the two lane road. Imagine our dismay when the van threw it in to reverse and back up full speed into the front of Dick’s new Land Cruiser! I prepared myself for the worst as Dick jumped out of the truck to talk to the driver of the van.

Fortunately, the van driver admitted his mistake. (Other Guatemalans might have thought we were at fault for not backing up when we saw his non-existent reverse lights!) As we were discussing the situation, up came Eric, a local man who owns a bicycle repair shop in town and had originally led Dick to Wilmer. With his help we negotiated a fairly good repair price (for the driver at fault) and Dick left with a grand total of about 75 Q (roughly $10) to repair the “cow catcher” on the front of the Land Cruiser. Eric was also kind enough to accompany us to Wilmer’s and with his help managed to make the right turn up the mountain. (Yep, it was right where we had passed the “friendly” young man who had been waving at us!)

We traveled up a dirt road which became a trail which became two ruts, which ended rather abruptly. As we were sitting there trying to decide what to do, a little girl came up to the truck and said, “Dick!” It was Wilmer’s little sister. She pointed a short way up the hill to where we saw Wilmer’s mom waiting for us holding Walter. They had moved to this isolated area to be near her oldest daughter who was married with two children. Wilmer’s dad was building a block house for them, which promised to be quite nice. Now, however, they are living into a lean-to which is no more than some wooden walls covered by metal sheeting. We were welcomed in immediately though, as Momma talked about her dreams for the new house.

Wilmer was up the mountain at his sister’s house, and we hiked up to see him. I have to admit it was a bit of a challenge as we seemed to go straight up, but I managed to make it without either falling or having a heart attack so it was all good. Wilmer’s mom had found him a new teacher, and he was already receiving lessons in his new home. We were also very pleased to see the water filter which we had left on our last visit in use. Chalk up two great home visits and some good team work on the part of Bethel!

We returned to Bayron’s to take the five kids who live there to an early supper, only to be greeted by a number of other children who had come to “visit.” As hard as it was, we stuck to our original commitment and just headed off with Bayron, Edgar, Vanessa, Oliver, and Maria Jose. (Oliver is a little guy on crutches who runs faster than most able-bodied kids, and Vanessa and Maria Jose are his sisters. Their mother, Bayron’s grandma’s sister-in-law, had died a few months ago, and Grandma is helping her brother raise his children now, as well as Bayron and Edgar).

Our time at Campero’s proved to be about the most entertaining meal I have eaten in Guatemala. The kids drew and played tic-tac-toe while waiting for their food. When the drinks came there was the mandatory straw shooting (begun by Dick, of course), and much teasing and joking. It soon became apparent that the kids were entertaining not just us, but most of the restaurant. It was fun to watch the servers laughing as the entered their orders in a near-by station. Again, it amazed me how Bayron could communicate with us so well without speaking or hearing a word.

As we were eating our ice cream at the end of the meal, we were approached by a man who said he was a pastor. He said something about making a donation, and I assumed he was asking us for a donation to his church. I was astounded when he explained that no, he wanted to make a donation to us to help pay for the kids’ meals. I was more surprised when he said he was not from this area, but lived in Guatemala City and had his church in Xenacoj, which is only a short way from Antigua. This encouragement from a fellow Christ-follower was like a kiss from God to top off a rather remarkable day.


Thanks Pat

Yours in Christ: Dick


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dick, my name is Kerissa Wright and about 2 years ago I came to Guatemala with my church and we went to Hermano Pedro and I fell in love with a little boy named Gaspar. We then came back the following summer and I got to see him again but only for a day.. I have not been back since and I was wondering if you happened to know how he was doing? I was not sure of how to contact you so I am trying it this way and hopefully you recieve this! You can email back at kerissawright@yahoo.com Thank you so much for all the joy you continue to bring to the people of Guatemala.

Monday, September 12, 2011  
Blogger Dick said...

HI Kerissa:

I know Gaspar well. He is the first child that Hermano Pedro allowed to come to our camp. That was almost 11 years ago. He has always been one of my favorites. He is now about 16 years old and is in the teen section so I see less of him than before. I did happen to run in to him today and we talked for a while. He seem to be doing well. He has a sister Rifina who is now around 20 who also stays at Hermano Pedro. He also had an older brother named Felipi who lived at Hermano Pedro but he passed away about a year and a half ago. I wish that I had a current picture of Gaspar but I do not. If I think of it I will try to send you one.

Monday, September 12, 2011  

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