* 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

Valentina Goes Home

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It is not often that I repeat myself. It is not often that I . . . . . . At least not intentionally, but I posted the following just 6 months ago. Actually I am not repeating myself I am repeating what Pat wrote back then. Those of you who have good memories and want to skip over reading about the Godincidence that led into getting 3 week old Valentina into the Malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro before she died can skip over the Blue writing and start reading the light black (or dark gray depending on your web browser or your eyes,) to see how how things turned out.

Yours in Christ: Dick

(The following was originally posted on February 24, 2011)

Pat wrote

Up the drive came a lady carrying a small baby. She had heard Flori was visiting Marcos, and had come hoping she could help her get surgery for her 20 day old granddaughter who also had a cleft lip and palate. We talked a little bit, and while the baby seemed tiny, grandma said she thought Valentina was heavier than she was at birth. They knew she had to gain at least 10 lbs. before the doctors would consider the surgery, and were waiting for that. (Grandma is Valentina's primary care-taker, as Valentina's mother, has a severe seizure disorder and mental illness. Grandma said she is afraid to leave the baby with Mom for fear she'll kill her. Talk about a difficult situation. . .)

Then, Dick asked to hold her. The look on his face when he picked her up sent my heart into my stomach. He said, "I don't think she weighs 5 lbs." We gently began talking with grandma about the malnutrition project at Hermano Pedro, and she was interested immediately. We asked her if we could take a picture of Valentina without all the clothes she was bundled in, thinking she could come to the clinic the 22nd of February when others from her area would be coming to Antigua.

I think both Dick and I caught our breath as soon as Grandma removed Valentina's cap--somehow she hadn't looked quite as tiny wearing a hat, and we could see that her sparce hair had already lost color from malnutrition. As we removed her sleeves and pants, we could see that, despite the best efforts of Grandma and Dad, this little one had wrinkles betraying how much weight she had lost.

We began talking about the possibility of bringing her in to Antigua when we return next week to build Bayron's house. The more we talked the sicker each of us felt, fearing she didn't have a week to spare before getting help. And, she's healthy now. No fever or diarreah, so could be admitted immediately to malnutrition. In her weakened condition, we didn't think that would be the case in a few days.

We asked Flori if there was any way she could get them in sooner. . .we were committed to Walter already, and he had waited more than 6 months for this appointment. I think we both felt a little helpless. Flori reluctantly said she would be going to Antigua tomorrow, but they were leaving at 4 am and there was no way they could possibly pick up this family in such a remote place.

Immediately it was decided that, if they were willing, we would bring Grandma, Dad, and Valentina back with us to our hotel, which would be on Flori's way to Antigua tomorrow. Grandma agree instantly, and was off to call Dad and get ready to come with us.

So, tonight we had a lovely dinner in the hotel with Grandma, Dad, and this darling little girl. For as tiny as she is, she's so alert, and makes such great eye-contact that she's stolen both our hearts. I'm proud to say that Dick and I didn't fight over who would hold her more, but shared her attention pretty well. I got tears in my eyes watching my bachelor friend walk the floor with this crying baby, looking for all the world like he had done this his whole life. What a sweet moment.

I have to admit, I feel somewhat sad that I can't just drop everything and go with them to Antigua tomorrow. I'm learning more and more, though, that I don't have to do everything, only my part. And tonight our part is just to get them to where Flori can meet them tomorrow. I'm so honored to have Guatemalan friends and colleagues here who are competent to help their own people, they only need our support.

Was it a random thought that made me ask Dick to go to visit Marcos? I'm sure it was the Holy Spirit, and for once I heard His voice, even if somewhat reluctantly. Just like it wasn't a coincidence that today was the day we visited them, that Grandma just so happened to bring Valentina while we were there, that Flori just so happened to be going to Antigua tomorrow, or that our hotel was on their way. I sit and marvel at seeing the finger-prints of God all over these events, and am humbled to be a small part of this.

How many days can you say you got to trade an afternoon of leisure for being a small part in saving a life? Thank you, Jesus, for today, and be with them tomorrow as they travel.


Dick writes

In the past few years we have brought several malnourished kids into Hermano Pedro not knowing for sure weather or not we were getting them there in time to save them. Some of them did not make it and it broke our harts. Others made it and it made all of our efforts well worth while. One thing we knew was there was no way that Valentina could last more than a week or 2 if she did not get some help, so we at least had to try. Valentina survived the night with us at the hotel and survived the ride with Flor to the hospital. However after she was admitted into the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro her condition did not seem to improve. She remained in isolation and for at least a month her weight stayed at 6 pounds. The doctors and nurses did their best and there were a lot of us praying for her but we all know that if she caught as much as a cold she would likely die. Pat and I vised her nearly every day but saw little change but as week as she was she still recognized us and let us know that she rather be held then lye in her crib. Then it happened slowly but surely Valentina gradually started to gain weight. A few weeks later she was released from Isolation and then put on the pounds even more rapidly.

A few weeks ago her mother and grandmother came to visit her and they could scarcely recognize her. Even though at one time mom had wanted her dead I could see that she really loved her daughter. Both mom and grandma were thrilled when they were told that Valentina had gained more than enough weight and was now strong enough for the surgery.

Last week Valentina had her Cleft Pallet surgery and all went well. She is now eating even more than ever and some of the nurses have affectionately nick named her "Gordo" (Fatty). The day before yesterday her family came and took her home.

Please pray for Valentina and her family. Her mom still has convulsions but seems mentally stable. Dad and grandma love her dearly so we pray that all goes well. One thing that I am certain of is that the same God that orchestrated us finding her, made it possible that she get into the malnutrition ward hospital in less that 24 hours and brought her from being a skin covered skeleton to a plump little girl in 6 months is capable of looking after her even though she is now a half day's drive from us.

Like Pat said, "Thank you, Jesus, for today, and be with them tomorrow."

Yours in Christ: Dick


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