* GUATEMALA * * * * * * * * Dick Rutgers *

An ongoing journal of life as a Missionary in Guatemala. It will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

My Photo
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)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A few days ago I posted a Journal that was primarily written by Daryl Felt. A day later I received the following from John Simons, who was one of the other men that accompanied us on the trip up to Nebaj. I thought that you would enjoy reading what John wrote about the trip.

John wrote the following.

Once again I find myself back in Guatemala for my second short term mission. And again I am traveling with my best friend Scott Hardee from Kansas City. We connected with Daryl Fulp from Ohio who we met down here last year. Since then Daryl has moved his family here to Guatemala. Our second day started with a 3 day trip with Dick Rutgers to sign up special needs Guatemalans for camp this November which will be the 11th held here since Dick arrived in Guatemala. Also traveling with us was a young man named Gerardo who is a Guatemalan who the Lord's hand is upon. Our journey will take us through the rough terrain of Guatemala's mountains and valleys searching for the villages and homes of several campers. The 5 of us will become a Band of Christian Brothers who will come to know, love and appreciate each one's gifts.

As we traveled the steep mountains and their valleys we encountered dozens of rock and mud slides, and we were unable to count all the pot holes and speed bumps in our path. In spite of the swaying back and forth and the many bruises and back pain, we endured the long hours traveling each day. During this time we shared about the many speed bumps, pot holes and mud slides we had encountered in our lives(whether they were the failed relationships, our hardened hearts or times of doubting our faith). But as each one shared THAT when we repented, like the small passages through the rock and mud slides that Dick's new Toyota was able to find a way through, God was always there to help us through and welcome us back. As we encouraged each Other with God’s word and knowing Jesus is the author and finisher of our Faith. In psalms 121 it reads I lift my eyes to the Hills, where does my help come from, my help comes from the Lord the maker of heaven and earth. And the last verse reads the Lord watches over our coming and going both now and forever. Even through the valleys and all the way to the mountain tops. Praise be to our God.

Dick has traveled many times through the rough terrain giving wheel chairs and other support that is needed to these special people. And he would be the first to say all would be in vain if not for Jesus and the message of salvation through HIM. My key verse coming to Guatemala is 2 Corinthians chapt 5 verse 20: We are therefore Christ's ambassadors as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf; be reconciled to God. It was a privilege to meet the campers in their homes where they welcomed us as family. Especially the 70 year old lady who has not missed a year at camp. She does not speak a work of Spanish, but a local Mayan language. I could tell that she was proud to be a part of camp and displayed a certificate of last year's on her wall. We also met Victor, a 19 year old man, who also is coming to camp and needed new crutches. We also brought him a P.E.T. The best way to describe it is a 3 wheeled wagon with a seat and hand peddles that turn a gear to the front wheel. He had one as a child and out grew that one and this larger one fit him well. As we started to put the P.E.T. together the neighbors and his family came out. What a blessing to see the acceptance he has with his family and village. Before we left we prayed for Victor and his family and for a blessing upon the village. We really were blessed by Gerardo with doing the translating and prayers. We also encountered Donald, Dick's friend who runs a restaurant and school for the poor and special needs children in his town. I had the privilege of praying over Don a blessing on the restaurant and school, and that he would come to know Gods purpose for his life. I hope you have been blessed by reading of the journey of our Band of brothers in Christ.

John Symons

Thanks John,
Yours in Christ: Dick

Monday, September 26, 2011

This weeks Journal has been written by Daryl Fulp and his Daughter Teisha. Teisha takes after her mother, Wanda, so you will find all of what she writes to be true. Daryl however takes after no one else that I know and although he can be truthful most of the time you will soon see that at times he simply makes things up. This is especially true when it comes to him writing about my highly talented professional driving skills. I personally thought that he retract what he wrote about my driving especially after he backed into the guide wire that runs to the light post by my house 2 minutes after getting out of my car after a 5 day accident free trip. Oh well I guess not all missionaries can be 100% truthful and close to 100% humble like me.


Monday, September 19

This entry was written by my daughter, Teisha, who accompanied Dick Rutgers, Gerardo, Taryn, and me on a trip to Las Palmas and La Gomera. Comments in red were added by me.

Today, I had the wonderful opportunity of accompanying Dick, Daryl (my Dad), Taryn, and Gerardo (our translator) to visit Escuintla and Las Palmas. We visted and were able to help more people than I imagined we would! Our day went a little something like this... After departing at roughly 9:30 this morning, we headed off for Walter's house (a six year-old boy who is just about as cute as they get!) He has an appointment at Hermano Pedro Hospital in Antigua tomorrow, and we went to talk to his mother about all that would mean as far as what time to get there and what to expect. We also provided her with the money to take the chicken bus into Antigua along with money for the appointment itself. Please pray that all will go well with his appointment tomorrow and they will be able to take care of all that is needed!

(Actually, we went planning to arrange for their appointment for casting of his legs for new braces. After talking to his mother, we realized that he is also having hearing problems, so we arranged for her to come in early the next morning to see a doctor for that as well.)


Second stop was David's house.. We went there to invite him to camp and also to see when his graduation will take place... which is a pretty big deal! It was a privilege to get to meet his family! :) Third stop was down the road to visit an elderly woman, Pilar, who is 85 years old and who is struggling from malnutrition. I can honestly say that I've never seen a person that skinny in person before... We checked in to make sure she was drinking the Insure we provided her a little while ago and to make sure she was drinking plenty of water. We found out that she was only taking about half the Insure she should be taking and that she hardly drinks water... She prefers coffee. But Dad (Daryl) explained to her (with the help of Gerardo) that she needs to be taking more Insure and she needs to be drinking lots more water for 2 reasons. First that she will start to feel better physically and gain some weight and be healthier altogether. And Secondly, she'll gain the energy she'll need to meet some new, cute men. ;)

While we were there with Pilar, we met a little boy who is 4 years old and who has struggled with fevers, breathing, and just lack of energy his whole life. His big brown eyes and his sad little face broke my heart! But we were able to set up a time for them to go to Antigua to Hermano Pedro next week to get him checked out. Prayer would also be greatly appreciated that all will go well with his appointment!

On our fourth visit, we saw a man named Ponsiano. We were pleased to see that his father had built him some parallel bars.. that he can hold on to to hopefully Work on his walking! It was very encouraging to see his famly step up and try to help him in his need! It was kind of rough for him to stand and walk, but it didn't matter because the excitement in his eyes and the smile on his face made up for it! Hopefully with time and more practice, he'll get much better at it.

The fifth place was across the street from Ponsiano's house, where we visited an elderly couple, Pedro and Victoria. Being as old as they are, they were previously advised to drink about 6 cups of water a day because they were dehydrated... and they could use all the energy the could get. They're now up to drinking 3 cups of water a day... that's progress, right? Sixth stop was a few doors down to Reyna's house, an elderly woman who was also having dehydration issues. We stopped there for just a few minutes to make sure she was drinking all that was suggested to her (and of course she wasn't... but she's drinking more water than she was before..) But even though we couldn't stay for long, the smile on her face when we walked in told me that it was worth it anyway.

After Reyna's, we went to Carlos' house to drop off a few camp forms... one for himself and two others that he would give to his friends... And after Carlos, we went to Maria's house to also drop off a camp form. She's 23 and has severe spastic Cerebral Palsy. She lights up the whole room with her beautiful smile!

(At this point, God redirected our trip and we ended up visiting a family that we hadn’t intended to visit. It was a God orchestrated change, as we realized that we needed to confront a family with some concerns. We praise God that both Dick and I were there for this and that Gerardo did an amazing job of communicating and confronting in love. Due to confidentiality and my respect for the family, I have chosen to omit these details.)

I am so thankful that I could be a part of the ministry of Dick and Dad (Daryl) And I am thankful that I can learn how to better serve my Jesus with them. I would be very blessed if someday I could have half as much wisdom as they do... So today was a long, but great day and I learned a lot! ..but most of all, God was glorified! And that's all that matters. :)

Tuesday, September 20

On Tuesday I had to run some errands and pick up some things for our upcoming trip so Daryl met up at Hermano Pedro with Walter and his parents. Don't worry they took the buss, they did not ride with Daryl.

. Dick

Here are a few pictures of Walter getting casted for his braces. He had a good time smearing plaster on my arms and face!

Wednesday, September 21

This morning Gerardo, Scott, John and I loaded up and headed to Chimaltenango to meet with Dick and head out for a three day trip to recruit for the annual camps for children, teens, and adults with special needs. Of course, this means three days of dealing with Dick’s driving and the ensuing bruises.


Although Dick insisted that we arrive at his place early so that we could get an early start, we didn’t leave Chimal until almost 11:00 am. Dick lost his cell phone, and after looking for some time, decided that it must be stolen or destroyed because it was off when we tried to call it. So, off we went to the Tigo store so that he could report it missing and arrange to have his number transferred to another phone. Nothing is easy in Guatemala, so an hour and 15 minutes later, we left the store with the process not yet complete. We all took a vote and decided we should tie Dick’s new phone around his neck.
First one that I lost in 11 years and I am still wondering if Daryl took it.

Since we got such a late start we were not able to accomplish a lot today. We made the trip to the town of Nebaj and had a brief visit with an elderly lady named Juana to invite her to camp. She speaks Ketchequal, so the conversation went from English through Gerardo in Spanish and then through Juana’s daughter to Ketchequal. Then the process was reversed.

After leaving her home, we checked into a nice clean motel. We had the choice of rooms that shared a public bathroom and had hot water and rooms that had a private bathroom with no hot water. Dick, Gerardo, and I chose the latter while Scott and John chose the hot water. That was a good thing since John had been complaining about how cold he was all day. When I came to there room to get them for supper, I found John trying to stay warm and looking like the Virgin Mary.

After getting settled, we headed to a local restaurant run my an American named Don. The food was good and cheap, but I think we were his only customers all night. So it took a while for them to heat up the stoves, find the food, and kill the necessary animals they needed to cook. But we had a nice visit as we waited and left after 1 1/2 hours.

Epilogue from the following morning:

We returned to the motel and had a good night’s sleep. I did, however, wake up once to Dick talking in his sleep. I think he said something about hitting potholes and killing Daryl, but he was mumbling so I’m not sure.

What I actually said was "Daryl, although I have never in my life hit a pot hole, do you actually think that it would kill you if we did." By the way I was not mumbling. Daryl simply refuses to have his ears tested.
Thursday, September 22

We met this morning at 7:15 to head out for an early breakfast. We wanted to eat quickly and hit the road because we had a lot on the agenda for the day. We quickly realized, however, that those plans might be in jeopardy when we arrived at Don’s restaurant, placed our orders, and Dick and I had to walk up the street to buy eggs for our meals. As Don ambled casually about the kitchen making our breakfast, we had still more time to visit.

We finally got our food, ate, paid and left the restaurant at 9:00 am. So much for an early start. But we have all learned that it is just a part of life here.

We left the motel and made another stop to invite a camper to camp. This was at Maria’s house, a young mother with a bad leg who walks with crutches. It is always a treat to see the previous year’s campers light up when they see Dick at the door. They know that means that camp is almost here again.

From there we headed through some of the most beautiful countryside you have ever seen. Winding and rough roads take you over mountains and through valleys surrounded by God’s creation that takes your breath away. Even Dick’s attempts to hit every hole and bump couldn’t detract from our wonder (although I still need to take time to count my bruises and check for internal hemorrhaging).


By this time Daryl's phobia about the possibility of us hitting a pot hole was getting worse. I was beginning to think that we were going to have to restrain him becasue there were a few times that he tried to grab the steering wheel out of my hands had try to head my car over the cliff in fear of hitting shadows that he feared where potholes.

We arrived at Victor’s house late morning. He is a charming 19 year old who suffers from cerebral palsy, but is a very motivated and driven young man. He and his family managed to get him into school years ago, before most children with special needs were admitted into public schools. He has thrived. Today we delivered some crutches and a PET chair to him. A Pet chair is a wagon that is propelled by hand pedals. These chairs have worked well for Victor in the past, so Dick had found another one that was for adults to deliver to him.

While we assembled the chair, we attracted a growing crowd of locals who came out to see what was happening. Before we were done, there must have been 15 or 20 people gathered around. Once we were done and Victor had a chance to demonstrate his skills in it, we all had prayer together. A church service broke out as many of the Guatemalan’s prayed out loud together. This was a special time of connecting and sharing the love of Jesus, but I am not sure who received more of the love, the people of the town or our team.

From there, we headed to the nearest decent hotel (about 2 hours away) and checked in for the night. We put our bags in the room and headed out for one more visit with a wonderful lady named Maria. She and her husband, who is disabled, have been regular attenders at the camp for some time, and Dick wanted to make sure they received their invitation. We arrived to discover that her husband is in Guatemala City for surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his throat. We knelt together and prayed for both of them. In spite of her sadness and fear, Maria radiated the joy of the Lord. Please pray for this couple.

Near the end of the day, we found out that Dick has been struggling with his new GPS unit. It has a feature which allows you to take a photo with it and it places it on the map to help people see the destination for which you are looking. Dick keeps turning it around with the lens pointing toward him and trying to take the picture. Scott observed that we probably have a lot of nice photos that show us what Dick looks like at Maria’s house, at Victor’s house, at Don’s restaurant, etc. Remind me not to borrow Dick’s GPS!

No Comment, but if anyone wants an autographed photo let me know.

Tonight we enjoyed a nice meal in a local restaurant that did not take hours to prepare. Plus, it was extremely cheap. But we still sat and visited for over an hour as we shared our testimonies with one another. During that time, I was both humbled and touched to realize what a privilege it is to work alongside these men.

Now I am settled into my room that has BOTH a private bath AND hot water. I cannot tell you how pampered and spoiled I feel!

Blessings from some little town, somewhere in Guatemala! (I can’t remember the name and I am too tired to figure it out.)


Thanks Daryl, Gerardo, Scot and John

All kidding aside this was a wonderful trip and I totally enjoyed the fun and Christian fellowship that the five of us had while we were on the road together and I hope that we can do it again soon, as long as I can do all of the Driving!

I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cesar with 5 year old Jose, one of the orphanage kids

After being on the road from Sunday through Friday I was looking forward to having a quiet weekend at home. Those plans didn't last long though becasue as I was ending my 6 day road trip and pulling into the alley where I live I received a phone call from Ronny's mom. Ronny is the 16 year old boy whose family we have worked with for years who passed away a few months ago. Ronny's mom told me that her daughter Astrilla (spelling is not even close) had fallen from a tree and broken her arm. She told me that did not have enough money to get her to the doctor yet alone pay the cost of a doctor or x-rays. When I asked mom how long ago Astrilla had broken her arm she told me that it happened 2 days ago. A short time later I had Pat call to see if we could get more details and perhaps talk to dad who does not seem to dramatize things as much as mom. A few years ago mom had made called to tell me that another daughter was hysterical because she had fallen into a pond and almost drowned. It was only after a 2 hour drive to their home that dad told me that his daughter had fallen into a mud puddle and started to cry because she had gotten her new dress dirty. However after talking to dad this time we were convinced that Astrilla's arm could really be broken so early Saturday morning Pat, 3 of my boys and I headed down to the coast to see if we could find a doctor's that we could bring Astrilla to on a Saturday. Oh yes there was always the option of going to the national hospital in Esquentla but after some of the experiences that I have had with National hospitals I much rather pay for a doctor.

To make what is becoming a long story a bit shorter I will condense things by saying. We got her to a doctor. X-ray's were taken. Mom claimed that we were taken as well because the visit with the doctor, the x-rays and the cast that was put on the arm that was indeed broken came to a whopping $80 American. I wish that I could get taken like that in the USA. Anyway Astrilla is now back home and doing fine.

Arlindo felt pretty special when the older boys
asked him to play football with them.

We finally got back home well after sundown and some how I gained another kid for the next 5 days. For quite some time I have been promising Ronny's little brother Arlindo that he could come to my house for a few days again. He came a long a few months ago but a good part of that visit was spent in seeing doctors and getting tests done on Arlindo who was not eating well or feeling all that good. This time Arlindo although still a bit skinny and pale in color was doing much better though. Fact is he ate me out of house and home. Even though most of my boys are older than he is they all had a great time together and I think that he would have gladly stayed on for a few more days or even years.

Some of my boys watching the Guatemalan Election returns

The next few days were fairly normal, or at least as normal as it gets around my house. Especally considering that school is out for a few weeks.

Arlindo and a few of my kids spent quite a bit of time at the orphanage and Pat spent time with us when her stomach wasn't upset. She very well may have caught a bug from teaching table manners to some of the orphanage kids that we took to Camperos.

I have to give Pat a hard time while I can because on Thursday she leaves for the States for 3 weeks.

On Wednesday Fernando, Marcos, Elder, Arlindo and I headed out to do a few more days of camp recruiting. Arlindo would have gladly spent the entire week with us but I had promised his family that I would bring him back home on Wednesday so after visiting a few people in his area we brought him home. From there we headed to Mazatenango and stopped off at a few more homes before finally reaching the Bamboo hotel which would be our home away from home for the next few days.

We tried to get a fairly early start each morning because it is rainy season and the thunder storms move in almost every afternoon at around 3 and there is no way that you can drive in to some of these places once the rain starts. You would have to see it for yourself to believe it but within 15 minutes a dry dirt road can become a flowing river. The kids love it though because our motel has a swimming pool and the rain is always warm. I do get a bit paranoid and make them get out of the pool when the lightning gets close though.

I can not believe but it seems that almost overnight these boys are turning into god fearing young men. The 3 that I have with me this week are incredible. All 3 of them have taken their turns at driving Marcos who is now 15 has been my camera man and also the one that programs new places into my GPS for me. Fernando who is 14 has done all of the interpreting for me. And Elder who is 9 has been updating the phone numbers of all of the campers. Believe it or not that can be a full time job. That is also one of the reasons that we put on thousands of miles each year inviting people to camp instead of just picking up the phone and inviting them. I do not think I am exaggerating if I say that out of the campers that have phones close ot half of them change their numbers at least once a year. I think part of it is that most of the phones here in Guatemala are cell phones and many of them get stolen. Although no one will admit it I also believe that now much like the USA more things can be bought on credit it is done to help keep the bill collectors from finding them.

The number one reason that we do camp recruiting though is so that we can make personal contact with the families that we visit. There is something very special about visiting them right in their homes. First of all even though even though it has improved a lot in the 11 years that I have been in Guatemala many disabled people are still looked down on and the fact that you are willing to make the effort to go and see them means a lot to them. It also seems that these people really open up to you when they are in their own environment. Just today I had the opportunity to pray with Marco Tulio Ruiz, a young man that was paralyzed from the waist down when he was shot in the back a few years ago. Today Marco told me that a few months ago his father suddenly got sick and died and then a few days later his brother was murdered buy someone who thought that the money that Marcos' brother was carrying to go and buy a pig was worth more than his life. I would have liked to have visited and prayed with Marcos' mom as well but she was out working for a few dollars a day so that she can provide food for Marcos, his little brother and herself.

It is now Saturday night. We planned on getting back home this evening but an unexpected side trip to repair a power wheelchair for a boy that has no other way to get to school kept us from visiting a few of the families out this way. In a way it is good though because once I get back home it will be hard for me to find the time to do any writing. Besides that we found another motel that has a swimming pool and now that the lightning has moved to nearly a mile away the kids are once again enjoying them selves.

Don't confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Mother Teresa is the other.

Yours in Christ: Dick

PS. Hurry back Pat we all miss you.

Besides that I hate having to write all of my own journals.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

(Click on any picture to enlarge)

Once again I see that it has been over a week and a half since I have posted my weekly journal. Even worse than that it has been that long since I have even written in it. Although I have not done any writing I have managed to use my camera Quite a bit so I do have some pictures to share. I must confess that the quality of the pictures leaves a little to be desired because some one decided that my good camera was worth more to them than it was to me but thanks to a 2 AM bid on eBay I should be getting a new camera in a few weeks.

I hope that you enjoy the pictures. They have been taken off from a 4 gig memory card. As far as the writing goes it will be as accurate as my own memory, which after 64 years has a few glitches and could stand to be reformatted. Lest I forget, I will start out by writing about this week while it is still fresh in my mind and then I will sort of drift into the past.

Yours in Chris: Dick

September 4-8, 2011

(On The Road With Chris and Carlos)

The kids and I hung around the house instead of going to church this morning because I was scheduled to pick up Chris and Carlos at 12:30 so that the 3 of us could make it up to Huehuetenango before dark.

Our trip to Huehuetenango was 2 fold. First of all it is once again approaching camp time so for the next few months I will be doing a lot of traveling to give out invitations to those that are invited to our camp which will take place in November. Secondly there are several families living up near Huehuetenango that Bethel Ministries has found sponsors for so that their kids can be given enough to eat, receive needed medicines, attend school or when needed do to disabilities have someone come in to their homes and teach them.

Although I try to see these families on a fairly regular bases up until this week Chris, who is the director of Bethel ministries, had met some but not all of them and Carlos, Bethel's book keeper, had never been in any of their homes and had met only a few of these families. Chris and I both though it would be a good idea if Carlos would meet the families that he has been so diligently helping us with from behind his desk.

Carlos getting acquainted with Erica and her Teacher
(Since Erica can not walk her teacher comes to her home.)

Since Carlos would not be able to spend the entire week with us we spent the first few days concentrating on meeting with our sponsored kids and their families.

Maria Garcia, who lives in one of the villages where we have several sponsored kids has been a big blessing to us. Not only does she know the "Mum language" (one of 22 Mayan diolects used her in Guatemala) but even though she was once beaten and left for dead by the some of the same people that she is now trying to help she still has a genuine love for her people.

Maria's orphaned grandson Luis (in red shirt)....
is one of the kids that Bethel sponsors..........

Luis is my designated driver when ever we go to see some one in his village.
(Luis told me that next year he will be able reach the peddles himself.)
(We will see about that. His village is perched on a 1000 foot cliff.)

Rolando had to stop his schooling for about a year due to poor health.

His sponsor allowed us to use his sponsorship money for much needed food instead of schooling until he regained his health. Thankfully Rolando has gained weight and is much healthier. He will soon be able to continue with his schooling.

Maria Garcia was not feeling well but one of her daughters came along
to homes like Juana's where no Spanish was spoken, to interpret for us.

7 year old Rudy is the little boy that I fitted with an artificial leg that a friend of mine in the USA, made for him a few months ago.

Rudy's older brother goes to school but his family does not have enough money to give Rudy an education. I do not know who was more excited Rudy or his parents, when we told Rudy that it looked like he may be able to go to school next year.

After much prayer Silsa is once again starting to walk.
Several years ago a witch doctor put a curse on her.

A sponsor has stepped forward and in January
Selsa will resume her schooling.

Chris showing Silsa's brothers how to play checkers on his I-Phone.

Armando and his wife have 4 children but thanks
to a sponsor the older 2 were in school today.

Eight year old Freddy has a sponsor.

He does not go to school but the medication that mother is holding keeps him seizure free. He use to have several seizures each day.

Ernesto's mother died several years ago. Up until about 2 years ago his sisters helped care for him while father who has health problems tried to work. After his sisters got married and moved away Ernesto's father had to stay at home and care his son and could not work even on the days that he felt well enough to. When I visited their home less then a year ago the 2 of them looked like they were starving. Now that they have a sponsor they are getting enough to eat and both are doing much better.

Carlos caught a buss and went back Tuesday afternoon. I think that he would have liked to stay longer. While he was with us I feel that I really got to know him. He has a real love for Jesus and for his fellow Guatemalans.

Yesterday and Today Chris and I visited several more people. Most of these were people that we are inviting to camp.

I think that Chris enjoys these visits almost as much as I do.

If you were arrested for
being a Christian,
Would there be enough evidence
to convict you?

Yours in Christ: Dick,

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I thought about writing about last week but it is getting late and I am tired. But guess what. Pat beat me to it I figured why not swipe just one more journal from her. Besides that I am all the way on the other side of Guatemala from her so she can't hit me. So hear goes.

Memorial at Maria’s—August 30, 2011

Written by Pat


Maria and her family

Today Dick, Chris Mooney, Brian, Carleen and Esbin set off for Tecpan. We had been invited to a memorial service marking the fourth anniversary of the death of the husband of Maria, one of the four widows in this community.

IMG_1620Four years ago, Maria’s husband left for work, as he did each day, to deliver bananas with Jorge, one of the Bethel Ministries workers. As he left, his mother said, “Be careful, son, your family needs you.” Maria’s husband replied, “Don’t worry. If something happens to me, God will care for my family.” A short time later, he was killed when he was hit by a truck crossing the highway to meet Jorge.

Jorge, of course, shared this story with Chris Mooney, the director of Bethel, and they went to see what they could do to help this family. Maria was barely more than a child herself, and now had four children to care for alone, the youngest a newborn baby. She spoke hardly no Spanish (only Katchikel, a Mayan dialect) and had never been more than a few miles from her home. This visit began a long time friendship between Maria’s family and those associated with Bethel.


A sponsor as found, and Dick began bringing food into the family once a month to help out. Soon, Bethel built them a new house, on a dry, raised cement foundation (only a short time after this, an adjacent building was blown down by a storm and the new shelter kept the family safe). An attempt was made to help Maria raise pigs to become more self-sufficient. This failed, though, when feed proved to be too costly and one of the momma pigs ate her offspring (yuck!).

My first encounter with Maria was shortly after the death of her husband, when I visited her home with on of the first Guatemala mission teams from Westside. We had brought food to them, and saw their “new” house. This experience deeply touched many of the members of this team. Whenever I would come back, I did my best to visit this beautiful lady, her family, and her amazing neighbors.

About a year ago, Maria needed surgery, and we were able to help her get it at Hermano Pedro. Bethel frequently has brought teams out to visit, and Dick and I visit when we can. I really is one of our favorite spots to go, and we sometimes make a trip here when we feel like we need to be refreshed a bit. (See Aug. 11 posting) This family and their neighbors are as much a blessing to us as we ever could be to them.

Now, the youngest of the children is four years old, the two oldest are in school, and the little girl who used to run hiding under a basket when Dick would come is now one of the first to greet us. This family has become our friends, and I was honored to be included with Dick and the Mooneys in the invitation to this “culta” (prayer meeting) honoring her husband and praying for Maria, her family and their future.

We arrived a bit early (actually on time, but by Guatemalan standards, early) and I was able to visit the home of Rosa, another widow who Bethel has built a home for and been serving in this area. Rosa, who has been ill, is now living with three of her children in one room back in Chimaltenago, but her oldest daughter had come to the home in Tecpan to get “guisquil” (a type of squash popular here) to sell in the market in Tecpan.


Shortly we were called back to Maria’s the service began. We were met by the elders from Maria’s church, who led us in praise and prayer for about an hour. These eight or nine men share the responsibility for the local church, and they rotate the responsibility for preaching among them. Their prayers were beautiful and heartfelt, and I’d love to return some Sunday to worship with them.


After the prayer time we were treated to a delicious lunch of a type of stewed chicken and rice. I felt somewhat awkward, as I was the only woman eating with all the men, but the Maria insisted that I do so.

After we ate I did slip into the other building where the IMG_1628women were cooking and eating and visited with them for a bit. They took great pleasure in trying to teach me once again how to wear a corte, the traditional skirt worn by Mayan women. I think they are beginning to agree with me that gringas need four more hands to be able to hold up the skirt while trying to wrap a long belt around their waist and pull it tight to hold up the skirt. I still fear I will walk out of mine, and am experimenting with ways to use Velcro to help secure the garment.


Rosa's family

Also written by Pat

While visiting Maria’s family in Tecpan, I finally met Rosa, the sister of a young blind girl. Bethel has built her family a house only a few feet from Maria’s. This was the first time I’ve visited this family, since usually no one was at home when we were here. This time, Rosa had return to Tecpan to get guisquils (a squash like vegetable) to seel in the market in Chimal. She was very eager to have me see their house here.

Rosa’s mother has been ill, and right now the family is living in Chimaltenango so that the youngest daughter (age 14) can care for the mother after school. Rosa asked if we’d like to visit the family today when we returned to Chimal, and we decided to give her a lift back to town when we would leave Maria’s.

When we arrived, we walked into a large building which seemed to have many rooms. I soon discovered that a different family lived in each room. We climbed a number of stairs and made our way to the family’s room at the rear of the house. This space was a vast improvement from where the family had lived the last time they were in Chimaltenango. Their previous dwelling was a room in an abandoned building, with no electricity or water, and boarded up windows. This place has those “amenities” and is warm and dry at least.

We made our way to Rosa’s part of the house, and found her mother, 2 sisters and younger brother waiting her return. Sylvia, another daughter is blind and unable to do much around the house. The youngest in the family is a boy of about 10 years.

IMG_1637It appears Mama is almost bed-ridden, though we’re not quite sure why. She says she gets too dizzy to walk whenever she stands up. It does not seem that she has seen a doctor, however. They have been receiving food assistance from Bethel ministries, and survive on what little Rosa can earn selling vegetables, doing laundry and doing other household work when she can find it. Today the youngest brother was also sick in bed with a high fever.

The biggest concern, however, was that the fourteen year old girl would be finishing “sixth” grade this October and would need to move on to “Primer Basico” (middle school, sort of) in January when school resumed. The problem was, this is much more expensive the primary school. This young lady (whose name I can’t remember, sorry) loves studying and is a good student. Dick tells of how she literally jumped for joy when she was told she would be able to attend school with the help of a sponsor.


Now she worries that she will have to quit school. She beamed when we told her we would try to find her an additional sponsor to help with the extra cost of continuing to secondary school. If any of you would like made a monthly donation to enable this bright young woman to continue her studies for another year, please email me and I’ll give you the details. Lately we have been feeling a significant burden over being able to keep the girls studying past the most elementary grades, and this is one young lady with a lot of potential, who hopes one day to be a bilingual secretary and earn a wage to help her care for her family. We would love to be able, with your help, to see her dream come true.