* 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)

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.



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