* 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)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Promotion Day at Hermano Pedro

Chris, Donna, 4 of my boys and I headed over to Hermano Pedro to celebrate the end of another school year for the kids that attend the small school that we have there. Thanks to a wonderful teacher and a generous sponsor 7 of the kids that live in the orphanage are getting a wonderful education. Fact is Nanete, our teacher has helped see to it that 2 of the students that she has taught in previous years now go to to schools in town. Fidel (pictured above) is one of 2 students that have already graduated from our school. Although Fidel has severe CP and no use of his hands he managed to complete 2 grades of school each year and last year he graduated from our school. He now goes out and takes computer classes in Antigua. Even though Fidel has graduated from our school Nanete still spends a lot of tie with him and in his free time you will usually find him in the class room on his computer. Today he ran the overhead projector and the sound equipment for the promotion ceremony.

Fidel also showed us this slide presentation that he made.

Nanete is not only a dedicated teacher but a great advocate and true friend of all of our students.

Here are a few more pictures of the proud students and some of us who are so proud of them.


Yours in Christ: Dick

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Congratulations Esbin and Jason!

Since Pat has been borrowing some of my journals. I decided that turnabout is fair play.


Pat wrote-

This year two of Dick’s boys “graduated” from the equivalent of Jr. High. Esbin graduated from a public school, and was so excited that we were able to come up for the graduation ceremony.


For Esbin, school is quite a challenge, and we’re so proud of him hanging in there and graduating. His determination to stay in school is especially remarkable considering that he has been abandoned by his mother. He was taken in by another family, and shortly after he moved in with them, the father of the family drowned. A few months later, the mother died from an infection on her leg. This “blended” family is being held together by the young adult son and daughter, who have continued to care for Esbin and his brother, as well as their biological siblings.

IMG_0929Jason graduated, with honors, from a private Christian school he has attended. This is remarkable for the young man who, a year ago, was missing and we feared dead. After Dick received a call from a pastor in Guatemala City and convinced him to come home, he began going to the same school as Cesar and Fernando, thanks to the generosity of a sponsor in the U.S. This seems to have made all the difference for him, and he has excelled academically and socially. He truly is a work of God. Jason has become one of my favorites of Dick’s kids, and I was very disappointed to miss his ceremony since I was sick. Dick provided me with photos, however.


Jason receiving his class ring from his parents
as a proud Dick looks on

Both of these young men will be continuing their schooling in January. Jason wants to study tourism, though recently, after working with the Hermano Pedro kids at camp, is considering teaching or nursing.


Dick with Jason and Cesar.

Cesar has one more year before he graduates

but he received an award for his excellent grades.

We are especially proud of these young men, since many stop their studies and go to work at this point. I can’t help but think that this is in large part due to Dick’s influence and his constant interest in their schoolwork. Way to go, Guys!


Saturday, November 26, 2011


Most of our wheelchair distributions take place in large buildings where 50 or 60 wheelchairs are given out and fitted in a single day. Although I enjoy these very much I must admit that some of my favorites are the days when we go out and give out just one or 2 wheelchairs. Today was one of those special days. Fact is today we brought the average down a little bit by giving out 0 wheelchairs. I know that 0 is not an impressive number but I still consider it a very valuable day. Let me explain.

About 2 weeks ago I received an E-mail from Joel Vandyke. Joel told me about a gang member who was in prison in Guatemala City who told him that he had a 9 year old son who needed a wheelchair. Adrian, lives with his grandmother in one of the red zones of the City. Red zones are places in the City that are considered unsafe for outsiders to go into. However they are also places where there is much need. Since they are not the best places for strangers to be asking for directions Pat, Elsa (A therapist who works with Hope Haven International), Sarah (A therapist who is here working with Bethel Ministries for the week) , Calin, Kevan, Cesar and I arranged to meet Adrian and his grandmother at a McDonald's in a better part of the City. Edwin, the prison Chaplin had agreed to drive Adrian and his grandmother there.

Edwin and his wife showed up with the little boy and his Grandmother right on time. (Actually they were about an hour late but that is about as close to being on time as things get here in Guatemala.) Shortly after meeting them grandmother told us that the the wheelchiar that I had brought with me was no longer needed because her grandson had received an identical wheelchair at a Hope Haven wheelchair distribution just a few days earlier. She apologized to us for making the trip to the City for nothing. We all looked at each other. I think that we were all thinking the same thing. This had not been a wasted trip. Even though we had just met the 2 of them we were already in love with them both and even though Adrian apparently had some form of bran damage and could not walk or talk, he was one of the friendliest kids that we had ever met. And it was immediately apparent that his grandmother had a deep love for him. Grandmother told us that she had been working with him a lot and that she felt that he would benefit from a walker. After examining him I agreed. After talking with Grandma Pat felt that she would be able to figure out a way for him to communicate as well. We told grandmother that it would be easier for us to assess what type of walker and communication system would be best for him if we knew a little more about his environment though. 10 minutes later Grandmother, Adrian, Pat, Elsa, Calin, Kevan, Cesar and I were in my car and driving to where this family lived.

It took about a half hour to reach their home and most of Grandmother's time was spent holding him and looking out of the window of my car while naming things to her grandson. Even though his mother had deserted him, his father was in jail and he did not live in the best of neighborhoods it was apparent that Adrian was not starving for love. When we reached their home we were greeted by 3 more kids whom we were told were cousins of Adrian. We were told that both of grandma's sons are in jail. This was not one of the safest neighborhoods that I have been in but Grandma was doing her best to make her house a real home for these 4 kids. It was hard to say goodby but we promised that we would be back soon with a walker, some food, some communication ideas and some more Christian love. Had this been a wasted day? Perhaps so if we had been looking at how many wheelchairs we had given out, but I do not believe that is what it is all about.

"There are people in the world so hungry
that God cannot appear to them
except in the form of bread."

Yours in Christ: Dick

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Marcos is 14 years old and weighs only 23 pound

Today Pat and I met Marcos. Unlike many of the children that have been admitted into the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro Marcos was not brought in from any remote village. Fact is his family lives only a few miles from the hospital. Just a few years ago most of the starving kids that were brought into the hospital were kids that had disabilities like cerebral palsy that made it more difficult for them to gain weight but more and more we are finding or seeing kids come in to the hospital that have nothing wrong with them other than that they are starving. Granted Marvin has C.P. but his appetite is good and it is obvious that he has simply not been given enough to eat and that what little food he has been given was likely nothing more than corn tortillas and water or at best coffee. Can you imagine how difficult it must be for a father or mother to watch their child go to bed hungry each night. It has to be even more difficult to deny food to your unhealthy child so that the more healthy one gets a bit more to eat. "Not happening!" you say. Thankfully not as much as it was a few years ago but it is still happening. If you don't believe it come and spend a week on the road with me. When I first came to Guatemala 11 years ago I soon became aware that a child that was disabled was in many cases looked on as a curse from God and was not treated in the same manor as a so called normal child but I have seen some changes over the years. Now many of the families seem to love and value their disabled child as much as their other children. Unfortunately with many families there is simply not enough food to go around and it becomes survival of the fittest and it even seems that over the past few years even more children that have nothing physically wrong with them are going hungry. At least the families that do not have enough to feed any of there children do not have to make a decision on which one starves and which one gets to eat. Last month 3 children all from the same family that had been admitted into the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro went back home. While in the hospital they all gained weight fast because there was nothing wrong with them other than that they did not have enough food in there home to keep them alive. When they left the hospital they were all looking good. Are they still that way? I pray that they are but I have seen many children return within a few months. Many do well when they return home but there are others that should have returned to the malnutrition ward but they have died instead.
Just this morning I was shown this picture of 9 year old Jose.

We gave a wheelchair to Jose a year or 2 ago. I can remember giving Jose a wheelchair that fit him perfectly but now it looks like you could place another child his size in the same wheelchiar next to him. His grandmother and him are very close and she fears if she brings him in to the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro that he will die of loneliness. I wish that we could tell her that she is wrong but I see that happening with others like 13 year old Lionel. What is the answer then? I don't know, but I was told by the social worker that showed me Jose's picture that without help she doubts that he will live to see the end of this month. We are dipping into our emergency fund and making sure that he gets enough food to keep him alive this month but there are more months and many more starving kids.

( Lionel ),), ..........,,...,,,,,,,

I am sorry. This journal entry was suppose to catch you up on what took place these past 2 weeks (Perhaps another day). Instead I covered little more then what I witnessed today. Those of you who reed my journals on a regular bases know that I seldom ask for help. That is why there is no button to click on if you wish to help. Not even a mailing address where you can send donations. I know that there are starving kids all over the world and many good organizations that are trying to help them. My question is are you doing any thing to help any of them? If not please reach out and help one of them in any way that you can. If it so happens that God is laying it on your hart to help one of the little ones that I just wrote about please contact me at dick@dickrutgers.com.
"Sometimes I would like to ask God, why He allows Poverty, Famine and Injustice in this world, when He Could do something about it.....but I'm afraid that He might ask me the same question."

Yours in Christ: Dick