* 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, December 8, 2011

Chimaltenango Guatemala

Camp # 11


Now that camp is once again history. I may find a little more time to journal. All I can say is that it was a busy 3 weeks, but 180 campers, their companions and all of the Americans, Canadians and Guatemalans that pitched in to make it work will agree that it was well worth it. I think that I could write a novel about all of the exciting things that went on during camp but I know that others have and hopefully some of them will send me some of the things that they wrote about so that can publish them. All I can say is thinks Gang for making this one of the best camps ever.

This year 3 of my boys took an active part at camp and did me proud.
Calin and Cesar helping out during Craft time.

Cesar's time was divided between helping get wheelchairs that needed repair to and from Bethel's wheelchair shop and being a care giver. Calin stayed at camp the entire 3 weeks helping out as a care giver to various campers that came without companions.

Jason spent a lot of time helping out at camp as well.

This year all 3 groups of campers got to spend a day at the beach.

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"I'M too busy doing God's work to help my Neighbor."

Not all of my time was spent at camp. A lot of it was spent bringing volunteers to and from the airport. Fact is 12 trips to and from the airport were made during the 3 weeks of camp. It was during several of these trips that I got to know Octuvio better. In the 11 years that I have been in Guatemala I have seen Octuvio at the airport almost every time that I have gone there to pick up a group of volunteers but I have rarely taken the time to visit with him. This is partly due to the fact that my Spanish is so bad but since I almost always have one of my kids or someone else with me that can interpret that is really not a good excuse. I can't really say that I do not have the time either because more times than not I have to wait an hour or longer for the people that I come to pick up from the airport to arrive, pick up their baggage and clear customs, and those are on the good days. I guess that during the week I see so many people in wheelchairs that are begging that I just sort of zone out when I get to the airport. After all thousands of people walk by Octuivo every day and many of them are Americans that have come to help the widows orphans and beggars of Guatemala so I am sure that since Octuivo is one of the first that they see after getting off their airplanes, he must do quite well begging and selling pencils. Granted his wheelchiar is poor shape but he no doubt has a better one at home. I know a lot of beggars who keep their good wheelchairs hidden away at home. I am sure that someone else will take care of this man's needs. I don't have the time, because I have to get these people back to Chimaltenango so we can do God's work.

During the past few week my boys and I have gotten to know Octuivo a bit better though. After looking at his wheelchair we found that it was in terrible shape. When I asked him if he wanted me to take it back to our wheelchair shop to fix it he was delighted. I asked him if he had another wheelchair and just as I expected he told us that he had another one at home but that it needed work as well. He said that it was alright with him if we took his for a week or 2 though because he really wanted it fixed. When I asked him how he would get around he told me that he would walk on the stubs of his amputated legs. He said that he lived only a little over a half mile away. I did not want to leave him without a wheelchair so I promised to bring him a refurbished one to replace his old one. One week turned out to be 2 weeks because I got busy. Besides that I figured that if the chair that he took to the airport quit working altogether he still had the one at home. After all it couldn't be in as bad of shape as the chair that we planned on fixing.

I finally managed to pick up a wheelchair from our shop on Friday afternoon. Saturday was to be the day that I brought the last group of camp volunteers back to the airport so I figured if I wanted to get this out of the way I better do it then. Octuvio had given me his phone number so I figured that if I called him 20 minutes before I got to the airport he could at least be waiting for me so that I wouldn't have to waist my time waiting around for him. If all went well this should not take long. Octuvio had no legs so we wouldn't have to even bother putting on and adjusting foot rests. As it turned out though Octuvio showed up about 15 minutes late. I managed to hurry things along a bit by having him fill out some needed paperwork on the wheelchair that we were giving him as the boys and I made some minor adjustments. I think that Octuvio realized that I was in a bit of a hurry because he apologized over and over again for being late. He explained to me that he was at home when I called and that he had a long hill to climb that he could not use his wheelchair on and that was why he was late. I had remembered Chris telling me just a few days before when I was asking him for a wheelchair for Octuvio that Octuvio had told him that he lived on the side of a hill but I hadn't thought much about it since most of the area around the airport is flat. Chris had also told me that Octuvio had told him that he was in need of a new house but Chris said that he had never seen the house that he was living in. Once Octuvio got into his new wheelchair he did nothing but give thanks. Not to us but to God. He told us that this chair was an answer to his prayers. Could it be that his other wheelchair was not in all that great of shape? Who knows maybe his house wasn't either. Soon Octuvio, the 6 of my boys and I were in the van heading to where Octuvio and his family lived. We only drove 8 to 10 blocks when Octuvio said, "You better park the van here because I don't think that you will be able to get back up the hill that is just around the corner." I could not see around the corner and since I was in the van and not my Land Cruiser I did as he suggested. I asked one of the boys to get Octuvio's wheelchair out of the van but he told them that it would be easier for him to walk the last quarter of a mile. Even though the hill was paved I was glad that I took Octuvio's advice it was so steep that I doubt that the van could have made it back up the 2 block incline with out spinning out. When we got down to where the road flattened out we made a left turn and then walked another 3 blocks. The narrow street was littered with abandon cars several of which were being dismantled by people whom I would not care to run into in a dark alley. Thankfully it was sunny and high noon. Most of the people seemed to know Octuvio though and most were very courteous to him and to us. I couldn't help but say a quick prayer that Bthel's van would not soon become one of those parts cars though. My kids were a great comfort by reminding me that I was the only Gringo in the bunch and if there was any trouble they would blend right into the crowd. This certainly was not the high rent district but all of the houses were made of cement and most were much larger than the corrugated steel ones that Bethel builds. We finally stopped walking and Octuvio reached into his pocket for some keys. The house we were at didn't look all that great but it was fairly large. It had no windows facing the street but there was a rather large mettle door. Octuvio tried several keys but none of them worked. He knocked but no one came to the door. He told us that his wife and 4 of his 7 children were at home but there was no way that they would be able to here him knocking because they were several hundred feet away. I didn't quite understand, unless this was a really big house. Finally the door was opened but the person that opened it disappeared before I could even see them. Octuvio then explained that this was not his house but going through it was the only way to get to where he lived. After zigzagging through several rooms we found ourselves once again outside and looking down a steep cliff. There about 100 feet below was the roof of what Octuvio told us was his house. The next few minutes were spent slipping and sliding down a steep mountain side to the dilapidated shelter below. Octuvio was in the lead walking on the stumps of his 2 legs.

Once inside the house we felt more like we were in a cave than a home. The walls were a combination of wood, card board and black plastic. A dark tunnel like hallway led past the kitchen area into a larger room where the entire family slept. This room was lit up better then the rest of the house but that was because there were large open places where the tin roof had rusted away. We were soon introduced to Octuvio's wife and 4 of his children. They were all very friendly and made us feel extremely welcome. Octuvio's oldest son has a job but it pays next to nothing and other than that and the money that Octuvio gets from hand outs and selling pencils it is scarcely enough for this family to stay alive on. In spite of that the children looked healthy and the younger ones all attend school. They also seem grateful to God that they have a place where they can live togather as a family and that Octuvio who has had both legs and 3 fingers amputated due to diabetes, is still alive and doing quite well.

After seeing where Octuvio and his family live it is doubtful that a new house can be constructed at this location. Especially considering the steepness of the terrain, the fact that the family says that there is a river running through their house every time that it rains and the dirt floor keeps moving.

<-- Kitchen

Octuvio's second wheelchiar -->
was indeed in his house.

Esbin and Marcos packed the wheelchair up the hill but once we took a closer look at it we realized that there was not a part on it that was worth salvaging

Before leaving my boys and I had prayer with our new friends. I then asked the family if they would consider relocating to a better location if it were possible. They told me that they felt that they had no choice but to stay here since they were still making payments on this piece of property. I can't help but wonder if the previous land owner well be able to collect anything when this land, the house and the family end up in the canyon below.

Yours in Christ: Dick


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