* 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, December 13, 2011

Pat To The Rescue

Tomorrow should be the last day of a week long road trip that 3 of my boys and I have been on. I planned on journaling about it this evening but then discovered that Pat had written about an outing that a few of us went on a few days before the boys and I headed out to Plya Grandy, so I have decided to procrastinate for a few more days and and post Pat's journal instead. Thanks to Pat I can kick back and enjoy my last night on the road.


Visiting Families in Tecpan

Written by Pat

I left Antigua early this morning to take the bus up to Chimaltenango where I was meeting Dick, the boys, and Liz, a volunteer down to help with camp. After a quick breakfast at Camperos, we headed to the Bethel shop to pack food bags we would be taking to six families living outside of Tecpan.

This area is one of the most beautiful in Guatemala, and if I were to move to a village area, I think this one would be it. (Dick reminds me, though, the people in this area are still not too fond of us gringos, but I do love the area and the people I know there. The problem for me is, I often forget that I’m a gringo.)


When we arrived, we discovered that Maria Son was not at home, but was a few miles away at her parents. Maria was Bethel’s first contact in this aldea, and this young widow with four children is one of my favorite Guatemalan women. We visited for a while with Maria’s sister, Josefina, and her family, though.

DSC01046Josefina’s oldest daughter (I think named Gloria) has not been in school the past few years since the family could not afford to send all the children to school. As in many areas, the families choose to educate the boys, sometimes at the expense of an older daughter. This girl is somewhat fearful of returning to school since she is about 14 years old and only in the second grade. She really wants to at least learn to read well though, and we promised to try to find her a sponsor. School in this area is relatively inexpensive, so, if you would like to help sponsor Gloria for $25 a month so she can return to school and learn to read, please email me (Pat) and I’ll give you further information.


Gloria spends hours every day weaving “huipils,” the blouses worn by Mayan women, and often purchased by tourists. She will spend a month working on one blouse, and will learn less than $100 for the finished product. This money goes to help feed her parents and her five brothers and sisters.

We were shortly off up the hill through a corn field, to visit another family in this immediate area. Magdelena lives here with her four children part of the year in a metal house built by Bethel ministries. Her oldest daughter, Rosa, works in Chimaltenango, and when school is in session, they live there so the young children can attend school, and Rosa can work and still care for her mother. Mom is bed-ridden, and we are currently trying to get some medical tests done to see what her problem is. (This is one of the things we do with our medical fund.)

DSC01067 crop

Silvia, Magdelena’s daughter, is blind, and spends her days sitting in the house, basically vegetating. She has a “Presenter,” a hand-crank and solar powered audio Bible, she loves to listen to. She also loves Christian music, and has been wanting a CD player for a long time now. Through Liz’s generosity, Silvia now has one and can listen to music to her heart’s content.


Adelina, the youngest daughter in the family, just graduated from sixth grade and will be beginning “Basico” (jr. high) through the kindness of a sponsor. If you are at all interesting in sponsoring a child like Adelina for the upcoming school year, which begins in January, please email me (Pat) for information.

DSC01071Adelina carrying a bag of groceries on her head,which I could not lift with both hands. Even Dick’s boys complained about how heavy the bags were, and she carried it without a word.

DSC01075We set off down the trail to the next family. This family only receives food periodically. There is a father in the family, but they obviously are very poor and need help. Mom and the 19 year old daughter earn money weaving. We’re not quite sure what dad does, if anything, and don’t ask too many questions. Dad does not like “gringos” coming on his property. Unfortunately, we need to pass through their land to get to the next two widows we would be visiting. Today, dad was not at home, and we had a chance to visit with the family before moving on.


Our next stop was Samuel’s family. Samuel’s mom is yet another widow with five children. Not that long ago, Samuel was not in school because he was working in the fields to earn about $10 a week to feed his family. While the younger children were going to school on sponsorships, and even though one was available for Samuel, his mother could not afford to give up this small income for food. Hearing this, his sponsor increased their donation by $40 a month and now Samuel is in school and loving it. An added benefit is that he can still work the fields during vacations and weekends. We didn’t get to see him today, since he was out working, but had a wonderful time visiting with his mother, grandmother and siblings.

Our last stop was at the home of Maria José. She is an extremely frail widow with eight children who live in a two room adobe house. We were invited in today, and were astounded by the poverty in which they live. One room is a kitchen of sorts, with no more than a fire pit and some crude shelves. The other room had a single bed. We asked where the children sleep, and were told on the bumpy dirt floor—without blankets.

This time of year it gets cold at night, and both Dick and I felt our hearts break at the thought of these children sleeping huddled together to keep warm on a floor so uneven I had a hard time walking on it. And this woman has never asked us for anything. She has only recently begun receiving food assistance after her family was discovered almost by accident.

I have a few donated quilts left, and between them and the blankets the camp volunteers graciously left, these children will at least have warm covers this Christmas.


As we were getting ready to leave, Wilmer, one of Maria Son’s sons ran up to us from the field where he had been working, excited that his mother had come home to see us. So once again we were trekking up the steep path for a visit.


When we got there, Maria brought out a children’s huipil she had been saving for me. She’d thought I had a granddaughter and that I might like it for her. Unfortunately, no granddaughters, but the huipil was so beautiful I could not turn it down. It will be a beautiful wall hanging, and I might even get it framed. The only problem was that when I went to pay Maria for it, she only wanted to accept a third of what the weaving was worth. It took a while talking to her about the fact that while I appreciated her friendship, it would not feed her children. Finally she accepted a bit more, but still gave it to me for far less than she could have sold it in the markets.


When it was time to go, the crowd of children and adults following us had grown shockingly. Dick would have to turn the car around to get out from where we had parked, and we were not quite sure how to keep all the kids safe as he did so. I think Dick wanted to strangle me when I suggested he let all the kids ride in the truck as he turned around, but it would keep them out from behind the back wheels. Dick reluctantly agree, and we discovered you could easily (?) fit more than 20 Guatemalan children into a Land Cruiser.


I know I’ve written a lot about this one trip, but this area is very dear to my heart, and each family here has a wonderful story to tell. At times people challenge me as to why I am Guatemala while there is so much need in the US. These stories explain why. . .not just the poverty I see here, but what I don’t find here. I seldom see hopelessness, entitlement, anger, or any of the other things I have been taught are the side-effects of poverty. Each visit I learn more from my friends living here about living life to the full.

These families have a joy that only comes from their firm faith in Jesus, and their strong sense of community. While we took food to six families, there are probably sixty more who are in just as much need who we pass on the way into the aldea. There is no jealousy or resentment shown by those who are also in need. They often tell us of needs of other families in the area, but seldom their own.

They welcome us as long lost friends, and it fills my heart to bursting when children whose names I cannot even remember come running up to my shouting, “Paty, you’ve come back.



Thanks Pat.

Yours in Christ: Dick


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good morning Dick! i just found you through Joel van Dyke's page. Thank you for so much for all the work you are doing in my country, I am so blessed and joyful to see how God is impacting people through you for His glory, I will be praying for you and yur ministry!! may the Lord bless you abundantly!!!

Michel and Gaby Galeano

Friday, December 16, 2011  

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