* 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)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Wow 3 journals in 4 days!

I apologize for the fact that a good part of the following journal was written in Canadian instead of English but Pat was sick for a few days so other than writing it myself having Dave write it was the best that I could do.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Written by Dave.

Dick invited me to join him and Pat in Huehuetenango for the rest of this week giving out some wheelchairs and water filters. This morning I was able to have "brekky" (I am not going to even try to translate Dave's Canadian words into English. You will have to try to figure them out yourself but I think that "brekky" is some kind of a dance though. Dick) with the folks from Dick,s home state of Washington.

Then we headed to Canabaj
("Canabaj" is more than likely pronounced "Can-of-Bah". It is not a Canadian word for "something gross that comes in a can". It is a place near Huehuetenango. Dick) along with Clara and Amanda, who knew where we had to go to deliver 2 chairs.

The first chair we gave to a young boy, Ramiro. He was quite shy, and Dick had to be very gentle while fitting him. Dick also got his brother (who is also very shy) to help adjust the chair by getting him to use some wrenches. By the time we were finished adjusting, he was quite happy to help us.

While all this was going on, Gordon and Pat were praying with mom, and Ramiro's sisters, so it turned out be good visit, all around. Praise God.

We then delivered a regular chair to Josefa, an older lady who lives pretty close to Ramiro. She is hard of hearing and cannot see very well, but still managed to thank us, and was quite happy doing so.

After that we went back to Huehue to pick up a specialty chair for Bartilito, who lives near Silsa in Cuculque, about an half an hour up the hills. Pat stayed at the hotel, as she was still recovering from not feeling well.

When we got to Bartilito, all the kids were there to greet us, plus dad and mom. What a neat family, who really love their brother, Bartilito. The chair works perfect for him, as he has to lay down all of the time, and this chair can recline.

We also visited Rocky, a waiter from our hotel , who has a 4 yr. old boy, Anthony, who is passing blood in his urine. Rocky showed us his meds, and is going to bring us the actual prescriptions, to see if Pat and Dick can get some cheaper ones in Guate , and if these are actually the ones he needs.

On the way back to Huehue, Amanda bought a small turkey to bring home. This was one of the first times I have seen Dick a little scared, as Amanda kept holding it up so it looked like it was riding a bike. I think Dick thought something else might happen!

Thanks for inviting me, Dick. Just some more meeting wonderful families, playing with kids, and watching God work in these peoples lives.

Thank you ,Lord. Dave

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pat wrote this one.

After feeling very much under the weather yesterday, I was happy to awaken this morning feeling almost human. I’d prayed all night (at least when I’d wake up) that I’d be able to go to Silsa’s birthday party today, and, praise God, I was feeling well enough to do so.

I first met Silsa in February of 2009 (can it really be three years ago already?). We brought her down to Antigua to see a doctor at Hermano Pedro because she was having seizures lasting many hours, and had lost the ability to walk. To make a very long story short, her father had been involved with the local “witches” (yes, they exist here in Guatemala) and it seemed her condition was getting progressively worse. She was to return to Antigua in March of that year, but her family (at least her father) decided not to pursue medical treatment for her, but trust the treatment and counsel of the witches.

I was broken hearted when Dick had told me this, since I had fallen head over heals for this beautiful, shy young girl. Over time, Gordon, Donna Mooney’s father, and a number of local pastors from Huehuetenango would visit this young lady and her family to pray healing over her. This affliction, we all felt, was at least as much a spiritual battle as it was a medical concern. First, her seizures stopped. Next, she began to walk a little. When we were here last July, she could take a few steps, but still spent most of her time in a wheelchair. Four weeks ago she was walking on two crutches. Today, she walked holding only my arm for balance. All this is answered prayer, for she has received no further medical treatment.

She is, in fact, a walking miracle, and a living testimony to the healing power of our Mighty Savior. There is no doubt in our minds that her health today is a direct answer to the prayers of these men of God and many others throughout the world who have been praying for her healing.

When we visiting the family about a month ago, we were invited to Silsa’s quinciñera (fifteenth birthday party). The family is very poor, and could not afford guests beyond their own family, but wanted us to celebrate this special day with them. It just so happened the Bethel Ministries would be having a distribution here in Huehue a few days before her birthday, and we would already be in the area. We would just need to stay a few extra days.

So here we are, celebrating Silsa’s entrance into womanhood. Dick and I were accompanied by Dave and Gordon on this trip. In many areas, this celebration is more elaborate (and expensive) than a wedding, with a ball-gown type dress and a reception equal to that of a wedding. In poorer families, this is not so, but it is still a very special time in a girl’s life. This family would do what they could to make her day special.

Arriving, we found pine needles scattered in front of and throughout their tiny adobe house. We were warmly welcomed by the family, though dad still seemed a bit stand-off-ish. Sylvestra, Silsa’s mother, and the children and Sylvestra’s parents are Christ-followers, but dad remains at best skeptical. At least he’s not openly hostile to Christianity as he had been in the past.

When we were ready to eat, we were given places of honor, seated at the table, while most of the family sat on the bed around the room. Sylvestra had prepared a delicious meal of pepián, a spicy stew traditionally served at celebrations in Guatemala which she presented proudly to her guests. Her corn tortillas are the best I’ve ever eaten. Though my stomach was still a bit sensitive, I had to at least sample the food. We were honored to be able to buy the birthday cake for this party.

After dinner, Dick wanted to take some medicine up to Freddy, who lives further up the mountain, and invited the boys in the family to join him. Dad seemed a bit concerned, and decided to go with. To make room in the car, I stayed behind to visit with the women at the house.

Dick, why don’t you write something here about your trip to Freddy’s?

I hate to interrupt you Pat, so I will let Dave do it instead.

After we finished the birthday cake at Silsa's, Dick, Silsa's dad, 3 brothers and myself drove to Freddy's home to deliver some more meds to Freddy. Dick told Freddy's mom that he would personally deliver the meds every few months.

Pat and Gordon stayed with Silsa and her mom and had a good time chatting and visiting. Meanwhile Dick let all 3 boys take turns steering the Landcruiser. There were a few laughs to say the least, and it was especially good to see dad laugh and enjoy his boys having fun. The word I kept hearing from Dick was "DIRECTO, DIRECTO!" What a hoot!

After we got back to Silsa's we took Silsa and her mom to a doctor in Huehue (to check on some minor medical problems that she had). The female doctor (recommended to us by Gordon), did not charge us anything, and the 4 meds she prescribed ended up costing about Q150. Silsa is also scheduled for an ultrasound next Wed.

Dick and I then drove Silsa and her mom back home, and on the way mom showed us where she walks down to the highway to sell the cheese they make from their cows. It only takes her half an hour to descend (over 1000 ft. in elevation) down a winding, steep path.

On the way back to Huehue, Dick and I both were in awe of where we were the view is muy bonito as we were at approx. 7000 ft above sea level.

Seeing where these people live, and how they get to school and work, sure makes one thank God for all he has blessed me with.

Gracias a Dios. Dave

Back to you Pat

The car was not even off the land when Dora, Silsa’s 19 year old sister, asked me if I was a teacher. When I said I was, she shyly asked if I could help her learn, since she had never been able to attend school. I was somewhat surprised at this, since the other children all are receiving and education, but said I’d try. She shared with me that the local church was holding reading classes and she was learning a bit there.

She knew the vowel sounds and many of the consonant sounds, and I began giving her longer and longer words to read. She surprised me at how quickly she caught on, reading words such as trabajamos (we work) and hermana (sister) which required her to not only sound out the letters, but divide the word into syllables. Furthermore, she read simple sentences and immediately understood their meaning. She’s off to a good start.

Since she isn’t receiving any instruction in math, but knew how to count and the basic numbers, we began working on addition and subtraction facts. She quickly could complete most of the addition mentally, but had a bit more difficulty with the subtraction. Soon, however, she was off and running with simple problems.

So, I’ve promised her I will bring her some beginning reading and math books when we return in a couple months. Silsa and her brother have promised to help their sister with her work. Though she will not attend formal school, Dora is determined to learn basic reading, writing and math skills, and I have no doubt that by this time next year she will have a good foundation in both of these areas. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so grateful for my experience as a teacher as I was to be able to help this young lady, and see the glow of pride and accomplishment on her face when we finished her first lesson.

When the men returned, we headed down the mountain to Huehue, along with Sylvestra and Silsa. Silsa had been having some minor medical problems Mom wanted checked, and Gordon knew a good, Christian woman doctor in the city. This generous lady treated Silsa for free, and the five medications she prescribed came to a whopping 120 quetzales (about $15). Dick left 200Q with Sylvestra so Silsa could return next Wednesday to have a ultrasound done. This visit was, for us, an answer to prayer, also. We have been looking for good doctors in the Huehuetenango area (many are not so good), and finding this lady was another answered prayer.

Sharing these special times with the families we serve who have now become friends is my favorite part of living in Guatemala. These folks generously invite us to be part of their lives, and we are richly blessed by them.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pat writes,

This morning we started out at the home of Clara, a Guatemalan woman who is trying to run Agua Viva (Living Water) a “social center” here in Huehuetenango. She and her aunt, Amanda, have been helping us in our family visits in the area, and today we were at the center to give water filters to four families.

We have been looking for the most effective way to distribute water filters while at the same time making sure that they are being used effectively. In Huehue we came upon the idea of giving a filter to this center, and asking Clara to keep track of which families would come on a regular basis to get clean water. Now, we are giving filters to five of these families, asking them to share the water with their neighbors, and requesting they, too, keep track of who comes regularly. These families will, God willing, be our next candidates to receive water filters.

The people who came today were excited to have filters in their own homes and no longer have to travel to get pure water. Don Maximo rode his bicycle many miles over terrible roads to be able to take his filter home to Canabaj. Mildred, one of the women, wanted to know if it was okay for her to take her filter with her when she visits her mother every week in another part of the city. These folks are excited to share what they have with their families and neighbors. This seems to be the best process yet for distributing filters.

While Dick and Dave were assembling the filters, I had a chance to visit with the women. They have asked that I meet with them whenever I am in Huehuetenango to do Bible Study with them. None of them are very familiar with the Bible and are eager to learn. This will be a priority when we come back in a couple of months.

They also asked me to visit with two brothers, both of whom are blind had have never attended school. I don’t know what I was expecting, but these two guys blew me away. Darwin, the older brother, age 18, and Francisco, the younger, age 9, were bright, articulate, and hungry for learning. When I asked them if they would like to learn Braille, they both just about jumped out of their skin—and their mother was equally excited.

These two young men may not have been formally educated, but it was evident to all of us how much “teaching” the mother and other family members had done. Each was able to tell me exactly what they wanted to learn about, and their conversational skills were excellent. Francisco, the younger boy, is more outgoing, and can steel the show from his brother. Darwin, however, is extremely talented in his own right, riding a bicycle without being able to see where he is going. What courage! Darwin also caught on quickly to how to use a power drill, under Dick’s expert instruction.

While teaching those with vision disabilities is well out of my comfort range, or skill area for that matter, I am learning something about how to do this working with a center in Guatemala City, Fundal. This group educates deaf and/or blind children, and consults at New Life School in Santa Maria de Jesus where I have been working. So, what I know, I will bring to them, and their mother will be their teacher. I’m going to find out, too, if there is a chance that someone from Fundal could come and visit them and give their mother suggestions. I have to confess, I as captivated by Francisco, and heartily wish I could work with him directly. At one point I jokingly asked if he’d like to come home with me, and, without missing a beat, he answer, “Yes, if you’re going to teach me!” These kids deserve an education.

After wrapping up the water filter project, we headed out again, accompanied by Clara and Amanda, to visit Melanie, a 13 year old we had given a wheelchair to last July. We wanted to see how she was doing and how the chair was working out for her. It’s funny how my perspective has changed in the months since we first gave her a chair. She had had a plastic lawn chair on wheels which she had been using to get around, and when we put her in the yellow cloth child’s chair it looked perfect. Today, Dick (and even I) could see things we’d like to see changed with the chair to better support her. But, compared to the plastic chair she’d been in, the cloth chair was a 200% improvement. Now we’re hoping to make it 250% better for her.

We ate a quick lunch at McDonalds, and then the crew dropped me off at the hotel. They would be going to visit Ernesto, who lives at the top of a steep 15 minute climb up a mountainside. Dick was in no way going to let me try the trek with my heart, so I was “confined to quarters” for the afternoon while the rest of the group went out.


Dave wrote.

After Pat treated me, Dick, Amanda, and Clara to lunch at MacDonalds, we dropped her off at the hotel. Dick wanted to deliver some food to Ernesto and his dad, who live up in the hills about an hour north. Dick said it was only a 15 min. climb, but a little steep. Actually, it was not too bad (I only had to stop twice for a rest). Ernesto lives with his dad in a mud brick home, and has a wheelchair and a walker both of which he uses well. Dad cannot work, as he looks after Ernesto, so the food donation means a lot to them.

The neighborhood kids were very friendly, which Dick says was not the case a few years ago. Back then, they were leery of gringos. Today they kept waving and smiling at us, even when we were getting in the vehicle to leave.

There were a lot of Suv's on this back dirt road, and there were even water trucks spraying down the dust. We thought it was for us, but apparently the President was making a visit to a village up the way. That would also explain all the helicoptors flying around.

As Dick said on the way home, it was good to get Ernesto and his dad some food - it was worth the climb.


Back at the hotel, Pat had invited Dora (a teacher from Silsa's school) to bring her 18 yr. old daughter,who is autistic, to meet her. What a sweetheart! She showed us pics of her school while we had dinner together. You could sure tell she is well looked after by her mom, whose husband has left, and has also battled breast cancer. Dora is also taking classes on Saturdays to complete her teaching licence - quite a lady. She also travels 1 hour each way to the school where she teaches for 5 hours a day!

After meeting people like Dora, and the ladies and Maximo (who received the water filters), it was a good day to thank God.

Thank you Lord, for people like we met today.


Now more from Pat.

This evening, shortly before dinner, a teacher from Suculque (near Silsa’s home) brought her eighteen year old daughter to meet me. The young woman is mentally challenged and has some nervous mannerisms, but has wonderful social skills and a loving heart. Her mother, a breast cancer survivor, is very worried about what will become of Gleidy when she dies or can no longer care for her. She wanted to talk to me about what options I might know of.

Though Dora does not earn very much teaching and is the sole support of Gleidy, and her other son, age 16 who is also in school, she has found a private school for Gleidy to go to in the afternoons. This is a financial burden for her, however, and we would like to help her with this if at all possible. About $40 a month would go a long we towards easing Dora’s burden, If you or your small groups would like to help with this, please email me for more information at guatemelagrandma@gmail.com. This would be a huge blessing to this family.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Notice how Pat and Dave are not letting me get a word in edge wise. Oh well some day i will get a chance to journal again. Just kidding, I am very grateful to both of them. Now if I could only find some one to do all of thepictures for me I would really have it made.


Dave's turn Again

Pastor Orlando met Dick, Pat, and me at the hotel and then drove us to the home of Miriam, the mom of 8 children who has a tumor pushing her right eye out. After Dick had mentioned her in his journal a couple days ago, people who want to help out with the cost of the surgery started contacting him, so we went there to tell her the good news. While there Pat called a neurosurgeon in Guatemala City who Dick and Pat know, and set up an appointment on February 29. Dick told her that many people were praying for Miriam, and these prayers were answered today. We prayed for Miriam and her family, and thanked God for opening doors for her surgery. We do not know what the exact costs will be yet but this doctor is one of the best and we felt that it would be best to use him since it is such a delicate surgery, and he has always been very good to us price wise in the past.

We then drove to San Francisco Alto to deliver 2 wheelchairs to Miquel and Wilmer, 2 teenage boys who have M.D. Erica,s mom had identified these boys to us a few weeks ago. Dick was worried about one of the chairs fitting the boys, but after a few adjustments , and changing a few parts, (and Pat's prayers), the chair fit pretty good.

We could see mom and dad really loved and cared for their boys , and asked Dick and Pat if they could give them any kind of therapy or massages.

Dick made a couple of calls to physiotherapists he knows, and then showed mom and dad some gentle stretches they could do with the boys.

We prayed with the family, and as Dick and Pat said , it was a great way to end this week in Huehue.

Thank you Dick and Pat for inviting me to join you this week.

Thank you Lord for an awesome week.


Thank you Pat and Dave, not only for doing nearly all of the journaling but also for putting up with me. I also want to thank the Bethel Ministries gang and the group from Washington State that was with us up in Huehuetenango during the first part of our 8 day stay. Tonight Pat, Dave and I are in Xela and tomorrow we plan on heading for home. It has been a great trip and we have really seen God's hand in all of it. I will be glad to get back to Chimaltenango thought as I really miss my kids. Believe it or not I think that they even missed me. Today my phone kept ringing of the hook with kids that wanted to know when I would be back at home. I think that they miss me. Then again it could be that they missed not being able to get on the computer while I was gone. Either way I will be glad to see them.


Yours in Christ: Dick


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