* 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)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Marna gets a new wheelchair

(Click on any photo to enlarge)

Written by Pat

(I know, but if you go to Pat's Blog you will see for yourself that turnabout is fair play. There is some stuff that she wrote that I didn't swipe so you may want to check it out. Dick)

Mirna with Amy DeYoung, from New Life School
and Amy’s dog, Boby

One of the things that I enjoy about being up at Santa Maria de Jesus is being able to serve as an “intermediary” between the needs in Santa Maria and some of the other ministries in the Antigua area. For a while now, Dick has been wanting to get a new, better fitting wheelchair up to Mirna, and with just a little prodding from me, (My back side still hurts. Dick) today we are doing just that.

My connection with Mirna actually started the day I met Dick in 2007. Deb Reeg, Dave Penner and I had just visited Hermano Pedro for the first time and had taken some kids to lunch with Dick. When we returned, Dick asked if we wanted to go with him to visit a “traditional Mayan village” not far from Antigua. We jumped at the chance, and he took us to visit Mirna, to measure her for her first power chair.

That day was very humbling for me. We visited the family an unpainted cement block bedroom where Mirna was watching TV. It was my first time entering a home, and I was more than a little uncertain of how to act. It was especially uncomfortable for me, too, since I was the only one of the four of us who spoke much Spanish, and believe me, my Spanish wasn’t that good. (Just good enough so people expected that I would understand what they said, not good enough that I did understand!)

I was almost brought to tears by their poverty, though I’ve come to realize now that I live here, that this family does better than many we work with. I was more moved, though, by their obvious love and affection for Mirna, and the great care she was given. That was no small task for her mother who had 9 children, including Mirna with Cerebral Palsy, and three older children who were deaf.

We visited Mirna, and while Dick measured her for a chair, her mom sent one of her sisters out to get us juice and cookies. It was so hard to accept this simple gift of hospitality, since I was pretty sure they had spent more than a meal’s worth of quetzales to buy us this treat. God spoke to me in that moment, teaching me that real humility was gratefully accepting a gift from someone who could not afford to give it to you. I ate every bite and drank every drop, praying all the time that I wouldn’t get sick from eating “local” food. (I didn’t, but I was sooooo careful then! The people who trained me on “hygiene practices in a Third World country” would cringe if they followed me around now! And I’ve not gotten sick from food given me in villages, praise God, but I have from food eaten in so called good restaurants!)

Mirna in her (obviously) too small wheelchair

Anyway, fast forward to the present. About a year ago (November, 2010) Mirna developed a very deep and serious bedsore which has had her confined to bed for most of 2011. With the excellent care given her by her mom, and a lot of people praying for her, the sore has now healed to the point where she can once again sit in a wheelchair. Hence, our trip today.

We aren’t bringing her a power chair yet. Her arms and hands have deteriorated to the point where she cannot drive a hand operated chair, and will need some kind of head controlled model. Before investing the time in rigging that up, though, Dick wants to make sure that sitting in a chair will be possible for her without causing the bedsore to erupt again.

This chair, though, will give her the ability to move around her house more, sit at the table to eat with her family, and hopefully even get out into the community sometimes. Our goal is for her to be able to attend the afternoon girls’ Bible Study Amy DeYoung teaches once a week at the school.

To say Mirna was excited with her chair is an understatement. She beamed like a teenager with a new car. And, placing her in the chair, we all realized how contorted her arms and legs have become without therapy. We discussed it and I will be returning a couple times of week to do stretching exercises with her to see if we can get her into a better sitting position.

And once again I realized, the chair and the therapy are important for Mirna. What is more important, though, is her knowing that we care, and more importantly that God sees her in her need and isolation and has sent us to her. What a privilege. . .



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