* 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)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Not a novel, it just looks like one.

“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me."

Matthew 25:44-45

Today two of my boys and are in San Pedro Lagona. Seems that I have been on the road a lot lately. Since returning from the States I have taken part in two Bethel Ministries wheelchair distributions and have gone and visited many sponsored and "hope to be sponsored" families. One or two of my boys have been able to come along with me on most of these trips and all I can say is that the boys have been fantastic. I must admit that having no less than twelve teens in a three room house most of the time can be a bit taxing but watching God use most of these young men in ways that I had never dreamed of makes it well worth it (Well at least most of the time).

(Click on any photo to enlarge)-------------

My good friend Daryl Fulp, director of Hope for Home Ministries, and his right hand man Giraldo have also accompanied us on some of these visits. Like myself Daryl and Giraldo spend time in the villages and often find people who need food, education, wheelchairs or other medical needs so lately we have been trying to coordinate more of our efforts. I think that Satan likes nothing better than seeing ministries play the Lone Ranger game rather than work together for the common goal of sharing the Love of Christ with the world. Fact is during the past few days I have been representing several different ministries. Two of my boys and I have been repairing and giving out wheelchairs that have been provided by both Hope Haven International and Bethel Ministries. I have food packets that were given to me by Hope for Home some of the medical supplies were provided by Vine International and although Pat was unable to accompany the boys and me on this trip her prayers and the prayers of the Josiah Foundation, who she serves under, are with us. Let me not forget to mention those of you who support us in finances and prayer. Talk about name dropping! But who really cares who or what organization did what! I know that those that are pictured in this journal don't. They only know that they are hungry and want to be fed. Isn't it all God's work anyway, and Isn't it God that deserves all of the credit. OK I will get down off from my soap box for now and share some of the things that God allowed me to be a small part of lately.

(Clicking on any of the underlined names above that are in red will bring you to their web site.)


During the past few weeks I have visited with a lot of hurting people. Thanks to many of you we were were able to reach out to many of them through wheelchair distributions, food distributions, medical help, school sponsorship and most important of all, sharing the love of Christ with them in action and in word. In the last two wheelchair distributions alone several people not only received canes, walkers and wheelchairs but a new life in Christ. During home visits others received not only a monthly ration of food but some also got their first taste of "The Bread Of Life".

On the day that Daryl went out with me we visited all of the families pictured above plus many others. One family that I have known for years is the family of Carlos, his mother and his siblings. I had picked up a wheelchair from Bethel Ministries the day before because Daryl had found a girl that needed a new wheelchair. After meeting her and seeing how well she pushed herself around with her foot we decided that the chair that we had taken along was not the right wheelchair for her so I told Daryl that I would set him up with another wheelchair that he could bring her on a trip that he had already planned on doing this week. Are you ready for a Godincience? When we got to Carlos's home we discovered that the years and the salt air had taken it's tole on his old wheelchair and it was time for a new one. To make a long story not quite as long let me just say that the wheelchair that did not work out for the girl earlier that day was the perfect wheelchair for Carlos.

A year or so ago Carlos's mom had to quit work because she could find no one to care for Carlos who has suffers from severe seizures. I have two aunts who have been paying $25 per month for medicine for Carlos but recently the doctor had to more than double his prescription do to increasing seizure activity. Unfortunately mom could not come up with the extra $30 per month so Carlos now has three to four seizures a day when on less than half the amount of medicine that he should have. Mom really loves her son and it is extremely hard for her to see him suffer so much but for her 1$ a day could just as well be a thous....

WOW ! Talk about another "GODINCIDENT" as I was writing the word "thousand" I received a phone call over my computer. I had been praying about mentioning Carlos needing additional money and also about mentioning the name of a few kids that have recently lost their sponsors. If you look back through my five years of journaling you will see that I have mentioned the need for financial help very few times but tonight I figured I would go ahead and name these kids that we would soon have to quit sponsoring with out medicine two of them would suffer from seizures and a few more would have to drop out of school. Well Guess what. After that phone call some of them now have a new sponsor. Praise God!! You are not off the hook yet though because we have more kids and adults that need help. No magic button to push, but if God lays it on your hart to help one of these kids or families please contact me. My e-mail is dick@dickrutgers.com Guatemala Cell Phone # 502 5379 9451 USA Phone # 360 312 7720 (Relays free to Guatemala)

Seems that this journal entry is not going anywhere in the direction that I intended it to go but I will try once again to update you on a few things that have been going on lately.

This is a picture of Milton and his family. Their needs are many but their demands are few. One day a few months ago while driving down the dirt road near the home of Carlos, Pat and I fond saw mom standing by the side of the road holding Milton. Nine year old Milton has severe CP and is malnourished. Fact is most of the family is malnourished. since that time we have brought in some food and given Milton a wheelchair and Milton's three brothers shoes and school supplies, but they insisted that their 3 year old school uniforms would be OK for a while even though the had hole in them and the zippers no longer worked. When I asked mom if they were getting enough to eat she smiled and said some of the time. By the looks of things some of the time must mean once or twice a week. The boys are all doing well in school and that is why they are holding a new soccer ball. A promise is a promise and so I baught them one after seeing their last report card. Pat and I have been helping this family out of our own pockets but I think that it is time we get a sponsor for them.

Our Final stop of the day was at Ronny's family. It has been over year now since Ronny passed away but I have known this family for years and they are very dear to me. Oh granted while Milton's mom will ask for nothing, Ronny's mom makes up for in asking for the moon. Fact is she some times drives me crazy but I still love this family.

Shortly before going back to the states for a month and a half nine year old Herlindo broke his arm and had to have surgery on it. Hirllindo's arm is now out of the cast and all of the wires and metal plates have been removed. Meracously the arm did not get infected even though the surgery was done in the national hospital and the environment at his home is anything but sanitary. The only problem is that the movement is his elbow is very limited. The break occurred only an inch from the elbow and the national hospital was very vague on weather or not they thought that this was a bone or a muscle problem. Herlindo's doctor would go back and forth on whether he thought exercise would help, whether he should operate on it or if Herlindo would just have to live with an arm that did would not straighten out. When I suggested that I get him in to Hermano Pedro for to see what they suggested both Herlindo and his family jumped at the idea. I don't think that all of Herlindo's enthusiasm was as much in seeing the doctor as in staying at my house. He and his brother Ronny got to stay there a few times back when Ronny was alive and Herlindo had made friends with a lot of my kids. Most of my kids are older than him a but they are great with him. Cessar's little brother David came over a few times and he and Herlindo immediately became the best of friends.

Oh come to think of it, in between all of the fun stuff I did get him in to Hermano Pedro for some ex-rays and we were given a list of exercises that should make his arm as good as new. Herlindo was not sure that five days was enough but when he got back to his house he was excited to see his family again.
It was three days ago that Fernando, Miguel and I started the little jaunt that we are now on. Over the past few weeks I have received phone calls from several people that live near Lake Atitlan concerning wheelchair problems that they were having. Over the past few years we have given out several Power wheelchairs in various towns and villages around the lake and keeping power chairs from breaking down here in Guatemala seems to be as big of a challenge as keeping you car from breaking down in Guatemala. Some of the chairs that needed fixing or replacing were manual wheelchairs but by the time we had my car loaded it was truly loaded with chairs and parts.

One of our first stops was at the home of Stephen. His mother had called me about 10 days ago. Stephen only way to get to school is in his power wheelchiar and the drive there is anything but smooth. Once again the rough roads had taken it's tole. Stephen's mom told me that he got so upset that he could not attend school that he actually got sick and as a result ended up in the hospital for a few days. The boys and I pretty much disassemble and reassembled Stephen's wheelchair in an attempt to get it going but simply did not have the needed parts to get ti going so we had to load it up in my car so that we can take it back to the shop when we go back on Monday. Knowing how much he relies on his wheelchair I promised Stephen that I would make the 6 hour round trip and return his chair to him as soon as it is fixed. If you could have seen the smile on his face when I told him this I think that you would do the same even if you had to carry the chair to him on your back.

Next we stopped off at Sebastian's home. Sebastian is Stephen's brother. Both boys have muscular dystrophy. Their parents are separated and Stephen lives with his mom while Sebastian lives with his dad. Sebastian was also having some problems with his power wheelchair but we managed to get it going for now and promised to bring a new controller when we return Stephen's wheelchair to him.

Next stop Alex. This was a battery charger problem and an easy fix. Then on to see Juan. This energetic 12 year old loves the power chair that we gave him about 6 months ago but is not in it all of the time. He has not let a little thing like not being able to walk or having almost no use of his arms and hand stop him from getting out an mixing it up with his class mates. When we went to his house we visited with him for a while but then he told us that he had to get ready for a soccer game that he was playing in tonight. He will use his power chair to get there but then have his friend lift him out so that he can play the entire game on his knees.

(Below is a video of Juan the day we gave him his Power wheelchiar)

Funny thing, Santiago and San Pedro are less than an hour apart but Motels in Santiago cost more then three times as much. Since I am Dutch I had been hoping that we could make it to San Pedro but it was getting dark and the road from Santiago to San Pedro is not the safest to travel at night so I decided to give my money to the motel clerk instead of a possible bandit along the way.

The next morning we made a few more stops and then drove to San Pedro. The hotel that we have here is very nice and over looks the lake. The boys room cost me $15 per night and mine is $10. I must admit I was a bit skeptical of the wiring of the "Widow Maker Shower Head" that was in my bathroom, but after I jiggled the wires a bit it worked just fine.

(The view from my room in San Pedro)

After checking in at the motel and a short discussion with a police officer about weather or not the road that I was on was one way or two way we made it over to San Juan where we met up with Thelma. Thelma is a therapist at a special needs school in San Juan and she knew where several kids lived that were having problems with their wheelchairs. I knew most of these kids but had only seen them at their school and being Saturday they were all at their homes. Actually I knew where Miguel lived so we met up Thelma her there. Miguel is another incredible young man. He has the same condition as Juan. Unlike Juan Miguel has no use what so ever of his arms and can not knee walk so he uses his chin to drive his power wheelchair and does fantastic paintings with his teeth. Since Miguel can not knee walk he scoots around on his bottom to play soccer with his friends.

The rest of our day was spent fixing several and giving out one more wheelchair. If you think that the little girl in the photo above is getting ready to bite me you are wrong. She did that to Thelma the therapist. All she did to me was dig her finger nails into my arm.

(The young man above was thrilled with his new wheelchair)

We were planning on heading for home after delivering one more wheelchair this morning but the boys twisted my arm a bit. Actually it did not take much twisting because it is beautiful here at the lake. Besides that I know that if I went home I would never get this journal that is turning out to be more like a novel done. We did a bit of work in the morning though, by setting up a new wheelchiar for Domingo. I set up a power wheelchair for him a few years ago but it stays at his school.

Thelma told me Domingo spends nearly all of his time in bed when he is at home. Domingo who is Twenty one years old has Muscular dystrophy and I fear that he does not have long to live.

Now at least he can get out side to see the light of day on the days that he can not go to school.

Tomorrow we plan on making it back home. We have one more scheduled stop to make but I have to be home by Tuesday morning because if all goes a planned Pat and I will be bringing Mariam in to Guatemala City on Tuesday and she will likely have her surgery some time later in the week.

Thank you for your prayers, and I apologist for making this so lengthy but it does feel good to finally get caught up with my journaling.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Home Again

I am finally back in Guatemala,and things are pretty much back to normal.

After having a house to myself while I was in the USA for the past six weeks, the first day back in Guatemala felt a bit strange with about 5 kids in the house. But that soon changed and now there are sometimes as many as 15 so things are pretty much back to normal. I have laid down some new ground rules though and so far I am managing to have a few hours to myself in the evening.
Most of my kids were out of money so I did not have to do much coaxing to get them to do some work. My house and my car look better than they have in a long time.

Other than that most everything else has been going pretty much as normal. My new camera stopped working. My cell phone gave up the ghost, and my Electric Widow Maker Shower Head caught on fire again. If you look closely at the picture you will see the last glimmer of fire on the wires that run to it. At least this time I remembered to pull the breaker before splashing water on the fire.

On Saturday the kids and several of the neighbors
decorated my car up for the BIG EVENT.

Saturday was Lady's 15 birthday and here in Guatemala that is almost as big of a deal as a wedding.

We used my car to bring her to her birthday party.

It was a nice party with over 150 people attending.

Personally I would have asked only one pastor to speak but I guess I should be thankful that one of the three kept his message down to an hour and a half. Then again the two longer messages may have been more interesting if I understood Spanish.

Some of my kids are now attending church in Chimaltenango and most of the others had soccer games today so Cessar's little brother David was the only one that came along to church with me in Antigua. We had planned on having Pat join us as well but she was a bit under the weather today.

After Lunch David and I met up at Hermano Pedro with Chris Mooney and a teem that is here from the States. It was great to be able to see all of the kids again. Bethel Ministries has a wheelchair distribution down near Mazatenango tomorrow but after that I plan on spending more time with the orphanage kids.

Well that is about it for now.

Please continue to pray for us.

My boys seem to have done fairly well while I was gone but they are teens and can always use prayer.

We are still working on getting Mariam in for the operation on the tumor that is behind her eye but are having a hard time contacting the neurosurgeon. Please pray that he returns our phone calls soon.

My infection is gone and I am feeling well but I am 65 an can always use prayer.

I won't mention Pat's age but you can pray for her to.

We have a wheelchair distribution tomorrow. Pray that Christ is magnified in that distribution and in all that we do here in Guatemala.

Yours in Christ: Dick