* 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, July 31, 2012

Huehuetenango Trip

I have no good excuses for not doing any journaling in over 3 weeks but that is what has happened. I do not know where to start becasue I know that Pat is planning on doing some journaling in the next day or 2 and if we both write about the same thing I fear that our accounts of what took place will be so different that you will not know who to believe. We discussed this yesterday and decided that her friends will likely believe what I write and My friends will no doubt believe Pat's version. Those of you that know both of us will undoubtedly believe neither of us. Truth is we both do our best to tell the truth but old age seems to have a way of making one remember what took place a few weeks ago a bit foggy. Of course I am only talking about myself. After all Pat is still only in her fifties. (Note to self) [If I do not get this journal published by Sunday change the previous sentence to - After all Pat is only in her early sixties.] Boy now I probably won't get invited to Pat's birthday party. (If she remembers).

I have been on the road quite a bit lately, both with Pat and with some of my boys. Last week Pat, her two friends, Joice and Joice's daughter Abby and I took Mariam and her daughter back to Huehuetenango.

Mariam will have to go back to Guatemala City later in August for more surgery but the neurosurgeon finally allowed her to go home for a few weeks. She had mixed emotions about going home because shortly after her last surgery her husband called her saying that he had hoped that she would die on the operating table because he had found another woman. Fortunately she has relatives in Huehuetenango that welcomed her into their home with open arms. The person who was the most delighted to see her was Mariam's 10 year old daughter. The reunion was an emotional one.

During the next few days we visited a number of families in and near Huehuetenango that we have come to know and love over the years. Freddy is a little boy who has been sponsored through Bethel ministries for several years now. If Freddy were to go off from the medicine that a sponsor in the USA pays for Freddy would have several seizures a day, but thanks to this sponsor Freddy is now nearly seizure free. Today we delivered a three month supply of medicine to his home.

Pat also brought along some flannel diapers that some ladies from her church had made and Freddy seemed to be delighted with them.

The kids really enjoyed the beanie babies that
Joice and Abby brought along from the States,

But Freddy's Grandmother

brought tears to everyone's eyes

when she was given one.

Jose drives his power char to school and back every day and if you saw where he has to go and how far away it is you would understand why. Today we traded his old one for a newer one. Neat thing is we will take the old one back to Bethel's shop where it will be refurbished to like new condition and soon be given to some one else. One prayer request though, Because of maintenance and the cost of batteries we do our best to give out power chairs only when they are absolutely needed and the person that receives them can not use a manual chair to get around. Unfortunately we are presently out of batteries so we can not give out any power chairs or even keep all of those those that have been given out running. If anyone wants to help out in some way with batteries Please let me know by clicking here.

This is a picture of Maria Garcia and two of her grandchildren. Thanks to a sponsor who lives in Canada we are able to keep three of Maria's grandchildren in school. Maria has been a real blessing to us. She has been instrumental in helping us reach many families in her community that are in need of food, schooling, medical help or wheelchairs.

One of the families that Maria put us in contact with a few years ago is Wanna and her family. Wanna is a poor widow who had three children who we gave wheelchairs to a few years ago, plus a few more kids that she took in simply because they had no place to live. One of her daughters died a year or two ago and a few months ago her disabled son who is pictured here was brutally assaulted only a hundred feet from their home. I am reasonably sure that had he not been disabled the villagers would have done something to the man that did this but since this boy is disabled nothing was done and the man still lives in the village.

A quick hike in to see Ruddy and make a few adjustments to his artificial leg.

Only Lionel's mom and the two youngest girls were at home when stopped of at their place. Father and the older kids were out working the fields and the two younger boys were in school.

Lionel's family misses him greatly but they know that he is not strong enough to survive at home. Fact is I was just at the orphanage yesterday and he is not doing well at all. He is back on a feeding tube and is nothing but skin and bones.

Mom said that they are grateful for the addition that we put on their home a few years ago. The six children that are at home still live in the old adobe section but it is very unsafe. It and the 8 foot retaining wall that it stands on have a large crack in them and I fear that the next heavy rain will take down the entire older section of the house.

We were also given the opportunity to give out vitamins to a few families and to a Christian group of ladies that have a small center in Huehuetenango, that we have given water filters and some vitamins to in the past. People who are in need of clean water and vitamins for their children come into their center and receive a weekly supply of both. This group keeps excellent record of those that faithfully come in and those people are then put on a list to so that they can can continue to receive more vitamins or water filters and are encouraged to share the clean water with their neighbors, and to also keep record of those that use the clean water so that they may some day receive filters them selves.

On our way to Huehuetenango we had made an unscheduled stop at the home of Gema, A little girl that some of my boys and I gave a power chair to last April. There was really no need to stop but I really wanted to visit this family. Pat had met them at a Hope Haven distribution but had not been able to come along when the boys and I brought Gema the foot controlled power chair in April.

Gema drawing with her foot.. . . . . . . . .

Joice and Abbie had never met this family before but were instantly made to feel like part of the family. Fact is we were all invited to come back for dinner when we came through on our way back form Huehuetenango. When we arrived Gemi climbed up on my lap and when dinner was served I asked her if she wanted me to feed her. She thanked me but told me that she could feed herself. One of the other children picked her up and set her on the table. There she confidently fed her self with her foot.

Once again Gema proved to us that you are not disabled unless you think that you are. For her having no arms and only one leg simply means figuring out another way of doing things.

Gema's family is truly blessed to have such a precious little girl.

Gema is truly blessed to have a family that recognizes that God has truly blessed them by giving them such a special child.

We visited with many more families this month but I do not want to rob Pat of the opportunity of writing about some of them so I will post this for now and perhaps add more later.

Luke 14:13,14

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Once again far to much time has gone by since I posted my last journal. fortunately I took pictures and even though the memory card in my camera is not all that big it still does a better job at remembering what I did than I do.

Everyone has a photographic memory… some of us just don’t have film.

During the past 2 weeks Pat and I, or Pat, the boys and I, or The boys and I have been doing things close to home and we have been on the road a fair amount. I Can't tell you exactly what day what happened but will attempt to fill you in on some of the things that have been going on.

For one thing several of the kids in the orphanage and in my neighborhood have had birthdays. Cessar's family invited Pat and myself to their home for a birthday celebration of David, Cessar's younger brother. Actually Cessar did the inviting but skipped out of the party so that he could play soccer. Never the less it was a great party and both Pat and I commented on how a Birthday party does not have to cost an arm and a leg to be a success. We were all glad that it did not rain because the party took place under a few rusted out sheets of aluminum siding that were held up by a few pols. This is where Cessar's family eats all of their meals rain or shine.
In the USA we spank.

In Guatemala we stick their face in the cake.

Pat was not feeling well when Lady celebrated her birthday at her home a few weeks ago so a few of us re-celebrated at a restaurant in Antigua a few nights ago.

This time Moises who lives in the orphanage had a birthday party at Camperos. Esbin and Marcos came along with me from home so we were able to take 2 of the girls from the orphanage along as well. I think that Sonia and Veronica are now both madly in love with my 2 boys.

This orphanage outing wasn't even a birthday party but the gang sure had fun.

In between all of the fun stuff Pat and I made more trips to and from Guatemala City than I can count.
Mariam talking to the neurosurgeon before her surgery

Mariam had her surgery on Thursday and all went well. Fact is Pat and I picked her and her daughter up from the hospital last Tuesday. Mariam and her daughter will be spending the next 15 days with Marie, who Pat use to live with. Pat lives rite across the street from her and often eats there so she will be able to keep close tabs on Mariam's recovery. In about a week Mariam will have her stitches taken out and on the 18th she will be given another cat scan. If everything looks good the doctor will then let us take her back to her home in HueHue Tenango. Please keep her and her family in your prayers as she will likely still need further surgery to replace her bad eye with a glass eye. The Doctor told us that the tumor was hard to get at . He and another neurosurgeon worked removing it for about 4 hours and we are praying that they got it all. For now we parise God that her pain is gone and her life is not in immediate danger. Please pray with us that they got it all and that it will not grow back. Thanks so much to those of you who helped make this surgery possible and to all of you who upheld Mariam and her family in prayer.

Last weekend Cessar, Elder, and Marcos came along with me for the weekend.Elder didn't let a little thing like the foot he broke playing soccer
stop him from having fun.

Actually the main reason that we went to the lake was so that we could return Stephen's power wheelchair to him. A few weeks ago some of my other boys and myself had to take it back with us to Bethel's wheelchair shop because we did not have the parts to fix it with us. A young man named Mario has started working at Bethel's wheelchair shop and he seems to be a natural at fixing the power wheelchairs.

A few days ago Pat, her friend Amy, Alex and I went down near the coast. While we were there we brought a wheelchair to this lady who had a stroke last year.

Up until now her daughter had to carry her to and from her hammock.

We were also delighted to be able to stop of at the home of the Escobar family to bring in some food and inform them that they now have a monthly sponsor for food and for the education of 3 of the 4 boys. The youngest has CP and can not attend school.

We were also pleased to be able to stop at the home of Carlos who we had just given a new wheelchair to about 2 weeks ago and tell his mother that we now have a second sponsor so she will be able to give him the added medications that the doctor has prescribed for him. While we were there he had a seizure. We are praying that the added medication will take care of this.

Julio is a boy that has been in and out of the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro several times in the past few years. The first time that I brought him in he was 9 years old and weighted 14 pounds. Within about 6 months he weighed more than 35 pounds. His parent then took him back home but within a year he was down to 20 pounds and it was not until then that I could convince them to come along with me and readmit him into the malnutrition ward. After close to a year there he was moved down into the full time children's ward of Hermano Pedro where he continued to gain weight and do well. Last Christmas his parents once again decided to take him back home. Both the staff at Hermano Pedro and myself were skeptical of this but they can not keep parents from taking their child home unless they are a ward of the court. Even though we no longer Sponsor Julio I could not get him off from my mind. I did not know how welcome we would be so I asked the social workers from the clinic in Lagomara if they could check on him. The parents assured them that he was doing fine and even said that it would be OK if I wanted to visit them. I still had mixed emotions about going there because I knew that if he was once again starving to death that there would not be much that we could do. I had serious doubts that Hermano Pedro would take him back after the parent took him home 2 times against their will.

When we got to their home I was surprised to see that the other children looked much healthier and cleaner than they had any other time that I had been there. Mom took us over to the hammock that Julio was lying in and to our surprise he was clothed and clean. It also appeared that if he has lost any weight it was only a small amount. Dad soon came on the yard and was also friendly to us. This has not always been the case. It looks like Julio is doing OK at home but continue to pray for him and his family.

Today Saturday 3 of my kids and I went up to where Maria and her family live. I had not been there for a number of months and just wanted to visit some of the families that live up there. As it turned out most of the adults and older children were working the fields but we had a good time visiting with those that were there, and playing with the younger children. This area is always one of my favorite to visit.

Sometimes I fear that my journals give the wrong impression of what missionary life is like here in Guatemala. Most of the time I write about the highlights of what took place during the week and perhaps you think to your self what an exciting life and that you were here experiencing all that takes place. Don't take me wrong I would not trade living here in Guatemala for the world. God is at work and He teaching me so much but not every minute of the day is as exciting as what you read about. Fact is a lot of it can be pretty humdrum and can get down right boring if you allowed it to. In the past 10 days I have made more trips to Guatemala City and back than I care to count. Granted driving here in Guatemala can get pretty exciting but going to the City that many times can get old pretty fast, and sitting most of the day in a hospital waiting room waiting for the outcome of someone's surgery is not all that exciting. Neither is putting food on the table for a dozen or more kids, even if it is only corn flakes or hot dogs and chips. Doing your dishes and your laundry by hand in cold water may sound like an extended camp out but the pioneer spirit soon dwindles. Thankfully I have a lady who does the laundry for me but I am still trying to figure out where half of my socks go to every time my laundry is done. For a few Q I can usually talk one of the kids into doing the dishes but depending on the water pressure the garden hose does not always get all of the dirty food off. Just living here in Guatemala can consume so much of your time that pretty soon you seem to have very little time left to do missionary work. I had considered trying to give myself more time by cutting down on the everyday things but that did not seem to work. Getting the car repaired every other time that it broke didn't work out at all. And doing the dishes every other time that I used them proved to be a real disaster. Letting the lawn grow waist high instead of knee high resulted in to many lost soccer balls and even a few of my shorter kids. So what could I do so that I could spend more time being a missionary. Then it came to me. How about being one 24 hours a day no matter where I was or what I was doing? But how could I possibly do that? When ever I am in a village, at the orphanage, or at a wheelchair distribution I am aware that I am there as a representative of Jesus Christ so I remind myself that my actions are speaking as loudly as my words. (Possibly much louder in my case because I still have not gotten any better at my Spanish.) I even try my best to remember that when I am at home and the kids are in the house. (Well at least most of the time.) But what about when I am waiting in a long line at the grocery store and some one with 2 shopping carts full of groceries squeezes in front of me. Or worse than that when I am driving down the road and a buss squeezes me off the road while passing me only to slam on his brakes 100 feet further down the road to let some one off. There are very few gringos in my town so people are watching me. Even on garbage day when I pull into my alley only to discover that the neighbor's dog once again beat the garbage man to my garbage and it is scattered all over the neighborhood. I guess my car horn and my voice are a bit louder than I realized because I really got the attention of all of my neighbors the last time that it happened. Unfortunately it was not exactly the type of attention that I wanted. I guess what it all boils down to is do I want to be a part time missionary or a 24 hour one? I have met my share of part time Christians and if I am coming across to those that see me when I am off duty the way that the part time Christians come across to me I fear that those that are watching me will want little to do with the Jesus that I am suppose to be representing. It is my prayer that by being a missionary I will be exactly what God wants me to be as a Christan. I do not think that God equipped Christians with an on off switch or even a dimmer switch. Even if it is my 5th trip of the week to the city and the buss driver that is 2 inches from my back bumper is being a jerk.

If a man cannot be a Christian in the place he is, he cannot be a Christian anywhere.

Hear are a few more prayer requests.

Although Ervin looks like a happy camper here he is not that way at Hermano Pedro. A few days ago they transferred Ervin over to the teen section of Hermano Pedro because he has been hitting some of the littler kids and because he is getting too heavy for the nurses to lift into his crib. So far he is not adjusting and spends most of his time screaming. Please pray that he soon adjusts to this move.

Fernando has also made a move. Ever since his mom left for the States when he was about a year old Fernando has lived with his uncle and aunt. they are the only true mom and dad that he has ever known. A few days ago he informed me that he was thinking about moving over to Calin's house, and a few days later he made the move. His aunt and uncle who he has always lived with are devastated and can't understand why he decided to move. His nephews and nieces who always considered him a brother are in tears about it and his sister Etilene who still lives with his aunt and uncle cries for him a lot. Fernando has told me a few things but I personalty do not feel that I would consider them reason to move out of the house. I do not think that this move is a positive one but I could be wrong. Fernando has assured me that he will continue his schooling and that he will also continue to go to church. He has even promised that he will often visit his old family once he has adjusted to his new one. Please pray that he makes intelligent decisions.

Yours in Christ: Dick