* 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, October 7, 2012

Visiting Homes and Orphanages.

It has once again been far to long since I have done any journaling and Pat is in the USA for about a month so I have not been able to steal anything from any of her journals, so it  almost came to the point that I would once again have to write something on my own, almost but not quite.  Once again some one has come to my rescue.  Dennis and Debbie Hills have joined up with Chris, Saul, Jorge and myself for a week on the road and Debbie has Graciously offered to do some journaling.  Actually I had to do a bit of begging but I am used of doing that with Pat as well. 

The following is an account of what Debbie wrote.  Bear in mind that both her and her husband Dennis have mothers in their eighties who do a lot of worrying about them so Debbie intentionally left out the parts about the police the soldiers, the gun fire and the burning of trucks.  Lets just say that so far it has been a marvelous but not uneventful few days. 


Debbie writes,

Hi Everyone,

We arrived about 15 minutes early in Guatemala City on Wednesday afternoon. Our plan was to head straight to Chimaltenango, the home of Bethel Ministries, our host for the week. The trip that usually takes an hour or a little more took us about 2 1/2 hours due to a massive accident on the main road. As traffic was backed up for literally miles, our friend, Dick, who had picked us up knew a back way around the traffic jam. It’s always an adventure when you travel with Dick in his Land Cruiser.  (What Debbie is trying to say is that I was so careful to avoid all of the pot holes and drove so slow that both her and Dennis were able to enjoy the scenery and even catch up on some sleep.) He takes its 4 wheel drive capabilities seriously!  (Actually I can make it to Chimaltenango on that back road in less than an hour but Debbie and Dennis get nervous when I drive fast so I had to keep my speed down to less than 70 miles an hour on the curvy dirt road.)  When we finally arrived in Chimal, we went directly to the wheelchair work shop to prepare for our trip to Quetzaltenango early the next morning. Our plan was to load everything into the van and the Land Cruiser and head out at daybreak for the 3 hour trip. 

On Thursday morning we heard that there might be a demonstration by the farmers on the road we would be traveling that could hold up traffic, but we set out hoping for the best.  The van that Jorge and Saul were in was a few minutes ahead of those of us in the Land Cruiser but we expected to catch up to them along the way. (The only reason that the van was ahead of us was that I had to turn around and go back home to pick up my hearing aids.  I am not all that hard of hearing but I knew that Debbie and Dennis would be whispering about me to Chris.)

A bit after we passed the halfway point, traffic came to a standstill. The demonstration was being held. We waited, hoping that by noon the road would be cleared. That did not happen. We had to cancel the day’s planned work at the orphanage but decided to wait, hoping to get there later in the afternoon. By about 4:00 we got word from Saul and Jorge who were bit further ahead that the demonstration was right in front of them and all indications were that the road would not be cleared for several more hours. (Debbie failed to mention that the smoke from the burring trucks and all of the gunfire that we heard less than a mile away was also a good motivator to turn around.)  We turned around crossing a fairly high median, but the land Cruiser performed exceptionally well, getting up and over with no trouble at all. We looked for a motel and found one just about a half hour back down the mountain. We were thanking God that He kept us safe and provided for all our needs. We found out later that 3 people were killed in the demonstration and we were again thankful that we were a safe distance away from it but saddened to hear of the deaths. (On a serious note, I also sympathize with the families who lost loved ones over a demonstration that was meant to be nothing more than a protest against rising electricity prices.)

On Friday we started out very early, about 5 AM, That’s 3 AM back home!  (Wow Debbie you had all day to sleep yesterday while we were parked out on the highway.) to be sure to get past the trouble spot before the crowds could gather, if they decided to demonstrate again. The sunrise was spectacular as we made our way through the mountains, up to nearly 10,000 feet of elevation. The pinks and blues were beautiful above the fog that was covering the valleys below. God certainly outdid Himself when he created this part of the world. We arrived in Xela early, checked into our hotel and got some breakfast then headed to the orphanage to unload the van.

The first order of the day was to start teaching the therapists and maintenance men from there about wheelchair fitting and repairs. We also had a group of physical therapy students with us for the day. The second half of the morning was spent beginning to make repairs to the wheelchairs the children already had and to evaluate for new chairs we would be giving out. The therapist and mechanics worked with us continuing the training with some hands on experience. We will continue with all of this on Monday and Tuesday.

We spent the afternoon making 2 home visits to children and their families who had received wheelchairs a few years ago. We were able to make adjustments to one chair and for our second child we fitted him in into a new wheelchair. The therapists who work with these two children went with us and we were able to do some teaching with them as well. They were so excited by what they were learning that they called their boss to ask if they could join us for the training at the orphanage next week. It is so exciting to see the interest and excitement in the therapists when they are given the opportunity to learn, but the best part was we were able to share with them from a spiritual perspective. We were able to share our hearts and the passion God has given us to serve these children with disabilities. We were also able to share God’s love with the children and their families.
Deb and the others did such a good job of seating 
that I got to sit back and hold the kids.

Saturday found us headed for Santiago Atitlan, our favorite spot on the lake. We passed through a number of small and larger Mayan communities along the lake and stopped in to visit some more people who had received wheelchairs in the past to see if they needed repairs. Our first stop was to visit Kata, a nineteen year old young woman who received a chair several months ago. Her chair was in fine shape needing no repairs, but the visit was priceless. What a gentle spirit and a life changed by the gift of a wheelchair. She will graduate from accounting school in a few weeks and will be able to make a living through this education, made possible in part because she had the wheelchair. She is also skilled at embroidery and showed us the Mayan blouse she is making for her graduation.
This time it was Debbie's turn to hold kids.

We also visited Michael and his family in another small town along the lake. He is three years old and received a wheelchair some time ago. We visited with the hope that I might be able to offer the family some therapy suggestions that might help him get stronger and maybe someday walk. We were not disappointed. Although he was shy at first, he came to me and we did some “play” based therapy for a few minutes. He began taking more weight on his legs as we worked and played and with help could take a few steps. We took measurements for a walker for him and hopefully, back in Chimal, we will find one that is appropriate for him. On another trip, someone from the ministry down here will be able to return and bring it to them.

We are thanking God for all the opportunities we have been given the last few days to show love of Jesus to these precious people, young and old alike. We are blessed beyond measure in the doing of this work.

I’ll try to write a bit more in a few days. As always the time down here goes way too fast. Please continue to pray for us and the ministry down here. There is so much to be done.


I know that I Gave Debbie and Dennis a bit of a ribbing but I miss Pat and picking on them takes my mind off from not having her around to pick on.  I have to say though that Dennis and Deb are 2 wonderful Christian people who take anything (Even Putting Up With Me) in their stride. .  Fact is the whole teem is great.  Just like Dennis and Debbie; Chris, Saul and Jorge have been great to travel with and have a real passion to share the love of Jesus with everyone that we come in contact with.  I count it a real privilege to serve along side of these dedicated brothers and sisters in Christ!

Yours in Christ: Dick


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