* 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, October 12, 2012

Still on the road

Once again just as I sit down to do some journaling, I check my e-mail and find  that some one else has beaten me to the punch.  Who ever said that procrastination was a bad thing simply did not have as much patience as I do.  Thanks for coming to my rescue Deb!


Deb wrote,

Hi Everyone,

We are sitting at the airport with a delay in our departure. Ours days have been busy and I have been too tired to put words to paper each night, falling asleep as I tried. We have also had very poor availability of internet service this year, further complicating communications. But following a very rough start our trip has been very good indeed and we have been blessed beyond our imaginings. I’m hard pressed to decide exactly what has been the best part of the trip.

Our purpose for this trip was the teaching part and the reception to the teaching far exceeded my expectations. Chris Mooney, who heads up Bethel Ministries told me he made one mistake in planning this trip; he should have made provision to video tape the teaching sessions so the training would be available elsewhere. My interpreter for the classroom teaching sessions is an occupational therapist and understands English well. She did a great job of conveying a great deal of material as well as helping me field the many questions that came up along the way.

While we struggle with our attitudes about people with disabilities in the United States, this is even more of a concern in many developing nations. I was given the opportunity to share openly with those we were working with, my beliefs about our Biblical mandate to love, serve, and value all people, regardless of their abilities, contributions, or accomplishments. God loves each one as if they were the only child He has. We are called to love in this same way.

Chris and I had an opportunity to talk about future possibilities to expand the training we started here this past week. We are both excited about the plans God has for us and we wait with expectation for His guidance as we dream about what that might look like. We also are excited to see just what might become of the seeds we planted during this trip.

Along with classroom teaching we also put our students to work in the orphanage for a few hours each morning, making repairs to many chairs and also the necessary adjustments to accommodate the growth in the children since we were last here in Quetzaltanango (Xela is the Mayan name of this city). Several of the children we worked with, are now old friends, having seen them over the past 3 years. One little girl named Karen received a new wheelchair this year through the support of some of you back home. As I evaluated her we were told that she is able to stand and take a few steps, but her left foot has a significant deformity we call a “club foot” in the USA. Our friend Dick Rutgers told us about a doctor a few hours away who is hosting a medical brigade soon, with the purpose of doing foot and ankle surgeries while they are here. It so happens that they still have space for a few more patients. We talked to the therapist at the orphanage and called Dr. Will to set up a time for Karen to be evaluated next week. If her X-rays confirm what we believe to be her problem, it is possible that with rehabilitation, she will be able to walk in the future. Please pray for Karen and her doctors, as well as the orphanage personnel that everything will fall into place for her to have this life changing surgery. 

I was also able to check up on one of my favorite people at the orphanage. I know I shouldn’t have favorites, but Gaudy captured my heart the first time we met. While she is severely disabled both cognitively and physically, she has an infectious smile and laughs freely when given even a smallest amount of love and attention. While she continues to be very difficult to manage physically, her wheelchair is in good shape, and needed only a few minor adjustments and a new chest harness. It was such a joy to see her healthy and happy. One of my students actually completed the necessary adjustments for Gaudy and fell in love with her as well.

When I last wrote I told you all about some of our home visits we had made and this work continued on Sunday and Monday. Picking up from where I left off in my last email, on Saturday afternoon we took a boat ride across Lake Atitlan to deliver a wheelchair to a young boy in the village of Tzununa on the edge of the lake. The road into the village is quite dangerous, so we opted for the boat ride. We found Jochiem and his family at home and were able to deliver the wheelchair to him. We also discovered that he is able to take a few steps pushing the wheelchair. Dick will return here in the next month or so to bring back a walker for him to try to use around the flat area of his village where his home is.

This family is extremely poor. Jochiem was wearing the only shoes his family seems to have and as you will see in the picture, they are way past the worn out stage. Dick will also bring back some food to this family and maybe some shoes as well. Funding for all the needs we find is always in too short a supply, but we will trust that God will supply what is needed through his people.

We met a very exceptional young man on Sunday. For those of you who have been to Santiago Atitlan, he lives behind the market on the right as you go down to the boat docks. He is well known to Dick who has provided him with a power wheelchair through Bethel Ministries and we stopped in to see how he was doing. He is now 18 years old and has grown, needing some changes to his wheelchair. That will be accomplished on Dick’s next trip here in a few months. Alex shared with us that he is writing a book about his life entitled “Looking for the Answers”. I wish I could have had enough time to talk in detail about the questions he is asking and the answers he has found. He has 41 pages written so far, typed out with only his index finger of his right hand. Due to the cerebral palsy, this is the only finger he has enough control of to hit the right key. His speech is also very garbled and difficult to understand. When Dick returns, he hopes to bring some software that is compatible with the old computer the family has that will speed up Alex’s typing so he can write more. He has also written some papers on physics and other science topics.  I hope someday that I will be able to read Alex’s book.

For those of you who have heard the story of the mudslide in Santiago several years ago, you will be pleased to know that many of those families who were displaced by the slide are now relocated in a nice settlement on safe ground. A foundation from the United States has built a complex of more than 600 homes and new schools where these families are now living in improved conditions and on stable ground. We visited Stephen and his family there as we had heard that his power wheelchair needed repairs. As it turns out, the noise in the chair was not in the motor, just in the plastic housing that had been jarred loose due to the rough terrain he travels each day to school. We had a great visit here with many of the neighborhood children coming out to see what we were up to. We also were able to supply Stephen’s family with some food.

As I sit here at the airport, I can’t help but be a bit sad that my time down here is once again at an end. I always seem to leave part of my heart in this beautiful land when I leave. But I look forward with great hope to what will be possible in the future and pray that part of God’s plan is for me to return again soon.


Thank you Debbie.

I do promise that one of these days I will get back to doing my own journaling.  Then again Pat is due back from the States in about a week and I am sure she is anxious to do some writing.  Doing the pictures is much easier for me becasue I do not have to spell anything.

Good night,
Yours in Christ: Dick


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