* 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)

Monday, December 24, 2012

What is Christmas ?

Click on the Christmas card above to play.

Merry Christmas
<><   Yours in Christ: Dick   ><>

Friday, December 21, 2012

It's Begenning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

I just realized that I actually wrote 2 out of 3 of my last journal entries myself so I figured that it was time that I borrowed from what some one else wrote.  I thought about using some thing that Daryl wrote but the last time I did that I had to rewrite over half of it just to make it seem somewhat believable.  After reading the first few paragraphs below I discovered that both Pat and Daryl have a way of twisting the truth so I almost wrote my own journal but I figured that since it is almost Christmas I would let Pat get by with what she wrote about me and count it as a Christmas present to her.  I hate printing things that are not  true but like Pat says about me being Dutch, he hates spending money even more.  So Merry Christmas Pat. And I do love it when you brag about my boys almost as much as I do.

I am not even going to spruce up the pictures.  Nothing to do with money just tired tonight.


Pat writes

I felt that my 4 foot tall skinny tree just would not hack it in a living room with cathedral ceilings. I really didn't want to spend the money on a larger tree, (Pat is Polish) but figured that by next year funds might be even tighter so decided to bite the bullet. I had thought about going into Guatemala City to get a tree, but Dick suggested we first look at the trees being sold in the park in Chimaltenango. So, a couple of weeks ago after church, Dick, I and four of the boys headed up there to see what we could find.

You can see how dinky his tree was last year!

If I lived in a mansion like Pat
 I would have room for a larger tree.
If you know Dick, you know that he HATES shopping.  However, being Dutch, he hates spending money even more--even if it's my money we're spending.  His last Christmas tree was so bad the the boys begged me to give them my old little one. (He didn't think it was much better than his; the boys disagreed vehemently!)  I was pleasantly surprised when he offered to go with me to shop for a tree, and as a bonus he promised to drive me back if I bought a tree.  (I probably could have taken it on the chicken bus, but, what the heck?  He offered).

I have to admit, though, that Dick was a good sport about shopping.  In fact, he even decided to buy a tree himself!  And lights!! And ornaments!!!  And the world did not end. (Oh, wait, that's supposed to be the 21st, isn't it?)  I think this is worth commemorating in pictures, since I'm not sure it will happen again in my lifetime (which may be considerably shorter after Dick reads this!).  Seriously, though, he did a great job and managed to haggle with the guys in the market to get each of us a tree at a pretty reasonable price.  (I found out later that in Antigua the same tree sells for 100 to 200 quetzales more--$13-26.)


I went to the shopping mall in Chimal alone (didn't want to press my luck or stress Dick's heart by taking Dick with me).  The boys went back to Dick's with him and they were so excited that they had the new tree up and decorated before I got to the house an hour later. (I did find ornaments at one of the stores quite a bit cheaper than the ones Dick bought in the market.  I think he might have wished he'd come with me!) I thought I had a picture of his new tree, but can't find it.  Trust me, it's quite an improvement.

Esbin, one of the boys, was staying with me for a few days while working with Mari. The first night he came home feeling so-so since he had been on his feet all day.  He bounced back quickly when I asked if he wanted to help decorate my tree. (I'd set it up all by myself!)  It turned out quite good if you ask me!


Two Of My Boys Are Moving Out

Two Of Dick's Boys Are Moving In

More from Pat

Casa de Esperanza Update

Skitch-2012-11-01 12_55_52  0000

Cesar’s parents praying over him at his graduation from “Basico” last October.

The beginning of January Cesar, one of Dick’s boys, will move in to serve as an assistant and also go to school at INVAL, outside of Antigua to study to be a PE teacher.  This is a double win, since he needs an Antigua address to attend this school (one of the few which offer this course of study) and I need a reliable worker and leader here in the home.  Cesar is a remarkable young man, already coaching a soccer team of his peers, often translating for Dick, and frequently helping with wheelchair repairs and distributions.  A bonus is that he and the young men from Hermano Pedro we hope to have living here are already great friends.  Cesar said the other day that I am his “second mama.”  I have to admit that brought tears to my eyes, especially since he comes from a wonderful, though very poor family.
Fernando_&_Lisvi_2_1-30-09Fernando holding Lisvi, a starving 6 year old
when I first met him in 2009.

Also moving in during the first part of January is Fernando, another of Dick’s kids.  Fernando’s mom has been in the US since he was very young, and he has been living with relatives.  This past year the family he has been living with has pretty much left him to care for himself, and as a result, he did not pass our equivalent of 8th grade.  When Dick talked with him about this, he said he just felt like he needed to live somewhere where he would receive more direction.  When Dick asked him how he would feel about coming to live with me, he jumped at the idea. (Months before, when I was still in the small house, I had told Dick I’d take Fernando in in a heartbeat if I had the room.  Fernando was the first of Dick’s kids whom I met, and he has always been very special to me.  Once again, God gives me a desire of my heart!)  This past week we spoke with his mother in the US, and she gave permission for him to live here during the week and visit his relatives in Chimaltenango during the weekends.  So, come January 3rd, I’ll be looking at schools for him to attend.  Fernando is also a wonderful friend to the Hermano Pedro boys and will be a wonderful assistant to them when they move in.


Fernando obviously feels at home enough here to take a nap in the room that he will soon share with other male residents.

I had said that I had hoped to have time with some of the assistants living in the house before we have residents move in, and God seems to have worked this out.  Dick’s boys are a wonderful source of assistants since they already know and love for the guys at Hermano Pedro, and Dick has trained them well in caring for them.  I know these young men and have great confidence in and affection for them.  Another way God has been preparing for this house before I even knew it!

DSC05169Miguel, Cesar’s brother, at lunch with Maynor, one of the residents at Hermano Pedro.  I hope to be able to hire Miguel in the future to serve as one of our assistants.

DSC05438A most exciting step toward receiving residents occurred today.  Fidel, who first showed me the need for a home such as this, came to visit today with Xiomara, the volunteer director at Hermano Pedro, and her friend Vicki.  More than a year ago, when Fidel was at a very dark place spiritually, I first mentioned the idea of this house to him.  I told him this could only happen by the grace of God and asked him to start praying for a house we could live in.  He reluctantly agreed.  It was amazing to see the delight in his eyes today as he realized God not only answered our prayers, but did so abundantly.  He kept saying, over and over as we moved through the house, “Muy bonito.” (Very pretty.) When I asked him to say the blessing over the food today, and he immediately agreed.  Fidel struggles to speak due to his cerebral palsy, but his prayer was one of the most eloquent I have heard, as he thanked God for our house, for bringing me to Guatemala, and for bringing me into his life.  Needless to say, I was moved to tears once again.

DSC05440Vicki, Fidel, and Xiomara at lunch today

Xiomara has agreed to talk with Social Work to see what exactly Fidel’s legal status is (he came to Hermano Pedro as a child, and they therefore have had guardianship over him) and also to advocate with Padre Jose, the administrator of Hermano Pedro, to get the ball rolling to move Fidel in.  Vicki, her friend, is a psychologist who offered her services to us whenever we need them, as well as saying she will talk with her father, an attorney in Guatemala City, to see if he can help us with our legal work.


It’s coming together! I continue to be amazed by our wonderful God who has orchestrated all this, to give us the desires of our hearts. To Him is the glory.

Thanks Pat
I will miss not seeing Cesar and Fernando quite as often but this is an answer to prayer.

Actually Jason is living in a new location as well.

I requested prayer for him in my last journal entry and Praise God 2 days later he told me that he waned help.   Yesterday he voluntarily checked into a 9 month Christian treatment program.    It will be 2 months before his family or I will even be able to visit him.  Please continue Praying for Jason, his family and the rest of us.

Yours in Christ;  Dick

Monday, December 17, 2012

A One Hour Visit

Tonight's journal is not going to be a long one. I simply want to share with you about a one hour visit that 3 of my boys and I had with a family today.   If you don't like to hear people bragging about their kids you may want to skip this one because that is what I am about to do. 

Three of my boys (or I guess you could call them young men) and I have been on the road for a few days on what I call a combination business and pleasure trip.  I had just returned from a week long Hope Haven wheelchiar distribution in El Salvidor so I considered postponing this trip but I had promised the boys that we would take them to Plya Grandy some time before Christmas and they were really looking forward to it.  Fact is all of them wanted to go but over a dozen teen age boys in one car for 7 days can soon become 12 too many. The first few days of our trip were spent at Semuc Champey, one of the most beautiful places in Guatemala if not all of the world, where we hiked, swam, explored caves, and just relaxed.  Today we packed up and headed cross country towards Plya Grandy where we planned giving out a few wheelchairs and  visiting with several of our sponsored special needs students and their teacher. The road that we took is improving over the years but much of it is still Land Cruiser country, so what appears on the map to be a 2 hour drive ends up taking nearly 7 hours.

Oh that's right I was going to keep this short and only share about an hour of this trip.   About 5 hours after leaving Semuc Champey we turned  onto a side road that was even worse that the road that we had been traveling (if that is possible) to go and see our friend Alberto.  Alberto who lives with his grandmother has brittle bone disease,  He can not bend his legs and does not have enough strength in his arms to push himself across the dirt floor of the wooden shed that he and his grandmother call their home.   About 7 or 8 years ago we found Alberto thanks to another man that we had given a wheelchair to.  At that time he had no wheelchiar and was lying on his bed reading his bible.  Since then we have given him a manual wheelchair because until a year ago a power wheelchair was out of the question because up until then he lived in a home that had a trail leading to it that was far to narrow for a power wheelchair plus there was no electricity.  

Although the house that he now lives in appears to be falling down around him and his grandmother it is more accessible and it does have electricity.  So today we had a gift for Alberto.  After my last visit nearly a year ago I gave measurements and drawings to Arturo and Mario, 2 of the workers at Bethel Ministries, and asked them if they had a power wheelchair that they could modify to the specifications that Alberto needed.   A week later Alturo called me and said that the wheelchair was ready.   I wanted to get Alberto's new chair to him as soon as possible but due to the location and time it takes to get there I usually make the trip only once a year, so it was not until today that we finally made it to his home.

We had called the night before and said that we were coming so Alberto's father and step mother were there as well. 

Alberto could scarcely contain himself when Calin, Fernando and Marcos wheeled his new power wheelchair into his house. Grandmother wheeled him up to it so that he could examine it while the boy's and I made some last minute adjustments.   We then explained to him exactly how everything worked.

It was now time for the test ride so grandmother and Father carefully lifted him out of his manual wheelchair and into his new power wheelchiar.  My kids and I offered to help but grandmother explained to us that one wrong move and his legs would break.  

Alberto was a bit apprehensive and took it pretty easy at first but after a bit of coaxing from his family he was soon driving his new wheelchair all around the house.

Calin, Fernando, & Marcos with Alberto and his family.

So why did this one hour visit make me so proud of my boys young men?  Not only did they do all of the interpreting, picture tking and final adjustments to the wheelchiar,  all Three of them also offered to pray for Alberto and his family.   The family was delighted and for the next several minutes there was no doubt that we were in the presence of God.   

I must admit I did open my eyes just long enough to click this one picture and to look at these three fine young men.  Was it possible that these were the same three that I met about ten years ago.  One of the three had never met his father and his mom had left for the States when he was just a baby.  Another had lost both parents, his father in a tragic accident and his mother died a few years later, and for the first six years the third had spent more time being kicked out of my house then he did inside of it.  I wish that I could say that it was because of all of the right things that I did that most of the boys are doing so well now but to be honest with you had I known what I was getting into before hand I would likely have turned tale and run.  Praise God I didn't know because I would not trade these last ten years for the world.  And praise God that most of these boys are becoming fine God fearing young men. 

Please continue to pray for each of us, and please say a special prayer for Jason.  He is currently not allowed in my house because of some bad choices that he is making. 

Yours in Christ: Dick

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

When did we see You hungry?

 Matthew 25:44

“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?'

The following is a letter that was recently written by  Kristen Strevey,  Kristen was in her early teens when she visited us here in Guatemala a few years ago.  All of the children pictured below are or have been residence of Hermano Pedro orphanage.  Several of them have passed away.  All of them have had their lives enriched because of people like Kristen.

Crimson from heat and glistening with sweat, my face strained as I bent over the wheel of a specialized red wheelchair to adjust a screw.  In the seat sat a blubbering two-year-old Guatemalan boy.  His beautiful dark brown eyes watched as I placed his feet into the fitted footrest.  As the third born of triplet boys, he was affected by Multiple Sclerosis caused by complications during birth.  Although I had only known the family for 20 minutes and could not communicate very well because it was just my first year of Spanish, I could see the struggles the family had experienced by looking at his young mother.  Her hands, one of which caressed her older daughter, were covered in calluses from performing manual labor to support her family.  The strong calf muscles revealed how she had had to carry her handicapped son through the streets of the coastal city of Guatemala.  Her weary eyes showed the sleepless nights of worrying how to care for the children she loved so dearly but could not support in the economical conditions of the poor country.  But, amidst the struggle, the woman’s smile shined with hope brought by the wheelchair that would lighten her daily load.  As the final adjustment was made to the wheelchair and the boy’s body could finally relax comfortably, tears of joy sprung from the young mother’s eyes.  After years of trouble transporting her son, life would ease tremendously for the family.  

I went on the trip to Guatemala the summer before my freshman year as part of a mission team from my church with only seven adults that I had met once before.  We worked with three local missionaries who serve the handicapped community of Guatemala.  Besides the handicap ministry, we distributed food and built a small house, but, with such a large need and small amount of resources for handicapped people, that aspect of our trip prevailed.  During the daylong wheel chair distribution, about 100 chairs were fitted to children or adults and given to impoverished families.  Each chair would affect the lives of families similar to that of the triplet boy, and every person left the humid building with a smile on his face and a new hope for life.  On this day, I knew in my heart that no matter what I do with my future, whether I am a doctor or a teacher, I would be making a difference in the lives of others.  I knew that I would do anything to see the joy and hope of the Guatemalan families reflected in many more people.

But my realizations did not stop there.  On the fifth day of our trip we spent time at an institution for handicapped children and adults whose families could not care for them.  This day was one of the most emotionally challenging of my life.  The children laid in cribs for most of the day, were fed bowls of mush, and often cried for hours without any response.  My heart broke every time I turned my head.  However, the terrible conditions were due to a lack of government funds, not a lack of care.  Evident in every nurse working at Hermano Pedro was an unconditional love and patience for the children; they were doing everything they possibly could.  It brings tears to my eyes now to remember the loving smile and gentle touch of a nurse who fed a 14 year old girl from a bottle, rocking the diaper clad girl and sweetly singing her a song.  Throughout the day a passionate itch came into my heart.  I felt it as I reached under mosquito nets to hold the hands of “vegetable” children, hoping that a simple touch would bring some light to their day.  I felt it even stronger at the delightful cries of the kids we wheeled through the courtyard of the building as sunlight and fresh air brushed their faces.  Finally, as I sat with Henry, the sweetest boy I’ve ever seen, asleep in my lap, the feeling in my heart became uncontrollable.  The boy, who had cried the whole time we were there, finally had a smile on his face: he had fallen asleep in a warm embrace instead of behind the bars of a metal crib.  While the rest of the team waited to leave, I gave the slumbering three-year-old a kiss on the head and promised him that I would use my life and my knowledge to the best of my ability so that I could help other hurting children like him. 

Still today, as I work in the nursery, babysit, and teach pre-school choir, all for healthy kids, little Henry stays in the back of my mind. Henry is my motivation to attend eight plus years of college in order to become a pediatric oncologist; I want sick children like him to be able to fully experience all of life’s joys.


Kristen Strevey


           Thank you Kristen

Yours in Christ: Dick

Sunday, December 2, 2012

To Busy To Listen

Ever have one of those mornings that you just wanted to pull the covers over your head and stay in bed all day.   This morning was like that for me.  I woke up on overwhelm.  We have just finished our third and final week of camp and suddenly I realized how far I was behind on so many things that needed to be done.  In the last week or 2 I have gotten calls from more people then you could imagine about their power wheelchairs not working.  Not to mention numerous families that I have not visited in way to long.   Most of my kids are doing well but there is one that I need to get into drug rehab and that has been laying heavenly on my mind as well.  There are so many people that I know who are in need of food, school sponsorship, wheelchairs,  vitamins or medical attention that it has my head spinning.  I am scheduled to spend a week in El Salvidor on a wheelchair distribution with Hope Haven next week, but what about the kids in my neighborhood that seem to think that this is their home?  Should I cancel that trip to spend more time with them?   What about my journal?   It has been over 2 weeks since I posted a new one and even that one was mostly written by some one else.  The longer I laid in bed the more my head seemed to spin and the more things I came up with that I simply had to get done or......  Or what?     Seems this world survived without me before I was here,  so was God suddenly going to let everything fall apart if Dick Rutgers was not here to do it now?  My good friend Pat often reminds me that there is only one Savior, and it seems that I was once again forgetting that.  He was the one that was crucified for all of us so why was I crucifying myself  for what I was not able accomplish.   Could it be that God also knew of the wheelchairs that needed fixing,  or of the people that needed his Love?  Hard to imagine but perhaps in my desire to do as much as humanly possible to ease at least a small part of the suffering that I see all around me, I was not listening to something even more important than Him saying to me "Go ye into all the world,"    Mark 16:15   Could it be that He was telling me, "Be still, and know that I am God:"  Psalm 46:10a  

This morning I spent some quiet time at home,  I thought about spending the afternoon writing this Journal but instead  9 of my kids, a few other friend and I loaded up my car and went to Guatemala City and watched a Soccer game.  We had a wonderful time and as far as I know the world did not fall apart while I was gone. 

Below is a slide show of some of the things that took place during the past few weeks.  Sorry for not writing more about them but I really had a great time today and tonight I want to spend the rest of the evening being still and knowing that He is God.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Yours in Christ:  Dick