* 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, 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


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