* 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)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hermano Pedro Orphanage

On March 5 I posted a journal that was written by Destiny Christensen. Destiny was one of over 30 students that came to Guatemala from a Christian school in of Henderson, Nevada. I had the privilege of spending time with Destiny and the others from her school that came here on a short term mission trip. A few days ago I received the following journal entries that some of the other students wrote. I pray that you will be as blessed by reading them as I was.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Hermano Pedro

Entries from Students Journals

Today was the last day at the orphanage, and again, it was AMAZING. My team did grate and loved on the kids. Overall, the day we had to say goodbye couldn’t have gone more perfectly. Dick, the man we met Tuesday came and spoke to us tonight at our hotel and it was amazing to hear his story. He talked about the love that he saw us give to the kids at Hermano Pedro. He told us his story and how he started his mission in Guatemala. It was remarkable to hear him talk about how these little children are no different then us. How everyone is disabled in some way, these kids just happen to be visibly, physically disabled, and that God allowed it for a reason, “God don’t make junk,” he said. He explained the perfectness of how God made them, they were exactly how they were meant to be. I experienced first hand the astounding fact that for some reason, these children who don’t say anything at all, can say so much. The kids there have blessed me more than I could have ever blessed them and have literally changed my life. And I believe that that is their purpose, little humans that are put on this earth to show others a glimpse of the pure unconditional love of God.

The one thing that scared me the most was when Dick started to explain that if going to the orphanage didn’t leave you in tears, if those kids didn’t break your heart, then you didn’t let them really touch your heart. I was scared that I had missed it, that I had gone all four days and left with nothing, but later that night we went up stairs to worship, and much to my surprise, the tears started rolling. The song Hosanna started playing and I couldn’t compose myself. The words talked about God breaking my heart for what breaks his and showing me how to love like he loves me. I felt like, for the first time in my life, I could sing that song from experience. My heart was broken for these beautiful children and I had learned to unconditionally love them in spite of their imperfections just like God unconditionally loves me in spite of my own. This feeling is indescribable and I pray that I never forget how impacted I was from the little miracles at Hermano Pedro.

Tessa McQuillan

While at the orphanage I spent all my time with one little boy. He didn’t look at me in the eye much, but he clung to my hands and refused to let go. Destiny un-belted him from the chair he lives in and placed him in my lap. He did not say one word to me but I was overwhelmed with emotion while he put his fingers between mine and refused to let go even to be put back in his seat. I prayed for him the whole time I was there. Lifting him up to his heavenly father only increased the love I had for him. A few days after I went to the orphanage, Dick came in and talked to us saying, “We are all disabled.” That hit me hard. Just because that little boy’s disabilities are more visible than mine doesn’t make him any less of a beautiful creation of God. I cant wait to see him in heaven one day, where there is no more disabilities.

Cheyenne Turulis

I went to the orphanage with the least amount of emotions I could possibly not contain and left it swimming in thoughts and feelings. I didn’t want to go in with expectations because I would only be horrified if they were worse or better than the expected. My emptiness turned into children that were normal except for their physical cages: there bodies. And all they wanted was love, and we could so easily give it if we only open ourselves to it. They taught me about humans, we are not bodies, we are what is on the inside. Outside circumstances can never diminish that inner value that we all possess. We are valuable; from those that where crowns to those that lie wasted and filthy on the street.

Allison O’Donnell

I had been praying for weeks to see a baby with a cleft pallet because I was born with one, but when my team was coming back they were talking about their time at Hermano Pedro and said that they were not allowed to see the babies. So I kept praying. I went on Friday and I was spending time with this little boy when we were asked to help throw a birthday party for everyone with birthdays in the month of February. We fed them cake. When I went back to the kids, my little boy was gone, so I went back and helped clean up the birthday party. While I was there my teacher asked me if I wanted to go see the babies and I almost cried. So we went in groups of 4 for 10 minutes and I was in the first group. Right off the bat I found a little girl named Rosalina that had the same exact cleft pallet that I had when I was born. This little girl held my finger so tight and smiled, I felt like we had such a connection. Her smile was beautiful even though she had a cleft pallet. I was singing to her and then I started crying so I had to leaver her there and step outside because I didn’t want her to see me cry. When I was done, my teacher introduced me to a mother and her baby, Lorenzo, who was having surgery on his cleft pallet on Sunday, so we prayed for him and the family. For a long time I had been wondering why; why me, why did I have to have a cleft pallet. Statistically I should not have one, but God had His own plan and I feel so relieved that that question is no longer in my mind. I know why.

Shannon Regan

I wasn’t nervous until we arrived. I heard loud moans and cries. My stomach dropped. I don’t usually think past my own life, familiar people, and the city I am in. Sometimes I trick myself into thinking that nothing else exists. I came to Hermano Pedro thinking I had experience. In reality I was as out of pace as anyone. People started praying with the kids, and the kids would laugh and smile. I looked around at all of the children sitting in their chairs who were not responding to me and it was frustrating in a way. I became angry. Why can’t they respond? This frustration soon changed to a sense of compassion. I felt a love for these children. I sat there holding a little girl’s hand playing music and singing to her. I looked to the sky. I was in a place of worship. We both sat there, glorifying God in two very different ways. I stared into her eyes knowing she was thinking and feeling something. She eventually squeezed my hand. I believe now that she was saying, “its OK. I am OK. Stay with me here.” Honestly, there is no way to articulate the affection in my heart. This feeling that hits me every time I think about this experience, if I try to tell people about it, they will never understand. I didn’t cry directly after I left. Later in the week I couldn’t hold in the tears as I reflected. All I can picture in my mind is beauty; God’s unique way of expressing His glory. I realize, there are so many people in this world; So many situations, so many stories, so many needs. Before my visit, these children would have never entered my mind. Now I think of them every day. God’s creation is so vast and unique, we can’t fathom. I am very appreciative to God that a barrier in my heart is now gone. I love the connection I was able to have. With no words, I felt the greatest love. A silent love, that speaks so loud in my heart.

Bridget Cockrell

Going into the orphanage, I didn’t really know what to expect. I was really nervous and I was just praying to connect with the people there. Once I got there I met a boy named Carlitos; he grabbed my hand and never let go. I spent my entire day with him and I fell in love with him. The craziest part is that he didn’t say one word to me the whole day, but I knew that when he smiled at me, he felt God’s love shining through me. The orphanage really made me appreciate my health but it also made my heart break. God really put it on my heart to do similar work back home. Hermano Pedro changed me, and I am so grateful.

Sierra Alvarez

The orphanage was an amazing experience that I will never forget. Seeing how much those kids just needed to be loved was heartbreaking, and just made me want to love them even more. I was extremely scared and did not know what to expect. I was afraid that I would not know what to do or how to love them, but I asked for God’s grace and He completely worked through me. Watching how Tessa and Destiny interacted with the kids helped show me what to do as well. I am incredibly grateful that I got to do that and I hope I impacted someone’s life whether they remember me or not.

Megan Watkins

Dear Tessa and Destiny, going into this trip I had a fear! It was a fear I didn’t think about much, but I was reminded of this fear before entering the orphanage. This fear was one day being the father of a disabled child. I didn’t know how I would be able to love a child like that and I didn’t think I could handle it. Going into the orphanage I did not know what to expect. Most of the children I tried to speak with or touch did not respond and my heart sunk wondering, “how do you share the love of God with someone who cannot speak, or have understanding of what you say?” But I know that God has a place for them in heaven. After a while, I got to sit with a child who could barely move and just laid in my lap. Every time I spoke or just touched him, he smiled with joy. My understanding of the disabled changed that day and my fears for my future child were left behind.

Dax Dable

My experience at the orphanage was absolutely amazing, and no amount of words can fully describe how I felt and how it affected me. It was difficult to put myself out there in the beginning, but God just pulled at my heart and showed me that all these kids want is love. For me, all it took was one smile to fall in love with these kids. Just a simple smile from one of them would rip your heart out. I was fortunate enough to really bond and connect with a boy named Edgar. Edgar was an alcohol and drug baby. He would bang his head, and often chew his hand to the point of bleeding, but all he wanted was love. I learned that Edgar loved music and the sound of a maraca. When he would bob his head, I would rather think of it as dancing than a “disability” or a “problem.” This boy smiled and danced with me and held my hand for all of 4 hours and that’s all it took for me to fall in love and come back the next day. I was able to bond with some other kids as well such as, Lito. This boy also stole my heart. The orphanage was definitely a life changing experience and one of the best things I’ve ever done. Deciding to attend the orphanage was the best decision I made that week. It really showed me God’s working hand. He showed me how to love on these kids. I went into the orphanage hoping to make an impact on someone’s life when in reality they impacted me.

Taylor Badua-Kono

My experience at the orphanage was completely life changing. I was very nervous about feeling uncomfortable wile I was there, but I know that if I hadn’t gone, it would have been one of my biggest regrets. I am so glad I did it because it opened my eyes to the thing I feared. Showing love to people who are looked down on by society gave me this fulfilling feeling. I got to spend my day playing with Elmer and talking to Arianna. They are just the best kids and I’m proud to say I got to love on them. I definitely have a new perspective on showing love to people.

Colleen Zumaran

My trip to the orphanage was amazing. Right when I got there, Erwin rolled up to me, grabbed my hand, and put it on his wheel chair, meaning he wanted me to push him around. I spent all five hours with him and had an inspiring time. When I had to leave, he grabbed my hand and put it around his shoulders so I could give hug him, and I did. Surprisingly, it was tough saying goodbye because I didn’t think I could connect with a kid so fast. Overall, I am SO glad I went and don’t regret a single bit of it.

Landon Sorenson

When I first heard that we were going to go to an orphanage in Guatemala I was so excited! As the day drew closer however, I was becoming more and more scared until the day arrived. Then I was terrified! I had never helped with special needs kids. I didn’t know what to expect or what I was getting into. As part of the drama, I went on the last day. People told me that the kids would break my heart. The night before I prayed that God would let me have the strength and know what to do. When we got there I was immediately heart broken for these kids. They were all sitting in the courtyard and immediately I saw Tessa and Destiny grab a child and start loving on them like crazy. Suddenly God totally took over and I played with a little boy named Denis. He wasn’t super responsive, but I sang to him and he moved like he was dancing. Then I went to celebrate the birthdays for the month of February, which was amazing. It was so cool to see so much joy on the faces of the people who were celebrating another year of life even with their condition. To finish off the day I had the privilege to go up and see the babies. I got to sing to them and pray for them, which was such an answered prayer. All in all, God showed me how to love unconditionally and answered all my prayers. I am so glad for what God did in this life.

Caitie McCombs


Thanks gang.
Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Not So Funny Thing Happened To Us On The Way To Cobon.

I know this picture at the top of this journal has nothing to do with what I am writing about, but who wants a picture of a bandit at the top of their journal?

I have had a few people write saying that they heard roomers that I got robbed last Tuesday. All I can say is that no one held us up with a gun like they did a little over a year ago but I am now shy one window of my car and one Computer. Thankfully not my new Mac though. Not even my old Mac. The poor thieves took the Windows lap top that my kids use for school work. Just shows that these thieves were not the brightest berries on the bush, taking a windows computer and leaving a Mac. Well actually they got away with Garey's computer as well. Fact is they took Garey's whole suitcase which not only contained his clothing but all of his Hart medication. They also got away with Alex's duffel bag which had all of his clothing in it.

We were on our way to Cobon to help out with a Bethel Ministries wheelchair distribution that was to take place the next day when all of this happened. This happened when we stopped of at a store to buy some snacks. Guess it serves us right for thinking that we needed more food less than 2 hours after eating breakfast. The store had a security guard but he and his shot gun were inside when the robbers pulled in along side of my car and broke out one of the side windows. By the time the guard ran out of the store they were on their marry way. Someone managed to get their license number but I doubt that the police will ever catch them.

The up side to all of this is that we had originally planned to go back to the car to eat our snacks and with my tinted windows I doubt that the thieves would have know if we had been in the car and most thieves here carry guns so the outcome could have been quite different. We also got to know several very courteous police men who did everything possible to help us out. After this incident my respect for the Guatemalan police has sky rocketed.

After filing the police report our next and biggest concern was how to replace all of Garry's medicines. Here in Guatemala you can buy almost anything without a prescription but all that Garry had was a list of their English names. The lady at first drug store that we went into looked over the list and even with the help of a large book that had both English and Spanish names of literately thousands of medicines in it she was only able to come up with 1 out of about 10 that Garry needed. Fact is she told us that it looked like the 2 that he needed the most were not sold only in the USA. We then explained to her that we had just been robbed and that the medicine was desperately needed. She seemed very sympathetic and told us that she would do everything possible to help us out. By the way since neither Garry nor I know much Spanish, Alex who told me earlier that day that he didn't feel that he could be of much help at the distribution because of his lack of English did a marvelous job of interpreting for us. After a few Phone calls the manager of the drug store showed up and between him and the lady making phone calls and looking through medical books we walked out of the drug store about a half hour later with all but 2 of the medicines that were on Garry's list, and Garry said that they were not important ones. By the way we later found them at a drugstore in Antigua.

Wow I published this and even sent it out to those that are on my e-mail list before realizing that I left out one of the funniest parts of this not so funny journal. The following 2 paragraphs that are written in red has been added since I originally posted this journal.

Only a few minutes after leaving the drug store we drove some policemen and soldures who were randomly pulling over cars to inspect the paper work. I love my new Land Cruiser but mus admit that it is a real target for these not so random inspections. Some of my friends tell me that it looks like a drug runners car. I am sure that it was no help that the shattered back passenger window was on their side of the car because the second that they saw it they pulled us over. When they looked into the car through the broken window they saw 2 gringos (Gary and Me) in the front seat and Alex who is Guatemalan in the back seat. Before Alex could explain to them that the window had been shattered by some robbers they had him out of the car with his hands in the air and were frisking him for weapons. They calmed down a bit when I showed them the police report and explained to them that we had indeed just been robbed but that the robbery had not been done by Alex.

Now for a not so funny part that I left out of the original journal.

Would you believe that it is 10:30 PM and I just got back from the hospital. No it was not a Stomach ache from eating too many snacks. Esbin came running into the house a few hours ago saying that some of the other kids had just taken Alex to the hospital in tuke tuke. The kids were playing soccer a few blocks from here and Alex had fallen and they thought that he may have broken his ankle. When we got to the emergency room we were told that they had just taken him in to ex-ray and that we would have to wait outside.That's right this hospital's waiting room is the parking lot and the inside of the hospital it does not look much different. After about a half hour I snuck back inside and was just in time to see then wheeling Alex out of the emergency room. They handed the ex-ray to a man that was sitting behind a desk reading a news paper. He laid down his newspaper and took a five second look at the ex-ray. Sprain he Said as he pointed to the door. We hope that he was right becasue he did not give us the ex-ray. Poor Alex this has not exactly been his day.

Now a few hours back in time.

Shortly before the episode at the road block. I had made a phone call to Chris who was already in Cobon with the teem and explained our predicament to him. I told him that we could still try to make it there but I hated to spend a night or 2 there with a car that had one window missing. Not that car windows completely protect your valuables but a missing window is a real invitation to thieves. He told me that he had just found out that there were only about half as many kids that needed specialty chairs coming to this distribution ad originally expected so he felt that they could do it without me. As much as I would have liked to be there I felt that we better work on getting the window replaced and cancel this trip. Besides that having to share a motel room for 3 days with 2 people that no longer had as much as a change of socks or under where did not appeal to me.
Chris made a phone call to Toyota for us and amazingly they had the window in stock. While we were there we contacted my insurance agent and he sent a man down to meet us and fill out the paper work for a new window.

My kids feel bad about the lost computer but are delighted that I am at home. Last night they had a football game that they thought I was going to miss and I think that my being there was worth it to them. I am not 100% sure that it was worth it to me but all of the people that we met with the exception of the robbers made the 3 of us realize that most of the people here in Guatemala are very friendly and will go out of their way to help you.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Pat wrote this one.

Sometimes you have to break the rules--even when they're YOUR RULES. Today was one of those days. Last week when we were distributing food in Huehuetenango, we met Miriam. We were visiting her cousin, and she "just so happened" to be there when we came. And the whole team felt a strong conviction that God was calling us to help her.

She doesn't fit our usual "rules" or guidelines for people we help--she's not "handicapped" in the sense of most of the people we work with, she's not a widow, nor is she desperately poor (though she doesn't have much, to be sure). She does, however, have an extraordinary need, far beyond what she or her family can handle themselves. Two years ago, she was diagnosed with two brain tumors, and had surgery done in a local hospital. At the time, the doctor could not remove the entire tumor, due to hemorrhaging, and now one of the tumors has regrown to the point it is pushing her eye out of the socket. She is in constant pain, as you can imagine, and told us that the same doctor said he could operate again, but she did not have the money. She was not asking for our help, just stating the fact; acknowledging that without surgery she would eventually die from this. She is forty-eight years old, and has eight children. We knew we had not met her by accident--but "Godincident". But, we had no peace about pursuing surgery with a doctor who had not seemed to handle it correctly two years ago.

After talking with the team, we asked her if she would consider going to Guatemala City to see a neurosurgeon we knew and trust greatly. She instantly agreed, we made a quick phone call and we had an appointment set for her before we left the house. She and her cousin would take the bus to Chimaltenango on Tuesday, and we would take them into Guatemala City on Wednesday to see the doctor.

They arrived without problem--in fact, they were just stepping off the bus when Dick pulled up to meet them. Mari had room for them in her house, so they would be in Antigua with me so we could provide what support would be needed. From almost the first minute we entered the house, we knew this was the right decision. Mari welcomed them as if they were family, and the ladies fit right in. Hilda, Miriam's cousin, had brought her grandson Anderson, and he was soon the center of attention, not only from Mari but from many of the students living in the house. This was so much better than them spending a night alone in a hotel room.

We met with Dr. Jose Wednesday morning, and he sent us for an MRI. Through his contacts, we were able to get this done immediately in the same building, and were able to meet with him again this same afternoon to discuss treatment options.

We knew this would be a complicated surgery, but I have to admit both Dick and I were a bit overwhelmed when Dr. Jose explained just how complex this case was, requiring not only his services, but an ophthalmologist to remove her eye (which had stopped functioning long ago) and a plastic surgeon to repair the damage already done to her face, which would be made even worse by the surgery. He did say that he could do this in the military hospital to keep the cost down. When we asked how much he thought it would cost, both Dick and I lost our breath at the number--a minimum of 80,000 quetzales, or roughly $10,000.

We had the promise of help from the Nooksack team and others who have offered help, but none of us expected it to be this much. We had to admit to Dr. Jose that we didn't know if we could raise this much money for one surgery. We discussed the possibility of the surgery being done by a friend of Dr. Jose in the National Hospital, but we had no peace with this option. The facilities there are very lacking. In fact, towards the end of last year, they did not have access to medications even for their in-patients, due to lack of government funding. How could we trust that they could adequately care for Miriam.

So, here were our options: first, do nothing and allow her to die; second, use the National Hospital and hope for the best (while expecting the worst); third, step out in radical faith, more radical than we have probably ever done in the past, and trust God to provide the funding for the surgery to be done by Dr. Jose. With fear and trembling we took this to prayer--and both felt compelled to step out in faith. We don't know exactly where all of these funds will come from, though we have some offers of help. We do believe God has directed this decision, and are trusting He will find a way for this to be done. If you feel God inviting you to be part of Miriam's healing, please click here, to email Dick for more information.

Dr. Jose's recommendation was to do the surgery the week after Easter--so that gives us a little less than five weeks to receive these fund. While I have to admit, I still get a little sick to my stomach when I think of just how much is needed, and realize how tentative is my trust that when we obey the Father, He will provide. . .so I'm learning. And praying. And waiting. We're standing in faith and moving forward in obedience. I can't wait to see what God does with this one!


Monday, March 5, 2012

Why we love the orphanage kids.

Any one who reeds my journals knows how much I love spending time at Hermano Pedro orphanage. After 11 years one would think that I would have gotten tired of it. I can not say that there have not been the rough times when I have felt like leaving and never going back there. Especially when one of the children that I have cradled in my arms gets sick and dies but as hard as it is to see some of these thing happen and in spite of some discouraging times Hermano Pedro orphanage is still one of my favorite places. Perhaps the the following journals that were written by 2 friends of mine will help to explain why.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Destiny Christensen wrote the following.

I go to a local private Christian school in my hometown of Henderson, Nevada and as a senior in high school we are required to have 24 hours of work conducted of a charity of our choice to present as our senior project in hopes of winning a 1,000$ scholarship. Speaking for myself, I never chose my senior project for the money. Since I was a freshman, you could say, I dreamed of what my senior project would be. Working at Hermano Pedro really exceeded my dreams.

Before arriving to Hermano Pedro my friend, Tessa, and I thought Hermano Pedro was just an orphanage…little did we know that it was a disabled hospital where only a fourth or so of the kids were orphans. Everyday Tessa and I took a group of about ten people of our mission team (we had over 40 team members) and on the first day we awkwardly looked around not sure of what to do. The kids were in wheelchairs and could not walk and we did not receive any verbal communication on what we could do.

Before leaving Las Vegas for Guatemala Tess
a prayed for a miracle, and Dick was our miracle. Our first day there Dick was volunteering and he told us everything we could do along with background on a few of the kids. I could see how much these children genuinely loved him and how much he loved them. Dick really eased the awkwardness for the team and after an hour of being there the first ten people of our mission team to go to Hermano Pedro were all holding a child.

Along with Dick being a miracle he was also a blessing, on Tuesday he and his friends took Tessa and I along with three of the healthier kids at the hospital to lunch at Pollo Camprero and he became such a positive influence in our lives as he explained his love for the children of Guatemala.
Every team member connected to at least on child in Hermano Pedro, and for me it was Lesly. She is so beautiful just the way she is. She has one leg that is shorter than another, I think she has autism, she is blind, she slaps and kicks you,and the first day I held her the diaper she was in seeped through her pants onto my jeans. Dick explained the she is a loved child but her family is misfortunate with funds and her mother has polio, which causes her to walk around the house on all fours. Having polio makes it a little difficult to take care of a blind child... Like Dick would say, "I would not have her any other way though because she is perfect the way she is. God created her that way." Hermano Pedro was such a blessing in my life; being able to do things these children cannot do for themselves. The funny thing though, is that these children who cannot do much for themselves changed the entire team who was fully capable to do anything. All of this is due to God's grace and I am extremely thankful for Hermano Pedro, Dick and his friends, and the ministry he is responsible for.


Most of you already know that God had given me a special love for the kids that are in Hermano Pedro, but there is one little guy that I have bonded with over the years that I feel especially close to, and that is Lionel. He and I became best friends several years ago when I first met him at a wheelchiar distribution in Huehuetenanto.

How a starving child who at that time weighed just 14 pound at 10 year of age became one of my very best friends is hard for me to explain, but a good friend of mine Brittney Fulp has done an excellent job of explaining it.

You see Lionel is also Brittney's very best friends. Fact is Lionel is best friends with several people. Do any of us get jealous over the fact that we each consider Lionel our very best friend? Not at all. You see God has given Lionel enough love to go around to all of us with plenty left over for any one who has the privilege of knowing him.


Here then is what Brittney Wrote.

When I hold little Leonel in my arms, I care nothing about the fact that he cannot speak to me or wrap his arms around me. I care nothing about the fact that he cannot lift his bottle or a spoon to his mouth, wipe his drool, change his dirty diaper, or do anything to care for himself. On the contrary, I LOVE to sit by his side or cradle him in my arms and do everything that I can make him comfortable and happy and to help him understand how much I love him. And the joy that it brings me when his eyes light up or a smile crosses his lips is far more valuable to me than anything he could bring me through further "capabilities". And it is completely inexplicable!

Leonel has done nothing to "earn" my love. There is nothing that he has given me or offered me to produce this love for him in my heart. In fact, to even imagine such a thing being the cause for my love for him just cheapens it! I despise the thought. No THING or CAUSE could produce this love for him in me. My joy comes from the very act of loving him. The one and only thing that I desire from him...is his returned love. My favorite moments are the ones when I look in his eyes and can see that, although he cannot speak, he knows that I love him and he loves me, too. And cleaning him up, changing his diaper, feeding him mashed potatoes one slow, small bite at a time, cradling his frail body in my arms, re-positioning him for comfort, asking endless numbers of yes-no questions to find out what he wants and needs, and whispering words of love into his ears...are all my favorite uses of my time because they let me show my love to and spend my time with him...my little Leonel.

And one day it hit me. It is as if God is saying,

"You know that love that you have for Leonel?...That is just a small glimpse of the love that I have for you. You are weak, frail, and helpless. You are incapable of cleaning yourself up and meeting even the most simple of your needs. There is absolutely nothing that you can do or give me to earn my love. And yet you have it...in a quantity and magnitude so much greater than you could ever imagine.

I DELIGHT in you, and my greatest joy is found in seeing you smile and knowing that you are catching even a small glimpse of the love that I have for you. And there is absolutely nothing that you can offer me...except your love.

You don't know what love means yet. You have a distorted and entirely weak perception of love and what it means to give and receive it. And yet...I delight in your best efforts. You are my little child bringing your best piece of artwork (a wrinkled piece of paper covered with crayon scribbles), and I am your proud daddy hanging it on the fridge for all to see. I don't mind that you aren't a professional. That does not mean a thing to me. I just like to see you try because you know that I love you and you want to love me, too. One day, I will bring you HOME and then I will get to see you paint like an artist. But for now, this wrinkled, scribbled paper is the absolute best thing that you could give me. And I DELIGHT in it, because I DELIGHT in you. You are mine and my greatest joy is found in loving YOU."


Thank you Destiny and Brittney.

Yours in Christ: Dick