* GUATEMALA * * * * * * * * Dick Rutgers *

An ongoing journal of life as a Missionary in Guatemala. It will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

My Photo
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)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Louder Than Words

 It seems a good deal of my time is spent in making home visits lately.   These visits can range from bringing food and vitamins in to a needy family, to checking on a sponsored child's schooling, to going to a home to replace or repair a power wheelchiar.  While all of these are good reasons to go and see a family I must admit that they are not the main reason that I make these visits.

I am a firm believer that most people do not care how much you know about something until they know how much you care.  I feel that is especially true when it comes to sharing Christ.  Granted I know people who have come to Christ when a stranger simply came up to them and told them about Jesus. The Holly Spirit seems to have a way of getting things done no matter which methods we use to try to help him out.  I have seen though (especially here in Guatemala) that most people are watching our actions and our lives even more than they are listening to what we have to say.  

This is no excuse to sit back and say "I never feel that I have to witness to my neighbor because they will see Christ in my actions."  I for one felt that way for a good number of years.  Then came a time in my life when I felt that if I got them to say "the prayer" they would be saved and I could move on to my next convert with no frothier thought or worry about them.

Spending the last 10 years working  with the kids that hang out at my house has proven to me that there is just a little more to it than that. 

Much like the time that is spent on the road visiting these families, Investing time into the lives of these boys who are now becoming young men has been well worth it.  Granted there have been and still are the rough times.  But God is faithful and continues to guide one step at a time.
Esbin used to use God's
name  the wrong way
in almost every sentence.
 Now Esbin shares Christ proudly.

Alex and Kevin comforting Josey who is to week to attend school.

Fact is the boys are getting so good at fixing chairs and working with the kids that I seldom get a chance to do either when they are along.

Well maybe that is a bit of an over statement, but I sure enjoy watching them do the same.

For the past several days Kevin Alex and I have been on the road  repairing wheelchairs and sharing Christ's love in what ever way He  allows us to.

"It is in our lives and not just our words that our Christianity must be seen."


Prayer update -  Jason is still in the drug Rehab center.  I visited with him about a week ago and he is doing well.  This is a nine month program.  Please keep Jason in your prayers.  Better yet if you could take just 30 seconds of your time to pray for him right now that would be great.
Yours in Christ, Dick

Friday, January 25, 2013

We received more than we gave.

Once again I was getting ready to sit down and do some journaling, but before doing so I decided to check my e-mail.   In it was a link that was sent to me by my friends Chris and Donna Mooney of Bethel Ministries,  Although I did not accompany Chris and the teem on this particular trip I still felt led to print the following because I feel that it is a good example of how I am seeing God at work in this and other ministries that I have the privilege of being part of here in Guatemala. 

Yours in Christ:
Dick Rutgers    
2013 is off to a wonderful start. We are excited with the way things are shaping up, and would like to share the thoughts and memories of Evan, one of our first friends down for the year. Join us walking through a week in Reu, Guatemala!
Chris and Donna Mooney 

On January 11, my morning Bible study group left for a 1 week service / mission trip to Guatemala.  This group, made up of Leonard Hoekstra, Leon Vanden Bosch, Steve De Ruyter, Dennis De Jager, my brother Don, and me, has been meeting together every other Wednesday for nearly 20 years.  We teamed up with Bethel Ministries International, an organization started by missionaries Chris and Donna Mooney in Guatemala over 15 years ago.  Bethel ministers in several ways, including building homes, distributing food and wheelchairs.  They have an office and workshop in the city of Chimaltenango that employs about a dozen people, including several handicapped persons who recondition wheelchairs.  Work groups like ours are scheduled to come in every other week, and work in various parts of Guatemala with Chris and his staff.

Guatemala is a country in Central America right below Mexico.  It is an extremely poor nation because there is very little industry or jobs available, so many have not had the opportunity to get an education.  Approximately 60% of the people in Guatemala are Christians. It is a democracy where the mayors hold a lot of power.  The mayor’s wife runs the social services agency in the city and surrounding area.  Chris works with the mayors and the social workers to help Bethel find the poorest of the poor.  Bethel finds out who needs a home by having the social worker make a recommendation, and then they send out a staff member to make sure of the need.  The houses are built on a 14'10" X 24' slab of concrete that usually is formed and poured by Bethel staff.   A work group then comes in and builds the house.  This home is not what we would consider a home, it is more like our tool sheds.  It is made of galvanized steel panels that look similar to grain bin panels.  The house is 14'10" X 18 with a 6 foot covered porch that contains a wood burning cook stove.  The house has a metal door and 2 glass windows.  They are also equipped with a bunk bed that has a double bed on the bottom and 2 single bunks above. The materials for a house, including the concrete, the bed, and stove costs about $2400.

The wheelchair ministry works similar to the house ministry.  Bethel puts the word out to the social workers and other volunteers months before the chair distribution.  These volunteers then get applications filled out for people needing wheelchairs and gets them back to Bethel.  The people who are approved are then told the date, time, and location of the distribution.  

 The food bags Bethel distributes contain 50 pounds of dried food and vitamins.  Each bag has several small bags of food from "kids Against Hunger”.  


Our groups plan was to build 3 houses, distribute 50 wheelchairs, 15 bags of food, and 70 Bibles.  We each took an extra suitcase that JFA gave us, and filled it with kids clothes, small toys, and candy.

Day One.  We arrived in Guatemala City a little after noon, and were picked up at the airport by Chris and his son-in-law, Saul who is a native of Guatemala.  We had a 5 hour ride to our motel in Retalhuleu.  The accommodations were better than I expected-not fancy, but clean, with cool AC and cold showers!  There was a small restaurant on the grounds that served pretty good food.

Day Two.  Time to build a house!  We were met at the motel by Doris, a social worker that Chris has worked with for years.  Bethel comes to this area 4 times and year, and Doris is extremely caring and helpful.  She took us to the edge of a village, where we walked about 100 yards through the woods to a shack where Pedro, his wife, and 3 daughters, ages about 5 to 8, lived.  The living conditions were almost indescribable.  The shack was about 12 x 12.  The walls were made up of a few boards and some branches.  There were so many holes, I think you could have thrown a baseball through it.  The roof was tin, but was so rusty, there were many holes in it.  The floor was dirt, and because it was built on a down slope, when ever it rained, everything got wet.  There were no beds so the girls slept on 3 rotted 1 x !2’s that had some rags over them for padding.  The cement pad was about 15 feet away from the shack.  We built the house, the bunk beds and the stove.  It takes a little over 3 hours to put everything together using the rechargeable power tools that Bethel has.  Chris and Saul have built many of these, and because Steve and Leonard had also built them before, it went really fast. We were glad it went fast because it was really hot!   We brought in a food bag, some clothes for the girls, as well as some toys and candy.  Chris ministered to the family while we were building the house and found out that they loved the Lord.  He also found out that the girls did not attend school because they went with their Dad and Mom every day to pick coffee beans so they could eat.  The girls each made about 50 cents for a whole day's work.  Now the girls will be sponsored through Bethel so they can attend school.  Chris prayed with the family, and then Pedro thanked God, and then us. He told us (with Chris interpreting, of course) that he never dreamed he could have a home this nice.

After a quick lunch, we went on 2 home visits.  Doris first took us to a Grandma taking care of her 2 young grandsons,  the parents were both very sick with aids, and their sister had already died of aids.  The grandma had no income ( there is no social security or welfare in Guatemala).  We brought in a food bag, clothes, and some candy.  Our next stop was a Grandma and Grandpa taking care of their orphaned 12 year old handicapped granddaughter, and 18 year grandson.  The grandson was the only wage earner in the house, but the Wednesday before had fallen out a tree harvesting coconuts and badly broke his femur.  They do have a government hospital near there, but the grandparents had to come with the money to buy the plates and screws to fix the leg before they would do surgery.  They did surgery on Friday, and sent him home on Sunday with no antibiotics or painkillers and the Grandparents had no money left to buy them.  We took a quick offering and gave the money to Doris so she could help them out.

Day Three.  We built another house.  This was for a mom and her 2 children who were living with grandma.  We had to carry everything down a dirt path that was about ¼ of a mile long. There were a lot of people living in the area, and we drew a lot of spectators.  After the home was built, we again gave food, clothes, and candy and had prayer with the family.  Again, Chris spent a lot of time with the family while we were building the house, and found out they too were Christians and were so thankful to God and to us.  We then drove about 2 hours to our next city, Champerico, where we were to stay for the next 2 nights.
Day Four.  Wheelchair day!  One of Bethels staff had driven a truck to Champerico loaded with 56 wheelchairs.  The distribution site was the courtyard of a school that was not in use.  We unloaded the truck, and watched the people carry their crippled family members.  It was a moving sight.  Every person that was approved for a wheelchair was given a number, and after Chris presented the gospel, and led in prayer, we started fitting people for chairs.  We worked in teams, and did our best to find a chair that fit their body, and adjust it so they would be comfortable in it. 

After they had their chair, a social worker took a picture and filled out documents so Bethel could keep track of the people.  They then spent 15 to 30 minutes visiting with one of the 4 local pastors who were there.  They were given a Bible, and presented the gospel.  Gods Spirit was very present that day.  Of the 56 people who were given a chair, 29 were Christians, 6 rejected the gospel, and 21 gave their lives to the Lord!  The local pastors divided up the names of the new Christians so they could follow up and continue to work with them.


 We then drove about 30 miles to a very poor rural area.  We made 3 home visits, again giving out food, clothes, toys, and candy while Chris presented the gospel, and then had prayer together.  The kids in the area saw our van, and before we knew it, there were close to 50 people by us, and more on the way.  We gave out a bunch of toys and candy to the kids before we left. 

Day Five.  We made 4 more home visits.  The first one was unforgettable.  A family of 10, along with the dad's mom, her 42 year old handicapped son, and a great grandma, 13 in all, lived in a 16X16 shack.  The father was a fisherman, and worked hard to try to feed his family.  We could tell right away that this was a family of strong faith.  When we realized how many people lived there, and could see how poor they were, we brought in a second bag of food, and lots of clothes.  The father was so overwhelmed that he fell to his knees and started praising and thanking God.  After a few minutes he choked up, and his Mother continued.  We all went to our knees and joined them.  Even though we could not understand the words, we could understand that these are our brothers and sisters in the Lord.  It was an incredible moment, one I will never forget.


After 3 more home visits, we piled back in the van for the 2 hour trip back to Retalhuleu.  We met up with Doris again, and she took us to the site where we built our third house.  This one was for a mom and her 3 kids who where living in a wooden shack that was smaller then 10 X 10.  All that was in the house was a mattress and a fireplace for cooking.  The family and extended family were extremely grateful for the home, food and clothes.

Day Six.  We traveled through the mountains for a 6 hour drive to Chimaltenango.  There are a lot of small vegetable and coffee farms in the mountains, so it was a very interesting ride.  We had a chance to tour the headquarters and wheelchair workshop of Bethel Ministries and meet most of the staff.  It is an extremely well run and efficient organization whose goals are to spread the gospel and help the poor in Jesus name.

Day Seven.  Time to go home.  Up at 4 AM to get to the airport.  Everything went well, and we arrived back about 6 PM.  We gave thanks to the Lord for a safe trip.

This was an incredible experience.  I was shocked by how horrible their living conditions are, and how terribly poor they are.  When they pray “Give us this day, our daily bread” they really mean it.  They are totally dependent on the Lord.  I was amazed by how strong their faith in God is, and how content they are.  I was humbled by how incredibly grateful they were for the little we gave them.  

Our whole group felt like we received more than we gave, but it really was a blessing to have the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus.      

 Evan Vanden Bosch

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


 Who Am I To Argue With A Friend?

My good Friend David Black is back in town. At the last minute David was able to join four of my boys and me on a trip to HuehueTenango.  It is great to have David along again,  Not only because he is a good friend but David has also once again offered to do the journaling on this trip.


Thursday,  Jan. 3 ,2013

 David Writes

After arriving in Guatemala, I headed to Antigua, re-activated my phone and called my good friend Dick. He and Cesar (one of his boys) just happened Godincidence? to be in Antigua about to have dinner at Picadilly's.  Dick called me back and invited me to join him and Cesar, Brian, Kevin, and Esbin on a trip to Huehue. I  wavered about that (I was a little tired from my trip) , but did join them for dinner.

While walking down the street ,  I felt a little nudge from God to join them on this trip, after all , there is nothing like hitting the road in Guatemala with Dick.


Friday, Jan. 4 ,2013

I took a chicken bus to meet Dick and the boys at Pollo Campero's in Chimal. There is nothing like a chicken bus ride  to get you back in the Guatemala swing of things !

After brekky (Dick will translate) Ya right! I have a hard enough time with Spanish yet alone Canadian.) (Dick) , we drove about 3 hours to Erica's home  near San Francisco to deliver some meds and food packets. Erica has a skin disease which apparently has no cure, so she needs these meds to ease the rash. She and her family seemed quite happy to see us. Dick left some money for oatmeal, (which Erica bathes with ), and a cane for papa, who has trouble walking.

We then went to visit Christopher who lives nearby, Christopher's  power wheelchair was acting up. Dick had brought another chair, so we exchanged batteries  and some parts right in the street, as the newer chair would not fit thru the doorway. His brother said no problem, as they could keep it elsewhere.


Off to Huehue for dinner and devotions, where Dick asked the boys if what we did today made us Christians. We had a good talk about doing good things to show God's love, but that does not make us a Christian - only Jesus can do that.

I was glad to hear that Dick is taking things a little slower.

Thank you, Lord

Saturday, Jan. 5 , 2013

After a late start ( Dick slept in - Thank you Lord!) (Actually I think that Dave may have sneaked into my room and shut off my alarm,)  (Dick), we went downtown to get some plastic buckets for water filters, and some meds. for Freddy who has seizures.  I know Dick is Dutch and likes a bargain, but somehow these 20Q  buckets ended up costing  250Q more ! I will let Dick explain. (Dave was suppose to be looking behind me for parked cars while I was backing up. He claimed that he said something but if he did it was in Canadian so how was I to understand.)    (Dick)

We are then off to see Jose near Colotenango whose power chair is also acting up. Luckily (?) Godincidence? we brought  Christopher's old chair from yesterday, and managed to jury-rig some repairs.  Jose travels a couple of miles each way to school, and the dirt path leading from his home is very steep. Both the front solid tires and one rear one were pretty well worn away.  The best part of this visit for me, was seeing the boys working side by side with Jose, who wants to become a power wheelchair mechanic. After the repairs, Dick re-adjusted the speed on Jose's chair, and we could tell by the smile on his face, he was quite pleased.

 Dick writes,

I do not normally do this but I have known Jose for close to ten years now and if anyone ever needed a break this young man certainly does. Until a few years ago when we gave Josey his first power wheelchiar Jose had to propel himself  in a manual wheelchair down a steep hill to his school which is nearly two miles away.  Then with all of the strength that he had and the help of his younger brother he would have to make it back up the hill to his home after school. After we gave him a power wheelchair it made life a bit easier for Jose but getting to and from school was still a struggle. A few years ago Jose's mother and grandmother both died.  Jose's father gives him little encouragement but Jose is determined to make it in life and continues with his schooling.  Fact is Jose's goal in life is to go on with his schooling and become an electrician so that someday he can go to work for Ministerial Bethel and  repair and rebuild power wheelchairs so that other Guatemalans who are disabled like himself can also have a chance in life.  Problem is schooling costs money.  We need a generous sponsor so that Jose can continue his schooling.  You can contact me by clicking HERE or Bethel ministries by clicking HERE.
Dave writes,

On the way back to Huehue, we stopped at Freddy's to deliver his meds and some vitamins, then we stopped at Silsa's  to give them some food packets and inscription money.  Silsa is the 15 year old girl , who last year could not walk because of a curse put on her by the local witch doctor. After many prayers by many people, she is walking  and now going to school. Last year she had a teacher come to her house to tutor her. Dick saw her run back to her home when she saw us arrive ! Thank you Lord  - what a  miracle!


Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013

Today we decided to take it easy and do nothing but visit Lisby's family near La Libertad towards the Mexican border. Lisby was a little girl who Dick and Pat worked with that passed away three years ago. Both Dick and Pat have come to love this family after finding  out how much mom and dad loved their little girl , after losing  2 daughters previously to the same ailment.

We left the CA-1 @ 3800 ' alt., and ended up  @ 8300' !  It was quite the climb, and we managed to hit market day in La Libertad also. after hitting market day in Colotenango yesterday! This town is basically  built on the side of a mountain, and the streets are narrow and sloped.  It was quite an effort to get thru there.
Movie   (Market Day)  (Taken today. Date stamp is wrong.)

After getting to their home, we met some neighbors and gave  out some food packets and vitamins. They graciously served us lunch. Dick told them to try this food, and to think of anyone needing wheelchairs for the future. As Dick told me later, we really didn't need to go there, but sometimes it is about establishing relationships. Amen to that. I am sure God will use this in the future.


Movie  (4500 Foot Decent From Lisby's Home)

We got back to Huehue, and had devotions on my favorite verse: Micah 6:8

Thank you Lord for a wonderful "do nothing" day.

Monday, Jan. 7,  2013

Today we visited Maria Garcia, Lionel's family, Rolando, Rudy and Juana. They all live about an hour north of  Huehue, off of the CA-1 up on a mountainside.

Maria Garcia is the wonderful lady who looks after distributing food and vitamins, and some school funds that Bethel ministries supplies to this area. What a blessing she is!  

After dropping off most of the food and vitamins at Maria's house , we head to Lionel's family home. It is  here when the poverty of this area hits me. We have so much to be thankful for at home. Even just turning  on a tap, and getting water. Turning a dial and getting heat in our homes. In the last few days I have seen little girls carrying water in 20  gal. jugs for a distance to their homes. I have seen men and boys carrying their days use of wood piled on their backs. I asked Dick how he gets used to it , and he said, "You don't get use to it, you should feel something every time you see this.  If you don't you should no longer be here."


After visiting Rudy, a little guy who has a prosthesis that needs some repairs, we find out that Marvin, the prosthesis guy from Hermano Pedro will be in Huehue this Thursday.  He only comes here once  a month, so it looks like we are staying to get Rudy to see him.  Apparently Rudy missed Marvin last time due to some foul-up.

As Dick says, a Godincidence?


Thank you Dave. We still have a few days left before we drive back to Chimaltenango so please pray that God continues to bless this trip.

Yours in Christ: Dick