* 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)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Great Week

Last week we had the pleasure of hosting a teem from Nooksack Valley Reformed Church in Washington State.   Nooksack is a town that is located just a few miles from where I grew up so many of these people were old friends.  One was even my old boss and another was my cousin's son.  While they were here they took turns journaling so once again I was off the hook in having to do any writing.   I think that you will enjoy what they had to say. 

Mission team's journal, 

Wednesday – February 6th
1st Day! Today was the first day here doing work. Me (Callie), Amanda, Ashley and Arlis went and made the food bags and packed the clothes. We made 20 food bags but sent only 6. Those six families we went to had all different stories, but all broke your heart. Seeing kids getting so happy over a little race car or a pack of candy and parents and grandparents being so grateful for a bag of food that hopefully lasts them a month with 5 or more people living with them, it really opens your eyes and makes you see how truly grateful we are. And that the people and we know that God is always there. (Callie)

1st Day cont’d – Thinking 6am was going to be early for wake up was taken care of by the local chickens and dogs. Headed out of hotel at 6:45am and off to breakfast and then to the wheelchair repair shop. Chris and Dick introduced us to the work being done in the shop and all the other jobs them and others have. Very impressive! The guys were then made into two groups to start house foundations.

I was with Chris’s group. Little did I know what kind of character Chris is. Also, little did I know how hard dirt can get! We dug out, set the blocks and poured the slab for the house to be built later. Sounds easy, but task was a great accomplishment when it was done. I know I will sleep well tonight! The house we are working on is a part of a small cluster of houses with others next door. A mother, son and daughter were busy next to us most of the day. The little brother would watch, smile, and take off running, only to be back in 30 minutes. We worked hard, and laughed hard. Chris has a way of making everyone laugh. Although, I think he had the locals laughing at us! Or maybe, they too were laughing at Chris’s singing! Although his singing needs to be worked on, the driving classes should come first. However, we all made it back to the hotel safe. Praise the Lord. (Ryan)
 Thursday- February 7th
2nd Day! Today a group of us went to do food and clothing distribution. It was my second day doing this and it opened my eyes just as much as it did 4 years ago. Nothing has changed, people are so happy with anything and everything we give them. One lady specifically said, “How could my relationship with God not be great?  After all He’s my provider and creator.” I don’t think I will ever forget that. It made me realize that even though she has so little she is still so happy and feels blessed by her Lord. The next thing that really stuck out to me was when we were giving out candy to a few kids all of a sudden a ton of kids were coming out of all the houses on the block. Dick played a trick on them that made them think that money was coming out of their ears, and then when we were driving away the kids were checking their ears. Funniest thing I’ve seen in a while! I feel so blessed that God brought me here for a second time to see all of these wonderful people. (Amanda)

2nd Day – cont’d… Dan, Ted, Kyle and Josh continued to work on building houses today. The rest of us went on food/clothing distributions with Chris. We went out of town for part of the day. The families were all so appreciative. Many of them had at least 4 or 5 kids. One girl was 13 and an orphan. She stays with random families. It broke my heart to hear of her loss. For lunch, we went to a buffet style restaurant that had Guatemalan food. It was really delicious! It was a great day! I’m excited to see what God has planned the rest of the week. (Ashley)

Friday – February 8th
3rd Day – Wheelchair Distribution Day We were picked up by Chris and Donna at 6:15am this morning, but the local rooster and dog took care of the wake-up call. Then off to breakfast at Pollo Compero, “old faithful”. From there, we drove to Guatemala City. I (Blake), Ted, and Ashley rode with Dick in the Land Cruiser and the rest in the van. We gave out the wheelchairs at a government building that looked to be a school type property. We gave away just under 50 chairs, with one recipient giving their life to the Lord. Praise God! Even if this was the only fruit we could see, it was well worth it. Even though we didn’t speak the same language, the love of Christ was shown without words, through smiles, hugs, and countless “mucho gracias” coming from kids and parents, and the lights of the eyes of those severely disabled children of the Father. (Blake)
3rd Day cont’d….We were in Guatemala City distributing wheelchairs as previously mentioned. A great experience, we have to remember how good we got it at home. Our daily needs are almost never in jeopardy. The countless thank yous from the people we tried to help make any inconvenience seem extremely small. The day’s mission ended a bit early around 3:30pm, so we stopped at Antigua on the way home. It is a small town (in perspective), started by the Spanish, church’s and buildings from the 1700’s, an incredible place to see. Thank God for the opportunity. (Mark)

Saturday - February 9th 
4th day - We split into two groups; one built the second house on the last foundation of the two we put in and poured on Wednesday. The second group went on family visiting and distributing food, clothing, shoes, candy and love to several needy families. The house build went well and we also set up a stove plus a 3 story bunk bed for them. This house was for a blind widow and her 2 single daughters. We had a very moving dedication with them and then headed to the Hotel for a hot shower. A great day and gift from God.  (Dan)

Sunday – February 10th
5th Day – We went to church in Antigua. It was a lot different than I expected. They had both Spanish and English spoken/sung. After church we went to the Cross on the hill. It was an awesome view of the town! We met Dick for a tour of the orphanage and played with the kids. It was a great experience seeing how they love to interact. It was also sad to know many go to bed after lunch and stay till morning. We got to have some free time to shop and look around Antigua. We went to dinner at an Italian restaurant. It was a great day! (Ashley)

Mon - February 11th
We had an early 6:30 breakfast at Pollo Compero. After breakfast we loaded all the tools and wheel barrows and each crew headed out to the jobsites to level and pour foundations and floors for the two houses that the next team will build. Our crew consisted of me (John), Dan, Mark, Ted, Chris, Juan, Ashley, Amanda, Arlis and Callie. We had a fairly level site, so there was not a lot of prep work to do before starting the foundation. Dick came after we had the foundation done and picked up Ted and Arlis to go out on family visits. We had the floor poured and everything picked up and loaded by 11:30. Then it was off to help the other crew finish their job. The 2nd crew consisted of Ryan, Josh, Kyle, Saul and Blake. They had a really tough jobsite. The foundation needed an extra row of blocks to bring the floor height above the existing old cement and debris. This required lots of fill that had to be dumped on the street and wheeled between two buildings into the courtyard and then up a ramp between two more buildings, up a plank and then leveled between the foundation blocks. That’s what you call a tough build! By lunch time we realized we were short on fill, cement and sand. We made sandwiches and ate lunch while we waited for more material. The truck arrived just as we finished lunch. The hydraulic dump on the truck would not lift the heavy load, so 6 of us, 3 on each side, lifted on the front of the truck bed to help dump the load. We wheeled in the rest of the fill dirt and sand. 

After leveling and watering down the fill, we started on the concrete floor. We had everyone, including the girls mixing cement in 5 wheelbarrows. The couple that will own the house, also helped mix cement. Picture 12 people shoveling the correct amount of rock, sand and cement dust into 5 wheelbarrows, adding water and mixing. As you can imagine this was, at times, quite a circus! Dan and Kyle were laying down the concrete and did a great job troweling out a perfect finish. After we finished, we gathered together with the family, husband and wife, two daughters and son. The father and mother are professional clowns that perform for Christian children’s events. They gave their testimony and then thanked and prayed for our team. We finished by praying for the family and dedicating their future home to the Glory of God. (John)

Monday – February 11th (cont’d)
Dick, Ted and myself(Arlis) decided we would take some of the orphanage kids out for lunch to Pollo Compero’s and then do some family visiting later in the afternoon. We took the scenic route into Antigua and were still a little early so we had coffee at a little coffee shop by Central Park area of Antigua. We then met up with Dave Black (friend of Dick’s) at the orphanage. He had checked out 4 boys to take to lunch – Alfonso, Diego, Mynor and I can’t remember the other boy’s name. Wow! Were they excited to go! It was so neat to see their smiles! Dick was glad that Dave had chosen which boys to take because it is so hard to say no to all the others. After loving on the other kids for awhile, we headed out pushing the boys in their wheelchairs down the street and across Central Park to Pollo Comperos; the kids were having so much fun on the way!  When we arrived there, the waitresses welcomed us and quickly set up some tables for us. Dick, Dave, Ted and I each helped one of the boys with their lunch. They all were very well behaved and enjoyed their lunch. I helped Mynor; he loved his French fries dipped in salsa! As we took them back to the orphanage, they still had these big smiles on their faces! What a joy it was to be able to take these kids out of their 24/7 orphanage environment to the outside world of God’s creation – sun, fresh air, trees, flowers, water fountains, people, horses, dogs, street noises, Pollo Compero’s food, and……..watching them enjoy every minute of it! Bless these little ones Lord!

After bringing the kids back to the orphanage, we drove back to Chimal and met up with Carol (Bethel’s social worker) at the wheelchair shop. We packed up some bags of food, backpacks and bibles to go visit some families that had applied at Bethel Ministries for help with food and possibly a new home. The first stop was a family with three kids. The father had been shot in his stomach and he was in need of more surgery but could not afford to pay for it. He also was not able to work, so his wife and the kids were working to make some money. The kids were still able to go to school so we gave them backpacks and a bible along with the food. They were so grateful for the help we could give them! We prayed for them and gave them hugs along with our goodbyes. (While we were visiting, Ted was up by Dick’s car making friends with all the neighborhood kids)Ted has such a heart for all the kids.

Our next stop was a single mother and daughter that were living next to her son and family. The little girl was going to school so we also gave a backpack and children’s bible along with the bag of food. Carol asked about her family and the needs that she had and explained about the food in the bag, the vitamins and the bible. We then prayed with the family and gave hugs and our goodbyes. We got lost trying to find the last family…. 

 After driving a few miles up a steep dirt road with big ruts in it, we decided to turn around. There was a man chopping down corn stalks by the road so we stopped and asked directions, which were to go in the opposite direction up a long hill We arrived at the home of a single mother with the sweetest little boy and girl! They lived in a small house with plywood walls, a tin roof that leaked and a dirt floor. The mother told us she didn’t have any more food and had prayed that God would provide her family with food - God answered her prayer by using us! It was the little boy’s birthday, he was so happy and thankful to get a backpack and a bible to read some day when he could read better, and the little girl was thankful for the hair clip and bracelet I gave her. These children melted our hearts by their smiles, hugs and gratitude – such polite children! We prayed for this family and thanked God for providing for their needs. With big hugs, we said our goodbyes.
*This was a special day for me, knowing we were being used by God in such a special way! Lord, bless all these families with Your loving presence, Your protection and Your provision always!

For dinner tonight we went to a favorite Mexican Restaurant in a small nearby Mall. We surprised Ryan with a birthday cake (that Callie had picked out for him) as the waiters put a Sombrero on him and sang Happy Birthday to him! Kyle, Ryan and Josh surprised us all by riding up to our table on little battery powered horses they had bribed the owner to let them ride on! What a fun way to end our week in Guatemala! (Arlis)
Tuesday – February 12th
John did the daily wake- up call this morning at 4:15am so we could be ready for Chris to pick us up at 4:45am. We were on the road by 5am – it was good that we got an early start because we ran into a lot of morning traffic on the way into Guatemala City! I think it was around 6:30am when we arrived at the airport….we said our goodbyes to Chris and checked in and went through security without any problems. We had coffee and breakfast together, did a little shopping and boarded plane for Dallas around 9am. We had a 3 hour layover in Dallas which ended up being 4 because they had to do some clean-up and repair work on the plane. We arrived at Seattle around 7:30pm and were at church around 10pm.

*Thank you Lord for allowing us to go to Guatemala to be a blessing for you! Thank you for watching over us and our families! Thank you for touching our hearts by this experience. Now guide and help each of us to act upon what You have taught us through this experience. Please continue to show Your loving presence, protection and provision to all the people we met and helped in Guatemala. And Lord, we ask a special blessing on Chris & Donna, their family, their ministry, Dick and Pat as they follow You, doing Your Kingdom work in Guatemala. Lord, fill them with Your love and grace, Your power and strength, Your wisdom and guidance. Help them Lord to work together in unity and love as they share Your love with everyone that You put into their lives and their paths. In Jesus name we pray, Amen (Arlis)

Thanks teem for coming down and especally for journaling, and an extra big thank you to Ryan who polked more fun of Chris's driving than mine. I am sure glad that Ryan didn't hear me sing though.

Good night,
Yours in Christ: Dick 


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