* 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)

Friday, April 26, 2013

What We've Been Up To

 (Click on any picture to enlarge)

I have been on the road quite a bit again the past few weeks.  It seems that every time I get one thing accomplished on my list two or three more are added.  

A few days ago Pat and I headed out towards  the coast to pick up Gravy, and his family so that we could take them to San Lucas to see Doctor Will.  Gravy is a 4 year old boy that I found a few weeks ago when I was with a Bethel ministries teem that was building a house for a family that lived next door to him. He is very bright but has a bone deformity that has stunted his growth and deformed his legs, making it difficult for him to walk. 

While on our way to pick him and his family up to take them to an appointment that he had with Doctor Will we decided to stop in and visit a few Families that lived in that area.  One of these families was he family of Patty.  Patty is a girl that Pat and I gave a wheelchair to a few years ago. We had a bit of a problem finding her home but once we did Patty was thrilled to see us.  Pat and her had become good friends on our first visit.  

Patty's wheelchair was in reasonably good shape so after doing a few minor repairs we said our goodbyes and started to head to my car.  I was starting to think to myself that this was going to be a rather easy day.  It was then that at Father told us that Yelson who lived about a quarter mile further down the road was having problems with the power chair that we gave to him the same day that Patty had received hers.  We had already talked about visiting Yelson but I was hoping that his wheelchair was not in need of repair.

When we arrived at Yelson's home we discovered that his wheelchair had not been running for the past 6 months and that his mother had lost the phone numbers that I had given her.  Since Yelson who has muscular dystrophy relies on his wheelchair for school I promised that I would bring him a loaner wheelchair and take his wheelchair to the shop to have it repaired.  This meant another day on the road later in the week but I knew how much Yelson needed his wheelchair.
My friend Mario and I managed to return with the loaner chair a few days later.  Yelson was delighted that he once again had mobility.  I think that his mother was equally as happy because she was the one that had been pushing him around in his heavy power chair for the past 6 months.  She offered to make us lunch and while we were eating she told us that she had two nephews who lived only a short distance away who had muscular dystrophy as well.

Although both boys are smiling in these pictures their life and that of their mother is not an easy one.  During the past year the younger of the two has totally lost the ability to walk and the older one can only take a few steps before falling to the ground.  Mom now carries them one at a time to and from their school.  I promised that I would do my best to get them power wheelchairs since they are too week to propel manual wheelchairs.  Problem is we are out of Batteries for power chairs and they run us from $110 to just over $200 per wheelchair. we are very selective in who we give power wheelchairs to.  Only kids that do not have enough hand use to propel themselves are given power chairs rather than manual wheelchairs. Right now I know of  nearly a dozen kids that can not go to school because they do not have batteries for their power wheelchairs.  If you would like to help out with this need  please let me know.   

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This is all that stands between several kids being 
able to go to school and sitting at home all day.

Gravy was not the only one that we brought in to see doctor Will during the past few weeks.  We also brought in Karen a little girl from the city who suffers from spinal biffida  and two other children that are in need of surgery.
Doctor Will seems confident that three of the four children that we brought in to see him can be helped by the teem of specialists that is coming to do surgery next February.  Please pray for these kids and for the doctors that will be volunteering their time.
 Doctor Will said that Ervin will likely walk normaly again.

I think that the highlight of our trip to see Doctor will the day that Pat came with me was when we stopped off on our way home to see Jessica and her family.   Those of you who follow my blog on a regular bases may remember that Jessica is the little girl  who's mother brought her to a Hope Haven Wheelchair distribution a few years.   The moment that I saw her I know that she needed medical attention far more then she needed a wheelchair.  Six year old Jessica weighed under 16 pounds.  She was starving to death.  

Jessica spent nearly a year in the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro then returned to the new home that Bethel built for her.  We had not seen her in several months so today Pat and I decided to pay the family a visit.  
Thanks to a sponsor who helps us provide food and schooling to this family and a lot of prayers Jessica now looks even better than the day that she was released from the malnutrition ward of the hospital. 
 This was a great way to wrap up  our trip.

On Friday of last week I went over to Hope Haven's wheelchair factory in Antigua to do a small wheelchair distribution.  Ilse who usually takes care of the distributions there asked me if I would conduct this small distribution since she was going to be out of town.  Actually she had already lined up the people who would be coming in for wheelchairs and those that would  do the interpreting and the paper work so all I really needed to do was stand around and look important.  My friend Brad, from the USA and a few of his friends were in town and they were the ones that sponsored the distribution and helped fit the Wheelchairs.  A few of the workers from Hope Haven helped out as well.  Pat also came along and did some interpreting as well as love on the families.  Even though most of the USA volunteers had not done wheelchair seating before they caught on quickly and did a great job.
It was a bit of a challenge keeping these three little girls straight as we were fitting them into their wheelchairs as all of them were about the same age and each was named Maria.

 Before Ilsa left for the States for a few weeks she asked me if I could possibly fit a boy named Diago who lives in an orphanage near the outskirts of Antigua into a power wheelchair.  Problem was the only operating Power wheelchairs that Hope Haven had were adult chairs.  Not only were they adult chairs they were fat adult chairs.  Diago needed the support of a therapeutic children's wheelchair not a chair that he and a friend could sit side by side in.  I knew that Bethel had some kids power chairs but neither them nor Hope Haven nor all of Guatemala as far as we knew had any of the smaller batteries that were needed for the children's chairs. 

I know how much Diago needed a power chair so I did a lot of praying.  As I prayed for batteries my  mind wondered a bit.  I hate to admit it but it does that a lot lately,  not only while praying but as you can see by today's journal ............ .   Anyway where was I?   Oh ya,  Here I was in a factory full of completed and partly completed children's wheelchairs,  next to a warehouse that had some Extra Lardo Plus power chairs.  "What if?"   "Naw!"   "that would never work."  "Or would it?"

 Anyway here is a copy of the letter that I wrote to Mark Richard the following day.

Hi Mark:

I hope that you don't mind but I made a few small modifications to the undercarriage of one of your Hope Haven Kid's Chairs.

I figured that I would put some smaller tires on it since the Diago, the boy that was getting it could not self propel anyway.

 The best tires that I could find just happened to be connected to this frame

The frame just so happened to have motors connected to it and since I was to lazy to remove the motors I figured I would just leave them there.

I wasn't sure how to disconnect the controller so I made a bracket and put it on the Hope Haven chair.

Once Ilse and I got to the orphanage where Diago lives,

my new friend Diago and I  adjusted the chair so that it would fit him.

It took a while but under Diego's supervision we got everything together.

Diago loved the way the Chair fit but seemed a little concerned that this chair would be a bit heavy for someone to push.

Next thing I know he started pushing on some buttons on the controller.

 Wow !!  It looks like we now have a Hope Haven Power Chair !!

Diago will still need a few driving lessons but this project worked out so well that we are considering putting Hope Haven seating systems on a few more of the large power chairs that were sent down to Guatemala so that some of the kids that are waiting for power chairs can have the best of both worlds.

Yours in Christ: Dick

Don't hold you breath for mass production of this new chair but it could give MacGyver a run for the money.

Don't worry I am still finding time to go to the orphanage and am also spending a lot of time with the kids that seem to think that this is as much their home as mine. Most of the boys are doing well.  I see less of Cessar and Fernando now that they are living with Pat in Antigua but they still come out this way on the weekends and I also drop in at Pat's house a few times each week.  Pat is in the states for a few weeks so Fernando and Cessar are holding down the fort.  Brian a young man from the USA is staying with them and Mari is bringing over a lot of food.


Alex went with me into the City to deliver a few walkers the other day.  Not exactly a neighborhood that you want to be in after dark but the families that we visited were very nice to us. 

On Wednesday Bryan and I brought Alma up to see Doctor Will,  Alma had to have her cast removed early Thursday morning so we decided to make it a 2 day trip.  It is only a 2 hour drive but the roads are so bad that you feel like you have been on them for days.

While we were there we delivered a power chair to David, a boy who has muscular dystrophy.  I managed to jury-rig some larger car batteries into a power chair.  Talk about a happy camper.  Neat thing is this family was thanking God not us for answered prayers and the new wheelchair.

Well that is about it for now.

Please pray for my Boys there is a lot of temptation here in Guatemala.

Jason is no  longer in Rehab.  He has a job but I think that this only allows him more money for drugs.  He tested positive a few days ago so he is not allowed in my house.


<><  Yours in Christ: Dick  ><>


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