* 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, November 1, 2013

Five Days On The Road

(Click on any picture to enlarge)

For the past five days Fernando, Alex, Gordon and I have been in Huehuetenango.  No I have not added a new boy to the 10 to 12 who seem to think that this is their home.   Gordon is Donna Mooney's Father in law and believe it or not he is even older than me!  

I had an ever growing list of list things that had to be done up in Huehue and had a few free days so the 4 of us headed up there last Saturday.   It is generally a 4 to 5 hour drive but we made several stops along the way and did not get into Huehue until late evening.   One of our first stops was at a family who had a little boy who had been born with only one arm and one leg.  Edi was a little frightened of us at first and not all that sure that he wanted to be put into a wheelchair but by the time the boys and I had finished setting up his new wheelchair he was quite happy with it.  His parents were happier than he was though  possibly because this new wheelchair meant that they would no longer have to crry him up  the steep trail that led to their home.

While we were there we met up with Victor, a young man that Chris and I had given a pair of crutches and a wheelchair to nearly 12 years ago.  Victor had agreed to take us to see Maria an 18 year old young lady who I thought I had met for the first time a few months ago at a bed sore clinic. We had some medicine and a special cushion that we wanted to give her.  It was not until we arrived at her house which was about a half hour drive from Victor's home that I realized that this was another home that Chris and I had visited 12 years ago and at that time we had had given maria a wheelchair so that she could also attend school.  Maria told us that she had just graduated and now has a degree in accounting but wants to further her education and become a lawyer. It did my hart good to know that this determined young lady that I watched making her way up the hill to her school, in her new wheelchair, over 12 years ago, had made it this far.  Where we would be staying was nearly an hour away and the road from Maria's home to our motel in Huehue is not the best to drive in the dark due to lots of mud and rock slides this time of the year, but we made it safely to our motel and after a quick dinner we settled in for the night.

On Sunday morning we decided to attend the church where Pastor Orlando, A good friend of ours preaches.  We had a wonderful service, except for the part where I caught my foot on an uneven piece of cement and found myself sprawled out on the floor.  Don't worry the cut on my arm and the bruse on my head are healing nicely.  My pride has a way to go though.  (Sorry no pictures)

After the service we headed back to Maria's home. On our visit the day before we discovered that the bed that she slept on had no mattress.  Maria has a very serous bed sore and sleeping on solid wood is about the worst thing that she could do especially considreing the fact that she has no feeling from the waist down.  We had bought her a mattress earlier that morning and we were anxious to get it to her.  When we arrived at her home we discovered that the entire family was busy preparing food and decorating their house. We were told that they would be having a graduation party later that evening and the family asked if we could attend.  This meant another 2 hour round trip but seeing how proud this family was of Maria we promised to return.  We thought about just sticking around and not making the long drive but we had other families to visit it Huehue so we said goodbye and headed back to Huehue.   Later that night we returned to Maria's home and were surprised at the number of people many of them had walked in for miles to attend this gathering.  Once again we arrived back at our motel rather late and very tired.

On Monday morning we met with Clara a Guatemalan lady that is working hard to help her fellow Guatemalian's.  On a previous visit she had taken me to see Alex, a little boy who we had given a wheelchair to at that time.  Today we brought him a tray for his wheelchair and a Mullhaland walker.  The last time we visited this family I told Alex's grandmother that I thought he would be able to manage a walker after a short time if she diligently worked with him.  Boy was I ever wrong about having to work with him!   Alex was so egger to try out his walker that we had a difficult time getting him to stand still long enough to adjust it.  He had this thing figured out right away and was soon walking all over the house.  Alex's mom and her 2 sisters also live with Alex and his grandmother.  All 3 are unwed mothers and all 3 were moms before they were 16 years old.
The next family also had a girl of 15 who had a year old baby.  This baby seamed to have suffered a stroke as her left side was paralyzed.  The 2 grandmothers were also there and both needed wheelchairs.  I doubt that the one that is 98 will be alive by the time that we get a chair to her though as she appeared to  be dying.

Next we drove up to where Celsa lives.   One of the main reasons that Gordon had come along with us was to see Celsa.  Celsa is doing well.   She is 16 years old and has just graduated from primary school into bastico.  This is quite an accomplishment  considering the fact that she was confined to her bed and a wheelchair for over 5 years and unable to attend school during that time.  Celsa could not walk and suffered what appeared to be nightly  seizures that lasted from sundown to sun up.  We were told that a local witch doctor had put a curse on her.  It was only after much prayer that Celsa quit having seizures, began to sleep at night, regained the use of her legs and began to walk again.  With the help of a sponsor we were able to get a teacher to come in to her home and help her catch up on the schooling that she had missed.  Next year she plans on walking nearly 2 miles each way to the school that she will attend.  Gordon and a few local pastors had been the ones that kept visiting and praying for Celsa.

When we arrived we discovered that the graduation get together they had planned for had been canceled.  We had been unable to contact them after they invited us to her party and since the family did not think that we were coming they decided not to have the party.  Only Celsa and one of her brothers were at home when we got there so after a nice visit with them we said goodbye.  

Since it was only 1 PM and not raining we decided to visit Ernesto and his father.   On my lat visit I discovered that Ernesto's walker was falling apart and his old wheelchair was doing the same.   I always write these things down so I don't forget them on my next visit.  Then if I can find my notes when I get back home I put them down on my computer.  Believe it or not I remembered to do all of this, the only thing that I forgot to do was delete the line that said that Ernesto needed a new wheelchair when we shipped one to him a few weeks ago.  Oh well a half hour clime up the side of a mountain carrying a wheelchair was good exercise for my boys.  Although come to think of it if they hadn't carried the wheelchair up the mountain I would not have had to carry the walker.  I could have even stayed in the car with Gordon.  The boys were good sports about it though but almost sided with Ernesto's father when he asked us to leave the second chair as a spare.  The trip back down the mountain was hilarious.  Alex and Fernando did a lot of slipping and falling while trying to hang onto the wheelchair.  We actually got back to the hotel at a decent hour. and even got in a few games of pool.

On Tuesday we made more visits.  Our first visit of the day was to Jose.  Jose lives in a mountains area about an hour and a half out of Huehue.  He had been going ot school in a small town located about a half mile from his home.   The only problem is his home has to be close to 600 ft above the town and his only means of transportation has been his power wheelchair.  Granted jose is not very big but this climb was a real match for even the strongest power chair that we provided for him.  Plus the climb was destroying batteries at a high rate.  Bethel ministries came to the conclusion that a cheep 4 wheeler would be less expensive than continually repairing Jose's wheelchair and providing batteries at the rate that they were wearing out at, so a few months ago they bought him one.  This may seem like quite an investment but Jose is doing well in School and there is a good possibility that Jose will some become an electrician and some day be working for Bethel on power wheelchairs.  Today we we helped Jose adjust the chain  on his pride and joy.  Oh and by the way Jose is now taking a bus from the town he drives his 4 wheeler to, He takes the buss to  Huehue to go to school and can only take a manual char on the buss.  No problem!  The extra chair that we thought Ernesto needed fit Jose perfectly.  I may not have known what I was doing but God did. 

Please pry for jose and his family.  Mom died a few years ago and father is now in the hospital with lung problems.

Next we went and visited Maria Garsia.   Maria is a Mayan lady that has been helping us out for years. Not unlike this week I am not always able to visit with all of the families that we work with each time I come to Huehue but Maria takes the time to visit many of the families that we work with in her area and keeps us up to date on things.   She is also fluent in both Spanish and Mam, so she often accompanies the boys and myself to see the people who only speak Mam.  Today we left some dried food and vitamins with Maria knowing that she will give them to the families that need them the most.  

It was only 3:30 when we finished our visit with Maria but we were tired and still had an hours drive to the hotel.  Besides that I promised Alex and Fernando that they could have some free time.   We even ordered pizza from Dominos (That's right Tuesday night is 2 for 1 night here in Guatemala,  just like in the USA.)  (I think the only difference is, delivered in 30 days or it is free)

After breakfast on Wednesday we dropped of our remaining vitamins with Clara and then headed for home.  No trip to Huehuetinango is ever complete with out a visit or Jema and her family.  Jema is a charming 7 year old that I fell in love with when I first met her nearly 2 years ago.  Being born with no arms and only one leg has not slowed this little girl from living a fairly normal life.  She goes to school,  writes and draws, feeds her self, plays games with the other kids and has one of the most positive attitudes that I have ever seen in a 7 year old.  Over a year ago we gave her a power wheelchair to use at school but lately it has been giving her some problems.  Today we picked it up and took it back to the shop so that it could be repaired.  In most cases is see real urgency to get peoples power chairs returned to them as soon as possible but knowing Jema I am sure that she will manage just fine until we get it back to her.

It may sound like we do a lot of running around for so few people but I am often reminded of the story of the Good shepherd.  He was willing to leave the 99 for the 1 lost sheep and that seems to be the way God has directed me.  Nothing wrong with preaching to 5000 mind you, but that does not seem to be the direction that God has directed me.  I also enjoy it when just 1 or 2 of my boys (I guess I should say young men as some of them are now 18 years old and older) accompany me on these trips.  

Watching God use them sometimes blows me away.  Fernando who I can still remember as a 6 year old who cried about everything, could have done this entire trip on his own.  (Other than the driving but we are working on that.)  His ministry with and love for the people is awesome.   Alex has come a long way as well.  He sill has a few rough edges, but don't we all?  I miss the fact that since Pat started her new group home she is unable to travel with me as much, but God is richly blessing that home and much of Fernando's maturity is linked directly to living with Pat.

Another note of praise.  Last night pat and I attended Calin's graduation.  This is the same kid that I met  when he was 8 years old. At that time he had never been schooled and was well on his way to becoming a full time bandit.  Oh yes we had our rough times especially back when he considered me an easy target.  Kicking him out of my house for a full year was one of the hardest things that I ever did.  God has done a lot in Calin's life and now he is one of the finest Christian young men that I know.  God is good!

Well that is about it for now.


Yours in Christ: Dick