* 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, December 14, 2013


 More of what Pat wrote on our last road trip.  

(You can see why I enjoy so much having Pat come along on road trips.)
(Now if only I could get her to frame these pictures.)


Since we were going to Huehuetenango to visit Maria Garcia, Dick wanted to take care of a few power chair issues in the area.  We had said this would be a leisurely trip, and I feared that adding the extra stops would turn it into a regular work trip.  I was wrong, though.  We paced ourselves, only visited one family a day, and had plenty of time to enjoy visiting with them without having to rush off to the next stop.



Our first stop on the way up to Huehue was to drop off batteries with Oscar.  He is in his mid-twenties, but still is attending school, having finished sixth grade this year.  While school is not currently in session (“summer” vacation until mid-January), we didn’t know when we would be back in the area, and wanted to make sure he was ready to go when classes resumed.
I first met Oscar a little over a year ago.  Dick had just given him a power chair, and it needed adjustment.  Oscar was very used to having his own way as to how he was seated, regardless of the damage it might do to his body.  Dick was almost dreading our visit today.  All we were going to do was drop off batteries.

We were so pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the house.  The family had paved the driveway, and had cleaned up the open center of their house, and covered it with cement and grass.  It was beautiful.  And they had done this primarily so Oscar could move about more freely.  We were blessed to see a family taking such interest in providing mobility for one of their members.

We were even more encouraged when we saw how well kept the power chair was, even tough the batteries had been dead for some time.  It was a bit of a challenge getting the new batteries in (I won’t repeat what Dick said about the design of this particular chair!), but the chair worked well with the new batteries.  We figured out that Oscar’s batteries had lasted about as long as any we’ve seen here, partly due to the care the family has taken of the chair.

We were surprised again, when it came time to put Oscar in his chair.  Both of his brothers were there, and they proceeded to seat him quite properly.  Since they spoke Quiche to him, I couldn’t understand exactly what was being said, but from the tone of voice I figured out that he was protesting how they were positioning him, and they told him pretty firmly that he needed to sit correctly.  He gave in pretty quickly and Dick was happy to see him sitting better than he had in the past.

You can see the difference a properly fitted chair makes!

After a glass of coke, and a cup of atole, we left with two large bunches of broccoli to take with us to our hotel in Quetzeltenango!



The second day into our trip we were both anxious to see Gema, one of our favorite little girls.  Since she can’t propel a manual chair, her power chair gives her the freedom to go to school, church, and move about her home.  It had been broken for a while, and we were bringing it back after it was repaired in the Bethel Ministries shop.  We knew she couldn’t wait to have it.

It was quite a challenge for Marcos and David to get the power chair down to Gema’s house—at the bottom of this steep hill.  During the school year she will keep it at another house where she can more easily drive to school.

We met Gema a few years ago at a Hope Haven distribution, and were immediately struck by her out-going personality and self-confidence. 

This is more remarkable, considering she only has one short leg and foot.  If there ever was a person deserving of the title “handicapable” it is Gema.  We have seen her bounce around on her bottom chasing her pet rabbit, watched her feed herself, and enjoyed playing ball with her.

Her family, too, is remarkable.  They have completely focused on what she can do, and figured out, without the help of “professionals,” how to adapt things so she can be as independent as possible.  They love to brag on her, and have her show us what new things she has learned since our last visit.
 Here Gema is showing us how she can 
play games on her dad’s cell phone!

Today we were treated to her singing the sweetest songs as we drank our soda.  She then told us she had passed first grade with flying colors and would be starting second grade in January.  She is a good student who received no “rojos” (failing grades) this year.  We celebrated  her success with her!

As we were about to leave, Gema’s mom showed us the Mother’s Day present Gema had made her in school—a cross-stitched cloth to use in her bread basket.  Her needlework was as good as mine (not saying much, though) and I was amazed at how well she could sew with only her foot.

Too soon it was time to head off for Huehuetenango, but not before we were reminded that the family owed us a chicken dinner.  We promised to let the know ahead of time when we would be back through their area.  It was hard to leave such good friends.

Here Gema had just whispered in my ear that she wanted a Barbie for Christmas.  Oh, how I wish I’d known that earlier and could have brought her one!


Once again, Thanks Pat.

Yours in Christ.  Dick

Friday, December 13, 2013

A lot has taken place since I last posted a new journal entry.  Among other things we have hosted three one week camps and I have made several road trips.  It has been a busy time but a good time.We have been seeing God at work in the lives of many of the people that we have worked with.  One thing that I have not been busy with though is writing in my journal.  Thankfully Pat was able to join me on a recent trip and has given me permission to post some of her journals.   Here then is the first of several that I plan on posting.

Yours in Christ: Dick  

A Freak Accident To A Good Friend

Written by Pat
About a week ago, Dick received a phone call (which I translated for him) from a man in Huehuetenango, telling us that our good friend, Maria Garcia, had been seriously injured in what can only be described as a freak accident.

Maria and a friend were praying in the small church near her home, and about a quarter mile away some men were working on a bridge up the side of the mountain.  They were putting in a new approach and decided that dynamiting the existing structure would be most efficient.  As is all too often the case here in Guatemala, they evidently were not skilled in using explosives, and the uncontrolled blast sent rocks and debris in all directions.

Sadly, a four pound rock from the blast flew the quarter mile, went through the roof of the church, and hit Maria Garcia squarely in the head.  Her husband told us that when he came, she was lying in such a large pool of blood that he thought surely she was dead.

 Maria Garcia, July, 2012, standing in the church  
where she was severely injured.

By the grace of God, she was not. And by his miraculous protection she stayed alive for the half hour it took them to find a pick up truck to take her to the hospital as well as for the hour it took to drive to the hospital in the city of Huehuetenango. (No ambulances in this remote part of the country.  Can you imagine the excruciating pain for traveling mountain roads in the back of a pickup with a head injury?  I can’t bear to think of it.)  

I met Maria Garcia on my first trip to this area, years before I moved to Guatemala.  She has been a good friend and strong example of living the Christ-life without fear or reservation.  Her dedication to her God and her people has inspired me many times.

Maria is what would probably be called a community organizer in the US.  Her late son started working with the people in their area to help them better their lives, and when he died, his mother took over his work.  She has helped Dick, through Bethel Ministries, provide food and educational support for many of the families in this destitute area of Guatemala.  In addition, she shares the love of Jesus with all she touches, both through her words and her actions.

In return for her efforts, it seems she has received nothing but trouble.  A few years ago, she was severely beaten by a group of her neighbors, who either were jealous that she was not providing them with assistance, or, we have been told, did not like a woman having the power she had.  She was left for dead, but managed to survive.

About two years ago, she was afflicted with severe sores in her mouth which took months and months to heal.  She could hardly speak, and could not carry on her usual ministry in the area.  Her daughter, Blanca, however, stepped in to fill the gap and the work continued. 

Now this.  I have no doubt that in these instances, my sister in Christ has been fighting, not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers.  And repeatedly, God has shown His faithfulness to His servant.

We didn’t know what we could actually do, but we knew we had to go and visit her and her family.  We did bring a wheelchair with us, but knew that the personal contact and encouragement to her and her family were the real reasons for our long trip.

Visiting with one of Maria’s daughters as Maria slept in the background.

We arrived 15 days after the accident, not knowing what to expect.   Maria returned home after five days in the hospital where she had surgery to remove numerous bone fragments from her skull, received a metal plate to cover the damaged area, and left with more than thirty stitches which span from one ear to the other, across the whole top of her head.

When we arrived we found Maria in bed sleeping.  She has been told she will need to be on bed rest for six months.  As we sat visiting with her daughter, she soon awoke.  I was amazed to find that she recognized us, and could speak to us, though barely above a whisper.  She is able to move her entire body, and even sat up a bit to visit with me.  Though she is in intense pain, she did not speak a single word of complaint, and joined in as we prayed together for her recovery.
As I stood there, staring down at the huge wound on her head, I couldn’t help but praise God for His faithfulness in the face of this disaster.  My common sense tells me that she should be in a coma, if not completely paralyzed.  And here she is, talking to me, thanking us for visiting her.  I am standing in front of a living miracle.

Please continue to pray for Maria, her recovery, and her family.  They are very poor themselves, and the almost $100 a month she now needs for medicine is almost impossible for them to raise.  We were able to provide for one month’s supply, but if you would like to contribute to help the family pay for her medical expenses (they borrowed over 50,000 quetzales or about $6500 to pay just for her surgery and hospital care), please email Dick or me and we’ll arrange it. 

Please keep Maria Garcia and her family in your prayers.  Her daughters have agreed to continue serving as the liaison with the families in this area who are served by Bethel Ministries.  In addition to caring for their mother, this will be quite a job for them.  We are grateful for their willingness to serve their people.


Thank you Pat!

Yours in Christ: Dick