* 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)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Free At Last"

42 year old Salvadoha
never left his house, 
" Until Today! "

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A few weeks ago Dave black, three of my boys and I took a trip to Santiago Atitlan to deliver a power wheelchair to Angle, a boy who suffers from Muscular dystrophy.

Since Angles back was severely deformed this wheelchair proved to be a real challenge but with everyone pitching in after a few hours we managed to have Angle seated properly and soon he was driving the power wheelchair all over the place. I told Dave and the boys that I doubted that we would run into a more difficult case in a long long time. 

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Little did we know that in just a few short hours we would be taken to the home of Salvador a 43 year old man that had such severe curvature of the spine that he had not been out of his house since the day he was born.

Salvador's spine is so severely curved that this is 
as far as he can possibly bend forward.

Since Salvador can not straighten is back and there is no way that he can sit or even lay flat his elderly parents have not been able to transport him any where.  Granted when he was a child it was likely that he could have been carried but back 40 years ago no one in Guatemala would ever bring a disabled child out in public.  Thankfully the astigmatism of having a disabled child  is slowly changing here in Guatemala but I still run into families that are so ashamed of their disabled child that they will not bring them out in public.  What ever the case Salvador's parents now seem to want the best for him and seemed excited when I talked about building him a very special power wheelchair.  Salvador was excited as well.  He told us that he especially wanted to be able to go to church.  The past few days an American volunteer named David and myself went to work at the Hope Haven factory here in Guatemala on building that very special wheelchair for Salvador.  It took us nearly 2 days to build but we finally came up with something that looked like it would work.  

On Wednesday my friends Scot and Linda Hardy and I headed out to Santiago Atitlan to give Salvador his new power wheelchair.  I had told him on my original visit that it would likely be a year before I would have something ready for him but thinking about him lying in that dark little house that had no windows for another year made me put this wheelchair on my priority list 

Before going to Salvador's home we picked up Argentina the lady who originally introduced me to Salvador and another lady who offered to interpret for us.  Scot and Linda are wonderful people but their lack of Spanish is right down there with mine.  (I think that is why I like them so much.)

One of men who worked at the special needs school that Argentina founded helped us get Salvador into his new wheelchair.  He also served as interpreter number 2 since neither Salvador nor his parents speak any Spanish. These 4 way conversations can get a bit confusing but Salvador and his family made it clear to us that they knew that this wheelchair and our chance meeting was a true gift from God.

Salvador listened intently as I explained to him 
how to operate his new wheelchair.


And soon he was on his way down the narrow cobblestone road that led from the house that he had not set foot out of in 42 years.  

"How did he do? "             "Watch the video blow!"    

"Thank you Jesus for another wonderful day in Guatemala."

              Good night,
<>< Yours in Christ: Dick ><>

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Hinds Feet on High Places

Three of my boys and I have just returned form a one week trip to Plya Grandi and I am in the process of writing about it   (Well actually I have not written anything yet but I an thinking about it.)  Here is more of what Pat wrote about our trip to Huehuetenango that we took the previous week.  (If I keep printing her stuff I will have to change the name of this journal to Pat Guatemala.)


A few months back, Dick met Bryan and his family while visiting Maria Garcia.  Bryan had a cleft lip, and we were able to help them connect with surgeons who come into Hermano Pedro to do this very special type of surgery.  After having spent time with his family during the preop and surgery, they had asked us to come visit them in Huehue the next time we were in the area.  His dad, Santos, would call me periodically just to see how we were, and to find out when we would be up in Huehue again.

We didn’t have a wheelchair or medicine to bring to this family. This was one of those visits we did just for fun.  I have learned, though, how important these visits are to the family, and believe they are how we keep our ministry relationally focused on the people we serve and connecting them with Jesus.  But I have to admit, they are fun.

Santos met us in the town of La Democracia, very near the Mexican border, to guide us to his home.  While not far from the town as the crow flies, it was quite a trip to get into the area where they live, in the middle of coffee farms.  As we drove to their house, we passed any number of very beautiful houses on this small trail.  When I commented about this, Santos replied, in a matter-of-fact manner, that these houses belong to the drug runners who live in this area.  Gulp!  Suddenly the drug trade became very real to me, at the same time I realized how much it is (by necessity) an accepted part of the daily lives of those who live in this area.  I was glad, though, that I had not taken pictures of the houses.  (For those of you who have visited us, and have been asked not to take pictures in certain areas, this is exactly why we have this policy.) 

When we arrived at the house, I was a bit surprised (though looking at the area, I don’t know why) to see we would have to hike down the side of the mountain.  For those of you who know me, my balance is not the best and I had forgotten my walking stick!  Recalling one of my favorite books, Hinds Feet in High Places, and trusting God, as well as Santos, Dick, Marcos, and David (who sometimes held my hand at the same time they were holding on to a tree to brace themselves!), I made it safely down the trail to the house.  And it was so worth it.  The views from the “porch” were absolutely breath-taking.

Momma had prepared a simple lunch for us, consisting of guisquil and tamalitos (corn meal tamales with black beans), which we gratefully shared with the family.


As is often the case in these isolated areas (though I am still taken by surprise when it happens) the children are often afraid of strangers, especially “gringos” (white people).  The neighbor children hid at first, curious but too scared to approach the strangers. 

Then Dick worked his magic with them by taking pictures and doing a few tricks, and they were soon laughing a joking with us.  I think it helped that we had Marcos and David traveling with us, too.
Here Marcos and David are horsing around.  A few minutes later David was crying because Marcos had accidentally hit him in the head. 
Like your momma always said. . .


We were delighted to see Bryan looking so well.  You can hardly tell he had surgery.  He wasn’t too sure, about us, though, and kept his distance, safely in Momma’s arms.

As we chatted, I realized that this visit was not by accident, but another one of the Godincidents we so frequently encounter.  A few days before I even knew we were traveling to Huehue, I had received a message from my friend, Craig.  He was interested in connecting with a family who grows coffee, to possibly set up a business relationship between them and a friend who roasts beans in Texas.  At the time, I thought, “Yeah, like I’m gonna be able to help you with this.”  All the coffee growing in our area of is done by large companies, with the workers getting paid only pennies.  No way was I going to support that!
These are coffee plant seedlings which Santos grows and sells to the plantations, 
he also plants some on the family’s land.

And here we were, in the middle of coffee trees.  As we talked, I discovered that much of the land was owned by large coffee growers, who the family would work for—when there was work.  But I also learned that the immediate area around their house was owned by different members of his Santos’ family, and they grew coffee themselves and could sell to whomever they wanted.  So, we are working on making a connection between this remote area near the Mexican border and Texas.  A trip that started out with only fun as it’s purpose, may turn out to be profitable not only for our friends in Texas, but for this poor family as well. This is the kind of thing only God could have orchestrated, and I’m so glad He lets me in on it!


Once again Thank you Pat.

          Good night,
<>< Yours in Christ: Dick  ><>