* 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, June 26, 2015

Saying Good-bye To Lusbin

Another one written by Pat. Thank you Pat! I thought about writing about Lusbin myself but just could not bring myself to do it.

Pat writes,

A little more than a week ago, Dick showed up at school while I was in a meeting. When I received word he needed to talk to me, my heart started pounding. It's not like him to interrupt my school day, so I knew something was up.
He told me that one of the former Hermano Pedro patients had passed away that morning. He needed someone to go with him to Salamá for the funeral. Could I get away?
It turned out that the next day we were having a program to welcome the Bush's, a couple from Illinois (Go Ilini!) who had just moved down to work at the school. There would be no classes, so after a brief conversation with Judy, I decided to go.
Lusbin had originally come to Hermano Pedro through the malnutrition project. After a time there, he put on weight and returned home, but not before becoming best buddies with Dick. Though I had never met him, I felt like I knew him from Dick's stories.

The red line roughly traces our rout,  though I'm sure Dick would have some corrections. 

(No Pat that is pretty much the rout we took. I do have another way that I go when the quarter mile wide river is not to deep but if My Land Cruiser ever got stuck or quit I did not know how much you enjoyed swimming.)
Much of the way was up and down mountain sides,which also adds to the mileage.
While it feels like I have traveled all over the country, in truth I have not visited most of the departments in Guatemala. This trip would take me to a whole new area--Baja Vera Paz. Though Dick said it was only about 45 km. "as the crow flies" unfortunately we were land bound and the trip was more like 230 km since we stayed on the good roads. This is true of many of the places we go--it feels like you can't get there from here, which is somewhat true, since you have to go through many out of the way places to finally reach your destination.
We got into town about 4:30, found hotel rooms, and went to see Lusbin's family. They were so very grateful Dick had come, and though I had not met them before, I was immediately brought into their confidence. Once again it was helpful to be a woman in this situation. Both Lusbin's mama and sister poured out their hearts to me like we were old friends. This was a traumatic time for them both, but especially hard on his sister, who was his constant companion and care giver.

Dick Rutgers's photo.
On their last visit, Dick and the boys spent the whole day with Lusbin,
even taking him and his sister out to eat at Pollo Campero 

Dick had visited Lusbin only a few weeks earlier with three of the boys to repair his power chair. At that time he could see that Lusbin, who had muscular dystrophy, was declining. It was a surprise, however, for him to pass on so quickly.
Mama explained that Tuesday morning he had gone to the park in his power chair to visit friends. When he got home he began having chest pains, and they took him to the national hospital. He died Wednesday morning, we are told from heart problems. I wish we could have been there with him to help him. His sister showed us a picture of him she took in the hospital, and he looked absolutely terrified.

Dick Rutgers's photo.

We visited with the family, and were given a "refaccion" of coffee and sweet bread. It was very strange to be seated next to a casket, eating a snack, but this is how it is done here. Another sample of the hospitality that is so much a part of the character of the Guatemalan people. It actually reminded me of wakes I had been to years earlier when I worked on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.
The funeral would not be to 3 pm the following afternoon, so we went back to the hotel and got a good nights rest.
In the morning we went to Rabinal, a nearby town, so I could meet Julia, the director of a local school for preschoolers. She and her husband are very involved in advocating for the rights of the disabled in Guatemala, and I had heard stories about her for years. She was not there, but I did get to see the beautiful school, and meet some of the staff. We then called Julia, who was actually in Salama, the town where we were staying, and arranged to meet her for lunch.
She is a delightful and amazing woman; a wonderful and committed educator. As we visited in Spanish (poor Dick; I only remembered to translate for him once in a while) I learned that many of the ideas I wanted to implement in Santa Maria were the same ones Julia was using in her school in Rabinal. I was refreshed and encouraged to see this. I don't want to turn New Life into an American School, It was good to find out that well trained Guatemalan teachers also thought as I do, and were trying to train local teachers to use the same techniques I was encouraging at the school.
Julia had been Lusbin's first teacher, and had fought hard to get him into public school. She was pleased to accompany us to the funeral. Her presence was a great blessing to me. I was unfamiliar with the local customs of funerals and grieving and it was a great benefit to be able to follow her lead through the different aspects of the funeral.
We arrived at Lusbin's house just a a great downpour began. We were served large servings of Pozole, a rich chicken soup dish traditional in this part of the country. I regretted eating pizza just an hour earlier but ate as much as I could. It was important to mama to feed us well, even though I explained we had just eaten!
Dick Rutgers's photo.
We waited out the worst part of the rain, and the long walk to the church began. Dick served as a pallbearer, which was quite a challenge. These men carried the casket to the church on their shoulders, and Dick, being almost a foot taller than some of them, was at a distinct disadvantage. We were both very relieved to see that after the church service the casket would be taken to the cemetery in the back of a pick-up truck.
Here people who can afford it are often buried in a tower of cement boxes, each cast taking one space (a Guatemalan mausoleum?) After the casket is placed in its space, the front of the opening is closed with bricks and mortar while the family watches. This is difficult to watch, but was especially painful for Lusbin's sister who became more frantic as each brick was added, screaming, "mi nene, mi nene" ("my baby boy, my baby boy). This was one of the hardest things I have experienced in Guatemala.
(It's not unusual for mourners to climb on top of other tombs adjacent to where thedeceased will be buried, to get a better view of the interment.)

Dick Rutgers's photo.

This young lady of sixteen has limited cognitive skills, though her social and daily living skills are excellent. It broke my heart to watch her grieve for her brother. I occurred to me that she only partially understood what was going on, and I longed to help her somehow.
I went over and prayed silently over her, and as I did, it seemed God told me to tell her, "Lusbin's not in there." Not knowing what would be her reaction, I reluctantly obeyed. She heard me, and clung to me. I went on to explain that only his body was being buried; that the person she loved (his soul) was now with Jesus. I told her I believed he was not healthy and whole, and knew that his suffering was over. I don't know how much of this she really understood, but she calmed substantially.

While intellectually limited, she obviously has a great love of Jesus, and I think the idea that Lusbin was with Him comforted her.
We returned to the home after the service for a can of pop and to visit. We were not sure where the rest of this family was spiritually, and didn't want to miss an opportunity to share with them the good news of life in Jesus. This time was a blessing for both them and us.
They shared with us that Lusbin often said Dick was like his papa. This was a beautiful tribute to the relationship Dick had with him, but also was very sad. Lusbin's own father is alive, but does not live with the family. He was at the funeral, but was distant from the other family members. The saddest thing was that he, himself, share that Lusbin thought of Dick as his father, without any resentment or remorse.
It made both Dick and me realize how what we do often seems little to us, but is huge to those we love here. Dick would see Lusbin once or twice a year after he left Hermano Pedro, but these visits mattered so much to him and his family.
(We had seen another example of this the night before. When we came to the house unexpectedly, we found four of Lusbin's wheelchair sitting in a row, next to the coffin, along with other favorite possessions of him. Two of these wheelchair were no longer used, Because they Lusbin had outgrown them but even though they had years of of use they were clean and well cared for; greatly valued by him and his family.)
We were comforted to discover, too, that Jesus was walking with Lusbin during his last days. About two weeks before he died, he had told his mother and sister that he was going to pass on. He told them that they could cry for two days, but then needed to get on with their lives. Dick said this sounded so much like Lusbin, who loved life to the fullest, despite is declining health. Dick was also honored to hear that Lusbin had left him a message, too. He was not to be sad at Lusbin's death, because one day they will see each other in heaven.
Please pray for us as we continue to share Jesus with and encourage this family. His mom asked to keep the wheelchairs for 40 days, at which time they would like them to be given to others who need them. We will be going back to pick them up, and are praying for openings to share more of the gospel with them.

            Thank you Pat
<><  Yours in Christ : Dick  ><>


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