* GUATEMALA * * * * * * * * Dick Rutgers *

A daily journal of life as a Missionary in Guatemala. It will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

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Name: Dick Rutgers
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 # (Relays free to Guatemala) 360 312 7720

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Journal October 2-7


Tuesday, October 2, 2007.

This morning I finally made it back to Hermano Pedro. It was great to see the kids. All except a few of them who still have the chicken pox are now out of quarantine. As expected Byron was not in his power wheelchair because the batteries had gone dead and no one had taken the incentive to hook plug in the battery charger. I had promised him and Moises that since they had been locked in Quarantine so long that I would take them out to Camperos as soon as I returned from camp recruiting. Carlos and I still took them but not being able to take his power wheelchair to town was a bit of a let down for Byron. It was a bit of a let down for Carlos and me as well because we generally have it pretty easy when we take these 2. Byron always tows Moises who is in a manual chair behind him. Today we had to push the 2 of them.

After lunch I met with a husband and wife who had called me earlier in the day asking if they could visit Hermano Pedro. They knew that nearly all 240 residence of Hermano Pedro were in wheelchairs but after giving them a tour they told me that they had not been prepared for what they saw. I think that they were expecting healthy looking kids that for some strange reason or other could not walk. Paul, the man promised to return tomorrow so that he could help us take some more kids to lunch, I think that his wife needed a day or 2 to regroup. I don’t blame her though because someone’s first visit into a place like this can be quite overwhelming. Even though I found a lot of wheelchairs that needed fixing I didn’t fix any of them today. There were just to many kids that needed attention to worry about wheelchairs today. By the looks on the faces of the ones that didn’t get to go to lunch or at least go for a walk I think that I am going to leave my toolbox at home tomorrow as well. It was perhaps a good thing that I didn’t bring my tools along today. I also forgot to take my GPS which I never leave home without. I have been extremely fortunate in leaving my car parked on the streets of Antigua during the past several years. Especially considering that 3 of my friends have had cars stolen from them while they were parked in Antigua and 3 of Chris’s cars have been broken into while parked at the orphanage with in the last 2 months. Today the bandits took a stab at mine. By the looks of things it was the same person or people that have broken into Chris’s because they entered my car the same way. It looks like they take a large screw driver and pound it into the lock on the door and then twist it. When I saw the dent in my door and the mangled lock I thought that they had attempted but failed to get into my car but when I looked down to turn on my radio I realized that the removable face plate was gone. The reason that the face plate is removable is so that you can take it off so that the radio is useless to thieves. My thieves must have stolen a radio that needed a face plate because they took my face plate and left the radio which is now useless to me. All that I can figure is that either someone scared them off or the screeching of my burglar alarm annoyed them enough that they moved on. Burglar alarms around here are a bit of a joke. I don’t think that a minute goes by that you don’t here one going off some where. Mine has accidentally gone off several times while I was getting into my car or driving away and no one has even looked up from what ever it was they were doing. You should here how many go off at once when we have a thunder storm or a small earthquake. Anyway I am thankful that the face plate to my radio was all that was taken. I may not even have to buy a new radio because Chris had 2 face plates from the radios that he has had stolen in the past 2 months.

Before going home I stopped off at the grocery store and bought about $100 worth of groceries. I don’t like to buy more than a day or 2 supply of groceries at once. Just kidding. If I ration the food I can perhaps make the groceries 3 days. I was a bit surprise when I got home because Fernando was the only one at my gate. I had brought home 2 roast chickens and was beginning to think that we were going to have one each. I didn’t think that for long though because by the time the groceries were out of the car there were 10 of us. About a half hour later 3 stragglers came in but there was nothing left but a few bones. They told me that they didn’t think that cereal was as good as chicken. I agreed. I have an idea that the 3 of them will be the first ones at my gate tomorrow night.

Well the house has finally emptied out Except for Calin who is fast asleep on the floor. Fernando had also fallen asleep but he was on my bed and for some reason my floor doesn’t look as soft as the bed so I woke him up and sent him home. I think that I will quickly turn off the lights and claim the bed.

Yours in Christ: Dick



Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I spent part of my morning getting things fixed on my car. These camp recruiting trips have a way of making things break even on the toughest of vehicles. How 3 feet of exhaust pipe got ripped off is beyond me, How it can take a chunk out of your fender when it falls off is an even bigger mystery but it did. Weather or not either of them has had anything to do with my hood jamming shut I am not sure of, but I knew that I it would be best to have them all fixed before everything broke all at once and I found myself sitting on a big pile of broken parts.

I wanted to get a few more things done before heading to Hermano Pedro but got a call from Jessica telling me that a little boy up in malnutrition who I had put in a special chair was going back to his village today. The seating system that I had given him was perfect for him but when I originally gave it to him it was with the understanding that he would be staying at Hermano Pedro for at least a year. The wheels that were under the seating system were great for a hospitals environment but far to small if he was going to a village where smooth floors or pavement are unheard of. His parents were ready to leave so I had to work fast. Fortunately there was a larger wheelchair in storage at Hermano Pedro and in less than an hour I had the seating system mounted into the frame work of the larger chair.

For more people phoned me last night who wanted to see the orphaning so they joined Carlos, Paul, and myself and we were able to take 6 of the kids out to lunch. At this rate I’ll be caught up by the first of the year. The only problem is even those that went just yesterday were terry eyed when they saw the 12 of us leave.
I guess you just can’t get enough of a good thing. The 6 kids that we took were all extremely well behaved today. That is hard to believe especially considering one of them was Ervin (Monster) he is generally good for me as long as he is the only kid that I take. Add one more kid and he lives up to his nick name. Add 5 more kids and he is uncontrollable. Today Ervin was a perfect little gentleman. If he keeps this up we will actually have to consider putting him into our school. Minor even made it through lunch with out throwing up today. After lunch we put the kids onto the play ground equipment. All of them except Ervin had to be carried up the ladders to the slides so we got our exercise. Even though Ervin can not walk on his own he does a remarkable job of climbing the ladders and going down the slides on his own. He would have had an even easier time of it were it not for a wet pants that kept falling down around his ankles.

I headed for home a bit early today. I still had to find a mechanic who could get the hood of my car open. I finally found one and with in 15 minutes he had everything working fine. His rates were reasonable to. He told me that this one was on the house.

When I got home I let the kids in for a while but then told them that I needed to do some work and that I would let them back into the house at 8. They did quite well for the first hour but come 7 o’clock and you would have thought that we were on daylight savings time. Tonight I set out some bread, cheese, and ham. It was not as big of a hit as last night’s chicken but no one complained and there were no leftovers. All of the kids are gone (as far as I know). I am tired so I am going to call it a day.

Goodnight, Yours in Christ: Dick


Thursday, October 4, 2007, 9:34 PM

Well it looks like the going nearly 2 years with out being robbed has come to an abrupt end for me. Today I took my car in to get the locks changed. Who ever it was that broke into my car a few days ago messed up the drivers door lock. I had the lock smith replace all of the locks while he was at it. the new locks are much harder to pry open. Unfortunately while the lock smith was working on my car he discovered a small compartment where I always leave about a hundred dollars just so I have something to get home on if I ever get robbed. Who says it pays to play it smart? The lock smith stole the money that I had hiden away in case I got robbed. Not only that but I am now wondering how many spare keys he kept for him self. Tomorrow I may hove to go out and find a new lock smith so that I am protected from the lock smith. Actually though I am not going to lose any sleep over it. These thing happen and around here they happen often. If I chose to be afraid of everything that there is to be afraid of here in
Guatemala I probably would not live here and then I would really be missing out.


It seems that the nurses are starting to lock the kids in bed even more than they have ever done in the past, if that is possible. Lately even those who are quite able bodied are no longer allowed to stay up in the afternoon. With the exception of about 5 kids everyone was put to bed at noon today. That means 19 hours in bed and 5 hours up. Even kids like 8 year old Minor who is sharp as a tack were put to bed at noon. When I walked by his crib he pleaded with me to get him out. Unfortunately so did dozens of other kids and I had just taken Minor out of his bed yesterday. I had to try to explain to him that this afternoon it was someone else’s turn and he would have to stay in bed until morning. He didn’t seem to understand, neither did I. I have been asked to try and dwell more on the positive sides of the orphanage. I have done that but this is wrong and if everyone turns their backs on it, more and more of these kids will suffer for it. Later this after noon I met with Jessica only to discover that it bothers her just as much. The good thing that I found out is that it is also starting to bother many of those who are in administrative roles in the hospital. They are even asking the volunteers to let them know what the nurses are, or are not doing. Hopefully there will be some changes made. We can only pray that it will not take to long. For some like Sam Sam perhaps it already has. Hermano Pedro is a good place in the respect that it gives many kids and adults a place to live, but why not work to make a good place better? These kids also need a life and hopefully that will soon begin to happen more and more.

Yours in Christ: Dick


Friday, October 5, 2007

The first half of my day was spent in Chemaltenango. Chris joined me in returning to the lock smith and we asked him about the money that was missing from my car. He told us that he never found any money in my car. So either some one else took it or perhaps we were talking to a dishonest thief. Come to think of it if he were the one that took the money I have my doubts that he would have fessed up to it. An honest thieve is so hard to find now days.

I had intended on taking some of the older girls from the orphanage out to eat today but did not arrive there until just before 12 and I could not find any volunteers to accompany me. I had to tell the girls that they were going to have to wait a few days.

Nanette (our teacher) has once again approached Hermano Pedro as to the possibility of getting Sonia into school. None of the public ones in Antigua will accept her but we found a private one that will if the hospital gives the green light. So far they have not said no. They should be making a final decision in a few days. Please pray that they say yes.


Most of my afternoon was spent repairing wheelchairs. I had lots of little helpers so things did not go to fast but the kids had a great time helping.

Tonight’s supper consisted of 4 packs of Spaghetti, 2 pounds of hamburger, 2 loves of bread, and lots of juice. All 11 of us had plenty to eat. Calin actually went home tonight but Fernando and Abner have decided that lodging is included with the meal. At least they left me the bed so I think that I will go and lay claim to it.

Goodnight,
Yours in Christ; Dick


Saturday, October 6, 2007, 6:12 PM

About 3 weeks ago I told my friend Paul Tjaden to go ahead with a building project that had been on hold for nearly a year. At least 1500 dollars were needed to build a bathroom for Maria, Fedel, their grandmother and the rest of their family. A bathroom may not seem like something that would take priority over a house but when we presented this family with the choice of one new structure to replace one of 4 that they lived in, fixing up the 4 small structures that they presently live in. or building them a bathroom, they all agreed that the bathroom was want was most needed. Take into account that they only had running water a few times a week and had no bathroom facilities what so ever I could see why the came to this decision. Considering to that Grandmother, who is well into her seventies, had the responsibility of toileting and baiting 3 grown up grand children who were all in wheelchairs I can understand why a bathroom was at the top of their list. I felt bad that we had not moved sooner on this project but until a few months ago no money had come in for this project. Then about 2 months ago 2 checks for $100 each came in with in a few days of each other. At that time I got my hopes up and asked Paul if he would come along with me to visit the family and look at the spot where they wanted the bathroom built. I felt bad having to tell the family that not nearly enough money had come in yet but at least was able to tell them that some did so there was hope. They seemed to understand and even told us that if it was God’s will it would happen some day. I knew that they were right but also knew that this project could not wait forever. In fact just a months ago one of the grandchildren passed away. About a week went by before I called Paul again. I told him to go ahead with the project. Had we suddenly received the $1500? No, but I told him to go ahead anyway. For the past several days I kept thinking about what a friend of mine use to say when I had a hard time deciding if God really wanted me to do something. My friend Told me that this was found somewhere in 3rd Hezekiah but I have never been able to find it. Never the less it seems to have a lot of wisdom to it so when in doubt I often use it. “YOU CAN NOT STEER A CAR UNLESS IT IS MOVING.” I have found that this is true and even found that if the car is headed in the wrong direction it is much easier to turn it around if it is moving. Anyway I got to thinking that perhaps God was waiting on me. Perhaps I was suppose to move and then the finances would come in. Two days after I told Paul to put things into gear a check for $1500 that was designated for this project came in. With the $1700 that we now have it looks like we are also going to be able to put cement floors in some of their houses. Even if it isn’t quite enough we are still planning on putting the cement in. We are ever so slowly learning that there is no way to out give God. This morning Paul, his son, daughter in law, nephew, Calin, Fernando, and I drove to where this family lives to tell them the good news.

I asked the kids to give me a few hours to get some work done when I got home but I once again hear them at the gate so I guess that I better see if there is any thing left in the house to feed them.

Yours in Christ: Dick


Sunday, October 7, 2007, 7:26 PM

Four kids showed up for breakfast and 3 more showed up by the time we left for church. I figured that since I was not at home last Sunday that the Sunday school teacher was perhaps ready for a challenge so we stopped off at the orphanage and picked up 2 more kids. I didn’t want the teacher to have a nervous break down so I had the 4 older ones stay with me for the entire church service while the others went to Sunday school. The little chat that we had on our way to church seemed to work because after the service the teacher told me that they all did well. It‘s funny how threatening not to fix any food for 4 days for those that misbehaved seemed to get their full attention.



We did not stop for lunch after church because all but 2 of the kids had been invited to Etiline’s birthday party. I felt a bad for the 2 that had not been invited but promised them that I would do something with them in a few days. Moises and Byron, who we had taken along from the orphanage, had the time of their lives. It’s a funny thing how Byron will scarcely eat a thing at the orphanage but when he gets a chance to eat food that is not blended into a pulp he will eat anything. After a good lunch, a piñata, and birthday cake some of the kids flew kites. Byron and Moises were thrilled when Fernando and Calin let them hold the kite string and fly their kites. I was suppose to return the kids to the orphanage by supper time but no one seemed to care when we showed up an hour late. They were still so stuffed from the birthday dinner that I doubt that they could have eaten any supper anyway.

I promise a group of people from the USA that I would show them around Hermano Pedro tomorrow and take them to a few other places Tuesday and Wednesday so it will likely be Thursday or Friday before I head back out to do more camp recruiting. I plan on going into the Rabinal area and if Julia and her Husband (our contacts there) are free we may hike in to where Antonio lives. Julia says that it is one of the poorest areas of Guatemala that she has ever been in. 10 year old Antonio weighed 21 pounds when we brought him to Hermano Pedro and we are told that there are other children there that are in the same shape. Pleas pray that God opens the door to get into this area and for wisdom in the best way to relieve some of the suffering of these people. I am not sure how receptive these people are to outsiders so please pray for our safety as well.

Yours in Christ: Dick

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