To Mexico with Love
By Arnie Palu
Ron Graves spoke at my church a few years ago explaining the work being done in and around Tecate Mexico through the group To Mexico with Love. After the service I told Ron I might just want to go on a trip one day. Well, “one day” happened last week. I will try to put into words a four day trip that often left me speechless.
Ron Graves has been making monthly trips to Mexico for 28 years. That’s 28 years. When Ron first made a trip to Mexico, Ronald Reagan was president. Let that sink in for a minute. It’s a long drive from Bishop to Tecate. I will not divulge Ron’s age, but on the long trip south he recalled memories of celebrations at the end of World War II.
Ron’s co-pilot the past nine years is Bishop resident Gary Reckling. Gary and Ron make the trip nearly every month. As Ron says, “Gary and I aren’t 35 anymore!” Ron and Gary are the dynamic duo of To Mexico with Love (TMWL). They welcome partners on the trips and for the December 2015 voyage I was able to go along with Felicia and Michael.
Ron says TMWL is rooted in the scripture from 1John 3:17-19. “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with action and in truth.” TMWL has been responding with action and truth for nearly three decades.
The December trip is focused on distributing blankets, food, and toys to those in need. The base of operations is the orphanage Rancho San Juan Bosco. We stayed at the well kept orphanage located in the north end of Tecate. Visitors stay in the simple, but clean guest dorm.
TMWL has supported the orphanage for years in a variety of avenues. From financial support to buying mandatory school uniforms. Like many of TMWL’s projects, when needs arrive at the orphanage, TMWL responds.
After spending Thursday night at Rancho San Juan Bosco we traveled south of Tecate to Las Palmas to visit “Cora’s” Church in Polvorin.
Following the Friday morning service we traveled to Rancho El Milagro a orphanage in Las Palmas. This rural orphanage is different then Bosco in that they care for infants. The center is currently home to eight babies. They are under the care of one hard working caretaker. That’s one exhausted woman providing 24-hour care for eight babies. The center was cramped, but very well taken care of.
The picture above includes Gary (obstructed), Debra, and Frank. Debra and her husband Frank are true “Angels of Tecate”. They are the branch of TMWL that is on the ground day after day. They live in Cerro Azul. To make a long story short, Debra (formerly of Bishop) made a trip with Ron a couple years ago and felt God calling her to stay. She met and later married Frank, who has served as a translator for TMWL. Their story, particularly Franks, is one that deserves a feature length movie. Franks journey alone is one that features miracle after miracle that pulled him out of hell. Hell in this true life story is spending five years in the Tijuana Dump. In the short time I spent with Frank and Debra I was blown away at their seemingly unending love for the people.
Saturday was filled with a trip back to the Church at Polvorin to pass out blankets and toys. The crew then made the bumpy drive around the dirt roads of Cerro Azul to visit families.
In the nearly three decades of work TMWL has touched thousands of lives. In a reflective moment Ron was embraced by a woman who thanked him for providing medication for her mother. The woman revealed to Ron that she was only recently made aware that TMWL had provided not only medication, but also transportation during her mothers cancer treatment. Ron, always quick to deflect praise says, “It was not us, it was Jesus working through us.”
to give to To Mexico with Love, please visit their website.