Monday, October 31, 2011


Tonight, the dark night of death and danger.

It's Halloween, when America's obsession with dark and death comes alive. The lovely houses along the street are decorated with spider webs, tomb stones, witches, skulls and bones of the dead.

"Honey, isn't it fun noodling through the graveyard to get to the doorway?"

This is the night concerned mothers are frantically checking the Internet to find where the local sex-offenders live ... "Now kids, watch the bushes, a pedophile may jump out and grab you."

Tonight "trick or treat-ers" are hitting the best houses for a "freebie" a chocolate bite of the good life. The pros already have the spots picked out from last year. (Good example of the rich giving to the poor!)

Concerned mothers in my neighborhood are out before dusk holding the hands of their children, ranging in age from six to eighteen. Mama knows best when it comes to a dangerous night like this. A car could hit my eighteen year old, he's a real clutz!

The costumes are cute too. . thanks to Walmart and Target the kids are out in colorful costume. The little devils, witches and monsters in appropriate costumes.

Many of them with little bags for the freebies, others, more optimistic, carry a couple of grocery bags each.

Driving home I saw a "retired police" car cruising the streets looking for ... any suspicious male in the neighborhood.

We are safe, safe, safe here!

Mama, what's that? Oh honey, that's a man's ribcage when he isn't in it. Mama, does daddy have one?

Honey, keep walking!

So the night of America's romance with the dark of demons, devils, witches and death continues on. . will we ever get enough of darkness? ... sorry Halloween-ers, but my day is Easter! Easter Sunday morning is coming and light trumps darkness. PTL !

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Julio, about eleven, would come in with forty or fifty other boys every third Thursday and take his shower. Each time he would hand me those thick glasses ... "Hold these for me von ..." I would give him some shampoo and shower him down. Then give him his towel and glasses. His glasses kept getting worse, until they were literally held together with tape and rubber-bands. The big thick glasses would sort of hang over his nose. He had to sit in a front desk in school to even see the black-board.

Julio wasn't doing well at school.

One bath day, I asked him for his glasses, and took them with me across the border and went to Lens-Crafters to buy Julio another pair, but the clerk said he would have to see an optometrist first. I told the clerk, he lived in Tijuana and a little of what Spectrum was doing with poor kids and Lens-Crafter's made an exception making him a new, heavy duty pair ... free!

The following week I found him and gave him his brand new pair of glasses.

He gave me a wide smile; now he could see!

A few days later he was near tears as he showed me what was left of his new pair of glasses. The gang ripped the glasses off Julio and threw them on the cement basket-ball court, grinding the thick lenses against the cement with their shoes scratching the new lenses and then twisted and pulled the glasses apart.

Again, I took the remains to Lens-Crafters. I told them the story ... and once more they made me another pair that was even stronger ... for free.

Three pairs of destroyed glasses later the gang no longer bothered the near blind boy.

He was accepted.

As it is.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


The conclusion of many of our visitors to the Mexican areas of poverty we take them into ... when they actually see blatant poverty ... the sight is ugly and the solution seems overwhelming!

After many questions, their defense becomes apparent; "because I can't do everything I can do nothing" and they comfortably retreat from all responsibility.

A cold intelligent mind has a way of trumping ... emotions like compassion and kindness!

In my book this is simply an intellectual cop-out! Sometimes the only way to fill that impossible gap of need, is by doing a lot of smaller "some-things" and forgetting the overwhelming "every-things" . While I may have no solution for tomorrow, Compassion calls on me to make their day ... today!

Is that wrong?

Today I met a poor scrawny dog in Mexico. Nothing but skin, bones and fleas. Hungry, hungry! I called her over and fed her some dog food ... boy did she gulp it down! And it's true I couldn't really help her, BUT I sure made her day! The motive for feeding this pathetic dog, is called compassion ... just being kind!

Have you ever felt compassion? Are you a kind person? Questions few people will honestly answer. (For good reason.)

Some of my academic friends when visiting my world, and they mean so well, tell me..."Von, It's far better to teach a man to fish, than give him a fish meal." It sounds so intelligent. . .so academic . . . so right. Until I remind the scholar there is no water around.

His intelligent response? OH! You see at this point we are all they have.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I remember when I first went into the prison for Tijuana's kids, to teach them about God's Word; I carried the Bible. Walked into the big room. The kid's response was immediate and, well ... bad. Very bad!

I was evidently seen as another one of the many eager evangelists hot to "save" everyone following a loud and long message.

A literal "captive audience."

I thought and thought and finally decided to use the Indiana Jones approach. I have about 30 years worth of exotic artifacts hanging around ... why not use them!!

First you have to get the kids attention and respect, what better way then bring the Amazon jungle and tiger stories to them.

I remember walking into the cage full of these teenage "tigers" with a Bible, shrunken head, and a few BIG bugs. And, boy I had a following immediately! Even the guards were open.

I imagine through the years many missionaries thought I was weird collecting all of these artifacts, but they have been worth their weight in gold.

One afternoon I drove to the Tijuana dump to see some of my friends, driving around and through the trash I locate six or seven friends. These people are dirty, sweating and look tough. I forgot I had several artifacts on my back seat to use in a missionary study later that night.

Well, my friends spotted these weird objects and before long we had about twenty workers surrounding my little Volkswagen Van, they were fascinated ... the items soon disappeared going all direction, while I'm yelling "Be Careful!!"

But these big tough guys tenderly held the artifacts in their large dirty, hands'

These adults, even those I didn't know, became friendly and like children wanting to know all about the objects.

That afternoon I made many new friends at the dump. Artifacts bring a unique opportunity to share stories and the Gospel.

Oh, and I didn't lose one artifact! They brought ‘em all back.

When people believe you ... they tend to believe your message,

Thursday, October 13, 2011


The kids in Barrio Pedrigal asked Hortensia where I was, as I hadn't been down in their neighborhood for a week. She told them that I was at home sick with a cough. Pedrigal is a small poor and dirty neighborhood; we could add dangerous too, lots of drugs; lots of tough teens.

The kids there have a real love for me.

Ten year old Brandon was evidently concerned about me being sick. He nor his family are "religious" but he knew about praying.

Yesterday was a rainy, cold day ... Brandon put on his jacket and went out looking for a church to pray in. He walked the muddy road about a mile and found a big Catholic Church. He opened the door, stepped inside ... the church was empty ... Brandon walked slowly to the front of this awesome room, got on his knees and prayed for me to get well.

Later he told Hortensia about his prayer, she smiled and had chance to share with him about praying to God and that you don't need to be in church building to talk to God.

How humbling to have a little boy with that much love, pray for you the best way he knew how.

Thursday, October 06, 2011


Barbecued cactus. That's what was on the plate the little girl was holding up to me, the darkness fooled me, I thought it was Carne Asada (thin barbecued steak). How could they afford this much steak, I thought.

As I took a bite, I realized it was hot barbecued cactus. This sample was enough.

I was outside the house "in the kitchen" with the family. Mother was busy cooking more "Nopales Asada" on their makeshift stove. The little stove was fueled by wood and cardboard found around the area. The kids each had a plate and were sitting on things in the dark near the stove. The meal tonight for all six kids, mom and dad was simply cactus ... with some lemon juice on top.

It's OK if you grow up on it, if you didn't ... well, I'll pass with a sample.

I noticed a well worn broomstick laying near their big plastic tub full of cold soapy water and clothing. The broomstick had the top of a plastic cola bottle wired to the end, forming a small plastic funnel. This was the plunger mother uses to wash the clothing in her plastic tub.

It was late and I carefully climbed up four old shaking wooden stairs and another three tire stairs buried in the dirt, soon I was on the road walking to my car. It was very dark.

Slowly driving up the dirt road, my lights reveled a young man with his kids walking toward me. "Hey von" He yelled. "my boy is covered with sores, can you help me?" I stopped, got out with my flashlight, and went for my medicine bag. Inside I found a tube of medicine. Scabies is quite common among poor and dirty people. The older boy stripped his little brother down and I slathered the cream over the sores. They thanked me; one of the boys paused to hug me, and the family continued on down the road disappearing in the darkness.

Monday, October 03, 2011


Three bucks an hour was good pay in my day. I worked for Convair Aircraft Corp as a mechanic for most of fifteen years. We built military jets and passenger jets. Convair airliners were great airliners. From the 240's to the 880's and 990's.

The 990 was a sleek jet, labeled, at the time, the world's fastest jetliner, but, uh. oh ... engineering failed! The 990 was sold to a speck they couldn't deliver. To modify those already sold cost the Company millions. Busted!

Convair, a privately owned Corporation, was failing. Heads rolled! Quickly, pink-slips were handed out. Workers went out the door in droves. Convair started cutting to the bone! From the top on down; every supervisor went down in rank. I remember well, supervisors had red buttons, we workers had yellow buttons.

Soon us old timers were working with our X-supervisors who now had yellow buttons. Yep, cut to the bone.

And then, I got my pink slip and also went out the door.

Things are different in the private sector. With no income, things radically change! Workers leave, and dead-beat Supervisors are put to work. Adjustments from top down! No more fat!

But that's the private sector where work gets accomplished.

Now lets look at the public sector (Government). Let's compare.

I'm amazed at how desperate the Government is for MORE revenue. Just another "hit" America ... another "hit!"

PLEASE, NO ADDITIONAL REVENUE TO FEED OUR BLOATED STARVING GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRACY! The public sector is fat! No more drugs for this out of control addict! Let them whine.

"Can" the dead-beats and move on.

With no income, the Government would be FORCED TO FACE THEIR PROBLEM ... not our problem. Forced to cut their redundancy, corruption and incompetence.

Giving the Government more $'s, simply justifies the present system.

Unfortunately, if worse comes to worse, they can print their own money ... and that's more than we can do.

Sunday, October 02, 2011


As Jesus said "The poor we will have with us always..." True enough.

However today it might be said "The poor they will have with them always." "Their" responsibility.  The truly poor are not in the United States; the truly poor are millions, living a comfortably exotic  distance away ... a world away and viewed at our discretion. If the pictures are too graphic or start laying guilt on us, we have but to turn the page or change the channel.

Viewer discretion urged.

Indeed the truly poor are "their" problem, not ours. Their distance diminishes our guilt.

Unfortunately and unbelievably, many of the truly poor live quietly, invisibly, right across our border with Mexico and are too near to draw our attention but not far enough to be exotic; a dilemma to all of us working with these families on the border.

We are simply "over-looked."

The Mexican border is known for violence ... but not poverty.

It's the kids that catch our heart! Hundreds of them. It wasn't their decision to enter this dirty, hungry world, yet they rarely complain.

Yesterday, a very poor ten year old boy helped us a we worked with this poor family of seven living on a dusty dirty hillside. As we were driving away Abraham said " wow, that family was really poor, poorer then us ..."

We (Spectrum Ministries) have been taking care of the poor here on the Tijuana border for more than twenty-five years ... as our U.S. economy sinks, so have our donations. Our Doctor who freely treats and advises the people . . .we can't even afford cough medicine. No more help on medical surgeries. No more help with shoes and uniforms and books for those kids wishing to go to school. Without the proper shoes and uniform kids are barred from attending school. Tarps for leaky roofs are in short supply. No more help on rent money. No more "Ensure" drink for Pepe.

We get so many requests; what really hurts is when someone requests needed help, and the answer has to be "No" ... Having them give you a half smile, look down and say "That's Okay" ... and walk away with their kids following.