Posted 12/08/15 (Tue)
By Betsy Ryan
Farmer Staff Writer
Manuel Cabreara came to Arnegard from Jacona, Mexico, in search of work. His home town is struggling. With the average age around 60 years old, the community lacks resources and opportunity.
Upon his arrival, Cabreara joined the Wilmington Lutheran Church congregation in Arnegard and quickly won over the heart of its pastor, Dan Paulson.
“He always had a smile,” says Paulson. “His English is limited, but we could count on him to show up anytime we needed a hand with community projects. He was our man on the ground, helping us know who needed food and where people were living.”
Cabreara was getting ready to return to Mexico to help with some family matters when he spoke with Pastor Paulson. He was concerned about his home town and wanted to know if there was any way that Pastor Paulson could aid him in filling some needs of his community.
He had three requests: a fire truck, an ambulance and a bus for senior citizens in his town to travel back and forth from Mexico City for medical appointments.
Pastor Paulson, who has worked as both a pastor and an oil field worker for many years in the Arnegard/Alexander area, immediately got to work thinking about who he knew and how he could help.
Paulson first approached the fire department.
“I knew that Arnegard was going to be getting two new fire trucks and I couldn’t help but think of what was going to happen to those old trucks,” Paulson said. “I put a little bug in the ear of Fire Chief Harold Larson.”
Some time went by and when the Arnegard Fire Department did actually receive their new trucks Paulson continued to push the issue. Eventually the fire department not only agreed to let one of their fire trucks go to Jacona, Mexico, but they completely donated the truck.
With the truck now secured they had to figure out how to actually get the truck to Mexico.
Trying to work out the logistics and details of driving a truck over the border with fellow church member, Cameron Arnegard, was not coming together easily.
Eventually Cabreara came up with an idea.
“His friend from Jacona had relocated to Dallas, Texas, and owns several dealerships and takes automobiles over the border. This friend was willing to help,” Paulson said. “So we just had to figure out a way to get the fire truck to Dallas - much less complicated than getting it all the way to Mexico.”
So Arnegard and Pastor Paulson got ready to make the long drive to Dallas.
“The church council at Wilmington Lutheran Church stepped right up,” continued Pastor Paulson. “They donated the funds to cover our entire trip.”
“It is impossible to name everyone who helped make this possible,” stated Paulson. “The whole community stepped up, from the fire department to the church to just concerned community members. I am so heartened to see so many people caring about a community that we’ve never even be to.”
The journey to Dallas passed without incident, and before long Paulson and Arnegard were delivering the 2,000 gallon GMC fire truck into the hands of the men who would carry the truck the rest of the way.
“The fire department also donated two links of an inch and a half fire hose,” Paulson explained. “That hose is a great start, but we knew they’d need more to really be able to reach all the homes that don’t have very wide roads leading to them in Jacona.”
Paulson encouraged the friends of Cabreara in Dallas to persevere and find fire departments willing to donate more fire hoses. They approached fire departments in the Dallas area and eventually were able to get 1,200 feet of fire hose.
“It makes me so happy to see so many people care enough to help,” says Paulson. “We feel like we are being the hands and feet of Jesus, doing his work and touching the lives of those who need it.”
Pastor Paulson’s work is not finished, though. He is still on the hunt for an ambulance and a bus to send to the people of Jacona, Mexico.
“The mission is not complete,” says Paulson. “The truck has not arrived in Jacona yet, but I am confident it will be there soon.”
Cabreara’s brother was recently elected as the governor of their state and is helping to get all the paperwork in order to bring the truck legally over the border. They are being conscientious to complete the process in an organized fashion.
“The thanks really goes to the Arnegard Fire Department and the Wilmington Lutheran Church,” Paulson made sure to add. “I cannot express enough how great all the players in this operation have been. So giving...so much compassion.”