By Tech. Sgt. Lindsey Maurice, 433rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 23, 2015
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND --
While most American families spend their holidays gathered in their warm homes
around a tree, opening presents and eating delicious food, one Air Force
Reservist and his family have made their own unique holiday tradition of
traveling abroad and providing medical and spiritual aid to impoverished
Senior Master Sgt. Larry Gallo, 433rd Logistics Readiness
Squadron maintenance support section chief, his wife, Yvonne, and their
daughters, Daizha and Paree, traveled to Guatemala Dec. 21 for nine days, as
part of a humanitarian mission with T.I.M.E. for Christ Mexico
"Seven years ago my family and I started giving up our
commercial Christmases to do something different, since then, we never looked
back," Gallo said. "These trips allow everyone to slow down and realize that
some of the stress we put on ourselves is uncalled for once we put things in
"We have so much in the United States, and we are blessed as
a nation. There is no guilt in being blessed. The guilt comes when we complain
and grumble and take for granted the things we do have and not use those
blessings to help others who are burdened."
During the nine-day trip, the
team, which included two physician assistants, who are Gallo's daughters; two
registered nurses, two dentists, a pastor, and a support crew. The team assisted
more than 720 patients from three villages, San Raimundo, Guachipulin and El
Chol located in mid-central Guatemala.
The team helped patients with
lacerations, knee injections, wound cleaning, abscess removals and drains,
stitches, scabies detoxing, ear washes, high blood pressure treatments,
diabetes, and urinary tract infections.
Gallo, a native of Beaumont,
Texas, added that during the family's trip in December 2013, the group also
included a surgical team that performed hysterectomies, gallbladder surgeries,
hernia surgeries and face tumor removals.
Gallo and his wife help in the
non-medical areas such as administration or triage, and with the logistics of
ordering supplies prior to the trips.
His daughter Daizha said the
mission trips are what inspired her to pursue a career in the medical field."I
initially decided to become a PA because I wanted to do medical missions," she
"After I went on my first T.I.M.E. for Christ trip, I knew for
sure that this was the career I wanted to pursue."
Daizha and her sister
had gone on their first mission trip in the summer of 2007 before their parents
attended. "By the end of that trip, we knew we wanted to go again on the
Christmas trip and have our parents come with us," Daizha said, "... once we all
went on our first Christmas trip in 2007, we knew we didn't want to spend our
Christmases doing anything else."
Now a physician assistant in emergency
medicine at Metropolitan Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, Daizha is still
inspired by that first mission trip.
"In those days, we would caravan to
Mexico and set up a clinic and operating room inside a school," she said. On
that first trip, Daizha recalled that, "There was an explosion of a fertilizer
truck recently in a valley nearby the town of Nadadores, where we recently went
"Many of the people had lost their hearing due to burst
eardrums, and many had shrapnel still in place from the explosion," she
continued. "We had an (ear, nose, throat specialist) that year, who was able to
help restore the hearing of many people by repairing their eardrums. The people
at first didn't believe that we would come there to help them. By the end, they
and the town government were so grateful that we had come."
family's most recent trip, Gallo recalled, his most memorable
experience, attending to two ladies, of whom he thought at first were sisters.
Because they were very close in age, one 76, and the other 88 years old, later
he discovered that they were mother and daughter.
"They had walked a
great distance and rode in a 'toot-toot' cab, a three-wheeled vehicle to get to
the medical clinic," he said. "The mom limped and had a crutch. The mother was
so chipper and tried conversing with me, but I understood only a portion of what
she was saying with my very limited understanding of Spanish.
triage that day, taking blood pressure and temperatures. The daughter's blood
pressure was so high I kept getting an error on the automated cuff. I asked a
medical student to try the manual cuff, and the readings were still off the
"When the news was delivered to the mother and daughter that the
daughter had congested heart failure, and she was about to die. Our camp pastor
gave them both a message of hope, they left our hut very encouraged, hugging and
kissing the hands and face of myself, the pastor and translator. I will never
forget them. I just hope to be as brave as they are and to love even in times of
While Gallo's family and everyone who attends the mission trips
are volunteers, the travel costs and supplies are all donations. The 30-year Air
Force veteran noted that members do fundraisers or let their mission committees
of their local churches know what they are doing, and the committees provide
"Medicines are purchased beforehand from
pharmaceutical companies by a doctor who sits on our executive board," he said.
"Being a 43-year-old non-profit, the organization also receives financial
"These trips are so wonderful and humbling," said Gallo. "To
experience this as a family is better than any Christmas gift that can be
T.I.M.E. for Christ Mexico Ministries is a 501c3 non-profit
organization. Gallo is the vice chairman of the organization, which has been
providing humanitarian aid to Mexico since 1970 and Guatemala since 2011.