As with so many of you we are focused in on this special time of the year as we celebrate the birth and life of Jesus Christ. We have passed through a lot of changes during this past year and our hope is that we have honored him in every area of our lives. As 2018 comes to a close we have much for which we are grateful.
God’s grace for us in healing Leon from the certainty of death from cancer has enabled us to do so much more than we could have anticipated as we started 2018. The process of restoring health after over seven years of battling the cancer is slow, but we rejoice in the life that God has given so we can continue to be together, enjoy our family and friends and continue to serve Him. What an amazing journey it is in serving the Lord! We also praise the Him for the success of Teresa’s surgery to repair her damaged vocal cord. She has her voice back and I, Leon, love hearing her sing again as she goes about life.
Just a few weeks ago we returned from Puerto Peñasco where we spent a week with pastors Conrad and Heidi Quiros ministering together at Peñasco Christian Fellowship. It was so encouraging to see how well the church is doing as the congregation is healthy and growing and the Lord is being exalted in their lives. We had the opportunity to minister in several services and activities, one of them being a servant's appreciation dinner and service for about 70 people in the church who serve in ministries, some of whom do so in several capacities! The pastors are doing such a great job ministering to the congregation and the church certainly reflects their commitment.
As we look ahead to 2019 we have several potential mission trips that we are working on and we look forward to what the Lord will enable us to do. We thank you so much for your friendship, your prayers and your continued support. What we do in ministry is only possible because of you, so we invite you to share with us in our rejoicing as well.
We wish for you the most wonderful Christmas Season and a blessed New Year. Enjoy the time the Lord gives you!
We greet you with warmest regards. We hope you are all secure and strong in the faithfulness and goodness of the Lord (Psalm 145:9). We are so grateful for His immeasurable blessings upon us!
We had a wonderful mission trip in May as we returned to Magdalena de Kino, Mexico, and enjoyed being with Pastors Temo and Magdalena Lazaro and friends from when we first lived in Mexico over 35 years ago. It was as if we had never had the years separating us! We then went on to Puerto Peñasco where we had our third Leadership Conference working with the Pastoral Counsel and the pastors at Peñasco Christian Fellowship. Our time in Magdalena was so sweet and rich as we taught and shared on the theme of the blood covenant. This is one of our favorite biblical studies and can be so strengthening to our faith. They loved it. Teresa carried the bulk of the teaching while Leon taught less as he was still gaining strength from his battle with cancer.
In Puerto Peñasco, we worked together with Pastor Stan and Becky Tedrow, Pastors Joe and Laurie Pacheco and the local pastors, Conrad and Heidi Quiros, in meeting with thirteen different ministry leader teams from the church. We spent quality time with each one listening, offering counsel when needed, encouraging them and praying for them as well as having times of teaching. It was many hours and our brains were tired from listening, thinking and speaking so much Spanish, but we loved it! The church is growing and doing so well and it is such a blessing to see the people prospering in the things of God. We are looking forward to returning to both places later in the Fall. It felt so good to be doing what we love to do cross culturally again!
We are enjoying being so close to our family and were very pleased to spend July 4th with all of them. They are busy, our grandkids are growing so quickly and we treasure these times we have together. We are learning more and more to ‘enjoy the moment,’ so to speak, because we have learned very well how things can change so quickly. We encourage you, as much as you can, to also treasure these ‘moments’ when they come along.
With regards to our health, we can testify to the Lord’s incredible faithfulness and His miraculous healing power. Four months ago, it looked as if Leon was going to go home to be with the Lord. Many of you prayed with us and for us. And we are so incredibly blessed to tell you that He answered our prayers!!! Since that time, Leon no longer has any cancer activity or pain which Pet/CT scans and lab results confirm! It is amazing! Now he is in the process of rejuvenation with medical surveillance, integrative therapy and physical rehabilitation. This is something of a slow process because his body had weakened incredibly from the cancer and the treatments, but he is steadily gaining.
Meanwhile, Teresa is finally getting some medical understanding of why her voice has been so affected for so long. A recent exam revealed that one of her vocal cords is not moving which was likely caused by a nerve being damaged when she had heart surgery four and a half years ago. The nerve has been slowly dying since then. A recent scan confirmed the doctor's suspicions and she expects to be getting surgery soon to reposition the vocal cord, which the doctor feels will restore her voice. She can’t wait to sing again!!!
We want to thank each of you who have prayed for us and those who have continued supporting us during this time. We are continuing in ministry activity and grateful for the opportunity to continue serving the Lord as it is life to us! On a different note, it would be very helpful as we try to budget our finances to know if you have previously supported us through International Missions Support and have decided to no longer do so, or perhaps have been preoccupied with other life issues and intend to stay with us as we move forward. We always know that without your prayer, friendship and support we cannot do all that the Lord has shown us to do.
God Bless each of you and with you we pray that He strengthens all of us with His Spirit and helps us to daily keep our focus on Him no matter what goes on in our country or in our world. (Isaiah 26:3; Philippians 4:6).
We hope that you are experiencing the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the goodness of our Heavenly Father and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We need to be watchful to never lose sight of His faithfulness and the certainty of the promises we have been given in scripture. (Philippians 1:6).
This brief update proceeds some soon-coming mission travel. Most of you probably know by now that in early March Leon was having serious effects in his ongoing battle with cancer. This required nine days in the hospital, some strong medication and most importantly a tremendous intercessory prayer response. Within a couple of weeks after discharge, his condition improved miraculously! There is no doubt that our Heavenly Father answered prayer! Leon has been feeling better and getting stronger as he continues in both natural and allopathic treatment and his lab reports improve amazingly and have even shocked his doctors! Please join with us in our thanksgiving for His goodness!
This did require us to postpone our first mission trip of the year, which was scheduled in March. However, we are blessed that, starting next week, we are going to be connecting that trip to Magdalena de Kino, Mexico with the annual conference at Puerto Penasco, Mexico! Magdalena de Kino was our first mission assignment about 37 years ago and we loved the town and the people there. We were there for about two years before moving to Mazatlan. Early on, we visited a couple of times after but have not been there for over 30 years! We are so excited to see these dear brothers and sisters who have persevered and to do some teaching and encourage them in the faith. We will be meeting Pastors Temo and Magdalena Lazaro there and sharing together. After this time, we will go on to Puerto Penasco, and meet up with Pastor Stan and Becky Tedrow and Pastors Joe and Laurie Pacheco. Our time there will be for the conference but also working with their growing leadership and encouraging the precious pastors of the church, Conrad and Heidi Quiros. We count it a great blessing and privilege to work with all of these wonderful leaders!
Please pray for:
*Good health for us both as we travel.
*For God's blessing and anointing upon the things we teach and share.
*For God's provision for Leon to continue in natural medicine treatment after we get back. We feel that it is having a tremendous effect and want to go on as far as our finances allow.
Thank you so much for your prayers and your support. We will have a more detailed update after we return from our mission travel. We pray grace and peace for each one of you!
We had such good intentions about getting out this last IMS update for 2017 before now, however, between Christmas and prolonged bouts with the flu followed by pneumonia for Teresa, we are just now able to get this newsletter to you. With that in mind, we wish you very blessed New Year.
We finished our fourth mission trip in early October when we traveled to Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. We were able to work with the pastors in learning to use the Leadership Training Institute (LTI) material as well as meeting with some of their newer leaders. It was a fruitful trip and we look forward to returning.
A delightful blessing came to us recently through a conversation with our LTI contact regarding an LTI Institute we started in Nicaragua in September 2013. It was the first one in the country and we met with a small group of senior pastors and leaders. After several days of training we certified them to return to their churches and train others. From that small beginning five years ago, there have been 180 pastors and leaders trained and they are laying out vision for reaching the entire country! This is the very thing we have seen as a result of utilizing the LTI material!
We also have continued in conversation and support of some of the young leaders we worked with when we lived in Asia. Their passion and youthful energy is infectious. We love it!
We have had several meetings with Temo and Magdalena Lazaro who were pastors in the church in Magdalena de Kino, Mex. which was our first missions assignment almost 40 years ago. They currently live in Tijuana, Mex. but will be moving back to Magdalena de Kino in May. There is a group of believers there who have been asking them to return and start a church and they have asked us to go there with them in March and help begin to lay the foundation for the new church. We also discussed other areas of teaching that we would do in future trips to help build up the church.
And, we have scheduled our third annual conference with the church leaders in Puerto Peñasco in May. We will meet with our Pastoral Counsel Team and look forward to working together with the church leadership and being with our church family there.
If you are interested in reviewing our 2017 mission activity we encourage you to review our previous IMS updates.
The year has gone by so fast (maybe it is just my age) and once again we have experienced our Heavenly Father’s faithfulness and amazing grace. Despite working through monthly medical treatments for Leon, the Lord has still given time, strength and support for us to continue ministry. It has been over four years since Teresa had major heart surgery and nearly seven since Leon was diagnosed with cancer! Please pray for her complete healing from the flu and pneumonia and renewed strength and God’s wisdom and healing for Leon as he schedules treatments during these next few months.
It has been so delightful to be with our families and enjoying our grandchildren. We are so grateful to the Lord for them and that we all live so close. For each of you, we are very grateful for you and appreciate your prayers, love and commitment to us in our ministry. In His strength, we are blessed to continue serving him.
Special Praise Report:
We had asked in our last update for prayer for missionary friend, Alicia Heinz. We are blessed to report that she has successfully completed radiation and treatment here in the U.S. and will be returning to her ministry in Dumaguete City, Philippines next week. Thank you, Lord!
We want to give you a brief update which we will follow up on after we return from our current mission trip. We are on our way to Puerto Penasco where we will restart the Leadership Training Institute (LTI) we established several years ago. It had been very successful with some very blessed graduates, however, with some of the issues that developed when the founding pastors transitioned the church into new leadership, it was necessary to stop it for a time. The church is doing very well now with new members, a new leadership team in training and great pastors. This is the ideal time to start utilizing the LTI curriculum first with the leaders and then with the congregation. We are blessed to see this happening and to be able to facilitate it.
Our summer is about over and, like us, many of you are looking forward to fall and cooler weather. For those in the areas that have been affected by severe weather you have consistently been in our thoughts and prayers. And of course, we are all praying for our leaders and our country. It is imperative we keep our focus on our great Savior and mighty King! He will strengthen our faith if we will keep our eyes on Him!
God has been gracious to us in strengthening us despite the health issues and with the joy of having our family so close. Our grandchildren are a great delight (Prov 17:6). We thank the Lord that He has controlled the spread of Leon’s cancer and he has felt much better recently despite going though chemotherapy.
We also thank God for his loving care and for each one of you who pray for us, support us and encourage us. And we are so grateful for the richness of the gift of friendship we share with you.
As a final note, please pray for our dear missionary friend, Alicia Heinz, who has recently had to return from her ministry in Dumaguete City, Philippines, because she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She will be treated in California and then expects to return to the Philippines.
We have much to catch up with you since our last update. As this year started we anticipated several mission trips, however we had no idea of all that God would be doing, which would include three mission trips thus far, a new addition to our family and transition in Leon’s medical treatment. As these first six months have passed so quickly, here is our much needed update.
Mission travel and activity:
In February we went to Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. We were there for two weekends, which gave Leon time to do a two-part message on Sundays and for Teresa to minister during the midweek service. However, we spent most of our time visiting with individual families and the Lord really blessed it. It was so good to talk to quite a few of the people in the church one on one and hear their hearts. We also had a sweet time of further getting to know Conrad and Heidi and their family who had returned from being sent out from the church as missionaries several years before. They had successfully planted a church and worked in several other ministry areas. Upon returning they were filling in as directors of Peñasco Mission Center and as interim pastors in the church. We are very impressed with this couple and their two children, and could see God’s guiding hand in their return. It was a very blessed trip.
In April we traveled to Mazátlan for two weeks and knew that we were set for a busy schedule including men’s and women’s conferences, leadership training for ministry interns, ministry at the two primary church campuses and individual times with leaders and friends, some of whom we have known for over 30 years. We were blessed to stay with our friends, Pastors Joe and Laurie Pacheco, who have done such an amazing work in the church. However, during our time there, Leon developed a UTI from a medical procedure that was done just before we left. He was quite sick for several days. At first this was disappointing, but we did feel that the Lord showed that He could be glorified even through Leon’s weakness. And we were so appreciative of the wonderful care extended to us through Pastors Joe and Laurie and the church. God blessed us so much through them and endeared them even deeper to our hearts. Leon improved and we were able to finish and return home without further incidence.
Meanwhile Teresa ministered to over 200 women at the Women’s Conference on The Worth of a Woman This is a theme the Holy Spirit has been speaking to her about for several years. We also had very good reception from our time with the leaders and interns and, as always, were so blessed to minister in this church!
In May we returned to Puerto Peñasco for our annual conference, which this year had the theme, Raising Up Our Generations, and to ordain Conrad and Heidi as the pastors of the church. It was a very busy and fruitful time as the pastoral counsel composed of ourselves, Stan and Becky Tedrow and the Pachecos, ministered to the church. The spirit of the congregation is very good, the church is growing and we are excited for the future of Peñasco Christian Fellowship!
Health and Family
Leon has continued to have chemotherapy, utilizing a different medication since January, with measured success. We are monitoring this monthly as he has been on chemotherapy for about ten months now, and while he has done very well thanks to all of you who have kept us in prayer, it does have its cumulative side effects. The current medication is a bit more difficult than the first was. Recent PET/CT scan show no progression of cancer and there is no pain from it. We are very grateful for our Lord’s goodness through all of this.
Our latest addition to our family is Layla Rae Porter, who was born to Leah and Roarke in early January. She is absolutely beautiful (like her sister and cousins) and just seems to fit right in like she’s always been a part of our family. We cannot express the thankfulness we have to God and the joy that our four granddaughters and one grandson bring to our hearts.
Personal Prayer Requests
Please pray for:
We hope and pray that all of you are refreshed and blessed by the Holy Spirit during this season of celebrating the birth of Christ Jesus. We know that the state of our nation, the frustration of so many people and the chaos of Christmas commercialism is a challenge to all of us, but as we stop and reflect, the bottom line is that, Hallelujah, He is still in control! What rest there is in that knowledge!
In our August update we explained about our need to be here for Leon’s chemotherapy and the need to postpone several fall trips. We are glad to report that the combination of chemotherapy, specific supplements, a more careful diet and most importantly, the prayers of many friends like you have shown to be very effective against the cancer. Meanwhile Leon has had very limited side affects from the treatment. Lab reports have shown him to in good health despite weakness and show that the cancer activity, as measured by psa, has been reduced by about 90%! Amazing! He has had some minor surgical procedures to help his lymph system and kidneys drain properly during the treatment, and while they slowed him down a bit for a time, they have also been helpful in his feeling better in the long run.
We are looking forward to being much more active in missions and ministry in 2017. We are grateful to have been able to continue working from home with missionaries, indigenous leaders and in providing funds for missions in several countries during the last six months. But we are happy that in the New Year we have a mission trip to Puerto Peñasco in February and plans to reschedule two other trips. There are also a couple of other trip options that we are thinking about for 2017. Details to follow.
We are so blessed at the growing family that the Lord has given us and are excited that it will yet grow again sometime between now and January 3, 2017, as Leah gives birth to grandchild #5. What sunshine they bring into our hearts and our lives! Please pray for Leah for an easy birth and a healthy baby!
John and Rebecca have quickly found a home and jobs in Canada and are making all the new adjustments of living on this side of the globe for a season. The snow in Toronto is a bit different than the heat waves in Thailand!
LWCF Chennai has begun working with their local government to do medical outreaches to the community and other local outreaches. The first medical clinic had to be postponed because of the death of a local political leader, but is rescheduled for January. The evangelistic outreach was very effective.
To all of you we wish a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year. And, to those who have been so faithful with us through this process, thank so much! We are so grateful for you and pray that God blesses you exponentially in return!
It is amazing to me that it has been two and a half months since I posted an update! It has sped by at a record rate. Between missions, medical and family, we have hardly had time to realize that the summer was here!
First of all, upon the advice of our longtime friend, doctor and IMS board member, Dr. Rebecca Kuhn, we did go to Trilife Health Care in Fort Collins, Colorado for Leon to receive alternative treatments and consultation for a week. It was a wonderful experience in every way. We were so blessed by the professional expertise, kindness and treatments received by their entire staff. We anticipate that Leon will be continuing with some similar treatments here in San Diego and he is on a dietary and supplement regiment directed by Dr. Becky and Dr. Roger Billica from Trilife.
The above regiment is adjunct therapy to the next phase of Leon's medical treatment. As of yesterday, after much consultation, thought and prayer, Leon began chemotherapy. We wanted to advise everyone before he started, but due to medical scheduling, it happened a little faster than we thought. But we are happy to report that as of this moment, he has done very well and has experienced no side effects yet. He will receive the treatments every three weeks for three to six months, depending on how effectively it seems to be working. We will greatly appreciate your prayers for him. As many of you who know us well can imagine, it has been a very significant decision, but it is time and we feel the Lord's guidance in it.
Just two days after we returned from Trilife, we were blessed to have Cynthia Alexander from Chennai, India, visit us. We had such a wonderful time with her and are so proud of this young woman of God that we have known since she was a tiny girl. As this was Cynthia's first trip to the U.S., we tried to maximize the time between the fun of sight seeing in SoCal, spending hours in conversation about ministry and spiritual matters, sharing at Living Waters and just being together. We had to burn a little midnight oil and we all agreed that we wished there was more time, but we packed as much in as we could and loved every minute of it!
Cynthia gave a wonderful presentation and a brief, but powerful message at Living Waters, the church that has supported her family for over twenty-five years, and the congregation was very welcoming and responsive to her. It was a sweet time!
We had tentatively planned a missions trip to Roca Blanca Ministry in Oaxaca, Mexico in late September, but due to Leon's treatment, we will reschedule it. We also had anticipated a trip to see our dear friends at Rozel Christian Fellowship in Rozel, Ks. this fall but we will proceed with this only as his health allows.
We have trips scheduled to Puerto Penasco, Mexico in January and Mazatlan, Mexico in February and our prayer is that he will be done with chemo and well enough to complete those.
We are amazed at the Lord's goodness to continue to increase our family! While we started this wonderful state of being grandparents relatively late in life, (Rosalie, our first grandchild is only 3 1/2), the Lord is multiplying them pretty quickly for us! We were blessed with #2 in November when Coral Mae was born. In January, when Leah and Roarke were married, we inherited two more in Roarke's son, Dean, age 6, and daughter, Natalya, age 10. Now we are totally excited to announce that Leah is expecting number 5 somewhere around the first of next year! What a joy to have all these little ones in our lives! The Lord is SO Good!
(More) Praise Reports
Our Time in Puerto Peñasco
We had a really busy, but very productive trip to Puerto Penasco, México. We arrived on Friday afternoon and began meetings with the leaders two hours later. That first weekend, we spent about 13 hours in meetings with the leaders and Leon also preached the Sunday morning service. The time with the leaders was excellent as we all developed a deeper relationship with one another while looking at the kind of leadership character the Lord wants to develop in His leaders.
On Monday, Pastor Stan and Becky Tedrow and Pastors Joe and Laurie Pacheco all arrived and we met with the pastors, elders, ministry leaders and congregation throughout the week. The conference, Prospering in a New Season, was Wednesday through Saturday evenings concluding with the Sunday morning service. It was very well received by all. We are so blessed to see the growth and health in the congregation after the difficulties they went through just two years ago.
On a personal note, it was such a blessing working together with the Tedrows and Pachecos, whom we have known for about 40 years and about 30 years respectively. The six of us form the pastoral counsel over PCF to assist and encourage the leadership team there.
,Cynthia is coming!
We are looking forward to Cynthia Alexander from Chennai, India being with us for a week in July and sharing at Living Waters Fellowship. We have been working with her family since 1988! This is Cynthia's first trip to the U.S. Anyone interested in helping with her travel expenses can donate on our donations page on this website under Alex and Hilda's name and note that it is for Cynthia.
As we mentioned in our last update, Leon is at a place that he will be making some rather major decisions concerning treatment in these next few weeks. There are several options, most of which right now will be integrative or natural medicine treatments, which translates into out of pocket expense. Please pray for wisdom for him to choose the very best option and for the Lord to anoint it to bring the maximum results.
We appreciate you!
Thanks to each of you who take the time to read our blog, pray for us and support us in this amazing journey the Lord has taken us on. We are so very grateful for each of you. Stay tuned for our next adventures.
Most of our blog entries here will be written by Teresa with Leon's additions here and there. And we may even give him his own separate blog page eventually to share some of the things the Lord puts on his heart.