The last time I wrote, things were looking up in California. We were hoping to get out and stay out of quarantine and expecting that life might go back to at least semi-normal before too long. Well, it hasn't really panned out that way! As many of you know, we're sort of bouncing along from one day to the next wondering if church will stay open even at the 25% levels we now have, if or when we will be able to eat inside a restaurant, have our friends and family together, celebrate a holiday or birthday like we used to and travel without great caution and concern. In our county of San Diego, we improved for a while and now we have slipped back. For two nights in a row on the local news, they have said that our restrictions will likely get worse again soon instead of offering the freedom for which we had hoped. San Diego State University opened for classes and they now have over 440 cases of covid-19 just in the last couple of weeks so the school is closed again. And as if that was not enough, we have had terrible fires all around us. Even now as I sit here typing, there is a new fire about 2-3 miles from my house and I am typing to the constant drone of the helicopters working to put it out. Surely we are in a season like even the oldest of us have not ever experienced in our lifetimes.
Through all of this, I have spent hours and hours trying to find a suitable, proper place to have the memorial service for Leon in early October. Last week, I came to the realization that it just cannot happen in a manner that we would choose during this time. By the current regulations, it cannot be done inside of any facility anywhere in our area of Southern California unless it was a very small group. Last week I found out that even if we have it outside, we cannot serve any food or beverage - not even a boxed lunch or a sealed beverage. And if we violated that, we would be subject to fines. I have considered doing a service more or less online, but that is just not who he was! We may tape our service whenever we have it, but I feel that we have to have an in-person service at some point. So, all of this to say that we are postponing the service until things really open up and we can do it properly. That may be after the first of the year, it may even be a bit longer than that. But after so much agonizing, consulting with close family and friends, we just feel that we want it done right and we don't want people close to us stressed out about attending because they are concerned they will get Covid 19. I think that this has been one of the most difficult decisions that I have ever had to make, but I do feel relief that when we do it, we are going to celebrate his life in a manner which he deserves.
In the meantime, I am keeping up with our missionaries and handling the IMS business that comes through. The church in Chennai, India has been able to reopen with careful social distancing and they are very happy to be back together. I will post a couple of photos of their first Sunday service since Covid 19. Our dear friends in Espíritu Y Verdad church in Mazatlan have been through quite a bit. Please pray that those who still have Covid recover soon. I am greatly looking forward to the time when I can visit some of our associate churches and celebrate the Lord bringing us all through this time.
I reread my last two posts before starting to write this and I couldn't help but think, "Is it Still 2020? Will this year ever end?" I'm sure we have all felt that way during this time as we work our way through restrictions and more restrictions, plans and cancelled plans, political campaigns and rhetoric, no olympics, no sports, no getting together in large groups, no congregating as the church!!! I think that for most of us, we feel that this is a year like no other we've ever experienced! I am pretty sure that I've never had a year of cancelling so many plans whether it's a simple time of getting together, a trip or a major event. To me, all of the loss and change do help in one respect. They cause me to work even harder to lift my eyes off of my own petty situations and look to Jesus because I know He is the One person who is definitely not out of control in all of this. And oh I am so thankful to know that He not only gives us peace, but He IS our peace (Ephesians 2:14) and it is such immeasurable comfort to be able to run to Him as that place of peace in the midst of all that this year has brought. I trust that you, too, are finding His peace and His presence as a place of great refuge.
Through all of this time, I have made plans for a Celebration of Life service for Leon, cancelled them because of quarantine, and waited, albeit rather impatiently for a future time for the service. Well, though we are still in quarantine to varying degrees in California, some things have fallen into place and we are planning to have a service on Sunday afternoon October 4, 2020. Pastors Joe and Laurie Pacheco expect to be here to officiate. We do not have a meeting facility as yet because we don't know if we will be able to meet inside or if we will need to find a place outside for the service in order to meet social distancing requirements. If anyone locally has any suggestions, please let me know. I will keep everyone informed on all the details via short updates here as we go along. My concern is that if we do not have the service by that time, with the coming of winter, flu season, and perhaps another round of Covid, it could be well into next year before we can meet. And that just seems too long! So if you plan to come, mark that date on your calendar and please let me know so we can figure out roughly how many people we are to expect.
In the meantime, I am keeping quite busy here at IMS still learning more about keeping the books as well staying in contact with missionaries and pastors and looking forward to when I will be able to travel to visit and serve with them. I am so thankful for FaceTime and Skype as well as social media to keep in touch with them and I appreciate the love they have shown by their checking in on me. We have been so blessed to work with such wonderful people around the globe!
I pray that this e-mail finds each of you in good health and holding tighter than ever to your faith and the person of the Lord Jesus. As I mentioned earlier, He is our peace and no matter the insanity going on around us, we can always find solace as we run into him. As the Psalmist, David, said, "The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2 Blessings to each of you!
As I wrote to you just a few weeks back, our area was just entering into quarantine for Covid-19. It seemed at that time that we would have a few weeks of this and pop right back out. Hey, we're Californians and we're resilient! Well, maybe not so much! So with our new self-discovery, we have some changes since our last post. First of all, the place that we were having Leon's Celebration of Life service cancelled because it will be too soon to have a gathering. Consequently, we will have to postpone until later in the summer or even maybe early fall. I will keep you updated on this as soon as possible because I know there are some who might be traveling from a distance and I would like to give you plenty of planning time and be more certain that air travel is safe. It is not my desire to have to wait so late, but all of our lives have been rather radically altered due to the crisis and we have a lot of active cases in S.D. county.
Also, the May trip to Puerto Peñasco, Mexico for the annual conference will also not be happening on schedule. The most obvious reason is that we cannot get into México at this point. They have quite a bit less of the virus there so Mexico will not allow us in until things are better here. This also may be just a postponement, rather than a cancellation, but I will also keep you up to date on if and when it will happen.
In the last newsletter, I asked for prayer for Pastor Alex in Chennai, India. He passed into glory last Saturday, April 18th. His wife, Hilda, and daughter, Cynthia were with him. As is the normal Indian tradition, his service was held the following day. His daughter, Hepzi, who recently graduated med school in the U.S., was not able to be there because India is also not allowing people from the U.S. to enter because of Covid-19. Thankfully she had been able to go for a visit just before the quarantine began. Please pray for his family as they adjust to the loss of this dear husband, father, pastor and faithful laborer in the Kingdom of God. As I was being told of his passing, I couldn't help but think that if there was any possible way, I know that Leon would be there in his celestial greeting party and they would be rejoicing and praise God together. Pastor Alex, you were very loved by many!
As we have gone through this unprecedented time in our country and world, and as I have been sequestered in my little casita, it has given me much time to think and process some of the events of the last year. It has been a very hard one! The level of loss has been like no other time in my life and at times the ache for my family being the way it was a bit over a year ago is overwhelming to say the least. But I feel the Lord has put it upon my heart to lift my head and look to Him. We know that we live in a temporal world even if we don't usually act like it. So the choice that we each have is pretty much the same. What am I going to do with today? How am I going to live it out? It was so much on Leon's heart to "finish well" and he did. Considering his pain and discomfort, the amount of love and the giving of himself for his family that he showed in the last month of his life was amazing. He constantly looked to the Lord. He never wavered in that. That's my "take-away" from confinement. I want more than ever in my life to live for others, to be content in whatsoever state I am in and to finish well what God has called me to. That sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? Please pray that I can live it! I send much love and blessings to each of you.
I could hardly believe it when I came to update our website that it has been over a year since I last posted. I was certain that I had posted last summer, last fall, sometime! But apparently I was even further behind than I thought. So much has transpired that it would take volumes to properly go through it all but many of you will know at least part of it, so I will try and just do a very brief overview and let you know where IMS is headed in the immediate future.
On May 1st of last year, our family was devastated by the sudden, totally unexpected death of our wonderful, precious son, Luke. Needless to say, it rocked us to the core. We and our daughter, Leah, dropped our plans and went as quickly as we could to Wisconsin to be with our daugher-in-love, Sue, and granddaughters. God's grace and love allowed us to carry on, but losing a child (no matter their age) is definitely the hardest thing we have ever experienced.
Just a few days before Luke passed, he had called us from their new home in Wisconsin and expressed great desire that we all come at Christmas and celebrate a White Christmas together. In his honor, we all decided to make his dream a reality and we went back to Wisconsin in December. Leon was not doing very well before we left, but he was adamant that he was going to fulfill this request. Upon return, I took him to the ER and his cancer had spread throughout his abdominal cavity and he also had deep-vein thrombosis. He was in the hospital for a week, then released and Leah and I cared for him at home until he went to be with our Lord Jesus on January 25.
As you might well imagine, I have been picking up the pieces and seeking the Lord's wisdom as to how to proceed without the two most important men in my life. I am so thankful for all the wonderful friends and family who have called me, loved me, visited me, and given me emotional support in this time. To say that you are so very dear to me just doesn't seem enough! I am also very thankful for our IMS board members who are just the best! I treasure each of you.
As I have prayed and thought about how to proceed, and sought counsel, it seems natural and good that I would continue IMS and the work to which we were both called. Part of that involves managing IMS (which Leon always did) and handling funds that come in for indigenous pastors. I had not done bookkeeping since we got married, but I'm step-by-step relearning it! Another aspect is verbal and written contact with missionaries (which I love) and I am continuing with that. Lastly will be missions travel and I expect to continue that step-by-step.
Of course, like all our plans this year, the following plans are tentative based on what happens with the Coronavirus and the quarantines and border crossings, but presuming things get better, my first missions trip will be to participate in the yearly conference in Puerto Penasco in May. I will fly to Phoenix and be picked up to go down to Mexico with Ps. Stan and Becky Tedrow, and we will then meet in Penasco with Pastors Joe and Laurie Pacheco. I would ask for you prayers for this first trip without my beloved. I know that it will definitely be very different but I am comforted that I will be with four other leaders who have been so significant in our lives.
The next plan that I have in motion will be a Celebration of Life service for Leon on May 24, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. in La Mesa, CA. Again, presuming that we can congregate at that time, it will be at Nan Couts Cottage, 5045 Memorial Drive, LaMesa, CA. Please let me know if you plan to come as there will be food served after the service. The attire will be California casual.
I would also like to give a brief update on our dear pastors in India, Alex and Hilda and their daughter Cynthia. Alex is completely bed ridden at this point and can only speak one word communications. As you can imagine, this brings great strain on his wife and daughter as they take care of him and the church as well. Please pray for them for the Lord's strength and grace and for God's mercy upon Alex.
And I thank you in advance for your prayers for me as I continue on this new path. I desire to achieve the fullness of God's plans for me in a way that honors Him.
We want to briefly communicate with you what has transpired since our December
update. Shortly after that update Leon began to feel ill, accumulate fluid and needed to go to emergency. He was admitted to the hospital and a CT scan revealed that the cancer had returned and was actively affecting his kidney function again. After treatment, he was released and immediately started the integrative medical treatment (Insulin Potentiation Therapy) which had the Lord had used last year to treat it so effectively. We are so thankful to report that he had a quick response and is doing much better again. We would appreciate your prayers and specifically that God would provide the finances that are needed for Leon’s continuing treatment and the wisdom in developing a maintenance schedule as it is very expensive and we have limited funds.
During the same time Teresa contracted a flu/cold. She was quite sick for several weeks, but thankfully is well again.
We have also gone through some major changes in our family during this time that have required time and significant emotional energy, but despite all these things, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers them out of them all.” (Psalm 34:19). The Lord is so faithful!
We are looking forward to two soon-coming mission trips: the first to Mazatlán, Mexico to minister in the church with our close friends Pastors Joe and Laurie Pacheco and then to Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, where we will be joining with the pastors and leadership there and with the others in the Pastoral Counsel Team to celebrate the church’s 20th anniversary and have the annual conference. The church is growing and doing so well! We are so grateful to have these opportunities as well as to be able to continue active in providing encouragement, pastoral care and support for indigenous leaders and missionaries on a regular basis from home. Besides the above mission trips, we have several personal trips on the agenda before summer so we should be quite busy. Please pray for strength for us.
Like so many of you there are a lot of issues we think about and have to face, but we know our Heavenly Father will lead us through whatever comes. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with my eye.” (Psalm 32:8).
We love you all and are grateful for you!
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.