Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Urgent Prayer Request

Dear Friends and Family,

We would like to share with you a very personal and urgent prayer request.  As many of you know, Kristi's mother (Karen De Leon), was diagnosed with widespread bone cancer 1 1/2 yrs. ago.  After some surgery and beginning treatment and consistent follow-up checks, it looked like the cancer was 'under control' and not spreading or growing within the bones.  A recent CT scan revealed three spots on her liver which indicate that the cancer has spread.  Of course, we are all shocked by the news.  This, of course, means that Karen will not be able to travel to Argentina to be with us for the birth of our baby since she will begin treatment soon.

First of all, our prayer is for complete healing.  We are praying that follow-up biopsies and checks would reveal "a mistake" (as put by our Olivia).  If God does not to choose to remove the cancer, we pray that he would provide the BEST treatment possible.

If any of you know Karen, you will know that she is a very joyful - full of life - type of person.  She loves to laugh and encourage others.  She is also a very sensitive person.  She enjoys writing about her journeys in rather humorous ways (see below) and sees this also as a ministry.  PLEASE read her update (if you haven't already) so that you can pray specifically as she has requested below.  Thank you!  Below is the update sent by Karen and Richard to their prayer-warriors.


DeLeon’s  Health Up-date #1...........April  23, 2013


      Can you believe we’re starting all over with our first up-date as we take a new “twist-n-turn” in this on-going cancer adventure.  Our last two up-dates from Feb 15th & March 3rd  were filled with all the news about how God has been blessing us through my body’s response to the hormone shots for the breast cancer which metastasized into the bones. By the way, those shots have actually “thickened” the bones’ density which is a HUGE PLUS.  As of Nov. 2011, (18 months ago) when we returned to Tyler to be under the care of Dr.Vukelja again, there were no internal organs involved…which was a HUGE PRAISE.  Well, it appears, after having a CAT scan about 10 days ago, that sneaky cat left three hairballs in my liver!! Now, if you’ve never experienced hairballs in your liver, then you have no idea how challenging it can be. Seriously, the “tumor marker” which had gone from 113 in Nov. of 2011 down to an 11 in Dec. of 2012….had gradually began increasing to 34…then spiked to 143 a couple of weeks ago. That’s why regular blood work monitoring is sooooo important for the on-going treatments in cancer patients.

     So there are three small lesions in the liver…most likely were there from the beginning, but too small to detect. So now, they are definitely detectable…but we’re not in the “doom-n-gloom” mode, ready to prepare my funeral arrangements yet!! Nor do we intend to start either of the two above activities. However, my pending trip to Argentina to be with Kristi (our daughter) for the birth of their baby due in May will definitely have to be postponed. They are adjusting nicely to their new field of service. We thank God for that.

     Now for the technical part of this up-date:  Treatment will consist of a new round of chemo-type drugs. Taxol (one of the most promising of all the breast cancer drugs) and Avastin (new to the market as a “target specific” drug).  There is a new research trial going on which Dr. V is trying to get me into as a “guinea pig”…to see how fast they can get rid of “hairballs” in the liver!  There are now “target specific” drugs which allow the cancer-killers to get directly to the tumors/lesions and kill-on-site without so much damage of surrounding “innocent by-stander” cells!  The Avastin also strengthens the walls of the arteries among other benefits.  It will be a weekly IV infusion…3 weeks of treatments, 1 week of rest!! Chasing hairballs must be more exhausting than I ever thought possible. [Our Siamese cat never demonstrated exhaustion after a round of coughing up his hairballs, but since I won’t be coughing them up, maybe the exhaustion comes in the internal battle!!] We’ll have to see what other side-effects will pop up on my horizon!!  Who knows, Richard & I may have another chance to play the part of Mr. & Mrs. Kojak (baldies with Tootsie Roll Pops) in the chemo-lounge for those receiving their chemo-cocktails!! Thirteen years ago, that was a very blessed ministry when we went through the initial breast cancer journey.

    Prior to entering this “blind-sided” research trial, I’ll undergo some further testing to see if I’m even a candidate for such an onslaught!!  So the heart, brain, and kidney’s  need to be in good shape to withstand the strength & frequency of the chemicals involved and the duration of the treatment. The duration all depends on how the lesions in the liver respond to these chemical attacks. We’ll know more by this next Wed. when I go in for the brain scan (to see if I’m truly a “bird-brain” or “lame-brain” or a “no-brain”).  And to see if the echo-cardiograph will prove that my heart has no leaks, blips or skips under pressure!!  What sort of pressure, I can only imagine…as in a “pressure cooker” perhaps??  We’ll keep you posted as to the results of all of this confusion as we learn more.

    We continue to trust God to have our best interest in HIS Heart for us, for our children and for any ministry we may still be allowed to continue during our time on this earth.  Just yesterday, as I waited for my EKG, I had a chance to visit with a dear lady who was waiting with her husband to see his cancer doctor. She too was a patient of Dr. V’s and after sharing with her about how breast cancer can spread to the bones, lungs or liver, she immediately made appts to have bone scans, CT scans, etc. as she realized, that like me, she only thought (if cancer did return), it would come back in the breast tissue. So we prayed together and then went our separate ways.

     Richard’s prison ministry Y-wing group of 168 gathered yesterday (Monday) to pray for me as they continually do. They are great prayer warriors, joining our war against this cancer. And I thank God for each of them. Richard continues to be my constant companion throughout all of these new “detours” in our retirement journey! He is a constant blessing in my life; my spiritual leader; and daily caretaker!! He even lets me drive the car & carry the checkbook (although it’s empty!!) ha ha


       If it happens that I’m not a candidate for this research group, there are other alternatives which we have not explored as of yet. We will of course, but only if my body is rejected as a possible candidate for this trial-run.


      Again, we covet your prayers for us……..

….for God to use us for HIS honor & glory, as witnesses & encouragers for those who may cross our paths during this new branch of the journey

…for our non-Christian family members who question God’s love as they see what is happening in my health situation…they lack the Peace & Presence of our Lord….

…to have wisdom in the decisions necessary to wage war against this new invasion. 

…for Dr. V and my cancer team to have wisdom & discernment during this treatment

…for God to use us as channels of blessings for those around us

…for others to come to know the Lord through our testimonies

…for our precious children & grandchildren to have portions of HIS PEACE & PRESENCE beyond what they have ever had before


We thank God upon every remembrance of each of you who walk this journey with us, in spirit, in flesh, in prayer and in HOPE, as we HOPE in Christ. I must say, the book by Randy Alcorn entitled “HEAVEN’ has really taken away any fear of or sting of “death”. But make no mistake, as I am here to tell you…..



Forever Under HIS Mercies,

Karen & Richard DeLeón

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Prayer Focus for the Pastor's Retreat

Retreat Center (image:
Eric has asked that I write out an overview of the schedule for the Pastor's Retreat so that you could be praying specifically each day.  The most important focus of this year's retreat is for the pastors to come together in unity as they endeavor to further God's Kingdom and His work in Argentina.  From what Eric says, many are saying: "we can't keep doing things the way we have been..."  

All in all, our request is that you pray for God's Spirit to bring unity and peace during these meetings; may God be the One to lead the endeavors toward seeing His goals fulfilled in and through the churches here in Argentina.

Note: Argentina is 2 hrs. ahead of Central time in the USA.

Thursday (4/18)

7-9 p.m. Dinner
9-11 p.m. Praise and Worship and Preaching
11 p.m. (yes, it does say this on the schedule) Fellowship and rest

Friday (4/19)

Most of the scheduled meeting times include "presentation of proposals and group discussion."
9-11 P.M. Praise and Worship and Preaching

Saturday (4/20)

More group discussion of proposals and conclusions at the end of the day.

Same time for Praise and Worship...

Sunday (4/21)

Praise and Worship, Conclusions reached, Lord's Supper
1:30-2:30 lunch

Eric and Elias would depart in the afternoon on Sunday and arrive home by 7 a.m. on Monday (4/22)

Thank you for your prayers for the Argentine church, the pastors, the missionaries, and the Kingdom work God wants to accomplish in this beautiful land among these beautiful people.

Cordoba - Pastor's Retreat

Huerta Grande (image:
A little glimpse into our 6 year old son's thoughts on getting to go on an important trip with Daddy...

Yesterday morning, Elías walked into our little kitchen with a very serious look on his face.  I could tell he was thinking of something important.  "Mommy," he said, "I just can't believe Daddy would take me with him to this retreat!"  When I asked him why he said this, he replied (with a lot of excitement in his voice): "Well, I just don't think many daddy's would take their 6 year old sons to a PASTOR'S RETREAT!"  I told him that from the very beginning Eric had the idea and desire to take him along because he is not only special but also because he really wanted his companionship and the blessing of his presence.  He then began to recall all the other times Eric has taken him (or the other children) along on trips, meetings, and outings...he concluded that this was the biggest "outing" yet and said he was very excited.  (Note: we have more information on our family's blog about why we take our children along with us as much as possible, about discipleship with our children, etc.  This blog gives a glimpse into our family's life and how the Lord is building our home - He gets all the glory:
So at 10 p.m. last night came the anticipated moment of hearing the taxi driver ring our apartment's buzzer.  Praise the Lord that although the taxi driver had misunderstood which terminal to take them to (he took them to the small airport terminal at first), they arrived just in time to board the bus at 11:15 p.m. and begin the 12 hour journey to Cordoba.

Close to midnight, after having a very late night of bonding with my two oldest girls, Eric and Elías called us to say goodnight and give us a little run-down on the bus.  Apparently, these are very nice buses.  Elías was excited to ride on the top deck of the double decker.  They both said the seats were comfortable! 

It's a good thing we packed several snacks for the guys since they said they didn't get served any food on the bus (as they had been told by the agency).  :O)  So, between a bag of 'Doritos' (a very special treat we found in a little supermarket), a package of crackers, some chocolate covered peanuts, and some canned meat...I am sure they were fine.

In a recent conversation with Eric, he said that they had been given a room and were planning on eating some lunch before too long.  I am sure they will try to rest before the 'kickoff' this evening.  I will be posting the schedule of the retreat later today in order for you to have more specific ideas of how to pray for Eric, Elías, and the rest of the local pastors and missionaries.  Thank you for keeping up with us and for sending us encouragement and special notes!    - Kristi

Friday, April 12, 2013

A New (big) Stroller...

Some of you may recall that our double stroller was damaged on the flight to B. A.  We began to pray that the Lord would meet that need.  Some dear friends have let us borrow their umbrella stroller while we tried to find a good deal on a stroller somewhere here.  Needless to say, God chose to provide in a very interesting way!
We were pleasantly surprised to hear that some of Kristi's brother's friends would be traveling to B.A., and they said they'd be willing to bring in a stroller for us.
The search began...for a double stroller at a good price because we knew we'd have to pay the extra luggage fees to get it here.

This is the box the stroller was packed inside!
To make a long story short, Eric was on the phone talking with the family selling their stroller (on craigslist) and when the man found out that we were missionaries, he said that he and his wife had also served as missionaries overseas for many years.  He then told Eric that they felt led to give us the stroller!  We couldn't believe it!  This is a nice (big) double stroller!  Kristi's parents picked it up on their way to visit with her brother and family, and then they all wrapped it and packed it in order to ship it safely here.

The second part of the story is that the men bringing in the stroller and extra suitcase for us were not required to pay extra luggage fees! 

Getting special cards from cousins and friends is a treat!
Our family back in the USA was able to purchase a few items we requested and some dear friends from Arkansas sent in several special goodies for our children (including some nice artwork that went up in the kid's bedroom).  These friends have a passion for evangelism and shared with us some resources to help equip us and others in how to share Christ with the people here who have a post-modern worldview. 
A group of children from FBC Plainview,TX sent these!

A special group of children from First Baptist Church in Plainview, TX made some 'salvation bracelets' and sent those in for use (by us or others) in evangelism as well.

Some of our friends sent in jumbo colors for the little girls - Lucia felt special that she also received cards and pictures!

Elias displaying a picture by a special friend!
As you can see, our stroller is big and bright!  But you know what?  God gave it to us - so we gave it back for His glory!  We call it our Humvee stroller!  And now, anyone who comments on it or asks us where we got it...we not only have the stroller to meet our needs but we have a story to tell on how God provides for His children! 

And here it is!  The Humvee Stroller that God provided in answer to prayer! 

Places, Faces, and Friends

It has been a high priority for us, as we transition and settle into our new home, to connect with our colleagues.  We've also been driven to learn our way around this big city and figure out all the small and large details it takes to survive overseas.  It has also been a joy to meet with different local leaders and learn more about the work that is being done in and around Argentina.  We had a recent visit with the Strategy Leader for the Americas and anticipate an upcoming visit with the strategy leader over us in the coming weeks.
Our family was invited to attend a special Resurrection meal at the "Messianic Center" along with some other colleagues.  We had a great time visiting and learning about how the Lord is using the Center to train and reach out to the many Jews who live in B. A. 
You may be wondering...what does it take to learn to learn to live and thrive in a different culture?  That is a great question!  There are many things involved...too many to mention in this post.  But, we'd like to mention just a few (in no special order).  One of the most basic things is related to food!  What's for dinner?  Learning where and what to buy can be a huge obstacle for a new missionary.  Figuring out what things ARE at a grocery store is a learning experience!  The meat cuts are different, all the dairy is pretty much different, fruits and veggies can vary a lot as well!  Then there's diapers, toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc.  But going back to food...when you live overseas, you usually HAVE to eat what is local (which is a good thing) and you have to learn to cook what is in season (also a good thing).  Here, so far, we've found a wonderful "verdulero" (vegetable vendor) around the corner with whom Eric is having many opportunities to share.  Since our fridge is small, we have to shop very frequently so he gets to see the vegetable guys about every 2 days.  Some of the local, in season, veggies we like are: "acelga" (swiss chard), "tomate" (tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes!), "rugula" (arugula), "zapallito" (small round varieties of zucchini), and "remolacha" (beets).  There are many wonderfully tasty fruits as well - right now, grapes (no seedless varieties here), plums, and pears have been the tastiest since they are in season.  Below is a picture of an "Asado" or an Argentine Grill.  We recently discovered a small grill in our neighborhood which, for a fixed price, serves all the grilled meat you can eat.  Of all the cuts of meat they brought us, plus all the innards (small intestine, thyroid glands, blood sausage, normal sausage, etc), our three youngest kept asking for more of "that meat over there!" pointing to a cut of meat neither Kristi nor I enjoyed growing up: the kidneys!  They kept asking for seconds!
Wonderful Argentine Beef!
So, if you were to go to the supermarket or meat market here, you'd either have to know the name for the approximate cut of meat you are looking for OR you'd have to know WHERE it is on the cow so you could point to that part as the cow meat hangs behind the counter.

OK, this brings us to another important aspect of surviving overseas: learning to drive and get around!  Of course if you don't have a car, you have to learn how to take a taxi, call for a "remise" (private kind of taxi) or catch the bus or subway.  Catching a bus may seem pretty straight forward as long as you know the number bus you're looking for but it really is more complicated than we realized here in Argentina (a LOT has changed since we were last here).  They will not let you pay unless you use coins (did we mention that EVERYONE is low on coins?) or unless you have a bus card.  (Where do you buy the bus card?)  So, unless you encounter a merciful person on the bus to help you out, you are really in for a frustrating experience.  We seem to under-estimate all the details of just 'getting around' when we move overseas.

If you drive, you have to quickly learn all the local laws for driving...the do's and don'ts.  Driving in B.A. is hectic.  Now we understand why our parents really dreaded driving in this big city!  :o)  Almost every time we get into the car, we stop and pray for safety. 

Beautiful Sunset driving back from La Plata before the flood
 A third important thing one has to learn (especially when you have children) is how to get into a routine.  Now this is really tricky!  Most of the world does not rely on a schedule like N. Americans do.  There are so many things you just can't depend on overseas that it makes it hard to do much planning at all!  This can get frustrating!  Of course, adapting to the local way of handling time is important but keeping some sense of normalcy is also just as important.  Figuring out a schedule and how long things take in order to plan accordingly is a daunting task!  Keeping the 'normal' things going like laundry, homeschooling, eating, bed time, etc. is crucial.  Figuring out our roles in the new country can be difficult.  However, having the servant's heart to sometimes go the extra mile is also just as important. 

Olivia and Sofia blessed us by helping with chores when it wasn't even required of them to do so.

We have tried to get back into our homeschool routine as much as possible.  Sometimes, when we've had to do paperwork or similar things, we have the kids take along a special journal in which they write and draw about the new things they are seeing, hearing, and experiencing.  This gives us opportunities to talk about the new things of this culture and process through the changes we are all living through.  Just today, Elias wrote about what he calls the "road registries" (tolls) that everyone has to go through and the pasta truck which he said is not commonly seen in the USA.  Olivia made notes about seeing gypsies, and encountering "intersection vendors" trying to sell tissue and candy bars. 

Homeschool - Scripture Copywork

Another aspect of learning to survive overseas (and thrive) is really easier said than done.  And that is keeping things joyful, lighthearted, all the while maintaining a heavenly perspective on things.  I guess it's kind of like learning to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes, learning to smile even when everything seems to be going wrong learning to be merciful and gracious and learning not to complain!  Staying focused on the Lord in the midst of it all is a priority which often gets set to the side.

Sof'ia likes to be in school as well - she likes her Scripture Tracework
Playing "tea time" together after a meal - having fun together

For us, some of the challenges of surviving and thriving overseas may be quite different than for others.  You may have noticed that we didn't mention language.  But, don't forget that we spent 8 (plus) years trying to learn Arabic!  And now, we find Arabic words coming out when we really are intending to speak Spanish!  (Never thought that would happen!)  We didn't mention "culture" but that is another huge obstacle sometimes.  Another obstacle we didn't mention is related to sharing the gospel of Christ.  Learning the culture, the language, and the strongholds often found in a new culture are important as we try to seek the Lord in reaching these people.  Again, there are many more issues we haven't even touched on.  And for us, returning to a country in which we grew up makes it a totally different experience than it was for us when we went to a Muslim country.  No matter the circumstances, we've found that it is crucial to maintain a learning attitude and a spirit of humility because, in the midst of transitioning to a new culture, God will continue His transforming work in our hearts and lives - often using the difficulties and obstacles of the new country to purify and mold us into His image.  To God be all the glory!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Flooding In La Plata - The City Where We've Been Asked to Live

image from
You may have heard, or read, in the news about the damaging flooding which occurred over the last several days in Buenos Aires and La Plata (where about 16 inches of rain fell in two hours on April 1st/2nd).  We would like to share some information regarding a local pastor (Alejandro and Silvia Alvarez) and his family who live in La Plata.  The Argentine Baptist Association has requested help on behalf of this brother and his family.  The Lord protected them from harm during the flood by the fact that they weren't home when the flood began and could not get to their house for several hours.   Once this pastor, his wife, and young baby girl were able to return home, they saw all the damage that was done.  Many from the local churches are pooling resources and sending them down with youth groups and other groups going down to help this family tomorrow.  They have requested things such as diapers, clothing for their toddler, bottled water, milk, cleaning supplies, etc.  They will also need towels, bedding, mattresses, etc.

An aerial view of flooded streets in La Plata on Wednesday.

We have not yet met Pastor Alvarez but, in partnership with the Argentine Baptist Association, would like to help in any way we can.  Please lift up this brother, his family, their neighbors, as well as the many thousands who are in desperate need.  The local church is trying to use this opportunity to reach out and minister to those around them. Those affected by the flood are angry that they have not received more help from the local government.  They are desperate and in great need.  May the Lord use this difficult situation to mobilize His people to share the Good News of Christ through meeting the needs of neighbors.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Things We are Thankful Pictures

The imb, thanks to your generous giving,  has provided us with a very nice van that has been used previously by two other families.  It is Hyundai H1 - 12 seater - diesel van. It has 207,000 kilometers (130 thousand miles) on it (well, neither the speedometer nor the odometer work so it definitely has more miles on it than this) but it still runs well. FYI: Eric keeps track of his speed using the GPS.  :o)

Argentina has the most wonderful ice-cream and we have a very nice little quaint ice-cream shop down the block from our apartment.  Sofia loves ice cream!

We packed a few toys for the kids to have on hand once we first arrived.  Here, Olivia and Lucia are enjoying a pretend "tea party" with Lucia's bears.  Lucia LOVES playing with "Sissy." 

Here, Kristi was trying (rather unsuccessfully) to whip cream with an old hand beater.

Elias playing 'soccer' with a make-shift ball in our little apartment's patio. 

Lucia's turbo wrap!  :o)

"Alfajores de Maizena"  Alfajores are cookies with a filling sandwiched in between.  These are the traditional kind - where the cookies are made of cornstarch dough and the filling is "dulce de leche" (sort of like a thick and rich caramel).  Recipe coming soon.....
Argentine Gaucho at a local "feria" or outdoor type market.  The Gaucho is the 'cowboy' of Argentina.

Gaucho playing "Sortija" A game where the rider tries to hook a small pin through a small metal ring while riding at a high speed.

Olivia enjoying the feria and watching the horses.

The whole Stanton bunch at the end of a long afternoon at the "Feria de Mataderos."  We had a great time looking at locally made crafts, eating local foods (choripan and tortas fritas), and talking with people.

Christ is Risen!