Friday, December 06, 2013

Le Grande Post

Student participation!


All together now

Beto has been teaching a new class called "Zero English" for a few months now.  Our church hosts a ministry called Friendspeak in which community members who want to better their English are paired up with a church member with whom they practice.  They use the Bible.  Some ability to read, write, speak, and understand English is required.  The church receives some calls from people who have a desire to learn English but are not yet at the level required to participate in Friendspeak.  Those students now have a place to go, and it's Zero English.  Beto works with them on very basic vocabulary to help them get to the point of being able to join Friendspeak.  He has wonderful students and they always have a lot of fun!

This past month in November we finally finished up our season of traveling.  We are very happy to be home more with the kids and settle once more into a routine.  First let me talk about "Fundraising Bootcamp".  Even if you don't ever have to raise funds, I would still recommend it!  It's a two day intensive lecture style seminar.  I certainly can't go into much detail but we really enjoyed it, learned a lot and made new friends. One reason I say that someone could go to it even if they didn't have to raise funds is because many of the principals he teaches can be applied to life in general: building and maintaining relationships, praying for those who encourage you, sharing your life story with others in 30 minutes or less and telling them how God has worked in your life, and how to ask  and give Biblically.  I learned new insights into scriptures that I had never thought of before about how God provides for His people.

We also were in Portland for about a week.  We attended Discovery labwith Kairos, a Church of Christ church planting organization, in which a team of interviewers asks us all kinds of questions about every aspect of our lives over a two day period.  They learn about us and we learn about them to see if we are a good fit to partner with them.  We were also required to host a time of worship and another time of sharing about ourselves in front of the group: our pasts, how we met, and our call to ministry. We made new friends there too and it was so encouraging to hear other stories of God's faithfulness!  Many of you know that we had done this before a couple of years ago but needed to do it again since so much time had past with what happened with Bela.  At the end of our time it was clear that right now God has other things in store for us.  We are not sure what that may be, but we are going to take a month or two to pray, continue to find healing in Him from all that we've been through these past 17 months, and seek His guidance and counsel.

We are excited about the future and the plans God has for us.  We have our goals for 2014 which include finding some more normalcy for our lives:  work, getting our own place, and living with two very healthy children.  We'd appreciate your prayers.

And for a short update on Bela: yesterday she had an oncology check up and her counts were better than ever!!  She is finally not having diarrhea, which is a first for her since October!  She only gained .1 oz. in the past two months, but she is developing well, learning a few new words here and there, and eating like she's in some kind of competition!  On Tuesday we took her to Disneyland for the first time. It was a perfect day, perfect weather, and we all had a great time!  We praise God for simple pleasures like these!

We started with breakfast with the characters.  Thanks cousin Stacey for the suggestion!

Meeting Mickie.  He was so gracious to take a break from filming his next movie to take a picture with us!

First stop after breakfast: Toon Town.  Excellent choice!

Bela wasn't so sure about Chip.

The prettiest time to go to Disneyland is definately at Christmas!

Her first taste of cotton candy! Oh how sweet it is.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah!

Bela a few months ago, but we still see this almost daily.
Bela Fall 2012

This year of course we are so thankful that Bela is able to celebrate with us, and not in the hospital!

We are also celebrating Hanukkah this year for the first time.  Hanukkah is a time where we remember God's miracles, His provision, and is a Festival of Lights, which represent God's presence with us.  We are mindful that we have many miracles in our family this past year for which to be thankful.  Not just Bela but my brother in law Geoff was also cured of cancer this year.

However, we are sensitive to the families who have lost loved ones this past year.  We pray for God's peace and comfort to be upon them every day, but especially at this time.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

A whole season has passed

Time sure flies!  To bring you up to speed, let me recap the highlights since the last time I wrote.

In August, Beto and I got to take a short vacation without the kids in San Diego.  Mostly we just spent a lot of leisure time not cooking food or cleaning up anything, or working or waking up at 6am.  We also spent most of the month getting ready for Strategy Lab.

In September, we attended Strategy Lab for Kairos in Lincoln, NE.  It was a fun, challenging, inspiring, deep week and we made a lot of awesome new friends. We were hosted by Leroy and his wife Rox (sadly we didn't have much time with her as she was out of town).  We couldn't have had a better host family!!! We enjoyed a Kairos couple's retreat after SL somewhere out in the middle of nowhere in Nebraska, but it was beautiful! except that I am certain I am allergic to the midwest.  I thought I might have the flu, but in less than 24 hours after coming home, I was miraculously better!  The beach air is the best air (wait, maybe my body missed the SMOG???!)  Seriously, Strategy Lab really allowed us to clarify our vision, mission, values, and much more for our future church plant.  Now our Ministry Plan is complete!  We thank God for the wise Kairos staff who teach and encourage us.

I'm thankful to my mom, sister Glenda, my aunts Romaine and Glenda, and my niece Shelby who all helped out so much with our kids while we were gone.  We are getting ready to go away for another week  to Discovery Lab in Portland, OR and they'll be helping again (except for Aunt Romy who's on a cruise...pppfffssshhh...whatever!)  We attended two years ago when we'd first moved back from Honduras, but with Bela's sickness and all of the time that's passed, Kairos thought it'd be a good idea to attend again, to see how we've changed as people, because we certainly have!  We had to take some personality tests, spiritual gifting tests, etc. and I got much different results.  I really wasn't expecting that at all. I'm looking forward to a week of fellowship, learning, and growth.  I'm not really looking forward to being observed ALL.THE.TIME, but I know it's for our good.

Bela is doing well.  She's had some nasty stomach virus once a month for the past two or three months, it seems like, but her blood counts are always "perfect" and she plays and eats and sleeps well.

Santi is great. I've started homeschooling him and today he read his first "BOB" book. It was very exciting for both of us!  We're taking it kind of relaxed this year since he's only four.  It's like an appetizer for the main course that will be Kindergarten next Fall.

Beto and I will also be attending a "Fundraising Bootcamp" in Dallas this month.  We'll be home for one day after Portland to watch Santi be a ring bearer in our friends' wedding, then we're taking the kids with us to Dallas!  We're staying with some very close friends who also have a boy and girl close in age to Santi and Bela.  Once we get back home Beto and I will begin fundraising like it's a full-time job!  We are very excited though to get going and be able to move the next chapter in our lives!  We have made some contacts here in Long Beach with other pastors and another church planting organization that have confirmed to us our calling to go and plant a church.  

Thursday, August 01, 2013

An update and a request

Long Beach Church of Christ
3707 Atlantic Av
Long Beach, CA 90807

It is with much joy that we write to you and pray that you are experiencing God’s blessings in your lives.  This letter is to inform you of our situation as missionaries and our work in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We began as part-time domestic missionaries in August 2011 at the Long Beach Church of Christ.  Some of our work includes evangelism, and English and Spanish classes.  Our goal has always been to serve and help in the ministry of evangelism of our Lord. In June 2012 we were ready to begin the process of transitioning as church-planters with Kairos, a Church of Christ church-planting organization.  With the sickness of our daughter last year, those plans were put on hold.  Now we are ready to begin that transition again. 
We would like to invite you to consider partnering with us.  We are raising funds now for this fall, a temporary preparation period consisting of a lot of training and traveling, praying and fasting, seeking God about which direction He wants us to go. 
First is Strategy Lab from September 9 to the 15th in Omaha, Nebraska and then Discovery Lab is November 9 to the 16th in Portland, OR. These seminars  teach us to use our gifts and skills, to discover our calling as planters of new churches.  We will be attending a “boot camp” called “Bodybuilders: Center for Mission Mobilization” for two days where we will be trained in how to more effectively raise funds for the long-term and for larger amounts.  The dates for this event are still tentative.  For this season we are in need of your prayers and your collaboration.  We appreciate your support and your hearts.  Acts 20:35
Here is a breakdown of the costs (for both of us):
1.         “Boot camp”                                                                                                                    $1,700
2.       Strategy Lab                                                                                                                       $800
3.       Discovery Lab                                                                                                                    $2400
4.       Miscellaneous (gas, lunches, etc.)                                                                            $500
5.       To give ourselves fully to this time                                                                           $1,000/mo.(4 months)
                                                                                                                                Total:    $9,400
We will be in contact throughout the fall with you and you are always welcome to ask us how it’s going.  Checks can be made out to the church with our name on the memo and sent to the address at the top of the page.  Blessings to you and yours.

Beto and Laura  Perez                                                                                                    

Friday, July 19, 2013

Just fun Stuff, man!

I love my sister!  Here she is overcome by how much I love her shoes.

I've never added a movie before and I did this on accident, but here you can see Bela in motion.  Now she is walking like a pro.

Bela picked up a Cosco-sized bag of chex mix from the bottom. " Oops, did I do that?"

The kid loves to eat.  Here she is with her first pizza crust.

Getting ready to take some memorable Mother-daughter-sister photots

aawww...isn't that special?

And now, for your enjoyment, the authenticity of the Speaks girls

She taught us everything we know...*tear*

OK, for reals

poor Jack feelin all left out and stuff

Her first real bath where she could get all wet without worries!

So that other picture was not the first time it happened.

At the library, the city's orchestra came with a lot of instruments.  Santi was one of only three kids that showed up, so he got special attention and was able to play all of the instruments for however long he wanted!

Daddy loves the library

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Never Forget

Summer is my favorite season.  The warmth alone could do it for me.  It's so stressful to me when it's cold to have to put on so much clothing.  If you leave the house without a scarf or jacket in the winter, you're miserable outside (of course, this doesn't happen much here in SoCal).  But I also love the long days, concerts and movies in the parks and beaches, bbqs, and just general, overall relaxing. The feeling that everyone is just supposed to have FUN!  Many people take vacations, and if my kids goes to bed a little later than usual, I don't worry about it.  It's summer!!!

I'm very mindful this summer, however, of what we were going through at this time last year.  I had just given birth to our second child two weeks earlier.  I was looking back at this blog from July last year and it started out just begging people for prayers for our daughter Bela.  I've been thinking back everyday this month, especially since Bela's birthday on the 5th.  We were in the NICU, confused and frustrated and scared.  She was getting sicker and sicker.  The drs. were testing her for many different diseases, viruses and infections.  After awhile, we just wanted a diagnosis, no matter how grim, so that the waiting could be over and so that we could get started on treatment.  Of course, now we know that the "waiting game" had only just begun.

Sometimes I wonder, would I have done anything differently?  What would that look like?  Should I have journaled more instead of watching TV? Would I have read my Bible more?  Taken (and posted) more pictures?  Should I have asked for more help?  Should I have felt sorry for myself and bought more iced blended mochas from the hospital coffee kiosk?

I know I wouldn't have done anything differently, because that's how it was done.  Now, if we were to have a relapse and had to go through it  a second time, well, of course, because we have experience, we would do things differently.  But do I regret what happened and how it happened? No.  I don't even regret not drinking those mocha frappes, because I'd probably be fatter and poorer than I am right now.

Even though it's not been long at all since things started to calm down (Bela came home in February and was declared cancer-free in April), it sometimes seems like just a blur.  Did that really happen? and to us?  And now I have thoughts like, Does Santi (our oldest) have cancer because he's complaining of a stomach ache?  Questions I never thought I would have, and it's scary still sometimes.  But we are different people now than we were a year ago.  And I hope, for the better.

God allowed us to go through this trial for many reasons, some of which I won't ever know.  But I know that we see His grace, mercy, and love everyday and we give all the glory to Him who has blessed us so much!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

Bela celebrated her first birthday on Saturday July 6th.  We enjoyed a large party with awesome friends and family.  We were also celebrating the fact that she is now officially 100% cancer free!!!.  We are deeply grateful for all of the prayers, calls, cards, concerns, encouragement and support this past year from so many loved ones around the world!  
Kissin Cousins: Bela and her cousin Christopher

Bela "sharing" her first ice cream sunday with her brother on her real birthday the 5th

Bela and her close friend Lily who is also a cancer survivor! They met at the hospital and love playing together.

Our friend Don loved the lemonade so much he got some to-go

Bela with "Grandpa Bob", one of the awesome volunteers at Miller Children's!

Christopher loves to give kisses and hugs!

Our friends Sherwood, also a cancer survivor, presented Bela with her Cancer Survivor medal from the American Cancer Society

"Happy Birthday to you!"

She adores all of her cousins and here's another special moment with Kevin

Friday, June 28, 2013

It's been a little while...

We enjoyed a large family vacation Memorial Day weekend in Laguna Beach...

...Celebrated Bela's last Broviac cleaning before it was removed on June 12th!...

Santi leading the way at the Torch Run, and annual fundraiser carnival for patients and families of Jonathan Jaques Children's Cancer Center...

Here's the group of girls who raised funds in honor of Bela and ran with us!  It was awesome to meet them!

...the "run" was only about 25 yards long? Just ceremonial and fun for the kdis!

Meeting some celebrities and getting pictures taken. What a fun day!~

Hangin with the ladies afterwards.  Thanks for the cute crab and book Aunt Romaine and cousin Stacey!

So Bela is now officially cancer free and broviac free!!! She turns one year in a week which is so hard to believe!  We are so appreciative everyday and can't say "Thanks for your prayers" enough! We are looking forward to a great summer and hope the same for you too!