Christmas Party time

Hey Everyone,

It’s finally December. First I know some of you are wondering about my health. I still haven’t heard anything about my biopsy. (check out my last blog if you missed what happened) I am moving and have recovered well since my Kidney removal. I hope to know soon to see if I need to undergo Chemo and other treatments for cancer, or if it was all contained in the kidney. I will let you know as soon as I know. Thanks for all the prayers. They have helped and I know they have given me strength to get back on my feet and take care of my family.

So it’s Christmas time. That means Christmas parties. Our project is going to have their party on the 14th. I’m excited. I have a LOT to do. I’ve bought some presents but I still have a lot to get in order to fill the kids Christmas bags. For most of these children, it’s the ONLY present they get for Christmas. If they are lucky they might have some special food. But most of the kids do not receive Christmas presents. We also always get dinner catered for the kids. And last but not least, actually the kids enjoy it most of all….. We buy fireworks and put on a little show for our community (December is a big time for Fireworks in Nicaragua).

If you are interested in helping support this party, please let me know. Every year some donors want to donate either for their child or a little extra for Christmas. This is what our plans are in a couple of weeks. So please pray about if you are able to donate to help make this Christmas one these children will never forget. If you have been blessed this year, maybe you can bless someone else this Holiday Season.

Thanks for all of the support this year. It’s been a tough year financially and emotionally dealing with health issue, but having your prayers and support has been a much bigger blessing. Thank you for all you have done. God bless you!

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Prayers Needed

Ok…. So here’s an update (might be graphic if you get a weak stomach talking about hospital stuff… don’t read)…. My life has drastically changed in the last couple of weeks…. A week and a half ago, I went to the bathroom between classes and it was pure blood. I ran to the hospital. I wasn’t in any pain, but I was scared. I had a kidney stone I passed without any problem in March…. I wondered if I was just gonna pass a stone. That’s what I hoped atleast…..

I went to the new military hospital and went to the floor for a consult. I went in a hospital room where they didn’t do a very indepth check. I wasn’t weighed, they sent me to some student and checked my blood pressure without a stethoscope. I was a nursing major at one point, and I knew from watching the blood pressure pump that the numbers were off. They said I had 155/100. I could watch the numbers too with my eyes and it looked like 130/85. It seemed very off. So i was sent back to the doctor to go through questions. Why was I there. I told them i was peeing blood. I also told her to take my blood pressure with a steth. She said it was 130/80. So i was frustrated already that I knew more about medicine than some people there. She sent me off to get a urine exam. When I peed in the cup, it looked normal. No more pure blood. I was relieved. The exam came back with high protein, looked like i might have an infection, and there was a little blood in it. I kept saying….. “it was red like cranberry juice.” not just a little.

She said i probably have kidney stones and she sent me home with an anti-biotic and ibuprofen. I said I want an ultrasound to see how many stones i had. She refused to give me one. I said I want to pay for one privately and she still refused. So when she left the room, I snapped a photo of her computer screen with my exam results and left. I run all my medical stuff down here by Margarita’s Gynecologist. He is amazing. Dr. Hugo Vaca Perez….. You rock and might have saved my life. I highly recommend him. So…. I send him my results and he says…”Tom, you need to go get an ultrasound now.” So I went across the street from Pricesmart to an ultrasound clinic and got a private ultrasound. The guy spent about 1 minute on the right side of my abdomen and I knew it wasn’t good when he was taking about 10 minutes on the left.

He looked at me and said I have bad news. I had a “mass” about 11x10x9 cm in my left kidney. He then told me my kidney is only about 12 cm long. I asked him some questions and he said that 90% of these are tumors. My heart just sank. He said i should go to the hospital monday to get it looked at.

That 5 minute car ride back to my house was the longest of my life. I cried and cried and yet I knew nothing. I just knew I wanted to see my daughter grow up. She wouldn’t understand if something happened to her daddy at such a young age. Not only that, but probably wouldn’t remember me too.

I went home, we cried, we went back to the hospital and they ran a couple tests. The Dr. originally sent me home Friday night and told me to come back weds. So we went home and went to bed…..

Then I woke up.

Saturday that horrible sight when I went to the bathroom was back. But this time with blood clots and pain. We went to the hospital. They checked me in and it started to move along. Luckily I have some friends who know people in some high places in our insurance company and also parents of students who are respected Doctors. After a few phone calls surgery was scheduled. I was told for maybe 4-6 weeks. I was in a lot of pain. My School and the administration was very supportive. Thank you Susan and Liam. My parents came down because I honestly thought I wasn’t going to make it that night. It was because a clot was blocking my urine and I hurt. I was so scared. I have never shed so many tears in one day thinking about my family and Mia.

They took me into surgery to remove this blood clot. That went well. I think it was Sunday night where the head of surgery came in and said “I talked with a friend of yours who is a doctor. We are going to move this along a little faster”. So some strings were pulled. Thank you, and you know who you are. But the dr. said we were going to do the surgery Thursday now instead of 4-6 weeks. So praise the Lord!

After lots of tests, CT scans and x-rays. They confirmed it was a tumor. Then the Dr. tells me that 90% of tumors in the kidney are cancer. That still hasn’t hit me yet.

So that week was a blur. They removed the kidney laparoscopically. But the Dr. has never seen a tumor that big inside a kidney. So they had to make a bigger cut to get it out whole. He says it looks like it was all inside, but they also removed 2 glands that were swollen. We are praying those glands didn’t have cancer in them. If they were swollen because of what was going on with my body, then we are lucky. I just know when the doctor told me 20% chance for complications I imagined it could be the last time to see anyone. I kissed my daughter and wife and family goodbye and prayed that God would take the surgery over. He did.

I left the hospital Sunday afternoon. So now I sit here at home watching monday night football with my baby girl and I have a tube and pump coming out of my side (I go tomorrow to remove it). I’m in a lot of pain and it hurts to breathe standing up. I honestly cant stand and talk at the same time because I can’t breathe.

We are now waiting for 2-3 weeks to get the biopsy back and see if those glands have cancer which would mean the cancer is in my body. If so, through pulling some strings, I hope to be in chemo in January. If not, then praise the Lord!

So that’s the whole story. The hospital food was horrible. I can’t eat like a pig anymore because my 1 kidney can’t handle 4 cheeseburgers at once. So A lot is changing. But please continue to pray about this biopsy. I could have a long road ahead of me if the results are not good….

Thanks for all of your prayers. Love you all. And God Bless You!

ps…. I will say this. Once everything got moving, the military hospital treated me very well. I did pay for a private room, but the care and nurse attention during my week there was wonderful. I highly recommend it!

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Ministry Part 2.

Hey everyone,

Here’s a look at our ministry for those of you wondering what is a typical day!

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Flood 2.0

So I get a message during school saying “The house is flooded.” I had a little chuckle inside for a minute because we only had a few sprinkles at the school. I thought my wife was being sarcastic….. I wish i was right….

After talking to my wife, I get a teacher to cover my Biblical Ethics class and run to my car. The whole time I was imagining the flood from 2 years ago. We lost everything two years ago. I was praying it wasn’t as bad.

Praise God it wasn’t…..

When i got there, there was 3 ft. of water in the house. It had just stopped raining and the water was starting to go down. Unfortunately, all of this water is sewage, so everything smelled like rotten garbage. After a couple hours of cleaning and sweeping the water out, the smell was all we had left. After multiple gallons of bleach and some bottles of pine sol, we took inventory of what the damage was. A dresser, Mattress, and some book shelves were soaked and the particle board absorbed all that wonderful water and smell. They are in the trash. Soon we realize the Fridge is dead. Finally we open a bookshelf cabinet and see our school books and a lot of craft supplies are water logged. That actually gave me a sigh or relief. Praise God it came during the day and we got most stuff up onto the tables and salvaged most, especially the food for the kids. Once all is said and done, we probably lost only about $1,000-$2,000 worth of stuff and a lot of my time trying to replace everything. We can replace stuff…. we can’t replace people. It could have been worse.

I am putting the pictures and videos below. The video is of our street in front of our house. The pictures I took after the water has gone down a bit since I was trying to save stuff.

If you are interested in helping us get the project up and running, please feel free to donate by clicking the donate page up above. Again….. what a mess, but praise God it wasn’t worse.

 

 

 

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My Ministries

I’ve been asked about what all do I do down here. So here is a 3 part tour of my 3 ministries I run/work with. First is my Morning/Afternoon job at School!

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The “facts” of life!

Did you ever watch that show “The Facts of Life” back in the day? Or even the Cosby Show? It amazed me how those houses were always a calm chaos. They had so many kids running around, that it is amazing that the parents didn’t go insane. I feel like my life is like that right now, and I only have 1 daughter!

Life has been crazy. Since last time I have talked to you, I have been to Mardi Gras, Panama City, and a middle school retreat. I have barely had time to sit down and think let alone write. But there is so much to say, so here it goes!!!!

The project is going well. I am revamping the sponsorship program. We have a lot of new kids and I have about 25 that are looking to be sponsored. We really need to find some sponsors. Financially, it has been a down year so far. One of our bigger sponsors backed out last year due to business regulations. So we received all we could from them. That left a really big hole. People hear me talk about my job at school. It is a missionary school where the funding to live in Nicaragua is still raised by each teacher. I make just enough at this school to cover the rent each month. It isn’t quite like a teaching job in the states. So it has been a struggle and we keep talking about cutting the food program. Each time we get in this position I feel that it’s so important to the kids, that I just trust God will provide. He has so far, but it’s living month to month now where as in previous years we’ve been comfortable in able to spend more for the kids. Right now we have a hold on any activities for the project and any extra spending until we can bounce back with some support. One of the easiest ways is through child sponsorship. So for $30 a month, you can make a huge difference.18278542_10109635442288335_6987544510903525713_o

Margarita is enjoying being in charge in the project. Although we are really waiting to get through 2 more years and then Mia will be in pre-school so Margarita can find a job to bring in some extra income. That’s about it as far as how the project is going.

So in other news….

Yes, I went to Mardi Gras for the first time in February. It’s not what you think. 🙂 A pastor flew me there to be a part of a mens mission trip. We were in New Orleans dressed as clowns and walking around the parade spreading the gospel. I passed out thousands of tracks, had some amazing conversations, and was able to be in the presence of a lot of Godly men for a weekend. It was one of the most amazing trips I’ve taken. What a challenge it was trying to tell people about the love of God, when a lot of them were only there to party hard. God did some amazing things and really took control over the weekend and we glorified Him in all we did. I was also able to preach about missions and what I do in Nicaragua. It was awesome!18278546_10109635427717535_255803666278794261_o

In March our school took a group of 15 High schoolers to Panama City (Panama). I am one of the leaders of our Debate team here. The kids participated in Hacia Democracy which is kind of like a model U.N debate. They have been working for months and prepare many stances on situations and come together to debate in Panama. It was a cool experience. Not only did I get to go to another country I’ve never been to, but I loved seeing the passion in our kids as they loved learning and striving to be the best they could.18278210_10109635430761435_8264385042208906924_o

I came back from Panama and a week later left on the Middle School retreat that was on the banks of Lake Nicaragua. As the head of worship for the youth group, I get to participate in these great youth events. It has kept me busy, but I have really been able to form some amazing relationships with some students. It is a completely different form of evangelism than in my project. I love being able to have 2 different ministries down here…. our project and then my ministry with kids at a Christian School.18319326_10109635436195545_7051165088412676893_o

We are in the last month of school, so we will be coming home for summer break. As of now I will be in Columbus for a week in June, hopefully a St. Louis-southern Illinois/Murray trip for a week, and then finish up in Savannah. We have a lot of support to raise and I hope I can even find a business or two that would be interested in supporting us.

I have a friend who wants to throw a “Donation Dinner” for us where we go to their house and they invite a handful of couples and I present what we do. If you would be interested in doing something similar to help us out, please let me know. We are up for anything. We will not be leaving Nicaragua. If donations don’t improve, the project will have to have some cuts and I don’t want to do that. These kids need us and a safe place to learn, eat, and be loved on. Please let me know also if maybe your church would like to have me come and talk. I love telling people about what’s going on down here. We have so many ways to get people involved, I would love to inform a church about ways to serve overseas.

Finally thank you for all your support. The prayers and donations are so important. We couldn’t be running this project without you all! Thank you for being the hands and feet of Christ in Nicaragua. It isn’t just me that is down here…. it’s all of you too!

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God Bless you all and take care,

The Seipel’s

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What’s Happening!

We are off and running! I hope everyone has had a great start to 2017. I can’t believe how fast it’s going already. It’s been a whirlwind down here in Nicaragua. With the start of February also comes the start of the Nicaraguan school year and another year of our project. I am excited this year more than ever. But with that excitement comes some struggles and sadness. As I was getting Backpacks and school supplies ready for all of the kids, I was praying a lot. I was praying for the children. I pray for the ones we have HAD. I pray for the ones we HAVE. I pray for the ones we WILL HAVE this year. Every new year brings change. It is sad, but it always happens. As the kids get older, they start valuing education less and less. We always lose some wonderful older middle school and high school kids each year. Some we lose to the idea that playing is the street is a lot more fun than studying. Some we lose to the idea of having a boyfriend or girlfriend at 13 years old and hanging out instead of the project is more enticing. Some we lose to parents who take their child out of school or our project and want them washing windows at the intersection for extra money to support the family. It’s hard. This year we didn’t lose as many, but some of them were children that have been a part of our project since the beginning. It’s hard. I ask that you pray for these youth and that God will continue to water that seed of the Gospel that has been planted in their hearts. I ask you to pray for their safety and protecting from the alcohol, drugs, and criminal life that is so present outside the walls of our project. Please send us some prayers as we transition.

PLEASE PRAY!
As that is happening, we have children pouring into the project. New faces that have been trying to join us for a while but we have been full. Kids that are excited to be a part of something that loves them. To feel like they are loved and that they are safe…. that’s my goal. Please pray for the new faces. To our youngest 4 year old nephew to our only senior in high school….. we have such a gap we are reaching. I hope and pray that God can use us to touch all ages.

Back-To-School!
So I provided backpacks and a lot of school supplies/books/uniforms for school this year. It was a very expensive and once a year cost. If you have been blessed and would like to help cover that cost, we would be grateful. The kids are excited to be starting another year. They are embracing change. I love seeing what God does each and every day!

Thanks Julio!!!
Speaking of change. Our cook/cleaning/everything/most importantly brother in law, Julio, has left us. He has been wanting to find a full-time job that obviously pays more than our half-day job. So we hope for the best for him as he looks for a job. Margarita’s mother has taken over as she would like the extra income with her youngest son helping run some errands here and there. So far so good. After all, she did teach Julio how to cook so I’m not too worried about her. I just pray for her health as she often has back issues.

Child Sponsorship!!!
With all of these changes, we have changes to our sponsorship program. I have been waiting to see which children would be leaving. Now with a week in the books, I will be emailing a handful of sponsors and letting them know the bad news about their child leaving. At the same time….. we have not only new kids, but probably half of our project that needs sponsors. The sponsorships are what pay for the workers, the food we provide, our school supplies for the year, activities, and any other resources we need. Please pray about sponsoring a child. We had a pretty hard year financially last year. Donations were down, so we are needing any help you could spare. We have battled with debating on continuing the feeding program or not. I keep trusting in God though. He will provide. It’s hard sometimes, because I have had to dip into personal savings and money to cover project cost many times.

Congrats Natalia!!!

I am really proud of one student in particular. Natalia is our only Senior and was a part of our project from day 1. She is starting her last year and I have always promised the kids that if they graduate high school while in the project, I’ll pay for their college and give them a scholarship. I am excited about this opportunity for her. She reminded me about it the other day. She asked if I was serious about paying for her college and i said Heck yeah I am!!! You go girl!!!

Margarita is Rockin it!
Margarita has pretty much taken over as director of the project as I deal with the finances and administration stuff. She is really enjoying it. I can see she loves having a “purpose” and feels like she is making a difference. When we first started it, she felt like she was an outsider looking in. Now this is her baby and I’m here to support her. I am very proud of her!

Nicaragua Christian Academy!
My job at NCA is such a blessing. This year I am even more involved than before. I teach 11th and 12th grade British Literature, 8th grade Bible New Testament class, 9th grade faith and discipleship class, a drama class, and a youth worship class. I am also a college adviser. The youth band leads and plays once a month at a Friday night youth worship service. It is not only fun, but it has gotten me back into my passion of worship. Here is a picture of our youth band Christmas party!

I am also the Worship Chair at International Christian Fellowship. That’s just a fancy word that means I’m in charge of Worship. It is an English speaking church that has mostly foreigners and missionaries. I love it there. I am also doing a student mock UN debate team program called Hacia Democracy. It is run by Harvard and we are taking our kids to a competition in Panama in a few weeks.
I Love my job at NCA. I get to not only work with the older youth which is my passion, but I get to build relationships that lead youth to Christ. I know I have said before, but it’s a school for the missionary children and also for Nicaraguans and others that want a Christian education. I just received my certification the other day too!

I love what Xalted ministries is doing in Nicaragua. It is so much more than I ever imagined. We are reaching and serving the less fortunate with our project, and we are serving, growing, and discipling our leaders of tomorrow at NCA.

FAMILY!!!!

So I’m normally at NCA from 5:30am-3pm. Some nights here and there. So in my free time I’m either at the project in the afternoon or at home with my girls. Mia is growing so fast. Although, I think she is going to be tiny like her mom. She has a very big vocabulary, but she is behind in speech because she is learning 2 languages at the same time. She is sharp as a tack though. I am amazed when i watch her problem solving and her motor skills. I think she is advanced in that area. She LOVES singing and dancing to music. She is going to be like papa and love the arts.

Margarita is wonderful and we just celebrated our 4th anniversary. Praise God she hasn’t got tired of me yet!!! I have been blessed!!!

Less TOM!!!!!!
I am also happy to say I’ve lost 50 lbs in the last 4 months. So I feel great and had to buy some new clothes because I was swimming in my old pants! So I am loving life.

THANK YOU!
Finally a big thank you for all of your prayers and support. This was a hard last year. I hope you pray and consider supporting us this year. Some amazing stuff is happening here. I wish you would even consider visiting and seeing what God is doing. It can be life changing. Please continue to pray for us here in Nicaragua. We praise God that we can be His hands and feet on the ground in this 3rd world country. Your donations keep us here and let that happen. Thank you. We love you!

In Christ,
The Seipel’s

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