Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Video Blog

Hi...  We want to greet you and wish you a Happy New Year. We are cleared from Worldventure and from doctors to return to Mali. We're so excited and ready to go back.
This year has been hard in many ways... but God has been so faithful. My health has been restored.
Lisa was able to close all the affairs of her mothers' estate.. except for taxes...


Thanks for stopping by,
Pray for us as we go back to Mali.
Pray for God to open hearts and minds, and to continue to call Malians to himself.

Tom & Lisa

Tom and Lisa work with Worldventure in Mali, West Africa. If you would like to donate online to help this ministry, click this link: http://worldventure.com/Give/Give-Now.html?id=4569 If you would like to email comments, our email is: tlseward@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tom's Medical evacuation from Mali

This is a picture of Tom convalescing in Bamako with mosquito net handy...

Wow.. I just looked back at the last blog post. I'm amazing it was so long ago.
We have been through a trial by pain and fire since then. And the journey continues.

We probably are remiss because we've not been keeping you up to date on Tom's medical status...
We really have gone through a bad passage, but were encouraged (even today) as we are seeing forward progress.
Both of Toms' knees were really in pain, so for the last week, Tom has needed a walker to get up for short trips... We've been in Bamako seeking treatment. Today... with his right knee 90% back to normal, he was able to walk with a cane, and we went to see the doctor.
Ernie Eadelman arrived on Sunday, and was a bit shocked to see the status of Tom's health... even though we (Tom & Lisa) were pleased with the improvements..
We made the doctor appointment for today, and had decided together with Ernie that while we had considered evacuation, we felt like my health was improving well, and we would hear the doctor's counsel before deciding to leave. We (Tom & Lisa really feel like ministry is at a key point in kadiolo, and are very reluctant to leave unnecessarily.)
Anyway...we saw the doctor... and she took a look at the summary paper Lisa had prepared for her.
She said that Tom really needs more testing than she can do. She says there are many possible reasons that could present Tom's symptoms and she is unwilling to prescribe any more treatment until such diagnoses can be made.
She is recommending a muscle biopsy and an intestinal biopsy for celiac... for starters...
But she says it could be something different that we don't see.
The good news is that Tom has lost a lot of weight and his blood pressure was 110/80 today.... low record for him.....
So we're writing to say that we are following doctors' orders to prepare to evacuate to the USA.
We're not sure if the testing period would be 3 months, 6 months or longer...
We've mixed feelings about leaving the ministry in Kadiolo right now... but we have to put our faith in God, and understand that He has our best at heart.

At this time our options are to go towards Lansing, Mi or Wheaton, Il... (there is a celiac clinic at university of Chicago, but Lisa did not find a simular clinic in the Lansing area..) So we're thinking Wheaton for now...
We'll have to see if maybe someone in the church would be willing to host us for a time there.

Ok... So it is now February 14th, We've arrived in Chicago where our FBC church family is really taking care of us. One family has opened their home in a very kind way. We now begin the process of finding a doctor who can do the testing that our doctor in bamako ordered, and hopefully we'll find some answers so we can move ahead towards better health and less pain.

Thank you so much for praying for us.
God has been so faithful. He provided a business class ticket for Tom for the evacuation. Tom says he didn't need the filet mignon and the other bells and whistles that come with business class, but the seating was exactly what he needed to protect his sore knee joints for the trip. The seats on both flights reclined in such a way that he made the trip with less pain than he'd been feeling for days... Praise the Lord for his provision.
Lisa and Caleb also flew back and are here in Chicago. God made their trip uneventful and easy, as well.
Except for 2 lost suitcases, which we hope will be delivered to our guest home here in Wheaton.

Well, that is the update. I guess the conclusion is this: People don't want to be missionaries to places like africa, because they are scared of this kind of health situation happening. But we are here to witness that God is able, and faithful to take care of all our needs, and if He calls you to some remote part of the world, He does not abandon you there. He is there daily, paving the way, and taking care of us in ways we can't imagine ,but are his ways, so much more perfect than ours.

Praise the Lord, for He is good, His mercies are everlasting,
Tom & Lisa

Tom and Lisa work with Worldventure in Mali, West Africa. If you would like to donate online to help this ministry, click this link: http://worldventure.com/Give/Give-Now.html?id=4569 If you would like to email comments, our email is: tlseward@gmail.com

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas week continued.

Merry Christmas! Last post I told you all about the African side of our Christmas celebration. This one is about December 26th. Our family Christmas celebration. We did presents in the morning. At 1:00 we had guests. We had invited the other missionary family in town, along with their visiting parents, along with a single woman who works with Wycliffe Bible Translators. We enjoyed a good afternoon together.
Our African friends are really tired after their two days of late night celebrations... so the 26th is a great day to  have less visitors, and enjoy some American traditions.

 One of the things on the menu were these gorgeous pork kabobs. Pork, onion, pork, carrot, pork, tomatoe, pork..with an onion near the end to hold them on. I promised Lisa I would make a bbq grill. I took 2 african cookstoves, and welded them together on legs that were tall enough to work on comfortably. We were really pleased with how the bbq came out, and absolutely loved the pork! We also did a chicken. (this poor chicken looked like he was a boston marathon winner.) Anyway, with the offerings of everyone, nobody was turned away hungry, even though there were 14 of us. And we finished with a fun time of playing cards, and sharing together. We realise we need more of those sharing times... it is just so edifying, and encouraging...

So here is a shot of the newly welded bbq. It worked great. Unfortunately, the welder I have is a very good one. But it is also very heavy. When I was putting it away, I pulled a back muscle. So yesterday, last night, and today, I've been in agony with back pain. Please pray that this temporary problem will heal quickly and I could be back on my feet again. It is definately a muscle, and not a disc... so I don't think its permanent...
but I'm hurting...
Back on the cane again... lol....
They're totally gonna be calling me old man again....

Thanks for stopping by, thanks for your prayers, we could not be here, be doing the ministry we're doing with any effectiveness without you.

Tom & Lisa Seward

Tom and Lisa work with Worldventure in Mali, West Africa. If you would like to donate online to help this ministry, click this link: http://worldventure.com/Give/Give-Now.html?id=4569 If you would like to email comments, our email is: tlseward@gmail.com

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas in Kadiolo

Lisa came back from Bamako with Ben. Ben is on a school break from Dakar until January 11th, when he flies back to school. We're pleased to be a 4some family this Christmas, although we miss Hilary being with us.

Another big event this next week is our car purchase. We've agreed to buy a Mercedes 200-c 4 cylander diesel. It is an older one, a 2000 model. But it will be much easier to find mercedes parts in Mali than it was to find parts for our mitsubishi. Another point about driving a mercedes vs any other kind of car is that they are so common here, there must be 20-25 Mercedes here in Kadiolo. (We always want to be aware not to stick out too much when we purchase a house, car, or motorbike... we want to have what the people have...)

Tom goes to Sikasso with the current owner on Tuesday to do the title change.
We thank so many of you who have given, and prayed for a car for us. It worked!
Here is a picture...

This video is from our church in Kadiolo... Men singing Silent Night.. joined by everyone... I bet you never heard words like this to silent night! Video done by Frazees' Papa Harley who is visiting...http://youtu.be/o9Los5FIYsE

This is Christmas week. People here are excited, getting ready for the "fete".  Getting ready means preparing to make a special family meal, preparing a theatre  piece with the other youth, men, or women in your group to share on Christmas Eve's all night party, buying this year's Christmas cloth and having clothes made for everyone in your family before the Christmas party, getting hair done, painting hands and feet with henna.
The Christmas celebration here is focused differently than our American traditions of Christmas. There is not an expectation of a lot of presents. (women consider getting this Christmas cloth their present, and kids are pleased to have new Christmas clothes, sometimes an extra orange...)
The focus of the celebration is church family, not individual families. With eagerness, they come to church Christmas eve, hear a sermon, (I was asked to preach...) then sing a lot, then share their theatre pieces with one another, a lot of celebration and laughter, then a midnight coffee, (cuz you're very very cold at midnight, it might be 65 degrees!!!) Then dancing starts. Now in our tradition dancing may be considered sexual and bad, but here dancing is joy, dancing is worship. Lisa is looking forward to dancing with the ladies... they often go until 3 am.... Then Christmas morning... everyone wakes up... slowly... they come back to church for a morning service, where: you may have guessed it... (They asked me to preach for the morning service, too..... lol) This will be a challenging one to preach, people blinking back sleep the whole time!
Some years there is a potluck following church. But this past year has been a lean year, so everyone will go home to eat with their families instead.

May God bless you and your family this Christmas season.
This year as you celebrate, remember your Christian brothers and sisters worldwide who are also celebrating Christ's birth in their traditional ways!

Thanks for stopping by
Tom & Lisa

Tom and Lisa work with Worldventure in Mali, West Africa. If you would like to donate online to help this ministry, click this link: http://worldventure.com/Give/Give-Now.html?id=4569 If you would like to email comments, our email is: tlseward@gmail.com

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Here is a pic of our Worldventure Mali team, minus one family that is currently in the USA.
We are so pleased to be working with like minded people who have a heart for seeing african brothers and sisters come to Christ, and seeing african churches grow in strength and knowledge...

This past week I did a LOT of mediating. We had a final meeting between 3 african brothers who really had a deep personality conflict. We were able to get to the bottom, and see that it was not once sided, that each had hurt each other. One man said of the other two... I knew I hurt (A.) but I was surprised that (B.) was hurt because I say mean things to him all the time, and he was never hurt before... LOL
I said... that is no way to treat brothers in Christ. "I can be mean to him because he tolerates it." I said we as leaders need to be marked by the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Every man, woman, and child in our church looks to us to model leadership. We want them to see leaders who care about each other (and them). We want them to see that love, kindness, patience, self-control, gentleness, peacefulness, goodness, and perseverance reign in us via the Holy Spirit.
I got off my soapbox, and we went back to... "do you forgive him?" "are you ready to forgive him?" back and forth a bit....
Anyway... God is at work here... and hopefully we grow and learn. Now the problem is that I have to model the fruits of the Holy Spirit too... Lol.... You never can point a finger without four pointing back at you, right?
May God give is the grace to be the men & women of God He calls us to be...

Thanks for stopping by
Tom & Lisa

Tom and Lisa work with Worldventure in Mali, West Africa. If you would like to donate online to help this ministry, click this link: http://worldventure.com/Give/Give-Now.html?id=4569 If you would like to email comments, our email is: tlseward@gmail.com

Friday, December 02, 2011

Busy Week in Kadiolo

This week has been a very busy one in Kadiolo.
We started off last Saturday with a executive committee meeting for Pain de Vie.
(Pain de Vie is the name of the local church association we work with. It means bread of life.)
Our meeting went from 9am to 5pm. There were a lot of important issues to discuss/resolve.
3 hours of it exposed a serious personality conflict between executive team members.
Every night since then I've been meeting with members helping them work towards healthy reconciliation.
Please continue to pray that this happens in a Godly way. I'm encouraged by the direction things have been going in these counseling/encouragement/exhortation meetings... but there is more to do.

Several tough issues were on the table in this executive meeting.

Two of our young village believers would like to move towards pastoral training.
They would like to start right away. But they wanted to go to a non-evangelical Bible school.
(Actually the leader of this school was asked to leave the association of evangelical protestant churches of Mali.) We encouraged these two young men to change their plans and go to the more evangelical school, explaining that they are limiting their future possibilities of serving in a local church. Since most protestant churches in Mali are members of the association of evangelical churches.
We also were concerned about the theology at this other school. They accepted to change their plans, and go to the more evangelical school.

Another issue was related to the drama team. Should the drama team remain independant or should they belong to the Pain de vie association?
It prevailed that the drama team remain autonomous, but that the members of the team continue to be members of the local church, and under local church authority.
(this was a 2.5 hr discussion.)

Another tough issue is related to a church member (not a leader/elder) who has two wives, and is now preparing to marry a 3rd. This is not acceptable in Christian culture, though Mali allows a person to have up to 4 wives. So approaches have been made to him to not go ahead with the marriage. It is looking like discipline will be necessary, sadly enough.

You may know that I (Tom) am not a meeting person. Formal meetings make me nervous. However, God gave me peace & grace to deal with some of these very HOT potatoes,
and all decisions were agreed upon by concensus... although they took a long time debating.
What was neat to me about the meeting was that they treated me like a brother, an insider who knew a lot of the skeletons. They were not shy about
voicing their opinions strongly. (Almost too strongly because some feelings were hurt, and we're working on reconciliation now...)
But it was not a case of "we can't speak in front of the missionary, what will he think of us?" Definately not like that... :D lol.

Other events this week included a visit from our africa director and his wife from Littleton, Colorado. It is always such an encouragement when they come.
We also had our first full team meeting since we've come back, with Requadts and Frazees. We are currently 3 families on the field, with one in the USA hoping to come back to join the work.

We also have people visiting us hoping to sell us cars. We are looking for an older model mercedes. (Used diesel mercedes come down from Europe, after they have 100,000 miles on them. A mercedes in Mali is considered a durable workhorse, a taxi, not a luxury car. Rich people drive toyota... :D Anyway, we're interested in a mercedes because parts are available. As we found out with our last car, a mitsubishi... parts were very hard to get, and very expensive. Imagine a starter motor for $900???? Anyway here is a picture  of one of two cars that were brought by. One is a 1993 and the other is a 1997. We're hoping to get something closer to a 2000-2002. We'll see what God brings... :D

Thanks for praying for us. We could not feel more useful with the church association at this time. OUr relationships are strong from our previous term, and in africa,

relationship really is everything. It is so important, that it cannot be overstated.

Thanks for stopping by today
Tom & Lisa

Tom and Lisa work with Worldventure in Mali, West Africa. If you would like to donate online to help this ministry, click this link: http://worldventure.com/Give/Give-Now.html?id=4569 If you would like to email comments, our email is: tlseward@gmail.com

Friday, November 25, 2011

Best Start/ Worst Start

We've had the best start and the worst start to our time in Kadiolo.
Best because relationships have started out so strong. The church people are so pleased to see us,
we are family to them.

Our neighbor, Bamba, was so pleased to see us. He comes each morning to greet us, and see how I'm
doing. He brought us a huge bag of peanuts... it was nice to have them to welcome visitors with.
(This bamba is not to be confused with sick bamba later on in the post.)

But the downtown guys I played dominoes with surprised me. This is a group of moslems. By all human
reason our relationship should be adversarial. But because of time spent sitting with them playing
dominoes, they were so warm to me! They welcomed me like a brother who's been away, and came home
after a long trip. It is like I didn't miss a beat with them. God is going to use these dominoes for
His glory this year.

A guy came to visit yesterday that we've known for many years now. He has a demon. (Literally, and
the only person I've ever met who was that clearly not himself.)
Anyway he comes, and say's I'm sick.
I say... "bamba, how long have you been sick with this demon now? 5 years?"
he replies "yes."
I say "you've been to every doctor, witchdoctor, Imam you could see, with no results."
"Yes, he says, it has been hard."
I say, "Aren't you tired?"
"Oh, yes, I'm tired."
So I laugh to myself and say to him. "Isn't it time to you came to Jesus? jesus says come to me all
you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest." I continue, "You will never have peace and rest
in your life with this demon in you. Come to Jesus, he will give you your peace and rest and health
back." (I was feeling a bit like a name-it and claim-it Christian saying that... but What Jesus
offers this guy needs...) It was because of the past relationship with Bamba, that I felt able to
unload his need for Jesus in that way. It was because of his past relationship with me that he sat
and discussed with me.
He says, "oh yes, father, son, holy spirit."
I say, "man, you can say the words, but until Jesus is inside you, in your heart, you won't have the
peace that only Jesus gives...."
Conversation trails off as he tries to make sense of what I've been telling him.
I finish with, "You go to see Pastor Karim, and ask him to pray with you. Jesus will come..."
I don't think he's going to do it. He looks so weak and frail, and almost shivering with sickness
and hunger. I don't expect he will live out this year.

It has been the worst start physically for me. I seem to have developed an adult onset of wheat
allergies. I don't know if it is full blown celiac desease, but with it in the family, its a
possibility. Anyway, I've struggled with joint pain since August, particularly in the ankles.
God gave me the gift of being able to travel through all the airports pain free. I got to bamako,
and was bedridden, could not walk for about 4 days. Then we came down to Kadiolo, but I needed a
crutch or a cane to move. I got a bit better, and made my rounds to see everyone. Then I had another
attack... bedridden another 6-7 days. We decided to go wheat free, and relief has come... and I'm on
my feet now. Hopefully, if I'm a good boy and stay away from glutin, I should be ok for a good while
to come.

Anyway, We celebrated thanksgiving. Karin was here, she is translating the Bible into the local
senoufo dialect, she works with SIL/Wycliffe. We also have a new family from WorldVenture here with
us in Kadiolo. We are so pleased to be working with Jeff & Heidi, and helping them learn more about
working with our people. (No, the people don't "belong" to us. But I feel invested in them, like
they are family... and they are....

Here are a couple of friends who came to play with Caleb.
How many kids can you fit into a bucket?

Thanks so much for stopping by,
and we do really need your prayers.

Tom & Lisa

Tom and Lisa work with Worldventure in Mali, West Africa. If you would like to donate online to help this ministry, click this link: http://worldventure.com/Give/Give-Now.html?id=4569 If you would like to email comments, our email is: tlseward@gmail.com