Saturday, February 24, 2024

My Strength Comes From the Lord

I was a little disappointed in my recent bloodwork results this past week. While most of my numbers are improving, the snails pace is frustrating when I think of everything I’ve changed in my life and all the extra modalities and supplements I’m using daily. Even though I knew from the beginning that this was not going to be an overnight healing. (Still praying for that miraculous healing though!!) I know that healing the natural way takes time.  I tell people that all the time, so I’m not sure why I expected this journey, this major journey, to be different. 

I was also a little upset about the RGCC test being so difficult and expensive to obtain. This is a blood test that I’ve been trying to obtain  It’s a test out of Greece that is able to determine the type and stage of the cancer as well as give insight to the treatments and supplements that will and will not work with my particular cancer. This test will allow my doctor to better understand what we are dealing with, and also give my future oncologist (if needed) a heads up on which chemotherapy drug would be most effective for my exact cancer cells. 

Unfortunately, this test is not done in the US, and only a handful of doctors are certified by the company in Greece to draw the blood, send it off to Greece properly, and interpret the results.  It is so maddening that this test is out there being used in other countries and helping so many cancer patients around the world, yet almost unknown here in the US where we are suppose to be advanced in everything.  

Add that to the fact that it’s another huge out of pocket expense because it’s not “accepted” in our medical world.  It is so frustrating that I’m forced to pay for medical insurance every month which is not covering a single thing for me. The things that it might cover, like the ultrasound that I am repeating in two weeks, won’t be covered because I can’t find a facility to do it without me having a mammogram and/or biopsy. 

So I went to bed a few nights ago very frustrated and a bit worried about how I can keep going in this journey—-physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially. And then I woke up the next morning to this in my email when I opened it for my daily prayer readings. 

God has been with me this entire time. The nurse even told me at my appointment this week that with such a low red blood cell count, she doesn’t know how I’m able to function. And I just smiled——GOD’s GRACE!! 

All the prayers and God’s grace is what has kept me moving forward these past six months.  He has given me the strength and provisions to get this far. And He sent me this reminder just when I needed it to make sure I remember that He will continue to give me strength and hold me up. 

God is so good!

***If you feel called to pray, share, and donate, thank you!  We pray daily for each person who has donated to my healing fund and each person who is praying for me and this journey

Venmo: @Melissa-Seilhan

PayPal: @tmseilhan

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Blessings in the Midst of Trials

What? Can there be blessings in this? I know that sounds crazy, but I have really been amazed at how God has already been using this illness to bring me blessings. 

The first and the most important blessing has been God drawing me back to Him. Not that I ever left Him, but had been sort of “going through the motions” for awhile. It was kind of like my prayer life was on autopilot— saying the same morning prayers, praying the rosary each night that I’d usually fall asleep during, skimming the daily Mass readings instead of reading and reflecting on them, etc.

Isn’t that how it usually goes? When all is going well in life, we kind of forget how important it truly is to stop and take the time to sincerely seek the Lord and listen to Him. And then disaster hits, and we fall to our knees begging for His mercy, love, compassion, forgiveness, healing, etc. But unlike us, He never “checked us off” His list. He was always there and had been just waiting for us to come back with our whole heart and soul! 

The second biggest blessing has been the new little wellness business I have been able to start. But not because of the money I’m earning, which is helping pay for the actual device I needed, but because of the people I’m meeting through it. Each week, someone new finds me and comes over for a session, and I’m always amazed by the connection we have. 

In the very beginning, God had told me that He was going to use me and this new “trial” for good and that He was going to use me to help others.  I wasn’t sure how He was going to do that and would never have expected it to be through a new business, but He confirmed that it was part of my new mission one day during my Holy Hour. 

I’d spent almost the entire hour asking Him what the plan was and specifically if starting a PEMF business was part of it. After my hour, a different lady relieved me after my hour was up.  She knelt in front of Jesus for a few minutes while I finished up and gathered my things. But before I walked out she stopped me and said, “Melissa, God wants you to know that you are entering a new season in life, and you will be doing something different.” 

My eyes filled with tears as I looked over her head at Jesus in the monstrance and smiled. I thanked her and left feeling confident that He had heard me and confident that this new business was part of His plan for me. I thought it was going to be the way for me to earn the money we needed to pay for the PEMF machine I needed, so that I could do it more often to physically heal myself. I had no idea what a blessing it was going to be for me and the spiritual and emotional healing it was going to bring.  

Through this little side biz,  I have met quite a few people. Many have found physical relief from the PEMF sessions for their aching joints, stomach pain, headaches, and even severe anxiety. But there is something so much greater happening as people enter our house for a session. We are sharing our stories with one another. We are finding connections with each other. We are sharing our faith stories with each other.

I love being a stay at home mom. I love homeschooling my two guys and a few others who have become “mine”. But as any stay-at-home mom will tell you, it is lonely. Having no adult conversation during the day can be so tough for moms. So having adults come in during the day was refreshing in itself. It has been incredible looking back at the last few months and seeing how strangers have become my friends, my prayer warriors, my partners in this mission. 

Another blessing is that I’m learning to slow down and actually rest. I’m learning to let others help even if they don’t do it like I would. I’m learning to give up control. I’m learning to say “no” instead of adding on more and more to my plate to help relieve others’ plates.  I haven’t mastered any of these, but am much better at listening to my body and resting when it has had enough. I’m learning to sit in the quiet and stillness of naptime instead of trying to check a million things off my to-do list. 

And lastly, I am so blessed to be writing again with a new mission. 

My new little prayer and therapy spot. 

If you feel called to pray, share, and donate, thank you!
Venmo: @Melissa-Seilhan
PayPal: @tmseilhan

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Same Family, New Mission

Several months ago, I woke to find a marble sized lump on my left breast. I didn’t pay too much attention because I’ve had them before, and they all ended up being benign cysts. But in the back of my mind I thought, “This one is different. It feels different. It’s in a different location than all the others.” However, I did what I normally do and got out the oils, did more dry brushing, some lymphatic massages, and cut out the one cup of caffeine I had in the morning. But instead of shrinking or going away, this one grew. 

It grew very quickly and became extremely painful in a short amount of time. So, I went in to see my OBGYN. The NP there suggested a mammogram which I refused. I have had them before several times and had just had one a year ago. They always make me go back in for an ultrasound because I have dense breasts, and they can never see anything on the mammogram. We were going to have to pay for this out of pocket, and I didn’t want to waste any money or my time having the mammogram first and then waiting for another call back for the ultrasound. She agreed to just give me orders for an ultrasound which turned out to be useless in our wonderful medical world. 

None of the hospitals or clinics that I called would see me without doing a mammogram first except one, and they didn’t have any available appointments for several months. I took that first available date which still hasn’t arrived yet. But in the meantime, the lump continued to grow in size and the pain became almost unbearable. I found a private clinic that did ultrasound breast screenings and made an appointment the next week to get a “peaceful mind” while I waited for the other scheduled ultrasound.

It did not give me any peace, but instead gave me a “suspicious mass, probable malignancy” report and the suggestion “seek medical attention asap” because they aren’t the experts and can’t give me a diagnosis. So I sent the images and report to my doctor and requested another appointment this time with him and not the NP. During that visit, he also hints around the word “cancer”, but he’s not the expert and can’t diagnose me either. So he referred me to a breast specialist who, by the way, refused to see me without a mammogram and biopsy. 

At this point I was just so frustrated with the medical system and started googling and doing my own research. Me and good ole Google are the ones who figured out that our youngest had MCAS in 2020 when no other specialist could help him. (Another long story for later!) I went down the rabbit hole of cancer research, cancer treatments, and discovered the dark side which I knew existed just not at this particular level. I realized that our adopted son’s sister was right. The biopsy spread the cancer. And the double mastectomy and chemotherapy killed her, not the cancer. 

At this point, the breast center called to bump up my ultrasound appointment. Yay! I arrived only to find that they had me scheduled for a mammogram not the ultrasound I called to schedule. By this point, I have read way too many things about the dangers of mammograms and how other countries are no longer using them. So of course, I refuse and after standing my ground for quite sometime, they agree to do the ultrasound, but there was definitely a shift in their attitude toward me at this point. All the friendly smiles were gone.

After the ultrasound, the doctor came in to talk to me and again the words “highly suspicious” and “highly probable malignancy” were used. He explained how “easy” a biopsy would be, “Just a little snip, snip, snip on the breast and another little snip of the lymph node followed by implanting four little metal pieces called trackers into these four spots.”  I think he was truly shocked when I didn’t immediately schedule that procedure. 

I was already concerned about the one little needle biopsy allowing the cancer to seep out and spread, but he was taking about cutting four pieces off. Yeah, not happening. And then placing metal into those areas to track what happened?? Nope! I’m still detoxing from the heavy metal poisoning from 2020 that we got from our well water. And if you need to put a tracker to watch an area, that tells me something is going to happen there! Not going to happen, at least not in the way he explained and not any time soon!

I went home and dug into the cancer world even deeper, reading testimony after testimony and protocol after protocol from both sides—-the medical side and the alternative, natural side from all over the world! Then I laid it all out in prayer and asked God to help guide me in this journey.  And so far, He has put numerous people, doctors, and alternative therapies in my lap and has revealed to me that He will use this journey, this new mission for the greater good no matter the outcome. I just have to put all my trust in Him and His plan for my life and our family once again.  

So welcome to the newest Seilhan Family Mission: Conquer Cancer! And just like the missions He has given us before, we will need an army of prayer warriors to get us through this as well as financial supporters. Cancer treatment is not cheap or fully covered by insurance no matter the route you take. Besides doctor’s visits, tests, medicines, and treatments, there are other unexpected things like gas to and from the out-of-town appointments and therapy devices to use at home in between appointments and special diets and supplements. And because I am choosing an alternative route, none of the above except my blood work is covered by my insurance.

So here we are, once again, very humbly, asking for your prayers and support for this new mission. We are truly grateful for the prayers and support you have given us in the past. FYI: We still have all of our past benefactors on our prayer list. I pray for you specifically at adoration every Saturday and throughout the week during our family prayers.  

And we will once again ask God to bless you and your families a hundredfold for your kindness and generosity to our family during this new mission. 

Conquering Cancer,

The much bigger, but still crazy Seilhan Family! 

PS If you feel called to pray, share, and donate, thank you!  We have an GoFundMe setup as well as other ways to donate.

Venmo: @Melissa-Seilhan

PayPal: @tmseilhan

CashApp: $MelissaSeilhan

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Where is the Reward?

Besides all the struggles that I shared in my last post with returning “home” from missions, we have had numerous trials come our way since returning stateside. Not that we didn’t have them before or during missions, but man, they hit us hard after missions one right after another. With each one, I have asked “God, haven’t we gone through enough?”

“I mean, we sold everything we had except a few suitcases of necessities and a few boxes left behind in storage with our parents, quit our jobs, left behind our home, our family, our friends, our Church parish, and all that we knew and loved, to serve You on the other side of the world. Can’t we have a break now? Is this our reward for following You?” 

And with each trial we faced and questioned and asked Him to take away, He always replies, “I never said if you followed Me you would have an easy life.”

Sigh. We knew this. We know this. We read about the trials His followers faced in the Bible and the battles that the saints overcame. But it is still hard to accept some days especially the days I let my shield down and let Satan guide my thoughts for a moment.

But I always find my way back to Him who gently reminds me, “I will use this for good too. Wait. Watch. And see.” And I know this too!  With each and every trial we have faced before, during, and after missions, we grew stronger in our faith and in our family and grew closer to God and to each other every time. 

But we are tired of being tested and thrown into battle.  And He knows that, yet, He continues to allow us to go through some very muddy waters and over some steep mountains because He knows what we need to continue on our journey to Heaven more than we do—-and that is to totally depend on Him and seek Him.

He knows that the more we journey back into the real world, the less and less we depend on Him and the further away we drift from Him and each other. So, He allows another mountain to be set before us to draw us back to our knees in front of Him and back to each other. 

And with this newest mountain we are facing, knowing all that I know, I still find myself asking again  “Why? Why me? Why us? Where is our reward?” And He smiles and reminds me, “That the reward is Heaven and this is my and my family’s path there.”

So we pick up this cross too and relearn how to completely surrender it to Him and follow His lead once again.


Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The Hardest Thing I Ever Did

Whew! It’s been awhile since I blogged, seven years actually.  I’ve come to this page a few times over the years to give an update on our life since returning to the states, but it was too hard. 

I used to think that selling everything we owned, totally giving our lives to God, and moving our family to the other side of the world the was the most difficult thing God could ask us to do. But I was wrong.  Leaving the mission field and returning to the states was even harder to do! 

How could coming back to a place with all the modern conveniences, to a place where I knew the language, and to a place where my family and friends were be harder than leaving in the first place? Simple—I changed. Missions changed me. God changed me. I didn’t know it at first. I still felt like me. I still looked like me. But my way of thinking had changed, and mostly importantly, my heart had been transformed. 

I remember the first time I decided to treat myself to a Sonic coke after returning from the Philippines. I was out running errands alone on a rare occasion and realized it was Happy Hour at Sonic which meant half price drinks. Without thinking, I pulled in and ordered and just as I pulled out my dollar to pay, the faces of the poor that came to our gate in the Philippines for rice popped into my head. And without even thinking my brain calculated that the cost of that treat was equal to two kilos of rice,  enough to feed a family a few meals. I pulled over and balled. This would happen anytime I would go to the grocery store, to get gas, basically buy anything.  My brain would immediately turn dollars into pesos and pesos into kilos of rice. And each time my heart would break. 

Weeks later, I went to have Sunday lunch with my extended family after Mass, something that had loved doing since my childhood. I had always looked forward to Sunday dinner with family and loved that we had kept the tradition going for the next generation of kids. But that Sunday was different.  As I watched the enormous amounts of food we had to eat, I thought of all the people we left behind who may not have anything to feed their family that day. My heart ached so much, I could barely eat even though my favorite foods were in front of me. My heart shattered even more as I watched plate after plate of uneaten food be scraped into the trash can.  All I could think of was the hungry kids that I had left behind who probably weren’t going to be eating that day. And here we had wasted enough food to feed a family for a week. 

This kind of thinking slowly overtook my life. I could not enjoy any of the “luxuries” I should have been ecstatic to have back—-air conditioning, hot water, a washing machine & dryer, an oven, my comfortable bed, etc. All I could think of were the moms that I had met, who had become my friends, who were still cooking over an open fire, washing clothes by hand, in the smoldering heat every day. I couldn’t even enjoy my nice soft bed without thinking of those paper thin mats that we had bought for so many that were just laid on the floors of our friends’ and neighbors’ homes. 

No matter how simplified I tried (and still try) to keep our life in the states, it was (and is) still a thousand times better then how the poor in the Philippines and all the other countries we visited are living. My broken heart just continued to shatter more each day as I struggled with one simple question “Why”. Well, tons of of “Why” questions actually. 

Why was I born in a country with such an easy life? Why were those women and their children living the life they were living? Why were all of our needs taken care of? Why didn’t God take care of everyone’s needs? How could God be so unfair? 

The answer every time was GREED. Mine and yours. I had never thought of myself as rich or greedy before missions. We lived simply and gave to the poor or so I thought. But my eyes had been opened to my own selfishness and greed from the very first mission trip we took. The heartache just got worse and worse as time went on as I watched the “fast paced world of luxury and convenience” suck our family back in.

Then reports of death began flooding my inbox.  So many people we had known and had cared for in the Philippines were dying—friends, patients, students, neighbors, the poor we had met a few times. Again the question “Why” took over my mind and heart which was followed by “What if”. So many “what ifs”. What if we were still there? What if we were able to get them to the hospital sooner? What if we were there and had bought the medicines they needed? 

This was my breaking point. Literally. I sought counseling and even checked myself in to a mental hospital to try to get help. But no one understood my pain or my thinking. The counselor just kept telling me how amazing I was for doing what I had done. She wanted to hear all the amazing stories which only brought back the memories that had been haunting me. The mental hospital just wanted to drug me up to forget the pain and heartache. 

At that point, I knew that the only one to help me out of this despair was Jesus. He was the only person that knew the depth of my heartache because His heart ached even more than mine did because He sees the poor, the sick, the dying, the destitution, and the greed of the whole world not just the glimpse He had given me in missions.  He shed so many more tears, even tears of blood, than I had could ever shed and so I didn’t hold back. I told Him how angry I was. I told Him how He should be doing “His” job. I even repeated the Bible verses about Him caring for the poor back to Him. And I even questioned whether He was real or not. Then I sat back and let Him comfort me and speak to my heart and remind me that He still loved me. 

As time went on, my heart started to mend as I dove head first into my new role as mission trip coordinator. A mission trip was where God began to transform our family’s hearts, and I was so happy to help plan life changing trips for others. My new mission was just what I needed to start to feel whole again. But as time went on, God began to putting it on our hearts that another big change was on the horizon.  But we weren’t worried, we had already packed up and left behind our life, our home, and our friends and family twice now, what could possible be harder? 

Well, two years ago, He called us to wrap up our time as full time missionaries and return to our hometown. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but returning home was not anything like I imagined. I never imagined that this would be the hardest and loneliest move of all. 

Even though we had visited our hometown numerous times since returning from the Philippines, we were not prepared for how different things were. Nothing was the same. Nothing was familiar. Nothing was welcoming. Not our new home. Not our home church parish. Not our friends. Not our family. Everyone and everything had continued on without us. 

We didn’t seem to fit back in anywhere because everything and everyone had changed in the seven years we had been gone just as we had changed. We had lived a totally different life and experienced things that no one else could relate to. And everyone else had lived a life and experienced things that we could not relate to. The only people who understood our life were the other missionaries that had become our friends and family who were scattered around the world. 

So, here I am today still struggling with the same thoughts and feelings — homesickness, loneliness, confusion, doubt, sadness, brokenness—-while struggling to not be sucked back into the world. But also knowing that I am so very blessed to have been called to such a life and that I’m crazy enough I’d do it all over again knowing the pain and heartache.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Never Too Young by Emily

This is the final message our 14 year old daughter Emily gave to her peers at our weekly praise and worship gathering. 

Emily and Olivia being prayed over before giving their final messages. 

When I was ten years old, our family went to Mexico on a ten day mission trip. I liked visiting the elderly people in town and bringing food to the poor. I also liked painting some of the houses for the poor and elderly. But I thought that I was too young to share at the ranchos or to tell people about Jesus during the home visits. During desert day, I felt the Lord calling me to do something but I didn't want to listen because I was too young.  (Desert day is a day where we spend time outdoors with the Lord. We pray, read scripture, listen, and observe.)

A few months later, our family went back to Mexico for another mission trip to decide if God was calling us to be full time missionaries. Again, I enjoyed the home visits and the work projects, but was scared when I was asked to share at one of the ranchos. I thought I was still too young to have a testimony or to teach people about Jesus. But at desert day, God sent me to Jeremiah, chapter 1. Verses 4-8 struck me. 
Jeremiah 1:4-8
4 'Now the word of the LORD came to me saying,
5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."
6 Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth."
7 But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a youth'; for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever I command you you shall speak.
8 Be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD."
God was telling ME that I was NOT too young and that He had plans for me to spread His word to other nations. But I was still too shy and afraid, so I put that scripture away. 


Our family became missionaries the next year, we were sent to the Philippines to preach the Gospel and serve the poor. I enjoyed serving the people in Malaybalay through home visits and work projects. But I was still too shy and afraid to do what God was calling me to do. I still thought I was too young. 

Last year while we were back in the states waiting for my brother Luke to be born, Isaac and I went back to Mexico for a short term mission trip. God reminded me on the way of the scripture from Jeremiah that he had given me on my last visit to Mexico. I knew that He was telling me that I was not too young and was going to have to share when asked. I did share my testimony and our family's testimony a few times to individuals and to groups. God helped me just as He promised Jeremiah. 

A few months later, God made it possible for me to go back to Mexico without any of my family with me. I was asked to help lead one of the groups, I was nervous at first, but those verses from Jeremiah came back to remind me that God was sending me to the nations to spread His message and that He would give me the words. And He did. 

When our family came back to the Philippines last year, I tried to overcome my fear and shyness and share my faith with others. And in doing this I made many new friends here that I would not have met if I ignored God's call. 

Always remember that you are never too young to follow God's will. 

Power of Prayer by Olivia

This is a personal testimony about the power of prayer that our 13 year old daughter shared as her final message to her peers at our weekly praise and worship gathering in Camiguin, Philippines. 

  Our team praying over Olivia and Emily before their sharing. 

From before I was born, prayer has been a part of my life. After my sister was born, the doctor told my mom that she shouldn't have any more kids because her two pregnancies were not good. But my mom and dad wanted a lot of kids, so they didn't listen to the doctor. 

When my mom was pregnant with me, she had a lot of problems again. They were scared that I might die before I was born, but my mom and dad and all of their friends and family prayed very hard for me. I was born about one month early and had to stay in the NICU for a few days. While I was there, our friends and family kept praying for me. 

A few days after I got home from the hospital, a tumor like birthmark called a hemangioma began to grow on my upper lip and went inside my mouth and nose. I was not able to eat or breathe very well, so my mom and grandma rushed me back to the hospital. Everyone was praying for me again. I had 21 surgeries, both laser and plastic surgeries, to keep the hemangioma from growing and blocking my breathing. 

The doctors told my mom that I might not have teeth because of the high powered laser that they used on my gums. They also said that I may not be able to talk properly because of the way my lip was split and deformed. But my family and friends prayed harder for me. I had my last surgery when I was four years old. And I am fine now except for this scar that reminds me that God answered all the prayers said for me and saved me. 

Prayer continued to be a big part of my life. When I was a little girl I prayed to be able to travel to the Philippines to meet our sponsored child Ronabel even though my parents said it was impossible. Later, I prayed for my dad to let us be missionaries.  We later became missionaries and were sent to the Philippines! I got to meet Ronabel last year. (Read about it here.)

I also prayed for God to send us another baby.  My parents told me that that was not possible either. But we now have baby Luke ten years later. 

God hears the prayers of the faithful. We just have to keep praying everyday and not give up waiting for God's perfect time. 

Olivia and her friend/translator Idvon

Mark 11:22-24
And Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

When You Get Out of God's Way

Remember, Louie and Fe, two of our cerebral palsy patients whose parents are also handicapped?  If not, read all about them HERE

Louie and Fe in December 2015 when our missionary friends visited them for Christmas.Louie and Fe, December 2015, when our missionary friends visited the family at Christmas. Since then, we missionaries teamed up and have gotten them medical care, provided them with food each week, bought them bedding to lay on, fixed their home, built them bathroom, and hired some to help with their care. 

A month ago, Louie and Fe's father Irenao had a stroke and lost what little movement he had in his legs and lost all motion in his arms and hands. He was in the hospital for a few weeks.  Once he was discharged, he had to stay at his brother's house on the other side of the island since he was no longer able to move around and care for himself. 

I wasn't worried about Louie and Fe during this time because I knew I had done "my part."  I had found a sponsor to pay for a caretaker that had already been tending to the bathing, diapering, and exercising of the kids each day. And we wete taking care of transporting them to the hospital forty-five minutes away once a week for them to get physical therapy. 

Fe practicing sitting up at physical therapy

The physical therapist and Lilay showing some of Louie's exercises to his big sister. 

It wasn't until the physical therapist stopped me at the hospital last week after Louie and Fe's physical therapy visit. He voiced his concerns to me about Louie and Fe regressing the last few weeks instead of progressing. He also asked about who was feeding them now that the papa was not home. Even though the father was unable to walk, he was the one that crawled around in the special kitchen that we had built for him and cooked the food. And he was the one that fed Louie and Fe. I had no idea how to answer the physical therapist because I had even thought about that. Missionary fail #toomanytoocount!. 

Irenao sitting in the new kitchen cooking lunch for the family. 

I quickly began to investigate the situation. Again, too "busy" to actually go over to their home in the mountains near my house. I did learn from my missionary helper, Lilay, that the caretaker had not been going each day twice a day as she was hired to do because of a medical situation in her own family. She had not been there in quite some time and was too shy to tell us. Their mentally handicapped mother had been feeding them each day, but no one had been there to bathe them or to do their physical therapy exercises. 

After hearing this, I did what I am so good at doing, I micromanaged the situation. I had a meeting with the old caretaker and a new one. Not wanting our friend, the original caretaker, to be out of work, I offered her a part time caretaker job. She would take care of her elderly and sickly parents in the morning and go to Louie and Fe's house after lunch to do their exercises. This way we would not have to have the therapist train a new person, and she would still have some steady income and time to care for her own family. 

I had also contacted another friend who was in need of work to take the morning shift which consisted of bathing, diapering, and playing with the two kids. She agreed and was happy to help and have steady work.  I was proud of how quickly "I" solved several of the problems we had been present with recently all at once. 

The next day the new caretaker came to our house to inform us that when she arrived that morning to care for the kids, they were alone in the house. She also began to tell us how the kids had food all over their faces and bodies including in their ears. I had forgotten that besides being mentally handicap, the mother was almost completely blind. She couldn't see well enough to feed the kids. 

My heart sank to the pit of my stomach. I was sick. I had been "too busy" with "other things" in my own life and with other missionary "stuff". I had failed to check on them even after being told they were being neglected once again. I had failed these two kids. I knew from the very beginning that this situation needed a long term plan, but all I had done was get a quick, temporary fix for them.  Missionary fail #ishouldjustquit! 

Travis and I met with our missionary partners who had originally found the kids in the mountain area last year. We began throwing out ideas, but were clueless as to what was actually available here in the Philippines for an entire handicapped family. Family was the key word! They needed family to help them. We decided to visit the papa at his brother's house the next day to possibly bring him home to see the kids which we thought would help speed up his recovery process. We also planned to "check out" his brother's family who had been caring for him. 

We hoped that the situation would look "good enough" for us to ask them to take on Louie and Fe also. But we all knew that was a long shot. Most people here are barely getting by feeding and caring for their own family. No one would agree to take on a family of five especially when four were handicapped and couldn't contribute to the family.  Even if they wanted to help, we figured they would not agree because of the huge financial burden it would add to their family.  So, we also made a list of people to contact to search for a faculty that would take the whole family or at least Louie and Fe. (Yes, I thought about taking them both in and adopting them! But Travis reminded me we  were already drowning in a foreign adoption.)

The next morning we loaded up our boys, the three single missionaries, one of the Philippine missionaries, and Lilay and Jerome, our missionaries-in-training. We headed to the other side of the island and went up and up and up the mountain. On the way, we all prayed that God would be with us and guide this visit and show us what needed to be done. 

When we arrived we found, a fairly large house filled with a lot of people and even had a few piglets running in the house. My heart sank. I thought that  there was no way these people would have room for one more person much less an entire family. But as we got closer to the house, I saw a whole group of people caring for Irenao inside a little hut next to the main house. 

One lady was sitting in the floor feeding him. And another was massaging his hands and trying to get him to grasp his fingers. When he was done eating, some of the men stepped inside to help another lady with the changing of his diaper. The teamwork of this family was awesome, but their compassion was even more amazing.  This is exactly what Louie and Fe needed---a whole team of loving, compassionate caretakers. 

We also quickly realized that we could not take the father home to see his wife and kids like we had planned. So, we sat down with the family to talk. "Come, Holy Spirit" was our silent plea. Within minutes of sitting down to discuss options for Irenao and the kids, the entire extended family---brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, cousins---all agreed to take in the family to help care for them. 

What? We didn't even have to wait for them to discuss it amongst themselves. When we explained that even once Irenao recovered from the stroke would need help with Louie and Fe's care permanently. One asked, "For life?"  We quietly said, "Yes, for life," knowing that those two words would be the deal breaker. "Come, Holy Spirit" barely got out of my mouth as the family all began to eagerly nod their heads saying, "Yes, they can live here for life. And we will all help!"  

I wanted to get up and dance. I wanted to run to the peak of the mountain and shout. I wanted to cry! I wanted to laugh!  I had so many emotions running through me that I had no idea what to do. And I wasn't the only one. One family member began shouting, "Praise the Lord". Irenao and his niece were shedding tears of joy. And our mission leader grabbed her ukelele and began singing! 



We thought the family would need time to discuss the situation and make arrangements, so we planned on moving the family the following week after we returned from bringing other patients to the mainland. But Irenao begged us with tears in his eyes to return with his family that day. And everyone else agreed that they should be moved right away. So, we loaded back in the car and headed down the steep mountain back to the other side of the island where we packed up Louie and Fe and all of their things. 

We made the 45 minute trip back to the other side of the island and went up the steep mountain for the second time that day. We brought the kids in and laid them on the mat next to their Papa. At first, they were unsure about this new place and all of the new faces and voices. But then they heard their father's voice...


UPDATE: Fe and Louie's mother and older sister will be joining them this week after they finish packing up their home. Please be in prayer for everyone involved. Pray that God would help the family to not grow weary in the caretaking of these precious souls, that Irenao will recover fully from the stroke and that his legs would also be healed, that the older sister would make friends easily at her new school, and that God would use these kids and their infectious smiles to bring the family closer to one another and to Him. 

If anyone would like to help the Obedencio family, they could use a few more things to make caring for them a little easier such as a wheelchair for Irenao, two strollers or a double one for Louie and Fe's trips to physical therapy, a small refrigerator/freezer to store ice in for their therapy, and a sponsor for Lea, the older sister's schooling.  To donate, use the link at the top of this blog and type "Obedencio Family" in the comment box. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Change Isn't Always Better

It's Back to School time here! I know that no one back in the states wants to even think about a new school year much less school fees, school supplies, and uniforms, but that's what is happening on our side of the world right now as you enter into your summer vacation.

This year is there will be lots changes taking place in the educational system here in the next two years. This will be the first year that 11th grade will be offered. Next year, 12th will be added. This sounds good in theory. Kids won't be finishing high school at age 15 or 16. Those attending college will be older and a little more mature when they begin and when they graduate. It also means those not going to college won't be hanging out getting into trouble until they can get full time jobs at 18.  

But the adding of two more grades puts an extra burden on many of the families here in the Philippines. This means two more years of school fees, school supplies, and uniforms. Families with older kids are having to make hard decisions about who will be going to school and who will not. It may mean that the younger children will not be able to begin on time because the money will be used for the older sibling to finish.  Or it might mean that the older children will not be able to graduate from high school because the money is needed for the younger siblings to begin school.  It is a tough, no win situation for many families. 

But this new policy has also created a larger scale problem for schools and students.  Many of the schools can't physically hold another grade level. There is simply no room to keep the entire class one more year much less two more years with the upcoming grades entering. So, it became a first come first serve basis for 11th grade registration. Many students were not able to get into a public school 11th grade class. They are also no longer able register for a technical school or college since those are now requiring the full twelve years of schooling. This leaves a great deal of young people stuck with no options. 

Meet 16 year old Graceziel, one student who is stuck, but is determined to get an education and become a P.E. teacher despite having no one, but God, and nothing but her faith. 


We first met Graceziel when we lived in Malaybalay. She lived in our neighborhood with her aunt and became close friends with our two girls. Her mother die when she was 9 years old, and her father left her and her siblings with relatives to find work. He ended up starting a new family in another place and never came back. She, just like Joshua and so many others here, has been shuffled around from relative to relative for most of her life with no stability, no support. But despite the crappy situation she was given, she was and still is one of the most joyous and faith-filled teens I have ever met.  She was always very involved in her church and in her youth group.  When we'd talk about her life situation, she'd always remind me that God would take care of her and her needs. 

She contacted me recently to ask for prayers.  Without the help and support of a parent, she was unable to register for 11th grade. She did not have the money for the registration fee at the time of enrollment. She also had to move out of yet another relative's home, to another town, and into a boarding house that she pays for with the money she earns washing dishes at a restaurant.  Even though she is living completely on her own, supporting herself with a very poor paying job, she managed to save up enough money this summer to pay the registration fee for 11th grade only to discover that it is too late. All of the public schools in her area are full.  The only option she has is a private high school. 

Even that didn't break Graceziel's spirit, she began searching for a private school that still had spots abailable. When she found one and saw the cost, she began searching for scholarships and government aid to help her pay the tuition. When I talked with her this week, she had received a voucher from the government for over half of the tuition. She asked me to please help her pay the registration fee of $130. She then assured me that she would continue to work while attending school to pay the monthly tuition if I could just find someone to sponsor her registration fee.  

This absolutely broke my heart!!  What 16 year old should be washing dishes at night to pay for her own food and rent, living in a boarding house alone with no family while going to high school?  This is the part of mission life that I hate. This is the part that keeps me up at night. This is the part that makes me question my God, my faith, my belief.  This is the part that reminds my why I am still here serving when our two year commitment ended last September.  

If anyone wants to be the answer to Graceziel's prayers, please use this link (Seilhan Family Missions) to donate.  Please type "Graceziel" in the comments box on the donation page. Or mail in a donation to Family Missions Company, 12624 Everglade Road, Abbeville, LA 70510. Please write "TMS-Graceziel" in the memo. 

Her total tuition bill for the semester including the registration fee and monthly tuition is $250.  If you'd like to help her with her monthly rent and food so that she does not have to wash dishes at night, please send us an email ( or message us on Facebook (Seilhan Family Missions).  

Please pray for Graceziel and for all the "Graceziels" out there who are "stuck" without any place to call home and no one to turn to. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Meet Mark Neilson

Mark Neilson is Reymark's three year old cousin. When we first met Mark Neilson when he visited his grandma in Sagay, he was having 20-30 seizures a day. His medication wasn't working to control them, or so we thought. Mark Nielson needed to go back for a followup with the Pediatric Neurologist, but his parents had not yet saved up the money needed to see this private doctor and getting in to see the free government neurologist at the public hospital is just....well we won't go there. That's another rant for another day.
We found out that Mark Neilson had seen the same doctor we had taken Reymart to previously. So, we made the trip to the mainland to meet Mark Neilson and his parents and took him to the pediatric neurologist that he had prescribed the medication he was currently taking but wasn't working or so we thought.
The doctor informed us that the medication was indeed working because Mark Neilson was having 40-50 seizures a day when he first saw him.  The medication had indeed cut the number in half, but this was still not acceptable especially for a child this young.
When we asked what else could be done, the doctor said that Mark Neilson was already taking the highest dosage of the medication allowed. He also mentioned that he had suggested to the parents that Mark Neilson needed some additional testing and brain scans. All of which cost way too much money and could only be done at a private hospital. If the followup appointments were too expensive, then the tests and scans were way too far out of their reach. Mark Neilson's parents had decided to just be thankful for the 20-30 seizures a day versus the 40-50 he had been having. This was NOT ACCEPTABLE TO ME!
Thanks to our benefactors and sponsors we were able to help him get several tests run including the brain scan the next day! During the scan, it was found that Mark Neilson had numerous spots on his brain. The scan was sent off to be read by a specialist on another island. We then pleaded on FB for prayers for Mark Neilson. The good news is that these spots are NOT TUMORS and are NOT CANCER! The bad news is that they are damaged spots which are causing the seizures and will do so for the rest of his life without a miracle from God. (Which we are still praying for!)
The even better news is that after several months and several different medication trials Mark Neilson is down to only 1 or 2 seizures every few days!!!!!! This is HUGE for him and his family! Thank you, JESUS!
The bad news is that this new medicine was prescribed as a "last resort" due to the its extremely high cost. The doctor had been holding off on trying this one even though he thought this would be the correct one, because he knew that the family would never be able to afford it if it did indeed work. But in seeing that we weren't going to stop until we helped this precious boy, he prescribed it and it WORKED!
The total cost of one month's supply is over $250. This is unattainable for this family. Both of Mark Neilson's parents work hard to provide for their family of five, and they even have a relative caring for Mark Nielson for free while they are working. But this is more than they make in a month with two full time jobs.

I have talked with the doctor and with several others including the pharmacy about the cost of this medication, the need for it, and the lack of help for the poor. There is no government support at all. No prescription program. No handouts. No discounts. Nothing! Poor families have to find another way, do without, or settle for less expensive medications that do not work as well or at all. This is the injustice that the poor are served everyday. This is what breaks my heart everyday in missions.
Mark Neilson, Lilay, and Reymark after one of their neurology checkups.
If you feel called/inspired/lead to help us help Mark Neilson, continue to remain almost seizure free. You can donate towards his medication and followup visits at the online here, note in the comment box "Mark Neilson". Or mail a check or money order to Family Missions Company, 12624 Everglade Road, Abbeville, LA 70510. Please note "TMS: Mark Neilson" on the check.