Teacups in the Jungle

Life stories from a missionary mama

We are in Manila! Enjoying the air conditioned rooms, hot showers, coffee at Starbucks, faster internet speeds and sweet fellowship with other missionaries who either live in town (as support workers or language students) or are out of the tribe visiting like us. We have a few appointments to attend to this week both at Immigration (Izzy has to be fingerprinted!) and a few Dr. appointments, it will be a busy week, but a change in pace and scenery is for us a lovely break. We are so grateful for our guesthouses (and the missionaries that run them) it great to have a place to spend some time when we are out of the village. The huge city of Manila has so much to offer, it is a fun place to eat out and shop and there is so much to see and do, but my mind hasn’t been here fully this week, there is a lot going on in the village and my mind keeps going back there to one young lady in particular, and wondering what the next few months will hold for her and how I can help her. I feel like I need to share Karen’s story with you tonight.

 Karen is a young lady who lives in the village. I have known her since she married a young guy, who is a neighbour of ours, about 3 1/2 years ago. She was pregnant when I first met her, but her baby was born premature in the village, and died an hour or so after his birth. A year later, she was pregnant again, and one night went into early labour. Her shy little husband came running to our house, embarrassed to wake us in the middle of the night, but desperate for anything we could do to help his wife and baby. I remember grabbing a few things I thought I might need and praying continually as we ran to their house. I remember climbing the little ladder up to where she was lying and seeing another lady (a local lady who helps deliver babies in the village), putting her whole weight on Karen’s tummy and as is to be expected, the baby was born, just minutes after I got there. The little girl was so tiny, they tried to feed her, tried to keep her warm, but I knew that without the special attention she needed from a hospital she was going to die…and she did, again an hour or so after her birth. Karen wanted to bury the baby out in a special place in the jungle. We had nothing “special” on hand to bury the baby in but I had a box in the house which I ran and got. We wrapped the tiny little baby up and placed her in the box and one of the older men took the box out and buried it for her. It was a heartbreaking experience for me to feel so helpless and useless in the midst of it all. I remember being surprised at the emotion of Karen and her husband, often couples in the village do not really show much emotion to each other, or with each other in public. This particular morning, they lay on the floor of their house, where she had earlier delivered their baby, and they cried, both of them. My heart ached for them both, and I felt so out of my depth in knowing how to comfort them, in a way that was comfort to them, culturally appropraite. I watched as others came to help them, they made jokes and told funny stories. It was their way of trying to lift their spirits and take their mind off what had happened. It was hard for me to watch, even though I knew this was done out of love and care, to me it felt flippant. I remember feeling really annoyed when one lady brought her a little puppy and said she could look after this instead of a baby, but Karen seemed happy with what she brought and perked up as the little puppy played around. It amazed me how quickly everyone wanted to see her get over her loss. Someone mentioned she should eat, and I took that as my cue for something I could do, that would help (both her and me, I needed a little space to think). I went home and made chicken soup with lots of vegetables and brought it back, they were very thankful for it and I was glad to see that her friends had indeed cheered her up and she was doing a little better.

Life went back to normal, her husband went back to working in the rice field and Karen attended to her little vegetable garden and looking after a few pigs, chickens and a goat. Danny and I then went home to the States and N.Ireland, and didn’t return to the village for over a year and a half (due to my pregancy and the birth of little Isabela). I was anxious to see how Karen and her husband were when we returned. She had had a miscarriage when we were gone, but told me that she was pregnant again. I had mixed emotions, happy for her and yet also worried about her and her baby.

Karen and I a few years ago, she is only 20 years old. 

So when we were coming out to town I arranged for her to come too and to get a check up at the Doctor.   Medical services have to be paid for here and so if we do not help with medical things the people in our village would most likely not get the opportunity to see a proper Doctor.

Karen got an ultrasound, and for the first time ever could see her baby moving around, she was so happy. The Dr was very thorough and all on the ultrasound seemed ok. She sent her for lots of tests to check on a wide range of things. Then we went out of coffee, and it was interesting to watch Karen take out the little ultrasound picture, turing it over and over in her hand, looking at the little baby that is moving and growing inside her. The Dr told her, she is nearly sure it is a girl. 🙂

That was a few days ago. Danny and I are now in Manila, seeing to some appointments of our own. Yesterday I got a text from the Dr in Palawan, and my heart sank. She said please bring Karen back, there are some abnormalities that have shown up in the tests. So, I now have to let Karen know she needs to travel back to town, to meet us when we are back in Puerto next week, and we will bring her back to the DR to find out the results of the tests. My heart is hurting for her already, I just hope that there is something that we can still do, to help her have a healthy baby. To see her able to hold her little one in her arms for longer than a few minutes or hours. Please pray for wisdom for the Drs and for us as we seek to help her, but ultimately please pray for the health of her little baby and for Karen in these final months of pregnancy. Just this last week in ladies Bible Study we read Psalm 139 together, God already knows every detail about this little baby as she is being formed in her mother’s womb. He has a plan and a purpose and whatever that may be we will trust in His Sovereign care over them.

Sorry that this is yet again another long post. These people are so precious to us and sharing their lives with you is so important, so you can pray for them, and so you can praise God with us for what He is doing in and through their lives.

Medical work is a big part of our ministry here in the tribe, maybe not something we usually write too much about. Somedays it can honestly seem overwhelming. Today is one of those days, and we appreciate your prayers for wisdom. We often ask ourselves, when do we send someone to hospital? Do we send every person who seems sick? I just heard from our coworkers this week, that a young man we sent out to the hospital last week would have died if we had waited any longer. He is just 22 and got an infection in his foot from rat’s pee while working in the rice fields! The infection (or virus I am not sure which), goes straight to the heart and lungs!  Four people in the village came back today with positive results for TB, and one young man, a single guy who is a believer got news that he has possible lung cancer. His name is Ilyo. Please pray for him, he has no family in the village and is very much on his own with little support, he may have a very difficult road ahead, but we are grateful that he knows his Creator and we know that God will walk with him through this trial.

Ilyo has had TB for a while,but the Dr suspects he may now also have lung cancer. He is a single guy who would  like to help teach the Bible, but he can only speak in a whisper. Please pray for him.

So please pray for Karen, Dundun, Ilyo, Joel, Merlina and Edmund. Just a few of the people in our village who today are going through some hard struggles both physically and spiritually. They cannot thank you personally but we can on their behalf. “Maraming Salamat sa inyo lahat”.

Edmund has TB, but is also struggling spiritually, he hasn’t been to church in over a month. Please pray for him.

In the city, but with a heavy heart for our friends in the village tonight.
Philippa for us all.

2 thoughts on “"Empty Arms". (Karen’s Story).

  1. Melissa says:

    Cried through this one dear friend. 😦 Praying, praying, praying!! Love you so!


  2. Jenny says:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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