Teacups in the Jungle

Life stories from a missionary mama

Well, we are a week back in the village since our return from Puerto, and it has been another busy week. However it is so nice to be home, have our own little routine in the midst of ever changing days and just to be back here with our friends and co workers.

Wednesday afternoon is one of my favourite times of the week. On Wednesdays a group of ladies gather together in our house for a time of prayer and Bible Study. There are usually around 15-18 of us sitting in our living room, sharing our lives, our prayers, and seeking the Lord to teach us new things from His Word. I have been going through a little study with them on the lives of women in the Bible and what we can learn practically for our own spiritual walk with the Lord. This Wednesday past we looked at the lives of Mary and Martha. Mary chose what was the best, while Martha was taken up with the details of the house. I really enjoy teaching the ladies and seeing the truth of God’s Word take hold of their heart. I find that I myself learn so much in the preparing and teaching of each lesson. This past Wednesday was no different, the Lord showed me an area of my heart that has been lacking, and it happened in a way I didn’t expect.

After the lesson we had on Wednesday I asked my friend Lilibeth Lerona (who also works for us at our house) if she would share with us how her mother is, so we could pray for her. Her mother, Ate Merlina has been sick for months. She has a very dangerous strain of TB and has had many complications from this over the past weeks and months. At the minute her heart is swollen, her kidneys are failing and she has pneumonia. As Lilibeth started to share about her mum and what all she has been doing to look after her, the Lord gently prodded my heart, and I realised I had failed Ate Merlina. To hear her daughter share so vividly about the care she has given her mum, reminded me that love is what we need. Love is what Ate Melina needs. Lilibeth has been taking such great care of the mother because she loves her very much and she will do whatever her mum needs to be more comfortable. I may not be her daughter, but the Lord wants me too, to show her love.

Yes, we have been helping Ate Merlina for some time now. I think we have sent her back and forth to the hospital three times now. Paid for her medicines and fares back and forth to the hospital. Sometimes sent her down food or coffee (she loves coffee). I know Ate Melina has appreciated this and appreciated us, but when I ask myself has she felt loved by me? It has troubled my heart.

Lately with all that we have going on, I can get busy with lessons that we are preparing to teach the kids, or lessons for Wednesday afternoon Bible Study. Meeting with our team to decide on things for the future, cooking and baking, emailing and organising, selling medicines and delivering gifts, but I have not LOVE, then this is nothing.

Ate Merlina is only 55 years old.

Yesterday around lunch time, I went to visit Ate Merlina. I took her some food I know she is allowed to eat (she is on a low salt low fat diet). Her daughter and I entered her little house, usually all swept up nice, but lately she hasn’t been well enough to do it. The kitchen wall has fallen down in the last storm, and she doesn’t care. She has laboured breaths and can’t get down her little ladder to see me, so I climb up. She takes my hand and we talk. Not about the hospital or what the doctors have said about her medicines, she has not much hope in it all, she tells me, “Only the Lord can heal me now”. We talked about her life, when she met her husband, how old she is, her kids and her grandkids. Her sister is there too, reading the Bible to her before I arrived, we all laugh together about my early days in the tribe and the silly language mistakes I made. Ate Merlina laughs but starts to cough for a long time and we help her to sit up, her body is so frail, she weighs about 80lbs. Just before we get ready to pray for her, another lady arrived from the ladies group, and brings her some biscuits to snack on. Ate Merlina is very grateful, I can tell she is touched by the love shown to her by the women in the village. I thank the Lord in my heart that He reminded me, that this too is what He wants from me.

We prayed together for ate Merlina. We are trusting God together to provide her every need. Please pray for this dear lady, with so little this world has to offer, her trust is in God alone. She told her family that if at the end she is not able to think for herself, none of them are to call the witchdoctor to help her, she will go to be with God.

Pray for us to be able to show this lady the love of God in these difficult days. This is why we are here in this place; to show His love.

Here is something I was reminded of during the week, it has been years since I read it, but I think the Lord brought it back to my remembrance this week for a reason.

I may be able to speak fluently the language of my chosen field
and even understand its culture,
but if I have no love, the impact of my speech is no more for Christ
than that of a businessman who comes to exploit the people.

I may have the gift of contextualizing God’s word when I deliver it to my hearers,
I may have all knowledge about their customs,
I may have the faith needed to combat witchcraft,
but if I have no love, I am nothing.
I may give everything I have to the poor, to the hungry in the favelas,
I may even give my life for them,
but if I have no love, this does no good.
Love is. . .
thinking in their thought patterns
caring enough to understand their world view,
listening to their questions,
feeling their burdens,
respecting them,
identifying with them in their need,
belonging to them.
Love is eternal.
Cultures pass away.
Dynamic equivalents will change because cultures change.
Patterns of worship and church administration will need revision.
Languages will be altered over time.
Institutions will be replaced.
. . . Because they are not reality.

Since I am finite, I can only study how to express the Message cross-culturally,
trying to free it from my cultural bias.
I am able to do this only in a limited way,
but I pray that the Spirit will use my life to show Christ to those with whom I work.
Meanwhile these remain . . .

Thank you for all your prayers,
Love to you all,

One thought on “"But the greatest of these is love."

  1. Deb says:

    Very convicting! Thanks for sharing, Philippa.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: