Teacups in the Jungle

Life stories from a missionary mama

Well, we are back in town. More sickness, more doctor appointments, more antibiotics, more upheaval in our ministries, more frustrations and so much more grace.

I have to admit, I don’t always recognise “it” (grace) in the midst of the late night fevers, while I am once again carrying ice packs back and forth to Danny as he is rambling and not making sense because of the  malaria. Or, while sitting up at 1am holding Izzy as she deals with her third urinary tract infection (uti) in as many months. To be perfectly honest (and I find honesty so relieving), this past week, while both Danny and Isabela were sick at the same time and I was so exhausted, my mind goes home. Things would be so much easier if we were home. I wouldn’t have to be the one diagnosing and prescribing Izzy her medicines. Danny wouldn’t have malaria again and I could eat lovely food, go out for coffee with my mum and shop. So, at 1am in the morning, as I am holding Isabela and praying that her fever goes down, my mind starts to wander and I begin shopping and walking around my favourite places at home. In N.Ireland, it would be the Linen Green for a latte and a white chocolate and raspberry scone. In the States it would be a “Target-run” with a Starbucks in hand and walking up and down the aisles just looking for the fun of it. When I come out of my little dream world, I feel guilty. I am a missionary and not just a new missionary. I have been on the field 7 years now. Why am I still having a hard time when hard stuff happens? I know God is faithful. I know He has carried us through in all our weaknesses and He has allowed us to be part of something wonderful. Why am I still missing “stuff” from home, when I know that this life is about living for God, for His glory and for eternity?

Because I am me. I have always liked nice things. My mum likes nice things. We have shopped for nice things and have talked about nice things together. A nice cup to drink my coffee out of in the morning is important to me. I could carry my wallet in a plastic bag and it would work, but I love my gold coloured sparkly bag that matches my shoes. I just do. It is part of the person God created me to be. Now out in the jungle, I leave a lot of these things behind. I do carry around a plastic bag. Our furniture is not colour co-ordinated with the walls (actually it is 20 years old and passed on from one missionary to the next). My wardrobe consists of shorts and T-shirts and flip flops, and we eat a very basic and limited menu, as in no white chocolate and raspberry scones. That is just life and when we are busy with ministry, preparing lessons, teaching the ladies, helping with patients, it all works and I hardly notice the mis-matched house and the fact that we eat rice almost every night. It is all good. However when things are hard, when sickness comes again and ministry slows down, I see things differently. There are not so many “nice” things around and I miss them. I feel bad about it. I struggle with myself because of it and I try to get up and “dust myself off” and get on with the job at hand.

This past Monday, we had to drive out of the village. Paul and Cathy drove us to the cement road and then we hired a van to take us the rest of the way. Four hours on the cement road to town with a sleeping baby on your lap gives you a lot of time to think…and pray. And I prayed to the Lord to help with my struggles. I don’t want to just exist here. I want to live the victorious Christian life for my Lord, full of joy and contentment so that when hard times come, I stand strong, convinced of His goodness and His love, no matter what comes our way. This is what we are teaching the people in the village! I pleaded with the Lord to help me be a better example to the people we have come to serve.

One verse came to my mind over and over:
“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” – Col. 3:2

I know it so well. I know so many verses so well. I know where they are and what they mean but sometimes my life feels far from the truth of what I teach. I am thankful for the times God brings this to light. His Word opens my eyes and the Holy Spirit convicts and leads me in all truth. In the van, I confessed my weakness to the Lord. Stuff, nice things. “Lord I know they are not important, I am sorry for allowing myself to spend too much time thinking on these things rather than setting my affections on You and on the things of eternity. Help me Lord to live for You, for Your glory, whether I have or have not, or whether I am at home or in the jungle. Lord it is You and Your Name I want to honour”. After talking to the Lord for a long time, I felt much more at peace and content. Yes, we were still on the way to see the Doctor for Izzy and Danny but I had my priorities straight and my mind was set on “things above, not on things of the earth”.

Fast forward a few days and I have to tell you where grace in all its fullness comes in. In this life of mine, as a weak and ordinary missionary, one thing that has resounded with me over and over again in my life, is the graciousness of God. When I haven’t deserved a thing, He has given so much. Of course, salvation has been the greatest gesture of grace ever known but it hasn’t stopped there. God hasn’t changed and He continues to humble and amaze me with His grace.

I received this week (perfect timing that only the Lord could orchestrate) not 1, but 5 parcels from home! Four from some dear ladies in First Baptist Church of Paso Robles and one from my mum (which was all for Izzy!).

Packages of Love.

I nearly cried as I opened these “packages of love” filled with goodies, a bottle of perfume, a new tablecloth, pretty napkins for Thanksgiving and Christmas, bags of nuts, dried fruit, sweets, a journal, Cd’s, tea bags, coffee and on and on the list goes. Basically LOTS AND LOTS OF NICE THINGS. I said “Lord I just gave this all up to You.” In my heart I felt the graciousness of God, who gives things to us that we don’t deserve, things that we don’t need, just because He is a loving and gracious God who longs for us to understand more of who He is. What was precious to me was the timing of everything. A four hour van ride prepared my heart to accept these gifts, not as a “cure” for my longings but just as gifts from a Heavenly Father who is the only One who can ever meet my longings and needs. I am so grateful for the Lord’s patience with me as I learn and re-learn and re-learn so many truths from the Scriptures.

Thank you to all who pray for us. We have needed your prayers this week. To the dear ladies who sent these packages, you know who you are and I hope you know that God used you in a very tender way to teach and bless my heart this week. I am so grateful for your care and your kindness.

Izzy is loving the swing and feeling better again. 🙂
Off to enjoy a lovely cup of tea from one of the boxes. 

5 thoughts on “Special Delivery of Love and Grace.

  1. Deb says:

    Love reading your blog and I so appreciate your honesty and your soul searching and praise God for His infinite wisdom and His perfect timing.


  2. Jennifer says:

    Ah, Philippa, you are such a beauty! Thank you for your honesty and your inspiration. Thank you so very much for sharing from your heart; and again pointing our hearts to the Lord!


  3. Pip, so sweet to hear how the Lord is working in your heart. Thanks for sharing with such honesty. We were happy to see Danny up and limping around the other night. If those women only knew, as they were packing those packages, how the Lord planned to time them to arrive here!


  4. Pastor Mike says:

    You are a real gift to Gods people… We love you guys and pray for you often…
    Keep up the good attitude and continue to serve Him with Joy. Thanks for you love and open heart
    10 Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:8-10
    Pastor Mike


  5. Carole says:

    what a joy to read this .
    The Lord always knows our needs, and funny when we most need it there is always a verse .
    Heb 4 v 16


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