Teacups in the Jungle

Life stories from a missionary mama

Happy Mother’s Day.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day in the U.K. It always catches me by surprise since here in the Philippines and also in the States it is not until May. Then today being 17th March, we all know that it is indeed St.Patrick’s Day in Ireland (though also celebrated in lots of other countries too). I have to admit, and it may be a surprise to many of my American friends, that St.Patrick’s Day was not an important holiday for my family growing up, actually it was just another day, I can’t even remember if we got a day off school or not. I was surprised when I first moved to the States to find lots of St. Patrick’s Day cards in Walmart, green clothes being worn or you got a pinch, and lots of “kiss me I am Irish” T-Shirts. I spent my whole childhood in the north of Ireland and don’t remember any of these! However I have lots of great memories of the emerald isle and think back on my childhood there with very fond memories. It is so true that you really never appreciate somewhere until you grow up and return to it, and then you see it for all its beauty. Now when Danny and I return there every few years we love to travel around and see the sights. Coming back from the tropics we have to wrap up warm to deal with the seemingly constant wind and rain. Here are a few photos we took on our travels the last time we were “home” which was before Isabela was born.

One of our favorite places to visit. The cliffs of Moher. 

We also visited this place where the great Irish poet W.B.Yeats is said to have written many of his poems. I grew up listening to many of these poems both in school and also in my grandparents house. It wasn’t usual for my Granda to give me a pound and a kiss on the cheek for learning a new Yeats poem.

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939).  The Wind Among the Reeds.  1899. 
36. Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven 
HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
         5
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.


Another wonderful view of Ireland……but believe me it is cold and windy. 
But as I sit here today in the jungle on the island of Palawan in the Philippines this is one of the views from N.Ireland that I miss the most…..
The hearth in our living room. Christmas 09. 

This is the house where I grew up and sitting around this hearth has for me so many memories. My mum sits on the right and my Dad on the left and we have spent many hours chatting, sharing, laughing and just being us. Lots of cups of tea set on the tiles (actually I even see one in this photo). We didn’t have a TV in our house, something that now I am thankful for and glad that we don’t have one here in the jungle either. So instead of sitting around the television we sat around a warm fire and talked…..and talked. There were always lots of visitors in our house just dropping in for tea and a wee bun or a sandwich. I learnt a lot watching my and listening to my parents over the years. As today is Mother’s Day, I  will take this opportunity to say how especially thankful I am for my dear wee mum. 
She is not particularly fond of public declares of affection and is more private with her feelings and emotions so I will tread carefully as to not embarrass her. However, sometimes it is good for us to reflect back and see how good God has been to us over our lives, how He has prepared the way for us and often this is through the most influential people in our lives, our parents. Now that we have a family of our own, I feel the weight of responsibility this brings. 
“Ready for the road”. Just to clarify this was not our car! 🙂

My mum is full of energy, still is, and always “ready for the road” as we say at home.  Ready to go somewhere or visit someone. It is never too late or too early and never too far away. If somebody needs her to go somewhere, she is ready at the drop of a hat. So I got around a lot. 🙂 I didn’t learn how to bake or cook, or we didn’t sit and make crafts or do hobbies together. Homework and house work were not on her list of top priorities for me to learn. We didn’t have Bible Studies together or listen to sermons on the radio and yet I learned so much.
I played in the street, with a ball. I shared my bicycle with half of the village, so I could chew their gun while they rode my bike. We walked to the shop and we visited friends. There were no video games, no TV shows and even though it rains all the time, we never noticed it at all, life was outside on the street playing and being kids, doing what kids do best….using our imaginations. 
Even at home in the house with my mum we used our imaginations. I was an only child and so we had each other as company. When I would finish a book I would be so taken up with it, that I would want to be that person for the next week, and my mum would play along. I have vivid memories of reading “Little Women” and then her being “Marmie” and I being “Jo”. We didn’t have a house of girls, but we did that week…or was it a month. Then there was Heidi and Clara from the Swiss Alps and I am nearly sure to this day my mum still thinks Heidi is a real person! However my favorite was a series of books about a French boarding school, and yes our little house in Co.Tyrone N.Ireland became to me a French boarding school, and my dear mum was one of the teachers at the school. We had “study hours” and a bell for tea time, and one day a week we had to speak French, no neither of us speak French…..but in pretend world these things don’t matter! I want to say I was like 8 years old at this stage…..but I wasn’t, I was more like 12, or 14, or sometimes when I go home we could easily slip back into it still!! 
Now years later I find myself in the middle of the jungle, with no TV and no “places to go” but I have to admit that my imagination has no bounds and from our little house here in the tribe I have traveled all over the world! Bored was not a word I was allowed to use growing up. My mum would say that is just a bad habit, saying I was tired was another one. I am thankful for that now as I rarely ever find my self feeling bored. It is a mindset I learnt at an early age. 
Me as a little girl on one of our many family summer holidays. 

My parents both know and love the Lord and for this I am most thankful of all. Jesus Christ was at the center of our home, He wasn’t just mentioned in grace before dinner, but His name was the constant murmur in our home. My mum prayed every morning with me and my friend Gillian before we walked to school, but it was also her constant prayers usually of thankfulness throughout the day that showed me and reminded me that God is a constant companion, a Sovereign God, and one who is involved in the everyday aspects of our lives. We would pull into a parking space and she would say (still says) “Thank you Lord”. She would find a lost letter and I would here, “Thank you Lord”. I wasn’t taught to pray about everything in a Bible Study that we had together on prayer, but I witnessed a life of prayer over the big things and the small that convinced me from an early age, that God is in control, He is listening and He answers prayers. What better training could I received for this life of constant dependence on the Lord on the mission field. I find myself bringing things big and small before the Lord, because I know He cares, and He will be faithful to meet our every need. 
This brings me to the next area that God has taught me much on though my mum. She is not a worrier, at least not an outward one. I know I probably gave her plenty to worry about over the years, (remember that phone call from Edinburgh mum?). She has an attitude of, “it will be all right in the morning’ or “leave it with the Lord, He knows best”. As a child sometimes this came across to me as she didn’t really care,  or was flippant about something.  However now as I look back and have gotten to know her as an adult and a friend, it comes from a heart of great care, but also a real understanding of the character of God. She is right, God will work things out, it may be all fine tomorrow, why waste the strength and joy of today on worries that just bog us down. She has faith, faith in a God who has met our every need, time and time again. If we din’t have something, it was because we didn’t need it, and if we needed it, God would provide. We thanked God for the things we were given, the blessings that came our way, but I never heard my mum pining for things we didn’t have or being discontent with what God had given us. Godliness with contentment is great gain. I know I watched it in our home. 
Again, as I look at my life now and where God has led me too. We live each month depending on what money is sent to us from supporters and friends. We don’t have a fixed income, we don’t know what each month will hold and yet it never causes me to worry. I know God will meet our needs, I have experienced Him supplying our needs in ways not even I could imagine! I thank the Lord for the contentment He has given me to live out here in the jungle, in an environment so different from where I grew up. I didn’t learn all these things though in a 1 1/2 year Bible course or even in missionary training. God had already prepared my heart for these lessons and attitudes around our little hearth in a little village in Co.Tyrone. 
Mum and I in Belfast on one of our many coffee mornings.
My mum may look back and think she should have prepared me more for the life I live. She should have taught me how to cook from scratch and how to blanch vegetables and sew a pair of curtains. I am glad she didn’t waste her time, I wouldn’t have been interested in this back then. I am glad we spent the hours on the roads, chatting and talking, singing to the tapes in the car (no neither of us can sing!) Having coffee out with friends, visiting people in the Old Folks home. This is were I learnt that people and relationships are more important than housework and menu planning. Living a life in a state of thankfulness and contentment is so much more fulfilling than living a life full of achievement and recognition. 
So today, to my dear Mother at home in N.Ireland. I thank God for you and for the things that you taught me without even knowing it. God knew the lessons that I would need to learn for this life on the mission field and He was so gracious to place me in a home with two faithful parents who would continually lead me back to Him. As Dad often says, “the main thing, is to keep the main thing, the main thing”. In our home, Jesus was always “The Main Thing.”  I love you very much and send you a big public hug from the Philippines!!!! 🙂
Happy Mother’s Day. 
Mother, daughter, grand daughter.

Happy Mother’s Day Granny Jen from Isabela Jane. xx

3 thoughts on “Happy Mother’s Day. (U.K.)

  1. Deb says:

    Such a great testimony to your sweet mom! And not only did she prepare you for the mission field, she has prepared you to be an awesome mom yourself.

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  2. So very true Debbie. I am now very aware of the responsibility we have as mums/moms to pass on not just truth in words but also and sometimes more importantly with our actions. I am amazed at just 18months the things Izzy does to copy me! They are little sponges. Hope you are well. Miss you all. 🙂

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  3. Sandy says:

    So sweet Pip. Hope I get a letter like that someday from my kiddos. Raising kids is hard work and sometimes you wonder if you did it right. Not too many more weeks and you will be the mother of “children”…so different than one; but sweet Izzy J. is already used to having to share you a bit so she will do great.

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