We have been here in Manila just over a week and I wish I could say we are all settled into city life, but honestly it has been a hard move for me this time, I miss the village very much. My mind has been going through the “village schedule” even though I am not physically there. Wednesday afternoon 3pm I was wondering how the ladies were getting on at the Bible Study. 7.30 each morning I am thinking that the girls would be arriving at our house and we would be chatting before our busy days start. Izzy misses it too, when we get in the car she says the name of the village and the names of the ladies who are very dear to us in our house. Ate Beth, Ate Beth (yes both have the same name) and Ate Leah. We are so happy for the reason we are here -to meet our sweet baby next month but the waiting time is hard.
The past few days my mind has been going back and forth from city to jungle, but tonight after I received a text message, not just my thoughts but also my prayers and my heart went home to the village. My good friend Ate Beth texted to say her mother had just passed away. My heart sank, we had often talked about her fear of losing her mom, and how hard it would be for her if and when that happened. I feel SO sad for her and wish I was there with her, to just be with her while she is hurting and to help to encourage her through this time. I wrote a blog post about her and her mother last year, her mom’s name was Ate Merlina and they were very close. Her mother has been her support system for years while husbands have come and gone in her life. Ate Merlina has been sick for years with TB and complications from TB, it really isn’t a shock that she has died but that is no comfort to Ate Beth tonight. Her text tonight said “I can’t handle it Pip that Mama is now gone…”
I tried as best as I could to comfort and encourage her, which is hard in a text, and then even harder in another language. I promised her we were praying and gave her some verses to read in Scripture. We left the village 12 days ago, I couldn’t help wishing we were either still there, or this had happened before we left. It would be so much easier to help if we were tight there. However, this is not the first time I have experienced this feeling of “wishing I was there” while hardships are happening to our friends. There have been a few times when difficult things have happened and we have not been in the village. In one case we were just gone for the day when a “tragedy” occurred. However when I look back at those times God ALWAYS had a purpose in us not being there. HE was the one who He wanted the people to run to and turn to for the comfort and help, not to me or Danny or anyone else. Sometimes God takes us out of the picture so He can be the only one to give help and comfort. To teach His dear children that He is our only source of hope and peace in the midst of dark days. To teach lasting eternal truth which can sometimes only be learned in the hardest and loneliest of hours.
Our co workers Paul and Cathy are also not there in the village tonight, they are having car trouble and are stuck in the town for sometime until it can be fixed…not a surprise to the Lord, but all part of His timing and plan. So tonight I know God has a plan for Ate Beth and I am praying for her to find comfort in the Lord and from His Word. I pray that this will be a time that she will draw near to God and that she will grow closer to Him and desire to walk with Him and know Him more. I trust that God will reveal more of who He is to her and that she will be strengthened in her faith both tonight and in the days to come.
I think of the group of believers that are there tonight in the village. I am praying that they will love and care for Ate Beth and her family, for her Dad and her brother and sister and their kids. I trust that through their love and care for this family that others will see the love of Christ and that this will be a testimony to the unsaved in the village. I pray that they will see unity and support from the church, not because the missionaries are there and they have organized it, but that it will be evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those who are children of God.
|Ate Merlina (on left) just 12 days ago, the day before we left the village.|
Ate Merlina was at the Pictionary Party we had the day before we left the village. She was laughing with the other ladies at this crazy game we had introduced. Here she is in the photo above that I took that day. She is sitting with her sister Miriam.
Please pray for Lilibeth. She has had a hard, difficult life, and yet she can be the life and joy of a party. She has a wonderful laugh and a sweet spirit. However I know that this will be the most difficult thing she will have faced yet and I trust that God will use it to teach her more of Him. Pray that she will not be in fear tonight or revert to her animistic beliefs from her past, but that God will be her ever present help in this time of trouble and she will experience His truth and Life in ways she has never known before.
Psalm 23 “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil ‘ Praise God for His Word, and for His truth, and I am so thankful that people like Merlina and Lilibeth who live in the “uttermost parts of the world” have had the chance to hear the wonderful news of the gospel. God cares so much for each soul. And sometimes that means He needs to take people (like me) out of the picture so HE can be the only One to draw near to them in their time of need.
It is past midnight and I should be in bed, but sleep was not coming tonight as my mind strayed home to the village. Thank you for praying for these dear friends of ours. I look forward to one day soon sitting at home having coffee with Ate Beth and hearing of what God has done in her life while we have been gone. I am so grateful God allows us to have a small part in this huge task of reaching the “unreached” with the news of the gospel, but I am also so thankful that He doesn’t need me to complete His Work. While I sit here in Manila, He is at work in the hearts and lives of those we have left behind in the village. Completing the work that He has started and accomplishing His great purpose to glorify His Name in every tongue and nation and language. What a wonderful God we serve.
With a lighter heart and sleepier eyes,
Philippa for us all.