Teacups in the Jungle

Life stories from a missionary mama

What’s that noise? We spent three weeks in N.Ireland for Christmas, and Izzy asked me this question ALL day long. I would tell her what the noise was, a car alarm or a radio, a dishwasher or a toaster, it was endless. What were everyday noises to me, were an absolute mystery to her, she had a whole new world to discover! Thankfully Granny and Granda were as happy as can be to share their world with her and on our first morning home the toaster was in top gear….just so Izzy could watch this wonderful “new” machine pop up toasted bread. Amazing!

I have to admit I thought I knew my little girl pretty well, but watching her deal with all our travels and changes in this past month has shown me a side of Izzy I hadn’t seen before. Then again, she had never left her home in the jungle, got on a 17 hour plane ride, had a 6 hour lay over, got on another plane to arrive into a totally different (and much colder) world which we also called “home.” We had to bundle up and so she experienced tights for the first time. We ate potatoes instead of rice, stayed indoors most of the day as it was so cold outside and met a lot of people, who all knew her but she didn’t know them. The sights were different, the smells were different, the language was different (Danny agrees!) and of course biggest change the culture was different. Not to mention the noises must be different too, as this is what she asked about ALL day long. Traveling to our other home rocked her little world.

She has become acquainted with pointing with her lips, calling someone towards you by waving your hand with fingers towards the ground, raising your eyebrows to say hi, and opening your mouth wide, but making no sound, to “ask” someone to repeat what they just said. It all becomes very confusing to a 2 year old to leave that all behind (albeit briefy) just because you step off a plane. We had one moment of a clash of cultures when an eldery lady came to visit us at my parents house. Izzy stood looking at her for a long time and then ran over and “blessed” her as would be appropriate in the Philippines for children to do to an elderly relative or visitor. However in Co.Tyrone N.Ireland, that just doesn’t fly and so I had to explain to the visitors what on earth my child was doing. Of course they saw her heart in it all, despite the action not speaking “their language”. Thankfully for her sake she soon picked up the art of the handshake and a few N.Irish only words, and interesting to me she hardly spoke one word of Tagalog the whole time we were there. Out of context I guess.

It definitely is a peculiar life that we live as missionaries, traveling back and forth within countries and cultures. Wherever we are, there are people we love and people we miss. Looking forward to the next hellos, dreading the goodbyes and trying to live in the moment wherever we are and make it “home”.

Home for us is all about the people we are with, and we loved the three weeks of being with my mum and dad and our friends and family. It was so special and we take back with us so many precious precious memories. My parents got the chance to bond with Izzy and meet Judah for the first time, and in light of that, all the long hours on the plane are more than worth it. To watch Izzy squeal with excitement as my Dad and her played many made up games, or sat on the bottom stair drinking tea (yes very British) together. Seeing her eyes dance with delight as my mum introduced her to the world of wonderful British chocolate….some mornings before she had breakfast! These are little stepping stones to remind her and introduce her to another place, people and culture that our family is part of even though we don’t actually live there.  A lot to experience and also a lot to deal with for little ones. Such is the life of a missionary kid. (M.K.) For me, who grew up in the same house I was born in and had a very stable upbringing, I have a lot to learn about in this area as I try to help our kids through all of these changes. (If any of you have read good books or articles on this subject I would love to read some myself, so send your recommendation my way.)

We loved getting Granny and Granda time….but Izzy was freezing cold in this photo!

Now that we have returned to Palawan, I see Izzy slowly coming back to being Izzy. Mainly due to the fact that she was sick a lot of the time that we were home in N.I. with a horrible stomach flu, she just wasn’t herself.  Our little “island girl” ate her first full meal in a month yesterday…..chicken and rice from a local BBQ restaurant. She ate the same amount that Danny and I did. 🙂 I think she, more than all of us will be glad to be back home in the village. The simplier life, the quieter life and most of all our life, as a family. It is, at this stage in our lives where we totally belong and I am so grateful to be where we are.

The “Izzy-ness” coming back. One of our favourite meals here is BBQ chicken and rice. 

I have to admit I knew what Izzy meant when she kept saying “What’s that noise?”. There isn’t a lot of stillness, quietness or simplicity in our home cultures. We are so busy, so distracted by the temporary, so overwhelmed with the pressures society puts on us to spend, to achieve, to look, act, and behave in a certain way. It is exhausting. It can be so easy to get caught up in the endless cycle of doing more and attaining more, and in it all we have limited time for ourselves, rare quality or quantity time as a family and wonder why we struggle to reflect on God and His Word.  I admire greatly the families that I see putting God and family as priority in their lives in the midst of a very worldly culture that has become the “norm” for so many. There is certainly a lot of other “noise” shouting for attention, and pulling us in so many different directions.

As missionaries living out in a remote location I know that we live without a lot of things that people have at home. No hot water, limited electric, water from a spring, no T.V, no dishwasher or automatic washing machine and on the list goes. I think though from now on I will also add…”and no noise”. Yes, we have noises, don’t get me wrong, wind and rain on a plastic roof can be pretty noisy at night. There is also the continual insect noise that we hear all day and all night. However a local jeepney goes through the village each morning and it still causes people to stop and look! There is noise but it isn’t a noise that drains me or distracts me.

The simple life of jungle living does have it’s own struggles, and its own distractions, but I am going home remembering that living in a home with time and stillness to talk to my Creator each day is something to be very grateful for. To be spending time as a family each day in God’s Word is precious, and the fact that, by God’s grace, we are able to teach others about our glorious Lord, this is a blessing my words cannot describe.

I know as the years go on that my kids may grow up having a hard time bouncing between the various cultures to which they belong. Going from the times of “having” to “not having”. However it is my prayer that as we raise them they will see beyond the things we do without and be grateful for the wonderful things we are blessed with as a missionary family, for there are many.


Written on the side of a house in the village….simple yet true.

Little Man’s first Christmas.

Christmas Morning Cuddles. So fun to have them in cozy pjs. 🙂

So nice to be there for Granda Billy’s Birthday. 

Granny Jen loved getting to meet her little Judah Man. Lots of cuddles for him…..and her.

3 thoughts on “What’s that noise?

  1. Deb says:

    I love your stories. Your attitude is encouraging and so stable. Your priorities as a mom are so precious and it is obvious that you trust the Lord completely with your children.


  2. Thank you Debbie for your kind words. I love to write the blog (it's fun for me) but the posting of it is another thing. I usually wonder if I should post it or not. I have lots of drafts! 🙂


  3. Carole says:

    what a lovely story Philippa, a great insight as to how you live and the changes that the children face.
    We never contemplate or imagine some of the things mentioned, the simple things like culture for the children.
    This is interesting and a reminder of prayer points
    I so enjoy your blog

    God Bless



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