Teacups in the Jungle

Life stories from a missionary mama

Every few months we send out a prayer letter to our friends and supporters. Usually these are the days when we have “something to write home about ‘, get excited about, something to report on and ask people to pray for.  The big news, the outcomes, the praises, and the requests.  Exciting times. These are “Prayer Letter Days” for me. This blog is not so. This is the nitty-gritty, the chance for me to share what everyday looks like. The struggles in ministry, the heart of a Mama trying to figure life out with her little ones in tow, and probably drinking too much coffee along the way!

Tuesday I sent out a prayer letter. The exciting news? An outreach would be starting the next day to a nearby village. This is something that our team has been working on and planning for months, together with the believers here in the village. Preparing lessons, training nights, practising skits, going around the village handing out invitations and praying together. Exciting days.

Now, let me share with you this week’s “In-between the prayer letter moments.”

Wednesday morning the men here in the village arrived at our house an hour before they had agreed to meet. We were all excited and nervous at the same time, not knowing what to expect. The cars where loaded up with the first men who had arrived and then the ladies came and we all headed off to the next village for the first day of outreach. There was a flurry of activity as doors where opened, chairs arranged, posters up. Everything was prepared and ready, the time was coming to begin teaching for the first time in this village from Creation all the way to Christ. An opportunity for people to hear for the first time of God’s power in Creation and His desire to communicate with man from the very beginning.


Silence. 


Waiting.


No people. It was 1pm the time the teaching was to start and three little kids running up the hill were the only people in sight, besides the believers who traveled over with us. 


Some of the believers walked around the village, reminding their friends and family. Today is the day, it is starting now. Nobody said they wouldn’t come, everyone invited said they would be there, after they changed their clothes or once they finished washing the dishes, and yet they didn’t come. 


By 2pm there was now a large crowd of kids who had gathered (their parents had sent them on ahead to represent the family), there were also a good number of ladies and 6 men! From the whole village only 6 men came to the teaching. The reason we had arranged this time of 1pm was to accommodate the men who are out fishing and 1pm was a time that they could apparently come. We were disappointed. We were discouraged. When everything in you longs for people to come to know Christ and they don’t even come to listen to the first lesson, your heart hurts. Your mind searches for reasons. Is it the wrong time? Did we hand out the invitations too quickly and not spend enough time talking to people? Is the venue wrong? What is the reason? Why? 


At 2pm we started the teaching with the group that had come. The believers from our village sat outside so as not to take up space. Some of the people attending were shy and curiously watching through a window but they were there, and for them we are thankful. The believers who came with us were praying and for them we are thankful. The lesson went well, we have things to be thankful for….and yet our hearts are still burdened for those who didn’t come.

Some of the people inside the room. 


When we arrived back home to our village, we got out of the cars and sat in a little purok (an open grass hut meeting house). It felt like we needed to be together, encourage one another, pray together, talk together and listen to our God. 

The ladies tried to find reasons too. “The people in B….. have never been good at attending things on time”. “There are other things on at the minute.” “Lots of them were still cooking lunch.” “Maybe they will all come next time.” 


Then one of the ladies, my dear friend Lilibeth, remembered that they were the same too, when the teaching started here. They didn’t always attend or even want to attend. They missed some of the teaching sessions due to the same reasons the people in the next village had given. We are all the same. Sinful. There is nothing in us as sinful people that seeks after God.
Romans 3:11

11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

His Holiness makes us uncomfortable. His Goodness makes us look bad. His love is so foreign to us, and so as sinful beings we want to avoid Him.

These precious ladies. Standing together in the battle. 


That night a fellow missionary texted Danny to ask how things had gone. “Not as we expected, not the start we had been hoping for.” Danny texted back to him. A little while later our friend who is also in the middle of teaching in the village where they live, texted this back: “Be encouraged buddy it is a battle…Satan is real and he does not give up ground easily, but the same God that created the world by speaking still speaks…keep it up buddy the resistance is a good sign…..the battle is on!”

The Battle is on.” We are in a spiritual battle, we have always known this, but there is nothing that will make you realize this more, than seeing an open space an empty space, silence, when you are waiting for a village of people to come and hear about our God. 


While we were sitting in that purok after coming back to the village here where we live. My co worker Cathy read these verses to the ladies Philippians 1:27-30.


“…I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News”…


“Fighting together for the Good News.”


For this, I am truly grateful. The little gem in the uncertainty of yesterday, was the unity among the believers here. We stood together, we had one Spirit, one purpose, our faith, the Good News.  We are fighting and we are fighting together. Not only for the sake of the people in the next village and their souls for all eternity, but for the Name’s Sake of our precious Lord Jesus Christ, who shed His blood for our sins. We knew it would be a battle, but there has been a wake up call. Satan will not give up his hold easily. He is a deceiver and the eyes of the people in the next village are blinded. They see no need to come. 


I put a photo on Facebook the other morning before we went to the teaching. It was of a little girl in the next village. With the photo I put a request for people to pray. I didn’t know that little girl, I still don’t know her name or who she is, but I found out a little about her yesterday. Her father murdered a man from our village about 10 years ago. He is still in prison. Her mother is with her third husband and needless to say there are many problems in this household. That is one story of one little girl whose picture I randomly took in this one village. Lives held captive and being destroyed by sin. 

Little girl in the next village. 

There is a battle, daily, for the lives of these precious souls.


We are in the beginning of this battle, and we are not giving up. 


Romans 8:31; “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” Verse 38; “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We have God on our side. The God who spoke the world into existence is for us. Amazing! It thrills my heart with praise. God doesn’t change in the days when hundreds come or when one comes. He is not more powerful in the “Prayer Letter Days” or in the many messy, normal or discouraging days in between. He is God. He is faithful. He is constant. He is all-knowing. He is Holy. He is Love and He is more than I can ever imagine or know, but I know this; He is worth fighting for. Jesus is worth the battle wounds. 


We need a mighty work of God. We can’t do it alone. We need the Holy Spirit in all His power to work in the hearts of the people in this village. Jesus Christ our Holy and perfect Saviour shed His blood on the cross so you and I and the people in these little villages in the Philippines could come to God by faith and be able to make peace with God. He paid the price. This wonderful news of the gospel is worth the fight.


These are the days that are in between the quarterly prayletters. These are the days where the real battles take place. We tend to report the victories in the prayer letters because we want to praise God and encourage you our friends for answered prayers. But, please don’t think that there are not hard days, the days when you feel like you have failed, the days when it is 1 o’clock and nobody is there.  They come and sometimes they come often. These are also the, “Prayer Letter Days.” The days when we need you to stand with us in prayer in this battle. Many of you have and we are so grateful. Let’s stand together and stand strong, in unity, with one purpose, for the Good News of Jesus Christ. 


This coming Sunday is Easter Sunday and this Sunday afternoon we plan to teach again. I can think of no better encouragement for my heart today than to remember we serve a RISEN SAVIOUR. He is victorious! He has won the ultimate battle over sin both now and forever, praise His Name. 


He is alive!


It is well with my soul. 


“Lord, forgive me for the days when I start to look at the battle and I take my arms down from worship and adoration of you. Forgive my weaknesses and all my short sightedness. Help me to stand strong, even on the days when nobody comes and it is 1 o’clock.” 


Thanks for listening, I think I write these blogs mainly for me, it helps my heart to think and my mind to breathe. 🙂 


Philippa.

Two of my lovelies. 


2 thoughts on “"In-between the Prayer Letter Days."

  1. Dear Philippa, I happened on your blog when a friend linked it. I'm a pastor in Colorado and just wanted you to know God used you to encourage my wife and me as we head into our Easter weekend. Your faithful commitment to God is deeply encouraging. Don't lose heart. We are all in this ministry of the Gospel together. Satan fights us in hand to hand battle some days. But we know it is worth it when we see God change a life…and change us! Happy Easter and Hod's richest blessings as you continue to labor for him. Bill Oudemolen, Littleton, Colorado

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  2. Deb says:

    Such an inspiring blog, Philippa! I understand you were hoping for many more to come. But when I looked at the picture of the people in the room who did show up, I thought, “Wow, that is a room full!” Sometimes, even in our very privileged church locally, very few will show up. And they have no excuse. So don't lose heart! “It only takes a spark to get a fire going.” (Old song – before your time ☺ ) You guys are doing an awesome job and wearing so many different hats while doing it. I will be praying that every time you go to the next village, there will be more – even if it is just one! And God will meet you there! Truly, I am in awe of your perseverence and obedience. Thank you so much for sharing. Your blog often puts things in perspective for me. So your ministry reaches back to Paso as well as to the village you're in and the next village over. God has very long arms!!

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