Teacups in the Jungle

Life stories from a missionary mama

Earlier today we were out driving around town, Izzy was sitting in the back seat when she suddenly piped up, “Mama, I just want to go home to my house up on the hill.” I smiled, and told her tomorrow we will finally drive home to that house. What I couldn’t tell her just yet, is that we don’t know how long we will be staying there this time.  We are all yearning for our “normal” life but normal isn’t on our calendar anytime soon. In the last post I shared of our emergency flight out of the village and dealing with Izzy being so sick. It has been an ongoing story over these past months and it looks like the Lord isn’t finished with it yet.

Here is a little update on what we found out over these past 2 weeks.

We just returned to Palawan this weekend after 10 days in Manila getting tests done on Izzy at various hospitals around the city. The Lord opened and closed doors to doctor appointments as He saw fit and we are so grateful to have been able to get all the tests completed which were necessary to be able to draw conclusions about Izzy’s condition.

The short of the story is she needs surgery. She has a severe case of reflux from her bladder to her kidney which is causing any urinary tract infection to very easily become a kidney infection. This is the reason why she was so sick last week….and the weeks before. She also has an extra tube (my special medical vocab)  that may need to be removed and to top it all off, they are worried about the overall health of her right kidney. Worst case scenario she may need part of her kidney removed, this is still to be decided in the near future.

It isn’t an emergency surgery but, “the sooner the better” the doctor told us and we totally agree. She will be prone to infections until she has the surgery and until the surgery, she has to be on antibiotics to cut down the risk of causing (further?) damage to her kidney. Time is of the essence in regard to the health of her kidney and then there is the effects of being on antibiotics for so long.

We just found all this out this weekend and so we are still processing and trying to figure out how to move forward with all that we need to do in order to get her the treatment she needs. There is no doubt we will be returning to the States to get this surgery done but there are lots of things that are complicating the decision on what date exactly. The fact I can only be in the States 90 days means we need to have everything well planned from this end so that we do not “waste time” when we get Stateside. There is a lot of communicating we need to do with doctors from this end first. We are also trying to figure out some housing things and a few other practical realities of leaving one home here and heading to another temporary home.

From our ever so limited perspective, this could not be at a worse time for all that is going on in the village with ministry there. We as a team are in the middle of an outreach, our co-workers will be leaving at the end of the month for their planned home assignment, we are meant to be training a young Filipino couple who are hoping to graduate soon from their missionary training. Yet, God has shown us very clearly that Isabela needs this surgery and her health and well being are of utmost priority to us. We know we need to go back to California and follow the Lord as He leads us, no matter how little we understand the timing and the circumstances. Personally speaking, I am sad that it has come to this for Izzy. I was hoping she would never need this surgery and I am disappointed to not be able to look forward to life in the village with my family these next months. It has been in our little home on the hill that we have had the sweetest moments of contentment, fulfillment, joy and just plain and simple family togetherness. I have missed it this past month and I will miss it again. I know it is only for a short while that we are leaving but in some ways it feels like a long time too.

I have found myself saying this to a few friends this week; “We feel like we are between a rock and a hard place.” It seemed the thing to say to express that as much as we need to take Izzy home, we hate to leave the “needs” of the church in the village. Any decision on the timing that we make we feel we are letting somebody down.

Yet, as I laid awake thinking over verses of scripture last night, I know that statement is simply not true. Verses like Jeremiah 29:11 show me otherwise.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

The truth is that as we are following and seeking after God, we are never between a rock and a hard place. Even if our plans lay fallen on a jungle floor or in a hospital waiting room, He is still in control, sovereign, never changing and He is always the bearer of Grace. I can trust Him even when I don’t understand, or when the timing seems so wrong. I can trust Him as I board a plane, get in a car or enter another doctors office knowing each step will lead to the moment when my daughter will be cut open and I have to sit and wait and have no control over anything that will concern her. I can trust Him in another foreign land where I have 90 days ticking down, to remind me yet again, that this world is not my home. We are here upon this earth to live, to love, to worship and adore the precious Lamb of God. My life is not to be the focus of my emotions, my being is only ever because of Him. And I can always look forward to “Home” because of Love poured out on the hill of Calvary.

One of my all time favourite verses Isaiah 26:3-4

“Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.”

The result of a blood test or an ultrasound are not outside of His plans, they are His plans.  As I put these future months of “upheaval” in light of who God is, how can I doubt that this (all of this) is not anything but perfect for every part of my life?  For our sweet Isabela, He is watching over our little one and leading us to seek out help for her to be able to live, God willing, a better and a more healthy life.  And can He not, in this same action be leading a little church in the jungle of the Philippines to also be a healthy Body in Him? Absolutely!  And though I feel like I am constantly uprooted, and life is forever changing, my God knows that it is in is this place of seeking that my heart yearns for Him most of all.  He wants me to find my comfort, my peace and my joy by abiding in Him wherever I am and not just when I am at home up on a hill.

I will end this tonight with yet another gem of God’s grace in the midst of all these unknowns. I love how personal the Lord is in our lives and how He draws us continually to Him. He is always a God to be praised.

This past Thursday we met with the doctor who had performed Izzy’s tests throughout the week. God lead us literally all over the city to finally end up with this guy who we had never met before and yet I have no doubt that we ended up with the doctor whom God wanted us to have all along. He was great. He also knew we would be returning to the States to have the surgery which he told us Izzy would be needing in the, “sooner rather than later.” As we were leaving his office for the last time, he mentioned he had a great friend and colleague who worked at the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles and he wanted us to say hello to him and maybe he could contact this doctor to let him know we were coming there to Los Angeles for surgery. We smiled and agreed to pass on his greeting, however I was totally thinking we would never meet the man in a million years, this is after all LA we are talking about!

Meanwhile we were emailing all our results to a urologist who lived in Danny’s home area in California. He replied confirming Izzy needed surgery as the Manila doctor had recommended but mentioned that he had forwarded all Izzy’s test results to another college of his who worked in the LA Children’s Hospital where Izzy would be having her surgery. As my eyes scanned over the email the doctor’s name in LA simply popped off the screen at me. Yip, same guy as the “friend and colleague” of our Manila doctor! From two distant ends of the globe God connected us to the same doctor in LA! The doctor who will most likely be doing her surgery! My anxious heart was still. My God is in control, He always was and always is, but sometimes He shows us in the smallest ways or coincidences that He is in the details and He will go before us as we trust in Him, even when we don’t understand the timing of it all. We will trust and we will follow and God will make His ways known. He always does.

Why or why do I wonder, except but to be in awe?

Thank you to all who have been praying for us as we have been seeking to get answers to tests and to get to the problem of all Izzy’s infections. You have been a great encouragement to us and we are grateful to each one of you. Please pray with us as we make plans for heading back to California, the right timing in it all and wisdom in planning for the months we are leaving the church in the village.

Izzy has been a little trooper. She actually still likes going to the doctor even after all her visits last week. There is after all, always that hope of a lollipop! Little Judah man will be turning one next week and he is keeping us very much on our toes. Danny and I are tired but relieved to finally know what next step to take in regard to Izzy’s health. God is so gracious and faithful.

Heading to our home up on the hill, for a little while,

A friend sent me this the other day. So convicting. So true. 

Brave little soul. 
Sweet little Judah-man has given us lots of smiles these weeks. 

Taken today. This Papa will be very glad when all these doctor appointments are over with. 

5 thoughts on “Update on Izzy.

  1. Oh Philippa, we are praying for your sweet family and especially for Izzy's health as you begin preparations to head to the States. I love how even in this short time you've already seen evidence of God's hands guiding you – and we know He will continue to do so. Praying, praying – and especially in faith that God will bring you back before too long to be in your little house on the hill. 🙂


  2. God bless that hard place that presses you up against the Rock, Jesus Christ. Pip, the Lord has blessings He is storing up for you in the U.S. that you can't even imagine right now. I'm sure of it.


  3. Oh, I came to those verses this morning in Psalms, Pip! Here they are, with your name on them: out of Psalms 61 & 62 in NLT – From the ends of the earth (the west coast of Palawan??), I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. . . He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken. . . Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. Oh my people,trust in him al all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.

    2000+ years ago, King David wrote some words that sound like they came straight from your heart!


  4. Donna thank you so much for your encouragement. I love these verses so much, however I haven't sat down and read them in a little while, I needed to read those this morning thank you. Really appreciate all your prayers, I know God is working all this out. I even had to laugh a little last night as we arrived home to the village. It is always hard for us to leave our home here, but we are totally out of water and had to bring in drinking water from town. We have a barrel out to catch rain water to wash dishes, bathe, flush the toilet etc….anyway that is going to get real old, so maybe a running tap in California will be my first blessing! Love to you. Pip. xx


  5. A running tap with HOT water, Pip!

    Love you so much.


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