Teacups in the Jungle

Life stories from a missionary mama

A few Sundays ago I was getting Izzy and Judah ready for church, and we were running late. She had picked out a favorite dress to wear and was jumping from one foot to the other because it was sprinkling outside, barely, and she was excited to use her new umbrella. As we struggled to get her dress on, we both came to the realization that she has had a growth spurt recently and the dress was now too short and too tight. We needed to choose another dress. As she ran and got another one from her cupboard, little Judah got his shorts and T-shirt on and, as long as his favorite hat is on his head, he is as happy as can be.

Later in the morning, as I stood at the back of church waiting for the service to start, I scanned the kids running in and out of the open door. We give all of Izzy’s and Judah’s clothes to the kids here in the village. The mothers are always so grateful for new-to-them clothes for their little ones. I try not to give clothes to the same families all the time so I was reminding myself of who was younger than Izzy, who I haven’t given something to in a while. It was then that a little girl ran past me, stepping on a sleeping dog’s tail, as she made her way out the front door to play.  I hadn’t thought of this particular little girl, because she is older than Izzy, but I just noticed for the first time that Izzy is now bigger than her, and the dress would fit her perfectly.

A few days later as I was sorting in the house, I folded the dress up and put it in a plastic bag. As I did so, I was explaining to Izzy why we were giving the dress away and how much it would mean to this family. I was also reminding her of the gift she had been given when she first received the dress. This dress was one of our favorites, not just because it was cute, but because it was a gift from a special couple when we went home to N.Ireland for Christmas a year and a half ago.  During our three week trip there, we had lots of special people to meet and see. Family came from near and far and friends dropped by to visit.  One couple who came by a few times was my dear “Auntie Betty” and “Uncle Bill.” They are not actually related to me but have been entitled to these terms of endearment for as long as I can remember. (It has taken Danny just about all of our 13 years of marriage to figure out who my “real” family actually are over there.) On the last night of our trip, Auntie Betty and Uncle Bill came by, for one last cuddle of the babies, and to say goodbye. They brought presents with them and when we opened Izzy’s, inside was this lovely dress. As I thought back to that night, I knew Auntie Betty would be so pleased to know a little girl in the Philippines was now also going to enjoy this sweet dress, too. A gift from her to us, was now going to be passed on, as a gift to someone else. I decided to make sure and get a photo of this little girl in her dress and send it to Auntie Betty. As I sat on the floor, surrounded by piles of clothes I was suddenly found myself feeling very sentimental over one such little dress.

The thing is, I cannot possibly explain in this one blog post all the history that is seeping through until this moment. As I watched Izzy and Judah play with his new little birthday airplanes, my mind traveled back much further than Christmas 2012. Auntie Betty, Uncle Bill and many others like them, have been present throughout the most meaningful times in my life. Every Friday night of my childhood Auntie Betty taught me in Lifeliners. They sit beside us every Sunday in church sharing encouraging words and always noticing if there are new shoes being worn for the first time. Our families have been entertwined with prayer, love, friendship and fellowship and the ties have only grown stronger with time. When I set off to Bible School as a young 19 year old, my Uncle Bill was one of the first people I asked to write my recommendation letter. In the past 17 years since then, they have been constant encouragers, prayer warriors, card senders and some of the first people I look out for on our first Sunday back to church in N.Ireland. They have faithfully passed on the Word of God and the love of Christ to me and many others their whole lives. It hasn’t always been in the big upfront kind of way, but in the holding open of church doors on a Sunday morning, patting a tired shoulder while handing out a hymn book, making a phone call before a big test at school or sending a handmade card. They have been available to the Lord by loving, giving, praying and teaching, through how they lived. Their lives spoke volumes to a little girl who sat in the pew beside them. 

Ephesians 2:8
‘For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”

My Pastor, my parents, and so many other dear folk like Auntie Betty and Uncle Bill, passed on to me that the news of salvation is not to be kept good for Sundays; but it is to be worn, day in and day out, as we walk through this life. The gospel is to be lived out in our homes and the name of Jesus is to be spoken with those who cross our paths. We are in a privileged position everyday, no matter where we live, to be used of God to be the bearer of His marvelous grace. The message of the cross is to be communicated not just from the front of a church or by a missionary in the jungle, but around the dinner table, in the car, across a fence, over a coffee and as a bedtime story; we can never wear out the news of Salvation but we can always pass it on.

2 Corinthians 4:3
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.”

So as I walked with a plastic bag in hand and a little girl skipping by my side, to go pass on a gift that was given to us; I thanked God for faithful men and women, who passed on the message of the gospel to me. For though we should be burdened for unreached people groups over the next mountain or on the other side of the world, it is also true that we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the lady at the bottom of the hill. The one within our reach, who needs to hear, too. There may be a little boy attending Sunday School who needs someone to notice him, and to remember his name every week. How the Lord uses our lives is up to Him; He only asks us to be obedient to His Word by passing on His wonderful message to the world around us. Let us not give up or grow weary by thinking that what we are doing is too small, for the little boy whose name we remember each week may be the very one who will take the message of the gospel over the mountain. Jesus saves, pass it on.

Thanking God for the “Auntie Bettys” and “Uncle Bills” in my life,
Love Philippa.

Romans 1:16
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth….” 

Happy in her new dress! 

One thought on “Wear it well and pass it on.

  1. Oh Philippa, we all have “Auntie Betty's” and “Uncle Bill's” in our lives. Precious, unpretentious, normal people whom you described so beautifully!


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