Teacups in the Jungle

Life stories from a missionary mama

I am so grateful to be able to share the end of this story, with you today. {While I enjoy a cup of tea and a wee bun!}

On Tuesday morning, Danny and I, with the kids in tow, made our way back to Belfast airport, after our few unplanned days in Amsterdam. Danny had every document we may need with us and we had prepared ourselves as best as we could for either outcome which lay before us. We had shared our situation with Isabela and Judah, in case we were facing an immediate separation at the airport. The lines at Immigration were long. We shuffled forward trying to get a glimpse of the people behind the desk, so we could make our choice as to who may be best. (Basically, I was looking for someone who most resembled a teddy bear.) We finally came into view of the desks and I had picked the guy I thought would be best. I definitely didn’t want the guy to his left. However, my heart dropped when I realized that non-EU members were all in one row, which was leading to the guy on the left. As the kids and I sat waiting on a bench, while Danny had to fill out more forms, I had the joy (which led to tears) to hear our little Judah say this; “Izzy, Izzy, we need to pray to Jesus so the man will let us into Mama’s country.” Right there, holding each others hands, sitting on the floor, they had prayed to Jesus and trusted with all their hearts that He would work it out. I prayed over their heads that God would use all these days to press these truths, we talk about, deeply into their hearts.

As Danny completed the forms and we got our bags together, three of the four immigration officers left their posts as there were no more people left in line. One remained; the teddy bear. Even though he wasn’t the one designated for our line, he was the one the Lord had designated for us, and I knew it. Danny moved forward to plead our case. Our hearts were racing as he looked through our paperwork and read our letters. It was at this stage both Izzy and Judah declared they needed to use the bathroom! I left with a security guard to take them to the toilet, grateful for the time to pray and to leave the stressful situation at the booth. When we returned, Danny and I swapped glances, and I knew it was ok. The immigration man listened to our story, he was thorough with his questions, but never questioned us telling the truth, and was even gracious in his manner with us. He stamped our passports for the full 5 1/2 months we plan to be here and wished us all the best. We breathed deep sighs of relief and tears pricked hard at our eyes. We rounded the corner to a group of security men who had already set our bags aside for us, got our stroller/pram up and ready, and warned us there were two very anxious grandparents on the other side of the door. We pushed through the door to squeals of delight from grandchildren, grandparents, a few passerbys, and even a burly security guard. Our answer had come, God had made a way and we were home to stay! There are just no words to describe the gratitude that arose in our hearts, both to the Lord, and to all those who had stood by us, and prayed for us in these past days. We are just so grateful and we give all praise and thanks to our Heavenly Father. The end of this story, was a happily ever after.

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However, as we made our way home and replied to all our messages, I started to think of many who have been praying with us this weekend, who are still in the middle of their stories. Situations that are hard, ongoing, difficult and painful. Stories that have lasted a lot more than four days, and stories that still wait on an outcome. Some stories can never be shared on a Facebook post, or on a blog. They are private, personal, painful and full of disappointment. My heart rejoiced for our own answer, but I was also moved, and challenged, to continue to pray for those, who still wait on theirs.

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I was reminded of a moment last week when for the first time after all our traveling from Manila, we had made our way over to my parents house, the house where I grew up. While we were there, my Mum mentioned a letter of mine she had tucked away safely and wanted me to read. I wrote constantly as a child. I kept a journal, but had a habit of writing special days and thoughts in letter form, and then I would hide it in a book, around my room. Over the years, since I have left home, my Mum has been finding them all over the place, much to her amusement and my embarrassment.

As I held this letter from my past, I recognized the paper, the writing and noted the date at the top; July 21, 1991. I was thirteen then, it was twenty four years ago from when I wrote it.  The topic of the letter was familiar to me, it was a subject that filled pages of my diaries. I was a thirteen year old girl who was struggling to understand why God would be laying the mission field so strongly on her heart. I was a nobody, with nothing to give, and yet, Jesus kept calling me to come and follow Him. Throughout my teenage years I would question, debate, hide from and wrestle with God’s will for my life, but I never doubted what He made so clear to me, time and time again; He wanted me to surrender my life to Him.

This letter though, was a little different from the rest. A little more special to me, and as I read it again, I could picture myself on the very day it took place. I remember where my Dad and I had the conversation, what the weather was like that day as we walked home from church together and, most of all, the deep impact those words he spoke to me had on my heart.

Here is the exert of the bottom of the letter. (Grammar mistakes included.)

“Well today (Sunday 21st 1991) my Dad had to preach. He preached on God using weak people (ordinary people) to do strong things in God’s sight. He said he felt God was calling some younger person to work for Him. I knew it was me. His text was in Isaiah 6 “Here I am Lord.” I was still very amazed to wonder why God is calling me. Though I am willing to work for Him. When we got home Daddy said I have a secret to tell you, “I forgot my sermon.” He said, “I just told God to tell me what to say.”

I let my Dad read this old letter, too. It was the first time he had known of what was going on in my heart that day and how his words, both in the pulpit, and on the way home, had affected me. He recalled too, his feelings from the only time in his whole life when he had left his sermon notes at home. While sitting in the pulpit, he had handed it all over to the Lord, asking God to give him words that would glorify Him. Little did he know that his only daughter, at just 13, would be soaking up every word and handing her life over to the Lord. “Here, I am Lord. Send me.”

My Dad has had a great impact on my spiritual life, not just because of the sermons he preached, but because of the life he lived before me everyday. He didn’t just preach about a life of surrender, he showed me what one looked like with love, joy, peace and so much grace. Conversations over cups of tea, responses and tones to phone calls he made, faithfulness in all the daily little things, dedication in prayer and a grateful heart were showing me what it looked like to follow Jesus with all one’s mind and soul. I didn’t tell him then (I didn’t fully know) the impact he was having on my life. Sometimes it takes 24 years and an old letter to remind us that all the words we speak and the manner in which we live our lives; it matters. I am so grateful that my Dad kept on believing, trusting and pouring into my life, even though I am pretty sure throughout my teenage years, he had no sign of knowing what was going on underneath. He kept praying, kept teaching, continued to be gracious even when I was not, and left me in the Lord’s hands.

I hope sharing this, does not make my Dad too uncomfortable, but sometimes the full story needs to be told, so we can have a better appreciation for the grace that is given through the middle; that God is working in our lives all along. Sometimes He allows us to see the outcomes and sometimes we wait twenty four years to catch glimpses, that what we are doing and saying really matters. Either way, we are to keep living and trusting, knowing that He hears and sees it all and it is the awareness of His presence which makes the difference in every situation. Small words, humble beginnings, faithful prayers and honest answers are not going unnoticed by our gracious Lord Jesus and eternity will hold the greatest wonder and amazement of all; it all mattered to Jesus.

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The question for today is: Are we willing? Are we willing to give it all without knowing the outcome? Are we willing to keep trusting, when we haven’t been given an answer? Are we willing, to place our lives in complete surrender, into the hands of our gracious Heavenly Father?

To those of you, who are still in the middle of your story, take heart. Take heart that Jesus sees you, hears you, cares for you as only your Heavenly Father can, and in just the right time, He will make His way known unto you. Just keep trusting. “When you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.”

With love,

Philippa

Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.  “

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5 thoughts on “The End of the Story and an Old Letter. {Keep Trusting.}

  1. sharyn256 says:

    Reblogged this on sharyn256's Blog and commented:
    Found July 30 while at the Fairfield Marriott hotel in Watertown, NY.

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    1. Jeanie O'keefe says:

      I loved reading Pip about the answer to all our prayers for you over the last few days! OH my I feel the joy in that picture of you with your mum and dad! God is so overwhelmingly Gracious to us his dear children! ENJOY it all! soak it all in Your home country looks absolutely beautiful!!! you and the kids looks great too for being in such an ordeal! God is good! love ya sister say hi to Danny from Dennis and I.

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      1. Thanks so much Jeanie! It is wonderful to hear from you and thank you for your sweet words. We are so grateful for how the Lord has worked on our behalf. Our time at home has become so precious to us. Love to you and Dennis. God Bless!

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  2. outoftheboxmama says:

    This is beautiful. I don’t even know the back part of the story but I sure do love the end. And as someone who is in the middle of the story and not knowing the end and struggling a bit as of late, this really blessed and encouraged me. Thank you!

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    1. I am so glad to hear this Allison. It is so true that the waiting in the middle of the story is often the hardest place to be. I hope you can find rest in the midst of unknowns and cling to God’s grace. Sending a hug, Philippa.

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