The following is taken from an interview with Valerie Elliot Shepard and Joy Woo. Valerie is the author of our upcoming release, Pilipinto: The Jungle Adventures of a Missionary’s Daughter, which will be available August 2, 2023.

1) Aside from sharing your story through writing, how do you currently spend your time?

Walking, cooking, gardening, reading the Bible and praying, attending a prayer meeting every Wednesday afternoon at our church, watching interesting movies with my husband, trying to write a few letters a week (as opposed to at least 75-100 as my mother did!), and reading some. 

2) How did you come up with the idea to tell your family’s story through Pilipinto?

It was my mother’s idea originally, back in the early ’90s, and she gave me a few clues to refresh my memory. But because of having my children at home and homeschooling, this project really didn’t “get going” until the 2009–2011 years, when all my children had left home. 

3) What was it like to reflect on your past for this project? Did you learn anything about your childhood or your family that you didn’t know before?

It was a fun project because I had such a happy childhood! I’m not sure I learned anything new about my childhood, other than discovering some notes my mother had taken in 1960-63, which were about things I said or did, and they were quite amusing.

4) What is something you hope parents and their children will learn about the Lord as they read Pilipinto?

I sincerely hope that the presence, help, and protection of our heavenly Father and Jesus our tender Shepherd comes out loud and clear. He obviously took care of and protected us in a very unusual setting, and I was oblivious to it, except by listening to my mother’s prayers every night and learning the beautiful old hymn “The Lord’s My Shepherd.” 

I think when parents speak lovingly and seriously about the presence and help of our Savior, it makes a huge impact on their children, and I am so grateful for my mother’s careful, loving, and truthful parenting. She never told me silly untruths or gave promises of what she would do for me that she didn’t follow through with, so I could trust her implicitly! I’m so thankful for that because it created a very secure and happy environment for me! 

5) Do you have a favorite page or illustration from the book?

That’s a very difficult question because most of the pages bring a smile to my face, so it’s hard to say, but one of my favorites is the page with my singing to my Daddy in heaven and the blue butterfly.


“Young ones will learn about the Elliot family and their global influence, not only on the people of an ancient tribe but on Christians around the world. Thank you, Valerie, for telling your family’s remarkable story to yet another generation.”

–Joni Eareckson Tada, Founder, Joni and Friends International Disability Center