Dear Friends, Family, and NICS Support Team:
I know that it hasn’t been too long since I last wrote you, but I wanted to go ahead and get this update out at the beginning of the month. God is so faithful, and I want to do nothing else but glorify Him for the mountains and the valleys that He shepherds me and Courtney through. Surely He leads us beside still waters… except that I think I sometimes miss the bank, jump in the water, and make a mess!
I wrote to you in my last update that Courtney and I were taking a vacation to Bali, and I am excited to say that it was such a blessing. It was, in every sense, a “second honeymoon” that we needed to recharge us. During that time, we were able to just enjoy being with each other and being in Indonesia. Bali is so different from West Java where we live. Rather than being predominantly Muslim, the majority of Indonesians on Bali are actually Hindu, and I’m not sure I really possess the vocabulary in any language to describe what it felt like to be immersed in that. There were stone idols everywhere, and we regularly saw people (even at our hotels) carrying around large trays that held woven containers of rice, incense, and other things. These were placed before the “gods” and just left there.
As you can imagine, neither Courtney nor I cared too much for that part of the trip, and our hearts were burdened for those people. Still, we saw some beautiful parts of the island and got to experience some other parts of the culture. One of the most fun things for me was getting to practice my Indonesian. Again, unlike where we live, many people in the tourist areas of Bali speak English well enough. You can imagine their surprise, then, when this white person comes up to them and starts speaking in Indonesian! We were able to get some great information that way, and we’re already looking forward to another trip back sometime. It’s amazing that for about $5 a day you can rent a motorcycle and just explore. The roads that we traveled on were generally a lot nicer than ones around Bandung, and the island is a lot smaller than Java too. I never was concerned about getting lost, and even if we did, we knew enough landmarks and possessed enough language skills to get us back safely.
Now… we were able to relax and enjoy Bali for the reasons I just described, but there was another big reason that I haven’t mentioned yet. On Wednesday morning, as we were in transit to Jakarta (where we left to fly to Bali), we got a phone call from our administrators at BAIS, and they let us know that a teacher had just accepted Courtney’s position. Courtney will be finished teaching at Christmas break!
And because God is such a grand storyweaver, there is quite the testimony involved in the teacher who is coming. This teacher taught 3rd grade at BAIS for 8 years, and during that time married an Indonesian, had a baby, and then returned to the States with her family. They’ve been in the States for the last year and a half, and while I won’t go into all the details, the timing was perfect for them to be receptive to come back. So from mine and Courtney’s perspective, everything just cries out with the fingerprints of God. Courtney loves her students (and they love her! We just had parent-teacher conferences, and many families expressed how much they hated to see Courtney leave) and it will be hard for her not to teach them anymore, but at the same time, we know that “greater things are still to come,” to quote the Chris Tomlin song.
Returning to the Bali trip, it was very beneficial for me and Courtney to have time to process together what life would look like after she stops teaching. Of course, most of the answer to that is “we really don’t know,” but we were able to confirm our love and support for each other’s works that God has for us. We also were able to take some time and try to deliberately build practices into our marriage that will help us grow together in our unity. While neither of us want to live such self-controlled lives that we never feel like we have freedom to respond to God’s call, we also firmly believe that God calls us to deliberate discipline. You can join in praying for these practices that we have put in place, that God will continue to refine us through them and show us how we can build the foundational blocks of a family that is sold-out to God in lives of worship.
With a heart of rejoicing in God’s sovereignty, I don’t necessarily have a lot of other news or stories to share for this month. Courtney and I are certainly counting down the days until Christmas break, but otherwise I would say things are going well at school. So, hopefully you will not be too offended, but I will save your eyes from the monstrous paragraphs that I tend to write and close with a few sets of lists.
– Sunday is Idul Adha – a holiday in which Muslims sacrifice livestock in remembrance of God providing Abraham a sacrifice in place of Ishmael (this is their version of the history). It’s tough going around and seeing sheep tied up everywhere knowing that the spilling of sacrificial blood is coming. It is also a powerful reminder of just how much we are saved from as Believers, that we don’t have to spill any more blood of sacrifice beyond the blood of Jesus Christ. Pray that God will work in mighty ways to spread that Truth here.
– The Christmas Concert is coming up in just over a month. Praise God that, after last year’s experiences, I am so much more ahead and prepared than last year. My prayer is always that Christ’s redemptive story shines through in the concerts.
– The two high school praise teams are doing well, and I am so challenged and humbled to lead them. I constantly seek God’s wisdom on how to encourage them and also challenge them in their worship leading. I also have a student wanting to join, but it is a complicated situation that is going to take some time and prayer before a decision is reached.
– Please be in prayer for the 5th-8thgrade boys’ Bible study. We have had some unique challenges so far simply in having to miss several times. Because of that, it’s hard for the boys to remember to come when they haven’t had consistency. Attendance has also been down quite a bit. That doesn’t bother me in itself, except I think there are some boys who are stirred to come but for various reasons just haven’t. May it be that God brings exactly who He wants and that I have the words to point them to their Shepherd.
– I have been praying that God will reveal someone who can be a mentor to me in this season of my life. I so desire to be a mentor to students, but God has pressed on my heart that I also need mentoring as well. I have a few ideas for this, so please pray God will work out those details.
– Courtney and I are planning to do a small trip to Jakarta over the Thanksgiving break. We don’t want to plan anything too major, especially since we just went to Bali last month, so pray that it will be a good time to get away, time to rest, and time to focus on finishing out this first semester well.
Courtney and I will be dropping down to one income starting next year. This does not concern us; God has never failed as our provider. Over the years His provisions have taken many forms, and we are grateful that one of those forms has been from your support. We want to continue to extend the opportunity for you to be blessed by God as you bless us with support.
Did you know that:
– Courtney and I both love to read and are trying to make a habit of reading some books together. For $10-15 dollars, you can provide money for us to read a book together.
– We are trying to get to know people in this community, and so we have been inviting other teachers and students’ families over to our house. For $10-20, you can provide money for us to be blessed as we get to know other like-minded Believers around us.
– We make a few trips into Bandung each week on the motorbike. For about $20, you can pay for a month’s worth of gas.
– We eat a lot of Indonesian food (it’s what our helper knows, and we like it). For about $30, you can buy a week’s worth of groceries for us.
As you can see, what isn’t such a large amount of money back in the U.S. can go a long ways here. Please don’t feel like you can only support us by giving large gifts. If, however, you do want to support us in some bigger ways, there are these opportunities:
– We pay our helper a salary of about $70 a month (about $2 a day). I’m sure she would be blessed to know that someone back in the U.S. gave a gift of a month’s salary to support her and her family.
– Hopefully I will be going on a trip at the beginning of February with some other BAIS teachers to a conference for other international Christian school teachers in Indonesia. We don’t know the exact cost yet, but it will be somewhere between $150-$200.
– Courtney will be starting intensive language study starting in 2012. We are still pursuing options and do not yet know costs, but I know we would be blessed to have your financial support in that area.
Finally, there are a couple of ways you can support things I’m doing at school:
– The Music Department is selling poinsettias for the Christmas Concert. They will be used as decorations during the concert, and then families will take them after the concert. For $5 each you could purchase poinsettias that will decorate our stage and then be donated to someone after the concert (probably our Indonesian staff). Proceeds from this go to support the Music Department.
– I would love to incorporate more instrumental music into what I do at BAIS (since that’s where my roots are), but it’s still been so difficult for me to make connections and find quality instruments, etc. As a solution to that, I am hoping to start a recorder ensemble next school year. I already have many recorders, but I will need a few extras. I will need about 5 more soprano recorders ($5 each), about 4 alto recorders ($15 each), and probably 2-3 tenor recorders ($65 each).
If you would like to support us in any of the ways I mentioned, you can write a check and send it to
Network of International Christian Schools
3790 Goodman Rd E
Southaven, MS 38672
Checks should be made out to “NICS/OASIS.” For the memo, you should write my account number: 003385. If you want your money to specifically go to one of the areas I mentioned, please follow-up with an e-mail to let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org). We praise God in advance as He provides you resources to bless our ministry here and store up for yourself treasures in Heaven.
Thank you again for your support and prayers. I am humbled and frequently moved to tears to think that God would use people like me and Courtney for such a big work.
Soli Deo Gloria – to God’s glory alone.
Because of Christ,
P.S. Here are a couple of links to see the high school Vocal Ensemble singing at our Recital back in September. I was very proud of them!