Blessings in Transitions this Thanksgiving season

Transitions—Life is full of them, sometimes wonderful blessing come through smiles and other times they are “blessings that come through rain drops.”  Sometimes the “rain, the storm, the hardest nights are Your mercies in disguise.”  I am thankful for the trials that these last few months in Indonesia have brought.  I am thankful for my husband, who supports me even on the hardest day and supports me in the direction I feel God is call me to.   I am thankful for the people the Father has placed in my life to encourage me during those times I feel discouraged and the wonderful smiles I get from students when it is a hard day.  I am thankful for wonderful Tuesday nights cooking with my helper and her daughter and the smile from ear to ear from daughter’s face as she is rolling out a tortilla.  I am thankful to have the opportunity to have Korean students over to teach Bryn, myself, our helper, and her daughter to cook Bulgogi (very similar, according to Bryn, to a fajita, just Korean style).  I am thankful for the opportunity to try Indonesian food, Sundanese food (local Indonesian food), Indian food, and most recently Korean food.  I am thankful that we have the opportunity to have students, their families, and other teachers over to fellowship together, even if we are communicating through three different languages (us to students in English, us to parents in Indonesian, and students to parents in Korean).  I am thankful to be able to be around believers that shine so brightly.  I am thankful for Indonesian services and worshipping with fellow believers in this beautiful language.  I am thankful for being able to be the teacher of wonderful students whose heart is to reach the lost.  I am thankful for the opportunity to step back from teaching and see where God will lead me. I am thankful for an opportunity to learn the language.  I am thankful for a God that gives me the fruit of the spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control when I would not be able to have the fruit otherwise.  I am thankful for joy in the rain and storms of this life.  I am thankful for the prayer calls that go off daily and remind me of the lostness and thew hope that these people are looking for.  I am thankful for the reminder of how great our God is.   I am thankful for God’s sacrifice and the freedom we have in Christ.  I am thankful that daily I am able to see God’s fingerprints work in ways that are indescribable.

God has given me so many blessing through the rain.  I am so grateful for my amazing Father. I am thankful for the transitions of this life from season to season.  I am thankful for this time I have been able to be at BAIS and I am thankful for the opportunities that God will bring my way in the coming months and years to fulfill God’s purpose for my life.  Though they are not always easy, I am thankful for God continuing to mold us and make us more in His image.

Last night, Bryn and I attended the Korean Thanksgiving Barbecue the Korean families at the school put on for the BAIS teachers.  It was such an amazing experience being with fellow Korean believers eating Korean Thanksgiving dinner of delicious kimchi, stewed meats, barbecued meats, purple rice, kimbob, and more fun new Korean foods.  It was a great time with our brothers and sisters.  They even had a raffle with various gifts.  Then, we played a version of rock, paper, scissors Korean style, except there were different levels you reached if you won.  It was a joy and experience that I will never forget and the thankfulness that they showed as we teach their children.

As thanksgiving comes up this year, I am truly seeing all that God has blessed me with and reminded of How Great He is.  Family and Friends, remember all that you are thankful for and praise the God has given you all that you have.

The Lamb’s Sacrifice…

As we were driving back from town early this morning after worshipping with our brothers and sisters, I felt like I was taken back to biblical times except that there were cars and motorbikes all around us.  All week there have been goats, sheep, and cows along the road tied with ropes to be bought for the sacrifices that occurred today for Idul Adha.  As we drove, I peered into a truck that held sheep and goats that had just been slaughtered with the gashes and blood still draining from their necks.  Then, we drove past a group of people and saw them in the process of sacrificing a cow.  They just cut his throat as we drove by and were holding him by the ropes tied to his legs waiting for him to die.

I read in my research after experiencing this on the drive home that as the Cousins slaughter the animal; they say the name of Allah and are reminded that life is sacred.  Then, the family keeps one-third of the meat, gives one-third away to friends, and one-third is donated to the poor.  It is suppose to be a symbol of giving up things to follow Allah and a way to recognize the blessings from Allah.  In the Quran it says, “”It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah; it is your piety that reaches Him.”

I have been studying in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers about the sacrifices God required of the Israelites.  My eyes have truly been open to see the severity of sin and the amazing sacrifice of our Savior, and it has given me a new perspective of how grateful I am to have a God who provided the sacrifice that I do not have to sacrifice to be forgiven.  In the Old Testament, God required sacrifices to provide a covering of sins.  In Hebrews 9:22 we learn that “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”  We as believers are covered because of the shedding of blood of the ultimate sacrifice.  Puji Tuhan!!  Praise God!!

But, the Cousins are always trying to get closer to God through works of fasting, having days to go and ask for forgiveness for their sins from the following year during Idul Fitri, and slaughtering animals to show their faithfulness.  They don’t know the ultimate sacrifice, who can set them free from their sin they feel bound to and are constantly trying to get rid of.

It has been interesting to get a glimpse of what it would have been like if I had lived in the time of the Israelites with the need to sacrifice animals to be cleansed.  It makes me even more grateful that the Lamb of God came and took the sins of the world away from us, as we read in John 1:29.

As the Cousins use this as a way to draw them closer to God, I pray that I will never forget of the sacrifice the Lamb, our Savior, our Redeemer, and our Ultimate Sacrifice.  May I remember that life is sacred and that my life belongs to the one who died for my life, so that I may live in a way that shows I follow Him with my life.  God has overwhelmingly blessed me and I cannot ever repay Him for the Hope that I have through Jesus Christ, my Savior and God.

Bryn’s Update for November

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.

Prayer requests

– 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.

Financial support

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 (brynr@baisedu.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,

Bryn Rice

 

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!