Suffering. Rejoicing. Squalor. Beauty. Love. Pain.

“Suffering. Rejoicing. Squalor. Beauty. Love. Pain.

These are the things that surround me,

and all of them are from Him.

This life is beautiful and terrible and simple and difficult,

and He is using it for His Glory.” 

(Katie J Davis, Kisses from Katie)

The woman that wrote the words above is a girl who gave up everything to move to Uganda and be a light to the people.  I understand how she feels, because I can use those same words to describe this last year.  She is a true inspiration to me deciding to move from her comfortable life in Brentwood, TN to move to dirty Uganda to be God’s hands and feet, to give food to the hungry, and to take care for orphans. She truly shows what it means in 2 Corinthians 6:10-13, “Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively.”

That is my prayer, that every day I give my life away to Christ and exemplify Him in every way. I want to give myself freely and love these people that God has placed around me. To give them hope among poverty, whatever that may mean, and to help show them where they are most impoverished…that they lack SOMEONE, which leads to lack of hope. We think of poverty as lack of material things, but it is so much more. The greatest poverty you can have is the lack of Jesus Christ. That is the greatest poverty of the people that I walk by and talk to every day. They have emptiness as you look into their eyes and see into their hearts and my heart breaks as they kneel down daily 5 times in prayer to worship a God that they always feel indebted to. Sometimes, I want to sometimes shake some sense into them and realize that the debt has already been paid and no amount of works or prayer is going to get them into heaven. My heart breaks at the realization and I am lost at how to speak truth to these people and my lack of language is a barrier at times to these precious, beautiful people. But, every day for me is a learning process and continual denial of self and reliance on God to be my words and help my life and actions to show Him.  For I am not my own, but I am His and His alone.

So many days, I try to do it by myself to try to do it by myself and I realize I cannot do it by myself, my sins are too heavy and I am not strong enough. Then, I remember Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Last week I was listening to a sermon by David Platt and he was talking about this verse and I came to understand this verse at a new level of understanding, isn’t it cool the way that God can continually teach us through the Bible even though we have read verses so many different times.  A yoke is used for plowing fields, the oxes are placed on each side of the yoke, one ox is a weak and the other is a strong.  The stronger ox pulls the weaker ox along and makes the weaker ox stronger. I see myself so much as the weaker ox and I am not able to do anything on my own, but when I stay in the yoke I learn from one who is stronger than me and humble in heart and I find rest…Jesus Christ. When I get in the yoke with Jesus, as David Platt reminded me, Jesus also takes the “full weight of my sins, but also the complete and utter inability to obey God. We cannot and do not do and follow the Master’s Voice.”  He is calling to us, “Come to Me—Give all you have to me and I will give all I have to you.  I will pull you through. I will give you pardon for your sin and carry the burden you could not carry.  I will give you pardon and you can have rest.  I will give you my complete ability to obey God.  I will lead you to walk with the Father.  I will work in and through you what you cannot do for yourself.  When we are in the yoke with Jesus and allow Him to lead us we will be able to live the life God as called us to live in His strength and not on our own.”  What a beautiful picture of the grace God the picture of a yoke gives us.  The Message translates these verse as, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Living in Indonesia, I am learning more than ever to get away with the Lord and to let him show me rest as I am still recovering from last semester and learning the new rhythm of grace and plans that God has for me. As I walk with him, little pieces are beginning to be revealed and I have not yet been told what His plan is for the next step, but I am learning to live freely and lightly in his will allowing Him to be the strong one and me to follow along. For now, that plan is learning the language, spending some amazing and precious time with my helper and her family, studying and reading books to gain knowledge about Islam, listening to sermons, or whatever else God may have in store for each day. Each day is a gift of grace and opportunity like I do not deserve.  It is full of laughter as I stumble over my words in communicating with my helper as I ask, “Matahari Kemana?” or “Where did the sun go?” while we were trying to make pretzels and rolls and my helper’s daughter giggles that brings a smile to my face or the smile as I let her help me cook or play UNO. This is a time of great relationships being built and hopefully opportunities of revealing truth in the future, when I have the language and God opens the doors. My days include precious time with my language tutor as she challenges me and goes shopping with me to barter with me in the some of the local language of Javanese and Sundanese for chairs for our kitchen table.  I don’t know what the future holds and sometimes that is frustrating as I try to figure out where I belong and what my role is. But, God will reveal it in His timing.  For now I take life day-by-day with the suffering, rejoicing, squalor, beauty, love, and pain that comes to me, but I always have Jesus in the yoke beside me pulling me through.

Life in Indonesia and doing God’s Will is not easy and Bryn and I cannot make it without your support:
Ways you can support us, God is continually opening up opportunities for us to serve Him in this community, but it doesn’t come without a cost. These might include hiring someone to do jobs around the house, donating or lending money to those that are hospitalized or are going through difficult situations, but lack the monetary resources and without money will suffer, giving items to the materially poor so that we can teach them about their impoverished soul and share with them the good news, buying books to learn and read about Islam or different materials that will help that we can be better equipped both for Bryn in the classroom and for me out of the classroom, or the many other ways. You can donate money through the Network of International Christian Schools at, 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 (courtneyrice@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.

The most important way you can support us is through prayer, I send out a detailed prayer list at least every other week.  If you would like to be added to the prayer list for more specific and current prayer updates please e-mail me at courtneyrice@baisedu.org.  Here are some basic prayer requests and praises:

Praises:

– Bryn and I have a house for next year and have completely been able to get all of the furniture and things needed from teachers that were leaving.

– The stomach sickness that I had for almost 3 months is finally gone and I have been able to resume working out and my immune system is continuing to grow.

– My helper and her family were able to dig a well and they have clean water (or as clean as it can be).

– My family is coming in a month and a half and Bryn’s family is coming in 3 months.

– BAIS (Bandung Alliance International School) has all positions filled for next year.

Prayer Requests:

Indonesia:

– Pray for the material and spiritual poverty.  Pray that they will come to know the One that can relieve their spiritual poverty

– Pray for the corruption in this nation.

BAIS:

– Pray for all of the new teacher that are coming in August: Mark and Joelene Boccaccio and his and family (Business manager), Peggy Alex (5th grade), Hermione Zhang (Mandarin), Brian Lovejoy (Secondary Math), Matt and Erin Squiers and their boys Kadin and Jace, Beth LaMertha (Secondary English), Lisa Witham (PE), Paula Christensen (Secondary Science), Rachel Carpenter (ESL-Immersion), and Caroline Miller (ESL-Immersion).  Pray for transition for all of these singles and families, especially the Squiers family with little kids.

– Pray for the end of the year events and pray for hearts to be continued to be transformed.

Us:

– Pray for the housing details and pray for relationships to be built and His name to be glorified as we begin making our house a home.  Pray that our home will be used for Him and that many will come to know Him in our new home.

– Pray for continual protection against spiritual forces.

– Pray for continual health for both Bryn and I.

– Pray for God to continue to reveal His Will.

– Pray for financial support and that God will guide us in exactly how we use every cent that God has provided through you all.

Thank you.  God is truly blessing us and I cannot wait to see what He has in the future for us through suffering and pain, but also through the beauty, rejoicing, and love that lies before us.

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