Dear Friends, Family, and NICS Support Team:
This update starts my third year of monthly chronicles for this amazing journey on which God has placed me, and if you have been following the journey with any sort of regularity, you should have a grasp by now on how God is ever using me as living proof of his word: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways” (Isaiah 55). Over and over again Yahweh has proven himself sovereign over mine and Courtney’s lives, and I praise him for it – even when it means going through difficult times.
The start to Year Three is no different. As I write this update to you, Courtney and I have been in Singapore for six days and will, unless the Lord changes things, continue to stay here for at least ten more days. The story goes something like this…
Courtney first got sick around the end of January/beginning of February. Her symptoms were pains in her stomach and constant nausea. This waxed and waned for about three months and even had periods where it was basically gone. When it came back, however, towards the middle of May, and another round of medications didn’t do anything to stop it, we decided it was time to get serious and go to a hospital. The Lord guided us to a hospital in Jakarta that did a full checkup on Courtney. We then met with an internal medicine specialist who scheduled to have a couple of scopes done to see inside Courtney’s digestive tract. All of that happened, and results were somewhat inconclusive. We knew that there was inflammation in her stomach, but the actual cause was not diagnosed. Courtney was given five different medications to take, and the doctor said that patients often take those medicines and never need to see her again.
Fast-forward to the end of school – June 8 – and Courtney’s family arrived to Indonesia. It was such a blessed time of showing them around this land that we love so dearly, not to mention getting to catch up with them (it just doesn’t seem like Courtney and I have been gone from the US for a year now). Their time here truly seemed way too short. Amazingly, the Lord blessed Courtney with a respite in her sickness, and she was well almost the whole time they were here.
Just before they left, however, the same nausea and pain started to return. It built up to the point that , after they left, it seemed even worse than before. By this time, I had already scanned and e-mailed all of Courtney’s test results to doctors in the States who looked at the paperwork and were concerned that Courtney was having gallbladder issues. This wasn’t great news to us as Courtney’s mom just had her gallbladder out not long ago and has had an above average recovery time. Still, when we’re talking four or five months of sickness, we were also just hoping that her gallbladder could be removed and then she’d instantly start feeling better.
The prospect of surgery, however, begged some difficult questions. I want to be sensitive in this, as you know how much we love the land and people of Indonesia. At the same time, I’ve had Indonesians themselves tell me that they don’t trust their medical care. All of this to say that our first instinct in thinking Courtney may need surgery was to fly to Singapore. With that possibility in mind, I quickly set to work researching insurance issues, flights, etc. The process was a little overwhelming. Our insurance doesn’t directly settle with a single hospital in Bandung, and there’s only a couple in Jakarta. What do I see when I pull up Singapore’s information? Dozens of direct settlement locations!
The first answered prayer then, was when I called my secondary principal to see about getting our passports out of the school safe. He gave me the information I needed and then asked where we were going in Singapore. He was able to recommend a location that he and his wife went to and then, the beautiful thing about our community, he made sure to pray with me before hanging up. I was ecstatic and quickly got that “I know you’re working this out, Lord” feeling that I’ve gotten so many times before. We ended up choosing not to go to that clinic because, as we were considering surgery, we knew they would just refer us to a hospital anyways. The clinic’s website, however, had hospital websites listed. From visiting those websites, it became pretty clear what the best fit would be.
The next step was to find housing, so Courtney set to contacting some of our brothers and sisters in Singapore. As we waited for that, we started looking at plane tickets. Woah – they were much more expensive than we expected! So expensive, in fact, that we started questioning whether or not the trip was justified. “Maybe we should just go to Jakarta and see what happens from there,” was our thought. All of this came to a head when on Wednesday, June 20th – amidst moving from our old house to our new – we found decent priced tickets to fly out the following week. To make a long story short, we were unable to pay for those tickets due to debit card complications, and the price was going to go up about $20 per ticket to use our US bank card. We went back to the drawing boards.
We ended up at BAIS really confused. We so desire to be good stewards of God’s money, and this Singapore trip was starting to seem a little wasteful (and an affront to our Indonesian friends who could never afford to hop over to Singapore for medical care). I suggested that we pray about it because I deeply felt that Yahweh was trying to speak to us on the matter. In my classroom, Courtney and I split up and prayed. When we came back together, it was clear that we both sensed Singapore was where we should go, and then I added another component that I felt impressed on my spirit… that we should leave the next day! We had waited so long already that I didn’t see a reason to wait another day longer than necessary. And thankfully, we didn’t really have any firm ties holding us to Indonesia until my family arrives at the end of July.
Courtney agreed, and we decided to go to my laptop and check plane tickets one more time. We opened up the website for Batavia Air, and lo and behold – the tickets had JUST gone on sale for almost $40 cheaper per ticket. In my mind, it doesn’t get much clearer than that. We didn’t have our passport information at school, so we had to run home to book the tickets. When we did, we discovered another hitch – that the only way to pay for the tickets (because our flight was in less than 24 hours) was with an Indonesian debit card , paying at one of several bank’s ATMs… none of which were our bank. This was the exact same problem we had run into before. I determined in my heart not to panic. I mean, really? Why would the Lord make that so clear only to be defeated by a bank card? I wouldn’t accept it.
After some quick thinking, we called an Indonesian friend, and it “just so happened” that he used one of the required banks. Ten minutes later I had gone to his house and was then headed to the ATM… by myself… because he had just handed me his bank card with pin number and said to get it back to him the next day. Hallelujah for the Body of Christ! So we successfully bought our tickets and did some quick packing. When I woke up on Thursday morning, June 21, and went to school to check my e-mail, I learned of the next huge blessing – our friends in Singapore had connected with some of their friends… and a brother in Christ who I’ve never even met handed over his keys for me and Courtney to stay in his apartment while he and his family are gone for several weeks to the US (and he actually left the morning of our trip to Singapore – talk about good timing). Wow.
Our doctor’s appointment was on Friday morning, and it just so happened that they assigned us to a doctor who specializes in gastrointestinal issues and gallbladder surgery. But then a surprise came…
Despite Courtney having a small gall stone, the doctor doesn’t think her problem has anything to do with her gallbladder. After examining her, he gave her two weeks of medicine and wanted to do a follow-up appointment. We thought that was great, since we had been freely given two weeks (or longer) of housing, but there was admitted disappointment that the answers didn’t come in an immediate, quick fix.
Now, as I write this to you friends, family, and support team, I don’t have any grand conclusions to the story yet. This is a time of waiting, praying, and being still to know that Yahweh is our God. After five full days of medicine, Courtney has not gotten better, and I just sent the doctor an e-mail this morning. I have full trust that the Lord is either going to continue working out his fantastic plan so that a resolution is reached while we are in Singapore, or he’s somehow going to give us the strength to endure. Honestly though, I’m so ready for Courtney to not be sick anymore, and I know she is too.
If you didn’t realize, Courtney and I just celebrated our first wedding anniversary on June 18 (only three days later to get on the plane to Singapore), and what a year of marriage it’s been. I only pray that Yahweh continues to prove Isaiah 55 true in our lives – that his plans to use us in sharing the Good News haven’t even begun to clearly come into the light, for surely that’s all that we desire – to be used by him. And there is no question that he has used this first year to strengthen and refine us through situations that were NEVER on mine and Courtney’s radars for a first year of marriage. To him be all glory as our loving Father.
Your prayers for healing, answers, and continued fruit of the Spirit are greatly appreciated. I rejoice in saying that a couple of financial gifts are coming in to help support us while we’re in Singapore. Even while trying to be as frugal as possible, it took two grocery trips in this country (within the same week) for me and Courtney to spend almost a month’s worth of food money for Indonesia. At the same time, we know that Yahweh will provide. If he leads you to contribute in any way towards food, travel, or medical expenses, you are still welcome to give knowing that the treasures stored in Heaven are not based on a certain amount given but on a condition of the heart.
We love you all and pray that our testimony will be an encouragement to you in your walk with Jesus. May the news of his incomprehensible gift – tearing down the veil separating us from almighty God – flow from your mouth to reach all the lost who are trying to battle the storms of this life in their own hopeless futility.
Because of Him,
If you desire to support us financially, you can send checks to:
Network of International
3790 Goodman Rd E
Southaven, MS 38672
Checks should be made out to “NICS/OASIS.” For the memo, you should write our account number: 003385.