Bryn June Update – God’s Hand at Work

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,

Bryn Rice

If you desire to support us financially, you can send checks to:

Network of International
Christian Schools

3790 Goodman Rd E
Southaven, MS 38672
U.S.A.

Checks should be made out to “NICS/OASIS.” For the memo, you should write our account number: 003385.

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Weeds, Foundation, and the many lessons of Moving

If you have ever moved houses, you know how much work it takes to get it ready to move into both inside and out, house must be painted, cabinets built, curtains made or bought, grass put in, screens for the open areas so bugs will not unwelcomly come in, and so many other things.  Couches, beds, table, refrigerator, lemari (the closet in Indonesia, since there are no closets), chairs, microwave, plates, cups, and more are bought.  When the final thing is in and everything is situated, you can finally breathe a sigh of relief.  That is what has filled many hours, since March.  God has provided everything we need and many things we have wanted.  Budget was tight and God has provided.  He is so good to us and we are so blessed.  Through this process, God has taught me many lessons and I thought I would share 2 distinct lesson and reminders of stories in His Word that He has shown me during these months.

One lesson that I have learned as moving into our new house is about weeds.  Everyone knows what weeds are, those annoying little things that spread and threaten to kill your flowers and take over the things that you plant, those little things that seem to pop up and never seem to go away and grow faster than anything else in your garden.  When we moved into our house all we had were weeds, wild grass, in the back yard and we had the weeds pulled up and then placed good dirt on top of it, so that we could plant grass, good seed, in the area.  We planted the grass, watered, and put fertilizer on it to get the good grass to grow, but the weeds came back.  As I was pulling the weeds up in and feeling like I was barely making any progress and was reminded of the parable of the weeds, we sowed the good grass, but those weeds were still there and along with the good grass weeds appeared.  We only planted the good grass, but the enemy…weeds…still appeared.  However, as I began to pull the weeds, the grass came up with it, so I talked to my helper’s husband, who is a gardener, He said to let the weeds grow with the grass, because it would be harmful to remove the weeds while the grass is rooting in the ground.   

In life, we have weeds and Jesus sows good seed in our lives and the good seed becomes wheat or in my story grass that is good and we grow around the weeds of this world, who are those who are of the evil one.  As we grow, we are continually under attack of the evil around us and from Satan who sows those weeds.   There is a huge field all around this world that is waiting to be harvested, seeds to be planted, will they be good seed or bad seed that take root?  Here in Indonesia, there are good seed being planted in the hearts of people and many that follow and grow in that truth and many become part of the kingdom, but the weeds that Satan has planted in the hearts are blind to the truth. Satan is sowing lies to the people and in the end the weeds will not have life, but only the good seeds will live.  Please pray with me for good seed to be planted in the hearts of the people here and for the weeds and lies that the various religions around us bring will not take root in the hearts of the people.  The devil is at work here and weeds are growing like crazy around us, but pray for the good seeds to take root.  Also, join with me in praying for harvesters in the field to be good seed amongst the weeds, truth and good seed cannot be planted without harvesters.

Another lesson, I have learned as we have been moving into our new house is about foundation.  Next door, the owners have decided to build three extra rooms in the back of their house instead of having a yard, so we have had the privilege to watch these rooms being built from the ground up.  As they build, I wonder how this house is going to stand with what seem like flimsy iron bars that sway in the wind.  Then, brick is put around it the iron bars with cement to hold it together carefully laid by hand (for the internal and outside walls).  After that, cement spread on top of the brick to make it strong.  Houses are built mostly by hand like this and it continues to amaze me how they stand against the rains and winds that come.  I have heard of many stories of house in the local villages in Bandung, they are built on strong places and other times not so much, when they are not built on strong places the rains and earthquakes come, many houses are flooded or crumpled under the pressure, because they were not built on a good foundation.

I remember another story that Jesus told about the man who built his house on the rock, a good foundation, and “the rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”  Another man built his house on the sand, not a good foundation, and “the rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7)  If our foundations are not solid, then we will fall just like the house on the sand when hard times come.  Many houses and lives here are not built on solid ground it will crash to the ground.  As earthquakes happen in Indonesia, we evacuate our buildings and pray that our foundation is strong enough to hold.  But, with God as our Foundation, we can withstand the things that happen in our life.  Though sickness and infections have entered in and things happening during the storms of life, we have a foundation to stand and lean on, if we have Christ.  Sometimes it may seem awful and that we will not be able to stand, but God helps us stand during those times.  These last few months, I have been really sick.  Yesterday, I went to the doctor and had an endoscopy and colonoscopy done and found out that there was an infection caused by something.  On top of that, these past months we have had house stuff, my mom being sick and having complications with her gallbladder surgery and cysts on her ovaries, my mother-in-law being sick, grandmother sick and in critical condition, having to leave the country for Visa stuff, and many things that I cannot even begin to mention.  But, through it all I have been thankful to have a solid foundation, a Savior I can lean on when I seem like I am going to fall apart, a peace within the storm.  Many around me do not have that peace and they stand in the storms and get torn apart.  Please pray with me for these people, pray that the Indonesian people would find the strong foundation to build their lives on, one that will withstand the earthquakes, tsunamis, and storms that will come and that though the physical foundation of their houses may be built on sand and not the rock that their spiritual foundation and hope would be built on the rock.  I have found hope in 2 Timothy 2:19-20 states, “Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his,’ and, ‘Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.’”  I pray that the people here will find hope in this as well and turn away from wickedness.

God has been using the moving experience to teach me with weeds and house being built next door, and many more other stories I have not yet told.  I cannot wait to see how God will use this house to be used for His glory.  As Hebrews 4:4-6 says, “For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything…But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.”   I know that this house was built by God through the hands of those that built it and I pray that this house would be His house and that He would be made known in and through this house that He has given us for this time.  Please join me in praying that His Will will be done in this house.  If you would like to receive my bi-weekly prayer updates or would like to know what is going on in our lives beside the bits and pieces you get a glimpse of here, you can e-mail us at courtneyrice@baisedu.org or brynrice@baisedu.org.  God has amazing things for us here, but we need your prayer and financial support.