Dear Friends, Family, and NICS Support Team,
“Please, Father. Grant us a season of rest from the enemies that surround us. Yet if your will is for us to remain in this season, I know that you will give us the strength to make it through.”
This has been my prayer for several weeks now, and I have to tell you that in many ways this is such a strange update to write. In my mind, God has absolutely granted this request. The month of February was probably, by far, the most consistent month in mine and Courtney’s lives since we got married last June. School things have only continued to improve for me, and every day I get to ride my bicycle to school with complete excitement for what is head that day, that week, and the months to come. Likewise, Courtney is blazing through her language study and daily figuring out ways to make use of her time at home (and, much to my delight, one of her creative outlets has become cooking… yum!)
So… in light of that paragraph, the next may come as a surprise. Our season of “normalcy” and “rest” has also included: 1) praying through and working through the stomach sickness that Courtney battled for a solid two months, 2) a head-on launch into house hunting and housing contract negotiations for next year, and 3) many inquiries and research into graduate school possibilities for both of us! As I was praying and thanking God a week or two ago for His recent blessings, I found myself struck with this sense of audacity at what “normal” has become in mine and Courtney’s lives. I mean, don’t all couples spend their first year(s) of marriage dealing with one string of major decisions after another? If they do, I somehow missed it in the storybooks, because mine and Courtney’s situation just seems so insane.
But through it all, God has day in and day out proved Himself faithful. In fact, I don’t know if it’s possible to come to this place and do the work we’re doing without having your mind blown away at the strands of purpose and design inherent in God’s sovereignty. I do want to say a special word of thanks to those of you who have been laboring for us in prayer. Though this gets said often, I sincerely believe we can’t even begin fathom the impacts of your intercession to God through Jesus Christ for us. What excitement to know that soon enough we will see each other in New Jerusalem and rejoice in the workings of God’s hand!
To update you on the aforementioned items: 1) After several bloodtests and a couple of different medications, Courtney is finally feeling a lot better. She was prescribed an extremely strong anti-bacterial medicine that left her feeling even worse than before for a whole week, but it seems like it’s done the trick. 2) Once I finish this update, I’m on my way to the bank to transfer the downpayment for our new house to the landlord. We will be leasing in the neighborhood I was in last year, which is exactly what we wanted. Many, many more teachers and school families live in this neighborhood, and we love the community feel that it has. There should also be many opportunities for Courtney to visit with people during the day and begin to scout out venues in which she can be involved in the Lord’s work here in Indonesia. 3) Although it took many weeks for God’s answer to become clear, I have decided not to pursue graduate school, and Courtney hasn’t heard back from the programs she sent inquiries to. What I may end up doing is paying to audit online classes over the next few years and kind of build my own master’s degree. I have so many interests anyways that it was hard to pin down a program that would give instruction in the areas I most wanted. On top of that, I just invested in “Rosetta Stone” software to learn Korean. As I’ve prayed and prayed on whether or not I should invest the time in this, it became quite clear that if I don’t do this, I’m going to spend every year that we are here talking about how nice it would be if I could speak Korean! I look forward to the day when I can connect with our three major language groups in their heart language.
I think that fairly well crams the main points of the last month or so into an update. I unfortunately will have to cut this update a little short as I’m at school finishing up some things this weekend before Courtney and I head to Thailand for Spring Break! Few days go by where I’m not in awe of the blessings God has showered on us, even amidst various trials. The amount of travel opportunities that Courtney and I have had are simply stunning, although we’re thinking that next school year will probably be much more low-key in terms of travel.
My hope and prayer is that once we get back from Thailand we can start yet another season leading up to our one year anniversary in which both of us are feeling well and daily life becomes a little easier. And then, we also really get on the exciting track to having family come and visit over the summer!
Let me close with some praises and prayer requests:
1) Towards the end of February I coordinated a “progressive dinner” for the boys’ Bible study group. We ate at three different homes over the course of two hours, and the boys had an absolute blast. It was great to spend this time with them outside of school and introduce this American concept to them.
2) As I write to you, we just finished up our Spiritual Emphasis Week/Week Without Walls. There were no regular classes this week; instead, students had time for praise, guest speakers, small groups, and service opportunities. The theme for the week was “Restore. Renew. React.” From watching the students at the closing assembly today, it is clear that many of them heard from God in real ways. In fact, my heart just melted to see a 7th grade student – one that I’ve been pretty concerned about for a while – raising his hands in worship. The community feeling that unites us from events such as this are unreal, and I am so humbled to be a part of this work. May the small work planting and sowing that we have in this corner of the world bear ripples as our students go out so that the Father’s harvest will be that much greater.
3) You can be praying for the praise team ministry that I have lead this year. Several things surfaced during the middle of Spiritual Emphasis Week that were messy. Some of those issues were faults of the students, while some of the issues were admittedly faults of mine. With one of the week’s themes appropriately being “Renew,” it was amazing to see God’s renewal in my heart and the student’s. After three days of almost no power in our worship leading, the fruits of God’s renewal were plain as we led this morning. Still, the renewal is not finished, and there are many ways in which I need to grow as a leader. Thankfully, God has immediately started pouring insights and ideas into my head for next year. At the same time, I want all of us to finish this year well too.
4) Please remember two of our BAIS teams who have gone out from the school – one team to Alaska and one team to various small islands to be lights for Jesus. They will not return till the end of Spring Break, and I know they would appreciate your prayers for safety and effective ministry through the power of the Holy Spirit.
5) The week we get back from Spring Break is the week a team of accreditation people arrive at our school. The timing is inconvenient to say the least, especially as our annual spring concert is the following week! Please pray for all of us teachers and administrators to show our best but also not to put on any kind of false front. Though we want the accreditation team to see tons of positive things, everyone is also looking forward to the constructive feedback that they will give.
6) Please pray for Courtney in her language learning efforts. She’s reaching the place where you start learning so much that it becomes frustrating to talk to people… because you finally know enough to know how little you know! That, of course, is a positive thing, because it means you’re learning. At the same time, it’s no less frustrating. Pray that she can have perseverance and the end goal of being able to speak Truth to a people who need to hear it.
Brothers and sisters, as I often reflect on the impact that I hope I’m having on the students here, I’m often reminded of those who God used to impact me to get to this point. You are all treasured deeply in my heart.
Because of Christ,