So many updates! Feb 2018

It’s hot! Feb is the warmest month here in the Western Cape of South Africa. It is also super dry. Praise the Lord we did have a night this past week when it rained significantly!!! I mean it was a down pour! People at the store were standing at the windows just starring outside with grins on their faces. Praise the Lord! KEEP PRAYING for rain! We are working on recycling water, reusing gray water, and planning for the future needs. Even more we are trusting and asking the Lord to provide all the water that is needed.

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It rained!!!
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This is at the local homeless shelter that the church owns and operates in our city.

Life Church is one of the greatest connections we have personally made since living in South Africa. We love the preaching and the staff we have gotten to know. The worship time is spirit filled and wonderful. They are serving the poor and needy all over our city in remarkable ways that truly speak to our hearts. But the real reason we have gotten connected at Life Church is because Mac said, “This is the church we have to attend.”. They have an amazing youth group and have loved on Mac so well! It is the highlight of his week for sure.

Our whole family has began serving together at the Helder Valley Community Centre. It is located in a farming community where all the parents work on the large commercial farms nearby and have created a cluster of homes in close proximity to one another and the farms where they work, similar to a village. Most of these communities are very poor and are made up of very busy parents trying to provide for their family. One of the biggest concern is under educated children, that have too much unsupervised time at home. Life church came alongside this specific community a few years ago and committed to coming alongside them to help children learn, feed them lunch after school, and give them a structured and safe environment to be a part of until their parents get home. They also enjoy dance class on Thursdays thought by another member in our church. Our family is enjoying serving under Loise, a local coloured lady who has been running the centre for the past 4 years. We are helping to tutor the children in english and math, teaching basic bible stories, and simply providing a little fun and laughter in their week. We just started this week but already love these sweet little faces! All of the big bear hugs and high fives we get from them tell us, they like us too.

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A quick update on Alechia…She is doing well in school! She finished her first class in Greek, is making new friends, and loves her roommate. She felt blessed to hear about all of our friends and family commiting to pray for her this year! Praying that she will do well in her studies, experience more of the Father’s love and favor in her life, and for some basic monthly financial needs she has since she is living on her own for the first time. We will keep you up to date on how she is doing through out this year.

 

Prayer updates from January:

  • Pray for the new residents that will be moving in Jan 20th. We will give you snapshots of each of them throughout the year….

IMG_9810We have had our new year-long residents move in this past month. We have 6 ladies and 4 boys with one more guy on his way. It has been a fun month of getting to know them and helping them get to know us. Lara and I have both been given the opportunity to mentor a new resident this year and we are excited for how the Lord is going to work in all of our lives. We love this chance to speak into them, love on them, and share our life with them. Also, Lara and I both have a couple of young men and woman (like Alechia) that we will continue to walk with this year that are not in the East Mountain program but just in our community.

  • Pray for Homeschooling…For everyone to finish the year well in these next 5 months…

School seems to be going fine. Mac is doing so well in his studies with the Liberty online program. He is way more advanced than either of us already so he has to take things like English, Math and Science online to get a real challenge. Greyson really likes the freedom to work on his on time. He is pretty interested in Science, Geography, and cultural studies.  Elly is learning how to read and basic mathematic skills like subtraction and how to tell time. Lara and I are learning tons of things as well, especially in the area of how different each child is and how different their learning styles are. Keep their studies in your prayers please.

  • Pray for wisdom of when to travel back to the US for a visit this year and for affordable flights. We are looking to visit the beginning of July…

No tickets have been purchased yet but we will keep you up to date when we do.

  • Pray for Spanky’s parents (Nana and Pawpaw) as they travel to visit us Feb 1. Mom doesn’t like to fly and it is a long trip…

Nana and Paw Paw came to visit last week. They were our first family or friends to come visit. It was good to have a piece of home with us for a week and to spend time catching up. Their flights were wonderful and Mom did so well with the travel. She knows that it was the Lord helping her. While they were here we sat around the house talking and catching up, Mac and PawPaw played cards, we took them to some of our favourite local restaurants and coffee spots, we went to Cape Town and explored the top of Table Mountain, drove around to see all of the breath-taking views from the mountains to the beach, toured the East Mountain Ministry house, meet the new residents, went to Life Church and the local market on Sunday, had a Super Bowl party, and ate a lot of Nana’s famous chocolate chip cookies! It was a busy and eventful time! We enjoyed having them here and it was hard to say good-bye for sure!

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  • Pray for success: that others may know Jesus and know His plan for their life through our lives and ministry here. We want to have a deep impact on people and communities this year for His glory!

God is moving in a mighty way in and through us! This is not a statement of arrogance but an observation of His grace and working. We have been renewed in our call to live open, transparent, vulnerable, passionate, loving, caring, selfless, and available to the people and needs that arise from day-to-day. God is using our willingness to step into the moments and people’s lives to share who we are and who He is to do great things!

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Prayer needs for Feb:

  • Please be praying that we will continue to make ourselves available to the best opportunities not just to every opportunity. We do not want to be too busy to where we miss the Lord’s perfect plan for us.
  • Please be praying that we will make some good connections with the children and families at the Community Centre. There are so many great stories to come here!
  • Please be praying for both of us as we are starting to mentor new residents, Zuzu and Zach. Our hope is to build a deep trust with them as mentors and help gain a greater sense of who the Lord has created them to be and what He has called them to do with their lives.
  • Please be praying for Zuzu and Zach. This is going to be a year of the Lord growing them in many areas as well as deepening their faith and understanding of Him. They are just getting settled and figuring out life here therefore any prayers for peace, wisdom and comfort would be well appreciated too.
  • Keep praying for rain!
  • Please be praying for East Mountain and Life Church

Who, What, Why?

35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’  Matthew 25:35-40

This past year we spent a lot of time telling people what we were going to do in South Africa as we thought through the why’s that deeply moved us in this direction of missional living. What I have come to learn since moving to South Africa is, I might have been asking the wrong question. God isn’t as concerned with the what, but rather with the who’s.

22365475_1506119919469901_9013423690408479356_nAlechia is a who. She is the why behind our move across the world. We believe that God has so wonderfully blessed our family with her! Alechia lights up a room with her smile and draws children in with her loving kindness. Her joy is infectious and you can’t help but to love her. My hope is that everyone who visits gets the chance to meet Alechia, so you can experience how wonderful she is too!

Alechia quickly became a dear person to Lara. She was one of our resident interns last year at East Mountain and comes to us from Trinity Church/Christian School, a community partner of ours. This is where she learned that God has created her for something special, to help teach children about Jesus while caring deeply for them.  Alechia has one of those stories that breaks my heart and would break yours if you heard her tell it. Unfortunately, her past is too familiar for many young children, especially girls that grow up here in these communities. What I love most about Alechia is that she is allowing Jesus to make something beautiful out of her story. img_9759.jpg

In just a couple weeks Lara and I get the privilege of taking Alechia to move into her new college dorm. She starts her first year of university this month and will be the first person ever in her family, and one of the very few from her neighborhood that have had the chance to go to college. This is a big deal for her and she is nervous! We believe in her and know that she can do it. University will prepare her to fulfil her call to serve the Lord and to make a huge difference in the next generation in her community. Once she has completed her studies, Alechia is planning to return to her church to serve as the children’s minister!

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Elly and Alechia are the best of buds.

I struggle sometimes to clearly explaining our ministry and work here in South Africa. I worry that people might not see the impact and wonder about our effectiveness. Our ministry isn’t as clear cut as some missionaries. We don’t feed hungry children regularly, offer medical care, we aren’t directly planting a church, or ministering in ways that are easy to define. We do have specific jobs and roles within East Mountain and those responsibilities will continue to grow but our main ministry is the relationships around us. Being available, being present, and being life giving to the who’s. We are striving to live a life that offers life to those around us.

We are: a safe place for people to sleep for a couple nights when life gets hard, a place to come and get school work done (we have been blessed with the best internet connection around), a place to have a meal, laugh a little, relax from all of the craziness of life, a place to be refreshed over coffee and late night conversations, a ride to the store, the doctor or home for the weekend, the one to call when you need someone to listen or help with a problem, a voice of wisdom, encouragers, examples, and friends. This is our ministry. This is our life. It’s not a project or a plan. It’s definitely not easy. It’s inconvenient. It’s costly. It’s messy. It’s people. We are called to the who’s.

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’  Matthew 25:35-40

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East Mountain’s 2017 Residents

Happy New Years, Jan 2018,

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Christmas Day 2017!

It seems to be easier to be hopeful and optimistic at the beginning of a new year regardless of the outcome of the past year. We are grateful for 2017 for so many reason and are extremely excited for all that 2018 holds! Looking back on 2017 we are reminded of the mountains of miracles from God and the way He took such good care of us during one of the toughest seasons for our family. One of the biggest ways we experienced the favor and goodness of the Lord was through YOU! **Philemon 1:4, I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers.  I know we say thank you a lot but we are realizing more everyday that through you partnering with our family there is a great impact and hope for people and communities across Africa and locally in our city. Great, young leaders are being equipped to change the world, people are meeting Jesus face to face, and others are experiencing God’s love for them. This is a great picture of “His Kingdom come” and it is happening because you decided to join us in this great mission. We are so grateful for your sacrifice, prayers and encouragement in 2017!!!

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Christmas lunch and white elephant gift exchange with friends

 

Our first South African Christmas…

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It was super hot and we don’t have A/C at home so we had to road trip it to the beach! Stopped for lunch and enjoyed the view on the side of the road.

It was a little odd to be celebrating Christmas when it felt like summer time. We literally wore no shoes and went swimming over Christmas break. Even though the weather was not what we were use to back home in North Carolina we still had a great time! A typical Christmas for our family is filled with family and good food. Even though we couldn’t be with our family we were very grateful for the chance to FaceTime many of them. Technology is a wonderful gift. The Lord has blessed us with some wonderful friends that we spent the holidays with. We really enjoyed our times of celebration with each of them.

Christmas Eve we went to see one of our favorite Christmas movies, Home Alone at an outdoor theatre in Cape Town. Christmas morning we spent time together, just the five of us at home opening presents, eating a big breakfast, and reading the Christmas story. We were invited by some friends to a traditional South African meal called potjie (pronounced, poiki) which was unbelievably delicious! We finished the day off by hanging out with some other families who serve along side us at East Mountain. The boys shoot their new pellet guns, we shared yummy snacks and watched Christmas Vacation one more time this season. This made our first African Christmas really feel like home. It was a full day of fun, friends, and food! We felt blessed!

 

Prayer updates from December’s Update:

  • Travel to Durban, South Africa for a UWM Africa Missionary Conference – We spent the week before Christmas in Durban which is about 18hrs from Cape Town but thankfully we were able to take an easy 2 hour flight there. We really enjoyed spending time with some other UWM missionaries that serve all over Africa. They are pretty special people!

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    UWM African family outside of Durban
  • Vision for the specific ministry areas the Lord wants us to invest in deeply in 2018  – Next week we will spend a few days with our team here at East Mountain planning and preparing for 2018. We look forward to the time of team building, praying for the new residents that move in Jan 20th, seeking after the Lord’s heart for how He wants to use each of us this coming year, and identifying what communities and areas our family will invest deeply in during 2018. We believe the Lord has us in South Africa not for a what but for a who and we are excited to love, serve, care for people and point them (who’s) to Him this coming year!

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    Having fun with friends on New Years Eve
  • God’s grace, strength, peace, joy, protection and constant wisdom for everyday situations – Life seems to be going well for us. We obviously all have those moments in our week, especially around the holidays, when we are missing things back home like family, friends and familiarities. God’s given us wonderful people  in our lives, so we are not surprised that we miss them the most during the Holidays. It is slowly feeling like home here. We have settled well in our house, found a great church we enjoy, we are building strong friendships, slowly learning some Afrikaans and finding our way around. God has been good to us and we feel like we are daily walking in His grace! Please keep praying for us! We know that all of these blessing are a direct result of you lifting us up regularly.

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    Rice Crispy treats at a friends farm house. The Marsh mallows are pink therefore the rice crispy treats are too.
  • Water Crisis! – There is still very little water and we are entering into the hottest and driest part of the year. PRAY!!! God is in control though! On New Year’s Eve we had a big down pour that lasted on and off all night. Our South African friends said that it NEVER rains this time a year, so we must be praying or something. God’s working behind the scenes and He is using this to open peoples eyes and hearts to Him.
  • Awareness of opportunities to love, serve and care for those in need around us – The Lord brought an opportunity to our family just before Christmas to help out a young South African guy. His name is Romero and he was one of our residents from last year. Romero is a special guy with amazing potential. God has big things for his life and we want to be a part of it. He shared that he needed somewhere to live this coming year so that he could continue with the resident program. Lara and I began praying specifically for this guy but knew that the Lord had already answered our prayers. When we moved to South Africa we were lead to a much larger house than we actually needed. The cost is more than we wanted as well but we felt like the Lord was saying we was going to use this extra space to bless people and this is where He wanted us to live. With this extra room in our home we had been praying that the Lord would fill it with the right people and thats what He did. Romero moved in early December and we look forward to how he will become more apart of our family. Please be praying for Romero as he is working on school at the university, participating in the East Mountain resident leadership program, and following the Lord’s call on his life.

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    Romero taking me out for my first surf lesson
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Elly and Matthew making snacks
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Wild Man!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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South African wildlife and a giant fake snake

 

Prayer needs for January:

  • Pray for the new residents that will be moving in Jan 20th. We will give you snapshots of each of them throughout the year.
  • Pray for Homeschooling…For everyone to finish the year well in these next 5 months
  • Pray for wisdom of when to travel back to the US for a visit this year and for affordable flights. We are looking to visit the beginning of July.
  • Pray for Spanky’s parents (Nana and Pawpaw) as they travel to visit us Feb 1. Mom doesn’t like to fly and it is a long trip.
  • Pray for success: that others may know Jesus and know His plan for their life through our lives and ministry here. We want to have a deep impact on people and communities this year for His glory!

 

Let us walk in the power and wisdom that Jesus offers to us this year!

 Ephesians 1:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might

 

If you would like to know how you can partner with us this year please check out our link Partnering with us… If you would like more info on specific projects and/or needs that we might have please email me at spanky.rouse@gmail.com. Thank you!

Below is all of the social media outlets that our family has and this is a great way to stay connected and up to date with the Rousehouse!

https://www.instagram.com/spankyrouse/

https://www.instagram.com/lararouse/

https://www.facebook.com/spanky.rouse

https://www.facebook.com/lara.rouse.7

https://www.instagram.com/causing_wonder/ – Mac’s Instagram

Merry Christmas 2017

Prayer needs for December:

  • Travel to Durban, South Africa for a UWM Africa Missionary Conference
  • Year end giving and continued strong financial support
  • Vision for the specific ministry areas the Lord wants us to invest in deeply in 2018 
  • God’s grace, strength, peace, joy, protection and constant wisdom for everyday situations
  • Water Crisis!
  • Awareness of opportunities to love, serve and care for those in need around us
  • God’s favor and favor with others (neighbors, community, team, partners, etc)

 

If you would like to join our financial or prayer team you can check out how to partner with us by clicking here Partnering with us….  It is coming close to that time of the year when many are thinking about those charitable donations. Would you consider a special gift to our family and the ministry projects we are planning for 2018. If you would like more info please email me at spanky.rouse@gmail.com. Thank you!

Lastly, we regularly post pictures and stories on our Instagram and Facebook accounts. This is a great way to stay connected and up to date!

https://www.instagram.com/spankyrouse/

https://www.instagram.com/lararouse/

https://www.facebook.com/spanky.rouse

https://www.facebook.com/lara.rouse.7

https://www.instagram.com/causing_wonder/ – Mac’s Instagram

 

 

 

I want the GOAT!

Last night after dinner the boys and I were in the kitchen when we heard someone trying to come in our front door. I went to the door and saw it was just the neighbor’s little boy trying to come in, as he often does. Most of the time he just walks around the back of the house and enters through another door. When I opened the door he said with a confused look, “your door was locked?” I just smiled and said come on in.

He then began his sells pitch for a fundraiser his school was doing. He had to get 23 people to sponsor him at certain amounts ranging from R1 to R23 ($.07 to $1.64) and he was hoping that I would be one of them. Of course I would be one of his sponsors but I asked him to tell me what the fundraiser was all about. He didn’t really know but it was something to help his school out. Come to find out his motivation was the cool prizes he could win if he was one of the top fundraisers. We gladly took one of his top spots.

He then let me read more about the fundraiser while he joked around with Mac. I read through it and then something caught my eye that I have never seen in any single school fundraiser! I saw the prizes and one especially got my full attention. Come to find out I had bought a ticket to the drawing and I want to win that 3rd place prize!!!

You will never guess what it is. 

First place was a wine cooler…not the drink but a portable cooler for wine 🙂

Second Place was a TV…we don’t even have internet or satellite set up yet so I wasn’t too interested. 

BUT third place was the grand prize for me!!! A GOAT!

That’s right, it said a GOAT! As if a goat was just any old, normal prize. I have seen iPads, phones, popcorn, carwashes, tv’s, books, gift cards, and much more for prizes, but I have never seen a GOAT as a prize! How cool would it be to say you won a goat! I have always wanted a goat and now here is my chance.

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My excitement quickly went to full max! I asked the neighbor boy how he could ensure I win the goat. I told him I always wanted one and said, “wouldn’t it be so cool to have one in our back yard like a dog?!?!” He then looked at me with that same confused stare as he did when our front door was locked and he couldn’t just walk right in, and said, “it’s just the meat man. It’s not alive.” The tone of his voice and the way he said it was priceless. It was like he was saying, “Calm down man. You’re acting crazy like some idiot.”

I could feel my bubble pop as this little boy looked at me and tried to bring me back down to reality. I can always count on Greyson though. He quickly came up with a brilliant response to his dad’s downward spiral of emotions and said, “well, we will just have to have the biggest and best braai in history for all of our friends to come enjoy!”

It’s not as cool as having a baby goat walking around in my back yard but it would still be pretty cool to win a goat (of any kind) from a school fundraiser!

Gray Water

If you are like me and are from the West you probably haven’t heard of “gray water”. I had never heard the term until a few weeks ago. Gray water is something I have come to hold as a valuable commodity. Gray water is the relatively clean waste water from baths, sinks, washing machines, and other kitchen appliances. It isn’t really clean water but it isn’t really dirty either, to put it simply. What is the importance of gray water? Why am I spending time even talking about something that seems so insignificant? Well, it is actually a big deal in much of Africa and can make a huge difference for us here in the Western Providence of South Africa.

We are in the middle of the worst drought in over 100 years. What makes this even more critical is the fact that we are heading into summer which is the dry season. NO RAIN in the forecast for months!!! Gray water is more than just waste water for many. Gray water is water what most of us flush with, let flow down the sink freely, and pour into the sewer without even a thought. Not here! We collect and save as much of it as we can. It’s not just a “green, earth friendly” thing to do but a must so we can use or reuse it and hopefully not run out of water one day.

gray-water-reclamation

Challenge: for the next 5 days pay attention to the extra water that you may waste by leaving the sink run while brushing your teeth or washing dishes, time how long your normal shower is, count how many times a day you flush the toilet, how long do you water your lawn (with clean water), calculate how much water you use to fill a bath…You will be shocked at how quickly 23 gallons of water is used up!!! Here is a link to a helpful calculator that will help you gain an accurate number on how much water you might use in a week, http://mycapetownneeds.co.za/thinkwater/

Gray waterOur family can only take 2 minutes or less showers, collect the shower water in buckets to use in other places, turn the water off to toilets, and follow the motto “if it is yellow let it mellow but if it is brown flush it down”, to do our part in helping with the water shortage. We are only allowed to use 87L (23 gallons) of water per person a day or we will receive a large fine. The city is now talking about the pipes drying up one day and maybe sooner than we think, if we do not take drastic measures to reduce our water usage. We are grateful to live in a community that has three lakes that supply our clean water. Those is the townships and more heavily crowded areas like Cape Town are the ones that will suffer first and are suffering today from the lack of clean water.IMG_8861

Thankfully it has rained 3 days this past week!!! But we need so much more rain for this problem to be fixed. Will you PLEASE join us in prayer that the Lord will fill our lakes and reservoirs with ample amounts of water?!?! Join us in asking for a miracle and trusting that the Lord is going to use this for His purposes and fame here in our community and providence!

Father, in your power and authority we pray that you will fill our lakes and reservoirs either from the ground up or from the skies down. Let it be said that the Lord is good and has shown us his favor. You are the one that is able! Amen

Job 5:10, he gives rain on the earth and sends waters on the fields;

Job 38:37, Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,

Zechariah 10:1, Ask rain from the Lord
in the season of the spring rain,
from the Lord who makes the storm clouds,
and he will give them showers of rain,
to everyone the vegetation in the field.

James 5:18, Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

 

More reading on the water crisis:

http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/cape-towns-water-crisis-5-things-you-should-know-20171019

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2017-10-04-op-ed-the-city-of-cape-towns-critical-water-shortages-disaster-plan/#.We2g7617FmA

http://www.capetown.travel/visitors/plan/information/healthy-safe-travel/water-wise-tips-for-tourists-visiting-drought-stricken-western-cape

http://capeinfo.com/blogs/spaniard/2017/05/20/tips-for-surviving-the-western-capes-water-crisis/

We live in AFRICA!!!

I can’t believe that I am writing our first newsletter from our home in South Africa!!! We still can’t believe that we get to live here and be a part of this great work. This place is beautiful and the people and culture is special. We are enjoying learning everything and figuring our way around so far. I feel like we have so many stories to tell you but with our limited internet they will have to wait until we can get a reliable service in our house…hopefully soon!

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Not our house just a great view from the Guest House

Our first 4 days here in South Africa we stayed in a guest house which is like a bed a breakfast since we had some students from around the world staying in our home. It was a great place to land, relax, and spend some family time together. We then moved HOME and have been working hard to get everything set up there. Without Lara (Super Woman) we would never make it. She is doing awesome at learning how to do, well everything. The most simple task can be a bit confusing and taxing on time. For everything there is a process and it can seem like there isn’t much of a “black and white” way of doing it. We usually end up laughing and reminding ourselves that this is Africa and things take longer and processes are just a little different than what we would expect them to be. Even things like going out to dinner can take 2-3 hours and you might end up ordering the wrong thing. It’s not bad just different, and slow.

We wanted to give you a snapshot of some of the things that have been taking up our time:

Paying rent

buying electricity (you buy electricity at the grocery store)

trying to get internet (which we still do not have after many attempts) This is why our Update has been delayed

grocery shopping (you have to go to multiple stores and just because this store had it last week doesn’t mean they will have it next week)

take 2 minute showers and flush the toilets with gray water (We will explain this in our next story/blog but it has to do with the drought that we are in here)

set up a bank account (still in process and a process it is)

all car related things (tags, registrations, inspections, and much more)

getting library cards (it’s actually harder than you think)

Learning how to drive on the opposite side of the road while the steering wheel is on the opposite side too

Visiting churches

Getting into a homeschool rhythm

Exploring our little town and the big city of Cape Town

The kids seem to be doing really well so far. They really seem to be enjoying all of the different aspects of living in another country. They are constantly learning and picking up new things. They have meet some friends just about everywhere they have gone including in the neighborhood which is a blessing to Lara and I. Elly has found some South African friends that take dance and gymnastics and she is going to start going with them this week which makes her happy (social butterfly). Grey is starting up soccer this week with a friend that is a part of the East Mountain community here and has lived here for 4 years already. Mac has been looking around at some science and robotic clubs that are offered at a local museum but he is still on the hunt for something to do. Exploring around is a family favorite and there is much to do and see so we are always out and about.

My mom asked me the other day how ministry and work was going. I had to think about it for sometime since we haven’t jumped into our roles just yet. I figured that many of you would be wondering the same thing therefore I thought I would give all of you an update on this too.

East Mountain has done a great job at encouraging us to take it slow, learn the culture, get settled, and make sure our family is in a good place before we dive in to ministry. This goes against our “doer” personalities and thankfully they know that too. Lara and I are so ready to immerse ourselves and family in all kinds of ministry and work but we know that if we don’t say no to the good things and yes to the best things we will have minimal impact. We have been spending a lot of time getting to know all of the East Mountain staff and residents (like interns that are going through the leader development program). This has been so good for us as well as really fun! This week we are having all of the residents over to our house for a cookout (braai) and game night which we are looking forward too!

Our plan is to start visiting all of the current ministry partners and communities that East Mountain is currently serving alongside to gain a better understanding. I was able to go to last week with Steve (Siyabulela), one of our residents to see his ministry site in one of the largest townships, Khayelitsha. It was so great to see the impact being made in the lives of young teenagers through soccer and life on life discipleship! I got excited just being there observing! We are also reaching out to some contacts trying to build some relationships with potential places/people our family might serve together with. I was reminded by a South African friend last week that this is Africa and the needs will never end so be cautious to not get over extended. It was a good reminder since our goal is to go deep with a few people and a couple of places to make the largest impact possible.

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We can’t wait to share all of the many stories of how the Lord is going to use our family. We believe that he has created us for this time, this place, and these people! We are beyond thankful for each one of you that are partners with us financially and through prayer. Our hope is to live and work for God’s glory, love and serve others so they know Jesus more, and to honor each of you for being a part of our lives and this mission! There is so much more to come and we are busting with joy and excitement!

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Please continue to partner with us or consider joining us in this mission by praying for our family and ministry, follow us on Instagram or Facebook, and give financially as the Lord allows you. Thank you and God bless!!!

Traveling to Cape Town, South Africa

We made it!

To sum up how we all felt Monday morning as we woke up I will quote Greyson. “Are we really moving to Africa today?!?! I can’t believe it.”

We started the day off with a drive to Atlanta, then took a 7 hour flight to London, toured London on a Big Red Bus, and finally took our last flight to Cape Town which was 11.5 hours. The journey went well and the kids did great! After all of the different travels this summer they are pro’s at airports, planes, and and getting around new places.

The kids wanted to share with you more about our journey so here you go…

To be continued…after some much needed rest!

VISA update!!!

But you, O Lord, laugh at them;
    you hold all the nations.

O my Strength, I will watch for you,
    for you, O God, are my fortress. 

            My God in his steadfast love will meet me;
    God will let me look in triumph on my enemies. 

Psalms 59:8-10

It’s time to celebrate! The Rousehouse received our visas for South Africa this past Friday in Los Angeles! After our fourth visit to a South African Consulate office we couldn’t believe it when they handed them to us. I [Spanky] stood there and read them over and over just to be sure it really was the correct visas we had been fighting for, for more than 3 months now. It has taken months, many trips out-of-town,  lots of unexpected expenses but more than anything, it has taken a toll emotionally and we have struggled to keep the course. God has once again proven His faithfulness, His presence, and His care for us through this battle.

Before sharing the joys of getting our visas in LA, let me catch you up on all that has happened over the past month quickly...

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  • June 13th the Rousehouse heads to NYC South African Consulate to apply for our visas.
  • June 21st we get an email from the Consulate asking us to fill out an extra wavier form. No explanation as to why we need this, we were just told to fill it out even though we had all documentation they require for our volunteer visa.
  • July 30th, 2 days before our departure flights for South Africa, Spanky returns to NYC to hopefully get our visas and passports. He spoke with the consulate who made it very clear that he was not on our side and was intentionally delaying our process.
  • August 1st, we cancelled our flights and were not able to leave for South Africa like we had planned.
  • August 14th, Spanky returns to NYC for the third time this summer to get our visas but ended up leaving with nothing more than our passports. We were back at square one with the visa process.
  • We began pursuing every avenue through friends in South Africa, talking with other people who have been through the process, and our ministry leaders who were talking with am international consulting firm in South Africa.
  • We started the visa process from the beginning (paper work, background info, applications, etc) while working with this South African visa consulting company.
  • Planned our trip for all five of us for Los Angeles because we were advised that the LA office was much more willing to work with us to get visas and in a timely fashion.
  • Headed to the west coast on August 28th and were the first person in line at the Consulate’s office on Tuesday the 29th.

This has been a trying season in our life. Nothing like it to be honest. It seemed like the door to our dreams had been shut. We weren’t sure what to do and the worst part was not having a back up plan or a time line. We were sure that we had heard from the Lord and that He said He had good plans for us in South Africa. There were days that we struggled hard and had nothing else to do but hold tight to the Lord and His promises for us. Thankfully He never let’s go and is always completely in control. The Lord has used this experience to awaken us to His presence and power like never before!

We walked into the Los Angeles Consulate office, handed them our files and moments later were sitting in an interview room. The lady on the other side of the glass was extremely nice and made our kids feel very comfortable. She seemed ready to help us get approved for visas to South Africa as soon as possible and even better with no extra hoops to jump through. Once she found out that we were going to hang around LA for a few days this government official said she would do her best to get us visas in hand before we left town. We didn’t really believe her, after all that we had experienced from the NY office this summer this seemed crazy. Never in our wildest dream did we think we would leave there with visas last week.

On Friday morning we woke up and called three-times to the Consulate’s office. No answer! It rings three times and then hangs up on you, every single time. We decided that in faith, we were going to drive back to the office and ask where we were in the process before we left LA. Lara and the kids went to a coffee shop next door while I went up to check on everything. The lady at the front desk went to ask someone else behind the scene and came back to let me know that everything would be ready in 30 minutes! Nerves, excitement, and disbelief were all going through our minds as we waited those 30 minutes with sweaty palms and a shaky knees. “Was this really about to happen?!?!” Five minutes before the office closed for the day, the lady who did our interview a few days earlier came out with a handful of passports. Talk about my heart pounding out of my chest! The piece of paper that gives us the right to head to South Africa, the key to all of these plans of us moving, and the prize we had been working and praying so hard for these past few months was right in front of me!!! As the passport was opened and I read the phrase “3 year volunteer visa for multiple entries in effect September 1, 2017 to serve with East Mountain Leadership Development” and was speechless. I couldn’t wait to run out of there and show everyone.

I left the South African Cimg_4625.jpgonsulate’s office praising the Lord and partially wondering if this was really true. I had all five passports and visas in my back pocket! As I saw my family standing across the street waiting on me by the car I could barely hold in my excitement. I decided to walk up to them with a somber look and an empty envelope as if things had not gone well. They looked at me waiting on some kind of emotion as I huffed and said, “I don’t know what we are going to do now.” I started to feel bad as I saw the kids faces turn towards disappointment. I then pulled the stack of passports out of my back pocket and yelled, “WE GOT THEM!!!! WE ARE GOING TO SOUTH AFRICA!” In the middle of the parking lot we jumped around and yelled with joy. We have been hoping and praying for this moment!IMG_4605

We walked through this trial, questioned lots of things, experienced an array of emotions, and felt bombarded daily with thoughts of fear and uncertainty. It is by the grace of our Father and His Spirit that we were strengthen to continue to stay the course. I saw my wife [Lara] battle through this well! We saw and felt the support of our family, friends, and ministry partners through this time more than we could have asked for and it kept us going day after day. And we believe that we saw the hand of God and felt His love wash over us over and over.

We may never know why we had to walk this path but we can trust that it is all part of the Fathers best plans for us! And now we are rejoicing in the fact that He has chosen to now give us visas to go love, serve, and care for those in need while leading people in a growing relationship with Jesus. He is also allowing us to go to be impacted and developed personally and as a family in ways we can only hope for. IMG_8486

When are we leaving for South Africa??? We just re-booked our flights (2 hours ago!) and will be heading out to South Africa on September 18th!

Please continue to follow our journey so you can keep us in your prayers and know how to partner with us further in this journey! To be continued…

Also, following along on Instagram and Facebook, we will regularly be posting pictures and stories.

https://www.instagram.com/spankyrouse/

https://www.instagram.com/lararouse/

https://www.facebook.com/spanky.rouse

https://www.facebook.com/lara.rouse.7

https://www.instagram.com/causing_wonder/ – Mac’s Instagram