This day is always a day of reflection for me and many others. For some it isn’t a light-hearted day and for others it’s a day to celebrate. For me it is one of the best days of the year. I love being a dad more than almost anything!
I was made more aware this year of the father figure I get to be in many people’s lives. Not that I necessarily take on the dad role in others lives but that I get to represent what a Godly, loving, strong, caring man can look like. I know too many people that didn’t have this role modelled well for them but I do believe that everyone wants a dad that will provide, protect, guide, love, and listen well…even if we don’t realise it yet.
I have seen many bad examples of dads and regularly hear of stories that break my heart of fathers who neglect their sons and daughters. I would bet that these men didn’t have someone that showed them what a dad was suppose to be either. I believe that as a Christian one of the greatest missions we can have in life as men is to reflect the heart of God. The starting block or greatest platform we have for this is being a dad. I am determined to change the future for some.
I am reminded today that I have 3 kids that mean more to me than anything and I’m excited that I get to pour into them so that they know Jesus and their purpose in life. I am also reminded today of the many that we now call family. We get the opportunity to shape and invest in others in a way like no one else has ever done for them. I get to be that fatherly example that they need and want. I get to love and care for them like no man has ever done for them. I get to show them Jesus.
My mission in life is to love, care for, serve and point people to Jesus. My starting line for changing the world begins with my children. My next step is to be that example of a Godly man and dad to those God gives us. This is not a job or a “have to”. This is my pleasure and one of my greatest opportunities!
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
This past month we had one of our residents, Lindsay, come to visit our ministry site. Lindsay is helping East Mountain with communication and photography. She really embodied so much of what we are doing and tells our story beautifully.
Tucked neatly within the hills of a farming community off of R 44 in Somerset West is the Helder Valley Community Learning Centre. Standing stoically like a proud and seasoned soldier, the rugged main building embodies the space of joy and safety that this center has been to generations of children. The sound of Afrikaans melds with snatches of dialects from Zimbabwe and the screams of delighted children. Soccer balls are the hottest commodities, and there’s a feeling of joy in the air synonymous with the freedom that comes at the end of a school day.
Helder Valley Community Centre serves many purposes, and has for years. The children that are served by this centre are from families that have lived in the surrounding farming community for generations, and they range from grade R up to high school. Homework tutoring in reading and math is provided, but the most powerful impact of the centre is the space that it creates for the kids in the community to spend time with their friends in a place that allows them to be what they are–kids. For them, the community center is a place to come after school that is safe, fun, and engaging. This is no small blessing. With drugs, alcoholism, and abuse being stark realities in their lives, the environment that the centre fosters in the community cannot be overstated.
The centre also acts as a place for the kids to be poured into and challenged. The Rouse family who serve as missionaries with East Mountain come to the center several times a week to build relationships with the kids and love on them. This could include anything from helping with after-school tutoring to playing rounds of soccer to baking muffins for someone’s birthday. Their time at the center embodies much of what East Mountain desires to focus on in regard to building relationships and discipleship. They work in partnership with Louise, a woman from the community who was herself impacted by the centre growing up. She is an integral part of everything that happens there, and her passion to serve the kids is evident not only in the commitment she has to pour out, but also in the respect that the kids show her in return. The work that both she and the Rouse family do embodies a very natural and organic kind of ministry that is conducive to building trust and strengthening relationships. This allows for tough questions to be asked, and truth and encouragement to be shared.
Lastly, occasional workshops are offered at the centre. East Mountain resident Marlyn teaches a couple of dance classes each week for different age groups. The younger kids delight in the way that she combines dancing with games, singing, and yelling. The joy radiating from that class is contagious. With the class for the older kids however, Marlyn shifts her focus to lessons underlying the dance moves she teaches. As she instructs dance, she also focuses intensely on leadership by asking her older students to help her lead the younger students, and expecting them to give her 100% effort. Amidst the kindness and fun Maryln brings to her class, she also expects the best from her students, and they respect her for it. She does an incredible job choreographing dances, but she also develops character and inspires young leaders. She believes in them, challenges them, and loves them.
The relationships and natural opportunities for discipleship that both Marlyn and the Rouse family are able to engage in at Helder Valley are tangibly affecting the young people that come to the centre every week. In the many small things of life such as a hug on a bad day, an answer to a tough question about home, or a friend to play soccer with, the power of investing in others with empowering love is creating change and impacting the Helder Valley community.
Winter is coming here in South Africa. The cool autumn mornings, changing leaves, and much needed rain are a nice surprise for our family. It also feels very odd for us to be in the middle of Autumn during May. May is a sweet time for Lara and me. Tomorrow, May 18th we celebrate our 16 year anniversary! To celebrate went away for a few days to a small village just over the mountains from where we live. It was a nice time to get away, talk, reconnect, drink a lot of coffee, enjoy the amazing views, eat lots of yummy food, slow down, relax, and stay in an old Dutch cottage with chickens walking around. Our favorite thing was, hands down, the Mexican churros with chocolate sauce to dip at the local pub!!! We went twice just for the churros.
Grey and Elly have officially finished up school for the year! They are still reading through the bible, working on math, and practicing guitar and dance. Mac is almost done and is working very hard to finish up over the next week or two.
Summit is East Mountain’s 6 week summer intensive internship that runs from the end of May through the first of July. Summit is a relational learning experience, filled with adventure and intentional community living. This year we have 2 young American guys, 1 Zimbabwean, and 3 South Africans that will be going through the program with us. Lara and I are serving on the leadership team for Summit and will be involved in many of the weekly activities. We are hopeful that the Lord will use us during this time to bless and equip these young leaders for missional work as well as deepen their relationship with the Jesus over these next 6 weeks.
We have continued to enjoy our children at the community centre! We have been able to recruit some of our resident interns to help connect with the teenagers in the community better through dance, small groups, and sports. It is encouraging to see the deeper relationships and greater influences the Lord has given us with the community! We also love the affection and hugs we get when we see them at church, in the community, or at the centre.
We have bought our flights to the return home for a visit this July. It’s not been a full year since we arrived here in South Africa, but our original plan before the whole visa debacle was that we would travel back to visit our families during July. Since that is what everyone had planned on we decided July would be best. We will be in the US for most of the month of July but traveling around a lot. We are looking forward to are seeing family and friends, Mexican food, and long hot showers that last more than 2 minutes! Things we will miss while we are gone for this month will be our church here, friends, our children at the community centre, our mentee’s, and braais. We are thankful we have all of those things to come back to though!
Answers to Prayer:
We have been feeling much better since our last update. Praise the Lord we haven’t had any stomach issues since we asked all of you to be praying. Thank you for praying!
We have seen the Lord’s favor with the families at the community centre.
Tickets are purchased for the US. They were very costly but we were thankful for the funds to purchse them.
It’s been raining more regularly!
God is moving in our lives and in the lives of those we get to invest in!!!
Summit: Our schedule over the next 6 weeks will be very full, the 6 young leaders coming, our family’s schedule, and weekly balance.
Planning for our trip to the US and a vehicle to borrow during this time
Keep praying for the children and families at the community centre: opened hearts to the Lord, better grades at school, and a willingness to come to church with us starting in June.
Rain, we still in need of much more rain this winter to counter balance the draught we have been in during the summer months.
That we can keep our focus on what is most important, wisdom to make the best decisions, and hearts full of love for the people God puts in our paths.
That we will have a deeper since of God’s presence and power in our lives
“The measure of your life is not in the money you made but in the people you shaped.” – African Proverb
Mentorship…This is what we believe will change the world. I believe Jesus knew this to be true and that is why He commanded us to go into all the world making disciples (Matthew 28:19). One life pouring into another creates a recipe for life change and empowerment. We are not born with all that we need to be the best we can be, so God gives us other people to speak into our lives.
Lara and I are really enjoying the opportunities we have to mentor some of the young people at East Mountain! Each week we are learning just how impactful these relationships can be. We spend time encouraging them, helping them to see all that God has created them to be, the potential they have, while enjoying loving the heck out of them. We try to imagine the difference this season will make in their lives and it gets us excited!!!
Some days we laugh a lot and have fun. Some days we talk about difficult things and cry. Somedays we lay down the law and then take them for ice cream. Somedays they join us for a family day at the beach or we braai together for dinner. Everyday we intentionally pour into them! Out of our cup into theirs.
“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” — John Crosby
We would like for you to meet two of the awesome people we get to spend time with this year. Zach and Zuzu.
Zach is an American that is living here for the year and is going through our East Mountain leadership development program. He is a student at Clemson University, is learning the guitar, loves the outdoors, is everyone’s best friend immediately, and knows how to have fun. We have a blast together and regularly point each other to Jesus. My dream for Zach is that he will know more fully by the end of this year who God says he is…His chosen, the one He delights in, significant, capable, qualified, special, wonderfully made, and so much more!
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” — The Bible
Zuzu (Vazela) is a young lady from Port Elizabeth which is 7 hours east of Cape Town. She is also a part of the East Mountain leadership development program for the year. I tell Lara all the time that Zuzu is a young South African version of herself. She is fun, sassy, and scared of no one. Zuzu is such a blessing to us and has such a heart for God! Her hopes are to possibly go on to nursing school after this year and Lara is definitely one of her biggest cheerleaders. She also gives the best hugs!
“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.”— John C. Maxwell
Will you please pray for these two? Pray that this year will be a time that will forever shape and direct their journey as they walk with the Father.
We are thankful and excited to have made it to the 6 month mark! The first 6 months in some ways were easier than we had thought, but in ways we hadn’t imagined it was tougher than we anticipated. Lara and I regularly try to take the “temperature” of the children and ourselves to evaluate how we are doing. We try to get away and take a walk or a drive, go have a coffee, or chat while sitting outside on our patio. These times have been some of the most powerful/intimate/challenging/fulfilling/helpful moments for Lara and I.
These past few months have been emotionally, spiritually, and mentally challenging for us, but also have allowed us to create some of the most beautiful memories that will be cherished for a lifetime. This time has reminded me that I am deeply thankful for my wife!!! It’s been a dream of mine, since I was 14 years old to be a missionary, but I had no idea how crucial it was going to be to have this woman on the journey with me.
Young man drinking his coffee
He is a nut!
Some of our community centre kids
Zach and mine mentor session included some waves
They love playing with his hair!
How did our baby get to be so big!?
Mac is doing well! Out of the 3 of them he is the one that has surprised us the most. He is truly thriving and that is an enormous gift to us as parents. His first year of online school with Liberty University is coming to a close shortly and he has been challenged but done well with it. The Lord has been good to Mac by providing him with some great friends, and lots of them! We walk into church and people run to Mac. He has truly been loved well. Mac is taller than his mom, his shoe size is bigger than mine, his voice gets deeper and deeper, his hair is longer than ever, and his joy is still as contagious as always. Mac is really loving life in South Africa.
Bobby the African goat
Grey picking with the big boys at the Friday Braai
Grey has enjoyed many of the new facets of life here in South Africa. He loves going shoeless (everywhere), minimizing the number of showers he has to take every week, learning some Afrikaans words and phrases, and having a slower pace of life in our weekly schedule (Africa life is slower and more relational than we are accustom too in America). Grey started learning how to play the guitar and is doing pretty well so far. Homeschooling has been a great fit for Grey and he should be finishing up in the next week or so for the year. One area that Grey has struggled with more with than the other two is finding some close friends that he can regularly spend time with. He seems to be growing in his relationship with Jesus and understanding on the bible which is exciting to see. He is still the most loving little guy and loves those around him well.
Twins at the outdoor movie
Elly is a “mini me” of Lara, therefore she has no issues with finding a friend no matter where we go. Elly walks into a room and immediately has a new sidekick to hang out with. She has a great group of girls at church, dance class, and within our East Mountain community that she enjoys a lot. Elly also loves having older girls around that act like big sisters. Being a social butterfly we are grateful for all of the relational connections for her. She has learned how to read (English) as well as she can count to 29 in Afrikaans! Elly also really enjoyed getting her nail polish collection from Nana and Marla last month. Her nail colors change daily.
Alechia has just finished her first term at University! It was a challenge for her but she did well and is enjoying it. She is taking 7 classes so her schedule is full and some classes are difficult but she is learning a lot. She is thankful for all of your prayers! We have enjoyed spending some extra time with her while she has been on fall break.
Romero’s first Sunday playing drums
Romero at the salon with Elly and Olivia
Romero is doing well! He has begun to work more with the church we attend. He is serving in the young adults ministry, the youth group, and with one of the pastors here. He also auditioned for the worship band and made it as a regular drummer! It was really exciting to see him excel in something he loves and is naturally gifted in. Romero is also busy leading at some Christian camps in the area during the school break. It is a blessing to have him be a part of our life and family (I think he likes it too :))
We love serving with our church at the community centre! Great things are happening through the relationships we are building there. Read more here…We love these kids so much!
Homeschool is almost done for the year and Lara and the kids have done really well with it.
We love mentoring! We also love the young people that we have the opportunity to pour into.
IT RAINED!!! This week it rained for 2 straight days at our house and it was wonderful! Day Zero (April 2018) is the day that Cape Town was supposed to run out of water but it has now been pushed back until sometime next year! Praise the Lord!
We love our church, Life Church! Great connection, wonderful people, and life-giving ministries! It feels like home!
We have all been sick on the regular. Lara and Elly have had a head cold, chest cold, and snots for over 5 weeks. All of us have had stomach issues regularly for a few months. It comes and goes and is super frustrating. We aren’t sure if it is our bodies getting use to the water here or something else. PLEASE pray for healing!
Pray for the Helder Valley Community Centre families and for the Lord to give us favor with them.
Join us in praying about buying airline tickets to come to visit in July.
Pray for us to have deep relationships, big impact, fruitful ministries, and life-giving opportunities.
Please pray for these young leaders we get to mentor and invest in. Pray that they will get a full glimpse of who God has created them to be and what God has called them to do with their lives.
Pray for Lara and me as we are figuring out some new roles within East Mountain that will allow us to have a greater opportunity to love, serve, care for, and point people to Jesus.
Pray that we will find a language helper soon. We don’t “need” to learn Afrikaans but we think it would be very helpful to get a little understanding.
Oh my goodness, we love these kids so much! It’s definitely not always an easy, but we have yet to leave there without smiles on our faces and a full heart.
In moving to South Africa, Lara and I knew we would quickly become busy with different roles and ministries but one of our top priorities was finding a way for our family to serve together. Serving at Helder Valley Community Centre has been exactly the kind of place our family wanted to get connected with. Every time we show up and kids run to each of us, jump into our arms, and squeeze our necks so tight we know we are exactly where we need to be!
If you were to come and observe what is going on one afternoon it would probably just look like all we do is play games, eat snacks, read children’s bible stories, do art projects, tutor and help with homework, dance, listen to music and have fun. Well, that is exactly what we do! In doing just that, we [As you, who support this work and pray for us please know that we are including you in all of the “we” statements here. PLEASE don’t miss that! You are making a lasting difference here.] are able to provide some consistency in these kids lives. We are helping them improve in reading and math. We are teaching them the Bible! We are providing them with a opportunity to laugh in the midst of the reality that, life is a struggle and “I am not sure how are we going to survive today”. We give them one on one attention that you can so vividly see they hunger for. We are giving them love. We are offering them hope, life, and a better future. Together, we [Jesus, You and the Rousehouse] are transforming a community through this small group of children!
“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”
— Billy Graham, evangelist
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
— Frederick Douglass, abolitionist and statesman
“Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.”
“If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God!”
— Dwight L. Moody, evangelist
“Hugs can do great amounts of good, especially for children.”
— Diana, Princess of Wales
And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. — Jesus, Matthew 18:5
13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. – Jesus, Mark 10:13-16
Jesus is going to do a great work through our small investment in the lives of these children! This could be the start of a whole new life for these kids and their families. Our family is praying that this entire community will be made new and that the doors to their hearts will be opened wide to all that God has stored up for them. Our dreams are that: families will start to follow Jesus, kids will get a better education and more opportunities in life, there will be less abuse, more joy, better attitudes, faithful dads, healthier lives, freedom from addictions, and a hope filled future for the generations to come. Big dreams for a Big God!
Today we have the opportunity to show them that God is always with them, that Jesus loves them, and that they have some friends that care for them. That is a legacy that will last and a life worth living!
From Spanky, Lara, Mac, Grey and Elly we want to say thank you for playing such an important role in this great mission and in our lives!
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.
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.
Taking in God’s creation on a drive down the coast
Super Bowl paaarrrttyyyy!
Elly and Olivia, her friend
Grey with some of his buddies at East Mountain
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.
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.
Saying goodbye- all the feelings!
Her Mom and our friend Tori moving her to school a couple weeks back
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….
We 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!
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!
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
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.
Alechia 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.
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!
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
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!!!
Our first South African Christmas…
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.
It’s a powerful gun, I am guessing
Mac at the outdoor movie
Christmas Morning. Our favourite gift was the family XL beanbag!
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!
Turkey cranberry potjie
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!
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!
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!
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
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 email@example.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!