Those Red Dirt Roads

A journal entry from Spanky on Jan. 20th, 2019 while we were in Uganda with the Fuel Uganda team.


It’s our first day of going out to be a part of ministry since landing in Uganda 2 days ago. It’s Sunday which means it is church day. Everyone is tired from the long travels to get here. The kids (all 3) are with me while Lara stays behind to sort the pharmacy out and get things ready from the first medical clinic tomorrow. IMG_2239

We are riding in a taxi out to the village that is an hour and 15 minutes away down a bumpy, red dirt road. Elly is sitting up front with me and she is asking 1 billion questions. The driver just laughs. I was loving her excitement and she seemed to be loving the moment. The boys jumped in the back of the taxi with a bunch of other people but seem to be ok and comfortable. IMG_1868

I was loving the fact that our kids didn’t seem overwhelmed by “Africa” so far. We live in Africa but this is much different than our home.


Church was looooong and Grey and Elly didn’t seem to be that in to it. Elly asked if she could go out side. I later went out and found her holding a fat baby and laughing with the kids her size. Grey really enjoyed lunch. We had rice, mushy bread, chicken stew, and we got to use our hands. IMG_2014

Later we went for a walk through the village with 2 of our translators who are brother. We were invited into homes (huts), asked to sit down, and got to know families. Mac did really well. He seems to have to fear or no reserve. I love seeing him do his thing and enjoy seeing others being attracted to his personality. IMG_2237

Everywhere we go Elly either has a baby on her hip just like her momma or she is sitting on the community mats talking with the woman while they play with her hair. It does my heart so much good to see all of them exhaling in a way by simply being in this place. At the end of the day we climb back into the van and Grey says, “Can we come back tomorrow and the rest of the week.? I love this place and the was the best day.” I am overwhelmed by joy and all kinds of emotions. IMG_2228

For me, I love riding down the red, dusty, dirty African roads. You pass by the elderly man with white hair riding his bicycle, the woman carrying a bundle of fire wood on her head and a baby on her back, little girls carrying yellow water jugs to and from home, and shoeless children yelling, “Muzungos!” (white men). There are small village markets on the side of the road, chickens running in the middle of the road, smoke rising from the huts off in a distance, and moda bodas (motorcycle taxis) zooming by. This is Uganda to me. It’s not home for me but there is something that is super comforting to me. The people, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the realities and possibilities. This is Africa to me and no place I would rather be than right here, and right here with my family. To day was a good day!



She is a masterpiece!

IMG_4232I think that every little girl wants to dance and be a ballerina when they are younger, maybe forever.  At least in my experience with Elly and her friends this is the case. I am also pretty sure that many girls grow up with a deep need, longing to know they are beautiful, special, and loved. These two things are what led Ellyana to Masterpiece Dance Studio or what led Lara to taking her to Masterpiece.

Masterpiece is no ordinary dance studio for young girls. It may seem like it until you listen to Mrs. Jackie and her teachers. They are well-trained professional dance teachers but they have an even bigger objective while instructing these young girls. They want them to know the TRUTH and know what in life really matters. It’s not how well you did your performance, it’s not how perfect their pirouette(look it up, I had too) is, it’s not how well they know their positions, and it’s not how they look in their outfits…or as Elly calls them, her costumes. It is so much more than that for these ladies. For them it is all about these girls growing up to believe this one truth that can change every facet of their life. They are a masterpiece made by their Heavenly Father and He cherishes each one of them just the way they are! That is what dance class is about at Masterpiece.


Some days I think to myself that maybe Ellyana could practice a little more and maybe she could try to do those positions and moves a little better but then I remember what she is really learning while she is simply having fun at dance. She is learning about one of the greatest principles that I could possibly imagine my little princess knowing. She is learning that God made her and God takes pride in who she is, what she looks like, and the gifts he has given her. She is gaining that foundation that she is a masterpiece! 


1 Peter 3:3-4

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes…(or how well you dance…Spanky’s version) Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty, gentleness, and a quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Princess for a day


Last week was our little princess birthday. I can’t believe that she is already 4 years old! Where does time go?! You would have thought that it was a national holiday around the Rouse House. Not because of Elly but because of the boys (daddy included). Everything for a day was all about her. She got anything she wanted and got to go where ever she wanted to go.

We began breakfast with cinnamon rolls, lunch at Taco Bell (her choice), shopping, McAdenville lights (if you haven’t been there you should go during Christmas. It’s an entire town covered in lights. So awesome!), rode around downtown Charlotte, and then headed to MidWood Smoke House for some mac and mheese (she didn’t even get mac and cheese…girls).IMG_3384

The next day we continued the celebration. At church, while in the hallway, I heard  someone say, “whose birthday is it?”. And immediately we all heard Elly’s BFF yell, “it’s Elly’s birthday, my sister’s birthday!” **side note Elly and her BFF, Brinley, actually don’t say they are friends. They call each other sisters. Pretty cute!** We had one of the coolest (it was a Frozen princess party) parties after church. Little girls running around dressed in costumes, its something that I never ever thought would be a Rouse House thing but I am so glad I get to be the father of a princess! One of my favorite things in the entire world.

This little girl is #myblessing! Every December 6th I think about the long ride in a small bus from the jungles of Panama to the airport when God told me that I was having a baby girl one day. After a little snooze I woke up with the thought, ” should we have another baby?”. The next thought was, “it’s a baby girl with blond hair and blue eyes.” WHAT?!?! I remember coming home, walking in my bathroom to see a note wrote in a red marker on the mirror that said, “Welcome home daddy of 3”. I thought that my wife had just added wrong but to be safe I ask, “3?” She sat on our bed smiling from ear to ear! Not sure if I was more surprised to know that we were pregnant with number 3 or that I for sure heard from God earlier that day. Either way…WOW!

Guess what, the baby was a beautiful girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. She stole my heart the moment I held her. To this day I know that there is no mistaken that she is a gift from God to remind me that he cares about me and he knows what I truly need (and want) even more than I do! His plans are amazing for me…I can’t seemed to get away from that truth every time I look at my princess!