There are lots of things happening and moving fast but we wanted to send out a quick update on the Rousehouse.
We began to post all of our furniture, cars, and extras just a couple weeks ago. God has been so good in providing someone to come buy almost everything we have. We have given a lot away too but for the most part God has connected us with the right people to sell our stuff. He has done this before (just 2 years ago to be more specific) so why would I doubt he can do it again! Let me tell you just one of the many stories we have during this time of the right people God has sent us. We are basically camping and making the best of it!
Our neighbor, Rob, has been a good guy to live beside. He has been super helpful and generous on multiple occasions. Well, I posted our family’s SUV for sell and he immediately came over to the house and made me a very fair offer. He transferred the money within an hour and told me that we should just drive the car until we leave South Africa. How great is that! He even used the car to take us to the airport and pick us up when we went to Uganda at 3:00 am! I am thankful for people like Rob!
We are planning out the time we will be in the US to make sure we see as many people as we can as well as get some needed rest and down time as a family. We are so looking forward to tacos, church, parties, family, friends, and to be honest Amazon and Target. We arrive on June 26th and leave on August 1st for Uganda. We hope to give updates, share vision for the next season, tell you more about Sole Hope and be encouraged by all of you who love and support us from afar. See you soon!
While we are in the US we will also be renovating a home in Uganda. Yes this is a little stressful and no we have no idea how it is all going to happen. We are trusting the Lord. The house is in rough conditions and currently doesn’t have a working kitchen or security fence around the house. We are working with some great people in Uganda to get a new kitchen built and installed, bathrooms up to fully functioning, the interior painted, electrical work fixed, a ceiling leak repaired, odds and ends done, and a fence installed around the property for security. This house is across the street from the Sole Hope Guest House and offices, centrally located to town, church, and other people we know which is why we really want this house. Location, location, location. It will also provide some good space for our family indoors and outdoors. We will also be needing to raise some extra start up/moving funds to help us pay for some of the work as well as we need to buy a 4×4 car (Yes, 4×4 is necessary to get around not just something Spanky wants to play in the mud with!). Can’t wait to share pictures later!
Will you please be praying for us during this transition:
Saying goodbyes/see you laters to all of the wonderful people, church, and city we have loved so much these past two years
For our marriage to be stronger than ever
The kids (peace, fears, friendships, a sense of settledness and comfort, hopefulness)
Travel plans to the US and then to Uganda – and all bags to make it hassle free
That our time in America will be refreshing, restful, and fruitful
For the renovations to go well and smooth so the house can be ready for our family when we get there in August
For extra funds for moving, housing, and vehicles ($10,000)
New financial partners to join us in this next season of the journey ($500 a month in new giving)
Will you join our financial support team and help bring hope to those in Uganda? Please email Spanky at firstname.lastname@example.org for more ways to get involved.
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
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!
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:
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
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.
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!
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!!!
Well, we are not in South Africa like we thought we would be right now. I was really looking forward to writing this newsletter from South Africa but things have not gone as planned…welcome to life in Africa!
Here are a few updates from our last months newsletter updates:
Visas to safely and quickly get here in hand
Quick update on what is happening: We were suppose to get our visas and leave on August 1st but towards the end of last week we began getting a little nervous since we haven’t seen them in the mail. It is normal for them to come last minute so until now we hadn’t thought there was a problem. On Sunday morning when Spanky was leaving Portland, Oregon (he was there with a buddy rafting for the week) we decided that it would be best if he flew straight to New York to visit the South African Consulate and try to get our visas in hand. We have called and emailed numerous times but never got an answer so hopefully an in person visit would help. After flying over night Spanky was able to be at the Consulate office before they opened on Monday morning. He was able to talk with the man in charge and get some answers, kind of, not really. He was told that they are waiting on some documents to be sent back from South Africa before we could have our visas approved. This was not the news we were hoping for but there was nothing else we could do therefore we had to cancel our flights until we have a better idea of when we would get our visas. We have been working diligently this week along with many other people here and in South Africa to get some answers and time frames of when to expect our visas. We are frustrated and a bit discouraged but we know that God is still in control just like He has been in every step of this journey leading up to this point. It is still a difficult time. We would love for you to be praying for the people making the decisions on our visas, praying that we get them soon with no more problems, and for us to remain positive and encouraged.
The closing and moving out of our house to go smoothly (Closing is July 11th)
We did close on our house and everything went really well! God showed Himself in this processes and we felt his goodness through it all. We could not have been any more thankful for the way this all went. We had some amazing realtors, wonderful couple buying our house, and a lot of help from friends and family during this time. Praise the Lord!!!
Packing essentials and things we will want in SA. We can only take 2 free bags each but currently have 5 extra bags ($200 each x 5 = $1000!)
We have sold and got rid of everything exce
pt what we have considered the essentials. We had originally thought that 2 bags per person was going to work but we miscalculated. We have 3 bags per person and I think we are done packing.
All of the goodbyes. There are many!
We have learned that goodbyes are hard so we have decided to say “See you later” instead. We have many people that love our family therefore we have had many emotional “see you laters” over the past month. We are pretty worn out emotionally but encouraged by all of the love and support. We have had some fun adventures and created some sweet memories over the past couple of months with all of you that we have been able to see.
Family prayer card
We value all of you who are continuing to prayer for us daily!!! We are learning that we are on a journey that the enemy doesn’t like and we need you to keep lifting us up! The prayers of those in our life is essential to our healthy, growth, success, and safety. PLEASE keep praying for us!
Prayer needs for August:
Visas to arrive quickly and with out any problems or complications
Contentment during this time of waiting
Protection against the attacks of the enemy. Evil is hunting us (our minds, hearts, relationships, etc) daily
Wisdom and peace to make the right decisions and move in the right directions
Pray that as a husband and wife we will draw closer together and encourage each other daily. Pray that our children will have an overflow of joy while we move from place to place.
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…. Thank you!
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Time is getting close to our departure for South Africa! We are really excited and probably more nervous than we realize. We are scheduled to take off on August 1st. Much has been done to get us to this point and we feel like we are closing in on one of the big mile marker moments in this journey.
Here are a few updates from our last Newsletter Update in May:
Visas – we need to be applying this week and praying that there is no issues with the consulate accepting and approving them quickly.
We did apply for our visas and had all of the paperwork and more they needed thanks for my organized wife!!! We have not received our visas nor passports back yet, but from all of those that have gone through this process before us have said that “no news is good news”. If there was a problem we were suppose to hear with in 14 days. We haven’t heard so we are assuming all is well! PLEASE KEEP PRAYING!
Trip to NYC to apply for visas with the SA consulate
Putting our home on the market and selling the rest of our furniture, cars, etc.
The Lord gave us this house as a blessing and it continues to be a blessing. We did sell out home in a matter of 4 hours!!! We even got over asking price which is amazing! We know that it is all of the Lord’s doing. We are just about to close (Tuesday the 11th) and are currently getting rid of the last few things. We believe that life will feel a little less heavy after this is all said and done.
From our family’s prayer card, the letter T – Travel arrangements: purchasing the best plane tickets, cost, routes, etc.
We are purchasing plane tickets this week! Our church, Ridge Church said that as part of their support for us they would like to purchase our tickets! How cool is that!!! We even got a pretty relaxing schedule where we can spend a day in London as a family walking around between two long flights.
To have 100% of monthly support finalized and one time set up cost in
We have been blown away by the generous people the Lord has brought our way this past month. We have reached 100% in our monthly support! Praise the Lord! It feels so good and we are extremely thankful. We still would like to raise about $7000 in set up cost before we leave August 1st so please let us know if you would like to help meet this need.
Prayer needs for July:
Visas to safely and quickly get here in hand
The closing and moving out of our house to go smoothly (Closing is July 11th)
Packing essentials and things we will want in SA. We can only take 2 free bags each but currently have 4 extra bags ($200 each x 4 = $800!)
All of the goodbyes. There are many!
From our family prayer care we have a couple:
J-Joy, “Not to feel sad”, Ellyana
E-Everyones luggage will arrive safe and sound
K-Kids, Trusting God to provide what they need in each step of the journey and that they will recognize His goodness
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…. Thank you!
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Just in case you aren’t familiar with #Hashtags (please don’t call this the pound sign, your children will be completely embarrassed and call you old) they are a simple and fun way to label something, briefly explain your thought, or make a point. Our family plays this game where we have an entire conversation using only hashtags. Elly is the queen at using hashtags and she is hilarious!!! I should video one of these conversations for all to enjoy one day. I will try to keep that in mind.
Lara and I jokingly have a few self labeled hashtags that we are using in this season. When something happens instead of explaining how we feel or getting into a long story we just throw out one of the hashtags like #allthingsaredying. It’s a silly way to recognize the irony of what is happening and allows us to brush it off and laugh at things that normally would drive us crazy. Let me explain #allthingsdying so that you don’t get too worried about us. This one is actually a good thing that the Lord is using to move us on to the next season of life.
A few months ago we began noticing that random things around the house were starting to die on us. Mac even mentioned that it feels like everything is wearing out at just the right time. Just so you get an idea of what we are talking about here are a few examples from the past couple weeks.
Mac’s ipod…he accidentally put that one to death in the car door!
both of our cars began showing signs of dying in the same week – but were brought back from the dead
The A/C in our home – was dead but has new life
our cloths dryer – dead
the ice maker in our fridge – dead
my wireless earbuds – dead
our microwave is barley hanging on to life
We then came to the conclusion 3 weeks ago that we are going to need to sell our home, which honestly felt like a death to us. We love this place that God has blessed us with and didn’t want to give it up. Through listening to others, prayer and a lot of tough conversations we believe that this is His best plan for us. This was not an easy decision and we took a week to mourn our loss. Through this decision Lara began to recognize this theme of dying to ourselves. Dying to yourself and your desires hurts and isn’t all that fun but we know that we can trust the Father! If death is what He has for us then it must be the best for us! Dying to your old life gives birth to the new life and paves away for an abundant life. God doesn’t take things a way too be mean but takes them away because He knows what is good for us.
Through dying we can see He is faithful, trustworthy, present, for us, sovereign, loving, compassionate, mighty, glorious, gracious, and the list goes on. Dying is a necessity and dying is worth it because we get more of Him and His goodness he has stored up for us! Psalms 145
When you are going through a time of death (and you will) and you can’t see past what is happening right in front of you read and re-read what the Lord says in Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you. They are good plans, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future and a hope!” He never goes back on a promise either!
Did you know that your skin cells are constantly dying. In the next minute 667 skin cells will die and fall off your body, the next hour 40,000, over the next day close to a million cells die and fall off your body! That is kind of gross if you think about what happens to all of those that have fallen off your body this week alone. Where are they??? Back to my point, they have to die so new cells can grow. As skin cells grow and others die your body is able to heal it’s self, protect you from infections and viruses, and technically makes you waterproof (seriously, think about it). But none of this would be possible if your skin didn’t die constantly so that better, newer skin could be born.
What is dying in your life that God is wanting to use for your good?
What needs to die in your life to allow you to experience the abundance He has for you?
Summer is off to a good but busy start for the RouseHouse! And man is it hot here in the south! We wanted to pause for a few minutes and share some quick family and ministry updates with you as well as share some ways that you can continue to partner with us in prayer.
The kiddos are doing great! Mac keeps saying, “it feels so weird to not go to school every day!”, while Greyson is loving a break from the regular routine of getting up and going to school. Sometimes the guys can be night and day different. For Elly I think she is loving this time of having “her boys” at home with her…for the most part they are enjoying her too. They have already spent much of their time at the pool (and yes they have a nice tan already), at Nana and PawPaw’s with their cousins, riding scooters, having water gun fights, playing with the dog, shopping (Elly talks us into this one) and staying up late. There is still so much for them to do this summer!
Lara is just getting over the Shingles and starting to feel a little more normal. She was a real trooper! You can tell she really tried not to complain even though she was in horrible pain, scratch even though it felt like a large patch of mosquito bites, and lay around even though that is probably what she should have been doing. She is one tough momma! I wish we had a dollar for every time someone would say, “I thought only old people could get the Shingles.” For the record it isn’t just for old people. This has been a painful and very uncomfortable time for Lara and we are thankful for all of the prayers and support! Other than that she has been busy taking care of these 3 crazy guys. It really is a full-time job! My favorite quote from Lara this summer so far is when Mac ask if it is time to eat again and Lara says, “do I have to feed you everyday!?” For the record Mac thinks it is always time to eat. When he is done with one meal he is planning the next before he gets up from the table.
We are loving our new home! It is an answer to prayer that we had been asking the Father for years to grant us! We regularly look at one another and say with a big smile, “this house is perfect for our family”. We have been able to meet most of the neighbors on our street and regularly take walks to pray for them. God has big plans for the RouseHouse here and we believe that we will see Him transform this community and families for His glory!
I have been busy with some cool things at work but have also had some opportunities to spend a little extra time with the family since school has been out. Summer time can be a little slower for mobilization at UWM (this is the team I serve on) which has been good for me with the move, kids being out of school, and Lara being sick. But I have had the privilege of being a part of some great missional things too. We are in conversations about taking on more of a role with Business as Mission (BAM) and I have been chosen to be on that team which I am very excited about. I have also been able to be a part of some expansion opportunities. Expansion is when we open a new country for UWM or a new type of work we currently are not involved in. I can’t be too specific because of security reasons but we are opening some new African countries, possibly Asian countries, and Middle East areas. Taking the Gospel to some dark places! My team will also be leading a new missionary orientation/training in July for families going all over the globe. Did I mention I am heading to Zimbabwe next week too! I am so excited!
We truly value the prayers of our ministry partners! If you could please spend a few minutes over the next month praying for some of these specifics and anything else the Father brings to your mind we would appreciate it!
Physical good health for our family
Safe travels for Spanky and for Lara and the kids as they head out on a couple of trips
God’s wisdom and favor with all of these new opportunities at UWM and around the world
Peace, the kind that only the Father can give!
And anything else He leads you to be praying for the RouseHouse will be good
For those of you who financially partner with us to see His kingdom come around the World and right here in Charlotte we want to say THANK YOU! Our hearts and lives are blessed daily because of you therefore we thank God for you often. We have begun setting sometime aside to pray a little extra for you on the first Monday of every month. If there is ever anything specific we can be praying for please let us know by emailing us at email@example.com.
If you are wondering what it means to be a ministry partner of the RouseHouse you can simply click here. We always need and are looking for new partners! Generally, it means that you are praying for us, financially supporting this work God has given us, and are encouragers to us. We would love to share more with you and have you join this team of family and friends!
Have you ever had someone do something so awesome that it makes you want to tell people about it? Well, fortunately I have, many times. God has blessed the RouseHouse so much and He often does it through the amazing people He has put in our life.
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” – C.S. Lewis
When we began talking about moving Lara and I thought about how we want this to be a place of community. Therefore, we wanted a really big table that could fit a bunch of people and a ton of children. Well, those kinds of tables are not cheap! We know a friend that had just built a large farm table and it looked really good, so I asked him if he would be interested in helping me build one for our new house. Before any of you say something I did fully disclose that I have 0% skills in craftsmanship! My friend quickly said, “would you just want me to build it and you can paint and stain it?” to which I respond with a “OH YES!” I think he knew that it would probably be more work to have me actually help. He got started and it quickly came together.
Lara and I sat and looked at the table the other night when I finished staining it. We talked about the many years that we will be using this beautiful piece. Our hope is that God will use this piece of furniture in hundreds of people’s lives and our dream is that one day it will sit in one of our children’s house and will be a place of community and long conversations for them too.
What a friend and servant! Who builds a table like this for someone else house without charging them??? The RouseHouse is so thankful and blessed!
PS, the top was made out of reclaimed wood from a construction demo project at Piney Grove School which makes it even more special! We not only have a table that will have a bunch of people around it in the years to come but a piece that will always remind us of how God has used us in this community for many years. How cool is that!