Tuesday, September 17, 2013

BLOOD, SWEAT, and BEANS: How I'm turning into Grandaddy

This picture used to hand above my grandaddy's chair.  From my earliest memories up until when GG left Mereta and moved to big town, this picture was always there above grandaddy's chair.  I found this picture here in Soroti town at a garage sale.  You can't imagine how stoked I was to find this jewel all the way over here in Africa.  It now hangs proudly in the WFA workshop in Obule.  

This blog post is written by Colin.  I wouldn't want you to read this and think Ronnie was balding.

This is a blog is about how I feel I might be turning into my grandaddy.  My granddad on my mothers side always went by Grandaddy to me, my siblings and my friends or by "Fat" to those who knew him well.  I have tons of fond memories of my times with him.  For all my early years my brother and I would spend all our time with Grandaddy.  Sometimes we'd be working with him, or maybe just watching him work, or doing something fun like hunting or fishing or driving around Dry Hollow.  Ronnie and I have noticed over the last few years that I have developed some my Grandaddy's old man tendencies. Below is a list of just a few.  I am sure that with more years, more will be added.

They are as followed, in no particular order:

1).  BALD - Whether I like it not, I seem to be balding at a rather alarming rate.  It's alarming to me.  I think Ronnie would say it hasn't receded much since we've been married, but I have an eye for detail and there is definite recession.  My grandaddy was also very bald.  He lost his hair starting in his late 20's and lost the rest in his 30's.  He had hair over his ears and big beautiful sideburns, but completely smooth up top - only a few wispies.  I may or may not head that direction.  Being bald is not a bad thing, but there are certain drawbacks to not having any hair on your head.   Grandaddy was constantly accidentally whacking his head on something - a low-hanging tree limb, a fencepost, something in the workshop, the windmill, a short door jam, etc.  So more often than not he had a scab on the top of his bald head.  I too seem to wear a scab on top of my balding head.  I have no idea how I do it, but I can't seem to avoid low things.  I'm forever peeling my scalp on something.  If its too low to walk under I do it.  If it is sharp and immoveable I'll hit my head on it.  So as like a memorial to my Grandaddy, I frequently wear a scab on top of my head just for him.  I can only assume this problem will get worse with age..?  The second disadvantage to not having hair is sunburn.  My head gets sunburned all the time, and these Mereta Co-op Gin hats with the mesh backs don't help any either.   They give me the feeling of protection, but without the actual protection.   Grandaddy also had an ivory pate which he had to constantly protect from the sun.  He would do so by wearing either a ball cap or a Stetson.   For your information - The head knocking usually occurs just after you've removed your hat - that's some sorta natural law or something.

2).  FANTASTIC WORK ETHIC - Grandaddy and I share the same work ethic.  I haven't always appreciated the way Grandaddy wanted to work or when, but as I've matured I have developed a real appreciation for his work ethic.  Grandaddy wasn't big on measuring or dilly dallying or fiddle-farting around.  If it was moving a piece of furniture he just grabbed and end and moved it.  Sometimes the piece of furniture needed to be broken down into moveable pieces, but he didn't let the fact that it was still all in one piece slow him down.  He didn't let doors or the widths of doors hinder progress either.  I like that.  I appreciate just grabbing a piece of furniture and ramming through a small door opening.
He had the same almost bull-like way with parking trailers.  There was a big telephone post that he used a corner post at their home where he would always park his gooseneck trailer.  He knew when the trailer was parked when he hit the post.  Makes sense to me!  Just back it up till you hit something immoveable and then call it good.  He did this when backing up to the squeeze chute, trailers, the trash trailer, loading pens, and many others.  He had a bad habit of failing to let the tailgate down before pulling away from the goose neck trailer though, and that's why no pickup he ever owned had a tailgate.  But you know what, when you are working hard and you're trying to get stuff done, a tailgate is just details and just slows you down.  There was work to be done and we could fiddle fart around with a tailgate later.
Grandaddy liked to work hard and get the job done.  Sometimes little time was spent planning the best way to attack the job.  Instead he attacked first and if that didn't work we would try something different.  It's the same tactic I try and employ.  I'm sure I could sit around all day and plan the "best" way to approach a task, then spend some more time going and getting the appropriate tools that would make the job easier, but it's way faster in my mind and Grandaddy's too to just do it - whether that means carrying too much of something, or too heavy an object and giving yourself a hernia, trying to squeeze too many animals into a tight spot, sometimes chasing those animals around for a long time as a result, sometimes slightly damaging something like furniture or the tool you were using improperly, scraping our bald heads on a too-low tree branch because we're hurrying to get the job done, or not properly securing a load and maybe even losing some of it, etc.  It's not that he was careless or reckless, he just didn't see the point in wasting precious time doing it a different way.  I like his style and like I said before it's my style now.
When something needs to be done I like to just go and do it.  I also like to use the phrases "fiddle fart" or "dilly dally" or "burning daylight" as often as I can.  Were Grandaddy alive today I bet we could get some stuff accomplished and we certainly wouldn't fiddle fart around with measuring or planning.

3).  BLEED LIKE CRAZY... and OFTEN -  Grandaddy and I tend to cut ourselves while we are working.  I can remember countless times working with Grandaddy where he would "find" blood. He would just find blood somewhere like on his arm or a couple of drops on his boot and then he'd have to play detective and track down the source of the blood.  Usually it was coming from a cut or a scrape or maybe even a peeled noggin that in the heat and hustle and bustle of working had gone unnoticed. He was also a bleeder so it made the minor cut look much worse.  Well now since my recent stroke episodes I am now taking aspirin once a day, which has caused my blood to be a bit thinner than it used to be, and as a result I have joined him in the bleeder club.  I have always been prone to cutting myself or walking into something sharp or jabbing a thorn into myself, but now when I do it I bleed like a stuck pig.  So now all my minor cuts and boo boos look like major injuries.  I find myself having to stop work and track down the blood source often.  I have even contemplated carrying around super glue just so I don't bleed out next time I accidentally bump a thorny bush or whack myself in the shin with a chopping hoe.

4).  SWEAT - Grandaddy could sweat like no person I've ever seen.  Early in the morning when the temperature was still cool he could already have sweat dripping off the end of his nose.  As a child I was in awe of his ability to sweat.  His whole family on the Green side are sweat-ers.  That family is really good at perspiring.  So I get it honest.  I can sweat gallons during the course of the day. My shirts are always soaked, most days I manage to even sweat through my pants.  I have even found myself thanking God for big bushy eyebrows to catch all that sweat that would otherwise be in my eyes causing my eyes to burn which would inevitably cause my to walk into something sharp or thorny and then bleed out.

5).  MEXICAN - Grandaddy couldn't speak Spanish but he could communicate somehow by speaking Mexican.  Every year around ginning season a bunch of workers would come up from Mexico to help with the cotton ginning.  If they arrived early, the cotton gin would not be operating yet so they would hire out to local farmers and ranchers.  Grandaddy always hires a few and would have them build fence.  I first learned to speak Mexican from Grandaddy.  He would be directing his migrant workers on how to build fence and I would be listening to all of this, and I thought I was learning proper Spanish, but I found out later that it was his own made-up version of Spanish called Mexican.  I can remember him saying stuff like "you puttie the postie in the holey" in a fine Spanish accent.   Now that I live in a foreign country where most folks in the village speak something other than English, I find myself reverting back to Grandaddy's Mexican.  Whenever I am struggling to find the right word in Ateso (the local language here in the Teso region of Uganda) I just naturally want to speak Mexican.  However, Mexican doesn't work here and folks look at me like I'm speaking a foreign language (little do they know it is completely made up) and then we figure out another way of communicating.  I have even adopted a stupid Mexican accent even when I'm speaking English.  I know I'm doing it too, I just can't seem to stop.

As I've grown older I have come to appreciate certain things that Grandaddy also had an appreciation for.  They are not necessarily ways in which I am morphing into him, but more like things we have in common.  Most of the things listed below fall into that category.

6).  THE DUKES OF HAZZARD - Best show ever!  He loved it.  I love it.  Every afternoon after his nap we'd make crackers and peanut butter and eat our snack while watching the Dukes of Hazzard.  Bo and Luke Duke were awesome, Uncle Jessie was always entertaining, Boss Hogg was a good villain, Cletus and Roscoe were pretty much boobs but they made us laugh, and who doesn't love chase scenes and jumping cars over ponds?  We were not fans of Bo and Luke's cousins, Vance and Coy.

7).  INSATIABLE LOVE OF BEANS - Grandaddy and I share a passion for beans.  They are my favorite food.  God knew what He was doing when He called us to Uganda, because now I get to enjoy my favorite food almost daily.  Unfortunately there is no cornbread within a thousand miles.  That truly saddens me, but I carry on.  Every Monday was bean day at the Green house.  My grandmother, GG (Granny Green) would cook a big pot of pinto beans every Monday and would serve it with homemade bread or cornbread.  It was always fantastic, and Grandaddy and I loved bean day.   I got her to teach me how she makes beans, and Ronnie has mastered the recipe.  Ronnie recently asked me to give her a list of things she could do for me to show me love.  I said make beans.  She has been reading the 5 Love Languages and after taking the test at the end of the book, we've determined my love language is beans.  So was Grandaddy's.

8).  LOVE NATURE, RANCHING, CATTLE - Grandaddy spend almost every single day outside doing something.  He loved ranching, being outdoors, walking around in pastures, farming, raising livestock, hunting and fishing, brush, prickly pear, fences, hay bales, cotton, sweet corn, caliche roads, jack rabbits, and all the other stuff you find outdoors on a ranch or in a farming community.  I grew up with him teaching me about these things as we'd drive around Mereta and Dry Hollow, and the occasional trip to Paint Rock to go to the bank.  My brother and I never had to wear a seatbelt, we were always allowed to stand up in the front seat of the pickup, sometimes he'd even let us sit on his lap and steer.  It was from these daily excursions that I grew to love ranching and the outdoors.  I now love being outdoors in nature and being around livestock.  I was blessed to be able to work for the Agricultural Experiment Station in Sonora for several years where I got to do all sorts of livestock related work, work with grazing systems, vegetation, forages, brush management, etc.  Now I find myself in Uganda drilling wells outdoors, doing farming, being in the village everyday around animals, in the bush, under the sun, breathing fresh clean air, enjoying God's creation.

9).  HUNTING AND WEAK STOMACHS - Grandaddy loved to hunt.  I also love hunting.  I don't hunt as much as I'd like, but I do enjoy it.  Grandaddy LOVED hunting and fishing.  However, he never killed a deer in his life.  He just couldn't bring himself to kill one.  He enjoyed taking me, and he was as thrilled as anyone when I would kill one, but he just never had a desire to kill a deer himself.  He was a dove, quail, turkey, and duck killer though, and he was a master fisherman.  Along with hunting comes cleaning whatever you've been lucky enough to kill.  Grandaddy and I share a common problem known as weak stomach.  I like hunting, but having to gut and clean the animal sort of makes me not want to eat it later.  Grandaddy wasn't big on gutting deer either.  Smells sort of did it for him. I have a very powerful nose and bad odors tend to do it for me too.  So we share a love of hunting and an unfortunate gag reflex.  I can remember sitting around the table eating and someone would mention something only slightly gross and Grandaddy would hurriedly make them stop talking or he'd quickly change the subject.  Even discussing gross topics could trigger his weak stomach.  My stomach isn't quite that bad, but I certainly wouldn't want to look at wounds or smell anything bad.  I'm not sure how Grandaddy made it through my Mom's diaper period, but I am certainly struggling through my son's.  And Uganda is not exactly the smellers paradise either, so I thank God that he has given me allergies which have deadened my sense of smell.  

10).  BOB WILLS AND THE TEXAS PLAYBOYS - We would drive around Dry Hollow listening to Bob Wills.  He loved Bob Wills.  I love Bob Wills.  He had an Asleep at the Wheel cassette tape of them covering all of Bob Wills greatest hits.  We listened to that tape over and over.  On our way home from Dry Hollow we'd have to turn down the volume on the cassette tape so we could call GG from the early 90's model bag phone and give her a heads up on us coming home.  We always like to give her notice of our arrival so she could get the beans warm and get the bread in the oven.

11).  PEARL-SNAP SHIRTS - Grandaddy had a fine collection of pearl-snap shirts.  It was his uniform.  When He died, my brother and I took over his collection of shirts and wore them for years until they became too threadbare to wear anymore.  Grandaddy always looked sharp sporting his pearl-snaps.  I like to think I also looked sharp whenever I'd don his attire.  I left all those old shirts hanging in my parent closet in Mereta when we moved to Uganda.  When we go back for a visit I'll be sure and visit his old shirts.

12).  PECANS - We share a passion for pecans.  I currently live in a country where pecans are nonexistent.  However, some very wonderful friends and family have been nice enough to mail us some pecans and I occasionally get to enjoy them.  Grandaddy would sit in his chair (below the picture that is at the top of this blog) and shell pecans.  I never had to shell pecans for the first part of my life because Grandaddy was always doing it for me.  He'd shell a pecan and put one half on his right knee and the other half of the pecan on his left.  Me and my brother would be sitting on either side of him and those halves were for us.  We'd share enough pecans that way to give us a stomach ache and then we'd do all over again the next night.  

13).  LOVE OF FIRE -  I was a child when I got to go on my first prescribed burn.  They were calling them controlled burns back then, but just lighting a bunch of stuff on fire and then going and getting the fire truck is not exactly "controlled".  Nonetheless, it was on one of our controlled burns that Grandaddy gave me and my brother a baptism by fire.  It was in the winter and we were burning off a bunch of old dormant grass on the creek behind our house.  We were somehow burning the bar ditch near the Catholic church when the baptism occurred.  The Catholic church is not exactly in our target burn area, but there was grass and I'm sure it looked inviting and needed burning.  On this particular day Grandaddy had already gone and gotten the fire truck from out of the fire hall.  Me and My brother, probably around 10 to 12 years old were on the back of the firetruck working the sprayers.  It was our job to keep the telephone posts from burning up.  We could of sprayed the posts down beforehand and then avoided them catching on fire and having to put them out, but that was not the way we did things in those days.  I'm sure had we spent just a little time planning we could have avoided things burning up, but then I would have boring stories about boring fires.  Instead we burned stuff the Grandaddy way, and that involved lighting a fire and then once it grows a bit dangerous and unmanageable, then and only then do you work to put it out or keep property from burning up.  It was on one of these fires that we were on telephone post detail.  The fire was really blazing and it had caught a few telephone posts on fire already.  Grandaddy told us he was gonna back us near the posts so we could spray them out.  I mentioned his backing abilities in #2.  So he backed us up until we started hollering for him to stop.  It was so hot inside that fire (yes I said inside that fire) that my brother Devin and I took turns spraying the posts. One brother would spray the post while the other would spray his brother.  We took turns keeping the other from burning up all while saving valuable property.  We lived to tell about it and no telephone posts burned up or got backed over.  It was through these early burning experiences that I grew to love fire.  I went on to get certified in the state of Texas to legally set fires on ranches even during burn bans.  It was a fantastic job and I think I owe much of my  passion for fire to Grandaddy.  

So that is my list of commonalities you will find between me and my Grandaddy.   Like I said, as I continue to age gracefully I will probably acquire more of his ways and my list of ways I am turning into him will inevitably grow.  Grandaddy was a wonderful man and had numerous good qualities that I hope to possess.  He loved people - all people, and he was loved by all.  Almost everyone around Mereta has great stories about "Fat", and he positively influenced so many people during his many years as "mayor of Mereta". 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Silas pictures for the grandparents

first day wearing underwear

playing in the sprinkler

he looks hilarious running

wearing mom's swimming goggles

fence building in Obule

This week Colin worked to get a fence put up around some land we are buying.  The goal is to one day build a home on the land and live in the village permanently.  But first things first.  We need a fence to keep unwanted animals out, our animals in, and to keep Silas from wandering off too far.  So we have been busy fence building.  Colin's fence building experience this past week is not quite what fence building at Dry Hollow or at the Sonora experiment station is.  Here we don't use pipe for fence posts, instead you use angle iron.  Here you don't buy sakrete and cement in the posts, instead you order a dump truck load of sand, a dump truck load of gravel, and a pickup load of cement, mix it up and transport it one wheelbarrow load at a time to the holes located around the property.  Colin was able to hire some guys to help mix the cement and set the posts and he was able to concentrate mostly on welding everything together.  It has been a pretty fun experience for the guys.  The clearing of the brush around the perimeter so we could even get started was the biggest chore.  Colin loves clearing brush.  He admitted to me the other day that he often finds himself daydreaming about clearing brush.  He says that as he drives down the road (whether here or back in Texas) he looks out the windows at the fields and visualizes what they would look like with all the underbrush cut away, or what it would look like after a good hot burn.  He loves clearing brush - all of it - burning it, using a machete, cutting it with a chainsaw, using heavy machinery, etc.  So the brush clearing portion of the fence building was especially gratifying for Colin as he got to spend several days wielding a machete chopping away brush and sculpting our property.  The fence is far from being completed, but at least we now have posts in the ground, we can see boundaries (property boundaries, usually fences, are something we all have in the U.S. but here you just know without there being any definite marker) so we know where our property starts and the rest of the village begins.  The fence is not really for security, but mainly so we have something that is our own that we can begin to improve.  I realize in the grand scheme of things a fence is not all that important, but it's important to us.
our fence going up

posts getting cemented in

Colin and Rose "mowing the yard".  Mowing is done by slashing the grass with a slasher or a "wing-ding" if you grew up in the Rosser family

Dan and Rose's children after helping to slash an area of our proeprty.  Dan and Rose will be our closest neighbors.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Longest Two Weeks EVER!

I knew that these weeks were coming.  It was a feeling of dread deep down in the pit of my stomach.  It would wake me up in the middle of the night, and I would spend the next few hours in prayer trying to find peace and comfort.
We have had Silas for almost a full year and I can't picture our family, lives, home without him.  When we first got him we were told that we needed to run an ad in the local newspaper.  For whatever reason, we didn't.  We waited.  
When we were in Kampala car shopping we met with the lawyer that is going to be handling our case.  He told us that we needed to run the ad so we could move forward with getting legal guardianship.  Running the ad proves that we did everything to try and find any family of Silas's.  
So we came home and I talked with the caseworker and the lady that runs the baby home where Silas came from and found out what I needed to do.  
We ran the ad.  
It started on Thursday, along with my anxiousness. 
Friday morning Colin's cell rang.  It was probation.  At that moment my heart was in my ears and my stomach was somewhere in the driveway.
I answered and found out that someone was claiming to know or be related to Silas.  It wasn't clear which one it was.  At that moment I wanted to just curl up with my knees in my chest and bawl my eyes out! 
Instead I grabbed Silas and Colin and cried while clutching them, my sweet boys.
My head was spinning and I was trying to figure out what possible family it could be.  I called the lady that runs the baby home where Silas came from and she was a wonderful voice of reason.  She called the caseworker and he went to probation to sort out what was going on.
Thank you LORD for their willingness to move fast on this. 
I was also so thankful for my wonderful husband.  Even in the midst of my panic, he was my rock.  "God always works ALL things for good.  Even if we can't see what the good is yet." he told me as I cried on his shoulder once again.
I emailed family and friends and told them to please be praying for us.  One of Colin's cousins and I email on a regular basis and she and her husband are currently going through the long steps of an overseas adoption.  She had emailed me the night before the ad was suppose to run letting me know that we had been on their hearts and minds and they were lifting us up in prayer.  God is good!  Even before the ad ever made the page He had people that love us praying for us.  (I love that part of the story.)
I called a close friend here and sobbed to her over the phone.  Prayers were once again sent up and I am so grateful for this wonderful woman God put in my life.  
Colin was supposed to go and work in the shop in Obulle, but after the phone call from probation knew that wasn't going to happen.  He called Dan and told him what was going on.  I love Dan, and his whole family.  I just love every one of our friends in Obulle!  Dan told us and the whole church that Sunday that he cried to God for us.  Real tears from a very loving man.  He said that he had a dream that I was also crying and he cried for me.  Just thinking about that makes my heart swell with joy.  (Another part of this story that I treasure) 
We loaded up and headed over to probation to see if we could find out any more information.
The caseworker and the probation officer were there and we were able to get some other information from them.  A man and a woman that at some point cared for Silas's birth mother were the ones that made the call.  They claimed that the mother was either dead or gone.  (Last year his birth mother was transported back to her home village up north so family could care for her.)
Probation and the caseworker assured us that they would not let Silas be taken from us.  So they went to meet these people and get their story.  
Colin, Silas and I went to buy trees.  We needed to do something as a family and buying plants seemed like a good idea.  Sitting at home wasn't gonna make the cut.  
We heard back from probation and we had a little more of the story.  
The man that called was an old "boyfriend" of the mother.  The other woman (the one that claimed to have cared for Silas's mother)  was currently living with the boyfriend.  And here comes the kicker...About a month before we ran the ad the man went and got the birth mother, and she was currently living with them.
It was decided that the mother would again be moved to her home village and probation would go with to see about any other family.  
All of this happened on Friday.  Saturday they traveled.  Sunday we heard nothing.  Monday we got the call.
This time Colin took the call.  
Once they arrived to the village they worked with the local officials to try and locate any family.  They found that both of Silas's grandparents died by cattle raiders years ago.  There were no clear family left.  Some were saying that they were related but could not give clear proof to the police and probation.  
So the local officials wrote a letter stating that we could proceed with our foster/legal guardianship/adoption of Silas. 
I have the letter.
He is ours.
Yesterday was the last day that the ad ran.  No one else made any calls.  
We did have a good day yesterday.  We went to the baby home where Silas stayed for a few months and we got to meet with the police lady that found Silas almost a year and a half ago.  She was thrilled to see him and see how big he has gotten.  She said she never would have recognized him.  We talked for a while and I wrote down his birthday for her.  I thanked her and told her that we should make it a yearly visit so she could see him growing.  
Today is the 6th.  We are celebrating God's goodness and how He does work all things for good.  Silas is our son.  If ever you get to meet him, you'll see it too.  
So ends the longest two weeks of my life.  
God answered my pleas and cries the first day we got the phone call from probation.  There was a peace that settled over me at the end of the day Friday and remained for the rest of the two weeks.   

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Water For All International - Water Well Drilling In Uganda

Here is a short video detailing the water well drilling ministry we are blessed to be a part of here in Uganda. This video was shot and edited by a photo journalism team working with the missions sending agency - International Teams.  They were kind enough to shoot this video and allow us to show you the work God is doing to bring people water and to transform people's lives.

using agriculture to preach The Gospel

A great article on the use of the Farming God's Way agricultural tool.