Monday, March 31, 2014

PaulAnn videos from their time in Uganda

We recently hosted three gentlemen from our home church in San Angelo, TX.  Our Pastor, the worship pastor, and the church videographer/photographer/technology guy came to visit us for a week. The visit was such an encouragement to us. We love having visitors from our church come over, spent time with us, get to see where and how we live, and get to witness all that God is doing here. While they were here they shot a sermon for the following Sunday's services. Here is a link to the video about Uganda and also a link to the entire PaulAnn sermon from that week. I hope you will take the time to view the videos and hopefully they can be an encouragement to you. Thank you for your prayers. Enjoy!

Rossers in Uganda video

PaulAnn Baptist Church sermon video on Uganda

Monday, March 24, 2014

Silas Turned 2!!

Here are just a few pictures that our friends took for us of Silas's 2nd birthday on February 2nd!  What a blessing this last year has been with him and what a joy he is.  We are honored that God is allowing us to be his parents and we are blessed by this little guy.

Pops and Pie sent Silas a Mr Potato Head for Christmas, but I saved it for his birthday.  HE LOVES IT!

Other friends of ours, Todd and Bonnie, sent Silas these dinosaurs and I also kept them for his birthday.  

My friend Jennifer's parents also sent Silas a gift that I kept for his birthday.  This is a book of temporary tattoos.  I loved this one!

Thanks Steve and Pam for thinking of this little dude!  He knows all the colors of the beads and loves wearing tattoos.

This was one of the only things I was able to get here.  Silas loved his Ugandan jersey and shorts.

And then once all the gifts were open, it was time to play!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

housing update

The housing construction project is going full blast.  We now have an almost finished bunkhouse, a latrine (outhouse) only missing a door, and a main house that is being constructed now.  The main house has walls, the windows and doors are in place, some walls have been plastered, and the porch is finished.  It still lacks a roof, ceiling, all the inside stuff like interior doors, paint, counters, and sinks. We will keep working to get these items.  We will go ahead and plumb it and run electrical wiring in the event that we get a well drilled and the government runs power out to the village at some point.  It has been pretty neat seeing house plans we drew out on graph paper a few months ago, come to life.  We hope to move into the bunkhouse soon and live there as we slowly finish the main house.  The bunkhouse will serve as a place for guests or small teams that come to visit in the future.  Here are a few pictures for you so you can see what is going on. Once we get all this thing constructed you'll have to come over and stay awhile.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Some things I appreciate about my Dad

Recently I read a blog about many of the things a son appreciated about his dad.  I got me thinking about all the things I appreciate about my dad, and the many things he taught me. So here is a list of some of the things I learned from my dad and have come to appreciate about my dad.  This list only contains a few of the many things my dad taught me and instilled in. I pray my son grows up and has a long list of things he appreciates about his upbringing.

Pops and me in Mereta
He taught me about respect. How to treat others. How to treat women. 
My dad, Pops as he is known these days, made it a point to teach me and my brother about respect. That as children we were to respect our elders.  About the Golden Rule.  To show proper respect to those in authority.  To be respectful when interacting with others.  For instance he taught me how to properly show respect to women.  He taught me that as a man I was to hold doors for others, open the car door for my wife, that women were ladies.  He taught me chivalry.  He taught me that certain things were good to do - Such as:  putting my wife first, that holding a door for a lady was a good thing, let others go through an open door first, open the car door for my wife, courting a woman, pursuing a woman (not in a creepy way), letting my mom and us kids off near the door and then searching for a parking spot, that as me and my wife walk down a street I should put myself on the street side, to be courteous, to serve rather than be served, and to follow the example of Christ in how you should love and serve others.  My dad set the bar pretty high.  I was blessed in that I got to see how a gentleman treats a lady everyday at home.
Dad courting my mom
Did not raise his voice
I cannot remember Dad having to raise his voice to get our attention or to get us to be obedient.  He was always soft spoken, but we knew when he meant business.  I am sure there were times when he had to raise his voice to be heard over all the racket, but I don't remember those times.  I remember him as being able to get my attention and my obedience while remaining calm and soft spoken.  I try and do this today with my own son.  I am not a fan of yelling.  And if I am always yelling where do I go from there?  Yell louder?  No, I'd much rather remain soft spoken and have my son think back to his childhood and remember Dad as being calm and soft spoken.

 Loves my wife like she was his own daughter
I really appreciate how my dad adopted my wife.  He has loved her from the first time he met her.  I know that he and my mom were praying for my wife for 28 years before I met her and married her. My dad and Ronnie get along so well.  They are comfortable around one another and can sit and talk for hours.  Ronnie even got my dad to participate in a sprint triathlon with her.  Now thats love!
Ronnie and Pops after they participated in a sprint triathlon together
Taught me about manhood
Dad told me there were certain things that were okay for boys to do and ways to act, but that once you were a man you couldn't stay a boy. Men needed to be men and act like men. That was a time when you did not see grown men staying boys forever. When you grew up and became a man you actually became a man - you put away childish things, you were responsible, you got a job, you cared for others, if you had a family you cared for them.  There was no such thing as perpetual boyhood. It was a time before video games. 

We went off to seminary
I am sure going back to school after being out for years can be a scary thing.  Going back to school after having been out in the world working and having a family is not an easy thing to do.  Moving away from friends and family, and uprooting your family is not easy either.  I saw my dad do just this. He felt God was calling him to go to seminary when I was 5 years old.  My parents already had 3 children, a house, a good job, and a life in Mereta.  He felt His obedience to God was more important than those things.  He was right. I got to witness that obedience firsthand.  

There was a time growing up when my Dad had to be away from his family because of work.  He was living in College Station and we were in Mereta while I finished up my senior year of high school.  We followed him to Aggieland after I graduated.  Dad worked a number of jobs throughout the years.  I saw him work at a pharmaceutical plant, a chair plant, at churches, as a chaplain for hospice, as a substitute teacher, odd jobs here and there, as a salesman, and before I can remember he did several other things.  My dad has done a little of everything.  What I appreciate so much is that he has been humble, willing, and obedient through the years.  If he felt God was nudging him to make a change He was spend time praying over the decision and when he was sure what God wanted - He did it.  It hasn't really mattered what the job was or the outcome.  He has done many different things, but at every new job he was always looking to see where God wanted him to be of use, to serve, to impact someone, to share Christ.  And one day I think he will get to see the impact his lie has had on others and for the kingdom of God.
screening in our back porch
 Family was a priority
Family was always of utmost importance.  Dad always came home to his family. I never had to wonder if he was coming home. I never had to wonder if I was loved. We never had to worry about being cared for. We never worried if Dan and Mom loved each other. We didn't even know about things like divorce, domestic violence, verbal abuse, absentee fathers, or about dads who just check out. My dad was always there. He didn't waste time with television, drinking, women, hobbies. He was devoted to his family. He loved his wife first. He loved his kids. He was there for us. He expressed his love in his words and his actions.
Dad officiated my wedding
Manners were important in our house. They should be. There is no reason for rude behavior.  Some things like chewing with your mouth closed, removing a hat when indoors, waiting before speaking, yes ma'ams and no sirs, please and thank yous, making eye contact, listening when someone else is speaking, shaking hands and greeting folks, 
These are things that were important to Dad.  I appreciate them.  I want them to be important in my home.

There was a time when my Dad was looking for a job without much success for a rather long period of time. During that time I saw true humility. I saw him do jobs that many other folks would not have done because it was entirely different from what they had done in the past or were wanting to do. I saw him work difficult jobs, jobs with no praise or appreciation, jobs that paid little. He humbly and thankfully did the jobs that God sent his way though.  It was during this difficult and trying time in his life that I really grew to appreciate him in a new way.  I grew to appreciate and respect him in new ways.  I got to see humility lived out.  I got to see him put his family and pretty much everyone else before himself.  I got to see him serve others.  Love others.
Dad teaching me something about home repair
God was always the focus
My dad and our home has always been God-centered.  There was a time before I can remember that my dad and mom were a little rebellious, but I can't remember it so I can't really talk about it either.  From my earliest memories on, Dad has always followed Christ.  He loves Jesus and it is evidenced in how he lives his life.  He lives in such a way that it is obvious he doesn't consider his life his own. A love for God and a love for others has always been taught at home. Me and my siblings were blessed to be able to grow up in a home where God was talked about often, where Jesus was taught, and stories from the Bible were read. When you grow up in a home like this it is possible for your parents faith to one day become your own. Not to say that me and my siblings didn't go off the rez, and have a period of rebellion, but we all know Christ as our Savior and have a personal relationship with Him. If your parents are not living out Christ in the home, if God is not the focus, if anything other than God is the focus; then I can imagine it makes that time in young peoples live when they begin to question things like God and their own faith much more difficult, because we learn by example. Had I never seen a love of God lived out, I doubt my life would look anything like it does now. 
Pops reading his Bible with some smart looking pants on, sitting next to the world's best dog
Perfectly trimmed facial hair
Dad has always had beautiful facial hair.  When I was small it was a Tom Selleck-esque mustache, and it has gradually evolved into a full mustache and goatee.  Always he has maintained precision trimming.  His facial hair has never appeared unkempt, shaggy, or lazy. I have not kept this trened alive.  My facial hair is anything but neat.  I rarely shave, almost never even look in a mirror, and hate (HATE, abhor) razors.  I don't let them touch my skin at all.  In fact when I shave it is with head trimmers that still leave me looking like I have a several-day beard going on.  But just because I have not embraced my father's manicured facial hair does not mean I do not appreciate the beauty of it.
fine looking mustache
Doing things to a high standard
If it is worth doing it is worth doing right.  I saw this lived out in our home.  My dad was meticulous in the way he folded clothes or made the bed.  He taught me to do everything to a high standard. I learned this lesson as we maintained vehicles, cleaned guns, worked with tools, or repaired something that was broken. He taught me to take my time and do something right the first time.  Doing something hurried and sloppy only means you'll have to come back and do it again later.  He taught that you should do a job, any job, in a way that you can be proud of.
Dad taught that God was the Creator of everything and therefore the rightful owner of everything. We are merely the caretakers. Anything we have is a gift from God to be cared for in a way that makes God happy. He is the owner and we are the caretakers. He has rights and we have responsibility. As caretakers of God's things (cars, a house, property, animals, clothes, toys, money, family, etc) we need to take good care of them in a way that would please the owner. It was a difficult concept to wrap my head around when I was really young, but by teaching stewardship to me from a young age I just naturally grew up with that in mind. I have not always stewarded God's creation, possessions, my body, or money in a way that made God happy, but the lesson is still there in my head. I can remember one time when we were exciting a convenient store or a department store and I had a handful of pennies.  At my young age I though pennies were worthless so I chunked them across the parking lot. Bad idea. That day I got a lesson in finance as well as a lesson in caring for the money God gives us.  It has stuck with me. It is now a part of my life. It is a principle that we try and live by in our home today. We hope that our children will grow up being good caretakers of God's property.
me and Pops down in Old Mexico 
Dad was disciplined and was a good disciplinarian.  He exhibited discipline, and he was good at administering discipline. He never lost his cool with us kids. He didn't spank in anger or do anything rash that he needed to apologize for later. He was always cool, calm, and collected.  I remember a time when I had just finished watch the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (possibly the movie, although I can't remember for sure) that I decided to use all his lumber to practice my karate. Me and a friend roundhoused and chopped all the boards until we had broken most if not all of them. He was mad.  He was really mad. It just never dawned on me that you would keep lumber laying around for anything but karate chopping. Apparently he had other ideas for it. I remember being kinda scared but also embarrassed when I did get in trouble.  I remember a stern talking to and probably something else after that, but mostly I remember him being really angry but not losing his cool.  He really restrained himself. I would have karate chopped me. There was another time when my brother, Devin, and I decided to take apart a table grinder. Not sure why but we thought the grinder didn't work.  Maybe we had never seen it used, but it most certainly worked. As boys do, we took it apart to see what was inside. We wanted to see it's guts. Of course we broke most of the parts in taking it apart. My dad was as mad as I have ever seen him when he found us. I thought he might actually lose it, but he kept himself restrained.  I cannot remember how we were disciplined, but Dad showed great discipline in not beating us silly with a broken table grinder.  Dad was a good disciplinarian. He rarely had to spank us. If he did it was always followed by a hug and usually we had a talk to discuss what we had done wrong and how we were going to act properly next time. It worked. I was more worried about getting talked to than getting spanked.

Care of animals
Dad taught me to care for animals with love. He taught me to care for animals in a way that stewarded God's creation. We were taught to love and care for animals whether that was pets like cats or dogs, or livestock like cattle, sheep, or goats. We were never to mistreat an animal. The idea of being cruel to an animal just because you could did not have a place in our home.
care of animals includes giving lawnmower rides to the dog
The list in not complete by any means, but you get the idea. I will continue to think of ways my dad positively influenced me and made me who I am today. Pops is a good one!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ugandan families are drilling their own water wells

It has been some time since I updated you on the water well drilling.  Things are really blowing up right now as families are starting to take ownership of the drilling and of the drilling of their own wells.  This year we have transitioned away from strictly "test drilling" and have gone to more of a "family well club" type program.

The family well clubs are groups of 8 or more families that come together, organize, and agree to drill each family in the group a well.  They agree to share the workload, food, time, etc.  It is a large investment in time and energy.  If it takes a week to drill a single well, then you can see that drilling 10 wells is a large investment of time and work.  WFA is still fronting the cost of the drilling materials and loaning each group the drilling tools, but for now anyway, this is the set up.  If the family well clubs commit to drilling all of their wells then we will give them the in-ground materials and the loan of our tools.  We then work with them to drill the first 2 or 3 wells.  After that we turn it over to them. We hope to slowly transition to a program where the families are also putting up some, if not all, of the cost of the in-ground materials.  The more invested (time-wise, financially, in sweat equity) a person is, the more likely they are to have the desire to maintain their investment.  With a well, the more it costs a person, the more likely they are to maintain that well, change the piston, keep the pump functioning, etc.  The long term goal is to get the cost of a well down in the range of $150 so that they are affordable for the average village farmer.  He can then save up and purchase a well with his own money and maintain his investment for years to come.

Just this year the family well clubs began forming.  The well clubs don't just form on their own though, it takes months (2  plus years on the ground in our case) of having talks with the community, telling people what the WFA program looks like, how it works, etc.  It takes our WFA drillers months of conversations with their friends and community members before people begin to see ownership of a water well as a possibility.  It also takes lots of test drilling in a location.  People need to see more and more wells going in before they begin to think of your work as more than just relief work.  So it has taken a long time of making friends and building relationships, meeting with the community and talking about the WFA program, drilling wells, patience and prayer. I'm sure hundreds of folks have been praying for this program and what God wants to do in Uganda.

In our case, the jump from test drilling to family well clubs happened much quicker than we were expecting.  I thought we would need to saturate the villages of Obule and Pingire before we would get to this stage.  However, God has allowed for families throughout Teso to catch the "vision" of owning their own well and He has sparked a desire within them to acquire one.  So since the beginning of this year, 13 different groups from Pingire and Obule have organized and have committed to drilling their own wells.  There are over 140 families signed up in Pingire alone!  Since the formation of these well clubs, they have already drilled 11 new wells.  Just for a point of reference - we only drilled 15 wells all of last year, so 11 wells in less than 2 months is not bad. We are so excited to see this and to be a part of God's transformational work.  This area will look much different in a few years when every home has a well just outside their door.