We got back from Costa Rica on June 6th and we had one week to prepare to go on the road for 2 weeks of summer festivals. We had product to get in order, a van to decal, and camping gear to pack. Ride Nature has sent a group of staff and interns to set up a booth at various music festivals the last 4 years. Typically, the “summer tour” only breaks even between the travel and booth costs and all the product we sell. However, the contacts that we make and exposure makes the trip worth it. Our main goal for setting up a booth was to share with people the vision of Ride Nature and make contacts to partner with on future trips. On Sunday morning, June 14th, we finished packing up the mini van and hit the road. We had a few pit stops mapped out on our way because our first festival was the Alive festival in Mineral City, OH, a 20 hour drive from Naples. That night we drove until we got tired, somewhere in South Carolina. Our tentative plan was to find a campground and string up our hammocks for the night. However, we ended up at a rest stop at 11:30pm and didn’t feel quite right sleeping out in the open, especially with signs that said “Parking: 2 hour maximum.” So, we drove to the nearest hotel and Priceline got us an awesome deal! (I was pretty happy to be sleeping in a bed, have access to a shower, and enjoy a delicious continental breakfast over the hammock plan!) The next day we made it to Pikeville, KY. We stopped there to see some friends we made on our Holy Land tour in Israel last November. It was such a treat to see them, meet the rest of their family, and visit their charming mountain town. In the afternoon of Tuesday the 15th, by the grace of God (because we had no cell service and our GPS wasn’t working) we found the Alive festival. We pulled in, set up our tent and got dinner cooking. We were so blessed to have a sweet camping spot and access to a shower house. However, as the week went on and it rained on a daily basis, the shower line got longer and longer, the rain started seeping in on all sides, and our tent floor began to remind us of a water bed. There was so much rain that the whole park was a muddy mess from the thousands of people tromping around. Nevertheless, we brought an air mattress and slept soundly every night. The park we stayed in was actually really cute with lots of seasonal campers that have a long term set up. We were inspired by it and took some pictures to model our own RV set up after. 😉 On Wednesday, the 4 day festival started. We had an awesome booth location and were able to set up a really legit display. Then the next 4 days, we hung out at our booth, sold some gear, got to sneak a few glimpses of the concerts, and most importantly share with people about our upcoming trips and the ministry of Ride Nature. We were so blessed by all the awesome people we met. Now we are in the process of following up with those people and youth pastors and are praying that the Lord will continue to grow those meetings for the advancement of His kingdom! Our next festival was the Creation festival in Mount Union, PA about a 4 hour drive away. However, we had 2 days in between the two festivals and Mark, our director, had suggested taking a little trip up to see Niagara Falls. So, we decided to do it; it was only another 4 hours, neither of us had been there before, and we also got to extend our anniversary celebrations! On Sunday by the time we got there, we really just wanted to have a nice sleep in a dry bed, do some laundry, and watch a movie. So, we did a little research and got our day planned to see the falls the next day! When we got parked at Niagara Falls State Park, we stumbled upon a hiking information booth. I have been yearning to go hiking since Korea; so, we picked a nice scenic route and set off on our two hour adventure. After our little hike, we walked over to the falls, got to see the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls. We were blown away! What a massive, powerful, beautiful landmark our God created to show off His majesty! Mark also told us we had to do the Maid in the Mist boat ride. We figured we’d better since we weren’t going to get to see them from the Canadian side. We were also really intrigued by the raging river leading up to the falls. I guess we had never thought about what kind of river would lead up to a massive waterfall! The Maid in the Mist ride was definitely worth it, just to feel the magnitude of 700,000 gallons of water flowing over the falls per second! All and all we were so grateful we were able to make the trip up there and witness the incredible site! Tuesday rolled around and we were back on the road. Thank goodness one of the staff members from Ride Nature knew a family who was willing to take us in for Creation festival because the weather was just as bad or worse than the first festival. Our booth set up was a little more limited this time around because we had a smaller area to work with. However, we had a good location in the main vendor building and had a great view of the main stage. The hours were longer and we were a little cramped in our tiny booth space but we definitely made some more good contacts. We did our best to make the most of it, fit the part of skate ministry staff, and even got to string up our hammocks one evening on our hour break. Our two festivals were quite the experience. A lot of work and long hours but definitely a fun environment and lots and lots of awesome people to meet! Nevertheless, we were glad to be done with our booth set ups. On our way back, we had a few more pit stops to see friends along the way. Our first stop was in Front Royal, VA to see some friends we made in Korea. They taught in the same town as us and we ended up having a weekly game night together. They live about an hour from DC so we decided to spend one of our days walking around to see the historical sites there. Ethan had never been to DC and I had only been there once on a class trip back in 2001. It was a treat to squeeze in another awesome site. We got to see: The White House, Washington Monument, WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial, and Museum of Natural History. It is an interesting thing seeing with your own eyes monuments that you have seen so many times in pictures or movies, then to think about how these people have shaped our history and the sobering feeling you get when visiting a war memorial. We definitely enjoyed our time strolling through the historical National Mall and it was a good reminder to keep our country, it’s future and leaders in our prayers! After our day tour of DC, we drove back to our friends to stay a couple of nights and enjoy the beautiful Virginia hill country. They took us out to hike a little portion of the Appalachian trail that’s within walking distance of their house. Then we drove over the Shenandoah national park and got to do a little more hiking. It was BEA-U-TIFUL!!!
Finally on the morning of the 30th, we got in the car and drove 14 hours to get to Orlando, FL. We finished off June with some good friends. Our time together included beach time, fishing, kayaking, and a gorgeous sunset before fireworks on the 4th of July.
Sunday the 5th, we stopped over at Vans Warp Tour in Orlando to help a couple Ride Nature Staff with a booth they set up. The atmosphere had a much different feel than the Christian festivals. No longer were we surrounded by the fellowship of thousands of other believers, but we were surrounded by darkness everywhere we looked. Ride Nature, got to set up a booth at three different WarpTour locations. I know our presence there was greatly needed!
I am going to count this post as our July update, so I will quickly fill you in about the rest of the month. We got back to our home sweet home late on Sunday night the 5th. Since then, we have been getting back in the groove of things. We have been hard at work planning our first mission trip back to Costa Rica. I (Sandra) will be gone 8/2-8 and Ethan will be gone until the 15th. Our first week we will be leading a team of 10 and the second week will be a group of 4 guys. Our ministry will consist of service projects for Casa Vida (the church we are working with) and several skate and surf outreach events.
I have also been able to be involved with several Surf Sisters meetings this month and Ethan has gone out to the skate parks a few times for local outreach with the guys. Also, of course we are still working on our never ending project of finishing the RV. We have come a long way from not having a dining room table and eating our meals on the floor or couch to having a dining bench with cushions and a finished table top! I can not wait to be able to share our finished before and after photos!
– Sanctuary RV park has offered us positions with the park over the busy winter months. I would plan weekly events for the guests such as a “Luau on the Lawn” and Ethan would be on call for after hours parking and maintenance. We are still praying through the decision because it would be full time for Jan-Mar. However, it would be a huge blessing to not have to move into an apartment and start paying $1000+ a month for rent plus furnishing it.
– We have been visiting a church called Summit for the last several weeks. We didn’t have to go “shopping” for it, it was recommended to us and we feel a peace about being there. We are planning to join a class this fall to learn more about the church and what it would mean to become a member.
– The Lord shut the door on the building Ride Nature was pursing. The building didn’t have enough parking and the businesses next to us would not work with us.
Prayer Requests for July
– Our next Costa Rica trip: 8/2-8/15
– Monthly Support: Praise the Lord he has totally provided for us again especially because we aren’t having to pay rent right now. However, we still don’t have medical insurance, a reliable phone plan and are sharing a car. We also know at some point it may not be feasible for us to live in the RV anymore. For example: If we were to expand our family someday. No complaints but just being transparent about our needs! God is good and he “will supply our every need.” We have definitely have been encouraged by that and are continually meditating on Matthew 6. Really, in light of the rest of the world and eternity, we are so rich!!!
– Ride Nature Headquarters: God shut one door and we are trusting him to open another. Ride Nature has been offered a whole mobile skatepark but we don’t currently have a space to set it up and use it to reach the community. We are still praying for a new location.
If you’ve made it to this point, you are such a champ to get through that monster blog post! Once again, thank you all for your continued prayers, financial support and encouragement! We are so blessed! Again, please don’t hesitate to email us your prayer requests; we would love to hear from you! Or just leave us a comment below so I know I’m not putting these together in vain 😉
“As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30
-Sandra and Ethan
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