The month of August has been another busy month! In addition to 2 RN (Ride Nature) staff members going to NORTH Korea, we were able to spend the first 2 weeks of the month leading missions teams in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. These trips were our first ever mission trips to lead and we were up for a new challenge!
Team 1: August 1st-8th
The first week was made up of 10 people, 6 from Texas, one of the guys had interned with RN last summer, plus 2 other guys, one from the Naples area and one who is about to come on staff with RN, and lastly Ethan and me. We met the TX bunch in the airport once we arrived in San Jose. Then, Ethan led us to the rental car place, we strapped all our bags that wouldn’t fit on the top of the van, grabbed some food and started our 5 hour drive to the little village of Matapalo in NW Costa Rica. After a drive that took longer than we excepted, partly because of a couple wrong turns (but what can you expect driving in the dark in a foreign country with subpar phone navigation and minimal road signs) we made it to our hotel with an exhausted group.
The first three days of the trip we would be doing work projects on the church Casa Vida is building at their property. Then, in the evenings we did some community outreach. The first day we went to the store and picked up enough non-perisiable groceries for 3 families. Then each night after we finished working, we all would load up in the van, drive around and ask the Lord to lead us to family we could bless with the groceries and prayer. Each night the Lord was faithful in guiding us to a family in need. It was definitely a trip highlight for the group to be able to step into the home of a Costa Rican and share with them blessing and encouragement from the source that we receive all our blessings! Each family had a different story and we pray that seeds were planted or watered through those encounters.
As far as work projects went, we did a lot of sanding, varnishing and painting. The church had made a lot of progress on the building since we were there in June. This time, the roof was up on the open-air church building. However, while they were getting the roof up, rain came and didn’t stop for 2 days! Then, after that, the beams started turning black and molding. So, our task was to sand the beams down with angle grinders and then seal them with varnish all while standing on 1 or 2 levels of scaffolding. It was a very dirty, dangerous task! Also, every day the girls had to water the plants around the fence that were planted to grow up and cover the fence. We also painted the front gate of the fence to prevent it from rusting and helped put up the wooden entrance to the property. These projects were hot, dirty and challenging for all of us. Each morning we would gather as a group for a devotion before we started our day. Throughout the week’s devotions we kept being reminded of what it means to serve and even if we don’t think the task is a worthy one, like sanding beams that could have been varnished before they were ever put up, we are always working to please the Lord. “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Colossians 3:23
The last two days of the week, we had two skate contest/outreach events planned. The first one was in the nearby touristy town of Tamarindo. There is a nice sized skate bowl a few blocks from the main strip and beach. We held a contest, shared a message, served food and drinks, premiered the Purpose film, and gave out prizes. We had a nice turn out and because it is in a high foot traffic area we had a lot of people stop by to watch. The second contest was in Playa Negra at a really nice skate park called El Mutante. This location is pretty remote but we still had a surprisingly good turn out. We saw some of the same kids at both contests but we also had a different crowd for the second one. One of our group members, Cody Mather who’s a youth pastor, gave the message that night and it worked out perfectly because almost the entire crowd spoke english (which was not the case for the contest the night before). We pray for all the seeds that were planted at these events and that local skaters would be interested in being discipled by Abner, our missionary contact, or attending church at Casa Vida.
Event 1: Tamarindo Skate Bowl
Event 2: Playa Negra, El Mutante Skatepark
In addition to all the work projects and outreach events, we did get to do a little bit of surfing in the mornings after our devotion and one night we were able to catch a sunset before our grocery give away. Also, a few of the mornings the girls were able to spend some time fellowshipping and encouraging McKenna, Abner’s wife, and playing with their 11 month old daughter, Mila. Abner and McKenna did a lot of the ground work to host our trip and they have such a passion to see God’s name glorified. It was so great to get to know them better this trip.
Team 2: August 9th-15th
The second team was much different than the first. There was one guy who had found out about RN online and applied to come on the second trip. We had a hard time finding other people who could join those dates but we were able to have 2 of our interns join the trip. So, we sent 3 young men to the Ft. Lauderdale airport to handle their own international flight and meet us in San Jose. Well, they missed their flight. However, thankfully the airline rebooked them for free but it was 2 days later. During that time we made the 4/5 hour drive back to Matapalo and then Ethan drove back again to get them on Tuesday. But all in all, once they guys got to us they were in good spirits and they hit the ground running. We all had to trust the Lord in those mishaps and that He worked it out for the best. The team ended up having one day of work projects, one day of skate outreach in the nearby city of Liberia where we teamed up with another missionary doing skate ministry there and the last day we did some surfing and then went to the community center to do some repairs on the ramps that a team of ours did last year and join Abner’s weekly friday night skate session and bible study. This was the first time for 2 of the 3 guys to go out of the country and it was definitely impactful and eye-opening for them. Also, during that week Ethan was able to train Abner on a drone that was donated to us by Soaring Skies. We pray that Abner is able to work on his filming skills and hopefully use the drone as a source of income for his family.
We have to give God all the praise because for the most part our trip went smooth and the Lord allowed us to be in such a beautiful country as a part of the work He is doing there! Ethan and I learned a lot about leading teams and facilitating spiritual growth for them as they may be outside of their comfort zones. We have such a passion for missions and pray that as we lead short term mission teams we are able to help ignite a fire in our team members’ hearts for missions too! Whether that be to intentionally support missionaries, continue going on yearly mission trips, or personally commit to going into the mission field.
Thank you all for your prayers and support! I know my blog posts can drag on, so soon I will make a post on Surf Sisters, a branch of RN specifically for women, and share our praises and prayers to wrap up August. Blessings to you and yours!
In Christ’s Love,
Ethan and Sandra