Hello Dear Ones, It’s been too long!
After weeks of bugging Ethan to get a recap put together of his trip, he finally finished! 😉 Thank you for your grace and patience! I am so glad God opened this opportunity for him to travel to India and be an encouragement to our missionary contact there, Jose Victor. Ethan was equally encouraged to see the Lord opening doors for his gospel to be spread!
In Ethan’s own words:
“India! Open doors and welcoming people.
This is the second time I’ve been to India and it is the first time that I enjoyed my time there. My first trip was filled with scams, uncomfortable stares, long crazy bus rides, and disappointments. With that said, when I was given the opportunity to lead a small team there I was anything but excited. Through the months leading up to the trip, I was thinking of ways I could pass this trip onto someone else from Ride Nature so I wouldn’t have to return to one of my least favorite countries I’ve been to. Needless to say, God had a better plan for me.
I led a small team of two guys from a local church who has the desire church to get involved in missions in India. The guys on the trip learned about Ride Nature about a year ago and were excited for the opportunity to go to India to partner with a missionary that we met last time RN went to India. RJ Dean and Shane Stewart both skateboarded as youths and were looking forward to getting back into the sport. They would see how this simple tool can be used to reach out to a community and be able to share the gospel through relationships built out of the excitement of a skateboard.
After months of talking about, researching, and organizing the trip, we were finally on our plane ready for our 15 hour flight from Newark, NJ to Mumbai, India. Sitting next to me on the plane is RJ in black and Shane in blue. This was Shane’s first time out of the country and second time on a plane. His first time on a plane was when we flew to Newark to catch our international flight. The flight was uneventful, minus my headphone jack not working which was a blessing since I got more sleep than I normally do because I am typically lured by the hundreds of movies to pick from.
We arrived to Mumbai in the evening and had arranged for a hotel to send a driver to pick us up so we didn’t have to travel an hour and a half to the missionary’s house. Everything that you read about when traveling to India, talks about how strict the government is for travelers. You have to be prepared for interrogation at the airport when you go through immigration and customs. Luckily for us, we weren’t even given a second glance nor questioned about our huge bags filled with 8 skim boards, 7 skateboards and 20 laptop sleeves. This was our view from our room the next morning. (above)
We visited our missionary, Jose’s, church and had a little skate course on the roof of the railway station. Everyone was so eager to try and most of them haven’t ever seen a skateboard, let alone have the opportunity to ride one.
We got to sit in on a service, which was in English. The traditional clothing worn by women is not based on religion but personal preference and culture. Most of the ladies 30+ would wear the traditional clothes but younger ladies wore western style clothing.
Me and Ronald. Jose’s daughters had never been to McDonald’s so they were super pumped when we got there. Since beef is illegal to sell in some parts of India, all of the meat at McDonald’s is chicken. The sandwiches tasted the same as in America but there are a few items with a spicy sauce that has more of a local influence.
One of our goals while in India, was to see if skateboarding would be an accepted sport and if there would be interest in learning how to skate. We visited a few schools and talked with the principals to see if Jose could come back to have some skate lessons. As it turns out, the principals were all very excited about the idea of introducing a new sport to the community. The above picture is of one of the school that agreed to let us “demo” for the students. We skated in front of 2 different groups, 800 students in each group!
Jose and his family graciously offered their apartment for us to stay in so we could be comfortable and close to everywhere we would be visiting in the city. Also, his wife Renu cooked every meal we had except for the couple times we went out for food. The cooking was amazing and it was so nice not having to decide what to eat off of a menu every day. As a small way to say thank you, we cooked breakfast for them one morning. This picture above is from our grocery trip to find bacon. The butcher was in the back chopping up all kinds of chicken and pork.
For most of our transportation,we used auto rickshaws which is a small motorbike with a carriage on the back with a two person bench seat. We all went out to the movies one night to see a Baliwood film which is basically India’s Hollywood. The guys got cozy sitting on this public bus on the way back from the movies.
The YMCA in Mumbai has allowed Jose to teach skate lessons once a week and he will be able to have bible studies with his students in a safe location. Being able to have a facility to teach at and have bible studies at is a huge answer to prayers. The picture above is the YMCA with a nice space for a small mobile skatepark and below is a really nice area that could be used for a small park as well. The opportunities kept opening up as we talked to more and more people.
One of our chances to teach skateboarding and do street evangelism was on the roads with schools. We took our boards and met the kids as they got out of their classes for the day. As a thousand kids walked down a single road, we skated through and asked them if they wanted to learn. Everyone was thrilled to get the chance to stand on a board and have their friends push them around. We invited them to come to the YMCA for proper lessons and had an awesome turn out.
This was a skate lesson we had for some students who are going to college to become teachers. All these ladies skated barefoot and had a blast rolling around hanging on each other trying to keep their balance. Jose, our missionary, is on the Left in the Austin t-shirt.
Here is a field next to the building we had a lesson in for the future teachers. The principal said we have permission to build an entire skate park there! After sharing our vision of having a skate park in India which would give the youth in the community a place to play and learn new skills while teaching “good” morals, the leaders of the school practically handed us this gated field. Not only would this place be a safe place for youth but it would give Jose and his youth group a place to grow in relationship with the community and spread the Gospel.
On our last day we walked through a slum and had a little following. The slum we visited had about 800 residents living in houses made of scrap metal, wood, and plastic tarp roofs. Many of the people who live here are very poor but some have jobs and choose to live there because they prefer that lifestyle.
As we wrapped up our time in Mumbai, we were so encouraged to see all the doors the Lord opened just in the week that we were there. RJ and Shane were able to bring back a report to their church and the church has decided to financially support Jose and his family. Now, he and his wife can devote more time to the youth and spreading the gospel in their city. We were there for only a short time but saw how God moves in his faithful followers and allows us to be a part of his plan. Mumbai is a city of over 20 million people, 330 million Hindu gods, and about 4% Christian, it’s easy to see the huge need for Christ. Please be praying for Jose and his ministry, family, the church that RJ and Shane are members of (Renovation Church), Ride Nature in our continued partnership with missions in India, and for the people who will be hearing about Jesus for the first time through outreach events and bible studies as Jose continues to go out and impact his community for Christ.”
- Our upcoming trip to Peru in December. Our numbers of participants are small, so we will probably have to do some fundraising. Please pray for this trip’s finances, fruitfulness, and for God to put together the perfect team.
- We are in the midsts of searching for contacts and lining up trips for next summer. Our prayer is that all of these trips will be planned and orchestrated not in our own strength or plans, but the Lord’s.
- The balance of starting full time work at the RV park this upcoming busy season, January-March. We know the Lord has opened this door but I (Sandra) will have to step back some from Ride Nature and Ethan will take on more work in my absence.
We are delighted to finally share this news with you all! This is a big prayer request and entails a lot of different needs!
- The health of our little one and myself.
- Medical coverage to be worked out.
- We will plan to hopefully move out of the RV in the spring because of various reasons. 1. Space, 256 sq. ft. is getting a little tight. 2. We lack of hot water in our home. 3. Honestly, we really want a dishwasher (It’s been 3+yrs). 4. We don’t have a washer/dryer in our home. 5. We walk to shower at the bathhouse every night. That being said, we will no longer have a free place to stay and rent will eat up almost all of our monthly support we live on right now.
We know that God is good and that He planned this perfect timing of the arrival of our first child! We are trusting in His provision and are so excited to receive this incredible blessing and responsibility!
As always, thank you for your continued prayers and support for us! We are beyond blessed and are so encouraged by your partnership with us!
“Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone-especially to those in the family of faith.” Galatians 6:10
In Christ’s Love,
Ethan and Sandra