Happy Spring Friends and Family,
Hope the weather is warming up for most of you and you are getting to enjoy the outdoors greening up and blooming around you soon! Last month Ethan got to lead a trip of local 8th graders from Naples Christian Academy. It was so awesome to be able take these young youth on an international mission trip and ignite a fire in their hearts for global missions. Our prayer is that the Lord would be cultivating His heart for the lost and needy in each person who does a mission trip with Ride Nature. The group did devotions every morning and evening and from what I heard the students were really impacted by their trip and so eager to serve.
Here is Ethan’s recap:
“I had the opportunity to lead an awesome team from Naples Christian Academy to Guanacaste, Costa Rica March 3rd-8th. We had 12 eighth graders and 9 parents from NCA. In addition, I invited Theo, a Ride Nature intern and Ryley, a recent RN staff, to help manage the group. Going into the trip I had no idea how the group would respond to the 5+ hour bus ride from the airport, no AC in the bus all week, long work project days in the 90 degree sunshine, and the local food options. The entire 8th grade team totally blew me away by being flexible with the ever changing schedule, content with the food they were provided, and staying on task while working on service projects. As Ted, the leader from NCA anticipated, the parents complained more than the students.
In the 2.5 days spent at the construction site, we painted the property line fence, built and filled in a septic tank system, dug and poured foundation, and assembled a storage/bathroom facility. One of the days was devoted to hosting a VBS in town, which drew in 30 plus local kids and their families. The NCA students prepared for the VBS for weeks before the trip while in school and performed skits, puppet shows, songs, testimonies, and crafts for the community of Matapolo.
One of the special moments from the trip, was meeting the church cook who came out to make lunches for us on our workdays. We were told by another church member that she didn’t have a refrigerator and had to buy, prepare, and cook for the weekly Sunday afternoon meal on Saturday night and keep the food at another location so it wouldn’t spoil. It didn’t take long for the parents to form a plan and pull money together to buy her a brand new fridge. You can see in the video how thankful and blessed she was to receive such a huge gift.
I was truly blessed to be a part of this trip and to introduce NCA to Casa Vida Church.”
I, Sandra, have to give Ethan big props for his hard work taking video footage and making it into an awesome video. Considering this was his first videography project, I think he has found a new gifting!
***Prayer Requests and Praise Reports***
- Ethan and I have spent the last few months hunting for a place to move. To be honest, it has been a discouraging pursuit with the cost of rent/buying being so expensive down here compared to the Midwest and areas up in Fort Myers are a bit sketchy. Also, as we have looked at the changes in our monthly budget for the near future by adding in all the extra expenses from a baby, furnishing a place to live, rent cost and all the utilities, it is easy to get a bit overwhelmed. Daily, we have to keep placing our trust in the Lord for his continual provision! As we have been searching, our standards for where we want to live have slowly been reduced to what will meet our needs. Yet, we know that is really where we need to be, living humbly. This struggle in my flesh takes me to the passage in Philippians 4:10-13 where Paul says, “I am very happy in the Lord that you have shown your care for me again. You continued to care about me, but there was no way for you to show it. I am not telling you this because I need anything. I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens. I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough. I can do all things through Christ because he gives me strength.” It is our prayer that this truth would be the reality of our hearts because we do know the secret of contentment in the person of Jesus!
- Now, to the praise report! After much looking, we have found a 3 bedroom 2 bath condo up in Fort Myers to rent for $900 a month (that’s a good price for around here)! We ended up paying our first 6 months already and the owner is using that to put in new flooring and kitchen appliances. Our hope is to move in mid-April after I have finished working at the RV park, all the work is done in the condo, and hopefully have enough time to get more prepared to bring home our new baby.
- As you know, if you have been reading my updates, Ride Nature has been searching for a new headquarters. We starting praying about the idea of moving up to Fort Myers a few months ago and the possible housing, office, retail space options that are up there. The Lord seems to be opening doors with a few different opportunities. 1. A large house near downtown. It is a two-story building with the upstairs being a living space for the interns and staff and with the downstairs we are hoping to turn into a coffee shop to create an inviting environment for events and ministry. 2. The city is looking at Ride Nature to possibility run the city skatepark. These both are long time dreams for Ride Nature. Both opportunities are not set in stone yet and would be big undertakings. However, they would expand Ride Nature’s local outreach so much and give us the ability to really increase our community impact. Fort Myers is a totally different city than Naples and is in desperate need for the truth and love of Jesus. Our staff’s desire is for the ministry to be 100% led by the Lord, so please stand with us in prayer for that.
- Prayers for this summer’s trip schedule. We have trip dates but are still looking for people to fill the trips. Also, since we are having a baby in late May, Ethan and I are both out as leaders for the trips. Ethan will keep coordinating the trips and doing all the planning work. He might end up leading trips towards the end of the summer but until then, we will have to find other staff to lead them. Here is a link to our website and the list of upcoming trips. http://www.ridenature.org/upcoming-trips/
- Ride Nature is sending a team of 5 to Cuba later this month on a vision casting trip. This prayer request was written by our staff member, Frenchie, who will be leading the trip. “We are pressing in for salvations, solid Godly relationships, churches to speak at, courageous and encouraging evangelism, destinations for discipleship of converts, powerful proclamation of the gospel, the Father’s fire shown through faith, and for finances.”
- I am almost 33 weeks pregnant and overall still feel great! We can’t believe that in around 2 months we will be bringing home our baby boy! People always seem to ask if we are “ready.” I think that is a silly question because how can you ever really be ready for a little bundle to turn your world upside down? I especially don’t feel ready because everything we have for him is in storage including a huge box containing our stroller and car seat taking up the entire back seat of Ethan’s car. But hey, we are so blessed to have been gifted those must-have items! However, now that we have a place we are moving and once we get partially set up, I will feel much more “ready.” I have to keep things in perspective and know that our baby doesn’t have to come back to a picture perfect nursery to be loved and cared for. We will keep relying on the Lord for strength and peace while trying to not sweat the small stuff. We truly are so excited to fully embrace God’s incredible gift of a child!
Thank you all for your prayers and support! Thank you also for taking the time to catch up on what the Lord has been doing in our lives and letting us be transparent! We have definitely been so blessed in this last month with my mom being able to come for a visit, a beautiful baby shower and other people asking us about our needs to prepare for our coming arrival. We know God is totally taking care of us and have to continually give glory back to Him! We pray the same blessings over you and your family that you can give all the glory back to God, too!
Finally, I will leave you with this: Today over lunch, some of the guys were watching a few sermon jams while they ate. This one by John Piper really gets me pumped so I thought I’d share it with you. Surely you can spare 3 minutes to be encouraged! Be blessed and enjoy!
In Christ’s love, Ethan and Sandra