Hi friends and family! I can’t believe the summer is almost over! It has been a busy one for us. My last update was just before our trip to Panama and we have been go-go-go ever since. When we came back from Panama, a week later we went to KS to celebrate Seder’s birthday with our familys. Then a week after we got back, family came down here to celebrate the 4th of July. We are finally back in the groove of house projects and Ride Nature events.
First, I want to share a bit about our trip to Panama and some photos. I know I asked for prayers for the trip and also the logistics of taking Seder. The Lord was so gracious in all of it! It was a challenge yes, but such a good 10 days! While there, our team was able to serve at a couple different orphanages, do lots of skate park ministry, help build a house for one of the skate kid’s family, and maintain and build a new feature for the local skatepark. The missionary we partner with down there runs the only indoor skate park in Panama, Canal Skate. The whole story of how the Lord orchestrated the skate park’s opening is an incredible testimony to the ministry of Canal Skate. Five years ago, Ride Nature actually was there to help build the original ramps. Since then, word has spread and kids come from Panama City and the surrounding areas to skate. In addition to running the skate park, Dave, the missionary, has been intentionally discipling a group of skaters for the past few years. We were able to hang out with and encourage Dave and these kids while we were there. Here are a few pictures of our time at Canal Skate. We were there everyday either for open skate, cleaning up, girls skate night, or our big contest.
Of the two orphanages mentioned, one had kids and the other one still in the building stage. The one that is being renovated is a place that Ethan actually took a team to last time he was there so it was really cool to see the progress that has happened. The vision for the second orphanage is that it would host kids with special needs. Praying that the Lord continues to provide the financial and labor provisions for it to open.
Finally, the place we got to stay is a mission base called Casa Paraiso run by the ministry Rio Missions. It is a beautiful property located 2 minutes from Canal Skate and the Panama canal. This base has hosted countless mission teams. Staying there is what made it totally doable for Seder and I to be a part of this trip. God was so gracious to us through that place and the host team.
(Here is a 5 min video one of our interns who went on the trip put together. It does a good job of showing the whole trip if you’d like to see more.)
Like I had mentioned, after we got back from Panama, we have been busy with weekly Ride Nature outreach and special summer events. This list includes things like hosting our missionary partners from Mumbai, India, Friday night BBQs, open mic nights and concerts, paddle board outreach, a booth at the local Art Walk, a booth at 3 locations at the Vans Warp tour, the Send conference in Orlando, breakfast for the homeless and weekly Wake and Skate church. I would love to share more about the seeds and fruit happening from each of these activities but my post would go on forever. So, I will just share a few more pictures and ask for your prayers in our continued outreach ministries.
Friday Night BBQ
A full house for a free concert by KJ-52
Ladies Paddle Board Ministry
Vans Warp Tour
It was so sweet to finally meet Jose and Sarah Victor, our missionary partners from Mumbai. Ethan went to India for a mission trip back in October of 2015 and stayed with the Victors. Ride Nature has been partnering with them since 2014 but this was the first time that most of the Ride Nature team has met them since this was their first visit to The States. It was amazing to hear their testimony of the way God is opening doors for them to do ministry in such a dark, lost place! Keep them in your prayers as they continue to work full-time for the Kingdom!
As I write these posts, it is so good for me to look back and remember how gracious God is to let us be a part of the work He is doing! Even though it sounds like we are doing a lot, there is a lot more ordinary life, nap times, dirty dishes and diapers in between that can be distracting. Also, we don’t always get to see the fruit of the seeds we plant, but we are called to sow them none the less. I have listened to multiple Matt Chandler sermons lately and this is something I have heard him repeat several times. Bear with me because it is so worth sharing. I found this excerpt from one of his sermons.
“We should never despise the ordinary. You and I live in a day and age where if it’s not extraordinary and big and loud and fast and famous it’s discarded, but so much of what God is going to accomplish in your life is going to take place quietly over a long period of time with you just being faithful where you are. We should never despise that. You should just never despise normalcy. God is at work in normalcy. The light of Christ burning inside of us is one of the ways we live as a kingdom of priests in this world.
We’re faithful to our wives today. Do you know why? Because 60 years of that means we’ve been faithful for a lifetime, and we’re faithful to our husbands today because 60 years of that is faithfulness for a lifetime. As good a parent as we know how to be today… Because that’s all we can do, right? We’re just trusting that God is at work in the ordinary, shaping and doing something over decades that we’ll reap the benefit of in 40 years and 50 years, but in the now it feels stressful and it can be exhausting and it can feel like, “Gosh, am I going to make it?” I’m saying you’ve been given mercy and power to make it. Everyday, ordinary faithfulness. You and I, as Christians, live in the balance of embracing the ordinary while praying for breakthrough. We embrace the ordinary.
Do you know what Monday is going to be? It’s going to be Monday. That’s my expectation: Monday is going to be Monday. But, that is not going to stop me from praying for more. I want to embrace the ordinary and pray for breakthrough. If you’re sick in here, I just want you to know I’ve prayed that while we sit here and study Exodus your disease just goes away. I’ve asked for that, and I’m expecting, and I’m holding all that loosely, because he’s God and I make a crummy one. This is the tension you and I live in: loving the ordinary, begging for the extraordinary. We just do that day after day, month after month, year after year for a lifetime.
What’s going to happen is God is going to shape us in the ordinary, and then there are going to be these moments where he breaks through and it blows our minds and fuels gladness in the ordinary and has us pleading all the more for the extraordinary. This is the rhythm of the Christian life. If you get too far over into the ordinary without expectation of the extraordinary, you get crusty. If you’re always over here, you’re going to burn out, and you despise the ordinary means of God’s grace. That’s not a good thing.”
That thought definitely spurs me on in the ordinary, helps me to cling to the truth and promises of God, and rest in his goodness and strength each day.
We have A LOT of trips coming up so I will leave you with these verses I read the other day that come to mind to share with you and a few quick prayer requests.
“You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” 2 Corinthians 1:11
- Costa Rica 8/3-11, Cuba 8/13-20, and Haiti 8/26-30. Ethan and I will not be going on any of these trips but we are sending other staff and interns to lead the teams.
- Our entire staff (20+ adults and 7 kids) will be going to Puerto Rico around 9/16-23. While there, we will be trying to solidify some good partners to bring teams back to work with in the future. Please pray for some final logistics to work out before we all book our flights.
- Ride Nature is hosting an end of summer bash on 8/12. Please pray for attendance and that God would be preparing the soil of people’s heart to hear His gospel.
- Like I mentioned before, that we would continue to be faithful in our day-to-day ordinary, ministry outreach, and with other staff and interns.
- Continued financial support for Ride Nature either from the shop or through donors.
If you would like support Ride Nature and the work we are doing around the world please click the link below to become a Monthly Sponsor or One-time Donor.
We pray that you and your family are well and that you are being strengthened each day by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling inside of you!
“And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
In Christ’s love,
Ethan and Sandra