Panama and Costa Rica, February 2017

This February I was able to make a trip to Panama and Costa Rica. As many of you know, I’ve been to both countries multiple times. This voyage however, was great in the sense that I was able to see the fruit of all that God has done over the last few years. 

Panama - 

Our ministry in Panama has been strong and effective in it’s outreach to surfers. There are two strong chapters and a dedicated leadership team. We’ve been so pleased with how God is moving in this country that we are hosting our America’s Conference there this July. The America’s conference happens every other year and it functions to bring together our leaders from all of our latin america countries for training, worship, and fellowship. During my visit, I went, surveyed, and secured an action sports friendly hotel that will host this conference. The hotel is right on the water and has a skatepark, paintball field, bmx track, kitesurfing equipment, and of course a great atmosphere for us to meet together. Pretty much all of leaders are volunteers around latin america and this is our way to thank them by offering them a great experience at a very affordable price. Please pray for the America’s conference this July that God would use it raise an army of men and women dedicated to reaching surfers all over latin america. 

 

 

Costa Rica - 

Our ministry in Costa Rica is one of our strongest in latin america. With 4 chapters and a dedicated leadership team they are paving the way for new ministry ideas and methods. During my visit I joined them for their annual camp-out. There were over 115 surfers at the camp and we had 3 baptisms! It was a great time. During the camp, I was able to check up on our intern from Argentina who was spending a few weeks learning from the guys in Costa Rica and encourage him. I was also able to meet up and spend time with my regional assistant, Damián, and plan some of his travel for this year to Nicaragua and Cuba. Damián is also helping us with the America’s Conference so we were able to chat about that some as well! 

New Year, New Look...

Our 2016 Christmas Card..

Happy New Year and welcome to the new look of our blog! We apologize for being a little bit out of touch the last couple months as the site has been updated, but we’re back in action and hoping to keep everyone in the loop of what God is doing through Christian Surfers and Kids Alive. 

Here is a quick update on what we’ve been up to the last few months - 

Kids Alive - 

The road on the way to school in November..

The road on the way to school in November..

The month of November in the Dominican Republic was one of the wettest months on record! The north coast (where we live) suffered from severe flooding with an estimated 20,000 families displaced from their homes and multiple bridges collapsing and leaving numerous small villages and communities isolated until the flooding died down. Fortunately, Emily and I were fine and didn’t suffer any damage to our apartment. The majority of the families in Caraballo where the Kids Alive school is located did well also.  

Emily's 6th grade class at the Christmas Party

Emily's 6th grade class at the Christmas Party

However, the road to school became impassable unless you had a large 4x4 truck. After canceling classes completely for a few weeks, they were able to reopen for half days about 3 days a week until Christmas break. The staff of the school (16 in total) piled in the back of a Toyota 4x4 truck and sometimes walked through the mud in order to arrive at school to teach and provide meals for the students. Although the road has been mostly repaired now, it is still impassable to many vehicles. As classes begin again this week the staff are still piling in the back of the 4x4 truck (rain or shine) so that they can get to school. Please keep Caraballo and the Park Care Center staff in your prayers as they continue caring for the 300 students enrolled in the school. 

Dustin with the guys in California

Dustin with the guys in California

Christian Surfers - 

I (Dustin) had a very busy end of the year as I was finishing up my travel. In the month of November I met up in California with our new National Director of the United States, Jimmy and my boss, our International Director, Roy. We had multiple meetings with local CS groups in California and met up with a lot of churches and individuals to share what God is doing in and through surfers all over the world. On that same trip, I flew up to Canada to meet up with our team of leaders in Nova Scotia and encourage them as they got ready for winter surf ministry. (Yes, they surf when it’s freezing and snowing outside.) In the month of December, I travelled over to our neighboring island of Puerto Rico to encourage ministry leaders. One of the highlights was being able to attend a service at “Ola de Gracia” (Wave of Grace), a church my good friend Yossua just planted. From there I was joined by Emily on my annual visit to Barbados, where we met with local leaders with a passion to reach the growing surf community of this small island.

Over the holidays, Emily and I hosted first her parents, and then my parents and younger brother, Brady. We had a great time celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus and we are excited for all that God will do in the new year. 

Biblia Del Surfista

For the last month or so I’ve been pretty busy working on a resource that Christian Surfers provides called “The Surfers Bible.” It’s the word of God full of testimonies of surfers from around the world and contains surfer friendly instructions on how to relate to God. Christian Surfers has produced this resource in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Japanese, and Dutch with each version being geared to it’s particular audience. The version I have been focusing on with a team is the updated Spanish Surfers Bible. We’ve added new testimonies from professional and amateur surfers from all over different Spanish speaking countries and have updated some of the extra content to disciple new believers in how to read the bible. The design is new and fresh as well since the last Spanish version was produced over 10 years ago! However, the main reason I’m so excited about this resource is because it’s changing lives.

One of our current leaders in Christian Surfers México, Javier Ramirez, was one of the lives impacted by the Surfers Bible. He doesn’t remember who gave him this bible, but it arrived in his hands when his life was beginning to fall apart and didn’t know where else to turn. A former pro bodyboarder and one of the best in México, Javier wasn’t even surfing anymore because alcoholism was running his life. He was ready to divorce his wife and his whole world was coming apart. But when God used the Surfers Bible to speak to him, he realized he couldn’t control everything in his life. He started going to the local Christian Surfers meetings, he repented of all his past sins and decided to give his life to Christ.

Javier is currently sober, living for Christ, and leading other surfers to know HE who died for us all, Jesus Christ. Javier is married with two children and surfs massive barrels in Puerto Escondido, México. Please pray with me that the Surfers Bible continues to be a resource that God uses to bring surfers to Jesus.

Javier foto 2
Javier foto 2

Our first weekend back home

Well, it was a busy summer and a great time in the States for Em and me (Dustin), but we've arrived back home in the DR and have already been caught up in some exciting things! This past weekend I participated in Christian Surfers Dominican Republic's National Camp-Out, and Emily spent it translating progress reports on how the students are developing socially, personally, and educationally and being transformed by the gospel in her school. 

Christian Surfers DR Campout

When we started Christian Surfers in the Dominican Republic back in 2009, we had no idea the amazing things God would do. Seven years later we celebrated our sixth national camp-out with over 90 surfers camping out together and hearing the good news of Jesus Christ in conversations, worship, and messages. The thing that excited me most, however, was seeing the local leaders of the ministry step up and organize the event while loving on all these surfers. The majority of our leaders came from backgrounds where substance abuse was normal and was even a requirement to be a surfer. Now, this group of guys, who have all radically changed through their encounters with Christ, symbolizes the hope of Jesus for a new generation and we're seeing more and more young surfers put their faith in Jesus because of these guys' testimonies. This year we held the camp out at the location where we just recently relaunched our Santo Domingo chapter. Praise God for what he's doing in the Dominican Republic with surfers.

Jesús, one of Emily's coworkers. Every year as she translates progress reports, Emily is impressed by how he and the other teachers know their students well and care about their growth into who God created them to be.
Jesús, one of Emily's coworkers. Every year as she translates progress reports, Emily is impressed by how he and the other teachers know their students well and care about their growth into who God created them to be.

Kids Alive Progress Reports

One of the main components of Kids Alive International's sponsorship program is the annual progress report. Each year, the teachers fill out progress reports on their students' growth over the past year and any concerns they have about the student. They also share prayer requests for each student. This is an opportunity for our Christian teachers to share with the students' sponsors about how God is using Kids Alive to educate and raise a God-fearing generation here in the Dominican Republic. Emily translates nearly 150 of these reports every year to send to child sponsors in the US and Canada. One of the stories we'd like to share with you is from Emily's co-worker, Jesus. Yes, Emily has a co-worker whose name is Jesus. One of the girls in Jesus' 4th grade class has historically caused lots of issues at the school. She wouldn't do her work in the classroom, would distract other students, would get in fights a lot, lacked respect for pretty much everyone, and has been that way since she entered the school 5 years ago. And yet this year, Jesus was proud to report that she has become social, playful, has a better self-esteem, and that her behavior has improved a lot. She has been able to remain calm in situations which would have caused her to fight in the past, and she has made excellent strides in her classwork. We praise God for stories like this about lives being transformed in Caraballo!

We would also like to say another huge thank you to all of you who hosted us, shared meals with us, listened to our part of God's story, committed to supporting us, prayed over us, and encouraged us while were in the US last month. We were blessed beyond what we could have imagined. Thank you!