After a trip, a camp and a busy season it is great to be back in Guanacaste loving the bumpy roads, dirty nails, monkeys, sky full of stars, the sound of mango leaves in the wind… This is a challenging, but a wonderful place to live. At least it is very easy for us to come back to this after the big cities and highways in the States!
In December Troy graduated from 6th grade. In Costa Rica it is a big celebration, especially since many students never continue to or graduate from secondary education. Troy’s class had different celebrations all week and then the actual ceremony. Troy is looking forward to moving on to middle school. He is an active and a social young man, and we can hold on to God’s promises and look to him for wisdom as we move on with Troy to this new journey in his life. Proverbs say: Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. However Troy is now more educated than many adults in our villages, as incredible as it sounds!
In December we had also another celebration. We completed the first part of the course for teen mothers. Not all the girls received a diploma, because they haven’t been very consistent in attending, but many did. This first part of the course was about family and health. The second part that started in January is focused on education. The girls are presented different opportunities for secondary and professional education. The girls have also started learning how to write and keep a journal, which is helping them to express their feelings, process life and understand themselves better.
This year it was already the third time that we spend our summer vacation and Christmas here at home with cowboys. The rains end in the beginning of December, the summer winds start and that is when the Christian cowboys from Wyoming arrive. (Cowboys With A Mission.) This year there were 10 of them. They worked at local ranches building relationships with farmers here for about a month. In January they helped us to run a Rodeo Bible Camp in Liberia. There were 24 participants and the camp was improved in many ways from the previous year. In the mornings we practiced bull riding, pole bending, barrel racing, goat tying and roping. In the afternoons there were Bible teaching, games, swimming and at night cowboy church.
In the midst of working in the ministry full time and hosting holiday guests we tried to celebrate a low-key family Christmas without big expectations or plans. We were tired, over-worked, frustrated and worried when God met us right there! He used friends to surprise us with many blessings, care, unexpected gifts and peace. He showed us in a very concrete and touching way what this verse can mean: …”For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” (Heb 6:10) Even after 13 years it still amazes us how much God cares, carries and in a very personal way takes care even of the smallest details. And how he also provides for each one of our children.
End of January we spent 2 weeks in the States. We had been invited to teach at a youth camp and then we also visited several other churches and teams sharing about our ministry and training teams that will come to Costa Rica for outreach. We traveled, mostly by car, in six different States (Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Arizona, North and South Carolina). The kids had lots of fun during days that we were able to share with a family whose children have become some of their best friends over the years.
These are some of our goals for this year:
Distribute 10 000 – 20 000 Bibles
In September we will start our first DTS (Discipleship Training School) here in Guanacaste. It is a 6 month course that has 3 months of theory and about 10 weeks of outreach in another country. The school is open to Christians over 18 yrs of age. Our biggest motivation for starting DTS at our base is to train and send local Christians to the mission field, but we also really hope to get international students!
Start the process to purchase the base property.
I (Salla) became the new leader for the women’s group in our village. I want to help them to work efficiently and produce in a way that really benefits them. Right now the women are working together 4 days a week. I need wisdom and prayers for this!
So far we have 10 outreach teams booked for this year. Most of them will be here between May and August.
The Course for Teen Moms continues until May.
In April a family (Kimmo and Laura Sarajärvi with their son Robin) from Finland will join our staff team! They are an answer to many prayers and we are looking forward to having them here!
As a family we will spend this summer in Finland, for about 2 months. We still don’t have a permission from the children’s’ school, so that is an important prayer request.
With these thoughts and expectant minds we start this new year and new challenges. The kids school year starts next week, meaning plenty of driving to school and hobbies! We also wish you many blessings, wisdom and strength for the challenges and surprises that this year might bring to you.
Thank you for your prayers and financial support!