Vacation! Last time we were shortly in Finland was two years ago, so now two months have felt too short to do everything we wanted to do, plus meet people and get enough rest. But we have been totally able to disconnect from life and ministry in Costa Rica, so it has been really good!
The children are taking valuable memories back with them. Some of their favorite things in Finland have been swimming in the lakes, sauna, Finnish food, fishing, soccer, biking, picking blueberries and playing with their cousins. Diego has strengthened the local soccer team by playing with them and coaching the juniors. I (Salla) have spent my free time running in the great weather, sunny evenings and beautiful forest roads. We are thankful to my parents, who once again have received us and taken care of us for such a long time even though their house has seemed like under a hurricane compared to their usual life.
Especially the past month we have traveled around the country, speaking and sharing with churches and visiting friends and supporters. We have been spoiled by good Finnish hospitality and it seems like next week is the perfect time to return to Costa Rica, because we could not handle any more ice cream, cakes or pies…
These changes to culture and lifestyle cause culture shock, which presents itself in different ways. For example, in the beginning Nic Markus refused to eat any Finnish food (he would just smell it and say NO!), but by now he is already enjoying his daily potatoes. Julia has been having a permanent honeymoon phase: everything in Finland is perfect, it is a dream land for her. On the other side Troy is frustrated because he cannot find even one pair of “normal” shorts in the store (the fashion is so different). Diego and I (probably the children as well) try to somehow come to a clear and organized conclusion and understanding of the different values and lifestyles of each culture… and of our place in each one of them. But there is no logical structure, it is all just a nice little disorder in your mind that can sometimes get confusing. But with time you just want to recognize and value the strengths in each culture and enjoy what you get.
One of the things we are most grateful about is that things in Costa Rica have been going well during our vacation! It has been such a relief to be able to actually forget what is going on in the ministry. God worked everything out so that we have had enough responsible and capable people to carry a huge work load while we have been in Finland. It feels strange, that it is actually going forward without us and shows that we have taken a big step forward in the history of the base we have founded. Praise God!
We are now getting ready to return to Guanacaste. We are facing a new period in ministry, since in few weeks we start the first Discipleship Training School at our base. And as we now have more staff, it is also time to renew structure and methods. We are excited about what God will do and how He will lead us! We are asking Him for wisdom, joy and peace to serve Him, our family and the people of Guanacaste.
These are some prayer requests for us as we return and for the rest of the year:
– The return to home, routine, ministry and school
– The staff team; division of responsibilities, unity. That God would call even more long term workers.
– Ability to draw boundaries. I especially feel the need to be more home with the kids, especially in the afternoons, evenings and weekends. I need the wisdom to organize my ministry activities so that it is possible and learn to say no to those responsibilities that are too much and sacrifice family time.
– Cars, that they would function!
– Health. We have continuously been very healthy and even Troy’s asthma has been much better.
– That our financial support would meet our need
– DTS: For God to prepare the hearts of the students and the financial need of the local students.
– The new course for teen mothers, which starts in two weeks
– Ministry with local churches
– The Bible Project, that it would move forward and be blessed and used by God!