This year has brought us both blessings and challenges. The biggest blessing, as always, is to be able to be on a continuous adventure with God, serve Him as a family. The challenges are the daily struggles with things not going the way you expected, with people, or finances and with not feeling equipped to do everything God asks us you to do. But the outcome is good! God is good and faithful and we are so privileged to see some of the fruit of our ministry, as an answer to the prayer in a psalm: “Establish the work of our hands, Lord”.
TMDS (Teaching and Ministry Development Seminar) in Colorado Springs
By many miracles on January 9th we were on the plane to the States. It was a challenge to get everything done (host teams, plan schedules, clean, pack, pay taxes, purchase tickets… ) and be gone, but it happened! From the very first day our 6 weeks in Colorado Springs was a time of getting away from the routine, being refreshed, learning, spending time as a family and see God’s love and care.
Diego and I attended the seminar and had a full class schedule from Monday to Friday during the whole 6 weeks. There were 8 students from 5 different countries, who work as missionaries in 7 different countries! The seminar was mostly about sharpening our teaching skills and learning to be an effective teacher in a DTS, other courses or in any Christian setting. We received teaching about teaching, every week we had to prepare and give a teaching that was evaluated (and recorded) and then work on a 12-hour teaching outline on a selected topic that had to be turned in during the last week of the seminar.
Diego did his teaching on the Father Heart of God and I did mine on the Identity of the Nations. We were both stretched to study and seek God’s heart for the teachings, but enjoyed doing it.
Nic Markus was able to attend the base pre school. Troy and Julia practically continued their summer brake from school in the snowy Colorado Springs, but they got very busy spending time with new international friends who are also missionary kids from different countries. For the last two weeks Troy and Julia were invited to visit friends in Atlanta, where they had a lot of fun and were hugely blessed.
Some of the ways God blessed us was firstly just to be able to learn and receive instead of having constant leadership roles. We were also blessed by friends who live in the Colorado Springs area, who spent time with us, with the kids, took us to places and fed us! We want to especially thank Southern Baptist Church of Black Forest who welcomed us, hosted us and blessed us in many different ways during our stay! God was also faithful in his provision to us, so that during the last week of the seminar we were able to finish paying our fees, since we didn’t have the money up front as we had hoped to. And even then we didn’t return home empty handed, but were blessed with shoes, clothes, an ipad… everything we needed and even with some cash to pay kids school fees when we got home!
Thank you God for this time of spoiling, equipping and refreshment!
Spring in Guanacaste
We got back to Guanacaste end of February, a Sunday night, and already the next morning, at 7 am the kids had to be in school starting a new school year and an hour later we had to be at the base attending a team of 30 and stepping right back to our usual roles. We had a high school team for a week ministering in the villages, distributing Bibles and working with the children.
The same day this team left, a group of architects and engineers from EMI (Engineers Ministries International) came for a week to interview us, study the ministry as well as the land and to make a master plan and building plan for the first multi-purpose building we are going to build. It was such a blessing to work with them, to see how they were willing to put their professional skills into designing something for us that will best work to fulfill the vision and the purpose of the ministry. The week ended with an amazing presentation of all their work, including water, electrical, septic etc systems for the property. Each one of them will now work in detail on their parts of the design and by this summer we should have the final plans to be able to apply for building permits.
We have been also dealing with expected and unexpected personnel changes since we got back, evaluating others who are leaving and processing applications for others who will soon join us. Our continuous prayer is for more full time workers, who are willing to commit for at least two years. We are doing too much with too few people, but don’t feel released to “shrink the vision” or close ministries. So we continue asking the Lord to send good and committed workers. Some of the specific areas for which we need workers (so you can pray, too!) are: pioneering a preschool, children’s programs, administration, DTS staff, short-term team coordinator.
This past week I was teaching at the YWAM base in San Jose on the topic of evangelism. We were supposed to go together, but Diego had an opportunity to fly back to the States to fund raise and look for a new bus for the base. We had tried to sell our old bus, which was getting old and needy, to renew the model. While we were in Colorado a buyer showed up and bought it, so now we had an urgency to get a new one before all this year’s activities. Diego and friends from Changing Lives in Costa Rica worked hard, but few days ago they were able to find and buy the bus! We still need to raise more funds to pay for shipping and taxes, but soon we should have a good bus here to serve the ministry for many years to come!
For the month that we have been back, even though it has been one of those crazy and busy months, my parents have been here with us the whole time! It is fun to have them here, since now on their 10th trip to Costa Rica they start feeling more and more comfortable with the people, culture and daily living in here. They are so helpful around the house and with the kids, my dad helps to drive the kids to their bus every morning and they even took care of them for 4 days when I was teaching in San Jose. Right now we are spending few days at the beach with them before they go home to Finland.
Pictures: A woman who had been praying for a new Bible, because her old one is being eaten by bugs. / Base staff and volunteers doing research about unreached people groups – our base adopted one! / Julia, Nic Markus and friends giving a Bible to a lady. / Kids from our village celebrating Nic Markus’ birthday.
PLANS AND PRAYER REQUESTS FOR THIS YEAR:
As base leaders we have two conferences to attend this year. End of April we will be going to Panama for base leaders’ conference of all America’s. Leaders from Canada to Argentina will gather together to share and learn what God is doing in North, Central and South America. The other one is University of the Nations workshop in Mexico in September. This is a global gathering that mostly focuses on the training aspect of YWAM and it’s university. We will need to cover at least most of the travel and participation costs to these conferences.
This summer we will be hosting 7 different short-term teams and many of our staff members will be on furlough during that time. We need summer volunteers to help us during that time!
Several people have asked us what is the best way to help or support us. As a supporter it might be confusing at times to know how to help, since there seems to be always so much going on and so much need. The best way to help us is to support us monthly! Many regular monthly donations add up and really help us to be able to function and pay our regular expenses like our children’s school expenses (which takes more than 50% of all our support). A good monthly support will also allow us to save money for trips, conferences and unexpected costs.
The beginning of the construction is a great blessing and a huge challenge for us! We were laughing and remembering how we remember the days when trusting in God for a $100 was a huge challenge, then thousands and now we face a challenge of $1 000 000! Only God knows how this will happen, but we feel confident that we are taking the right step and that this is His dream that we simply have the privilege to be part of. Please pray for us as we start to fund raise and move towards starting the first building. We need: money, volunteer builders, wisdom, skill and ability.
Our Monday night family nights are formalizing more toward becoming the local church that we have prayed would be established for the past 8 years! It is exciting to see families changed by the power of the Gospel.