This year has been a very different year for our family. Mostly, because we have known that it will be our last year in Guanacaste, Costa Rica for a while. We try to enjoy every moment, every rain, every cow blocking the road, every meal, each person… and at the same time we are realizing how fast it is going, that we are running against time to be ready to board that plane with 10 suitcases on December 24th! We are really moving to Finland, we are stepping into a new and a different phase in life as a family, after pretty much all of our adult life of missionary life in Costa Rica. Our children don’t know anything else except the missionary community, serving God as a family, life in Costa Rica… We are about to face a huge change and challenge… another adventure with God! It will be good, even though it is difficult to leave so much behind.
A different year
This year in ministry has been different, because we have tried to not to do many things on our own, but to let others do them and stay on the background helping and supporting where needed. It is hard, because we are doers and easily engage in everything, but it looks really good, because we have been able to witness with our own eyes that there is a great group of people here in the ministry who are able to handle pretty much anything! Someone else than us hosted each team this summer and they did an excellent job. We are working on a structure for the base that delegates all the areas of responsibility between the staff that we have now (8 and us), but will also facilitate future growth. People are stepping up to new roles and taking on new responsibilities.
Right now our heroes are Kimmo and Laura Sarajarvi, who become the base leaders in August. They have been working with us for over three years, adjusting to life, language and ministry in Costa Rica. This is a huge challenge for them, but they are doing a great job! They have a great heart for God, they are committed to the vision that God has given to our ministry and we know that the base will be in very good hands with them!
All these changes have not happened in an easy environment, because the last few months have also been ones where we have faced continuous problems, challenges and unusual situations as families and as a ministry. We are thankful that it has happened now when we have still been able to handle them together with Kimmo and Laura.
The best news of this year are that we have sent the first person from our base to the unreached, to the 10-40 window! Vivi did her DTS three years ago with us and then stayed on as staff. She is a local 20-year-old girl from Guanacaste. God called her first to work with the unreached, and then with time He showed her the nation and started opening doors and a plan. She has now been there for over a month and we feel so happy and proud that this part of our vision and dream is becoming a reality! We believe that she will be the first of many who go out to the nations from here. Please pray for her residence permit for that country and for $1500 more that she needs to cover her immediate needs for the residence and the training period.
Vivi and Salla in a farefell photo session (copyright: Laura Sarajärvi)
Ministry life at the base continues to grow. We have many good problems, like all the beds are taken and we don’t have enough chairs, tables or room for visitors. We are growing and definitely running out of space! Our staff and volunteer team goes out daily to implement different ministry activities to spread the Gospel in Guanacaste. Our weekly activities include courses for young mothers, music lessons, a youth program, a children’s program in two communities, ministry to the homeless, Family Nights and Bible distribution. While all this is going on we also have a new DTS group at the base for three months until they leave for outreach in December. We have 7 students from Costa Rica, the States and Switzerland. Out of the seven, four are local students. We are excited to see what God is doing in their lives and where He will call them for outreach. This week I (Salla) am teaching the school about intercession, among other things learning toghether about praying for a city, about prayer walking and spiritual mapping. Photos: 1) Nations Dinner at the base 2) Preparing gifts for the young mothers completing a Seeds of Life course 3) DTS class working on spiritual mapping of Nicoya after a prayer walk
As usual, our ministry engagements and family situations require quite a lot of traveling. In August my grandmother in Finland died, so I made a 9-day trip to Finland to be in the funeral and spend some time with the family. Right after that all of our family went on a mission trip to Nicaragua with 12 other people from Guanacaste. We served at a clinic in a needy area and visited a local church. Every month we make a trip to Heredia to take our children to a King’s Kids camp for a weekend. This month we also had a national leadership meeting in Heredia for another weekend. This weekend Diego and Nic Markus are traveling to Nicaragua for YWAM Nicaragua’s 25th anniversary and Central American leadership meetings. We have been preparing another outreach to Honduras with loals, but right now we don’t have enough participants and many don’t have the money yet. So we continue praying to see if we are supposed to go or not. I(Salla) will be teaching in the DTS in Honduras on evangelism the last week of October. The Nicaragua team and ministry in front of the clinic
The great thing is that it is not only us traveling! We have the privilege of receiving constant visits from in and out of the country. It is a blessing to receive people in our house and at the base from many different places and we sure do appreciate everyone who is willing to travel all the way here on the bumpy and muddy roads just to share with us! We are privileged to have my parents with us right now for fife weeks all the way from Finland! They have been a blessing to us in many different ways, spending time with the children and helping with many things around the house.
The preparations for our move include three kinds:
One is to get our house and our belongings ready. Our house was in need of some major fixings, because it was sinking in one corner. We hired good constructors that lived here for over a month and got most of the important jobs done. We had to borrow money to cover the cost, but at least the house now stands straight and solid! There are still other projects to be done to leave the house in good condition, so we are working on all those little by little. We still don’t have anyone to rent our house, so we would really appreciate prayers for that! Ideally we are looking for someone to rent the house for the five years that we will be in Finland. If you know of anybody interested in living in a beautiful country village in Guanacaste, let us know! We are also in the process of going through all our belongings. We already did one successful garage sale and continue selling and giving away more things. We will take few things with us and leave few things here in storage. We would like to rent the house furnished.
The second kind of preparations are to finish our last contributions to the ministry. Trying to do things that we can really help with and also to leave the base in order. This includes things like working on the new base structure, making sure the vehicle, banking, property and other legal documents are up to date and in order, maybe some structure improvements, helping out with the last bit of practical every day jobs. As we mentioned before, things really do look good at the base and we hope to get all these things done before December when our base hosts a massive national YWAM retreat and then a large Bible distribution event before we leave. One of our current needs at the base is to order more Bibles, we need about $10,000 to make a new order for more Bibles, since we only have 600 left right now. Over 30,000 Bibles have been already given to the homes in Guanacaste. (Please check out the new Bibles for Costa Rica video from this link!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRYh7ncPfW4)
The third kind of preparations for our move are the hardest; trying to prepare things for us in Finland. God is mostly in charge of that, because there is very little we can do from here. We can think about it and worry about it, but that doesn’t bring much result, so we just figure we pray and trust in God. We have applied for an apartment; we have registered Troy and Julia in a school. That’s about it. But God has done other things! Few days ago we were give a 7-passanger vehicle in Finland! We have also been given a freezer, a micro-wave and a lamp! Things that God does to remind us that He hasn’t forgotten that we are moving and need Him to prepare us a place in Finland. This means a place in every meaning: a house, a purpose, a plan, an income, friends, hobbies… We know He is putting all these pieces together right now and in few months we will start seeing the outcome…exciting!
This year has also been different, because the concept of sharing family has become more real to us. We have had our Finnish home school tutor live with us most part of the year. Also the last 6 months Priscilla, a 15-yr old foster daughter has been part of our family. Then we had the builders for over a month and now my parents for over a month as well. We never have an empty house or dinner table. There is a lot of cooking, cleaning and laundry to do. It has been a year of growth and challenges, but a blessed year in many ways. Priscilla’s process hasn’t been easy, but we are grateful for the steps she is taking forward and the influence and guidance God has given her through our family.
Troy, Julia and Nic Markus are of course trying to take everything out of their last few months with their friends here in Costa Rica. Many of them live in Heredia, so there is a lot of travelling back and forth. When the school vacation starts, for our last few weeks in the country, we are expecting a wave of teenagers to invade the house. Julia is part of a swim team; she has great skills and enjoys it a lot! She also takes guitar classes and spends hours in her room playing and singing. Troy was given a Go-Pro camera earlier this year, so he is into making and editing videos. He also continues playing with the Nicoya basketball team, loves crazy-riding the quad on our muddy yard, helps with a lot of different jobs around the house and enjoys seeing friends. Nic Markus is now on 2nd grade, plays basketball, spends time with his Finnish friend Robin at the base, plays outside with the dogs or skim boards in the mud and continually invents other fun things to do.This is what the rainy season looks and feels like!
We know that the upcoming transition will be a challenge for our children, especially for the teenagers. Would you please cover them in prayers? Our one specific request among others is that they would quickly find good Christian friends in Finland.
We know that many of you pray for us and we are so thankful for it! Many of you also support us financially with monthly or one-time gifts. Here are some of our current requests and needs:
– Even more quality staff for the base with specific skills to replace us and to complement the current staff team. We really need someone for pastoral/staff care!
– Continuity at the base with projects, ministries, growth and vision
– $3000 for our tickets to Finland
– $3000 for fixing our house
– Finances for the teaching trip to Honduras and the possible outreach
– Renters for our house
– Time to finish everything that we need to finish at home
– Time to finish everything that we need to do in the ministry
– God’s plan and purpose for us in Finland
Everybody is asking us what we will be doing in Finland. We will not know the details until we get there. Our desire is to continue in YWAM ministry, but we don’t yet know what it will look like. We also want to get language training for Diego and later next year I will try to get into a university in Finland, since I feel that God might have this time for me as a time of preparation for future things. We will let you know as soon as we know. We would kindly ask you to continue supporting us financially through this time of transition at least until we know more details. We will need your support and prayers!
Also, if you or anyone you know would be interested in continuing the relationship and involvement with the ministry at YWAM Guanacaste, or bringing an outreach team or volunteering, you can stay in touch with the missionary team here through firstname.lastname@example.org or in facebook: YWAM Guanacaste, Costa Rica!