The last month in Costa Rica was busy, full and overwhelming. Even though we had been working towards the move the whole year, at some point it seemed impossible that we would have the house ready and empty, all the paperwork done, all the meetings and goodbyes done by Christmas. Secretly we were hoping to somehow be able to jump few months ahead, have all the hard work and the move done with and already be settled in Finland starting the new chapter in our lives. Well, it didn’t happen magically, but with hard work, patience, God’s help and grace here we are! We live in a town of Lempäälä, about hour and half north of Helsinki. We found a two-bedroom apartment in the center of the town and have been here for one month now.
It was hard to say good-byes… we have invested the last nine years in the people of Guanacaste and so many of them had so many special things to say about us when we were leaving. Leaving the ministry is like leaving a child… but our hearts were thankful, because it is possible to see that there is fruit growing of many of the seeds planted in the last nine years.
In the last minute all the missing pieces seemed to find their places – thank you for your prayers and help! We were able to finish the major improvements in the house and a day before we left it was rented to a French-Nicaraguan family. All the finances came in for the fixings, insurances, tickets, taxes… Even our dogs and horse found good new families! God is so faithful, even when things around us seem like chaos and when there are so many unanswered questions. He works everything out in His way and in His timing!
Then, on December 24th, we were in that plane! It was – and still is – hard to grasp that this is not just another trip, but a permanent move! A HUGE change! A jump to unknown… a new adventure with God. Diego left behind his home country, his family, culture and everything he is comfortable with – over 20 years of being a missionary in his own nation. For me (Salla) it has been 17 colorful years in my second home country. All of us left behind our home, familiar surroundings, friends, a country and a culture that we love… and many special people, villages, neighbors… those that we have shared God’s word and love with in many different ways. All the memories, cries and laughs… The beauty of the tropical nature, the heat, the greenness, the fruit… this list could just go on and on. To put it short: A LOT was left behind! The pictures in this letter show some of those things.
During the long flights and layovers we took few deep breaths and then relaxed for few days with family in Finland. The the next busy season started… driving across Finland and moving to the new town, getting our own place, looking for furniture, doing all the official paperwork, getting permits, opening phone lines, getting insurances, visiting offices etc. it has been another endless project that still goes on.
We had just a little over a week to get the kids to school with proper winter clothes, winter sports equipment and more or less adjusted to the time and weather. They have done amazingly well. Especially Troy and Julia have made friends fast; they enjoy their new school and all the new opportunities. All of them are already involved in sports; Troy was accepted in a good basketball team, Julia is finally living her dream being in a dance academy (hip hop and break dance) and Nic Markus is part of a soccer team and involved with scouts.
Diego started language school the first week of January. He takes the train to Tampere every day to go to class. He is also taking an evening class twice a week. Even though the school is a little expensive, we are thankful that he got in to these classes, because knowing and being able to use the language will be important for whatever God will have him do in this nation. Diego applied for the residence permit right away in December, but will have to wait for them to process it – it will take a few months.
I have been working on the paperwork, unpacking, kids transportation and been home to support the family in the adjustment. I have been helping with a ministry to young mothers and making contacts with other Christian workers and organizations in the area. Once a week I have been getting together with a small group of women to pray.
We have visited different churches in the area to look for a home church for us. Diego has been asked to play in some churches as well. There are two refugee families arriving from Kongo to our town so we have signed up to be a support family for them. There are quite a few immigrants here and we feel drawn to reach out to and help them. Diego, Troy and Julia also have muslim friends at school.
The big question that is still asked a lot is what are we going to do in Finland, what is God’s place for us in here. We are praying and waiting, trusting God to be clear and specific with us. What we know is that we will continue as YWAM workers. What that will look like, is a process of prayer and talking things through with YWAM Finland. We know we want to reach and mobilize the Finnish youth and we have a dream to receive and host foreign outreach teams in Finland. We also feel that this is a time of preparation and further training for us. We are mostly praying and slowly seeking and knocking on opportunities, even though we also know that now is a moment to stay still, to listen, to wait and to rest. The Lord knows everything, will speak and open doors. We hope that in the next update we will be able to give you more details.
Please pray with us for the following requests: The fast processing of Diego’s permit, that the kids would find good Christian friends and continue growing in their relationship with God, God-appointed ministry, church and social contacts for us, the healing of Diego’s back (he hurt it and it has taken a while to recover), a bigger apartment/house, continuous daily provision and overall God’s help and grace in the transition and adaptation process.
It would be very important to us to have your prayer and financial support during this time of transition! Unfortunately we have lost many of our Finnish supporters, because of the usual problem that people have hard time supporting missionaries in their own country. As for now, we are trusting in God’s provision for our day-to-day needs. The cost of living here is very high, so if we are to continue in ministry we will need new supporters. Would you consider continuing your support or becoming a monthly supporter to us if you haven’t until now?
In our next update we will be writing more about Finland as a nation, about its spiritual condition, history and the needs. We want to invite you to be part of what God wants to do in this nation by partnering with us!
There is a new way to send your support to us through Mission Enablers International. It is tax-deductible, easy and can be done by check or online:
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Thank you for your friendship, prayers and support!