Greetings from a sunnier and lighter Finland! The days are now getting longer, the sun shines more, the snow and ice are gone… we are really looking forward to the summer that is starting to peak from around the corner! Just yesterday we noticed the first tiny leaves in the birch trees.
We now have four months of life in Finland behind us. Everything is still fresh and new, we definitely consider ourselves still in the process of adaptation. We miss Costa Rica very much even though we have seen God open doors here and feel we are where we are supposed to be.
We have found a church community where the whole family feels they want to be in. That should not be taken for granted. We are getting to know people there and finding our place to serve in the church.
A month ago we moved again. We found an apartment that has one more room, so now we have three bedrooms and two bathrooms. We live in a complex of two buildings with almost 50 apartments and many families with children in them. Nikkis has many friends to play with in the surrounding fields. We are making an effort to get to know and build relationships with the neighbors. The kids are finding their way to our place more and more often. Friends in Costa Rica helped us to sell Diego’s old drums and some other friends helped some more and now we have a beautiful electric drum set in our living room. Diego and the kids get to play and grow in their skills. Nikkis and Julia are applying to a music academy – Nikkis for drums and Julia for guitar.
We feel very proud of Troy, Julia and Nikkis as we have watched them bravely facing the challenges of a new culture, a totally different school environment and new relationships. It has not been easy – for the whole family it has been emotionally draining. However they have shown maturity, courage and trust in God in their every day walk. Academically all of them surprise their teachers and us; there is a lot to learn and catch up with, but they are doing great. All the new subjects that they have never had before make school exciting and fun. They have made friends, but finding their place is still very much in process.
DIEGO has been diligently studying the language attending a course every day. Handling every day situations in Finnish becomes easier and more natural day by day. In February-March Diego was invited to Costa Rica by one outreach team going there. He was able to drive, translate, help around the base, distribute Bibles and see people. Diego feels that he is to continue supporting the base in Guanacaste, travel when needed and be part of the continuation of the ministry in there. Diego got his residence and work permit, so he is now an official YWAM missionary in Finland. The first focus in on learning the language, he will probably be attending class for the rest of this year. On his heart is especially reaching the youth and mobilizing them to missions, working together with local churches and finding different ways to connect with youth outside the church. Diego has also been playing soccer and helping to coach in the junior league. It has been a good way to get to know people, even though challenging as well, because the coaching mentality is very different. With his outgoing personality, the big smile, an easiness of approaching people and the facility to share about God and to pray for people even in the streets God can really use him in this cold and reserved culture!
SALLA: After our support suffered a major drop and Diego got his residence we felt peace about him continuing as a ywam missionary and me looking for a job. I was preparing myself to do any kind of work, just to get an income for the family, but God opened a door that we had not even wished for. I got a paid job in a Finnish missions organization that has a large local ministry in Finland, but focuses on sending missionaries to the nations, especially the 10-40 window. They have 70 missionaries in 13 different countries. I went for an interview for a different position, but I ended up being offered and accepting a position as a fundraising developer for the organization. They have been praying for the right person for a while, because they want to shift the mentality and the organizational culture to be more relational and faith-based. So pretty much my job description is to teach, share and put into practice what I have been living for the past 17 years. I feel God designed all this and want to do this as service to Him and a continuation of walking in obedience and by faith. But what a privilege to be able to continue being involved in missions instead of spending my days doing something else! However my long days away from home are quite a change for the whole family. I am also continuing with university courses on International Relations.
OUR PLACE IN FINLAND –
AS A FAMILY we continue striving for the things that God has brought us to Finland for. We don’t want to miss the opportunities, our call and task nor stop the lifestyle of asking God, listening and obeying to serve and to reach out. The longer we are here, the more our eyes and understanding open to the spiritual condition and needs of Finland – and the more we understand that God has brought us here with a great purpose.
We feel that God has brought us here to live out our faith and testimony among the Finns, to be an example of a Christ-centered family to the youth and other families. We feel we are here to do our part to rise a wave of young missionaries from Finland.
Locally in the city of Tampere we have started YWAM fellowship, prayer and worship meetings. There are many people in the area who have been part of YWAM in different parts of the world at different times, are not connected to the ministry or missions at the moment, but miss the fellowship and the opportunities. We meet together with an open heart for God to grow this into what He wants. We were also able to take part in national YWAM staff days to get to know people and to see the many things God is doing in and through the ministry in Finland and beyond.
King’s Kids is one of the largest ministries of YWAM Finland. Next week we will be attending a national KK camp to see how involved we will be with this ministry. The defining factor will be our children and how involved God leads them to be. This was such a big part of their lives in Costa Rica that now they are having difficulty just switching to the same involvement in a different country with different people. Julia will be attending a mini-DTS organized by KK this summer; three weeks of teaching, discipleship and an outreach to northern Norway.
We are already having the first opportunities to challenge Finns to missions. On Easter we were able to speak to a full church in Kangasala. This weekend we are speaking in another church. Next Tuesday we are hosting a meeting in our home where our co-workers Kimmo and Laura from Costa Rica and Vivi who has been in the Middle East are coming to share and encourage people. In May we have a public event in Tampere to share more specifically about missions in Central America and challenge people to participate. We are starting to recruit participants for a Bible outreach to Costa Rica in July 2016. While we try to mobilize people to go out, we also pray to start seeing more missionaries and outreach teams coming to Finland. So please pray about organizing a group and come to share God’s love in the North!
PRAYER & SUPPORT
We ask for prayer for our family and ministry. Especially for Diego, for opportunities and open doors to walk in his call and reach the Finns! Also that we as a family could continually and still be used by God here – even though we miss Costa Rica very much! We ask for prayers for our children – the worst culture shock might very well still be ahead. Pray with us that they would find close Christian friends. The change to a new beginning in Finland has not been an easy process, especially emotionally it has been challenging. It will still take a long time until we can say we are fully adapted.
We want to invite you to become a monthly supporter for Diego. Cost of living is very high, so both of us need to have a full income to be able to cover the basic expenses. The monthly goal for support is 2000€ a month, which would make it possible for Diego to stay in full-time ministry. We have been thinking about this a lot since I started working. My days are long and the short evenings and weekends go fast with the children and house chores. Hitting the limits with time and energy for the first time in my life I have had to say no when I have been asked to counsel, to pray or to get involved with women’s ministry… This has been difficult, but has proven the importance of supporting those who are in ministry, so that they really can dedicate 100% of their time to these things, because those who have secular jobs simply cannot do it. So we kindly invite you to become Diego’s sender and supporter by committing to a monthly tax-deductible donation.
Thank you for your prayers and support during these months of transition for us, we really appreciate them! Please keep us in your prayers and also continue praying for the ministry in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. In our next newsletters we will be sharing short updates from Guanacaste as well.
Thank you for being on the journey with us!