Category Archives: Blog

Latest news from our family.

When God gave us a car

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God has again provided and taken care of our practical needs. But it never stops there, He always does so much more, He definitely sees the big picture and with God things don’t just happen by accident.

Since last summer we have been thinking of and wanting to get a bigger car. We often have guests, friends or family members, so we don’t fit in a car of 5. For example right now we have our kids’ friend Jonathan from Costa Rica with us for two months. So we have been looking at different options, but at the same time been hesitant to spend money on a vehicle right now. Few weeks ago we did a trip to Oulu (500 km each way). After paying a train ticket to one of us on the way there and to another one on the way back, Diego decided it was time to get a car. He went online and immediately found a car that stood out to him and it had a good price and low mileage.

The next day Diego and Salla’s dad went to see the car. The owner’s daughter asked Diego which country he is from. Diego told him a little about Costa Rica, said that he was actually just returning from a trip there and went on sharing about the Homes of Hope construction project that he was part of. The girl asked which organization he was with and when Diego answered “YWAM”, she started crying. She was thinking about applying to do the DTS in Tampere ( the new Discipleship Training School starting very close to us in January), but was not sure and she had asked God to confirm it to her during that same exact day that Diego shows up at their house and starts telling about YWAM! Sometimes God answers our prayers in a very concrete (and latino) way!

It was so encouraging to see once again how in our “small daily things” we can be part of what God is doing in other people’s lives and even around the world. Even without a car deal the visit would have been well worth it, but we did end up getting the car as well. It was what we were looking for and after meeting Diego and hearing about the ministry the couple first lowered the price a lot from the original good price and then decided to take a huge amount out of the price as a donation. So Diego drove home that night with a car that meets our current needs and paid only 1/5 of the actual value!

We are thankful – praise God!

All of this is part of the big car story that has followed us since we got married. Cars in Costa Rica have always been a challenge – the roads are so bad and cars and their fixing are so expensive. We have had all kind of miracle stories of how we have got each one of our vehicles and five years ago God surprised us with a ‘every man’s dream car’ through a family that gave us a fancy Chevrolet Silverado pick-up truck. The truck served us well and still continues being in a daily use in missions in Costa Rica.

 

About Finland

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FINLAND … the land of the midnight sun, bears and moose, the northern lights, wilderness, bravery, Santa Claus

…. and more than that… the land of the FINNS!!

Finland is a country of about 5 million inhabitants in Northern Europe between Sweden and Russia. The location in the North has historically meant fighting for survival with very hard work in rough conditions. The Finns have made their way to one of the top developed countries of the world even though natural resources and conditions are not as beneficial as in southern Europe. What mostly characterize Finland are the forests and the lakes. With its 188 000 lakes it is known worldwide as the land of thousand of lakes.

The location between Sweden and Russia has shaped the Finnish identity. It has had to fight for its independent existence between the west and the east. Historically it has belonged both to Sweden and to Russia, but gained its full independence 1917. During the Second World War Finland had to fight two wars against the Eastern Giant, was able to keep its independence, but lost parts to Russia and had to pay massive reparations. After the wars Finland showed it’s miracle story to the world rising from a war-torn country and poverty to one of the top developed countries in the world in just few decades at the same time becoming the only country in the world that has actually fully paid its reparations. This happened with hard work and determinations – both still being typical characteristics of the Finns. Finland has also strategically identified itself with the west through its economy and joining the European Union in the 90s. Now the big debate is whether to join NATO or not.

Today’s Finland is looking for its next success story after Nokia, Angry Birds and holding one of the 1st positions in the international PISA education qualification for a while. The economy is struggling, the age structure and the job market are changing – as many other nations Finland is searching for its place in a rapidly changing world and circumstances.

While Finland still has a very high standard of living and the society takes care even of the least, it cannot cover the spiritual emptiness. Finland has one of the highest rates for suicide and depression. Wherever you turn your head, with children as well as adults, together with prosperity you see mental illness, family break-ups, people losing the grasp of life, isolating themselves from others and the society. Immigration has changed the traditional dynamics of the society; it is very common to see darker people or covered Muslim women in the streets. They face a challenge of decades to learn the language and integrate into the society. The youth materially have all they could wish for, but there is emptiness and a lack of purpose. Many of them start smoking at a very young age and you see them drinking in the streets all over. Heavy drinking of all age groups is very common.

IMG_4428Traditionally Finland is a Lutheran country. The Lutheran church has set a strong Biblical foundation in the nation, the alphabetization of the nation happened through the church and the laws were set with a Biblical foundation. Finland experienced a revival in the 60s and some of those movements are still alive today. However today the state church has become very institutionalized and seems to please the world more than God. It is step by step compromising the Word of God, which draws more secular people in and pushes the believers out: many real believers feel forced to leave the church and on the other hand side Pentecostal, free and especially non-denominational churches are strengthening and growing. The population of true born-again Christians in Finland is still very small (my guess is much less than 10%) among a very secular, liberal and individualistic population.

The Finns as people are very generally speaking individualistic, appreciate privacy, hard-working, very honest, loyal and skillful people. Foreigners find them quiet and serious and usually they are reserved when you first meet them. But once you win their trust you find warmth, humor, hospitality and friendship for life. There is a saying that Finnish men talk only in sauna or when they are drunk… and it has a lot of truth in it. They are usually highly educated, organized, and skilled with their hands in different kinds of crafts and woodwork. The Finns generally love the nature and silence; they love to spend their free time in small cottages surrounded by forests on a lakeside.

When we moved we started praying and asking God to show us which are the most important spiritual strongholds in the nation. What we have received are these: loneliness, self-centeredness, depression and alcoholism. There is a longing for purpose, community, and acceptance – a longing for Jesus that people are unaware of. They are generally not receptive and reject opportunities to talk about God. But God, their Father, is patient, loving and creative to bring them home one by one.

Finland needs Christians who are willing to live uncompromised and obedient lives publicly. Finland needs prayer. Finland needs testimony of Christ. Finland needs the word of God. Finland needs renewal and revival. Finland needs evangelism.

Finland has been an active missionary sending country. The founder of YWAM has had a repeated vision for Finland of 2000 young people going as a wave from the North to the nations as missionaries. There has been unseen growth in YWAM Finland in the past 10 years and a moving of the waters for that massive wave has already started. There is work to do to reach these youth, to disciple, train and send them out!

We want to challenge you to become part of our sending team through your prayers and financial support to see the nation of Finland transformed!IMG_5914

Life in Finland – May 2015

IMG_6350 IMG_6373Greetings 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.

IMG_6344DIEGO 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 IMG_6467and 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!

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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!

Please use these links to find our donation and contact information.

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The move!

IMG_5856 IMG_5499 IMG_5338The 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.

Costa Rica

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.IMG_5696 IMG_5681 IMG_5610

Finland

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.IMG_5744 IMG_5519 IMG_5433 IMG_5432

Prayer requests:

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.

Support

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:

– ONLINE (credit/debit card):

https://meigiving.com/mei.php for donating via Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover. Use our name and number # S3390.

– THROUGH PAYPAL:  PayPal = meigiving@gmail.com
You should indicate that we are to be the recipient in the “Message” field of the Paypal AND website screens (name and number # S3390).

– BY CHECK: Make your check payable to Mission Enablers International or MEI, send it to: MEI
P.O. Box 2127 Bentonville, AR 72712 and attach a separate note stating that the donation is for us or put the number # S3390 in the memo line.

Thank you for your friendship, prayers and support!

 

Fall Update 2014

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.

 

VIVI!

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.IMG_4658

Vivi and Salla in a farefell photo session (copyright: Laura Sarajärvi)

 

Base life

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.IMG_4732 IMG_4799IMG_4846Photos: 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

 

Trips

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.IMG_4596 IMG_4630The 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.

 

Preparations

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!

 

Sharing family

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.IMG_4679This 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 jucumguanacaste@gmail.com or in facebook: YWAM Guanacaste, Costa Rica!

 

Spring 2014 newsletter

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Pictures: The two homes, the two extremes: Guanacaste and Finland

It has been a while since a good newsletter! Please take a moment to read about what we have been doing the past months and what this year looks like to us.

LAST YEAR: 2013
As a conclusion of last year we have to say that it was a year well finished. In the fall we got three new long-term workers to our team, our youth ministry was reactivated and we got to host and organize several camps.

Right after Christmas our fall DTS traveled to their Central American outreach, they worked mostly in Guatemala and Mexico. One of the students returned to work with us on staff this month. She is a worship leader and will be staffing the DTS. She will be on staff and training at our base with the goal to later be sent out to our adopted unreached people group.

And right before Christmas we got our tickets that we had been praying for and flew to Finland for Christmas! It had been 2,5 years since last family visit, so it was a much needed and enjoyed time in our second home country reconnecting with family, friends, supporters and churches, as well as trying to get some rest.

CHALLENGES OF 2014

The big move…
During our trip to Finland we were seeking for the last final confirmation and full peace about our move there this coming December – and received it. As a family we feel that God is leading us to move to Finland for a period of about 5 years, with our future plan still being to return and continue to serve in Costa Rica. The biggest motivator for our move is our children; during the next 5 years Troy and Julia are going to be in high school/college age, where they will have to start making major decisions about their future. We feel that they need to discover the Finnish side of their identity, culture and future opportunities, so that the doors will be open for them wherever God calls them in the future. It would be very hard to later move to Finland to study or to live if they had never lived there before. God confirmed many things to us during our visit, for example that we are to continue in YWAM and He also directed us to a specific place to live, just as he did 9 years ago when we moved to Guanacaste.

This move is scary, we are doing it by faith, trusting that God will continue providing for us there as He has here in Costa Rica and open the right doors. It is also exciting, as a family to begin a new adventure with God and to be closer to the other half of our family and relatives. But we are also realizing that it will be a very sad move. We will miss Guanacaste, our village, our missionary community, our friends and Costarican family members very, very much! It is making us sad already to know that in one year we will be far from here…

Ministry:
In the ministry and at the base our move will be a challenge for everyone, since we have always been there to run many things, so now it is time to restructure the base operations, to release new leaders, also to make some changes as well. Our prayer is for God to bring the right people to lead and to serve, so that the ministry can continue growing and multiplying and making God’s dreams a reality in Guanacaste and the nations. And we are seeing it happen!

As an answer to many years’ prayers, we now have a pastor in training for the local church that our family nights have begun. They are a local family with three children that have already joined us at the base and will do the fall DTS. We are also starting to train a group of about 7 families for church leadership and base support. And yes… we do have a couple that has accepted the challenge to become the next base leaders! They are Kimmo and Laura Sarajarvi, who have served with us in base leadership for three years already. We are thankful to see how God is moving the pieces and gently helping us as a family and a base to go through the transition.

As you might guess, our main goals for this year are to train workers and leaders and to strengthen the existing ministries and base structures. We are also working on getting our house ready to rent it out, and figuring out what to do with our possessions. It is a busy year!

We rejoice in the staff team of 11 people! Nine years ago this was a dream. We have skilled people with great hearts for God, committed to the general base vision and also each one serving God in their own individual areas of call and vision. We now have an active youth ministry, Drummers for Jesus – ministry, ministry with local women, three courses for young mothers about to start, English teaching, tutoring the local elementary school students, an expanding childrens’ ministry and together we continue distributing Bibles house to house (almost 30 000 Bibles distributed in Guanacaste!), receiving short-term teams and ministering with them in communities and schools, hosting the growing Monday night meetings at the base. In September we have our next 5-month Discipleship Training School starting. Praise God for everything that is going on!
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Pictures: Bible Distribution!

One of the things that we are establishing are short-term mission trips for locals, especially the members of our own church plant. Last fall we did our first missions trip to Nicaragua. Last weekend was the second one and in September will be the third. For late fall we have a trip planned with a smaller group of people to a country that cannot be mentioned by name for security reasons. We (Diego and Salla) are going to do a preparation trip there in June to build relationships and to confirm what type of ministry can be done and to find out more about opportunities. We need to raise $1500 for this trip, would you like to help us with a donation?

Nicaragua outreach, missions!
Last weekend Diego, Julia and Nic Markus went on the missions trip to Nicaragua with 28 local people from our home communities. We are so thankful to God for our new bus, that makes these trips possible for so many people! The bus even has a lift for wheel chairs, so we were able to take a girl in a wheel chair to whom serving God in a foreign nation was only a distant dream before.
The team rebuilt a roof for the YWAM base in Nicaragua and a kitchen for a poor family that prepares food to sell as their only source of income. They also worked with about 200 children and visited three different churches. The trip was short, but life-changing for many of the participants. They had to trust in God and raise $130 each, which is a lot of money or even an impossible amount for some. They made what was possible for them and saw God work miracles to provide for all of them to go. Seeing and meeting needs and feeling God’s heart for the nations changes the way you see God, yourself and live out your Christianity. So we have an excited group of people who want to serve more and get more involved. This is the beginning of the vision we have to see hundreds of people from Guanacaste going out to the nations as missionaries.

Another piece of exciting news is that Vivian, one of our long-term local staff members has been accepted to a School of Strategic Missions. She has a call to be a missionary in one of the largest unreached nations in the world and this specific school is run in this same country. So she is taking a step of obedience to follow God’s call, but she is also getting further training to fulfill her call. She is leaving in September and needs to raise a lot of money for this. If you know Vivi, or even if you don’t, and would like to be part of her sending team, please get in touch with her or with us.
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Pictures: A visiting team having their debrief time at the base and a local girl receiving tutoring in math

FAMILY:
As a family we made a big change this year by taking the children out of the local school where they have been for the past six years. We decided to start them already in the Finnish school curriculum and the Lord provided a wonderful Finnish girl, Anna, as a tutor for them. So Anna is living with us until the end of the year and the children study at home. So far it has worked out well, even though they are starting to miss spending more time with their friends from school. Fortunately we still live here, so they can still see friends and continue in the same sports and hobbies as before.

Prayer Requests:
– The process of leadership transition at the base. Base needs: donations for Bibles, the bus and supporters for our local staff members. More staff members to fill all the needs and to make growing and expanding vision and ministries possible.
– The family nights that are turning into a formalized local church during this year. All the new believers that are coming.
– Wisdom, time, skill and money to be able to do all the work our house needs before we move. And the right people to live in it while we are gone.
– The finances for the pre-mission trip in June
– Diego is traveling to Honduras to Central American base leaders’ meetings during the first week of June
– Julia’s 13th birthday gift is a trip to the States to participate in a junior high missions trip with our good friends and their church. She will be gone June 7-18 and she is really excited! Pray that God would use her in Dayton Beach, Florida!

June 5-15 we have an open outreach. Anyone is welcome to come and join us to do ministry in the villages for 10 days, which also includes training and a free day trip. Please contact jucumguanacasteatgmaildotcom if you are interested!

Thank you for your continuous prayers and financial support to our family! You are a part of a transformation that is taking place in Guanacaste!

November 2013: Thankful Hearts

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Pictures: Nic Markus started finnish first grade by homeschooling – Part of YWAM Costa Rica staff at our National Staff Training – A friend on the village road. It’s a boa and not poisonous.

It is a joy to be able to report to you some of the things that God has been doing in Guanacaste and in our ministry this year. We are very thankful for your partnership, for the many prayers said for us around the world and for the financial gifts given to make all this possible.

Reports:

Summer with teams: We had another very busy summer hosting short-term outreaches. Even though most of our long-term staff members were on furlough, vacation or sick leave, God sent volunteers to be a huge help and share the workload. We had teams during the whole summer until the first week of August, we hosted a total of 100 short-term team members that worked in about 15 different communities taking the Bible to homes, in evangelism, sports, children’s ministry, youth work, building a church, women’s ministry etc. We heard many testimonies of the team members themselves of how God had spoken to them during their outreach, or challenged them, or how they had learned things that would change their lives. Praise God! That is what we are here for. And the local impact was of course obvious; there were people who heard and accepted the Gospel for the first time, who were healed or set free, who received teaching and instruction they needed, others just love and compassion they needed.

 

Learning to slow down: We face the continual challenge to re-align our work schedule so that we can slow down a little, have more time to rest and to spend as a family. In the middle of the busiest season in July Diego had another heart related heart arrhythmia crisis. He was in observation in the local hospital and then we had to pay a private doctor and run some better tests in San Jose. Thank God he is better now, but he really needs to lower stress, rest more, exercise more and eat better. Especially in the summers with teams we get really busy, but at the same time it is a season we all love, even our children, so we find it difficult and challenging to learn how to slow down. However, since September with things slowing down for the fall, it has been more possible for us to maintain a regular schedule. We need to somehow get better at this. Please continue to pray for this as well as for finances for medical needs and recreation as a family.

 

Bible Distribution: In September we received a shipment of 2500 Bibles in Spanish and 500 in English (for the bilingual beach areas). Part of them still have to be paid for, so we need to continue raising funds, but now we have enough Bibles to work freely for the next months! We go out weekly to distribute Bibles and take the Word of God to people who have never had it before. We would love to see more local church participation in this, so that we could see even thousands of Bibles being distributed each month. Right now we are not there yet, but even little by little, the Word is going out! More countries are joining the project, including Brazil in December (their goal is 50 million Bibles!) and Dominican Republic starting next year! Here in Costa Rica we have distributed 85 000 Bibles. And to finish the province of Guanacaste we still need 90 000 more Bibles! A fun challenge; you are very welcome to be part of this J!

 

Base construction: The plans that EMI (Engineering Ministries International) team made for our new base are ready! This weekend our board of directors will review local engineer proposals to process the plans with local authorities and to get the building permits. This process will take some months and we are now starting the fund raising campaign for construction. We need a lot of wisdom, creativity, skill and contacts for that; we really don’t know how to raise that much money or how to build a building like that, but we definitely know that the ministry needs the new building soon! We are totally out of space in our current building, we are limited our ability to function and host ministry activities. We don’t even have enough room to host our Monday night meetings (impatiently waiting for the dry season to start so we can meet outside). Please pray for this challenge!

 

New people: At the base we have the joy of having three new full-time and long-term staff members that have recently joined us. Two are locals and one is from the States. Ana helps in the kitchen and is currently running our two kids’ clubs. Josue is staffing the DTS and starting to work with local youth. Jamie is a health educator and is working with the Seeds of Life program with young mothers. It is a huge blessing and encouragement that God calls and sends other people to join us in ministry!

 

To the nations: In September we started another DTS at our base with five students from Costa Rica, the States and Switzerland. Their lecture phase is about half way done now and in January we will send them on outreach to Guatemala, Belize and Mexico. What a privilege to be able to say that, that we are sending people from here to the nations! There is another girl from Nicoya that left last month to serve with YWAM Argentina and we were able to pray for her in our family night. And Diego took a group from our family night to an outreach in Nicaragua for a weekend! Many of the participants are new Christians and they are already learning to take part in the Great Commission; what a great process to be part of!

 

Teaching: This fall we are teaching in two different Discipleship Training Schools on the topics of The Father Heart of God (Diego), Intercessory Prayer (Salla) and Evangelism (Salla). We want to work together with God to give impactful and life changing teachings to young people who long to be trained and discipled.

 

Family: Our children are successfully finishing up another year of school, basketball and ballet (you can guess who is doing what J). We are very proud of them! It is beautiful to see them grow up, to see the individual ways God is reflected in them and how they are starting to understand God’s purposes for their lives. We have been going to King’s Kids camps in Heredia one weekend every month, which has helped them to grow in their relationship with God and to build strong Christian friendships. This year is the last one they are going to school in Nicoya. Next year they will be studying here at home with a teacher from Finland and the year after that our plan is still to move to Finland, so they will be going to school in there.

 

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Picures: A team sharing with boys while distributing Bibles in a local neighborhood – A team building a church – In a meeting with an EMI engineer Daniel and a local architect

How do we see God at work?

 

1. People coming to the Lord: One of the recent testimonies is a young man in our own village who was abandoned by his family when he was about 12 years old. Since then he has been working for different farmers who give him a room to sleep in. Now he is about 22 and his girlfriend is pregnant, but left him because he drinks and is aggressive. Salla counseled the girl and together with her prayed for a miracle in him, even though she said that he would never change. About a month later Diego had the privilege of leading him in prayer to accept Christ. Please pray for the follow-up and discipling process.

 

2. Provision: God shows in practical ways that He backs us up. When we don’t have money, in some miraculous way it comes in. When we don’t have food, he sends us food. When we need workers during a busy time, he sends them to us. When we don’t have strength or excitement for ministry, He fills us up again and it feels like the first day ever. When we don’t have answers, he gives them to us. When we feel discouraged, he sends someone to visit or encourage in other ways. We see this in small ways and big ways day by day. God is so amazing and his provision is evident in our every day ministry and personal lives. We praise Him for that!

 

3. Testimonies: In our weekly family nights we pray for needs and share prayer requests and prayer reports. We hear things like: “Our lives have changed so much. We continue having the same challenges as before, but now we have so much peace and joy, we pray together as a family, we know God will take care of us. And he answers our prayers; we prayed for a job and now we have one, or we needed medical help and now we have some.” Or we hear about one local family that is being discipled responding to a need of another one! Or a healing taking place with one of the groups going out from the base to distribute Bibles to homes! We see and hear constant testimonies of God being at work in the lives of the people we are reaching. The group of people that meets every Monday night at the base to hear the word continues growing in size and in faith; that is just amazing!!

 

 

Other prayer requests and needs:

 

Finland: Our family is half Finnish and we haven’t been there for two-and-half years. We are planning on taking a vacation/furlough there from December to February. God provided for the tickets and we are really excited about going to see family, friends, supporters, winter, and snow and to get to spend Christmas in Finland! Please pray for our time there, we need extra provision to cover costs both in Costa Rica and in Finland during the trip and we hope that even though it will be mixed with lot of ministry activities, that it could also be a time of rest and disconnection.

 

House: Due to the earthquake last year as well as poor architectural and engineer design of our house, a part of the house is sinking. We need to have it checked and fixed as soon as possible. So we need a good engineer to tell us how to fix it and then get the skilled workers and the resources to be able to fix it well. Right now we haven’t even been able to find an engineer to come and look at it. Soon the rainy season will change into dry season so there is even more ground movement expected that will probably not help the situation much, so we would love to be able to fix this soon!

 

 

THANK YOU for your prayers and financial support! We need both and encourage you to continue doing both! If you would like to donate for our special or regular needs/expenses, see the details on the website under “donate”.IMG_1696 IMG_1699Pictures: Us with Evelyn, who is now serving with YWAM in Argentina – At the vegetable market

 

May 2013

The summer season is about to start! We need your prayers! It is going to be a busy summer, we are hosting 6 outreach teams, but all the other staff members are taking furlough/vacation during this time as well, so it will almost be like the early years in Guanacaste for us, just us dealing with teams. Thankfully God has sent volunteer help this way!

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Pictures from a course we run the past few months for young mothers; My mom Leena babysitting and the girls receiving a class with a nutritionist.

Panama
We went to Panama for a week for YWAM Americas directors conference. There were about 250 YWAM leaders gathered together from North, Central and South America. It was an encouraging time to hear from God, from each other and strengthen our friendships, make connections and look at the future together. As of today, there are over 20 000 full time workers in YWAM worldwide, but 4,5 million people who have gone through YWAM programs, who carry the YWAM “dna” and are part of the family. We realize that as a small and a new base it is important for us to go to these conferences. But it is a sacrifice and difficult to find the time and money to go. This year we still have another important one to go to, the University of the Nations Workshop in Tijuana, Mexico in September. As the base can, it helps us to cover some of these costs, but it has been a burden on our family finances.

Bus
The base bus was getting old and now was a good time to sell it. We did and God provided the rest of the money for us to purchase a bus from the States. The challenge is again to pay the vehicle import taxes here in Costa Rica, which are rather hight. We need to raise $15,000 to have the bus here in Guanacaste with all the paperwork done. We feel this is a good bus for the area and will serve the ministry and visiting teams well for many years to come. Please pray with us for provision, we need the bus here as soon as possible to use it this summer. Please let us know if God is calling you to donate toward this need.

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Pictures: 1) The base boys and chics! 2) Doña Ana giving a Bible teaching in Kids’ Club.

Cowboys and other teams
Right now we are hosting a DTS group from Cowboys With A Mission Wyoming for a few weeks. They are a special group, reaching out to local families and farmers with their skills in ranching, with animals and hard physical work. They also helped us with projects around the base to get ready for this summer’s teams. It is a blessing to have them here! From now on we will be busy with hostin teams until August. We are expecting teams from School of Worship YWAM San Jose, Arizona, Washington, Oregon and Finland! With these teams over thousand Bibles will be distributed and the Gospel presented in many different communities.

Family and Future plans
There are different seasons in life and as a family we feel that we are getting close to a change of seasons. First of all the big change is that the kids are growing, Troy is a full-qualifying teenager, Julia is getting close to that and even our “baby” is going to be 7 this year!
Since the beginning of our marriage it was clear that God wanted us here in Costa Rica, but with very strong and active ties to Finland, which is the other half of our family’s identity and heritage. We also felt that when the kids would be older we should live in Finland some years so that they can go to school there, learn to live in that culture and feel it their own as well.
Troy is already on 9th grade here, so if we are going to do it, we need to start making a plan. For the last few months we have been talking and praying about this more as a family and we have now made a decision and a plan. We will stay in Guanacaste until the end of 2014 and then move to Finland for some years (at the moment undefined period of time).     As you might understand, there are many things that need to happen both here and there for this to become reality. First of all, we are praying that God would strengthen our base with a good group of leaders and staff with long term commitment to take on and continue the vision of the ministry. We want to see it growing, not dying! We will give our best during the next year and half for this to happen, to advance the construction of the new base and to speed up the Bible distribution project.
On the other  hand, we also need to trust in the Lord to prepare a place for us in Finland. We have nothing to go back to there in what comes to possessions, positions, qualifications, so we are depending on God to open us doors in there.
As preparation for this, we will be taking the kids out of the local school here after this year and start homeschooling them with the Finnish system. Right now we are looking into bringing a teacher for them from Finland so that I (Salla) could still continue in full-time ministry.
As you are our senders, people who pray for us, we submit these plans to you and ask you to keep them in your prayers!IMG_0764

Picture: The EMI (Engineering Ministries International) drawing of the main building of the new base.

Please keep us in your prayers this summer! God is moving in our community, individuals and families are coming to him. We have a great privilege and responsibility to disciple them and see them become mature in the Lord. We witness miracles and also strong demonic opposition as we preach the Gospel and go into homes to distribute Bibles. Doors are opening in many areas for ministry, but in some other ones there is a lot of resistance, which shows that we are in the frontline of a spiritual battle. We need your prayers!

Studying in the US and after

 

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.

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TMDS CLASS

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.

bibliaymujer   research
kidsbiblesnic6vPictures: 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.

Fall news 2012

The fall that we thought would be calm and not so busy turned out to be one of the busiest seasons this year… The 7.6 earthquake on September 5th changed the lives of many here in Guanacaste – including ours. God protected our home and belongings, but suddenly our schedule was full helping and coordinating help for many other people with their broken homes.

NICOYA EARTHQUAKE

 

The earthquake surprised the whole country on a Wednesday morning at 9 am. The epicenter was here in Guanacaste close to us and honestly it was a pretty scary experience. Many concrete houses were cracked and broken, but overall the damage was much smaller than it could have been with that magnitude. So God was good even in the midst of an emergency and panic! A big Nicoya earthquake has been predicted for a long time and the scientists actually think that this was not it!! But we know we are where God wants us and trust in Him with or without another earthquake. With this one, many poor families still lost their homes and have no place to go. The government makes promises, but most of them never become reality. God started sending prayers, resources and help this way almost immediately after the earthquake. So far we have been able to help five families to fix or rebuild their homes. There is much more to do and we would like to help five more families, but need money and builders for that. Please contact us  if you would like to be part of making a difference in these families´ lives. (In the pictures a damaged house, a family with a broken wall and a fixed wall.)

DISCIPLESHIP TRAINING SCHOOL

One of the joys of this fall has been the second Discipleship Training School of our base. At first we were a little disappointed at not having more than three students, but it ended up being perfect and we have enjoyed it so much! The challenge is that local pastors and churches don´t want people to get involved in missions, so there are many walls a local student has to break to attend a DTS. Our base cook, Dona Ana, however decided to break them all. She took up the challenge and has had a life transforming experience receiving teachings from visiting speakers all around the world the past three months. Now she is ready to leave to Kenya, Africa, for outreach with the other two American students and Vivi, our staff member. God has been so faithful and we even saw $5000 come in to cover the outreach expense for Vivi and Ana in three weeks! During the lecture phase we were involved mostly in helping to translate teachings and taught few weeks ourselves. Please keep the team in your prayers; they will graduate on the first week of February. (In the picture the three students, Vivi and the DTS leaders).

BITS AND PIECES

–          The Bible Distribution program continues and we are excited about how more local churches are getting involved with it. We have distributed 22 000 out of 114 000 Bibles. Local churches, our staff and volunteers, visiting teams and donors make this possible and we believe one day we will reach the goal and we will be able to say that every home in our province has a Bible!

–          We have two ongoing children´s programs every week. We have the privilege to disciple 20-30 children on a regular basis. It is a challenge, because they don´t get support for their spiritual growth in their homes, many of them are abused and mistreated. We are praying for a full time long-term staff member to come and work with the kids. There are endless ministry opportunities and we hope to be able to tutor them the coming year!

–          Monday night Family Nights at the base are open evenings to everyone at the base and people from the community with worship, teaching, prayer and fellowship. Even though we have had them for the past seven years, the last months we have seen an amazing growth in these nights. We have had 50 to 60 people come every Monday night (that is a lot in this tiny village!), people are more open to God than ever before and God is showing to them how personal and real He is. We hope this to be a huge step closer to our dream to establish a local church here, because there is none. Please be praying for this!

–          Among this year´s challenges have been different health issues starting from Diego´s heart and eye and now recently with my (Salla´s) head. I have suffered from inexplicable headaches for about a month. Right now we are waiting for the CT scan result, hoping that it would just confirm that this won´t be anything serious or long-lasting. Please pray for good health and complete healing. But we do get the message: we need to learn to slow down, take it easy and even to say no to some things sometimes… (not easy!).

–          The huge blessing of this year was the truck donated to us, but we still owe the import taxes for that. Would you please pray with us that we could sell a van and a trailer that we have for sale to cover this debt.

–          Our kids finished last week a busy school year with early mornings, long drives, projects, basketball, dance, friends etc. So we are happy to have them 24-7 around the house and the base now!

–          This weekend we are receiving around 100 people at our base for the annual YWAM Costa Rica retreat, where all the three bases get together for fun, fellowship and good food! Lot of organization for us, but it is a great way to end the year. Otherwise we get together for staff trainings and leadership meetings, so this is a non-business weekend!

–          Next week we receive a DTS outreach team from California for one month to minister in different parts of Guanacaste.

–          In January the base receives a team of college students from Biola University, California and a School of Worship team from Montana.

–          We have been approved as a project for Engineering Ministries International that will be working with us with a group of architects and engineers to make the master plan for our new property and the building plans for phase one. This is a huge blessing, because they are Christians and they are donating their time and professional skills! We hope to start building by the end of next summer.

– As a base we were able to adopt an unreached people group from one of the neediest places in the world. This group of 250 000 people have no Christians at all. We are excited to start praying for them, spreading information, recruiting other people to join in and hopefully one day be able to send teams and long-term workers to this place!

TMDS IN COLORADO SPRINGS, JANUARY AND FEBRUARY 2013

About 4 months ago we sat on our living room floor and held hands as a family, putting our plans and desire under God’s will. Now we have officially been accepted and are trying to purchase tickets to attend the Teaching and Ministry Development Seminar at the YWAM University of the Nations campus in Colorado Springs in January and February. This is something we are really looking forward to, because it will equip us more for what we do and it will be very refreshing for us to spend 6 weeks receiving teachings, sharing with many other missionaries from around the world and be in a place where we don´t have leadership responsibility. We would appreciate your prayers that everything would work out, and especially for financial provision. For this to happen, we need $7000 total to cover our air fares and the stay at the campus for the whole family. If God puts it on your heart to help support us for this seminar, please send your support through these links: http://pampa.fi/support-us/. God already provided a vehicle for us to use during our time there, which is encouraging!

This year has had its challenges with the death of Diego´s mom, health issues, financial pressure and a busy ministry schedule, but once again we can look back and say that the Lord has been good with us. We are happy to walk this path and look forward to everything He has for us in the future!

Thank you so much for being such a big part of our ministry by faithfully praying for us, sending encouraging messages and supporting us financially. You really are part of our team! We pray that your heart could be full of peace and joy as you finish this year and trust in the Lord for the new year!

Merry Christmas! (In the picture us dressed for a base fun night!)