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Latest news from our family.

Summer 2012

Written on July 9, 2012

Pastor's wife and fisherman's wife that went with us to Chira Island to look for ministry contacts and opportunities

Pastor's wife and fisherman's wife that went with us to Chira Island to look for ministry contacts and opportunities


ONE AFTERNOON: It is almost 5 pm, I am leaning against the car tire, on the side of the road, enjoying a beautiful green view of fields and trees, listening to birds, parrots, and some cars driving by. Peaceful… even the air is fresher at this time of the day. Next to me sits Laura, another Finn that we work with, her husband Kimmo walks around the car and their 2 yr old son Robin is trowing stones and having fun with bugs that he finds on the ground. Everything is ok, normal, but unexpected. We were on our way home from San Jose, happy to have finished our business there relatively fast and expecting to make it home before dark. Even the truck got much needed new tires from San Jose! Then, less than an hour from home, the car breaks down… it ended up being some important screw holding some other important parts and belts in their places. So here we were, sitting and waiting on the side of the road, four foreigners looking like tourists in trouble. Not the safest setting, I even hid my valuables under the car seats, just in case, and decided to stay as invisible to the passing cars as possible. So plans changed, a good day finished with an unexpected turning. It happens a lot! It also happens a lot that one of our cars brake. Of course Diego is somewhere far away with a team. We call the base for someone to get our other car to come and tow us, but they end up hitting a tree with it even before getting out of our yard… Thank God for friends who are again willing to help in a time of need (that happens a lot, too)! Our mechanic is willing to leave his other jobs and drive for an hour to come and help, or actually just to confirm that the car needs to be towed to the shop. Our other friend, who runs a melon farm, sends a truck from his farm to tow the car and comes himself to take me, Laura, Robin and a car load of base groceries directly home. The mechanic, the truck driver and Kimmo took the car to the shop and after ordering parts, sending money and waiting we eventually got the truck back. So we did make it home that night, even though after dark. Dinner and our kids were waiting for us at the base and little bit later Diego also arrived from the day’s ministry with the team. After dinner we went home to work on kids’ homework, to shower and to put them to bed. I was pretty tired myself, (having started to drive to San Jose at 3 am) but happy to have finished the day’s task and having the whole family safely home in our own beds for another night!

It is so important to keep the perspective remembering with whom we walk, what our goals are and to see how they usually are reached, even when there are distractions and obstacles on the way. It is also important to keep our trust and flexibility, the ability to enjoy every moment, even when things don’t go according to our plans. We have been reminded to remain faithful to God as we walk, or as we stumble, forward. God’s word to Joshua: ‘Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. ‘.

UPDATE FROM THE PAST MONTHS:

In April my 29 yr old cousin in Finland died of cancer. In the last 15 years I have missed sharing many important moments with my family in Finland, but this time it worked out that I was able to travel to the funeral. Some of you helped to cover the cost of my flights, thank you very much! I was able to travel for 10 days and be physically present to mourn the early death of a dear family member.

Few years ago we had our previous YWAM Mexico and Central American conference in Guatemala. From our location in Guanacaste there were only two of us, Diego and I. This past May we had another similar conference in Nicaragua and this time we participated with 22 people from Guanacaste!!! It is great to see fruit in this way, too. We went with all the staff, volunteers and two local families that are very closely involved with our ministry, even though they are not on staff (at least yet). In the conference we were able to spend time with about 300 other YWAMers from Central America and Mexico and to receive refreshing teachings.

Pastor's wife and fisherman's wife that went with us to Chira Island to look for ministry contacts and opportunities

Pastor's wife and fisherman's wife that went with us to Chira Island to look for ministry contacts and opportunities


End of May we started the season for sort-term outreach teams. In May-June we had three groups in a row; a family group, youth group and young adults group. Each one of them was different and their ministry was little different, but all of them were a great blessing to local communities, people and us. This summer we have a great staff and volunteer team, so the practical work, organization and translation has not been so heavy on us anymore. However Diego is still the only one who drives the base bus, so he is out with teams every day driving, helping and translating. While Diego does that my main job is the kids and to pick them up from school in Nicoya every afternoon. I also help with practical jobs and logistics at the base.

New cabins built at the base this summer

New cabins built at the base this summer


FROM NOW ON:

The first few weeks of July we don’t have teams and the kids have their ”winter” break from school. After that we will continue for little over a month with groups. Last week the Lord provided time and money for us as a family to drive to the southern part of Costa Rica where we had never been before. We went to Osa Peninsula, which is famous for it’s uniquely rich and beautiful nature. And yes, we drove the new truck! In May we were able to pay the taxes and register the truck here in the country. We have been trying to sell our van and trailer to get the money for the taxes, but so far without success. So we were lent the money to pay the taxes until we can sell everything. Please help us to pray that God would bring people to buy the things so that we can soon be free of debt!

End of this month we will have a leadership gathering for YWAM Costa Rica and end of August a national staff training for all YWAM staff in Costa Rica. The goal is especially to train young and new workers. You can help us by praying for wisdom and guidance for both evenths.

August 30th we will start our second Discipleship Training School, DTS! We are praying that God would hand pick the group of students from the nations and especially local students from Guanacaste! The great challenge for the locals is to raise financial support due to the lack of vision and heart for missions in the local churches. We are looking for people willing to sponsor local students and you can contact us if you feel on your heart to do that.

Since last summer we have been praying and thinking of our future plans. For the last 3 years we have been looking for an opportunity for further training in the University of the Nations, but haven’t found a right time and place. Traveling is more complicated because of the kids’ school and high cost. Now we feel we have found a 6 week seminar that meets our need, expectations and could work out. We are applying to YWAM Colorado Springs for next January and February to take a Teaching and Ministry Development Seminar that will train us especially in the area of teaching. Besides practical learning, we are looking forward to spritual refreshment and growth, distance to our normal ministry routine and strengthening of our vision and call. This is a bigger base that runs several UofN courses at the same time and has many staff and students from different countries. We are just starting the application process, but wanted to share this with you already.

Tonight, just like every Monday night, we had a family night at the base. It is open to everyone staying at the base, as well as for the locals from our community. Tonight only few people came, but it was a beautiful night. Diego taught from the book of Joshua, then we talked, shared prayer requests, prayed and had some cake. In the sharing time, for the first time we heard from a person in our village what we have known to be true, but it was so good to hear someone say it! This woman was sharing how she has noticed that all the people that come to YWAM from different countries, always pray for this place, this village and the people here. She realizes that it is not a coincidence that the community has developed, changed and organized itself during the last few years!!! That is so true! What other people might call accidents, or their own achievements, or good luck, we call it THE BLESSING OF GOD, AN ANSWER TO PRAYERS, A PROVE THAT GOD HAS SET HIS EYES AND HEART ON THIS VILLAGE!!! These are some of the most rewarding moments of doing what we do! We long to see other people from here to start drawing similar conclusions, because it has challenged at least this lady to seek God personally.

This year it will be 7 years from when we packed our personal belongings from Heredia, moved and started to minister here in Guanacaste. During that time there have been hundredes, or maybe thousands of people from different countries that have come through our base. They have all come to bless and to sow, which has not been in vain. And most of these people continue praying for this place when they go back home, or many of them have a group of people praying for them and the places they go to. So the amount of people that has been praying for our village and villagers is limitless and continues to grow. It is a powerful group that will brake through the darkness and the plans of the enemy. We believe that the harvest will be great, that we are only taking the first baby steps now. THANK YOU for your prayers!!

Thank you also for your friendship and for partnering with us through financial gifts!

We hope that you and your close ones will have a blessed and sunny summer!

Happy tourists in southern Costa Rica!

Happy tourists in southern Costa Rica!


April 2012

Our last update was written in the States. The trip was a busy and fruitful ministry trip, but also full of surprises! We were invited to many different places to share meals, were taken to fancy places and spoiled in many ways. The biggest surprise was at one family’s house where we had been invited to have dinner. After dinner we were asked to step in the garage for something. In the garage there was a huge, fancy truck with a bow in the door and the host asked: “How would you feel about driving this down to Costa Rica, Diego?” We were speechless… that car is way bigger and nicer we could have even thought about, but yes, it is a good, safe and strong truck that will be great for example for carrying materials or Bibles. AND it is like the every guy’s dream truck… including Diego’s. We had no idea that this was going to happen, this family simply had felt that God had asked them to donate this car for kingdom purposes. Wow… what an obedience! And what a blessing!

So our plans ended up changing so, that Diego and Troy had a father-and-son trip driving the new truck through Mexico and Central America all the way to Costa Rica. The rest of us flew home as planned. The boy’s trip took 12 days, it wasn’t completely painless, but besides all the risks and thanks to many prayers and God’s great protection, they made it home safely. The truck is here now, but for us to be able to register it in the country, we have to pay a very expensive tax on it. We don’t have the money for it, so for now it is waiting until God provides for this need. What we do have is our old car and a trailer that we are trying to sell to help us pay the taxes. At some point, when we will be able to pay the taxes, the value of the truck in the country will be high, so altogether it is worth it. We would like to ask you to pray for this, that we could pay the taxes as soon as possible, that the van and the trailer would sell or that God would provide some other way.

Even Troy made it home on time; the new school year started the day after they got home. Now also Nic Markus is going to kindergarten every day, being exited about the opportunity and not minding at all the early mornings and long car rides.

We have started getting organized and ready for the new ministry year. The first activity was the graduation of our first DTS in February. From the DTS, two young local ladies applied to stay on staff, both with a 2 year commitment. This is exciting for us, since our vision is to train and release locals to missions! We also received two volunteers in February, so now for the first time ever, we have a team of 10 people working here full-time! It is amazing, especially remembering the years that we have practically been here alone, not being able to delegate responsibilities to anyone. Now our challenge is to lead and train young staff (I have actually really enjoyed it). Different ministry responsibilities have been divided, some focus on children’s ministry, others on Bible distribution, training, teams etc. even though we all still work closely together.

After Diego’s drive down from the States, his mother’s condition went down. She got an infection in one of her amputated legs, with unbearable pains for several weeks and finally the leg was amputated again. The operation itself went well, but few days after her general condition and heart didn’t resist anymore. Few days later she died in the hospital in San Jose, with all her 11 children being present.

Diego had to take lot of responsibility in organizing the funeral. Her body was brought to Guanacaste the following morning, and the whole day probably hundreds of people from the home village and surrounding villages came to the house, where food was cooked for everyone. In the evening we had the memorial service, which was more like celebration of her life. The atmosphere was sad, but warm. She had lived a great life, and given a great testimony to many. Even the funeral   was able to touch and challenge many to have a personal relationship with Christ.

The coffin was carried early next morning to a cementery that is about 5 km away. Family members, friends, neighbors all took turns carrying her and then saying good bye at the grave by throwing flowers to the grave.

We are so thankful for so many messages we got during that time, friends that were standing with us, for all the help we got! In times like this you really see that you are not alone. Thank you!

For Diego the whole process of his mothers illness had been a tiring and challenging process since last year. There are many siblings, but he ends up having or taking most of the weight, making the decisions, covering expenses, guiding the others. Now that all this is over, he has been exhausted and trying to take little bit time away from ministry. In the Catholic culture you usually get together in the house of the dead person for several days after the death to pray for the salvation of their souls. We are happy we didn’t have to worry about Diego’s mother’s eternal destiny, but the neighbors were wanting to do that. Diego took the opportunity and instead invited the neighbors to the mother’s house every afternoon for Bible Study for 9 days. So it turned out to be a great opportunity to witness!

A month ago my parents from Finland came here. They have mostly been part of our regular every day lives, even though during the Easter week we did have the opportunity to go to the beach for few days. My dad helped to fix our kitchen sink and cabinet, has hung out with our horse Bolero, helped to drive the kids to school and helped with many different projects. My mom thought crafts to the local women, prepared donations for teen moms, washed endless piles of dishes, baked, organized, did gardening etc. It has been such a blessing for us to have them with us for a full month!

The spring is soon turning into summer and we are getting outreach teams regularly, usually for a week or two at a time. In May the whole base is going to Nicaragua for YWAM Central America and Mexico staff conference. August 30th we start our new DTS.

The construction has not started yet, planning and processing ideas continues. And we have a huge challenge for funds both for construction and Bibles!

One new ministry that we started this year is tutoring for the elementary students of our village. 20% of the students failed their school year last year. They are struggling without the support of their families and the teacher is not too interested in helping them do any better. We believe there is something that can be done and we believe in the potential of these children! So even though we don’t (yet) have any official teacher in our staff team, we started tutoring using our own skills and knowledge. So now before every school testing period we offer few weeks of afternoon tutoring, which has been new, different and challenging, but also a great and practical way to influence and bless them. The teacher is saying that already now their grades are getting better!

Last year we received a donation for the same school, so we were able to buy and donate school books and supplies to all the students. This is the first time they have books. We were also able to make a ceiling for the school, which makes their classroom little fresher under the sun and not so noisy during the rain.

Thank you for your prayers and financial support! They are important to us and through both you take part in everything we do! May God bless you and your family!

 

January 2012

For the first time in several years we spent Christmas alone as family. We enjoyed a short, but good Christmas vacation at home resting after a busy fall. The children spent their time biking, caring for our new horse and playing with a Wii given to the whole family as a Christmas gift.

Here is a few  things worth mentioning from fall 2011:

–        Diego’s mom suffered three heart attacks and spent about one month in the hospital. It was difficult for the whole extended family, since it looked like there was no hope of her recovery. Diego drove between Guanacaste and the hospital in San Jose every few days, was a support for all his siblings and also had to be the one to turn down the initiatives to start digging a grave in his mom’s home village. He didn’t feel that it was time for her to leave yet, and it turned out to be so. We had visited an unconscious grandma in the hospital, who couldn’t speak, swallow nor open her eyes, and then suddenly, the next day we got the news of her sitting up and asking the nurses for embroidery supplies to keep her busy! As we had hoped for, she returned home for Christmas and on New Year’s eve the whole family had a celebration in her honor. We know her condition is not good, we might be talking about weeks, months – or maybe even years. This time God made a miracle in healing her, which both united the family and strengthened everybody’s faith.

–        The end of November our whole family drove to the YWAM base in Honduras to teach in their DTS for a week on missions and evangelism. It is great to travel and work together with the kids, even though on the way back half of us got sick.

–        The DTS from our base started their outreach in the beginning of December by Bible distribution in a fishing community in the north of the province. After that we did many fund raising activities and efforts and in the end did see a miracle in how God met their financial needs and right around Christmas they left for outreach in Argentina. The school will graduate 4th of February. We are thankful to the Lord for this first DTS at our location, for the leaders, students and teachers; for the growth we have testified in the students!

–        In December we hosted, for the second time, a national Costa Rican YWAM retreat. Over 100 people from the three different bases in the country came to Guanacaste to spend a weekend together. We shared food, went to the beach together, went to a local rodeo and hiked.

–        Right before Christmas we finished another course for teen mothers. The strength in the training of this fall was the micro business section, after having found a good trainer and training material. It is beautiful to see the girls “come alive”, get excited and start dreaming as they understand that life (=God) does have things to offer them, they can have good lives, they can dream and that it is possible for those dreams to come to pass.

Property

In our last update we told about the new property. Now it has been purchased, under a non-profit called Changing Lives in Costa Rica. We have been working with an architect in planning. In the pictures you can see the property from the village road and from the hill. Here is also a copy of a plan for property use. We hope to start building dormitories for team and student housing as soon as possible! We need and are raising funds for construction, for water pump and filter and industrial kitchen equipment. We are asking the Lord to send many volunteer builders and helpers!

Year 2012

This is what we think this year will look like:

–        Spring: building, few teams, in May YWAM Central America and Mexico staff and leadership conference, a maternity course, Bible Distribution

–        Summer: teams and volunteers

–        Fall/winter: The next DTS starts August 30th.

The Bible Distribution project continues well. At the end of 2011 we had distributed 15 000 Bibles. We are still missing 79 000 from our goal. We expect the next shipment of 20 000 Bibles in February. Yojhanna, who is on staff with us, coordinates the distribution with staff, teams and local churches.

As our base grows and develops, we see that our own focus in the coming years will be in staff training, equipping young leaders, organizing the base structure and functions, relationship building, networking and working with our board, base leadership team and the national leadership forum for Costa Rica.

Salla also serves in the legal board for YWAM Heredia and we are both members of the board of Changing Lives in Costa Rica. We have already worked with representatives of this organization for several years in Guanacaste.

Now, the last part of January, we are in the States. Changing Lives flew us to Arizona for a board meeting and we are also meeting teams that either already have been in Guanacaste or are preparing an outreach to go there this year. We also spent part of our trip in Colorado Springs visiting friends, teams and had the opportunity to meet with the president of David C Cook. There are good possibilities of us getting literature from them to distribute to homes with Bibles and also a New Testament commentary in Spanish to give to local pastors. During the trip we have also been given books for the base library that we are taking back with us.

We are traveling with the children, they are on their summer brake from school. They already got to enjoy snow and real winter fun, which were some of their highest hopes for the trip. We will return to Costa Rica January 30th.

Thank you for being part of our team during 2011! We appreciate you being with us in your thoughts, prayers, reading these updates, supporting us financially or in any other way!

Fall 2011

Two months ago we got back from our furlough. It was almost too easy to get back into the ministry and school routine… We were happy to find out that the trip did not have any negative influence on Troy’s and Julia’s schoolwork, they were up to date and even their grades got better after the independent and distant studies.

Since our return we have been part of building bathrooms for the community building of our village together with the women’s group. We have also helped a neighbor village with a project to open a public pharmacy (the government will pay the pharmacist and the medicine, the village has to provide the place and equipment). In September we started a new 4-month program for young moms in Nicoya.

October was the worst month of rains for a while… you even might have heard of floods and rains all over Central America. Even in Costa Rica some people died and many roads and buildings collapsed, even though it wasn’t as bad as other countries. We didn’t see the sun for a few weeks, it would rain day and night. We were thankful for our good Nokia rubber boots from Finland and consider ourselves privileged to own a drier unlike most others.

DTS

September 1st we started the first official course, or school, of our 5-yr old missions base. It is a YWAM course called DTS, or Discipleship Training School. We have fife local students from Guanacaste and three from the States. We want these schools to be a channel for mobilizing locals to world missions, so God really saw that desire and responded by sending 5 locals to the very first school!  The course consists of a 12-week lecture phase and a 10-week outreach. A Finnish couple, Kimmo and Laura, are the school leaders and our local staff member Yojhanna is helping to staff it. We have been helping mostly with translation and with everything else our help is needed. There is 3 full weeks of teachings left. So far we have had teachers from 5 different nationalities. Each week has a different topic and a different visiting teacher. We have thought on the topics of missions & evangelism and intercession.

Doing the DTS is a huge challenge to the local students. The churches here don’t usually do  or support missions, so these young people are real pioneers. Through their experiences and testimonies the church members and pastors can get to know what missions is about and our desire is, that it would wake them up to participate in fulfilling the Great Commission. The difficulty is that the students don’t receive financial support from their churches or church members. By trusting God they are trying to raise the funds to cover the school and outreach expenses. Some of them are selling their belongings, ice-creams, food… others cut hair and wash cars. These are small efforts compared to the total need, so we are expecting a miracle! Would you, someone you know or your church be willing to sponsor some of these local young people who have a call to missions? Please contact us, if you would like to do that.

Before the school started we were praying about an outreach in Central America, something financially more accessible to the locals. But when the whole school started praying together, God’s direction was very clear: South America. So plans are being made for 2 weeks of Bible Distribution in a coast community of Guanacaste and then the rest of the outreach in Argentina. You can read more updates about the school from the base facebook page: YWAM Guanacaste, Costa Rica. The picture below is the whole DTS group and some staff members.

Property

God had prepared a surprise for us while we were in Finland. As you might know, for a while we have tried to purchase property for the ministry to stop renting, and because we really need more room. We have looked into other options and also prepared a contract to buy the building we have been renting. However, everything has been moving slowly and we haven’t received peace from the Lord to move the ministry out of our village either. Then suddenly when we got back from Finland, our neighbor wants to sell to us a property we actually had offered to buy 6 yrs ago! This property is much bigger, better and cheaper than where we are now, and there is even a possibility to buy more around it later.

A non-profit Christian organization from the States, Changing Lives in Costa Rica, is willing to purchase the property and help us start building. They would donate the property to YWAM within 10 years. Our board talked about it, made a positive decision and the purchase will hopefully be signed any day now! The property is 2.5 acres  of pasture and some trees on the side of the village road. This is a beautiful blessing from God and it is making possible the growth and continuity of  the YWAM ministry in the area! It is also a huge challenge. Digging waterlines, installing electricity, fencing, making roads, building buildings…. it will be a long and a painful process. Construction here is slow, expensive and difficult, but we are doing this because of a vision of good facilities for lodging, kitchen, studying, offices, meetings and activities for staff, groups, schools, families and singles! So if, in the coming few years, you would like to use your giftings (construction, cleaning, gardening, painting…) in a practical way for the Kingdom, you are very welcome to come and volunteer!

Needs… and thanks!

Few weeks ago the whole clutch system of our truck needed to be changed and then the 4WD broke right after that. These fixings were expensive and out of our budget. Another unexpected cost we are facing is that Diego needs an eye surgery. He has a so called “surfer’s eye”, nothing too serious, but it is so big that it is affecting his sight and needs to be fixed. He also needs to buy good(=expensive) sunglasses. Besides these needs the time of the year is coming when we need to cover Christmas, house- and vehicle taxes and insurances, the children’s school yearly payments, books, materials and uniforms. In other words, financially the hardest time of the year for us. We are sharing this, because our regular monthly support is not enough for these. If you feel to help, please see the “donate” section of the website.

Besides needs like this, we also have many reasons to be thankful! Julia’s eyes were surprisingly declared perfect, she has no need to wear glasses any more!  And Nic Markus’ skin problems in his back are better and according to the doctor nothing to worry about. The colds, asthmas, stomach pains and flus from last month are now behind us and we are pretty happy about that.

The biggest worry and miracle we have gone through the last weeks is with Diego’s mom. She is 86, diabetic, both legs amputated, but she has been otherwise very healthy and sharp. Few weeks ago she was taken to the hospital with liquids in her lungs. She suffered three heart attacks within a week. Her lungs, heart and kidneys are not doing ther job anymore and her blood sugar levels are out of control. She has been in Nicoya and San Jose hospitals for almost three weeks now. Diego has a BIG family, and in this culture the way to react and process something like this is for everyone to be at the hospital almost 24/7, even when only one person at the time is allowed inside with her. There have been days with over 100 people in the hospital lobby for her! Diego has 9 emotional sisters, so he has been the rationalist, provider and the care-taker for them for the past weeks. He has been constantly driving back and forth to San Jose, being tired and stressed. We appreciate all the prayers, support and gifts given to us during this time! The past 4 days her condition has been improving so much that today she even sat in a wheel-chair and showered by herself! It is a miracle and totally unexpected. Now we are hoping that she would get well enough to bring her back to Guanacaste, which is her biggest wish. If it happens, we know it will be just for a short time, but we would definitely enjoy that special time together before she goes home with the Lord!

Plans for the coming months

Few weeks ago we had a group of 16 distributing Bibles in a 400 household community called Nambi. For the next weeks we will continue translation with the DTS and living through whatever happens with Diego’s mom. The last week of November, when the kids summer vacation starts, we are all driving to Honduras. We will be teaching at a YWAM base there for a week. The drive takes two days each way. We would like to ask prayers for safety and that the truck would behave itself . Mid-December we are hosting another YWAM Costa Rica retreat, all the bases and  ywamers from the whole country will come to our base for a weekend. After that the DTS will head to Argentina and  our family will spend Christmas & most of January at home, taking care of the ministry while everybody else is gone and maybe even starting work on the new property! 

Thank you for your prayers and support!

In the picture a DTS student with the “base kids”: Nic Markus, Robin and neighbor girl Genesis

Rice or Potatos… or Potatos and Rice?

August 2011

Vacation! Last time we were shortly in Finland was two years ago, so now two months have felt too short to do everything we wanted to do, plus meet people and get enough rest. But we have been totally able to disconnect from life and ministry in Costa Rica, so it has been really good!

The children are taking valuable memories back with them. Some of their favorite things in Finland have been swimming in the lakes, sauna, Finnish food, fishing, soccer, biking, picking blueberries and playing with their cousins. Diego has strengthened the local soccer team by playing with them and coaching the juniors. I (Salla) have spent my free time running in the great weather, sunny evenings and beautiful forest roads. We are thankful to my parents, who once again have received us and taken care of us for such a long time even though their house has seemed like under a hurricane compared to their usual life.

Especially the past month we have traveled around the country, speaking and sharing with churches and visiting friends and supporters. We have been spoiled by good Finnish hospitality and it seems like next week is the perfect time to return to Costa Rica, because we could not handle any more ice cream, cakes or pies…

These changes to culture and lifestyle cause culture shock, which presents itself in different ways. For example, in the beginning Nic Markus refused to eat any Finnish food (he would just smell it and say NO!), but by now he is already enjoying his daily potatoes. Julia has been having a permanent honeymoon phase: everything in Finland is perfect, it is a dream land for her. On the other side Troy is frustrated because he cannot find even one pair of “normal” shorts in the store (the fashion is so different). Diego and I (probably the children as well) try to somehow come to a clear and organized conclusion and understanding of the different values and lifestyles of each culture… and of our place in each one of them. But there is no logical structure, it is all just a nice little disorder in your mind that can sometimes get confusing. But with time you just want to recognize and value the strengths in each culture and enjoy what you get.

One of the things we are most grateful about is that things in Costa Rica have been going well during our vacation! It has been such a relief to be able to actually forget what is going on in the ministry. God worked everything out so that we have had enough responsible and capable people to carry a huge work load while we have been in Finland. It feels strange, that it is actually going forward without us and shows that we have taken a big step forward in the history of the base we have founded. Praise God!

We are now getting ready to return to Guanacaste. We are facing a new period in ministry, since in few weeks we start the first Discipleship Training School at our base. And as we now have more staff, it is also time to renew structure and methods. We are excited about what God will do and how He will lead us! We are asking Him for wisdom, joy and peace to serve Him, our family and the people of Guanacaste.

These are some prayer requests for us as we return and for the rest of the year:

– The return to home, routine, ministry and school

– The staff team; division of responsibilities, unity. That God would call even more long term workers.

– Ability to draw boundaries. I especially feel the need to be more home with the kids, especially in the afternoons, evenings and weekends. I need the wisdom to organize my ministry activities so that it is possible and learn to say no to those responsibilities that are too much and sacrifice family time.

– Cars, that they would function!

– Health. We have continuously been very healthy and even Troy’s asthma has been much better.

– That our financial support would meet our need

– DTS: For God to prepare the hearts of the students and the financial need of the local students.

– The new course for teen mothers, which starts in two weeks

– Ministry with local churches

– The Bible Project, that it would move forward and be blessed and used by God!

 

 

May 2011: Ready for the summer!!!

While the children are in school I “escaped” and came to the internet café here in Nicoya to write an update, which has been on my mind for a long time.

The last few months have been pretty normal, keeping busy with ministry and school. The BIG difference has been that we have new workers! After five years God has now called committed long-term workers to join our base. We are really blessed, because these are people with experience, leadership skills, initiative, excitement and spirit of service. It has been an amazing blessing and relief, an answer to prayers!

Yojhanna, originally from Guanacaste, started here in March as a coordinator for the Bible Project. She is 31-yrs old and has years of experience from working with youth and local churches. She also has administration experience, so she is doing great with all the lists, maps, receipts and organization that is part of the Bible Project!

The connection between Finland and Costa Rica got stronger when the Sarajärvi (Kimmo, Laura and Robin) family joined our base in April. They have already worked several years as YWAM missionaries. They are helping with leadership responsibilities and they will be leading the first Discipleship Training School at our base in September. In the picture is our current staff team.

BIBLES

We have celebrated the distribution of the first 10 000 Bibles! As Diego says, don’t think of 10 000 Bibles, but think of 10 000 families having received the Living Word of God in their homes! And this has happened by someone visiting them personally, sharing the Word, praying for them, answering questions and guiding them in reading the Bible. The project has already caused a great impact, but there is still a long road to walk; 84 000 Bibles are still to be purchased and distributed. But God is already at work, because the next order of 10 000 Bibles has been made and should arrive in early June. Thank you for everyone who has donated to this project! We strongly believe that God will use all of us together to bring this project successfully to the end.

YOUNG MOTHERS AND SEXUAL EDUCATION

This year we have continued with the course for teen mothers teaching them about education and studies. We found out about every option for studying and there are actually many opportunities available. Many of our girls decided to go back to school this year; some to high school, some to computer classes, others to learn how to fix sewing machines. The last part of this course that finishes in May is about micro business training. Each girl has had to choose and plan a business, product or a service that they have been working on during the training. These small steps can change their and their children’s future. One of the girls used to sell marijuana in the streets to make a living and provide for her two small children. Through this course she has found new opportunities, went back to school and now sells little purses that she learned to make.

I (Salla) have worked with Costa Rican teen mothers for 9 years. Since the beginning we have seen the need for good sexual education for young people. The families, schools, churches and government don’t really offer anything at all in this area and that is why there are so many pregnancies. Many girls admit that they got pregnant because of lack of information. They have many questions, but no places where to find real and honest answers based on facts. Since last summer more and more doors have been opening to our base for sexual education in local schools. The past two months I have been going every Tuesday to different high schools to teach sexual education classes. It is rewarding when the youth come to thank me and say that finally someone cares enough to come and talk to them about these things. And for me it is a privledge to respond to such a big need in this country, and to do it as a Christian and with Christian values.

THE BASE

We feel the Lord is guiding us toward purchasing the base property and He has also brought partners who are interested in helping us to see it happen. However, a multinational company has bought land on the other side of our home mountain and are planning on starting an open mine in there. As a village, together with surrounding communities we have tried to fight them and keep them from opening the mine, but it is practically impossible, since the local stock owners of the company are ex and present presidents, congressmen and other powerful people. The unfortunate truth in this country is that people and groups like this get everything they want, legally or illegally. It is difficult to say what the implications of a mine in our area can be, but possibly big changes to the ecosystem, dust, noise pollution… We are ready to proceed to buy the land, but are not sure what it will be like in the future to have this mine in the neighborhood. We would like to ask you to pray with us about the situation. If there is injustice with the mine, that it would not open, that God would stop them. And at the same time that God would open doors so that we could soon have a permanent place for the ministry and we could start the needy and urgent construction for more and better housing facilities.

During these months (May -August) the base seems like a bees’ hive, there are people coming and going all the time, every bed is taken and we all share the joys of living together in small space. In April we had about 50 people sleeping at the base at the same time (normal max is 38). From now till August we have lot of groups, activities, Bible distribution, first aid training, painting of schools, self defense training to policemen, children’s ministry, church ministry, youth camp etc. We thank God for the teams, staff, volunteers and translators!

DTS

Discipleship Training School is a 6-month program for Christians over 18 yrs of age who want to take time for strengthening their personal relationship with God and also get a missions experience. The first 3 months of the school is a lecture phase here at the base and then a 10-week outreach in another location, in this case in some other Central American country. Families and couples are also welcome! Our schools are bilingual (English and Spanish), so there is no language requirements. For more information write to: jucumguanacaste (at) gmail.com

FAMILY

Troy is really into basketball and soccer. He seems to have either practises or games several days a week. He is active, social and loves sports, but is also doing well in school.

Julia has started taking piano classes and would also like to try tennis. She can spend hours in her room drawing, doing crafts, but then also enjoys playing outdoors like playing with the dogs or racing cars with her brothers.

Nikkis is 4, but you cannot call him a boy, he wants to be called man. Once he was buying gum and the lady in the store handed him a pink gum. He looked at it and said: “No, give me one for men!”. He loves working like raking, cooking, cleaning, building, digging, pushing a wheel barrow or anything else that can be considered physical work. That’s are always more fun than toys and playing.

We are still so happy about our home where we can rest and relax as a family, no matter what is going on at the base. Sometimes it is hard to find family time, and that is especially why we are so much looking forward to going to Finland this summer! In a month we will already be there and we return to CR on August 15th. Nikkis is looking forward to skiing and refuses to believe that it is summer in there too. Troy and Julia will attend a Finnish children’s camp and are looking forward to spending time with their cousins.They are also waiting for all the fun things you can do and eat in Finland. With Diego we mostly expect to get a rest, a break, free time and meet people. The last time we were in Finland for a longer time was 3,5 yrs ago. Even though we need a vacation, we also need to use part of this trip as a furlough. We will be traveling and sharing about our ministry at several locations. Our goal is to raise our support enough, so that covering basic expenses would not be a constant challenge and a burden.

Thank you for partnering with us!

We now have new website for the base, please visit it and get to know more about the ministry:

www.ywamguanacaste.com

February 2011

After a trip, a camp and a busy season it is great to be back in Guanacaste loving the bumpy roads, dirty nails, monkeys, sky full of stars, the sound of mango leaves in the wind… This is a challenging, but a wonderful place to live. At least it is very easy for us to come back to this after the big cities and highways in the States!

In December Troy graduated from 6th grade. In Costa Rica it is a big celebration, especially since many students never continue to or graduate from secondary education. Troy’s class had different celebrations all week and then the actual ceremony. Troy is looking forward to moving on to middle school. He is an active and a social young man, and we can hold on to God’s promises and look to him for wisdom as we move on with Troy to this new journey in his life. Proverbs say: Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. However Troy is now more educated than many adults in our villages, as incredible as it sounds!

In December we had also another celebration. We completed the first part of the course for teen mothers. Not all the girls received a diploma, because they haven’t been very consistent in attending, but many did. This first part of the course was about family and health. The second part that started in January is focused on education. The girls are presented different opportunities for secondary and professional education. The girls have also started learning how to write and keep a journal, which is helping them to express their feelings, process life and understand themselves better.

  This year it was already the third time that we spend our summer vacation and Christmas here at home with cowboys. The rains end in the beginning of December, the summer winds start and that is when the Christian cowboys from Wyoming arrive. (Cowboys With A Mission.) This year there were 10 of them. They worked at local ranches building relationships with farmers here for about a month. In January they helped us to run a Rodeo Bible Camp in Liberia. There were 24 participants and the camp was improved in many ways from the previous year. In the mornings we practiced bull riding, pole bending, barrel racing, goat tying and roping. In the afternoons there were Bible teaching, games, swimming and at night cowboy church.

In the midst of working in the ministry full time and hosting holiday guests we tried to celebrate a low-key family Christmas without big expectations or plans. We were tired, over-worked, frustrated and worried when God met us right there! He used friends to surprise us with many blessings, care, unexpected gifts and peace. He showed us in a very concrete and touching way what this verse can mean: …”For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” (Heb 6:10) Even after 13 years it still amazes us how much God cares, carries and in a very personal way takes care even of the smallest details. And how he also provides for each one of our children.

End of January we spent 2 weeks in the States. We had been invited to teach at a youth camp and then we also visited several other churches and teams sharing about our ministry and training teams that will come to Costa Rica for outreach. We traveled, mostly by car, in six different States (Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Arizona, North and South Carolina). The kids had lots of fun during days that we were able to share with a family whose children have become some of their best friends over the years.

These are some of our goals for this year:

  • Distribute 10 000 – 20 000 Bibles

  • In September we will start our first DTS (Discipleship Training School) here in Guanacaste. It is a 6 month course that has 3 months of theory and about 10 weeks of outreach in another country. The school is open to Christians over 18 yrs of age. Our biggest motivation for starting DTS at our base is to train and send local Christians to the mission field, but we also really hope to get international students!

  • Start the process to purchase the base property.

  • I (Salla) became the new leader for the women’s group in our village. I want to help them to work efficiently and produce in a way that really benefits them. Right now the women are working together 4 days a week. I need wisdom and prayers for this!

  • So far we have 10 outreach teams booked for this year. Most of them will be here between May and August.

  • The Course for Teen Moms continues until May.

  • In April a family (Kimmo and Laura Sarajärvi with their son Robin) from Finland will join our staff team! They are an answer to many prayers and we are looking forward to having them here!

  • As a family we will spend this summer in Finland, for about 2 months. We still don’t have a permission from the children’s’ school, so that is an important prayer request.

With these thoughts and expectant minds we start this new year and new challenges. The kids school year starts next week, meaning plenty of driving to school and hobbies! We also wish you many blessings, wisdom and strength for the challenges and surprises that this year might bring to you.

Thank you for your prayers and financial support!

photos

Distributing Bibles in Poso de Agua with youth from Cañal/ Raamattuja jakamassa erään kylän nuortenryhmän kanssa.

Most of staff and volunteers summer 2010 / Kesän 2010 työntekijät