Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ericka's 1st Email Update

Happy, Joyful 2010, dear Ohana!
(Hawaiian for beloved extended family & friends)


This is the first email update for my new adventures.
I’m in Colombia, South America, with my team from the Christian training school, Youth With A Mission (YWAM) . . .




I'm excited about life and the coming days. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.


Love, joy, & strength to each of you,


Ericka


My blogs: 1. Current adventure: www.erickasmiley.blogspot.com 2. 6th grade science teaching in Colorado ('08-'09): www.gypsumcreekwithsmiley.blogspot.com 3. Around the world trip (2007): www.adventureswjesus.blogspot.com


Short Version Re-Cap:


1. Returned home from world trip (2007)


2. Taught 6th grade science in Colorado (2008-09)


3. Attending 6 month (Sept 09-Mar10) discipleship training school (DTS) with YWAM


* 3-month 'lecture phase' in Kona, Hawaii (Compassion school, 50 students, 12 staff)


* 3-month 'outreach phase' (Dec14-Mar14, 2010) in Bogota, Columbia w/ various YWAM ministries, local churches & street kids ministry (click link - website)


4. Future Dreams:


1. House for kids that don't have a home & be family for them.


* Rural-setting, beautiful nature, well-connected to a local community.


* Very interested in helping kids from child trafficking (labor/prostitution).


* House either in States or overseas.


* Training now, making connections, net-working, trusting God for open doors.


2. Get a pH D in Love. :)


* God is my professor in the University of Life.


* I want to know more and more His love for me.


* I want to know His love for others.


* I want to spread His love everywhere, like an beautiful fragrance.


3. Be Secretary of State for the King of Kings.


* This dream came when I did my around the world trip.


* I appreciate leaders and want them to experience God’s love.


* I want to travel with a small team to represent His goodness, mercy, and power to transform lives and nations.


* God will have to make connections and open doors.


I don’t know the timing nor how these ideas will work together. But I love to dream with God. And I'm learning to step forward and watch Him make the impossible a reality.



Longer version:


On my around the world trip, a thought came to mind, "If you could do anything, what would you do?" Immediately I pictured a big house with lots of kids. I would have an internationally-staffed house for children that need a home. Our staff would be from various nations, demonstrating God’s love for all people, unity that is possible in Him, and represent the children’s own cultural backgrounds.


Later, on the world trip, my brother and I visited an orphanage for children rescued from child trafficking (labor & prostitution). Intercepted before sold into slavery, they were not hardened from abuse. I thought, I could be a mom for these children.


Once home, a thought came, "Out of all the things you saw on your trip, what would you like to help with?" It felt like Christmas and I got to pick any gift in the store. I thought about the needs I observed: AIDS orphans, street kids, children in slums, children of prostitutes, and trafficked kids. The trafficked children seemed to be the worst situation to me, because the kids were sold into sexual abuse by fellow humans. So I prayed, "God, I want to help with the problem of child trafficking and be a mom for kids who need a family."


I moved to Colorado on the wonderful invitation of my brother and his wife, Ryan & Sabrina. It was such a gift to live in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, become great friends with my sister-in-law, and be part of a wonderful community in Gypsum and the Vail Valley.


While there, God brought to life many dreams of my heart. I volunteered as a rancher and rode a horse on the mountains to round up the cows. I taught science to an amazing group of 6th grade students at Gypsum Creek Middle School. I wrote and compiled stories from my around the world trip. [This project is still in process, and I am committed to finish. It may be a book for my children, or others may want to read stories of faith and adventure. If you would like to help me edit, let me know, I can email you a chapter.]


Even though I loved living in Colorado, desires stirred in my heart. There was something more I wanted with my life. I turned 30 and instead of being depressed about my age, excitement flowed through me. The coming years would be amazing.


Should I step into my dreams to have a house, or should I wait until I was 40? I talked with my principal, and he encouraged me to do whatever was in my heart. Around the same time, dear friends from Norway came to visit and they challenged me to step out in faith, and see God lead me into my dreams.


It was a very difficult decision, but God confirmed it through Ezra 1 (“go and build the house”) and a picture He gave me (jumping off a cliff and a large bird rescuing me just when I thought I would die). I sold and gave away my possessions, applied for a ministry school in Hawaii, and trusted God for His provision.


A week before leaving, God used a little boy to provide lodging for my next step in Hawaii. Many friends helped me throw a Hawaiian Luau to raise funds and send me off. The day before my flight, I received a check to provide for the rest of my school fees.


When I sat on the plane and looked out the window, I could picture a crowd of angels wildly cheering that I was actually stepping into the dreams of my heart.


Hawaii exceeded my expectations. Strangers became family and I joined 60 amazing people in our Compassion ministry school. Each week we heard from the lives of individuals who seek to live their lives as an expression of God’s love. I experienced healing, freedom, miracle gifts, being surrounded with God’s love, and an increased desire for other people’s restoration.


I heard about North Korea and joined prayer for a united peninsula. I laid down my dreams and said, “God, I’ll go anywhere. I love you.” When it came time to select one of the five locations for our 3-month outreach, I could not get Colombia out of my mind. But that was the last place I wanted to go. I already traveled in South America, and I told everyone I was going to SE Asia to help with child trafficking. Besides, I didn’t know what we would do in Colombia. Finally, I relented, and wrote Colombia as my first choice and Cambodia as my second. I felt like I committed dream suicide.


Little did I know, Colombia was the best selection for my preparation. I am so glad to be here with the seven other people on my ‘dream team’. I’m learning how to operate in a group and not as an individual. Each person contributes valuable gifts and their personality to the whole. Four guys and four girls represent 5 nations (Norway, Korea, China, Mexico, and the US).


We have had many adventures, and I am thrilled to be here. I love the beautiful skies and mountains. It reminds me of Colorado. The people of this South American country are friendly, funny, and love to spend time together. We have a continual life-celebration in their presence.


Highlights:


1. The day after arriving in Bogota, I flew back to Miami to help my Chinese teammate get a visa. We didn’t know she needed one, and she was sent back to the US. It was a shaking experience, but God turned the whole trial into an amazing blessing. We even received a free trip to Disney World!


2. A week later, when our team reunited in Colombia, God provided a sky-show with clouds, a rainbow, a blazing sunset, and swirls of color. We watched from the rooftop of the YWAM house in Bogota.


3. For Christmas, we traveled to rural Pesca and were delighted with our 70 and 80-year-old hosts. We helped in a local church and encouraged the start of a new youth group for the area. God provided a powerful prayer-time for a local woman and her son. He brought me greater freedom in my prayers and we saw His work of restoration.


4. God teaches me to minister to others. Listen to His leading, fill my heart with more of His word, use dramatizations to help people see/experience a truth, sing prayers for people, and develop as a warrior for people’s hearts. I want to be a warrior for my King, to free the captive, and restore hearts to the Father.


5. New Year’s we spent with a local pastor’s family and church. The evening was filled with love and laughter.


6. The past two weeks, we’ve assisted with a ministry school in Bogota. 20-30 people come each afternoon to hear speakers challenge and encourage their faith. I spoke yesterday evening. After preparing, I felt God ask me to lay aside my notes and listen to Him. So I sat and wrote what I felt He put in my heart. The main idea: Our destiny is found in living the image of God on earth, like Jesus did. I want to bring God’s presence and ‘image’ wherever I go. Even though people were tired, God helped me with ideas for mini-dramas to illustrate points. We laughed a lot.


7. I’m SUPER excited about next week. On Sunday, we travel to Steve Bartell’s home and will spend 2 weeks helping their ministry with street children. I hope to spend time at their house for kids out on a farm. That’s my dream!! Steve and his wife worked 20 years with this ministry. I’ve heard they are YWAM’s best to give me direction and advice.


8. Also, God keeps introducing me to people with similar dreams. One girl wants to have a house in France, using horse therapy to help with restoration. I’m excited to see what continues to unfold.


Thank you so much for loving and celebrating with me. I pray that the dreams in your heart LIVE.


Love and Joy,


Ericka Smiley


Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.

2 comments:

  1. hey erika! so glad you emailed this to us! so exciting to hear all that is going. if you are interested in coming to Zambia to start your house, we will be there! blessings! missy and jeremiah

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  2. Thanks, Missy! So great to hear from you and Jeremiah! I'm glad to hear you guys are in Zambia. Yea! :) I'll hold on to your invitation. Thank you!!! Right now, I'm getting ready to start Children at Risk school in Bogota (March-July, 2010). Praying and trusting for next steps. I'm excited.

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