- I arrived home Tues pm 6/22.
- Planning to be home until January. (6 months to restore, write, reconnect)
- Mostly in Indianapolis, Lafayette, & Colorado for a month in the fall.
- YWAM training was really good.
- 3 months in Hawaii, 6 months in Colombia.
- My Spanish is better.
- Doors are opening to keep walking forward toward the dream of having a house for kids.
Long Version: (3min to read)
Surprising DadAfter 6 months in Colombia, my visa expired . . .
I prayed a bunch about applying for another 6mo, but it seemed like a good time to be home.
I came back to Indianapolis Tuesday night to surprise my dad for his birthday.
My brother, Craig, picked me up at the airport, and we arrived at my parent’s home the next evening for dinner. I couldn’t figure out how to ‘make the surprise’, and I was a little worried it could pop my dad’s heart stitches. (He had bi-pass surgery a few months ago.) Craig said he would be fine.
I grabbed a brown sheet, pulled it over my head, and my mom stuck a red Christmas bow on top. I waited at the table for my dad to come in from grilling.
My dad came in, looked over to where I sat, laughed, and asked, “What’s that? A dead person?” I moved a little so he would know I wasn’t dead.
I threw off the sheet & he jumped back three feet and hollered, “Whoah! Where’d you come from?” I gave him a big hug. He said it was the best surprise ever in his 63 years.
I just finished 10 months of training for the dream in my heart. (3 months in Hawaii & 6 months in Colombia.)
My dream: To have an internationally staffed family farmhouse for kids who need care & restoration. I’m really interested in helping children who have been trafficked for prostitution or labor.
Compassion DTS Last September, I left for Kona, Hawaii, for a Compassion discipleship training school with the Christian organization Youth With a Mission (YWAM).
I had excellent teaching, experienced deep personal growth in my relationship with the Lord, & practiced gardening on the farm.
Colombia Then I traveled with a team of 8 to Colombia for 3 months, visiting major cities, encouraging people in their faith, & volunteering at children’s ministries.
Children at Risk school I stayed in Bogota for another 3-month YWAM school to prepare us to work long term with at-risk kids.
- Writing a project proposal for my dream house
- Reading books about how to help children affected by trauma
- Experiencing working as an international team
- Living & helping children's ministries with Mary for 3 weeks in a poor neighborhood
- Visiting ministries with great ideas for houses for kids
This coming February I’ve been invited to join my staff from the school, a young Dutch couple, Jordi & Ria Bosch, to pioneer 3 farmhouses for street children just outside of Lima, Peru. I’ll be praying about this opportunity. But it seems like my next best lead & could be exciting to help a team get something going from ground-up. Their dream is almost identical to mine, except I want to help trafficked kids.
- Surprise my dad for his birthday. (check!)
- Go to my big family reunion over the 4th of July.
- Be in & help with 2 weddings: my friend, Leanna’s, & my older brother, Craig’s.(Craig met a great girl, Mandy Freeland, in Lafayette.I’m so thankful she will be my 3rd sister!)
- Pursue deeper walk w/ Lord by spending time with Him in the early morning (praying & waiting).
- Pursue inner 'heart' healing before starting to work full-time w/ children who need healing/restoration.
- Reconnect with friends & family in Indiana, Colorado, & other places.
- Write, edit, and see if stories from my Round the World trip can be published.
(That’s going to be my Monday-Friday job.)
- Make connections with ministries in the States who work on the human trafficking issue. I want to talk with International Justice Mission and see if there’s a need for homes for kids rescued from trafficking in the States.
- Pray about next steps.
Trafficking in the States
I’m checking out the possibility of having the house in the States.
According to what I've read, it’s estimated there are about 9,000 children illegally brought into the US each year for labor or prostitution.
If they’re found, they’re returned home. But if they can’t go home, they’re put in the US foster system.
They can apply for a T-visa & later apply for citizenship, and there’s money for them to receive medical benefits.
I would offer short or long-term family & restoration care for these children, until they could be returned home, or for as long as they needed/wanted a family.
I have a lot of questions about how to do this & what legal hoops need to be navigated. But I’m excited & encouraged by all of the open doors & guidance in the past 10 months.
It’s fun to walk with the Lord into the dreams in your heart.
Contact me I’ll be switching my cell phone to cut costs. Until then, you can reach me on Facebook or email: email@example.com
Thanks for your friendship, encouragement, and love as I walk this road with my Heavenly Father. I’m thankful God brought our lives together. Let me know if I can pray for you. I hope each of you are doing really well.
Father, I pray for the people you've brought into my life. I thank you for each one of them, how they have built into my life & continue to invest in the lives of those around them. I pray for your great & continued blessing to be on them & over their families. Let them have excellent relationships, healing, strengthening, and courage to continue to walk the road you have before them. Give them little reminders that you are aware of them, watching them, and guiding their steps. Protect them. Through Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Blessings, peace, and with love,
Ericka SmileyI'll be working on updating my blog... with pics & videos & more stories from the past 10 months.