For those of you who haven't heard the whole story and are curious, here is our story about the journey to Indonesia. It explains why we have a desire to go and why we feel the urgency to go at this time. Thank you for your encouragement and support as we embark on the next phase of this journey. For those of you who already know our story, I encourage you to read on because of some new developments in our situation and at the end of this letter I will let you know more specific ways that you can pray.
In the fall of 2002, I (Erica) was attending Simpson College and had just changed my major from youth ministries to general ministries. That semester I had four missions classes. One of which was taught by the missionary in residence, Ann, who had served in Indonesia for almost 30 years. The class was all about Indonesia. One day Ann was speaking about the youth of Indonesia and the great need for ministry to Jr. high students there. As she spoke I felt my heart flip upside down inside my chest and I knew that I had to follow Ann back to Indonesia that summer. To make a very long story ridiculously short, I ended up going to Indonesia with Ann with a short term team from Simpson the following summer. It was an amazing trip and I felt a deeper call to return and minister to the Dayak people along the Mahakam river of East Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Returning home was very difficult for me that summer because I felt very strongly that Indonesia was my home more than America and I longed to return to my new family. I started working towards becoming a full time career missionary with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. I completed my BA degree in General Ministry and prayed unceasingly about when and how I could return to Indonesia. A friend and fellow student of missions advised me to make another short term trip to Indonesia before making a commitment to serving there. I followed her advice and took a team from my home church (the Stirring) in summer of 2005. It was another amazing trip filled with faith-stretching experiences. We witnessed many miracles and experienced the presence of God wherever we went. I felt the same strong desire to remain and minister with the people of Kalimantan, but knew also that I had unfinished work at home with my family, the church, and a great amount of debt that I had incurred from getting my BA degree at Simpson.
From there I decided to continue my path with the Christian and Missionary Alliance and began working on my Master's degree. During this time Matthew and I started dating and began talking about the future. Shortly afterward my step-dad and grandfather passed away within a few weeks of each other around Thanksgiving of 2006. Their deaths led me to a difficult spiritual season where I reevaluated life and sought to appreciate the present things rather than focus on the future. Matthew proposed during a New Year's Eve church service and we were married in March of 2007.
Since then, we have not stopped praying and talking about our hopes and dreams for the future and what God is calling us to as a married couple. In May of 2008, during a wonderful night of worship at the Stirring, the Lord gave me a vision. I had been praying and interceding for the islands of Indonesia. I had felt for some time that the Lord was telling me that he was giving me the island of Borneo for His Glory. That night I asked Him for all of the islands of Indonesia, not just one... that the whole nation would come to know Him. As I prayed this I thought that this was too great a task for me to do alone... even for me and Matthew to do on our own... That is when he gave me the vision...
I saw Matthew and I with our son. He was maybe two or three years old. He was walking between us holding our hands and we were walking on the islands of Indonesia. The Lord said "I will give you every place you set your feet. And this will be the legacy you pass down to your children and they will complete this work that I have given you... to take back this nation for Me." A son! A beautiful, blond, curly haired, blue-eyed, son! And a legacy! And Indonesia for Jesus! This was a dream that was bigger than me. Bigger than Matthew. But not too big for God.
A week later, we had our first miscarriage. We did not know we were pregnant until we had lost the child. It was early in the pregnancy, but we knew that the enemy was trying to steal what the Lord had promised us. But we also knew that God was faithful and would keep His promises. This last year we lost two more children to early miscarriage. But we do not give up hope. We take one step at a time as we seek God's heart for our future and our family...
This year we have decided that the time has come to step out into the plans of God and to take hold of that which He has promised us. We have sold most of our belongings and limited our expenses by living with family or house-sitting for friends to prepare for a vision trip to Indonesia this year. ...
And so, the time has come to take a trip to visit the islands of Indonesia. We are looking forward to visiting with some old and new friends as we take a short vision trip. The purpose of this trip is first of all to determine whether or not God is calling us as a family to minister in Indonesia. Secondly, if we are being called to Indonesia, we need to determine the specific details... where, when, who, and how! In short, which island or people group, which missions agency, and when we would begin our ministry.
At this point in the planning, we are looking to stay in Indonesia 2-3 weeks. This is not very much time, but it allows for some debriefing time when we get home before Matthew will need to return to work. We are hoping to visit the islands of Java and Kalimantan and will be visiting with friends from the Christian and Missionary Alliance and Pioneers. We hope that we may also get a chance to visit with some pilots from Missionary Aviation Fellowship, but we are unsure of the timing of our visit working with their schedules. As Matthew has been learning to fly, this would be a valuable contact in the future, even if we decide not to work for them.
We encourage you to go online and look at Google Earth to find out more about where Java and Kalimantan are located and to look up information about the Dayak people of East Kalimantan so that you can better pray for us and join with us in this new season of our lives. ...
The reason we have written to you is because you are our friends and family and we want you to be a part of this new season. We want you to partner with us on this journey in any ways that you can. I am going to list a few creative ways that you can join with us, but please be more creative than us! If there are other ways that you are feeling led to partner with us, please contact us and we would love to pray it through with you!
We have some very specific and urgent needs that I will address first. These needs, because they are so immediate, are not so creative, but significantly important. More information will be coming soon as to funds that will be set up and opportunities for tax-write-offs, and so forth... we just want to give you the general information so that you can pray with us and for us for the following needs...
* We need financial support for this upcoming vision trip. Please pray about giving towards this trip. Right now we are estimating our cost to be about $4000. This covers the cost of air fare to and from Indonesia as well as travel between islands and the cost of food and lodging.
* We need prayer for healing and financial miracles! We discovered last week that I have a small fibroid tumor in my uterus that is probably the cause of the miscarriages. The tumor itself has changed the lining of the uterus but there is also the possibility of Endometriosis. This has caused severe and nearly constant pain but can be corrected with a fairly simple surgical procedure. Although we do have insurance, it does not fully cover the cost of the procedure. Because of the timing of our trip, we will be waiting to do surgery when we return. Please pray for miraculous healing and that this would not be a distraction from what we want to accomplish in Indonesia.
* As we have been wandering from home to home, our dog has been under the care of my mother the past few months. She has graciously offered to foster him for a short time until we can find him a more permanent home. She is not able to foster him much longer and we are earnestly seeking a new home for him. Please pray that we can find a suitable home before we leave for this trip.
The Thank you's
We wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all in advance for your partnership in this endeavor. We also want to thank all of you who have prepared the way for this day to come. For our pastors, friends, and family who encouraged us every step of the way. Thank you. And to our Lord, Jesus, thank you for the gift of each other, of dreams, and of your promises and faithfulness. Without You this would all be for nothing.