From Maria's Desk

Leeds, England registered UK Charity No.1087961
Kingsport, USA charitable non-profit # 86-0957704
Oradea, Romania registered Charity No.14839712

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A Letter from Maria's Desk
July 2016

when something ENDS something NEW BEGINS

June is a very emotional month for me. It has been for years now! Ever since I have been involved in the educational programmes that Smiles has in Tileagd, June proves to be the "roller-coaster month". But this year something was different!! This year was worse than ever!

Why? Why was this time like that? Let me tell you in a few words ……AND I try not to cry! (so as not to damage your screen!)

In the nursery this past academic year (2015- 2016) we had 51 kids with ages from 2 years to 6 years old. They started very nervously in September 2015. A few of them cried all through the first term because they could not get used to leaving their mum at the door and see them go. But the love of the teachers and staff made the kids feel that nursery was like home!

Now in June when we had the graduation day, they all cry not to make them to go on holiday!! Thirteen of them finish their kindergarten and move in September to grade school! They are "big children" now and every time they have an opportunity to remind me of that, they do! I was very proud of their progress this year. I am thankful to all the teachers and the administrative staff that work there. They do an amazing job preparing the kids for life, putting the foundations in place.

Then in school, for grades 1 to 4 this past year we had nearly 60 children. Amazing to see the progress they make. This past year they won lots of competitions and I was very impressed when I had a teacher from a different school in the city telling us "your kids are a real example of progress". Is that not nice to hear? Yes it is hard to work with them, because even if we work with them for so many years still not all the parents understand the importance of education. YET it is rewarding to see little glimpses of hope! My 4th graders are ready to move to the next stage and onto 5th grade in the State School!

In order to celebrate that, we had a party. The cake was amazing and for that we are really thankful to Geoff. He is our best friend in Tileagd, and without him and his support to us, lots of things would not have happened this year!

The most emotional side of it was related to the secondary school kids. There we have 16 of them in grades from 5 - 8. My 8th graders finished their ‘journey’ in the ‘small school’ as they like to call it!

Now they are becoming young adults. What was very emotional for me was sitting in their graduation party and hear the teacher calling their names in front for different rewards! I could not believe that THEY ARE MY KIDS!!! The same kids that in 2004 were 2/3 years old, coming to the nursery in the arms of their parents. I could hold them and carry them. Today they are looking much bigger than me! My babies have grown up!! To see 12 years of work being recognised when their names were on the "Good list" was amazing! Please PRAY for them! I have 4 of them that will move now to the next level. I have Cassandra and her wish is to do stylist classes. The boys Mike, Alex and Stanescu would like to do mechanics! So please pray for their dreams to become real. I’m thankful to Geta, my right hand person in Tileagd on the educational side, for never giving up on these children. Also to Meda and Ghiuri and all the teachers who are helping these kids on a daily basis.

Then to make the ‘rollercoaster journey’ complete this year, I had the high school girls graduating 12th grade! Something that we never thought would happen! Cornel finishing the high school last year was a beginning of ‘breaking the tradition’ in the Gypsy community. It’s nice to hear for example Florica G dreaming to do a college degree and being one day a hotel receptionist. Until then she will work for us from the beginning of July, helping on the retail side. She likes fashion and everything that is related to it. Now I have 3 of the "kids" working with us! I have Cornel who started last year! He is a great help on the construction side when we have mission trip teams. Also on security when it’s needed and because he has a driving licence, he is a good help on driving always. This year I had Roxana adding to the team. She is helping Mariana at the mission centre and is doing a good job there, especially when the place is busy with the teams. So please pray for all 3 of them as it is not that easy to do a job like all the ‘normal people’ do, when you’re not from a ‘normal’ situation. For their culture it is a new beginning!

I pray that they will learn new things in the new chapter of their life!!! For this I’m thankful to God, also to Mr Hoy who did not gave up in supporting these kids over the years, even if at times he had every reason to do so.


I’m proud of them all, even if at times I get frustrated and angry with them! I’m proud to see a new generation coming up in the Tileagd Gypsy Community.

I always knew that it would not be an easy journey. But I also knew the ONE that is leading it – GOD. And even if at times I or Mr Hoy want to give up, we are reminded of God’s love that did not give up on us. So that keeps us going. Until when, I do not know, but I’m sure that God knows best!

I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to ALL the people who did not give up helping the Tileagd kids over the last 13 years. Your efforts and commitment will be rewarded one day. Like the story in the bible of the seed that is planted. Not all is in the good soil, but the ones that are, need to be taken care of. And maybe we won’t see the harvest here on earth, but I’m sure that the legacy that we leave behind is a BIG one!

And yes, if there is one wish I have in all this process, it was for Stephen Woodward to be here with us and see the results. Still I’m sure he is sooooo proud of them all from his advantage position in Heaven. I will never have enough words to express my thanks and gratitude for everything I learned from him. So dear friend - I miss you!

AND for everything I wrote I am thankful to God. For the good times and for the bad ones. For the time when I laughed and for the times when I cried. For the times when I was strong and for the ones when I was weak and wanted to give up! FOR EVERYTHING! Because from everything I’ve learned that IF you want to get a clear diamond, that diamond needs to go through the strongest fire!

Let us pray that we ALL become diamonds in God’s eyes!

And let’s continue to pray for Tileagd. One day I’m sure that THEY will turn their hearts to God. So let’s not give up praying.

In Christ’s service


Maria Hava ,
Director of Operations, Romania

Previous letters from Maria:

June 2016 - Moving Forward
May 2016 - His Plans or Ours?
April 2016 - Good, Good Father
March 2016 - Rainy Days
February 2016 - Frozen
January 2016 - A thankful heart

December 2015 - Make someone happy!
November 2015 - Like father like son
October 2015 - It's between you and God
September 2015 - Our Unchanging God
August 2015 - I trust Him no matter what
July 2015 - I've had enough
June 2015 - Things that make me happy

May 2015 - Butterflies
March 2015 - Sovereign over us

February 2015 - My Grace is sufficient for you
January 2015 - From the Management Team



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