December is by definition a time of intense emotions. A lot is happening in these last 31 days of the year. It is almost like we are trying to make up for everything we might have forgotten or missed through all the other 334 days. Especially as we get closer to the Christmas and New Year Celebrations, we seem to engage in ‘frantic-mode’ and moments of calm are not so common anymore! We contemplate the past, make plans for the future, but most definitely the present is a little bit overwhelming. A lot is happening, I know in Smiles we will be very busy with many things for sure!
It is also a time of assessment. It is in our very nature to look back and decide what was good, what was to improve next time and that’s a very healthy exercise. The plan for the next stage is always based on what happened in the previous stage. And for us – it’s the same. What was different in 2018 compared to all the previous years? And what can be improved for the coming year – 2019?
From my perspective, this year started with a major challenge when we decided it was the time to look at the Field Project from a new perspective. Given the changes in the staff structure, the new streamed format for the programme, the challenge of finding new beneficiaries and letting some of the older ones go, so many aspects so all could not happen by default.
There was a significant effort to discover the right people to be helped – this is an increasingly difficult task, because it is so easy to bring in people that might try to abuse the support system and we really do not want that. It was also at times complicated to keep the supporters happy, as all the changes were neither easy nor comfortable.
Starting in March, we placed a lot of emphasis on the need to change the way we supported people and after a while, and particularly after the summer mission trip season, I think most of the supporters will have understood what we were trying to achieve and they found the idea to have great merit and worth pursuing. I need to say thank you to all of you who embraced the changes and allowed us to continue the support programme in a way that hopefully will be more beneficial in the future!
The initial ideas were put in practice and now, over the next few months, we will add more new families into our programme, but we will constantly review who we should continue with for future support. Both me and Alina are trying to find the best options for the people in need from Bihor County.
About the Outreach Programme, I am happy to report that it continued in 2018 to do what we intended and that is to share Jesus with as many people as possible. The two churches in Tileagd and Rapa continued to provide spiritual guidance and support for the respective communities. Pastor Vasile is very keen to do his best and he gets a lot of other people involved to provide interesting and appealing programmes for the people. Children are amazing and as always, they are up to sing a song or say a prayer, which is always lovely to see.
The COPs were also amazing throughout the year. In the summer mainly, but also in October, we visited many places, all together nine different locations. We spent two days with each group and we had great fun doing activities with all ages, from 1 year old to 40! As of course, many parents enjoyed what we did just as much as their children. The theme for this year was Jesus and Zacchaeus, we enjoyed it a lot and I know the mission trip guests also had great fun being part of the programme. All in all, a great way to spread the Gospel among children and their families.
I want to say a big Thank you to all of you who are part of what Smiles is and does! No doubt, our common efforts are making a difference for many people and I am very happy to have you with us in doing so! Have a wonderful holiday season and very blessed Christmas and 2019.
Assistant Director – The Smiles Foundation