Our COP meetings with children from Bihor County were amazing everywhere we went. We had anything from 30 and 140 kids in one meeting. A total of about 800 children that enjoyed a special programme through their long and boring (?!) summer break. Now that the new school year is about to start, we can contemplate the past months and we can only be happy with what was achieved. Today I will continue and conclude the report on what the COPs were and their effect on the long term.
In my report for the July web update, I was saying how the programmes for children, in general and more so the outreach events, could help everyone involved in doing them to discover new things about themselves, something that can even become a turning point in their life, as one friend wrote to me after reading the article.
Definitely that was the case again with the teams we had in recent weeks. The young students, as well as other friends that were with us through the hot summer days had the chance to discover how entertaining the COPs were for themselves, but also how to use their imagination and find the inner-child in order to entertain the children. Also, they could find out how well they’d resist in temperatures of 40 Celsius and up (that is over 100 Fahrenheit, as our US friends will very well know).
The kids suffered from heat too. But that did not prevent them coming or to stay until the end of the programme. In one of the meetings, the grandma had to leave as something came up back home and so she wanted to take the little boy with her. But he wanted otherwise! So, we had to convince the lady that her grandson will be alright with us and she shouldn’t be worried about leaving if she needs to. When we managed to do this, there were tears in his eyes, worried he’ll have to miss the “mystery box” and the prizes. But the child could stay after all and he was so happy! He was also part of the winning team.
By the way, I made sure I said this each time – everyone is a winner and even though we’ll have contests and points will be earned, we only had winning teams! Winning team number one, winning team number two and so on! Kids were ok with that, of course, but was so interesting to see how the competitive nature inclination of some will have wanted to receive the whole glory for being the best! On the other hand, this approach protected them from too deep of a disappointment, as rarely there were equal scores across all teams. All in all, the point was that the main gain was the time spent together and a good Bible lesson that will hopefully stick in their minds for a long time!
As we had last time, here are some pictures for you to see.
One other important aspect is that we had participants from very different backgrounds, some from rich families, as there were several iPhones ringing… But also very poor, both Gypsy and Romanian. I do not know how they get along most of the time, but during the COP programme, they were all friends and partners. There was no discrimination, neither room for intolerance. Everyone was the same and that proved once again how important is Jesus statement that we all should receive the Kingdom as a child – forgiving, ready to learn, loving, friendly, happy and joyful.
And while doing so, I guess the whole attitude is changing, because everybody can see much clearer how no one is perfect, but are all precious in God’s eyes. And yes, this was the main point we tried to put across – just as God loves us, each and every one of us, we are called to love people around us, to help and encourage, to be a friend and to add value into the world.
Children did get it.
Now, we are looking forward to October time when we’ll try to organise more COP’s, but obviously in a different format, as school is soon to open its gates and time will be needed for something else… But if you think this is a worthwhile programme, please do not forget to pray for us and to support what we are doing.
A special word of appreciation is due here: the teams that visited us from Northern Ireland through the summer were not only very committed in participating, but also very supportive and they did bring a lot of supplies we could use. They also supported with financial gifts. But it is not only them of course – pretty much everyone who was here in 2017 so far was very supportive and found COPs amazing.
Thank you for all the interest in Smiles work and for being a friend!
Many blessings and warm hugs from Romania, at the end of a very hot summer!
Assistant Director of Smiles Foundation Romania