January has been an extraordinary month! We have been using that word ‘extraordinary’ quite a lot in the past year but not always for very positive reasons. For sure, the year of COVID was extraordinary, but January 2021 was extraordinary for much happier reasons.
I started the month with publishing the results of my 15-month Strategic Review and the restructuring plans for Smiles Operational work in Romania. I am thankful it was received so positively, with not one negative comment in the whole month, which has been very encouraging for the days ahead. I am also thankful that I managed to get back to Romania on January 15th, with my negative COVID test and letter of being a ‘vital worker’ which I was pleased the Authorities acknowledged and accepted. It has been a very busy 2-weeks here, but so much more productive for me being in country, so gratitude for answered prayers in that area.
We have also enjoyed some great fellowship together within the Smiles Family through virtual meetings on Zoom. Luke ran an excellent tournament with a ‘Smiles Countdown’ over a long weekend. Then we have had the Smiles Open House, for which I was thrilled with the numbers supporting and the interest so many have with the work. Finally, on January 25th we held our Monthly Prayer Gathering which again was a true blessing.
Thank you to all those who joined the various events. Financial Support was raised through Luke’s events. Information shared through the Open House and coming before God in Prayer for the needs of Smiles in Romania a wonderful experience. Keep an eye open for further opportunities to join us through the various Zoom events.
Luke has another great month of events lined up in February. Full details are in his report, so be sure to take a note and then sign up for the exciting Cooking Classes planned each and every Saturday in February. Zooms will open 15 minutes before start time to allow everyone to be involved from the start, which is scheduled: 4pm GMT / 11am EST / 10am CST / 9am MST / 6pm EET
Sign-up for your Zoom invitation with Luke: firstname.lastname@example.org
There is no Open House this month, the next one is likely to be in April, but further details will be given nearer the time. However, there is our monthly Prayer Gathering which is scheduled for February 22nd.
Time will be: 7pm GMT / 2pm EST / 1pm CST / 12noon MST / 9pm EET
If this will be your first Prayer Gathering, request your Zoom ID from me: email@example.com
February is Smiles special month for Gifts. Officially, February 6th is our Gift Day, but we’ve encouraged over the years to see the whole month as an opportunity to help Smiles prepare for the year ahead. After the year we’ve just had, there is some unique preparation needed, but also due to the new plans to expand areas of the work.
I have designated 2021 Gift Day (Month) to support the new Outreach Pillar and the need of an additional budget for Adi to start seriously putting his Team in place for greater ministry through Children, Communities and Camps. All these areas of ministry were restricted in 2020, but we believe (and continue to pray passionately) that 2021 will be different. Many are desperate to get out of their limitations and once they are operating, we believe Children’s Outreach, Community Support and Camps in Dezna will be under huge demand.
We plan, initially, for two new Team members, moving to three as we progress, to work in the Outreach Team with Adi, Pastor Vasile and Ioana – creating an ultimate Outreach Team of 5 or 6 people. We are praying at least two will be available by April, but we need support to make these new appointments. Approximately £15,000 ($19,500) per person to cover salary and expenses. Please pray with us during this special month of focus on Gift Support that sufficient will be raised to employ, one …. two …. and maybe even all three! Also pray with us for those who God would Call to serve, will hear and respond so we can share the Good News of the Gospel to more children and families, in the coming year.
To make your Gift Day Offering, use on-line options here, or telephone the Smiles Office to use a Card, or mail your Gift to the Smiles office. In all cases, please designate your Gift to the Outreach Pillar. Thank you.
We are excited in Romania to have School & Nursery facilities, re-opening on February 8th. At least this is what we have been promised! This is very exciting for so many, and not least Maria, who will be overseeing the re-opening of the Tileagd Nursery and the After-School programme in Tileagd. Catch up with Maria’s thoughts in her report and please pray for the many activities that will start in earnest this month after such a long dormant period during the COVID pandemic.
After such a strange and subdued programme for so long, it will be quite a challenge for staff to ‘get up to speed’ but the reality of many aspects of life getting back to normal in Romania, will be a great encouragement and inspiration to face whatever challenges come along. With your continued prayers and support, I believe everyone here will cope very well. But please, don’t forget to pray!
With Schools returning, plans will start to be made for Summer Camps, so again – our ability to plan full speed ahead for the Outreach Team is essential if we are not to miss crucial opportunities that I believe are well overdue. We’ve been waiting for this opportunity for more than a year – let’s not miss it now due to lack of resources to meet the operating budgets of all our ministry related projects.
I am confident you will respond with the love and devotion you have shown so many times before and I look forward to updating you in future reports.
With Romania opening up ‘internally’ we all need to pray the situation will improve in the United Kingdom and America to allow the many Mission Teams to travel as planned. We have many lined up starting March 27th but at this moment we cannot be sure how International Travel will be by then. I believe, with the improvements secured through imposed restrictions and the continuing roll-out of vaccinations, we will see some areas of life resume more normally by March. We must just pray that international travel will be included.
It’s been a joy to hear of people wanting to get back to Romania on Missions Trips. Clearly, they have been missed this past year. Well, the good news is, we are getting closer, so start planning and soon enough, it will happen. Romania is a low-risk country and is also administering an efficient Vaccine Immunisation programme, so I see mission trips appearing on the horizon very soon. I can tell you personally, it’s great to be back here!
If you have thoughts or interest in planning a trip this year, talk to Dawn at the office or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you by return.
It’s great to have a sense of optimism and hope that the future is looking better, and we are turning the corner on this horrifying chapter of our history. God has been Good throughout, and our opportunity to show our gratitude and response is knocking on the door. I am excited and look forward to sharing ‘more normally’ soon and seeing you in Romania during 2021.
Thank you for your incredible support for the Work of God through Smiles.
Sincere blessings to you all.
Chief Executive to
The Smiles Foundation