It’s hard to believe we are heading into the final month for the first half of the year! It never ceases to amaze me just how fast time flies!!
In part that is due to having a busy life, when every day is full of demanding issues to address and fulfil. I’m not alone in that, but when you are operating in the fast lane, time can pass you by so very quickly. On reflection I conclude, make every-day count – because they pass fast, and we have no idea how many we have left.
The month of May had its very sad moments, particularly with Liza from Tileagd losing her battle with a brain tumour. Her death was a shock for the community, and of course it’s hard to imagine what her two young sons are coping with emotionally. It’s been good to see them at Church on Sunday and the mid-week Bible Club. We will continue to offer them as much support as possible, but we’ll never be able to replace their loving mother. Please pray for them, that they will know the Comfort of our Lord Jesus in their darkest times.
In this somewhat crazy world, we are constantly tossed between emotions of sadness and great joy. My life in leading the Smiles Foundation certainly has the full spectrum of emotions experienced on a daily basis. Many ups and several downs – but on balance, the month of May had more ‘ups’ so I am pleased to report on those for your encouragement.
But before I do, let me also share words from scripture that have been constantly on my mind this past month. As we read in Romans 12 v 9-19, so God has reminded me time and time again. In my bible, the teaching is headed up ‘Love’. For sure, we can handle all the ups and downs in life if we approach everything and everyone ‘with love’. Certainly, this is what is needed here in Romania within the Smiles Ministry to truly help the people we care for day by day.
This was no more possible to be reinforced than our recent weekend away in Dezna with 14 of the teenage girls from Tileagd. I believe passionately in the value of Dezna Outreach Centre within the ministry of Smiles, but again the blessings I felt from being in Dezna, seeing the fun and challenges the kids were experiencing, was utterly amazing. We need to do it more and more. More weekends, more kids, more fun and more teaching into these young lives that need to experience so much more than they have in life so far. In John 10 we read, God came to give life and give life more abundantly. Dezna Outreach Centre is the perfect bridge to that more ‘abundant life’ found only in Jesus Christ.
The pandemic has limited our ability this past year to use Dezna as planned. The restrictions are now lifting, and groups can meet for Camps once again. Please pray with me to have the means to bring many more children, both from Smiles Projects and churches in the region, to have that mountain top experience away at Camp in Dezna.
14 kids for a weekend, including travel, cost £580 / $750 – that is £41 / $53 per person. If you can help us towards these costs, please use this support link.
Our weekend away in Dezna was the final featured project of our Virtual Mission Trip which only finished on May 28th. Our busiest of the 3 Virtual Trips with 23 people signed up from every nation of the United Kingdom, plus folk from America and Canada. A truly wonderful international experience that was the completion of a very successful concept that I’m sure we will be doing again, even when our regular Hand’s-On Mission Trips start, which we hope to be very soon.
As on many occasions during this past 18 months, we are patiently waiting on further announcements by Governments that will allow International Travel, more easily, so that our Mission Trips can begin in earnest. We are starting our busiest time of year, as Schools will soon be out and looking for different activities throughout the summer. Without Mission Teams, it puts a lot of pressure on our staff to try fulfilling all the demands, with COP’s every week, Camps in Dezna, maintaining regular contact with Bible Clubs in Tileagd, Rapa and Gepiu.
Just as well we have the new Outreach team in place, but they can never manage all the necessary work that Mission teams help with so much. Then we also have a growing amount of practical work that needs help with. Building, Gardening, Painting, Cleaning – Homes, Projects – endless possibilities that have backed up these past 18 months.
Whilst we can’t plan to get on the plane quite yet, I don’t think it will be too long – so please begin thinking about when you could come, and we’ll be ready to welcome you. As soon as travel is made easier for us all, I’ll be endeavouring to open up a lot of extra weeks for Mission Teams to come and help with all that needs doing. So get ready, it won’t be long!
One area of ministry I have been thrilled to see begin these past couple of months, is the Disability Club run by Andrea out of JFL in Salonta. Through establishing a relationship with the local ‘special needs’ school, many more children with learning disabilities have been coming to the club and enjoying the programme Andrea puts on, plus the Sensory room which is a great hit with them all.
Next Club meeting with be in June, so please pray for Andrea who is assisted by Ioana, for vision and energy to share God’s Love with these beautiful kids.
Jim Dodd, our US Development Ambassador, wrote to me last week about how the Lord was laying on his heart the work of the Sensory Room. He would love to see people coming out to Romania to engage with the Disability Club. Maybe some who have experience working with ‘special needs’ – others who just love kids and giving them time, fun and experiences not so readily available for many Romanian children living with disability. Jim has another burden on his heart to ‘feed hungry kids’ so be sure to read his report this month and get involved. If you are in America and want to get involved, drop Jim an e-mail and we can be excited at what God will do through us.
Some of you involved with recent Virtual Mission Trips or Prayer Gatherings, have heard about the need we have for supplies in Romania, that normally come in a Container – once or twice a year. The last one was in 2019. Covid stopped any hope of a Container coming last year, so we are desperate for supplies as well as some amazing electrically operated ‘Hospital beds’ donated to Smiles that are urgently needed at our Residential Facilities.
The beds are steadily being received and completely checked to be in full-working order before stored waiting to be sent to us. The list of urgent supplies has now been updated and is on the website and a PDF copy is available here.
Today, I am launching a 3-month campaign to see if we can fill a Container with the supplies and have it brought to Romania by our generous transporters McBurney’s of Ballymena, Northern Ireland. We hope a full Container can be brought out to Romania in September, latest October this year.
If you can help with donating supplies, acting as a collection point, coordinating with pick-ups and deliveries – then please drop me an e-mail or contact the Leeds Office and speak to Dawn. (0113-276-5060)
As always, there is so much news and many announcements with the Smiles Foundation. So much so, that more regular meetings have been very popular during the COVID pandemic. Even though those meetings have been on-line through Zoom, hundreds of people have enjoyed the opportunity to hear and share the Smiles news while enjoying fellowship with others around the world committed to helping the ministry wherever and however possible.
Our monthly Prayer Gathering is a very important opportunity to share the important needs for prayer and news for which we can give thanks. Our Prayer Gathering for May is actually today – May 31st at 7pm BST, 2pm EDT. If you would like to join us, send me a request as soon as possible and I will get you the Zoom ID details by return. Coming together in prayer is a beautiful privilege we have, so shouldn’t miss the opportunity if we can be there. Email: email@example.com
On Saturday June 19th – we have another Smiles Open House. The first one was a year ago, borne out of the COVID lock-down we were living through at the time. So well-received, we had another in October, then again in January. The Open House is an informal time of fellowship where we discuss all the events past and future that people are interested in and wanting to share in. I hope you would like to join us, so send me an e-mail to request the Zoom ID as soon as possible. Even if you attended past Open Houses, a new request is needed so I can better gauge how many will be attending. Open House will be at 5pm BST / 12noon EDT and will be finished within a couple of hours. Hope to see you there on the 19th! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
So, a lot of news to read this month. Take your time but please try to read each special report over the next hours or days:
Maria has shared on ‘the waiting room’ experience. Adi has given an update on the Outreach Team. Luke provides news on a special Youth event he plans for July. Jim updates us on his plans for a Mission Trip from America and how to feed hungry kids.
Plenty to take in and a lot more details will be available at the Open House on June 19th. Don’t miss it!
I will finish here and start to prepare for the Prayer Gathering a little later. See you there!
Thank you for your wonderful support of Smiles. God is doing great things. We are thankful for it and praise His Name. Until next time, we pray God richly blesses you all.
Chief Executive & Founder
The Smiles Foundation