As I shared last month, having hoped throughout this year that we would have better news to share concerning the COVID-19 impact, I have now resigned myself to the fact that 2020 had other purposes and we now look to 2021 to bring the change we have hoped for, prayed for, all year.
This year has taught us to do things differently, and that has certainly not been ‘all bad’. I have truly valued the opportunity to look at challenges in a different way, or at least in terms of finding the solutions, which has most certainly turned up some new and creative ways to achieve the objectives.
I have not been able to see friends and supporters on Mission Trips this year, neither have I been able to tour as I normally would through Smiles Forums or Presentations with our team from Romania. Many disappointing aspects to a seriously challenging year. So, what has been positive and creative in meeting the challenges of 2020?
One thing for sure has been the start of our Smiles Open House where many friends can get together from around the world through Zoom. I didn’t even know what Zoom was before 2020 hit! Now I use it regularly to keep in touch, hold meetings, and catch up with family when I’m away from home for months on end.
We tried our first Open House in June and it was such a success and valued by those who took part, we planned another this month. So on October 3rd, we had another 40+ folk get together by Zoom and once again I really enjoyed it, as did many who wrote to me afterwards, thanking us for the occasion and looking forward to the next one. I’m planning that in January 2021 when we’ll have a great deal to share on the implementation of our year of planning the Strategic review for the decade ahead. Don’t miss that one!
Another great outcome of the limitations faced this year came from Anna Clarke, who spent a year in Romania with us after her degree and has since gone on to serve as a Children’s Worker in a couple of English Churches. Anna wrote to me after my October 1st Update, suggesting we consider a Virtual Prayer Gathering for Smiles. She was particularly thinking of the new Children’s Work in Tileagd, but I am keen to see it develop into a monthly Virtual Prayer Group, praying for all of Smiles Needs month by month.
We are planning the first Prayer Gathering for Smiles on Monday October 19th at 7pm BST. That’s 2pm Eastern time in America, 11am Pacific – so we hope the time will allow friends from across the world to join us.
If you would like to spend an hour together hearing of the needs in Romania and praying with us, then send me an E-Mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) requesting the Prayer Gathering ID and Password by Saturday (October 17th) and I’ll be sure you get the details. If you request by 17th but have no details by 19th, send me another e-mail or call the Smiles Office. We don’t want to miss you!
We look forward to getting together, praying together and lifting up the Ministry of Smiles before our Lord.
During the Open House, we had two Ambassadors present new challenges for Fund-Raising opportunities which I’m always extremely grateful for.
Adrian Pogue, Ambassador for Antrim in Northern Ireland, challenged us all to help meet the cost of Supplies in Romania, needed for the projects, normally sent by Container, but has not been possible in 2020. We pray a Container may be possible by April 2021, but until then, we have around £1,500/$1,950 a month additional cost of buying supplies. Adrian challenged those able to make a special donation of £100/$130 towards these costs. If 90 people take the challenge, the 6-month additional budget will be met.
If you can help but haven’t yet, please go to the website:
or call the Office to use a Card or mail your gift to the office in Leeds (UK) or Phoenix (USA). Thank you!
Luke Wathen, Ambassador for England, Scotland & Wales, has devised a fund-raiser using the well-known UK TV programme ‘Countdown’ as the challenge. Not only great for raising funds but enjoying the time with friends and family and perhaps using the opportunity to involve people not so familiar with the work of Smiles.
If you would like to know more about signing up for the ‘Countdown Challenge’ send an e-mail to Luke (email@example.com) and he’ll get you all the details you need.
During the Open House, we spoke about the enormous impact of COVID on our Mission Trip programme this year. Not one team has been possible and now we want to make great plans for 2021, believing we will be able to welcome you back and we are therefore planning many Trip opportunities for the new year, starting March 2021. I know that is 6 months away, but we want to plan and be ready. Flights are also much cheaper right now, so it is a good time to make plans and get you travel arrangements booked.
We are also introducing some new support plans for Mission Teams in 2021, so have decided to hold a specially focused Mission Trip Zoom meeting on November 14th, 2020 at the usual Open House times:
UK – 5pm BST USA–12noon EST/11am CST/9am PST Romania 7pm EET
If you would like to join us for the Virtual Mission Trip Meeting, which I would not expect to last much more than an hour, please e-mail me and I’ll be sure you have the necessary ID and Password in good time.
To close this short but important mid-month update, I’ll just mention how thrilled we continue to be with so many children and indeed other adults from the Gypsy Community joining us for Worship at Church in Tileagd each Sunday. Many children continue to come having learnt their special song contribution at Church Club during the week.
This past Sunday, two of our young ladies presented a beautiful duet. They certainly took the occasion seriously, dressing up for it by making matching skirts from one of their sister’s (hopefully old and unwanted) dresses! It was clearly a special moment for Maia and Maria, presenting their duet, but it was also a very special moment for us in the Church, seeing the hearts of these young girls wanting to Worship God.
We had a great Church Club meeting on Monday (12th) with lots of kids. Our Maria had her work cut out, but she will tell you a lot more about that in her November report.
I am also delighted to report the hard work at our Arpasel Glasshouse is reaping rewards, as this week over 17,000 Chrysanthemums were shipped out across Romania to various Lidl Warehouses and other wholesalers.
We thank God for His Goodness and continued provision even through these challenging times.
I trust this mid-month update will have been helpful in keeping you informed of activities here in Romania. Please be sure to respond to all the opportunities so you can be involved with the events detailed above.
Keep in touch with us and I pray you will know God’s continued blessings in your life. Thank you for your ongoing prayers and support.
Chief Executive to
The Smiles Foundation