This past month has certainly been a ‘month of two halves’! Everything was off to the normal busy start of a month with the Web Update launched on September 30th. Early in October, on Saturday 3rd, was scheduled our second Smiles Open House, which was again very well received with over 40+ guests from across America, United Kingdom and Romania.
A truly wonderful time of fellowship and catch-up which are already becoming one of the highlights to emerge out of the 2020 restrictions we have all faced. I am planning the 3rd Open House in January, so plenty of time but I think it will have a bumper attendance, so be sure to keep an eye out for details which I’ll probably confirm next month or early January.
On October 8th, I was delighted to welcome a ‘first-time’ visitor to Smiles Romania. Jim Dodd is from Spokane, WA state and had contacted me in September with his desire to arrange Mission Trips and was interested in a partnership with Smiles to get Trips up and running, once the current restrictions make that possible.
Jim had a long-haul journey from Spokane, but right on schedule he arrived into Oradea and was excited to be here, despite the fatigue of a 30-hour journey involving 5 flights! My immediate observation was that not much would deplete Jim’s enthusiasm, so after a good rest at Smiles Mission Centre, Jim was ready the next day to see what Smiles was all about.
Over the following 6 days, Jim was able to see so much of what makes Smiles so special for so many people. Friday, he visited ECO – Elderly Care, Oradea as well as Gepiu and the Youth Team meeting. Saturday we were off to Dezna, which Jim found absolutely amazing. Being very much the outdoor type, he would loved to have stayed a few days there and attempted some of the mountain trails that many of us are yet to explore!
Sunday we started at Tileagd Community Church which is always a place that demonstrates ‘a difference’ for visitors to experience from ‘home’. After a great Sunday Lunch at the Mission Centre, we were off on our travels to JFL – Joint Facility of Love, Salonta and then onto the Glasshouse to see the work being done in preparation of Monday deliveries.On Monday, Jim was off to Tileagd again, this time with Maria – visiting the Nursery, followed by the Community and then to TAL – Tileagd Assisted Living. This was proving a busy day, but far from over yet! Maria had the After-School Club scheduled and sure enough, more than 50+ kids arrived for lunch, learning and fun. During all the fun, Jim was taught by the Gypsy kids how to ‘dance’. Probably an experience Jim was not totally ready for! But certainly it added to his cultural experience!!
Tuesday, as Jim was thinking it couldn’t get any wilder, Adi took him on the Field, visiting families, homeless and communities in Mierlau and Rapa. Jim was overwhelmed at the variety of Smiles work, and became particularly connected with one of the Homeless beneficiaries, Mr Stefan – who Jim managed to pop back and see again the next day.
Wednesday had been set aside for meetings to follow up all the visits and how Jim’s desire to organise Mission Trips could work within the Smiles Foundation. Thankfully, enthusiasm remained throughout, and serious discussions and ideas for future development were shared. Needless to say, there are many ideas that need formulating and will be discussed over the coming weeks in the hope and expectation that by January, we will have a new plan to launch that will increase Mission Teams from America in 2021.
I was delighted that Jim was so keen to serve God in this way. I truly hope we will find the right package to make the dreams and ideas come to pass.
As Jim headed back to America on October 15th, we started to turn our minds to another first! Monday October 19th, we had established a first ever Smiles Prayer Group by Zoom. I had managed to get my Mid-Month Update out on October 14th, which featured the Prayer Group and a couple of other important announcements.
Unfortunately, I felt like I was beginning to come down with a head-cold, and thought perhaps I had overdone it a little hosting Jim whilst keeping up with all the regular work, which always makes for long busy days. By Friday (16th) I was feeling way less than 100%. I didn’t realise at the time this was beginning of something more serious than a head-cold. In fact, I was about instantly wiped out, with no energy or strength to get up and face the day.
For me, that was the start of the past 2 weeks that have seen me flat on my back for days on end. By the day of the Smiles Prayer Gathering, Maria was sufficiently concerned she called the ambulance. They came and took various tests for heart, breathing, blood etc and concluded with a Covid-19 test.
Unfortunately, that proved positive and my 14-day isolation began along with a stack of meds able to compete with the local pharmacy! To assist with my oxygen levels, a machine was brought into my room which I was on several hours a day. All in all, more than 2 weeks later now, slow progress is being felt day by day.
Only in the past few days have I started to manage an hour or so on the computer. But an hour or two is exhausting and quickly I need to be heading back to bed for further rest. The doctor says this could take the longest to pass and I must remain patience. Hopefully indeed it will not be too long before I am back to greater normality although I’m sure there have been several who have enjoyed the ‘peace’ of me being in sick bay.!!
Reports I’ve heard suggest the Prayer Group went very well indeed. I was so sorry to miss it and sincerely hope I’ll be up and able to participate in the November Prayer gathering, set for Monday 23rd. If you were part of the October gathering, you will be automatically included in the invite. If you would like to join the Prayer Group send your e-mail request to me and Zoom Details will be sent out by November 21st.
We also have a Mission Trip Zoom Meeting scheduled for Saturday November 14th, when we’ll be looking at plans for 2021. Many have already expressed interest, so send your request and look out for your invite by November 13th into your inbox.
UK – 5pm GMT / USA–12noon EST/11am CST/9am PST / Romania 7pm EET
So, several plans for the past couple of weeks have been ‘shelved’ and will be picked up as soon as health allows. Fortunately, others have been busy and well these weeks, so don’t miss updates from Maria and the Thankful Hearts video from Adi. There is also an update from Luke, so plenty to catch up on!
Maria – Mustard Seed Faith
Adi – Thankful Hearts – Church Club
Luke – The Power of Prayer
Hopefully by the next official Update, I’ll have my strength back and even more to report of the exciting work God continues to do here in Romania through Smiles. Thank you to so many who have been praying and sending greetings during this difficult time. Sorry not to have replied to them all, but I know you understand the need to reserve my strength. God bless you all.
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