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From Luke, UK Development Ambassador, April 2021

Hello everyone, 

I am delighted to have been in Romania for a month now! The travel and entry requirements for coming were not exceedingly difficult and the organisation at passport control at Cluj Airport was excellent. 

Moreover, the feeling here in Romania is positive, despite continued social distancing rules. Here the schools have been back for a couple of months and things are more open, with mask-wearing of course. But more than that, Romania is working hard to distribute the vaccine and continue testing for people who need it for work. 

Despite having to endure a two-week quarantine period (I am not good at doing nothing), which was a bit boring at times, I was soon able to return to work amongst the Smiles projects. 

Many of you who know me and Smiles, will not be surprised to learn that there was immediately painting and decorating for me to do – I do enjoy it to be honest! This time it was at ECO (Elderly Centre, Oradea). Specifically, the kitchen area needed some attention. ECO painting

But it has not been all hard work! I have also been privileged to be able to accompany some of the young people from Gepiu to the Dezna Outreach Facility for a camp. 

It was amazing to have a group back there after it has been forced to be empty for so long. We certainly did not foresee it being so quiet there, especially after all the efforts that were put into making it the stunning facility that it is. 

This camp though will hopefully be the start of many to come, with lots of people from Romania and the UK coming to experience the beautiful location, great site and opportunity for fellowship and contemplation with the Lord. 

Luke sharing at DeznaIf you would like to know more about booking dates at Dezna for a young people’s camp or a Church Conference, then please get in touch with us and it will be a delight to help you. 

Back when we were renovating the building and planning the camps and functions that could be held there, we fervently hoped that international camps and Church conferences would one day be a big part of the annual schedule in Dezna. 

As we begin to emerge from the restrictions in the UK, would you please consider if there is a group, of youth, adults or Leaders that could come and benefit from a time of focus with the Lord, in a stunning location that can refresh both the mind and body – which impacts the spirit.  

Saving the best until last, it was wonderful to see some of you at the first of our Virtual Mission Trips! Whilst it cannot replace, nor is it intended to, a full Hands-On Mission trip with Smiles, it was a wonderful time of fellowship and fun with you and we are thoroughly looking forward to the second and third trips. March Virtual Mission Trip

Despite the limitations of being in different places and being separated there was a distinct feeling of togetherness and positivity throughout the five days. It was exceptionally encouraging to be part of, and I hope those of you who joined all felt the same way!

We enjoyed updates from across the projects and a devotion each day. Moreover, we hope you enjoyed the section entitled ‘Empathy Challenge’ which you certainly got involved with, despite the uncomfortable nature of some of the challenges, and showed your artistic skills too with the traditionally decorated Easter eggs.Virtual Mission Trip challenges

At this point I must include the amazing efforts and skills that our great friend Lynda Donaldson has shown. She has created these wonderful, knitted toys that cover an Easter crème egg gift – maybe this accounts for the shortage of Crème eggs now! Thank you, Lynda, for your fantastic support!

Lynda’s knitting – 109 Easter Eggs and counting…

There are still places available for the April and May Virtual Trips so if you would like to book your place then please get in touch. Contact us via this email address to sign up: We look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you and I look forward to seeing you as soon as it is possible in the future!

May God bless you,

Luke Wathen

UK Development Ambassador
The Smiles Foundation

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