The past month has been such a mix of challenges and blessings. It is easy to recognise the battle we are involved with in this life. A strong spiritual battle that pulls us from side to side but it is so important to remember we are on the victory side if we are on the side of Christ.
Ephesians 6: 13 reminds us: “Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.” We needed our armour this past month for sure!
On July 12th soon after arriving at the Dezna Outreach Centre with a team, I received the phone call telling me Barbara had gone to be with Jesus. It was a devastating blow as we had passionately prayed for healing, but ‘in faith’ we had to learn again that ‘God’s Will, not mine be done’. Many of the team with me in Dezna were from Northern Ireland and knew Barbara well. We all sensed the enormous loss for Sam, the Province and for Smiles.
We prayed, and then as Barbara would have wanted, we set about the work that needed to be done. I took a few minutes to walk around the ground praying for strength, understanding and wisdom as we look to the future. As I prayed, I sensed God assuring me the work will continue and the human void in Northern Ireland, created by the loss of Barbara – would be filled by the many she inspired to support the great work of Smiles, she so passionately believed in.
Dawn, Maria, Simona and I were privileged to attend the funeral on July 16th where hundreds of family and friends gathered to support Sam and celebrate the life of this Godly woman. It was an honour for me to know Barbara and work closely with her. Now I am challenged to ensure her vision and dream for so many of our projects is fulfilled.
As you can read in my Tribute to Barbara, I have also committed that the Dezna Outreach Centre will be dedicated to the memory of Barbara Morrison.
The newest project of Smiles she was so excited about but the only project she never got to see and work on. I believe we will all be more inspired now to raise the funds required to see Dezna Outreach Centre completed and functioning as a fitting memorial to the amazing life and service we all witnessed from Barbara.
Whilst on the subject, I must also take the opportunity to clarify a situation people have asked about, which I know saddened Barbara a great deal. Some folk have contacted me and others in Smiles about the confusion being created by ex-employees of Smiles and their continued association with Smiles beneficiaries. There has been the assumption that the connection was still through Smiles – this is not the case.
It disappoints me that people who leave an organisation, the same often happens when leaving a church, have such negative things to say about the place and people they were serving with for so many years. Suddenly, all seems to have changed. Of course ‘it hasn’t changed’. They have changed, for better or for worse. Rather strange and always suspicious in my view.
What is disappointing and sad is not that they continue to attempt to do a good work, but that they will move to use what, in this case, Smiles has spent many years investing in, using the beneficiaries and supporters that they came to know whilst being employed and salaried by The Smiles Foundation.
In this instance, when Nelu and Raul left The Smiles Foundation there was no discussion or expectation of them having any association with our projects, our supporters or those we have assisted over many, many years. However, if former colleagues fail to abide by normal professional expectations, we must move on, wish them well and accept that what God has established and blessed through Smiles in more than 20 years of Mission Work, will not be thrown off course by the actions of a few individuals. I trust this clarifies the situation for those who have asked or might be wondering.
I have also been asked about the future plans for Northern Ireland development and Volunteer coordination for the United Kingdom.
I am delighted to say that thoughts and discussions are being had for that plan and I will hopefully spend an initial day in Belfast next month to establish the headers of our direction. Then I will spend an entire week in the Province during November to meet with as many folk as possible whether in individual meetings, groups or in churches as required.
I plan to travel every corner of Northern Ireland, so please let me know if you would like to meet either in September or November, for full discussion on moving forward in Service to God through the Smiles Foundation in Romania. Many from Northern Ireland will be visiting Romania in the next 3 months, but if I don’t see you here, I look forward to seeing you there very soon!
Meanwhile, anyone who had booked Barbara to speak at your church, school, organisation or group meeting in the coming months, please call the UK office (0113-276-5060) and speak to Dawn or e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org We will make alternative arrangements for someone to attend and provide a Smiles Presentation.
Work in Romania has continued very significantly this past month as we enjoyed having so many visitors in July. Over 75 visitors came to Smiles in July and a tremendous amount of work was achieved. With 21 currently here, another 64 will be with us during August and it is absolutely amazing the impact so many people can have, all working for the good of the people and to the service of God.
The Gazebo base was completed in July and in August the construction will be finished which the residents of Tileagd Assisted Living are very excited about. Tremendous work was done at Dezna, cleaning the interior, clearing the huge garden and starting to take up rotten floors ready for damp proofing and concrete filling.
More activity will be seen in Dezna this month, but the most significant could be the new roof that has to be done. Initial quotation is £12,500 ($16,250) but it needs doing as soon as possible to avoid further damage from rain accessing the roof through broken roof tiles. Big demands on our fund-raising but I know we can do it. If you are not yet familiar with our plans for Dezna, check out the webpage for details: Dezna Outreach Centre and Casa Torch
July has also seen the new Field Project begin operating in earnest. Fantastic days of working with our families, communities, the homeless and those in emergency housing. I am delighted that with my executive management here in Romania, we are re-energised, committed and focused to working in these areas in a much deeper and significant way for the future. I was thinking about this so much in recent months. When I had managers in the position of looking after Family Care or Homeless, I had much less involvement and tended to leave the day to day operational work to them. Since they left, I have had a much greater interest in what was happening (or not happening) so that we could ensure our involvement and investment of the Lord’s resources were wisely spent.
I admit to realising some aspects of what we did for many years was not always the most helpful in the long term. Providing a food package each month was/is helpful to a point, but more so, considering the full, longer term needs of the beneficiaries, to not become dependent on a hand out, but to have a hand up. So, for example, the Colar family, who spent years on our Family Care project, to own their own home. Support from Worthing Mission Team has raised the money to ensure the family have the security of their own home. £6,000/$7,800 is a much bigger commitment than a monthly food package, but so much more beneficial in the long term.
Same situation for Coman family who spent years in our Container Village but had little hope of ever moving forward. Better than the shack they lived in before but now we have enabled them to move to their own home which in time they will own and have the security and dignity that comes with home ownership.
I realised also the many elderly people we use to visit on Family Care. Such sad conditions and many of you responded with willing hands to help clean a home or would offer monthly support to provide food and occasional medicine.
Now we have 3 amazing Residential Centres to care for 120 elderly. But I stopped and realised, monthly support of 120 elderly in Family Care cost approximately £3,600/$4.800. Now 120 elderly in our centres cost approximately £43,800/$56,940 every month.
A massive difference in commitment, but how much better is the result. Our residents are receiving 3 meals a day, a bath or shower, clean bed, all their medication, 24 hour a day special care which includes physiotherapy, counselling and spiritual encouragement. Yes, it costs 10 times more, but what a difference in the results.
I am delighted the Smiles Foundation is looking at these significant improvements where we may not be able to deal with as many people, but the impact on those we do will be life changing and truly worth your financial support. It’s been reassuring this past 2 weeks with over 20 American psychologists and counsellors on Mission with Smiles to hear them say, day after day, how wonderful the care is in our residential facilities. How amazing the staff are in their tender devoted care. How superior our facilities and services are to what they have experienced, even in the United States. That is what we are striving to achieve. IMPACT…. Professional Godly Impact.
And to ensure everyone knows the motivation for our love and care is a God who loves and cares for each of us. Please continue to support these big expensive projects knowing the impact they have is equally big and life-changing.
Here are our top 3 projects needing additional financial support to enable us to continue the ministry day by day. Based on 2018 support to end of June, needs are as follows:
1. Residential Care and this month the Tileagd Assisted Living which achieved 78% of the income for its operational budget. Therefore, we had approximately £18,401 ($23,921) budget deficit for the first half of the year. Support Assisted Living
2. Gepiu Community Project achieved 77% income towards its operational budget. This leaves approximately £2,996 ($3,895) budget deficit. Support Gepiu Community
3. Pastoral Support for Tileagd & Rapa Churches received 80% of its required budget, leaving a deficit of £604 ($785) for the first six months. Support Pastoral Care
Great progress is being seen on our financial situation and we are encouraged to see improvements to the pressures faced in early 2018 within our programmes. All the projects need your continuous support, but if you would like to start a commitment or make a special gift for Smiles – please consider these needs to help reduce or eliminate future deficits.Be sure to catch up on news through the reports posted this month from Maria – “Quality Street “ and Luke – “Run in such a way as to get the prize.” The reports are helpful in giving you an insight to the work and are a great encouragement to read.
Thank you for all you do to support the Smiles Foundation through prayer, financial giving and practical work.
Remember – Put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground. We pray that for you and ourselves in service for the Lord.
Thank you for all you continue to do in support of The Smiles Foundation.
Chief Executive to The Smiles Foundation