Greetings to you from guess where …. Yes, England! I am still restricted to travel, so unable to make the flights I had hoped in recent weeks. After so many cancelled flights I was beginning to wonder if I will ever get back to Cihei, but I remain confident that things are moving forward and perhaps within a week or so I will be on that cherished plane to Romania.
This has been the longest period away from Romania for as many years as I can remember. Currently 114 days since I left Romania for my American trip which as we know, was cut short due to the COVID-19 crisis. I am thankful that throughout this time I have been able to stay in touch with Romania every single day, often several times a day, thanks to Telephone, E-mail, Zoom, Skype and various other means of communication. It hasn’t been easy or ideal by any means, but we have managed it and I am delighted that God’s Work has not stopped. Yes, it has been done differently and not necessarily how we would have planned, but it still continues throughout the crisis and I thank God for His protection and provision along with the Staff in Romania who often rose to a new level of commitment, to ensure our Call to Ministry was evident and effective throughout these past months.
It has been quite amazing to me how during these challenging days, not only has the Work continued in Romania, but Sponsors and Supporters through the UK and America have truly risen to amazing levels of support. Our Giving has increased during the Crisis and as I read every day of so many charities and missions seeing their income drop, in some cases to worrying levels, I am humbled once again by our God who never reneges on a promise and has continued to provide for all our needs during this difficult time, if we remain focused on His Call.
Thank you to everyone who has continued to support so generously, and I assure you God has blessed and multiplied your faithfulness that so much has been achieved during this potentially desperate time.
I was thrilled to have so many friends join our first ever Smiles Family Open House by Zoom on June 6th.
It was wonderful to have people from the United Kingdom, America and Romania together for over 2 hours sharing updates and testimony to how God was enabling and blessing during the Crisis in Romania. Nearly 50 people joined the Open House and it is certainly something I will want to arrange again in a few months.
Whilst I was delighted to have Maria, Adi and Ligia join us from Romania, sharing insights to how projects had functioned during the lockdown, I was also thankful to Trustee Mike Wildsmith, who got our Gathering off to a great start with a Devotional Thought and Prayer. During his devotion, Mike shared the fact that often in such times, it is hard to see what God’s Plan is. The Hand we are use to seeing at Work can be somewhat ‘blurred’ when there is concern, fear and caution all around. Mike shared the wonderful quote: When you can’t trace His Hand ….. Trust His Heart.
During these recent days, we all needed to remember this critically important truth, but it is not always easy.
When Mike quoted the words, I instantly recalled a wonderful Tour in America we were able to be part of, for Nia to tour with NewSong (USA Christian Music Band), way back some 17 years ago in 2003. Dawn still has the T-shirt!
Newsong of course recorded and performed every night their incredible song ‘Trust His Heart’. Some wonderful truths are in this song, not least the response to our occasional thought that perhaps God got it wrong, when things don’t go as we hoped or planned … Please remember –
God is too wise to be mistaken, God is too good to be unkind.
I just love this truth, and the lessons I have been reminded of these past few months, will remain with me the rest of my life. I couldn’t therefore resist the challenge to mark our experience of Smiles Ministering through COVID-19 with this song and recent pictures from various projects.
During this period, we call lockdown, Smiles Staff have been out and about doing God’s Work.
Hundreds of Food Packages delivered.
Hundreds of Meals prepared for children and the elderly.
Hundreds of Supplies provided for those in need.
Hundreds of People visited to say ‘You’re not forgotten’.
All of this is a living testimony to our commitment and belief in the Words of Jesus contained in Matthew 25. Bottom line – thousands of individual opportunities to Share the Love of God. That is how we make Smiles.
Enjoy this VIDEO we put together to commemorate the Ministry of Smiles during COVID-19 (2020)
At the end of our Open House, Luke announced his Virtual Coffee Morning, originally planned for July 4th. Unfortunately, due to minor surgery Luke underwent last week, he is in recovery and not 100% ready for so much coffee! We have therefore rescheduled for Saturday July 18th. Please make a note and send your request for a Zoom invite to Luke. Your response will encourage him through recovery.
It is opportunity for fellowship and a less formal update on Smiles, plus a fund-raiser as Luke hopes each attendee will donate to Smiles enough to cover their coffee and cake that might otherwise be bought at their local establishment. I’m sure you will be even more generous because that’s how the Smiles Family is.
So, sign up for the Smiles Coffee Morning by Zoom, e-mail Luke to get your invitation to join: email@example.com
Then, as you might expect, I had a major Fundraising Challenge up my sleeve which I launched at the end of the Open House, and now I want to share it with you to be apart of. I called it ‘Get Dezna Winter Ready’.
Firstly WHY? It is very sad and disappointing that due to COVID-19 the many bookings we had for Dezna this summer have been cancelled. Government restrictions have limited the numbers allowed to meet and even though this has now been eased, parents are still anxious about so many grouped together at Camp. When we did all the work on Dezna we prepared it for the main purpose – Summer Camps. The heating system was virtually useless and needed further investment to be capable of heating such a large building. But we agreed to wait. Now, missing an entire summer season, I felt we could use this time to renew the entire Heating System as well as installing a large Hot Water Tank so that Dezna could be used ‘year-round’. I was also keen to see if we could install Solar Panels on the roof to provide eco-friendly hot water for summer 2021 when I believe we will be totally booked up for Camps, with COVID-19 behind us.
So – I launched the Challenge to raise £13,000/$17,000 to allow the work to be done during this summer and be ready to welcome guests for Retreats, Conferences, Weekend Getaways from October 2020.
Secondly HOW? As I hoped and expected, the Smiles Family loved the idea of seeing Dezna Outreach Centre become a ‘Year-Round’ facility.
So – Can you help? With a donation, a fund-raiser, or sharing the challenge with others?
You can use PayPal or Card on-line: https://www.thesmilesfoundation.org/donate-2/
You can telephone the office to use a Debit or Credit Card:
UK 0113-276-5060 / USA 423-239-9525
You can Mail your Gift to the Smiles Office in Leeds, England or Phoenix, Arizona.
You can donate direct to the Smiles Bank Account:
(please let us know so we can track and designate your gift)
UK: Lloyds Bank plc. The Smiles Foundation,
Sort Code: 30-00-05 Account: 02076954
USA: Bank of America. The Smiles Foundation,
Routing: 122101706 Account: 457031047562
Finally WHEN? NOW – I want to send our Construction Manager, (Ioan Has) to Dezna to start the work, which could take a month. We can then start marketing Dezna Outreach Centre as available for use from this October through March 2021 with fully heated facilities. We are at about 75% of the funds raised from just the Open House guests on June 6th. Please help us reach our target, so we can purchase supplies and send Ioan off to Dezna!
I am so excited about seeing Dezna fully operational, any time of the year, and offer my sincere thanks and appreciation to the Smiles Family for securing another great success.
I think that’s about all the news I need to share today. We also have new reports for this month from Maria and Adi – so be sure to take some time to read their news at this time.
With the expectation of Mission Teams being able to travel from September, I hope we are in for a great period between now and Christmas to help overcome the disappointments of recent months. But remember, even through these challenging times, God is teaching us important lessons.
Don’t forget: God is too wise to be mistaken, God is too good to be unkind.
And ….. When you can’t trace His Hand ….. Trust His Heart.
Sincere blessings on you all. Thank you for being a valued member of the Smiles Family.
Chief Executive to
The Smiles Foundation