Robert Burns gave us the quote often used today “best laid plans of mice and men …. etc ” I’ve used the words often and it was a favourite my dear mother often quoted. This past month has been a very demanding time as I’ve worked in Romania on so many different issues – some of which I had done, and seen others do, a tremendous amount of research and preparation for, yet still those ‘best laid plans’ seem to fall apart!
The fact is, as I’m sure you know, no matter how well we plan for something, it’s not a bad idea to always expect the ‘unexpected’. So often when you think you have done all you can for something to go right ….. something can still go terribly wrong. That is at least from our human prospective, but never from God’s prospective. He knows the future before the present!
We pray and then plan, trust and hope everything works out. God knows what is best, and I believe even if we humans screw up His perfect plan – He will already have an alternative, equally special plan, to achieve His Purpose in our lives and to further His Work. That provides me a wonderful sense of reassurance as I continue to lay the best plans I can, then even after prayer and application, I know I can make mistakes, but God Himself will be ready and able to deal with everything, for His Glory.
After 3 months of detailed planning, discussions and meetings, Maria, Adi and myself strongly believed we had made the right appointment for the Field Project in employing Daniel Bara. However, unfortunately, due to policy differences between Dan and Smiles, which hadn’t arisen in those 3 months of discussion, Dan resigned on February 5th. I confess to having been surprised and disappointed that after months of such detailed planning, it could still go wrong. We were able to console each other that the policy differences were not something we should be unduly concerned with. They were basically a simple difference of opinion between the priority of beneficiary and sponsor.
Once the initial disappointment passed, we regrouped and returned to the drawing board. Contact was made with some professors at local universities and within hours we were receiving new requests for consideration of candidates wanting to do Social Work through the Smiles Foundation. God began to lift our spirits with the assurance He was with us, in control and leading for the ultimate good of His Work and Purpose. So, we set about lining up the interviews and over the following 7 days, met and talked with several candidates.
God is SO GOOD!
I confess to being pleasantly surprised at the calibre and spirit of the people we met. After a week we had 2 or 3 candidates all suitable for the one vacant position. A decision was made and I am delighted to introduce Alexandra Mester who graduated as a Social Assistant in 2014. Alexandra will take the lead role in the Field Project with initial emphasis and focus on Family Care.
We want to see our support somewhat ‘return to basics’. I remember when I established the Family Care project in Oradea nearly 20 years ago – our desire was to support families at the basic level of need. Food, clothing and medicine. Over the years, our support expanded and at times got quite adventurous with building projects, purchasing washing machines, stoves and other household needs. All valuable support but at times we felt some of the families in greatest need where unable to be helped because of the level of support given to others. It’s a thin line in balancing the situations, but I pray as we explore a ‘new beginning’ – Alexandra will know the support from us all, especially you as sponsors, as we look to rebuild our Family support for those in greatest need.
Please pray for Alexandra as she begins this new adventure with us.
I am delighted to update you on our other two new appointments who are doing tremendously well. Carmen at ECO is manging the centre very well and learning the task better day by day.
Dr Timothy is doing a great job at JFL and has settled in great with Nurses and Carers at JFL as well of course with all the residents.
So, on every other level we are delighted with progress. We had such strong contenders for the Field Project Social Assistant, we have two more staff options on file for future needs when finances permit us to expand in some important areas. So, we will continue to make the best plans we can, but happy to rest in the fact that God’s Plans are always premium, and our endeavour is to just discover His Plan.
Our students from ETSU (East Tennessee State University) have been here almost a month now and are having a great time and proving a popular addition to the team who visit our beneficiaries, day by day. They have also been involved in some important Hand’s-On activities whether painting at ECO, hairdressing for the Homeless or working with plants at the Glasshouse!
We are delighted to have them and confident the experience will be good for all concerned.
Please accept my sincere thanks for your support for our February Smiles Day, that in reality is the entire month! We received some tremendous gifts from fund-raising adventures along with some personal gifts to assist in the more difficult early months. I really appreciate the support and overall felt less financial pressure this year (so far) than we have in previous years. That you very much for that support.
I was also thrilled with support from Broadwater C of E Primary School in Worthing who did an amazing job collecting supplies that came to Romania when our Minibus returned for some mechanical work in England. It’s fantastic how everyone can help in some way, whatever age and whatever the support. A bar of soap is greatly appreciated here and the minibus being full of supplies will bring lots of smiles to many people. We also appreciate Darren Charles giving his time to drive the bus back and forth to Romania and Annette co-ordinating the collections. That you all very much for your support.
It was great to have Ian Steenson out to Romania in February accompanied by our Trustee, Norman Adams. Ian was here discussing the Construction Week project that he will lead for me in May. The team face the challenge of building a House for a family in Mierlau.
Ethel and her three daughters came to our Emergency Housing Unit several years ago having experienced the horror of domestic abuse. More than three years they stayed in EHU which helped to stabilise their lives and provide planning time for the future. Ethel eventually moved from EHU to a Container Home we purchased and placed on a piece of land Smiles also bought giving them some independence and opportunity to grow as a family. The girls are doing great and when I visited them recently, it was amazing to see the eldest girl now in 10th grade of high school, speaking English and excited for the future.
The Construction Trip is attempting to build a house in 7 days – so Ian is here preparing for that and seeing what skills we will need. For sure, we need plenty of hands, so if you haven’t decided yet, take the plunge and sign up for the Construction Week (May 2nd – 9th) and change the world for someone in just a few days!
Don’t forget my promise to those making Mission Trip confirmations by March 31st. You will get the trips at the same price as 2019. There is still time to plan and get your trip confirmed so be sure to contact us if you need any support in making your booking.
I told you last month about my challenge to ‘BBQ for DEZNA’ plans this summer.
I would like as many supporters as possible to arrange a BBQ in your garden or local community with the aim of raising as much money as possible to sponsor Dezna Camps. Many enquiries are coming in for Camps this year in Dezna. It costs £90 / $ 120 a week for a young person to attend Dezna and if they can’t afford it, we want to say ‘Come Anyway’ someone has made it possible!
We have designed flyers and posters to help in your promotion, so order from the office or download here. For more information on organising a BBQ for Dezna, contact us or just get scheduling your BBQ and create excitement for kids in Romania, to share a mountain top experience in Dezna, and hear of the incredible love God has for each and every one of them.
If you don’t fancy the BBQ but want to support ‘Kids to Dezna’ – send or call with your donation quoting ‘Dezna Camps’ to enable more kids to go.
As always, lots to share, but I am pleased to have others helping with the news each month. Do check the ‘Thankful Heart’ video this month. Adi has done another great job in producing that. Also, Maria’s news is always worth a read.
I’ve only another week in Romania before I leave here for America, via England for a few short days. It will be a busy time as I visit several States, sharing the news of Smiles with friends and supporters.
The days seem to fly by, and no doubt March will go even quicker as I spend so many hours on a total of 13 flights this month! I value your prayers and your continued support for the work of God through the Smiles Foundation.
I look forward to reporting more news on April 1st – no joke!
Sincere blessings for all you do.
Chief Executive to The Smiles Foundation