It’s a pleasure and a joy to be writing to you this month from the ‘Sunshine’ State of Florida.
I actually started this update in Louisiana where I spent 5 beautiful days updating our many friends on the work of Smiles, as well as presenting the opportunities to many new folk. It’s been my normal ‘whistle stop’ tour across several States having started up in colder Pennsylvania (but God was good holding off the snow showers until I had passed through!).
Then I was in Maryland, Washington DC area before heading to Virginia and onto more familiar territory of Kingsport, Tennessee.
In all these places it has been wonderful to see friends I’ve known for 30 years and many of them have supported Mission Projects for as long as I’ve been committed to them. Truly amazing and such a blessing to have people this committed for so many years. After Tennessee, I headed to Atlanta and was able to meet up with friends I’ve only known a year, following their visit to Romania on a Medical Mission Trip in September 2018.
After a lot of driving from Pittsburgh PA to Atlanta GA, it was nice to get back on a plane for the 530 mile trip to Baton Rouge LA. Although I had done more than twice that in the car the previous week! The only down side was that I was no longer in control of my luggage, and sure enough, Delta Airlines managed to lose my case between Atlanta and Baton Rouge!! After some frantic calling and chasing Baggage Departments, they finally found it and delivered it to me 36 hours late. But as my mother always said “Better late than never”. I was so thankful to have got my case as some of the contents were not so easy to just go out and replace at the shops. I managed to get a couple of new shirts to see me through, but Macy’s, which was right opposite my hotel, didn’t have the Smiles range of shirts I’m accustomed to wearing. So, I had to buy what you might call ‘regular’ shirts which probably surprised a few people on Sunday morning!!
A very busy schedule for sure, but so wonderful to be encouraged by so many who love what God is doing through the Smiles Foundation in Romania. I have also been reminded how blessed I am to have had the honour of serving God through this work for so many years now. So many friends across the world and certainly so many blessings through knowing them all.
Now I’ve arrived in Jacksonville FL – somewhat a sense of my second home as I’m hosted by friends I am privileged to know – Dr.s Jim & Donna Watts. They have been faithfully serving through Medical Mission Trips for many years now. As Eye doctors they have been able to bless hundreds of people in Romania who could not afford to see a doctor or buy the glasses being prescribed. What a joy to spend a few days with them, encouraging each other in the Lord and anticipating together what God will do next to ‘bless our socks off’. I am looking forward to spending a few days sharing the work with Christ’s Church, one of our major supporting churches here in America. They have another Team coming to Romania this October!
We have teams coming from Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Louisiana and Florida along with many coming from the United Kingdom. 2019 has got off to the quickest start for booking trips to Romania than any year probably since 2008. Isn’t that amazing? We are expecting a fantastic year with so many exciting plans to be launched and we will see hundreds impacted for Christ and the Gospel and I’m very excited about it.
As you will no doubt imagine, there is a great deal of activity going on in Romania for this special year and we have some important announcements to share.
One very important emphasis we are making this year is on Outreach. Not only through our Churches in Tileagd and Rapa – but also through the COP’s (VBS/HBC) programme being prepared for Mission Trips this year. Then of course we also have the opening of Dezna Outreach Centre. Nearly 3 years work will have been invested in Dezna by Smiles and many years before that by Torch Trust. Finally, the facility will be ready and ‘Casa Torch’ (the ‘Light House’) will be open for Camps this summer. Over 200 children are already booked, and we start June 29th for the first week of many.
Ioana from Gepiu will be heading up the Camps on site but with support and guidance from Adi who is taking on a new role, officially announced today, as Director of Ministry for Smiles. Moving aside a little from Field Projects, other than in an advisory role, Adi will be taking much greater responsibility for all areas of Outreach and Teaching Ministry within the Foundation. We thank God for his commitment and abilities and trust we will see great blessing in the months and years to come. In this, his tenth year of employment in Smiles, I believe it is very appropriate for him to take this step up and I’m excited for the potential we have for the future. Be sure to take a read of Adi’s report this month.
A significant amount of work has been done in Dezna on construction as we attempt to finalise the facility for operation this summer. We have some practical working folk coming out on Mission next month (April 13th – 20th) to work at Dezna.
We need all sorts of skills, so if you could consider a week helping us, drop me an e-mail or call the office now as it’s not too late to book.
We plan to have all the Construction finished by sometime in May – but then we have to furnish and equip the facility and that takes a lot of shopping! In fact, we anticipate up to £30,000 / $40,000 of shopping and we have spent out on construction, so need help with the equipping budget. You might be able to help us so take a look at the Shopping List and perhaps send a donation for a specified part of the list. Donate in £s Donate in $s
We also need to under-write the cost of the 200 kids we have coming this summer. £70/$90 per child to have a week of Camp in Dezna. Could you help sponsor a child to attend Camp. I believe it could change their life, such a small investment to make for such a potentially impacting outcome. If you can help, donate you gift now and designate it to ‘Dezna Camps’. Support Dezna Camps & Outreach
It is going to be an amazing place where many will come to find the ‘plan and purpose’ God has for their life. Please join us in making this dream a reality.
Lots is continuing to happen in our established projects. As a result of Adi’s changing role, we are currently seeking a new person for Field Projects to work with Alina. Maria has reported this month on some great activities at our School and Nursery. Be sure to take a read.
We also have our new ‘Thankful Heart’ video from a resident at our ECO facility. (Elderly Care Oradea). Enjoy the video, pictures and write up on Elisabeta Varadi. These people who cannot afford the care and services they receive at our centres can only continue to benefit from it if we receive the support needed for them. Whatever you can give to assure Elisabeta is not alone will be gratefully received and enable ECO to continue providing the Christ Loving Care we all consider so vitally important. Support Elderly Care
Please also continue praying for Luke Wathen who is doing a great job in England and Scotland sharing the work of Smiles to churches, schools and interested groups. He’s had a busy few months in the UK, but heads back to Romania later this month to continue his wonderful service for Mission Trip guests. You’ll see just what a great job he does if you come on a Mission Trip to Romania.
How about it? Not too late to plan your trip for 2019, although several are already planning their trip in 2020! Whether you come alone, as a family, school or church – be sure to come. I truly believe you will love the experience and it could truly change your life.
Call the office or e-mail for further details now. If you’re not familiar with our Mission Trips – take a look at our webpage: Hands On Mission Trip Experience.
We continue to receive a wonderful response to those applying to be part of the Official Opening of Dezna Outreach Centre the weekend of September 28th/29th, 2019.
Don’t forget – there are two options on offer for attending the Official Opening.
The 4-Day weekend – arrive Friday September 27th and return Monday September 30th.
Or the 9-Day Mission Trip – arrive Saturday September 21st and return Monday September 30th.
Please contact the Smiles office UK: 0113-276-5060 / USA: 423-239-9525 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on booking. Don’t forget, anyone booked on another Smiles Mission Trip, anytime in 2019, will receive a voucher for free attendance for the 4-Day Official Opening weekend.
The Smiles Day focused in February was another opportunity to raise some extra financial support that is so greatly needed. I was thrilled with so many folks taking the challenge and raising some significant sums towards our projects. Thank you everyone who made the effort and if you didn’t get involved but would still like to help, send your gift to Smiles which can be designated as you wish. You can call the office to use a card or go online for making your donation.
I thank you all for being part of the Smiles Family – for partnering with us to make a difference to the people of Romania through the Love of God. Thank you for your prayers which we feel every day. Please continue helping us achieve the very best possible for the people and situations we all care most about.
I look forward to being back in Romania later this month and catching up on all the work I’ve missed while travelling America.
Sincere blessings on you all.
Chief Executive to
The Smiles Foundation