After the celebrations and excitement of the Official Dezna Opening at the end of September, I truly thought October would be a quiet month and an opportunity to take breath and even relax a little. How wrong I was!
October has been a very demanding month. In part playing ‘catch up’ after several issues were left unattended in the preparations for the Dezna Opening. Then also being busy but thrilled to have another 25 people on Mission Trips at the same time as looking always to the future and making plans for the development of Smiles.
Finishing touches were made to arrangements for the November Forums being held in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England. I am very excited to be back on the road with plenty to share about the highlight of this year and the new Project in Dezna and many new plans for next year. I confidently believe 2020 is to be a very special year for the Smiles Foundation. I don’t know all the reasons for my optimism but I truly sense the Blessings of God are about to pour out on lots of plans as we have presented them to Him and now have a sense of Him delivering the answers – and I’m truly excited.
I have also managed to finalise my entire American trip for March 2020. Again, it is very exciting to see the opportunities on the calendar. I shall be visiting Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida and Louisiana. Many are our ‘anchor’ churches, as I call them, who have supported us for many years and it is so humbling to see their support continue when there are so many other opportunities for them to consider.
I am very thankful for them and many individuals, who stick with their commitment. Smiles is an organisation that makes commitment to people in need, communities, facilities and staff based on the support we receive from many. Such commitment from Smiles is not the sort that can stop and start at whim. When we commit to do something, we have to think for years, not months. When people start to support us through a project that has implications on people, families – whether beneficiaries or staff – we need them to be committed for years, not months. There will always be some who stop and move elsewhere, but I am truly thankful to those who stick to the vision for the long-term and so are the hundreds of people we help day by day and the 125 Romanian staff we commit to employ month by month.
I look forward to visiting supporters and churches in the UK and America who share this desire to commit for the long-term and enable things to change fundamentally for the better, not just quick fixes and superficially. Without a doubt, committing to support for the long term is not easy. But I believe just as Jesus referred to the ‘cost’ of following Him, so the ‘cost’ of supporting ministry, with all the ups and downs that are to be experienced along the way – requires a similar commitment and discipline.
Luke 9: 62 Jesus said; “No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
As challenging as it is sometimes, we must be focused and committed. We must put our hand to the plough and not look back. Many times in Smiles I have felt something is too tough or not getting the results desired and I wanted to quit – but I am always reminded of these words of Jesus. Then I stick at it, get my head up and by trusting Him for strength and continued vision – I have been able to see the results that God will bring to those faithful to His Call.
So “Thank You” to you all who stick with us and I look forward to sharing some great news and results as I travel the UK and America in the coming months.
One of the costs of building infrastructure, rather than just dealing with emergency relief, is the cost of maintenance. I remember 15 years ago needing to raise more than £1million / $1.5million to build the Tileagd Community Complex. That was such an exciting project, and thanks be to God for similar projects we have undertaken with similar budgets whether the Farm & Glasshouse in Arpasel or the Joint Facility of Love in Salonta. People really enjoy and get excited to see new developments going up brick by brick and then enjoy the Opening Celebrations and the people arriving to benefit from the facility.
People are not so excited when maintenance needs to happen. Such as a new Boiler that is needed in the Tileagd Complex. Just a couple of weeks before Dezna Opening, the Boiler at Tileagd blew up. Or at least sprung leaks that condemned it to scrap metal and required a £20,000 ($26,000) replacement. Once again, people who had been so generous in enabling Dezna to be completed were digging deep again to help replace the Boiler.
At Ballynahinch Presbyterian Church, a ‘Boiler Challenge’ was launched asking people to donate £10 ($15). They aimed to raise £1,000 ($1,500) with 100 sponsors. They actually got 160 sponsors raising over £1,600 ($2,400). Other supporters have been very generous in helping us secure the new boiler, some with loans on favourable terms but they need repaying at some point, so please continue to give to support the Boiler or consider a special fund-raiser to help the challenge.
In faith, we ordered the new Boiler and it will be installed this month. The 38 residents of Tileagd Assisted Living and 48 children at the School will be very thankful for your kindness as they face the colder days of winter. Thank you for your faithful support as we continue the work started so many years ago.
Other people are gearing up for special support through fund-raising efforts ready for Christmas.
SOS (Sack of Smiles) is critically important to be supported so as to enable us to bring the Good News of Christmas – the Birth of Jesus – through gifts this December.
Marion in South Wales has done a wonderful job taking the lease of an empty shop and selling items for Christmas to donate the proceeds to Smiles. The product looks truly beautiful and I’m humbled by the effort people go to ensuring we can continue sharing the Good News here in Romania. Treasures for Smiles Glynneath
Please make your special gift for the Christmas programme now so we can plan accordingly and have supplies ready for December.
It is not so long now before we’ll be in the New Year – but we are already having to plan so much for the year ahead. The interest in Mission Trips is very encouraging for both regular trips as well as the Specials scheduled for 2020. All have a lot of interest.
Having last month added the Ladies Week (October 10th – 17th), this month there is a new special being considered – Horticultural Week for August 29th – September 5th. The week will be led by an associate of RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) and will be focused on installing Activity Gardens in some of our Projects to encourage those within the programme to work more with the beauty of flowers.
If you would like more information on any of our Mission Trips, contact us for practical help with every aspect needed for you, your family or team. E-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or
Telephone the office. (UK:0113-276-5060 / USA: 423-239-9525)
Get in touch and fix the date. Get prepared for a fantastic experience of outreach and encouragement to those who need it most in Romania.
Many plans are being worked on for next year. Not only Mission Trips, but within our projects there are some major new developments being prayed about at this time.
Exciting opportunities are being developed within Smiles. I can’t go into all the detail here at this time, but I will share a lot more as I travel while giving the presentations over the coming weeks. Be sure not to miss a presentation if near you. I would be delighted to see you and share all the latest news.
After a break last month, I am pleased to have Maria back with an update this month and another ‘Thankful Hearts’ Video featuring our Residential Facility in Oradea. Adi has once again done a good job, capturing the spirit and the needs of ECO and those that now call it home and Smiles their family. Take time as you can to read and update yourself on all the news.
Thank you for keeping your hand to the plough and partnering with Smiles for the eternal impact on people here in Romania.
Sincere blessings to you all.
Chief Executive to The Smiles Foundation