What a beautiful month September has been as we experienced so many blessings day by day.
It has remained very busy even though our Summer Mission Trips officially ended, but the month started with the departure of the Worthing Team (pictured below) as the last of the summer but it was such a fantastic week with a team who worked so hard and expressed the Love of God in such beautiful ways. It was a wonderful week to finish up such a busy summer.
Whilst we had the chance to catch breath a little, as we had no team the first week of September, there was lots of planning to do for the weeks and months ahead. It feels so wonderful these days to have a Smiles Staff Team so focused and committed to the work, sharing the burden and responsibilities between us, whilst at the same time, ensuring through it all that people are touched with the Living Hope of the Gospel. It is so refreshing and inspiring to feel the freedom that comes when the team commitment is united in purpose. I’m thankful to God for the position that has been reached this year.
Within a week, we had a team from America arriving which included 3 Eye Doctors who would be operating clinics every day in a different location. Drs Jim & Donna Watts were back for their bi-annual visit and once again, with the help of their team, served over 500 patients during the week. Dr Elizabeth Dennery (another Eye Doctor from Atlanta) joined them for her first trip and Ann Cowan, our Scottish Ambassador, joining the trip for her first time on a Medical Eye Care Mission. Everyone loved the opportunity, and of course every day, some of the team got to do our more regular projects and such was the impact, the Jacksonville FL group and already planning to return next year!
The team spent two days in Dezna. The first major outreach project of the Dezna Centre. Nearly 100 people came through the Casa Torch facility receiving Eye Examinations and glasses or medicine as needed. The second day the Eye Clinic set up in the local Rehabilitation Hospital and served just over 100 patients, doctors and staff within the hospital. One man said to us, with all his thanks and appreciation along with a big smile “You are the first people who have done anything for me since the revolution”! Now that was 28 years ago, so he might have forgotten a few good things, but the sentiment was understood. He was so thankful we had gone to help him and his community who often feel forgotten. I’m thankful Dezna Outreach Centre is allowing us another opportunity to share God’s Love.
Great progress has been made in Dezna this past month. Wonderful support has been received which has enabled us to progress rapidly.
As you may know, Dezna will be dedicated to the memory of Barbara Morrison on our Dedication Opening Day, God Willing – some time next year. Sam Morrison designated all gifts in lieu of flowers from Barbara’s funeral to the Dezna Project and over £8,000 ($10,400) was sent to us from the Funeral Directors and a further £4,000 ($5,200) was received direct at the UK Office. Then a special gift of £10,000 ($13,000) was received for the Dezna Roof, in memory of Barbara. A total support for the Dezna Outreach Centre of £22,000 ($28,600). Absolutely amazing and my heartfelt thanks to all who contributed.
I confess to imagining Barbara saying “Come on – only £78,000 ($101,400) to go. We can do it!”
As a result, this month we have replaced the entire roof with brand new tiles on the Casa Torch building and connecting old ‘Poet House’. Holes in the roof have been repaired and broken tiles have all been replaced and entire new drainage gutters and pipes have been installed. We also have 3 more floors laid as rotten wood has gone and new concrete floors are in. Just 2 more floors to do – are you able to help?
I’m hoping we can get them done this month and we’ll have achieved some major objectives before winter sets in, for which we thank God and give all the praise and honour to Him. Support Dezna.
It is also a very busy period now at the Farm and Glasshouse. Harvesting all the crops on the Farm looks exciting as we believe it has been a very productive year. The Glasshouse is a frantic bee-hive of activity every day. In September we had 80,000 Hyacinth bulbs delivered for Christmas distribution, and this month we have 500,000 (yes, I got the zeros correct) – half a million bulbs for the springtime . It’s amazing to think it is only 4 years ago we started with bulbs and grew 20,000 in our first year. Each year the numbers increased to 40,000, then 100,000, last year 220,000 and now 580,000. Simona is doing an amazing job of developing the Business that enables greater self-sustainability within Smiles. The 10,000 Poinsettias are looking good and this week 100,000 primroses are being planted for the spring.
We have also made a significant commitment to our transport needs within Sminro. Last year we spent £20,000 ($26,000) on renting trucks for deliveries, so this month we have purchased our own 7.5 tonne truck and 3.5 tonne panel van. It’s all go in Arpasel and we ask for your continued prayers for all that is planned within our Enterprise Initiative.
In September we hosted our third Pastor’s Conference with 7 Pastor’s from the UK joining us for an intense week of exploring the place of Mission. Our Trustee, Mike Wildsmith, led daily devotions on mobilising churches for Mission and partnership with Mission Organisations. It was a powerful week and I believe God will do great things as a result. My sincere thanks to all involved and I look forward to greater partnership in the future.
As the pastors left, 8 folks arrived from America for an exploratory visit to Smiles and Romania to see what future partnerships could be established across the Atlantic. Smiles is proud to be a partner with Fellowship Travel International (FTI) who had organised the trip. We are in the middle of the trip now, so I will hopefully report more next month.
We have 3 very busy weeks of Mission Trips in October, with another 67 visitors to welcome. We are also still having folk join the Christmas Trips – December 8th – 15th & 15th – 22nd.
It’s also thrilling that weeks are being booked for 2019 – so as both Luke and Annette report this month, get your dates secured soon. Both reports talk about Mission Trip opportunities – so please take time to read the new Volunteer Corner from Annette and Luke for Development Plans.
Well, before we get too removed from the success of the summer, I’m pleased Adi decided to feature the busy summer in his web report this month. Packed with information, so be sure to take a read as you are able.
Likewise, Maria has been busy in September gearing up for a new academic year at the School and Nursery along with a busy month at the Tileagd church which had 5 baptisms and an ever-growing congregation. Read Maria’s report for a fuller update. My prayer is that very soon we will be able to appoint a Children’s Worker for the Tileagd Church and establish a weekly Sunday School, plus outreach opportunities through the week. Join us in praying for God’s chosen person to come and for His people to partner with us to fund the needs.
In response to my appeal last month for skilled teams to help with various projects, we already have a Building company owner coming out in October to see what 5 or 6 of his employees could do to help. We need Builders, Plasterers, Plumbers, those experienced with Flooring, Tiling and Painting. So much work, particularly at our newest Project – The Dezna Outreach Centre – but also in Rapa, Arpasel and other locations where Smiles operates.
Opportunities exist every month for our Construction PST – so if you have a skill and want to serve God with it, contact us now and we’ll work it out for next month or next year – whichever is convenient for you.
As I mentioned before, I was in Northern Ireland on September 18th to begin formulating our future development plans for the Province. It was a very successful day and now I’m looking forward to being back November 19th – 23rd for the full week, to meet with everyone interested in being part of our future plans with Smiles in Northern Ireland. The itinerary is as follows, and if you can join us please check detailed information from me, the office or on our Events page. As details are available, they will be posted there.
Monday November 19th Ballymena
Tuesday November 20th Ballymoney
Wednesday November 21st Artigarvan
Thursday November 22nd Richhill
Friday November 23rd Belfast
If you would like to meet me individually or with a small group during the daytime, please write to me and I’ll schedule whatever is possible to have a full and beneficial time in the Province.
With so much news this month, I don’t want to forget to update you on the top 3 projects needing support based on need this month. As per 2018 support to end of August, needs are:
1. Residential Care through Oradea, Salonta and Tileagd achieved 89% of the income needed for its operational budget. Therefore, we had approximately £39,717 ($51,632) budget deficit for the first eight months of the year. Support Residential Care.
2. Gepiu Community Project achieved 80% income towards its operational budget. This leaves approximately £2,965 ($3,854) budget deficit. Support Gepiu.
3. Pastoral Support & Outreach Projects received 61% of its required budget, leaving a deficit of £2,435 ($3,166) for the first eight months. Support Pastoral & Outreach.
I am delighted with the progress being made in our financial situation and thank you for on-going support month by month. It was great to see more fund-raising being done last month and nearly £400 ($520) was raised at a coffee morning hosted by our Kilmarnock friends in Scotland. We also had £1,000 ($1,300) raised from a BBQ and the 3 Peaks Challenge by supporters from Wigton Methodist Church.
Thank you for all you do to support the Smiles Foundation through prayer, financial giving and practical work. I look forward to sharing again in November on an action packed October!
Sincere blessings on you all.
Chief Executive to The Smiles Foundation