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Christmas at Rapa

“.. most wonderful time..” Luke Wathen, December 2019

“It’s the most wonderful time of the Year!”

Hello everyone,

Now be honest, who read the title and immediately sang it to the tune of the Christmas song? I have every time I sit down to write some more of this article, which is the last one for 2019 already!

As you read this, we are deep into preparations for the fantastic SOS programme (Sack of Smiles) when we have the joy of delivering gifts to children and families who would otherwise receive nothing. It is always such a privilege to see the joy on the children’s faces as they open their bags for the first time!
Sacks of Smiles
But it is always interesting to watch how they do this. Usually, there are two groups that have different ways of enjoying the moment. There are the kids that fully open the draw string bag and up end it all onto the floor in front of them so they can immediately see everything that’s there!

But the second group are more reserved, that’s not to say they enjoy it less, but they want to take their time over it. These kids open the bag a little and usually go through it by selecting on item at a time to take out, look at and maybe even open straight away but not everything at once.

Now in many ways this is of no significance because they all enjoy it no matter which way they open the sacks, but I wonder do we often act more like the first group of kids when it comes to God’s plans and His timing for them or more like the second group?

For myself I know that I’m the child who wants to know everything in one go, or as quickly as possible! Partly because I selfishly want to experience the joy and fulfillment of those plans as soon I can, but equally so I don’t have to worry about when they will happen.

But that doesn’t leave room for faith. Faith and trust in the Lord that He will ensure we experience the full glory of His plans for us but at the right time, His time.

On the other hand, it is just as easy to try and slow God’s plans down so that we can try to micro-manage them. Perhaps wanting to have all the money ready to do something first or wanting to clear our diaries so that we can focus on just that one thing from God, taking one item from the sack at a time.

But again, that does not leave the room for trusting in God’s faithfulness! He knows the smallest detail before we even start, compared to knowing the number of hairs on our heads it’s easy! As many of you who support Smiles will know, we often start the building of projects in faith that the resources will come in from the Lord as we need them.

The key is to have put our faith in the Lord! As long as we do that it doesn’t matter if we sometimes try to rush things or slow them down because either way, like the presents in the children’s SOS, God’s plans and blessings are there and won’t disappear.
Have faith in Him and faith that what He says to do is right. After Christmas is obviously the New Year and how many of us make resolutions then? Why not this Year call them God’s resolutions for you. Ask Him what they can be for you and then implement them. But be ready to do some challenging things because He will surprise you. It maybe ‘you’ that He calls to come and serve in Romania.

During November I have been presenting up and down the mainland of the UK, whilst Kevin has been across the whole UK. The Forum’s that we both spoke at were wonderfully positive! Whether I spoke with well-known friends who have supported Smiles for years or with new friends who were at a Smiles presentation for the first time, I came away feeling encouraged and looking forward to the future.

In the Forum presentation, Kevin spoke about many of our projects. Moreover, he did them in a chronological order so that a clear timeline of the progression of the work in Romania was visible. This was amazing to take in because it was not just a timeline of the hard work and the number of people being helped in Romania but also a timeline of the amazing Call we have from God and the support we have from the UK and America.

Everywhere we went, people were remembering projects at various stages of completion and telling stories of what they did on a Mission Trip; building, painting, gardening and then spending time with the people who became beneficiaries.

From my point of view, it was even more interesting because I got to hear stories from before I ever came to Smiles, about the building of Tileagd or the early visits on the Family Care project. I will admit, I do feel a pang of envy that I wasn’t there for those times, but I need to remember to have faith in God’s plans and timing. I could not have helped with those projects but I can now and have done in Rapa, Gepiu, Tileagd Assisted Living and more recently, in Dezna.

Can you help us too? You might be in the Smiles timeline already, or you may have only just heard about us. You can help in a way that is unique to you!

During September and now in November, I have been presenting to many different groups of people that have great interest in Smiles. Firstly, I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone I have met and shared with. I would like to name you all, because not only were my meetings with you positive, they were encouraging to me, but as not all the meetings were public presentations, I’ll not mention all of you by name online!

Audacious Church, Manchester
Wigton Methodist Church
St Thomas Ripley C of E Academy
Emmanuel Church, Redditch
Gorsley Baptist Church

Thank you for your kind invitations, for presentations and meetings it is always a privilege and a pleasure to represent Smiles and be granted the opportunity to share with you.

For the people I have met in November, and before that too, and yet to meet in January, February and March, everyone at Smiles is praying that you will become part of the Smiles timeline. For you it might be the very beginning, hearing about Smiles and then coming on a Mission Trip for the first time, it will be a life changing event!

Alternatively, you may have been part of the Smiles timeline since the start in 1990 or at any point between then and now. Everyone can contribute in unique ways to the work here in Romania and receive special blessings from the Lord as we seek to further His Kingdom and share His love.

I will finish this last report of 2019 by saying I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and I look forward to seeing you and working with you in 2020 as we move on to the next part of the Smiles timeline in faith, that God has already planned.

Luke Wathen

UK Development Ambassador
The Smiles Foundation

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