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Luke’s News, June 2020

Hello everyone,

I hope you are well as you take a few minutes to read this!

I am currently enjoying a few relaxed days after a rather energetic 32 days! Believe it or not, I thoroughly enjoyed cycling the 1577 miles from Leeds to Cihei, it became a part of my everyday routine.


One of the typical days during the Cycle Challenge involved me completing 20-25 miles before breakfast then, working at my local Co-op supermarket, on a temporary contract until can fly back to Romania, I then finish the second 20-25 miles after my shift and dinner.

Now, I don’t tell you this for any other reason than to lead into a massive thank you to you all! When I had to cycle after a 9 hour shift, my energy and enthusiasm often needed a boost, and your support and encouragement on Facebook and in messages was the perfect boost!

I greatly appreciated all your messages and the times you followed my updates on Facebook each evening. I apologise for not responding to each of them individually, but please know that I am thankful to all of you and could not have completed the challenge without your support!


Moreover, you have enabled the Food Program to continue with Smiles staff going to families and communities delivering food. Between Kevin, Dawn, Lynda (Peppa Pig) and myself, people have supported our cycling challenge with donations over £10,000 ($13,000) to help people in these difficult times!

Thank you and God bless you for all your help, you are a blessing to so many people in Romania.Luke's Cycle Challenge Route

But I don’t want to forget the process of completing the cycle challenge now that it is over. It was tough at the beginning, getting used to long distances and having aches in muscles I didn’t know could ache. But the process of doing it and the feeling of achievement upon completion did have interesting points that I have learned from.

Number one, I can actually complete a physical challenge of this kind. At the end of the first day I had so many aches but gradually I got used to it. To emphasise this point, on the 1st day I cycled 15 miles in an hour but by the 31st day I managed 30 miles in 1 hour, 10 minutes. Perseverance, with support, can lead to meeting targets you didn’t think you could!

Number two, taking the time to cycle, actually gives you time to think in quiet without being distracted. It’s taking some time out from the busy day and for me doing this at the start of the day, around 7am, was a lovely time when the temperature was cool and I could steadily wake up.

Number three, is how well a fundraiser can generate interest in what you are doing and the charity it supports. On top of the amazing support from people who know Smiles well, which is constantly a blessing, I have had friends, people at work and strangers asking questions about what I’m doing and what is the Smiles Foundation? Of course, as soon as they have asked, I have no problem talking to them about Smiles and any aspect of the work in Romania, in fact the trick is stopping me before the “cows come home”!
Food delivery

These three things may seem obvious to you, but the impact of them and how we use them in our future endeavours, can enable more to be done. Then add the key element, God’s provision, and anything can happen. Initially, my target for this challenge was £3000.00, Kevin and Dawn’s was £900.00 each. The totals are currently £4,454 for me, Kevin’s is over £2,600 and Dawn’s £1,800!

We can aim high, try hard and succeed – but with God on your side, that success can be multiplied in a miraculous way!

Please consider whether you could aim high with a fundraiser, it doesn’t have to be a mad physical challenge like my one, it could be artistic, musical or food related. But see what could come from your effort and God’s provision!

A very positive aspect to come from this unexpected time of crisis, has been the amount of ‘firsts’ we have experienced. I am delighted to say there is going to be another ‘Smiles First’ in the month of June.Kevin on Zoom

Specifically, on Saturday June 6th at 5pm UK GMT – Kevin and some of the Smiles Staff will be launching our first Webinar Style Gathering and inviting you, the Smiles family, to join us in an informal way. I won’t repeat all of the details that Kevin has on his update this month, but I will say that this is going to be a wonderful opportunity for us all to come together virtually and get an insight to recent weeks and plans for the future! It will be a perfect chance to ask questions on a number of topics and get answers from Kevin and others so that the whole Smiles family can find out how things are during these strange times and how things will progress in the latter half of the year!

To finish with, I am also going to be launching another event in the near future. But this time I will be enjoying a good cup of coffee and a slice of cake! I think I’ve earned it after the cycling! The Smiles Virtual Coffee Morning will be a great chance for us to come together on Zoom and share some time together, with great refreshments, and chat about things too. I am thinking July 4th 10am GMT!


To begin setting this up, I will need a good indication of how many of you would like to be part of this get together. Zoom is a great way of video meeting, very clear to see and hear each other but Smiles would need to invite you to the Coffee Morning with specific details and a password, which I am happy to sort out, but please let me know so that you don’t miss it. Write to me at luke.wathen@thesmilesfoundation.org, and I’ll have your e-mail address for the invitation.


My aim will be to have a good catch-up and raise some money for Smiles as we donate the cost of coffee and cake and maybe we’ll have some other specials to announce. !! Don’t miss it.

Luke and Wizzair!!
Initially, Kevin and I were hoping we would be back in Romania to do this but sadly, and somewhat frustratingly, Wizz air have cancelled all flights until the June 17th. Whilst much has been accomplished here with fundraising and presentations, mainly before the lockdown with the latter, we have both been desperate to return to Smiles and help to keep things running as smoothly as possible despite the challenging times. Our staff there are exceptional and have gone above and beyond with their commitment and effort to help people in our projects. But I can’t wait to help them!


Plus, when we do get to travel, it will be helpful to see the changes that have had to happen in that process and how it affects travellers to Romania from the UK. Once Kevin and I know, we will use that experience and knowledge to help make our Mission trips, which we definitely want and need to happen as soon as it is safe, as seamless and accessible as possible.

We thoroughly look forward to welcoming you to, or back to, Smiles Romania!

I look forward to talking with you during the ‘Smiles Family Open House’ on June 6th and hopefully seeing you in Cihei later this year, in the meantime stay safe and God bless you all!


Many thanks

Luke Wathen
UK Development Ambassador
The Smiles Foundation

Luke.wathen@thesmilesfoundation.org

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