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Luke painting at JFL

Luke’s News September 2020

Hello everyone,

It has been a very busy month here in Romania, just not in the usual way for this time of year! Normally, August is one of the most fully booked periods for Mission trips but this year, we still await our first guests.
Obviously, we all know the reasons for that and I’m not going to be focusing there! So many things are happening here that are far better for us to focus on and far more positive.

Firstly, I’m sure many of you saw the update on Facebook early August, that had the wonderful news of the baptisms in Mierlau. I had the privilege of being there to see Ramona, Simona and Mugurel make their public confession of faith in front of their family and friends. I’m sure you, like everyone here, are thanking God and celebrating this fantastic occasion and are continuing to pray for the three of them as they commit to this new journey of faith. Please take the time to watch the Thankful Hearts video this month as Adi has spent time talking to them!
Moreover, please pray for the House group that they meet with in Mierlau led by Pastor Vasile and Ioan Has. We all know that fellowship and worshiping together is a tremendous support to us as Christians and I pray this group will be blessed as they learn and worship together.

Being able to physically gather in Church and worship is something that I had really missed before I returned to Smiles. Here Kevin, Maria and I have attended the Tileagd Community Church on Sundays and despite the differences, with masks and social distancing, it has refreshed me. Although many Churches in the UK have had great success with online and streamed services, it isn’t the same, in my opinion, as meeting together in person.

You won’t be surprised to hear that there is plenty of hard work to be done across the Smiles projects at the moment. What’s new I here you ask? In some ways, it seems like more than usual because we are missing our fantastic Mission trippers who help with so many tasks and always so enthusiastically. Your contributions each year enable Smiles to continue to operate at the high standard we aim for, thank you!

Over the past few weeks, I have been redecorating the resident’s rooms in JFL One. This was always going to be a priority for this summer because the rooms did need a fresh coat of paint and the difference it can make is surprising. Just reapplying the colours can make the rooms seem lighter and refreshed. There is something very satisfying about standing back at the end of the day and seeing the finished room, even more so when the residents say that it looks good and thank me for doing it.
Painting and JFL
So far, the top floor of JFL 1 has all of the residential rooms finished with just four left on the ground floor. But that still leaves the hallways, the TV room and the dining room. In other words, plenty more work and plenty more opportunities for me to get paint on my infamous, multi-coloured t-shirt!

As I have been moving from room to room, I notice again the plaques next to doors that recognize the amazing work done by lots of people to sponsor the building of each room. Just reading them all as I go, I can’t fail to notice the range of people from many countries and locations who have given time, effort and money to make this Centre possible!

Here are the plaques from the rooms painted so far:
JFL Plaques
Of course, these have been up for a long time as the JFL first phase was finished in October 2013 but that should not mean that we can’t look back on the process that made it and most importantly say thank you for the support that was given. This is because although it was a long time ago and some of the wonderful people who supported these rooms may sadly no longer be with us, but the rooms are being used to help people day in and day out.

Of course, that is the purpose of them, but each room is home to many different residents at different times over the years and will be for somebody new in the future. The impact and the blessing of support for these rooms is having a knock-on effect of helping elderly residents live in comfort and peace, some of them for the first time in their lives. Thank you, to you all, for being part of it, from the start through to today – 7 years later!

Obviously this is just one example of long term help within Smiles projects, the wall of ‘Dreamer’s Plaques’ in the Tileagd Complex is another, and we aim for and pray for there to be more added in the future as God reveals His plans to us.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2020, there is still a lot of uncertainty as there are so many things changing on a daily or weekly basis, like travel guidelines for example. But despite that, we have some excellent news, that we have our first Mission trip guests of the year in Cihei right now!
Mission Trips start
Lynda and Sam Thompson and their friend Anne-Marie are here from Northern Ireland to work hard and provide expert knowledge on several areas relating to Polytunnel construction and horticultural work in the Glasshouse. We hope and pray that we will be able to follow up this first trip with more in the coming months.

Moreover, next year we aim to be having Mission trips as normal and we are very happy to look ahead with you and organize dates and bookings so that you can join us in 2021.

Dawn at the Leeds office is working hard on this, as always, and would love to help you arrange a trip and hopefully some people to come within a group maybe from your Church or school or circle of friends.

Let’s make 2021 the year of Mission trips! After the disruption of 2020 and being forced to wait to return and see friends, we can welcome as many of you as possible to Cihei and over the year, bless people here as we work alongside them in the Lord’s name. This could be the prime opportunity to come with that friend, family member or group of people that have shown interest or you have wanted to invite for a long time.

A Mission trip in 2021 is the way to celebrate the relaxing of travel restrictions and more importantly the relationships within the Smiles family that extend over long distances but remain strong.

Thank you and I pray that God will continue to bless you and keep you safe!

Luke Wathen
UK Development Ambassador
The Smiles Foundation

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