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The power of LOVE… and nothing else!

John 15:12

Maria – July 2018

On the morning of June 26th a phone call from Leeds office, telling me that my friend, my Smiles family member, Barbara Morrison was on a hospital bed and the doctors can’t do a lot for her, left me speechless, no words – just a lot of tears! I could not believe it! Was way too much for me to understand, let alone to accept! Apart from the tears the only thing that I could do was to pray! And I did it with all my heart!

Today too I pray for a total healing and recovery and I’m sure my God will listen to my prayers! Why? BECAUSE HE LOVES BARBARA. A LOT! And because He is soooo proud of her He will make a way where there seems to be no way!

For me Barbara is a great example of God’s hands and feet in this world! She ALWAYS encourages people and prays for them! When she told me I pray for you I knew that she will! Whenever I needed her she was at the other end of the telephone! A great example of God’s love in this sinful, lost world! A world that is drifting more and more each day from the purpose of why it was created.

Even since I’ve heard the shocking news I was wondering – why Barbara? And I think that the answer is “because she is strong IN God”. She was ALWAYS READY to meet Him. I’m aware we all have ups and downs but being constant in all things is so difficult for us. Not for Barbara! For her the order was clear and she said it loud through everything she does. Her priorities are God, Sam and Smiles.
Barbara and Sam
So my dear friend Barbara, this month Sam will read all the updates for you but next month I’m sure you will do it. I just want you to know that you mean a lot to me and I can’t imagine this world without you. I can’t wait to see you again dear friend! Until then, rest, relax and we keep you updated! My able assistant Stefan said that he will step in and help me while the “aunty” is away!

Before 26th of June my report was called CONFESSION TIME! And I wanted to tell you how hard I find these days working with people and that I need extra powerful prayer! During my 14 years of serving in Smiles I had lots of key people that were there for me to have support and be mentored and I MISS THEM!

I miss Stephen Woodward every time I talk or do something on the educational side, I miss Dave Clark to do construction lists and scheduling that were always done so bright and coloured in order to make the construction job more enjoyable. I miss the devotionals from Scott Suskovic that each summer lifted me up and recharged my battery. I miss John Schwab with his calm attitude and positive thinking! And MY LIST CAN go on and on with a lot of names that impacted my life over the years!!
Stephen Woodward
Of course, we miss people when they die, but even when they are still alive if they are no longer part of your daily life, you miss them. Stephen is in our memory as a man who did such life-changing things in Smiles, but so did Dave, Scott and John – just that now they have other things to do. After so many years of active service in Smiles, they have moved on to other things. That’s OK. That’s good (for the other things) but I still miss them.

What I do not miss are the people that betray me, disappoint me, let me down. BUT I already forgive them as God forgives my mistakes so many times and I’m working on forgetting too! For that God needs to give me a bit more instruction!  And this year I had a few that did that! Some I have already shared with you, some are deep in my heart.

I never understood why people can’t work in harmony together! Why there is always a need for ‘competition’ or ‘not wanting to be under authority’. I include myself too in this because I am far from perfect in this area! Always quick to criticise others who are in authority, those who have great responsibility in their life, yet we can always criticise how they do it, but are never willing to do it ourselves. Most of the time we are not capable of doing the job, but it is so much easier to criticise from the side-line.

I said to one of my ex Smiles colleagues in a recent e mail, that as long as the poor people benefit from the help we are all giving through the work of our organisations, GOD IS GLORIFIED – not people! But when we try to ‘mess it up or make it more difficult than it is already’ it feels everything is messed up. Many lessons to learn everyday and I believe this is why God allows difficulties in our lives – to teach us more and make us stronger disciples.

I can’t believe half of 2018 is gone! I hope and pray that this “next half” will be better because I need some sunshine not only clouds. Both in my life and in my Smiles projects!

I need it in Tileagd! I’ve not hid from you that working there becomes harder and harder. Yes – education is important but learning how to be a better person and having a relationship with God is what matters! Education should help with that process, not just to get ‘a better job’.
Tileagd with Geta
In Tileagd we finished another academic year! How? Only with God’s help as it started really hard in September 2017! The celebration at the end of it was bringing a bit of sunshine knowing that we did our best for the kids this past year. The teachers did an amazing job and I’m proud of them. Now we get in to the summer season and have classes just two times a week.

Please pray – as we are just a small number of people doing this all the time. Pray for my staff there. This past year Geta, my right hand person did a lot of work under a lot of pressure. Please pray for Geta as at the moment she is taking some medical leave and needs recovery time. There will be few changes from September AND for that we need lots of wisdom and God’s guidance in everything we do! Pray with us.

In Rapa we also had a lot of progress on the educational side. Just a few years ago the kids did not go to school but this year, not only did they go, but they have finished the year and they did very good!
Alina in Rapa
Alina is doing a great job with them there and I’m amazed to see the relationship that has been built between her and the people in Rapa since she came! As with many of our projects this year, we are planning and operating on a different scale to previous years. Less focused on visiting once a month to deliver a food package, but now present in the community 2 or 3 days a week to teach and lead by example.

Please continue to pray for this project. As one of our mission trippers said, and I put it in my last report, “building houses is easy, but maintaining and helping them to understand life is a continuous job – let alone helping them to give their life to Jesus

Another opportunity this past month that was on my to do list was the new Dezna project. I need to confess that for the last two years I was not that interested in it at all as I always felt “why do we need another project?”. I criticised Mr Hoy and Adi many times for doing the ‘work’ on this project when I could say something against it, I did!
Dezna Outreach Centre and Casa Torch
I KNOW that there are few other people like me out there that think the same and criticise Smiles. Smiles supporters or Smiles employees. Some of them left us, some of them are still involved but not happy.
However, for everybody, including me, I need to tell you that when God is planning something nothing can stand against it! I’m now working on my attitude as after being in Dezna already twice this past month, I can see the blessing this project can be for soooo many people!

Do not say yet to Mr Hoy well done for not giving up, but I really appreciate his ability to stick to vision and principle. Please add this new adventure of your prayer list! I will tell you more in my next report as I will spend several days working there with teams of people and I’m really happy about that!

So, my encouragement this month for everybody that reads my report including myself, is what Barbara said in her June report,to show God’s love in EVERYTHING WE DO! BIG OR SMALL in God’s eyes everything is the same”!

That’s why He sent His only Son into this world, in order for us to have a different life! And tell me, who will allow their child to die for another? I do not think I will be so willing to say to Stefan “go and die for x and y”. But I can teach him day by day what it means to LOVE x and y – just as God loves us.

Thank you very much my dear friends for loving so much the Romanian people and the work we do in Smiles! Be blessed as indeed you are a true blessing!
With love


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