Doesn’t that sound nice? To never die!
Well, the good news is that God’s children NEVER DIE! They just ‘change address’. How? Because Jesus died for us on Calvary in order for us to have eternal life! What a great sacrifice so we can ‘live ever after’ I pray you enjoyed the Easter Celebrations! WE SERVE A RISEN GOD and as His children we can celebrate Easter every day!
I will never forget Sunday, April 21st – as hundreds of people were killed and injured in Sri Lanka while they attended Worship at Church, we had the privilege to worship in a safe environment here in Romania. We were blessed with a great time in Tileagd Community Church on Sunday morning. People from our Gypsy community, the Assisted Living facility, the Romanian community, plus many guests from Oradea and Cluj Disability Association all gathered together to worship our God. In the afternoon, we went to Rapa Church to worship together with the Gypsy community there and celebrate the dedication of a baby girl called Ava Narcisa, the fifth child of Darius and Daniela!
God is Good! and we see this in the activities that we do day by day. In a world that is upside down, with so many tragedies and problems, we are so happy to see people that are dedicated to ministry. Let’s take advantage while we can….because in the “days before Jesus is coming, things will get harder and harder for HIS CHILDREN!”
And indeed, many things are getting harder and Smiles is not exempt from the pressures. I remember a dear friend of mine told me once, “when you have a smooth life, a quiet one, something is wrong! When you feel under trial, Satan is shaking the boat as he does not like seeing you work for God. And there are less and less people worried these days about the Kingdom”. It took me a while to understand what she meant. I wish at times to “live a quiet life” but I guess that is not the option on this earth for God’s children.
Let me share what happened in Smiles this past month. A lot for sure!
The Tileagd School and Nursery project is moving forward with their day to day activities! Kids are doing good and it’s great to see them enjoying to learn. This past month we put our documents together for the “Accreditation Assessment” of the nursery. It’s 10 years since we were last accredited, and the law says we have to have an inspection every 5 years. For whatever reason the State missed one and this year was important for us to have the Inspection!
Of course, it costs us money. The State does nothing without charges. Many times I am put in the difficult decision of what to do? To pay the taxes they ask or to have the money to run the project! I do not have the money yet, but in faith I decided to go forward! So PLEASE PRAY for the people that come to inspect us. Pray for God’s favour to be on us! Pray we will pass the Inspection. And pray for the money to pay the taxes.
It is about £1,200 ($1,560) in order to have them come for the inspection and this tax goes direct to the State. Even if we are a private nursery, we run the State curriculum and the inspectors are assessing our quality of services!
In the School we do not have these Inspections since our partnership with the State. The down side is that they run things quite different than how we did and that still disappoints me! The important part is that while I can still tell the kids the real meaning of life and their need for a relationship with God, I’m ok and will continue to do the job while I have sufficient children to teach and justify operating the School!
The Gepiu education project is running great too. Ioana is doing an amazing job and her love for the kids there is really inspiring me at times. Why I say that? Well, you may remember I told you in my last report that Dr Diana raised money for the kids to go on camp. Well, out of that, Ioana had some extra cash and while most of us have May Day Holiday, she decided to take the kids for 4 days of Camp! Where? Guess where? In DEZNA! They will ‘test’ to see if it is working and ready for the summer! PRAY for Ioana and the kids on this adventure.
Rapa education project had a few changes this past month. With Alina needing to take some time off due to some personal issues, Luke has stepped up with our new colleague Iby. They try to keep the things running there and make sure that the kids will not miss important things from school. I was amazed to see them that Sunday in church singing with such full energy. You don’t believe me?! I leave this short video here for you to see it 🙂
Soooo – you might wonder, what’s the hard news Maria? Well I have two of them.
One is to do with our managers Petru and Maria Fule in Mierlau. For the last 120 days Maria was in the hospital a lot and having lots of tests! God saved her from a heart attack, but she needs to take things slower and rest more. This means that she will have to take medical retirement in the near future! For me this is an emotional time, as they have worked with us since 2006. I understand the situation and I’m happy she is alive! So please pray for them. Pray for us as we look to the next step there. Pray for wisdom in every decision we take.
The other disappointment is our colleague Danut Buse who was working as a driver in Smiles for many years, decided to change job and now works for a Bus Company. The pressure that a lot of the staff members have with the cost of living in our country pushes them to change direction and take decisions that maybe they would not make in different circumstances!
In recent years, more and more people that I know and are close to, have left Romania, finding higher paid jobs elsewhere. It’s harder and harder for them to put their desire to serve God in a Ministry Organisation like Smiles, when each month they borrow money in order to live to the next salary!
I’m not saying that Smiles is not giving good salaries, because for sure we try our best to meet the needs, even if at times we pay a very high price for it! The problem is more the State Taxes that we pay, even as a non-profit charity, are huge! For example, the average minimum net salary in Smiles is now £325 ($425) in hand. But in order for us to have that person employed, we pay gross salaries of at least £525 ($685) with £200 ($260) paid in taxes to the State. For Smiles having so many employees, we have to pay over £24,000 ($31,200) in employment taxes every month!!
With liabilities such as this, we are even more OVERWHELMED with the support we receive from people like YOU! But we can’t keep asking people from UK/USA to support us forever and ever. Over the years YOU HELPED US to learn the importance to raise money here in the country by having our own glasshouse, or by having the elderly centres that contribute to the costs we face month by month to provide such important care. For all this effort, may God bless you and through His richness, to give us what we all need.
Do not give up dear friends. It’s an encouragement for me…and for you, that one day our Father will say to us, “Well done good and faithful servant, come into my kingdom in order for us to spend eternity together”. And there will be no more problems at all! PRAISE HIM!!
Important PS: Until we get to our ETERNAL HOME, let’s do our part here on earth. On a personal matter, this year I will have some extra support. Not only Cornel and Stefan – but in August we will welcome, with God’s help, our second child! A baby boy. PLEASE PRAY for me as I neeeeeeed your prayerful support. 🙂