I trust you had a blessed Christmas and will know God’s Peace and Purpose for the year ahead.
At the end of a very busy year, it was good for many of us to get some ‘downtime’ and necessary rest during the holiday period. We had a busy but wonderfully successful Mission Trip before Christmas sharing the Joy of Christ’s Birth with many across our projects and beyond. I am pleased to share a ‘One Minute’ recap of our SOS activities. Thank you for your support.
‘New Every Morning’, is the promise I personally hold dear. The beginning of a new decade is a special opportunity to not only look back on memories and experiences from the past 10 years, but an exciting moment to look into the future. A time to plan, a time to focus, a time to join forces to face the challenges together.
For myself, it is particularly special, to look back over 3 decades since first visiting Romania, and marveling at the changes that have taken place since the Romanian Revolution, that ended the rule of Communist Dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu.
Of course, there have been many changes, but beyond all the economic, social and spiritual development during these 30 years in Romania, God’s Promise has been seen and felt stronger and more clearly than anything.
In Lamentations chapter 3, we are reminded –
22. Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23. They are new every morning;
great is His faithfulness.
Again, for me personally, I have relied strongly on this promise over the past 30 years.
Both personally and through The Smiles Foundation, I have endeavoured to follow God’s Call and Direction to meet need and make changes in Romania that would draw people closer to God and commit to Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour.
Whether it has been humanitarian care through the Field Project and the provision of food, clothes, medicine and housing or providing and supporting education through our School, Nursery and After-School programmes. Likewise, with Elderly and Disabled Residential Care and the planted Churches in Tileagd and Rapa along with the many outreach events over the years that have impacted thousands of people with the truth of the Gospel.
During the years of work, there have been inevitably many disappointments with the decisions of people to take the tangible benefits of our work whilst rejecting the spiritual transformation on offer through a commitment to Christ. After so many years, these disappointments weigh heavy on our hearts, when our purpose is ultimately focused on those eternal decisions that often require a tremendous amount of hard work through every aspect of life on earth.
My reliance on these special words is important on a daily basis, so as I begin a new decade, I am encouraged to know that ‘because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed … that His compassions never fail. Indeed, they are new every morning, great is His faithfulness.
Understanding the power of this promise, provides me excitement and optimism for the new decade, just as it has helped me through the last 30 years. During the past few months, we produced a new video where I share a small insight into the history of Smiles from my first visit in 1990 to the most recent project completion at Dezna Outreach Centre. However much you think you know about the Smiles Foundation, I hope you’ll enjoy this new video.
On the recent Smiles Forum Tour in the UK, I chose to present much of our work using a Timeline which detailed the achievements through the years. Many told me how interesting and inspiring it was and several have asked for a brief summary of the amazing Timeline we have been blessed with by God since 1990. I am humbly thankful to God and many supporters and friends who have enabled the Timeline to materialise. I share it with you here and hope it is encouraging to all. Smiles Timeline Schedule 2019
An important note for our upcoming ‘timeline’ is Smiles Day for special fund-raising in February. Officially February 1st, but anytime during the month is great to raise the profile of Smiles and add a little extra to our income in the traditionally more difficult months of January and February each year. Also for your diary, remember Smiles Prayer Day on May 3rd, this year. An important opportunity to spend a little extra time bringing the needs and opportunities of Smiles before our Lord. Personally, small groups and your Church – please consider engaging all possibilities with a focused prayer time on May 3rd.
As the Smiles Foundation starts a new decade, I am delighted to have new people with new plans, joining the amazing Smiles Team, so together we can continue developing the Work in Romania.
Dan Bara joins the Cihei Team to head up the Field Project. Having previously led Christian Foundations, served the Church through Outreach Projects in the Community and worked for the State Social Services department, Dan is highly qualified and experienced and we trust God he is the right man to lead the Family Care, Homeless and Community work we call ‘Field’ into the future.
Carmen Pop joins the ECO Team to manage the Elderly Care Facility in Oradea. Having studied medicine, Carmen is now completing a degree in Psychology and was working as Chief Executive of a Professional Training company before accepting the position in Smiles. Managing such a large residential facility comes with many challenges, but we believe Carmen is the right person for the task.
Dr Timothy Kurniawan is originally from Indonesia but studied medicine in English and met his wife in Romania, where is now lives and works speaking all his languages fluently. Dr Timothy joins Smiles to serve the needs in Salonta at our Joint Facility of Love. In addition to his love for people and medicine, Dr Timothy enjoys being part of the Worship Band at his home church in Oradea.
One of the special features of Smiles that all our new team members will need to learn and adjust to, are our Mission Trips. Last year, more than 200 people once again visited the Smiles Mission Centre and every one of them made a huge impact on our projects and objectives for the year. Especially in 2019, as without the practical support and hard work of our Mission Teams, it is hard to see how the Dezna Outreach Centre could have been ready for the Grand Official Opening we enjoyed in September. Even while final aspects of the development work in Dezna was being completed, hundreds of young people were able to enjoy Dezna Camps throughout a busy summer. We again captured many of those happy moments on video and I’m delighted to share the results with you here. Enjoy the Dezna Summer Camps Video.
I am thrilled to already have over 100 people booked or interested in Smiles Mission Trips in 2020. As we begin the new decade, I want as many people as possible to join us during the year ahead on a Mission Trip. We have many of our regular trips available where you get to choose from the many projects operating, where to spend your day sharing the Love of God with the people of Romania.
We also have a number of Special Trips arranged for Young People, Youth Leaders, Construction, Families and Ladies – so take a look at all the options and start making plans.
We have some great project plans in mind for 2020. On the Construction front, new houses to be built for families previously part of our Homeless Project. Smiles continues planning massive solutions to big problems and you can help us. Likewise, we are planning a Playground for the Rapa Community, but for these and all our ambitious plans – we need people to help, hands-on, in Romania. No better way of doing that, than on a Smiles Mission Trip. Please consider joining us.
To encourage you, and those who have already been thinking about a trip, I am pleased to announce that all confirmations made by March 31st, 2020 will be available at the same price as 2019. In some cases, that’s a saving of over 10% – so get planning, make your decisions and save some money.
For sure there is a lot to be excited about for the new year and indeed the new decade. The nature of Smiles philosophy is that often our objectives will take longer to achieve than days or weeks. Sometimes months and even years are needed but with God’s promise of His Love, His Compassion and His Faithfulness being new every morning, I know we can continue to do His Will for another decade.
We pray God’s rich blessings on you as we embark on this new year together, in His Service and for His Glory.
Sincere blessings to you all for your love and support in the past and on into the future.
Chief Executive to The Smiles Foundation