How beautiful is the springtime, even through the dark days of COVID-19!
As I was taking my daily 30 minute walk, through my local park where I took these photos – I could not help but think, as I marvelled at the beauty of God’s creation, that even today – He is in Control and reminds us of His Sovereignty, if we just pause, look and listen.
Even now, back in my home, with the window open, I hear the birds singing! Worshipping the Lord in their own sweet way. During the challenges of being in the house 23 ½ hours a day – I truly rejoice at God’s Promise in Lamentations chapter 3:
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 your faithfulness.
You will appreciate this is a rather earlier update than I normally do. A mid-month if you will, as with so many things happening each day in the life of Smiles – I felt it necessary to update you midway through the regular updates of April and May.
I want to thank the many who responded to our appeal for help two weeks ago. Very quickly we have been faced with some desperate challenges as Mission Trips were postponed, Glasshouse Sales suspended and none of us knew what the coming weeks would hold.
Within 10 days of the appeal, more than £30,000 / $39,000 had been received as special and additional support through a combination of Gifts and Loans. I want to emphasise my sincere heartfelt thanks to those who have helped. I can also confirm, although we had previously received several cancellation notices of monthly donors, since my E-mail and Web update on March 31st – not one further cancellation has been received.
Thank you so much for your love and support for the Smiles Foundation.
It’s proved to be a rather frantic couple of weeks. Some of the developments will have been communicated through personal e-mails. Some more publicly through social media, but today I am trying to give an overall update to all our extended family of friends and supporters. From the many messages I have received these past weeks, I know our Smiles family want to be kept informed. I know you are praying and continuing to support, so I trust the updates here will be helpful to you.
We were delighted to be able to honour our desire to meet 100% of salary payments in April for the month of March. We have been delighted to increase our support to Families and the Homeless in our projects. I am particularly thankful to the Field Project team who have worked hard, donned their protective masks and gloves and headed out into the Field to support the most vulnerable in our care. It’s one thing to talk about the needs out there, it’s another thing to go and meet it. The Smiles Foundation is blessed with staff and personnel who DO IT!
I was also very conscious of the tremendous commitment displayed by our Residential Staff who in the face of adversity and their own challenges at home – remained committed to serving the needs of our residents in Oradea, Salonta and Tileagd. Understandably, the staff were concerned, possibly even scared – But for the sake of our elderly and disabled, their families and our fundamental Calling – the Team never missed a beat, and so far – Praise God – we have not had one COVID-19 case in any of our facilities.
On April 10th at 8am – as some of you may have read through our Facebook post – we received a call we feared from the Authorities, that as a result of several deaths in Residential Centres in other areas of Romania – the government announced a serious restriction on all operating residential facilities; All servicing staff must now stay isolated and exclusive to the care of the residents, unable to go home with their family between shifts.
This meant that by 8am on April 13th – half our facility staff had to remain away from home or any other activity during their 14-day shift! They will be next allowed home on April 27th when they will switch with the other half of our staff for their appropriate shift! As you will appreciate, this is a huge ‘ask’ of our staff and an incredible indication of their devotion, that every single member of the team, duly committed to the task and are continuing to care for our residents, as not only the Hands and Feet, but the Arms and Heart of Jesus Himself.
An incredible team indeed, and that is why I ask you as friends and supporters to ensure we have the resources to equip them with all they need. More specifically on that in a moment.
First, I know many of you have been disappointed to see Fund-Raising events cancelled and the fellowship that comes from such events is greatly missed – but of course, so are the crucial funds the events raise for Smiles year after year. In 2020, it is not so easy.
However, we don’t give up too easily, as you well know! Luke, Dawn and I have been working extra hours on how we can help present some Virtual Fund-Raising ideas. I am pleased to say, creative ideas flowed, and various initiatives are being created. I’m launching one key opportunity today, and another will follow with my next update – probably on April 30th.
Today – we launch the Smiles Cycle Challenge. This was Luke’s idea, so he is ‘leading’ it with a little background and administrative support from Dawn and me. Take a good read of Luke’s details on the Cycle Challenge and then get involved.
Luke’s Cycle Challenge
Somehow, Dawn and I got persuaded to do more than admin – so now I find myself sharing in the Cycle Challenge and I sure hope you and many more will support us all. It’s a long time since I sat on a saddle! I’ve no idea how I will get on with facing 90 miles on an exercise bike – but I sure hope it will be worth it, with lots of money raised for Smiles. By me, by Dawn, by Luke …. and how about you?
You can donate in support, but you can also share the ride and raise support yourself. But please feel free to do both, starting with sponsoring me for a first of its kind endeavour! Sponsor Kevin
As I draw to a close, I want to share one other critically important area of support we can provide with your help. Smiles is working on many different projects, some of which I’ve mentioned above. However, one area of great concern to me, is with the children we normally care for in our School, Nursery and After-School programmes in Gepiu, Rapa and Tileagd.
These children come largely from very poor homes. Many of their parents do not have proper regular jobs with a monthly salary. Many do ‘Day-Work’ and depend on that income to feed their children. In current circumstances, due to restrictions around COVID-19, there is no daily work. Construction, Agriculture and other day jobs have stopped, and the income is non-existent for the very poor families we serve.
I want us to provide food and not just a sandwich, but a hot meal served in ‘to-go’ boxes and delivered to every child in need through our project connections. We anticipate that is up to 150 people a day.
We have staff unable to work because their project has been closed. They can cook, they can deliver, and the children can eat! I am asking you to help us provide this desperate need for the next few weeks until life gets back to some degree of normality. Will you do that?
If you are able to give a special gift to see us through these challenging times and allow us to plan additional services for the most vulnerable – mail or call us with your gift, designated ‘COVID RESPONSE GIFT’. Alternatively you can donate directly:
Donate with card or PayPal £ Donate with card or Paypal $
I’m going to leave you with an invitation to watch a Video I recorded last week. I’ve not done this type of ‘recording’ before, but I hope in addition to all I have shared here in my more conventional way, the video will add another dimension for you to see what we can do, why we need your help and together, with God’s Vision and Purpose shining in our hearts, we will reach out to even more people, sharing His Love at this desperately difficult time.
Check out the Video and I look forward to being in touch soon. Any questions or comments, please never hesitate to contact me directly.
My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
God bless you all at this time. Thank you for partnering with Smiles to make a difference in this world, which with your help, we are most certainly doing.
Stay Safe, Stay Home, Stay Close to Jesus!
Sincere blessings for all you do.
Chief Executive to The Smiles Foundation