God Looks At The Heart!

YAY for cloud cover … made working outside a little better this morning.

We started the morning divided into two teams working for the Administration office and Head Start Programs.  Landscaping and clean up!  Our kids work so fast and hard we were done by lunch.

We then were able to bless the local elementary school with half of a trailer of backpacks, school supplies, office supplies, personal supplies and clothing.  From our backpack project we did for Oklahoma 3 years ago, it was confirmed again that the majority of the children at the local elementary school did not have backpacks, and could not afford to get the supplies needed at the beginning of school. The teachers were going to be thrilled to have backpacks to give to their students and supplies to use in the classroom. It is so fun to be able to bless someone, and they not know that it was you.  This time we were given the backpacks, etc. to find someone to bless, and what a blessing it is!

Finishing early gave everyone a 2 hour break to relax and enjoy the cabins and the view.

After practicing for the evening and spending time in prayer, we loaded up and headed to Boswell.

GOD IS AMAZING AND HE WORKING IN AND THROUGH OUR STUDENTS WHO ARE AMAZING!

Elementary – The Theme –  David – Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

High School –  Using the story of David and comparing their own journey with God

The Elementary group was so full of energy and really connected with the children. The worship, memory verse, skit and special prayer time was wonderful.  There were 31 elementary students.   Our kids got to hear funny and heartbreaking things.

The Middle School group had a great time too.  They had icebreaker games, devotional times, worship. And watching our students interact with them and seeing them connect with each other over dinner was really cool.

Have I said how proud of these kids I am?  Truly we were all so grateful God allowed us to end our week this way.

We came back to the cabins for debriefing. We spent time in prayer and gave the evening back to God.

I had the students write down the names of the kids in their small groups and what they could remember about the conversations.  I am praying that they will pray for them and when God brings them to mind (no matter how many times) they will understand that is not a random thought, that is the Holy Spirit nudging them to pray

We worshiped and then each person shared about the evening. Too much to write.  We laughed at the stories and then there were such sobering moments it broke your heart to hear what is going on in the lives of these precious kids. What an honor God trusted us to have such a special time with them tonight.

We’ve had a great time this week and most of the kids wish we could stay another day.  Sooooo… we are heading home.  Our plans are to leave around 8:ish am.  We hope to be back at the campus between 3-4:30p.  We will keep you updated.   The students will begin calling you about an hour out.

Thank you for praying.  Please continue to pray for your student and this trip in particular. Pray for the things God has challenged them with.   I am praying for their hearts to be guarded and that the things they have been challenged … stay with them … drawing them closer to God and the purposes he has for them.

Thank you parents for allowing your students to participate.  A HUGE thank you to my leaders; Ed Wilson, Jake Shackelford, Liz Swanson and Shelby Hollier!

We will see you all tomorrow

Mrs g

 

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Man looks on the outside of a person – God looks on the heart!

We finished the property in Kingston in record time. What a transformation. Brady, the job manager told me it he was so grateful for all the hard work the kids did but more than that, it was so refreshing to work with young people that were kind to each other and there wasn’t any foul language.

What a sad testimony of so many young people, but what a wonderful compliment for our kids.  It does always surprise other people when they work a long side of our students.  They took responsibility for their assigned areas and for jobs they were overseeing. They worked hard and didn’t give up until it was completed.

Another department of Little Dixie realized we were here and has asked for us to help them in the morning.

After we finished our day we treated ourselves to Braum’s ice cream ( I’m just sayin’ ).  Then we headed to the ruins of the old Choctaw town of Doaksville.  It has actual ruins of the town; jail, restaurant, 3 wells, hotel and a tavern.  The ruins are stone walls about one to 3 feet high.  One other interesting thing is you have to drive into the local cemetery and then take the stairs over a stone wall, heading down a path to the ruins.

Free time before dinner – nice!

Then devotionals –  We continue the story of David and now he’s facing the giant Goliath.  David is prepared for this moment in his life because of all the things he has gone through while tending sheep.  Saul wanted him to use ‘his armor’ however that is not how he had been trained.  He used the skills that he had developed during his times of being alone, facing dangerous situations guarding the sheep, spending time learning to trust God.  Those are the things he took into the battle that not only saved his own life, but the lives of a whole nation of people.

We challenged the students to take this time in their life and allow God to use it for his glory and to help shape who he has created them to be. Whether what they are going through is exciting or disappointing, it is still a part of their story. They have a choice to let it become a training ground or a distraction or an excuse. We can press into God and allow his character to be formed in us preparing us for what he has in store.

We worshiped together and prayed together. It was a really special time I believe, God is preparing our heart to touch the hearts of the children of Boswell that he loves so dearly. For the little ones, we’re going to focus on what God told Samuel when he was anointing him to be a king one day …

1 Samuel 16:7b   Man looks on the outside of a person, but God looks on the heart.  (ICB International Children’s Bible)  

We live in a world that is constantly competing; against each other, against our time, against our values. It’s all about appearances and how smart, rich, or beautiful we are.   God is looking at our hearts.

These children come from homes where every day is a struggle of some kind. To quote a child from a past year “We’re not very smart, none of us are going to really be anything.”  Well, we believe God has given us a message of hope! Please pray with us.

We talked tonight about how these stories of David can be used to encourage the children and early teens tomorrow night. How we can pray with them and for them.  We broke into our two teams and then practiced our ministry times.

These kids are so talented and I am excited to see what God is going to do tomorrow night.

Please continue to pray for us.  Pray for your student, that God will touch those places of their own heart and mind and soul. Pray that they will desire to trust God with their heart  and with whatever situation they are personally in and allow the creator of the universe to bring encouragement, courage, peace and healing.

What a joy to serve a long side your students.

Mrs. g

 

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“If they keep this up, they’ll work themselves out of a job!”

 

 

When we pulled up to the job site this morning, the kids didn’t hesitate; they just jumped out of the vehicles and waited to be told what crew they would work on.  No complaining, just constant working.

It was a construction mess in the house, and broken blinds, etc.  Outside … broken down fencing, a dilapidated small work shed, grass that was to your waist, so the first mowing left piles of grass that had to be removed to get a really good 2nd mowing. The twigs and branches that had to be removed, broken chairs … get the picture?  About an hour into the workday I walked up to Jerry the job site foreman and asked if everything was okay and if the kids were doing okay or if we needed to attend to anything. His reply, “If they keep this up, they’ll work themselves out of a job! These kids are hard working and FAST! ”    uh…. yeah!  They’re Summit kids!  So proud… so proud!

When Terri (area supervisor) brought the pizza for lunch, she was stunned.  She had only been gone an hour and half to run and errand and then get trash bags and pick up lunch.  The place looked nothing like when she had left. “

The city gave us permission to burn the grass and tree limbs which was GREAT so we didn’t have to bag up what would have been over 200 bags of grass – and I do NOT think that is an exaggeration.

THE WORK TEAMS: After taking down the small shed, Mr. Wilson directed the raking and burn pile,  Mr. Shackleford directed the removing of the fence and the posts (going back tomorrow to remove 20 more posts) Both of those leaders working as hard as the kids. Shelby (alumni leader) managed the raking and trash team. Miss Swanson managed the inside cleaning team. I worked on all the teams except the fence and shed removal team. (If you don’t know my propensity for accidents, be proud of that decision) and I was the mama bear staying on top of everyone staying hydrated.

We should finish tomorrow … hopefully early.  They didn’t have another project so I was hoping we could start our day later on Wednesday and then do a couple of random acts of kindness in town and then work on/practice the Wednesday night program for the church in Boswell. However, another department found out we’re here and are begging for our help Wednesday morning.  I’ll find out tomorrow what that entails.

Thank you for your prayers, please continue.  Talking with the leaders during the day I believe there were good cabin devotional times after our evening devo together last night.  What a great opportunity we have, spending time together, talking about our heart’s desires and what we feel God is saying to us.  How does that walk itself out?  How can I stay faithful to my relationship with Jesus?

Good stuff!

TONIGHT’S DEVO TIME continued sharing

Mr Wilson continued sharing his testimony and those times in his life where there was an obstacle in his path to deter him from the path he was on. He shared the decisions he needed to make – the successes and the times he realized, he needed to get back on track.

We talked about how it won’t be easy, in fact you might be put in uncomfortable situations, yet in your obedience to God, you can bring contentment and comfort… finding that you can be content even when things are not what you would consider perfect or fun, but through obedience to God, your heart can find contentment. This will grow your faith.

1 Sam  16: 14- 23

God brought David into the next situation of his life –  David didn’t try to make it happen

The situation was uncomfortable – however, God used David to bring comfort –  because he was obedient and trusted God to bring about his plans.

After devo time, we broke into our two ministry teams – Elementary and Middle School.  We talked through and then practiced.  I think they are going to do a great job!

Again, thank you for praying for all of us.

Calling it a night!

Mrs. g

 

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Sunday Night – Hugo Lake State Park – God’s Handiwork

It is hard to describe to those who have not been here, what a beautiful place this is.  Everything is green and the lake is full.  This afternoon the lake was as smooth as glass.  Because there are very few street lights and there were no clouds in the sky, the sky is an amazing thing to behold. Are there really that many stars in the sky? Then I think of the promise that God gave to Abraham … “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore”  Wow!

What a great place to be with this great group of kids and leaders.

Tomorrow we head to our project.  We’re all excited to be here.

I had told the boys there weren’t places to hang their hammocks.  I was wrong.  In one of the cabins, the beams are perfect for hammocks… it’s pretty amazing.  I’ll try to get a picture and post it!

We have had so much fun already.

Tonight, after dinner, Mr. Wilson shared a brief version his testimony.  Tomorrow night he is going to share more.

We then went back to our individual cabins and read 1 Samuel 16:13-16. (really start with verse 1)

We will be discussing David; how God called him, how David responded, how David knew he could trust God

Vs. 7 talks about how man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.  Aren’t you glad? Don’t you wish others would do the same for you? Or … would you not want them to even see what your heart is thinking? Or  do you desire to have a heart that would do that for others … not judge by what we see on the outside, but ask God to show us how he sees others? That’s just one of the things we will be focusing on.

After Samuel anointed David to be the next King, David went back to the field… he trusted God with the ‘in the meantime’ … David knew that there was a bigger purpose than what he was living at that moment, but he ‘that moment’ was important too, and it was a part of the journey, knowing that he could trust that God would bring him to that place, in His time and at the right time .  God has a plan for each of these students.  I pray that they too will trust God with all their heart. That they will allow God to guide them each step of the way as they grow into the destiny God has created them for.

A lot of things to think on… Please pray for your student …

I’ll check in tomorrow night! Until then …  Thank you for your prayers!

 

Mrs. G

Be blessed and highly flavored … you are the salt of the earth!  ~ g

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A Day of Last Times, Surprises and Ping Pong in the Park

It has been an amazing day. It has been an emotional day. It has been a really fun day!

Getting up knowing that it’s your last full day at the foster home and every moment counts makes you treasure everything; one more bowl of rice, playing with the kids, planting flowers, painting the mural, riding the bikes, baking cupcakes for the Easter party, landscaping clean up, dancing with the ladies on the playground court, playing ping pong in the park with the locals. 

Ten years ago I took that year’s senior class on Summit’s 2nd International Senior Class Trip. It was an amazing trip (I know I say that about everyone, but, HEY … It was!) Travis Hall was with me on that trip to England and France.  While on that trip God got a hold of Travis’ heart and here he is, 10 years later, serving the Lord, stationed in the UAE and this week he and Emily are in China. I couldn’t believe it when I saw his update email that he would be in China the same time I was and I wouldn’t be able to see him. Weeellllll……  He surprised me today while I was working on a project and he and Emily walked into the room.  Yes.  Of course I cried!  LOL   It was a sweet time and after dinner he and Emily shared with the team during our evening devotional. Travis shared his journey from high school thru college to where he is now. The kids asked questions and my heart could hardly contain the joy watching Travis and Emily do what they were created to do.  Encourage and impact others out of their love for and relationship with Jesus Christ.  They prayed for us and then we prayed for them, then they headed back to Beijing to get ready for their week.

We ended the day going to the small village grocery store to get our last Chinese snacks and some more ping pong paddles. We then headed to the village park to interact with the local people of the village. The last games of ping pong… The last basketball game… Our last time to join in the ladies line dancing. (Seriously sweet, fun time) Thru Jay we thanked the ladies for allowing us to join them in their evening dance movement fun. They were so precious.  The coaches had a great time getting ‘schooled’ in ping pong. (They weren’t half bad themselves)  Aston and Jay playing basketball and the Hannah and Yasmine doing exercises on the playground exercise equipment.  Jane and Grace rode bicycles. It was a beautiful night I doubt any of us will ever forget. Our last night in China

The kids would really love to stay and keep telling me they are SURE they can find some chips and queso… HA!  However, we are coming home tomorrow. 

This has been the trip of a lifetime.  These young men and women have represented well and really bonded on this trip. They have been easy to lead. They are kind, hardworking, talented, funny, respectful and hungry to learn and excel with excellence in everything they do.

We have experienced a lot of things.

Your student might:

Talk your ear off

Not talk at all

Tell you things in small spurts

It might take a few days to express what they experienced

 Be patient. Pray. Listen with your heart!

Thank you so much for allowing your student to come on this trip. I cannot wait to see what they accomplish when they allow every step to be ordered by the Lord.

 We are here for them.  We’ve told them that and I pray they believe it and know our hearts and doors are always open.

 We will see you soon.  Pray for safe flights, great seats and for all of our luggage to get home when we do.

 

Mrs. G

 Depart Beijing 4:10pm      Arrive Chicago 4:25pm UA850

Depart Chicago 7:43pm    Arrive Austin  10:34pm  UA511

 

Please keep watch on the flights and be there waiting. I know they’ll be anxious to see you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It Just Keeps Getting Better

It just keeps getting better and better.

It was another wonderful day of playing with the children, cleaning playground equipment and painting the mural.

We have laughed and laughed until we cried… then laughed some more.

We have shared and had our hearts challenged and encouraged.

Tonight we had dinner in town with part of the staff.  It was delicious.  The ‘Home’ let us use their bicyles and their tuk tuk thingy to go into town.  We are a sight going down the road… shouting ‘neehow’ (?) or heelllooo!  To people walking, in their yards, working in the fields. When they look up their faces just brighten up and they shout back.  The students are just loving interacting with the culture.

Tonight’s devotional was amazing and then the debrief and blessing time was phenomenal.  We went around the table and spent time sharing with each other the positive things we see in each other.  Very touching.

It’s another full work day tomorrow!  Playing with the children, finishing the mural, making Easter cupcakes, landscaping and more playing. AND…. praying on sight with insight. The kids truly don’t want to come home but … they will. : )

Please continue to pray as God is doing incredible things in our hearts.  All our hearts.

Please begin to pray for our flights home Saturday.  We leave China Sat afternoon and return to Austin Saturday evening. Pray that God will protect what He has done in their hearts on this trip and each of the students will continue to pursue God with all their heart.

Mrs. g

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A Rescued Life – A Wrecked Heart – A Prayer To Be Answered

 

Being able to work with these precious children,  that have been rescued and given an opportunity to live – will wreck your heart. Sitting on the floor, holding a child that has fallen asleep on your chest because they trust the arms they are resting in, is overwhelming.  Then you pray in your heart for God to unite this heart with a family that will treasure him/her like He does.

The time we get to spend in the nurseries and loving on the babies is an important part of their development and the fact we are getting to participate in this is kind of wrecking some hearts. That’s good.

During the children’s naptime part of the team planted 1500 plants.  Yes… fifteen hundred plants. Jay Sun was the landscaping designer. Not kidding!

Our DREAM TEAM – Hannah, Jane and Grace have the honor of painting a mural on the walls of the nurse’s examination room.  The leadership here had sent an email 2 days before we left asking if we had artists.  Do we have artist?  Why, yes… yes we do!  We sent one picture from each of the girl’s portfolios and the email came back quickly. YES, we want them to meet with us to draw and paint.

They met with the nurse and one of the directors and came up with precious designs and they are underway to bring color and life to a room that can be scary to little ones. They feel so honored and they are doing a beautiful job.

We are also helping make scrapbooks – Scrapbook team members: Yasmine, Jay, Aston and Mrs. G.

Tomorrow we bake cupcakes, clean playground equipment, scrapbooking, painting murals, more landscaping and lovin’ on babies.

Tonight in debrief we talked about their future and their life statement.  What is going to be their personal ‘tagline’ ?     They have been given 6 scriptures with questions to ponder and then to be working on their personal goals.

Please pray the girls get the mural finished, the scrapbooks finished, the cupcakes turn out great and the playground equipment looks like new after we’re done.  Pray we continue to stay healthy and that God gives us the prayers to pray in agreement with his heart for this ministry.

Till tomorrow

Mrs. G

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Part Two of Our China Journey

We finished all of our touring in Beijing this morning … Tienanmen Square and the Temple of Heaven. A little bargaining shopping and … YES … K F C.  The food has been delicious however, Kentucky Fried Chicken sounded fantastic today.

We arrived at the Foster Home about 3:15pm. Unloaded our things into our Yurts and then took a brief tour of the 3 rooms where we would be playing with and loving on the little ones.

What an amazing place we are at!  The babies/children are precious.  There are a lot of jobs needing to be done.  A Big EASTER party is happening this Sunday and we are helping them get ready; Planting, Cleaning Playground Equipment, Cooking the Easter cupcakes for Sunday and Making the children’s personal info scrapbook that will be given to their new family so they can have info about their history.

Debrief was fun and ended in prayer for the people of China.

 

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The Great Wall – The Great Call

We all agreed that today was “one of those days” that will be remembered in our hearts forever.

1. We walked on The Great Wall of China … half the team walked the 4,000 steps to the top, the other half rode the cable cars. What a view!  Such an amazing feat …the building of the wall … okay it was pretty amazing that we did physicslly accomplished what we did)

2. Grace caught our lunch that was fried for us at the village mountainside restaurant.  That was so fun.

3. Our guide was so amazing!  Her life story was so inspiring and challenging spiritually.

What a blessing she was to us and as one leader said to me, “The wall was great, but it was a bigger deal to meet her.

The internet is giving me issues tonight so this will be brief.

The devotional was led by our JE guide Rachel challenging us with a quote and thoughts from John Piper’s book A Hunger For God

Man’s struggle isn’t with sin, it’s with apple pie.

We were each challenged to look at our lives and as God to show us.  What distracts you, what can you give up and replace with obedience and devotion to God.

The Greatest Enemy of Our Hunger for God

John Piper:

Christian fasting is not only the spontaneous effect of a superior satisfaction in God; it is also a chosen weapon against every force in the world that would take that satisfaction away.

The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the vulgar rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night. For all the ill that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love(Luke 14:18-20). The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable.

Jesus said some people hear the word of God, and a desire for God is awakened in their hearts. But then, “as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14). In another place he said, “The desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful”(Mark 4:19). “The pleasures of this life” and “the desires for other things”—these are not evil in themselves. These are not vices. These are gifts of God. They are your basic meat and potatoes and coffee and gardening and reading and decorating and traveling and investing and TV-watching and Internet-surfing and shopping and exercising and collecting and talking. And all of them can become deadly substitutes for God. (A Hunger for God, Crossway, 1997)

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Your Face Is Your Passport

Your Face is Your Passport

We needed to take our passports with us to the service this morning so we could prove we were not a national because they are not allowed to come to this church service. As we approached the doors with the greeters and we were about to hand them our passports, one gentleman made a gesture with his hand circling his face and said, “You don’t need that, Your Face is your Passport”.  HA! What an amazing experience being able to go to the Beijing International Church Fellowship. We were worshiping with people from all over the world lifting our voices together . The service was a special combined service in English and Mandarin, therefore we had to have translator headphones on when the pastor preached so we could understand what he was preaching. The worship songs were done in English and Mandarin and it was overwhelming to hear the voices lifted up … together praising the King of Kings. It was very emotional. Personally, my eyes seemed to have a little bit of a leaky problem. Where we really here?  In China? Worshiping God? A person in their church had written a special drama entitled “Seeing Lesson” with songs written to go along with it.  The drama was about the busyness of life that keeps us from pursuing Christ or making him the #1 priority, keeps us from seeing the opportunities that are placed in front of us every day to be Christ to someone else.  We all need a “Seeing Lesson”.

The sermon had 3 points

  1. All things are from God – All things are for His Glory
  2. All things are through Him – God is the effective cause
  3. All Things are FOR Him – God is the final cause

After the service we joined Jay who had to stay back at the hotel because he is a Chinese national and cannot attend the International Church.  We then headed to lunch, another wonderful Chinese meal and then on to the Forbidden City.  It was big and much of it in need of repair. Our guide brought 4 Chinese students that he knows to join us to be able to practice their English.  There was symbolism in everything inside the Forbidden City; The front gates, who could enter through them, who could not, who could be in certain places, what or why buildings were built , etc.

During debrief, many commented on the Forbidden City and how one individual (Emperor) could be given so much power and everything was all about him and his glory. There were outer courts and inner courts and everything was done for the pleasure of and obedience to the emperor only. Only certain people could go through certain gates, live in certain areas. Our JE guide Rachel said it reminded her of the Tabernacle in the Old Testament –  everything was done in obedience and for God. Outer courts and inner courts.  But when Jesus came, he brought a new way of thinking, he entered the world in a lowly manner and taught us … to be the greatest you must be a servant.  You are to serve …. No be served.  Coach Hughes said it like this,  ”People see things like the Forbidden City and aspire to be powerful, great in other people’s lives … we are called to be different.”

One our way to dinner we stopped by the food market for appetizers.  We had scorpions on a stick (actually good), gooey slugs(actually not), candied fruit, tofu and some kind of octopus tentacles on a stick (Yasmine and Mason say they were good)

Dinner was at a fancy restaurant where they specialize in Peking Duck. Many dignitaries go there to eat when they come to Beijing.  It was delicious! I don’t think I have ever seen duck prepared in that many ways.

We are getting better using our chopsticks!  Cold water is a rarity here.  Lukewarm or warm water or tea is the norm.

So…  back to this morning…  as we were going in to church and we were told  “Your face is your passport”  and it reminded me of a few scriptures with the word face in it.

Our faces connect us to others but most of all to our creator God –    We can seek his face, his face can shine on us, we can know him face to face.

Psalm 67:1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us

Psalm 105:4 Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always

Deuteronomy 34:10 Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,

1 Chronicles 16: 9 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.

Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,

Join me in prayer for this senior class . Pray that they would be young men and women that would desire to seek after God with all their heart. They would seek his face and in return God will make HIS face shine on them and their endeavors. Pray that they would know him, the King of Kings over all ,throughout all time and believe that:

  1. All things are from God – All things are because of God and for his glory
  2. All things are through Him – God is the effective cause
  3. All Things are FOR Him – God is the final cause

Having an eternal hope knowing one day they WILL see him face to face.  And in a round about way they won’t need a special passport to get in … just an obedient servant’s heart because they have a relationship with him and … HE  will know their face!

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