The Faith of Our Mothers

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I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.-2 Timothy 1:5-6

Last Friday, we celebrated Mother’s day here in Thailand.  Mother’s day is the time when we remember to give respect, gifts, cards and flowers to our mother. We also treat them by going into a good place or restaurant. Eat out together and celebrate.

Today we honor our Mothers in the church. God loves the mothers and God gives our mothers a big ministry over our families.  God expresses his love through our mothers. We feel God’s love through our mother’s love. We know that we would not be here without our mothers.

In the Scripture that we read this morning, 2 Timothy 1:5-6, we learn from two mothers, Lois and Eunice, Timothy’s grandmother and mother, about faith. In the passage there are three characteristics of faith that our mothers and all of us should have.

Sincere Faith (v. 5)

“I am reminded of your sincere faith which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice”

There is a story behind this verse. During Paul first journey, Paul came to the city of Lystra where he met a woman named Lois, and her daughter Eunice.  Paul was so impressed about the faith of these two women They were faithful and dedicated to the Lord. They are without question sincere in their faith.

These two women expressed their sincere faith by knowing more about God and following Jesus. Paul immediately recognized their extraordinary faith. Because of this meeting, Paul understood that they would be faithful to raise children in this same belief, and he remembered that.

On Paul’s second journey through Lystra, Paul took Eunice’s son to be his student and from this Paul learned that Timothy had the same faith that his grandmother and mother had. Timothy became one of the greatest young Pastor in the New Testament.

Timothy became great Christian and Pastor because he was raised by Godly women who are faithful to instill sincere faith into Timothy.  Paul understood that because of the faithful upbringing of these two women, Timothy could be trusted to handle the message of Jesus Christ.

This is the challenge for all the mothers (and all of us here), we should have sincere faith that we can show our children. We are given a mission from the Lord to watch over our children.

We honor our mothers here today for their sincere faith.

Constant Faith (v. 5)

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

The same faith that Lois had continued to her daughter Eunice and then passed on to his Son Timothy. Constant means “to remain the same over a period of time.” Lois was a woman of great faith, and she was responsible enough to ensure that it was passed onto to her daughter.

If Lois was a mother who was unfaithful I am very sure her family would be unfaithful too. However, we learn from the passage that Lois’ faith is constant. It never changed.

This morning, we want to give thanks to all mothers who remained constant and faithful to God. Faithful to come to the church for worship and faithful to study God’s Word. I believe many of us have come to know Jesus because of our mother. And for this we appreciate them. Thank you very much.

Inspiring Faith (v. 6)

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

Because of Lois and Eunice’s sincere faith, Paul inspired Timothy to be on fire with God. Timothy was inspired to do great things for God using his gift.  I believe that an inspiring faith is the key to encouraging a child to work for the Lord.

Mother’s, I encourage you to pray often and constantly for our children because our God the Father listens to the prayers of faithful mothers.  I challenge everyone of us to help our mothers pray for our children.

This morning God is reminding us just like he reminded Timothy that faith is a family matter. This faith will move us into action. Christians who do good works and teach are what our family, community and church need.

Conclusion

This morning we have to say thanks to our mother. We respect and honor them. For their faith and hard work for all of us.

Pray for our mother that God will use them to pass on their sincere, constant and inspiring faith to us, your children.

To all mothers here, we thank you and love you.

*This is a message I shared with our church during Thai Mother’s Day celebrations.

One More Year

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The 4-hour trip to Chiang Mai made us feel nostalgic. We used to travel with our three children for our visa extension. Although those years were presented with difficulties–lack of fund, no vehicle and no place to stay while in Chiang Mai. But those trips were happy precious memory for us as a family. Now, it’s just the two of us, but we have a reliable vehicle and God’s faithful provision everytime we drive to Chiang Mai for our visa renewal.

We are thankful to the Foundation who helped us with the documentations and scheduling, hence made our visa renewal was becoming less complicated. One of the reasons was we were now extending our visa for the 10th time. Unlike the previous years, we did not have to wait for another month for the visa stamp.

For workers like us, visa is God’s assurance that He wants us to stay longer in the harvest field. Thank you for your prayers.

Children Update

A friend told us that our life now is a lot easier because the children have grown up. She doesn’t have a clue. We can understand her opinion because she is single and does not have to deal with kids. Yes, taking care of them changed, but the challenges have come up to a different level. Five of them are in high school now and by God’s grace, we hope to take care of them until they are in the University. We are making sure that they are not only growing up physically but also spiritually. They are fully involved in our home church and the Pastor believes that they are ready to lead worship in spite of their age. Thank you very much for your continued prayer for them and for their needs.

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NCLF/Sak Saum Thailand Update

Help us in prayer that the local Thai government will approve the application of the New Life Creations Foundation (NLCF). Moreover, NCLF’s primary ministry, Sak Saum Thailand will have its grand opening tomorrow (July 30). The founders of the original Sak Saum in Cambodia, Eric and Ginny Hanson will join in this special occasion. At the moment, we have two girls in the program and we hope to have two more in the near future.

Moreover, another YWAM Team from Madison came on July 28 and they are helping in the preparation for the grand opening and NCLF’s other ministry, the New Life Garden. The team will teach English to the children at Santhad village and will hold an English camp in the Village School. We are also praying for a volunteer who will serve full time in the village.

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House Update

We were surprised when our landlord paid us a visit. She settled in Phuket with her family many years ago and usually does not have the time to come and see us. She only did it once to show to her mother the property seven years ago. She liked the ministry we are doing with the kids and she feels like she is a part of what we are doing with the kids (because we are using her house.)

Her true intention was to inform us that she wanted to build a three-story apartment in the property and we might need to move out soon. Needless to say, she assured us that she would call us six months before that will happen. But while we are waiting for that, she increased our rent from 3,500 Baht to 5,000 a month or 60,000 Baht a year. We understand her wanting to increase the rent, our area became more commercial 3 years ago and the cost of rent has tripled. All things considered, the raise is still fair. We believe that God will provide for this growing need. We need your prayers for the rent and eventually that we can find a new place.

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Prayer Update

The NCLF leadership team has scheduled a once-a-month day of prayer and fasting. We pray for each other, the ministry and our partners. Recently, we discerned that the enemy is trying to stop us in what we are doing for the Lord and his kingdom. Larry had a car accident and recently sprained his ankle. Narlin and I had been sick recently. Wayne and Jeen are having big electrical problems in their house.

  • We had scheduled the recent one last 19th of July and we will inform you on the next one so that you can join us. We want to pray for you too, so please don’t hesitate to post your prayer concerns.
  • Pray for the leadership team— health, victory and unity in the Lord.
    Pray for the Sak Saum Thailand Grand Opening tomorrow. Pray that it will be a big blessing to everyone present.
  • Pray for the provisions of the NLCF office. We need to have a decent door, facilities and equipment.
  • Pray for provision for the (increased) rent and for another place we can move in before March 2017.
  • Pray for the ministry of the YWAM Madison Team this week.
  • Pray for the kids’ studies, protection and provision. They need a desktop PC used or new for their homeworks.
  • Thank you so much for your love, friendship and partnership. You are a huge blessing to us and a big help in doing God’s works in the harvest field. Glory be to God.

Thank you for your love and partnership. Thank you for your prayers.

We are the church (1 Thes. 1:4-8)

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Although we live in a country where Christians are very few, surprisingly though, we live in a town where there are many churches. So Christians here have many choices what church they wanted to go. And for me, it does not matter where you attend church as long as you go to church.

Many Christians are looking for a good church and some want a perfect church. I heard one Pastor said that “if you find a perfect church, please don’t join. If you do, it will not be perfect anymore.”

Since churches are made of sinful people, saved by God’s grace, no church is perfect. But some churches follows the New Testament ideals of the church, some churches do not.

The church in Thessalonica is a good example of the church that follows the New Testament teachings. This morning we will look at the characteristics of the Thessalonians and learn what is the church.

The Church is God’s chosen people (4)

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you… (v. 4)

The word church in verse 1 means “called-out people.”  It means God is calling people from this world. The church is not the building but the people who are inside the building worshiping and serving God together.

For us, the building is important but for God the building is not important.  It does not matter where we worship, inside the building or under the tree, God looks at the heart of the people who worship him.

God has chosen us because he saves us from our sin and he has chosen us even before man created or the universe was formed. God chooses us because he loves us. God elects us because he gives us faith to believe in him.

A local church must be composed of elect people, those who have been saved by the grace of God. One problem today is that many people in the church are not saved. Every church member should examine his heart to determine whether he has truly been born again and belongs to God’s elect.

The Church is God’s Model of Jesus Christ (7)

And so you became a model to all the believers… (v. 7)

The Church is the body of Christ. If the world sees us, they see Jesus Christ. From the very beginning of this Church, Paul looked to them with joy and thanksgiving because they are model Christians.

The Christians in Thesalonica were model in receiving the word of God. They heard the gospel through the ministry of Paul and his friends. The Holy Spirit used the Word of God in great power that the Thessalonians receive both the message and messengers.

I believe one of the major problems in our churches today is that many Christians today are so busy with many things that we do not have time to listen to the teaching of our Pastors about the Word of God.

We should be learning the word of God and follow the model and teaching of our leaders. We need to follow the example of mature Christians. But most important of all we need to follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ.

My prayer is that every member of our church will become a good model of Jesus to other Christians all around Mae Sai. We are the only Jesus that people will ever see.

The Church is God’s Promoter of Good News (8)

The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere.  (V. 8)

The message that they received from the Lord rang out. They did not only received the message, they also shared it. Each one of us and our local church must receive and give God’s Word.

The verb sounded out actually means “to sound as a trumpet.” They were trumpeting the Good News of salvation. It is the responsibility and privilege of the church to share the message of salvation with the lost world.  In the New Testament churches, all the members were involved in sharing the gospel.

When we go to Big C, Tesco or Robinson Central Plaza. Sometimes there are people who promote their products. They say good things about their products and they believe their products are good and will convince us to buy it. The same with us, we believe that the gospel is good news and we want people to receive it.

A recent study of church growth indicated that 70 to 80 percent of a church’s growth is the result of friends witnessing to friends and relatives to relatives. Do you have lost friends and relatives? If not, develop some and witness to them.

We need more church today who promote and share the message of salvation with others. Three billion people in our world today have never heard nor received the good news.

Conclusion

So what is the church? We are the church. Wherever we go, there is the church. If we are not here in this building, this is no longer a church. It is just a building.

The church is us.  We are God’s elected people, we are model for our Lord Jesus Christ, we are people who promote and share the good news of salvation.

Tina’s Story

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This post was written by my sister Nori when she spent her summer with us. This is her reflection of  what she learned from the other children and us about Tina.  She is now 12 years old.  Tina is our first “adopted” child and the she is the main reason that makes us believe that part of  God’s calling to us here in Mae Sai is to care for the orphans and abandoned children . This is her story.

Theinyanat lost her mother from tuberculosis when she was five. Six months after that her father died of AIDS. Kuya recalled how thin was Tina’s father and how he talked about her, that if ever he would die, he begged Kuya Joey and Narlin to take care of her girl.

Since Theinyanat’s father knew of his impending death, he desired to cross the river and go back to Tachilek. Kuya Joey and some other church members tried to do their best to help him. So, they waited for the water level to become very low and they carried him on their back alternately until they can bring him home, but since the police security was very tight, it became totally impossible. He died before making it there, and when that happened the believers panicked. They called the paramedics and when they declared him dead, the Thai police respected the body and allowed the believers to give him a decent burial.

At his death, someone took Theinyanat from the Child Care Center. Narlin was so mad when that happened because children without parents are easy prey for human trafficking. Anybody can pretend to be family relative and take advantage of the situation. Narlin learned that Theinyanat was sold for 500 Baht already and just waiting for the right moment to be taken to Bangkok.

Narlin and Kuya Joey did everything to find Theinyanat again. Narlin went as far as barking at people just to know where Theinyanat is kept. With the family’s very limited resources, she proudly asked the person who was claiming Theinyanat as her niece, “can you feed her 3 to 5 times a day, can you send her to school, can you provide her clothes, a good home and a family? if your answer is no, then let me have her, because I can have that and I can do that for her… ” With that, the other person succumbed and gave in Tina.

The family gave Theinyanat the name Tina or Tina Pie. Narlin calls her “my own”. Tina is very sensitive and the other children always bully her since she always receive special care. Narlin would say, “you all have families–some have both parents, others have lost either a mom or a dad… but Tina has no one… She is mine. She belongs to us. We are her only family.”

Please remember Tina-how the Lord will continue to assure her that she belongs and that she is loved. Remember her health-both physically and emotionally. Mention her needs — what can a little child in her situation need? Maybe, courage to face the unknown of tomorrows, strength to overcome, parental love for she knew what it meant when she needed it most but has been deprived too soon, hope for a better and brighter future, and most specially faith in God who is the only source of everything.

May God’s grace abound in you as you adopt Tina in your prayer life.

Rainy days

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It’s rainy season here in Thailand and aside from the humidity, we are loving it. It turns the mountains, fields and almost everything around us into a lively green. The air that had been heavily polluted is now refreshingly clean. The birds unceasingly singing beautiful notes. This reminds us once again of God’s love and faithfulness.

He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. (Psalm 147:8-11)

We are sharing with you the highlights of our ministry activities from the last month.

NLC Foundation/Saksaum Thailand Facilities

While we were in the Philippines, NLC/Saksaum Thailand leadership team found a suitable place for Saksaum’s training centre and girls’ home. An apartment at the front along the road is used as the Foundation office.

The leadership team with Thae and prospective girls worked so hard to clean the place which was abandoned for more then five years. So when we came in the place looked clean and presentable. A team from Colorado came and helped paint the houses. At the moment, we are doing necessary works that are needed to be done.

We are thankful to the Lord for this ministry, the leadership team, staff and now the two girls that are already undergoing sewing training. We are thankful for our leader, Larry, and for churches who are helping him with the needed fund.

Joey has shingles

A week after we arrived in Thailand, Joey was already complaining of pain and numbness on the left side of his body. He ignored the pain and just kept on working until rashes and blisters appeared. The pain became unbearable. Blisters also started appearing on his arms and face. (The doc said it is totally unrelated to shingles.)

We wanted to go to Overbook Hospital but out truck broke down again. So we ended up going to a famous dermatologist here in Mae Sai. It entailed waiting for two hours. His patients are just too many. But he is really good.

Joey has shingles, he needs some rest and strengthen his immune system. It may last for another week, but the worst is over. We thank the Lord for healing. We thank all those who are praying for us and our health.

Thanksgiving Prayers

Our last “quick update” was an appeal for help for Narlin’s hospitalisation and for our ministry vehicle. We usually don’t do this, however, we think that the money we have been saving must be used primarily for the children’s needs—food, clothing, education and shelter. So we are thankful for those who provide financial assistance for Narlin’s hospital fees. Thank you so much.

We are also thankful for the opportunity of being part of the ministry of great needs here in Mae Sai. Saksaum Thailand already ha stwo girls in training but it will probably open officially open in 30th of July. Please continue to pray for NLC Foundation and Saksaum Thailand.

We are thankful for Rocky, our truck. It has been serving us for five years already and is becoming old. We think it still has many years of usefulness. But this year, it has broken down more often than usual. We are praying for a new ministry vehicle and we believe that a van is more suitable for our present need. A friend sent us the seed money for the new vehicle. We are praying it will grow.

We are thankful for the children. They have grown up to be responsible and disciplined. Although they still need constant supervision, they are growing up to be a good model to other children in the church and community. By God’s grace, we are hoping to take care of them until they finish their university.

We are thankful that our work permit is already extended for another year. Our visa will expire on the 20th of July and its extension is based on the validity of our work permit. Please pray that the visa renewal will go smoothly this year.

We are thankful for our children in the Philippines. They are taking their education seriously and for God’s guidance, protection and provision for them. We hope to see them again soon.

Thanks again for your friendship and partnership in the ministry. Until the next update. God bless you.

Being sick and broken

The journey back home to Thailand was not easy. Narlin was not feeling well when we left the Philippines but we had no choice but to proceed with our plan to go back in Mae Sai on Sunday the 5th of June. When we arrived at the airport in Manila she was already having pains, fever and chills. She had to take a lot of paracetamol for her to be relieved of the symptoms so that we can make it back home.

We arrived in Mae Sai early evening on Sunday and she was feeling really sick. We let the night passed by and drove to Overbrook Hospital in Chiang Rai early the next morning. To the Outpatient section we went expecting that she would be sent home after the diagnosis and medications. But because of her high fever, pains and chills the doctor advised that she needed to stay at the hospital overnight for more tests. It was a bad case of bacterial infection. The fever lasted for three days and she was allowed to get home until the fever was totally gone.

Narlin is already well but she still feels very tired sometimes. We want to thank you and many of our friends who sent messages through FB and emails to tell us that you are all who pray for Narlin’s healing.

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The Truck Broke Down

Before we left for the Philippines, I (Joey) already felt that there was something wrong with the the truck’s clutch. But since we would not use it, we planned to put it in the shop as soon as we were back. But I really did not have the chance to do it because as soon as we returned I had to drive it to Chiang Rai (Overbrook Hospital) several times so I forgot all about the clutch problem until it made noises while driving it to the church on Sunday.

The truck is in the shop since Monday (13th of June). The mechanic told us that the transmissions input shaft and bearing are damaged and need to be replaced. It also needs a new set of shock absorbers. We are just thankful that it did not broke down until Narlin was out of the hospital already.  Public transport is not easily accessible here in Mae Sai, so our truck is ours and the children’s only means of transportation.

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Prayer Requests

First of all we are thankful to the Lord for Narlin’s healing. We also thank the Lord for your prayers and partnership. Moreover, in the light of the recent unexpected event, please help us to pray  for our needs.

  • Pray for Narlin’s complete healing.
  • Pray that the repair of the truck will be quick.
  • Pray for our financial needs. Narlin’s hospitalisation cost us about 18,000 THB (U$510) and the truck repair estimated cost is 21,000 THB (U$600). It means, we had spent some money we are saving for the children’s food and schooling needs. Any contribution will be a big help.
  • Please help us to pray for a new van. Perhaps it is about time for us to pray for a new and more practical vehicle that suits the need of our growing family.

Thanks again for your partnership in the our ministry. We pray that God will continue to bless you.

Summer heat with haze

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It’s March! Burning season in Northern Thailand and Myanmar. The time of the year when the summer heat is most oppressive and smoke from the burning cornfields hangs heavily on the air. People prefer to stay indoor. It is the season when outdoor inactivity is accepted even encouraged until Songkran Water Festival comes in two weeks.

Foreigners (like me) living in Thailand complain a lot but the locals learn to live with it knowing that all these inconveniences are temporary. When Songkran comes, the Thais are assured of the “songkran rain” that usually follows the celebration. It cleans the air and cools down the summer heat. We all look forward to that day.

Meanwhile, Christians are observing the lenten season and on Sunday the resurrection will be celebrated in churches here in Mae Sai. This reminds us that the difficulties we are experiencing right now is temporary because of the hope God has promised. (Romans 8:22-25.)

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Once again, we want to thank you for your love and prayers. Your partnership helps us to continue on with our ministry of helping people who are at risk.

The Graduates

March is also the month when schools in Thailand are having their graduation ceremonies. Pang, Samching, Muey, Jai and Dina graduated from elementary and Andrew from pre-school. Andrew delivered the graduation speech in English. He did excellent job but we doubt if anybody besides us understood his message. But the audience was really impressed. Thank you so much for helping us for their education. Please pray for them as they will take the entrance test at Mae Sai Prasirtsart School on Saturday. Andrew took and passed the entrance test at Mae Sai Anuban School. Five of them will be in high school this May and please continue to include them in your prayers.

Some Changes with New Beginnings

Our ministry for young women at risk has officially started. Ami has started making scarves and bags for Sak Saum-Cambodia. We are excited to experience how the Lord has been working and how we (Larry, Wayne, Jeen, Narlin & Joey) have been committed to see this project come to fruition. We come to realisation that starting a ministry project has its own difficulties.

First, the Network for Children and Women which we have been working with for more than six years has refused to help us to open a bank account which we will use to temporarily receive fund from Canada. Second, Julie decided to leave the team and it left us with no local staff who will oversee the project. But God’s replacement is already prepared. Third, it seems we cannot use the “New Beginnings” as the name of our Foundation, there are many Foundations in Thailand with similar name. We will use New Life Creations Foundation.

The leadership team spent much time praying and planning. We need to start a Foundation to be recognised by the Thai government and for financial accountability for donors and ministry expenses. We are thankful for persons who are now helping us. Jeab who is a part time staff of our a partner ARLDF and Tae who works with Compasio and will relocate in Mae Sai to work full time with us. She will be Julie’s replacement. We thank the Lord for bringing in people to help.

Indeed, by God’s grace we are moving forward. Thank you so much for your prayers. Please pray for that the process for starting the Foundation will be smooth and fast. Please pray for Larry who will be working to raise the needed fund for this ministry and the bond (250,000 THB) required by the Thai government. Please continue to intercede for us as we help abused and exploded young women find new life.

Visa & Work Permit

Our non-immigrant visa and work permit will expire in July but the process starts this month. We are thankful for the Rainbow Foundation staff who work so hard to help us renew our visa and work permit. We thank the Lord for provisions for our contribution to the Foundation for the salary of the staff and office expenses. We also need to pay government fees for visa and work permit. As usually happens here in Thailand, there are some changes in the process but pray that the visa extension will go smooth.

House Rent

Every time we have prayer time, we never fail to thank the Lord for providing us a home. The house is a big blessing to us. This year’s Songkran Water Festival will be on the 15th of April. This is also the time when the owner of the house we are renting will come to Mae Sai to collect the one-year house rent. We are grateful for God’s provision for this particular need. Thankful for friends who faithfully help us but any additional contributions will be highly appreciated.

English Kids’ Club

The English Kids’ Club in Santhad Village takes a back seat while we spend time and energy with New Life Creation Foundation/Sak Saum. When Eileen left to go back home to Australia, nobody took her place in teaching and doing the English Club. At the moment, we are praying for a volunteer English teacher who will commit to teach at the Village School and will do the weekly English Kids’ Club at the ministry centre.

Jared, Jillian and Reuven

Thank you so much for helping us not only in prayer but for also for financially providing for our own children now living in the Philippines. Jared is now teaching at a private school but having difficulties with the school’s leadership. Jillian is graduating with an Education degree in the month of May. We will go home to be with her to celebrate the occasion. Reuven is having a hard time with the schedule adjustment and from living apart from his parents. Please continue to pray for them.

Thank You

We are thankful to God for churches and loving friends who faithfully partner with us through out the ten years we are here in Mae Sai. Again, we recognised and honour the sacrifices you made in order to send your contribution. Thank you very much and we thank the Lord for you.