This has not been the best week.

Perhaps it’s odd to title this post “Grateful” under such circumstances but I don’t really have much to say other than that I’m thankful that God has brought me through and prompted loved ones to encourage me in the times where I have felt weak.


As some might imagine, losing functionality of a lot of my blog and one of my uncomfortably expensive CF memory cards from my camera has been discouraging. I wrote a whole blog update and saved it so I could proofread it later, only to come back a few hours later to discover that the saved version was somehow lost, so I have to start again. I hope to re-write that post later on, but in the meantime I’ll think of some way to summarise the past two weeks’ goings on.


Earlier this fortnight, I had the privilege to go and photograph a house repair project in a village outside Poipet, with Pern as my guide (it was the first time I had travelled in excess of 60km/h on the back of a motorbike, which felt really fast, even for the highway). Unfortunately I later lost almost all of the photos from this trip, as my brand new memory card malfunctioned shortly afterwards, but below are a few photos I was able to salvage. Christian Care for Cambodia (CCFC)’s house repair program allows some of the most disadvantaged local Khmer to pay for much-needed repairs for their houses. Pern and I travelled to a village 45 minutes out of Poipet (or 20 minutes if Pern didn’t have me as a passenger) where we visited one of the locals who were blessed by this ministry.

The first picture (below) is Srey Nich’s (I’ve changed her name) old house. As you can see, it is leaky at the edges, it is directly on the ground (so heavy rain, which is common at this time of year, would flood the house regularly) and the front wall is just cloth, giving little protection from the elements.


Pern and I spent a little time searching from place to place in the village to look for Srey Nich so she could show us the new house. We ended up travelling to the other end of the small village, and when we asked after her we were introduced with one of the men calling out in Khmer, “Hey, come out here, there’s a barang (foreigner) here to see you!”, to which I was greeted with a few curious local women who began running their hands through my hair, and this lively, expressive little lady who ran out of a nearby hut and threw her arms around me, and then began excitedly chattering away to Pern in Khmer. Srey Nich, Pern and I then piled together onto Pern’s motorbike and the three of us then navigated the extremely muddy, slippery village road at 15km/h while I held on for dear life.

We walked the rest of the way to the new house through a field of thousands of tiny blue flowers. I was greeted with the a wooden house, which was raised off the ground (much better for a village where flooding is common around this time of year) and a door covered in plastic (far more likely to protect from the wind and rain). Although the house was still unfinished when I photographed it, it looks dramatically better than her old house. Pern translated for me as this lovely lady talked to me about how she finally had her own water jar – her old one was borrowed but now she was given one of her own. Among lost photos from my camera were some photos of Srey Nich smiling wide as she hugged me and posed for a picture: she wanted a photo with the barang. There were other images of her standing proudly in front of her new house with a peaceful smile on her face.


A lot of the materials used to build the house were recycled, and as you can see, a corrugated metal roof has replaced the thatched roof – much better for heavy rain. As I said, the house is not yet finished, and there are some wooden panels still missing, but this has already been a great improvement.

The staff at CCFC were also blessed with the Windus family coming to visit us in Poipet for a few days. Scott and Janelle Windus and their two children Rosie (9) and Isaac (8) have been in Cambodia for almost a year now, mainly focusing on studying language in Phnom Penh where they are currently living. Soon they hope to move to Siem Reap (north of Phnom Penh) and start a sport and health ministry of some kind in the area. Scott and Janelle are both passionate about sports, as are their two energetic children. Janelle also has training as a dietician, which can greatly benefit the Khmer people as they learn more about how to take care of themselves with the right food for nursing mothers, sick children, the elderly, etc.
I’m really excited to see this family grow as their time here unfolds. I was so inspired to see a whole family so dedicated to life in a foreign country with a new language, new culture, and a whole lot of new challenges, on top of the everyday challenges of running a family and studying at school. They are wonderfully down-to-earth, and I was reminded again that being a missionary is not necessarily heroic or unattainable, but it can be as simple as doing life with Jesus wherever you are called – whether that is Cambodia, or Africa, or America, or Queensland or the suburbs of Western Sydney in Australia.

(Left to right: Isaac, Scott, Rosie and Janelle – they borrowed Cate’s bike as the family vehicle for the weekend)


On Sunday I joined some of the Christian Care For Cambodia (CCFC) staff to “help” with Volleyball (I was scorekeeper, which meant tallying points on the whiteboard and getting hit in the head with a stray ball occasionally). For those of you who know me, sports is really not my thing. Neither is getting hit in the head with volleyballs. About four volleyball games in, though, it started absolutely bucketing down with rain, and although we were undercover, our game was rained out with horizontal downpour. Meanwhile, however, the soccer game that was running on the field just next to us went on as if sudden flooding was the most normal thing in the world. A few of the children took shelter from the rain behind the volleyball scoreboard, while others stood as far out of the rain as possible and watched the mayhem on-field. It was the first time that I’d ever felt cold weather in Cambodia (it was still about 28 degrees, but the wind and rain made it feel a lot colder).



Rosie had thoughtfully collected armfuls of frangipannis in a giant banana leaf and was handing them out to people through the afternoon.

This was also the day that I learned why you don’t hang your motorbike helmet upside-down over the moto handlebar by the chin-strap; my bike helmet filled up with water within the first two minutes of downpour. I’m still trying to get rid of the “wet helmet” smell.


It hasn’t been the easiest few weeks for me, and I suspect each of our other CCFC team members have been experiencing their own stresses in the past few days. God has been graciously prompting loved ones to contact me with timely encouragements and prayers, however, and these have been the things to pick me up off the floor and push me to keep moving forward despite how I’ve been feeling some days. Cate, my co-worker and housemate, has also been a huge blessing to me as she has gone out of her way to make my hardest days better, and I also want to acknowledge how thankful I am for this. Apart from the frustration of a lot of my technology dying in the past few weeks, as well as the mental exhaustion of constantly trying to decipher Khmer conversation and remember the right words to say and things to do, I’m learning that a new country and language, although helpful for me to distract myself, doesn’t automatically make me forget things that hurt back at home, or move on from issues that have affected me for a long time. Jonah’s story teaches that leaving the country doesn’t make the tough things in life go away, and I’m feeling a big fish coming on sometime soon to swallow me up and force me to confront some things and heal from problems I’ve dealt with this year and last year.


If you are someone who has felt it on your heart to encourage me this past week, I just want to thank you for that, and I want to say that it has been exactly the right timing. I’ve been praying for everyone who I’ve been talking to this week, and I pray that God blesses you as much as he has blessed me through you.
Perhaps some might say I share too much in this blog, but I’m realising if I don’t then I’ll be doing this journey alone (with God, of course, but isolated from others). The more prayer I can get, the better, and I trust that God works all things (good or bad) to his good purpose, even if I don’t understand them right now.

I hope I will be able to share more about the amazing staff at ABC School (where I am working) in my next post, but until then, thank you for your prayers – I haven’t forgotten you.

In love,

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Prayer Point – Pray for the Gremlins to Get Out of my Computer and Camera Gear!

I’m not sure why, but my blog has been loading horribly for the last week or so, so I’ve had a lot of trouble updating. I’ve been having a few other issues with my camera’s brand new (rather expensive) memory card, which I’ve now had to write off as unusable, and my new card reader is also playing up. Please pray that my computer sorts itself out; I have no idea what the problem is but I can’t use the browser or the Windows 8 app to update this blog, so all my updates will probably look quite messy! I’ve tried everything from scanning for viruses, to emptying my cache/deleting cookies, to running C Cleaner and using different browsers. Nothing’s helped so far…
Hopefully I’ll have a more complete update to come quite soon, but in the meantime know that I haven’t forgotten you all, I have simply had page errors that have prevented me from being able to figure out how to update this blog. I hope this update actually works!
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Visit to the DDC, and an introduction to ABC School

It’s a Friday night here in Poipet and as I write this the people next door have decided to blast some Khmer dance music over some assumably enormous speakers, and even with all this concrete and several windows between me and the outside, the entire house is shaking. Since sleep is not looking like an option for at least a few hours, it might be a good time to update you all on the past few days as I have hit the ground running!

On Thursday I accompanied bong Cate, bong Pern, bong Chanthy and bong Makara to the Drug Detention Centre where we played some silly games, shared some morning tea and related the news and current affairs to those inside the centre. It was a fun time shared by all.

I’ve also begun teaching at ABC School just five minutes’ walk away from where I am living. The classroom is open to the street so sometimes I find myself having to yell over the din of the car horns outside, but my students are very enthusiastic learners, which makes things a lot easier and more enjoyable.

View of the street from inside the classroom

View of the street from inside the classroom

Today it started absolutely bucketing down, so the 5pm students got caught in the rain at the end of their lesson and the 6pm students didn’t start turning up until about 6:15. Schedules are very much subject to the weather here as many of the roads are unsealed and a large portion of the population travel by bicycle or motorbike.

ABC Classroom

ABC Classroom

This is Room 1, where I have been teaching. The image of the King and Queen of Cambodia (above the whiteboard) is a common one to be seen in classrooms and houses as they are highly respected and revered in Cambodia. The staff’s certificates of attainment from various courses are displayed in picture frames above the whiteboard. The divider on the left doesn’t block the sounds from the class happening next door but does allow two classes to run consecutively; every spare space in this building has been used economically. This classroom is about the size of a single garage and would comfortably seat about 8 students. Some classes have up to twelve students, in which case they seem to shuffle around the desks and take chairs from other classrooms.

Please pray for me as I begin to figure out how these classes will be structured over the coming few weeks. So far some of the staff seem to perceive me as a sort of substitute teacher, but my desire is that I can partner with and pass on as much training to the local teachers as possible so that it empowers them and allows for longer-term development in Poipet. Please pray that I will be able to communicate effectively with teachers to enable them to improve their English skills too, so that these skills will be left in the country and go on to benefit others for years to come.

Much love,


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His Love Remains

Getting a massage together while waiting for Mum to meet us at Sydney Airport

Getting a massage together while waiting for Mum to meet us at Sydney Airport

Hey everyone! My, oh my, after a long, very crazy week of packing, catching up with friends, shopping at the last minute, unpacking and packing again and then crying about it, spending some time with my beautiful church family for part of the annual church camp at Kedron, praying for healing with some wonderful friends from Northwest, selecting a new, more reliable laptop for my journey, unpacking and packing again, eating filthy greasy kebabs in the western suburbs of Sydney as a final hurrah to life in Austraila, and what seems like endless hugs, by the grace of God I actually somehow ended up on this plane.


Unfortunately I found out that by some mistake, my coworker and I ended up not being on the same plane after all, which was rather disappointing. I spent longer waiting to get through customs than I expected, so I had to hurriedly shove everything back into my carry-on bags and run pathetically to the other side of the airport as I was paged a few times over the PA for a final call for my flight to Singapore. My family saw me run past the observation deck and began waving frantically and trying to catch a photo of me waving back at them, but instead probably got a blurry image of me with my palms pressed together and my lips mouthing, “PRAY FOR ME” as I kept running.

Singapore Airport

Singapore Airport

I was the last passenger to board the plane, I heard the airline staff say over the walkie talkie as I handed over my boarding pass. Thankfully, my flight was slightly delayed, so although it was due to leave at 5:50, I managed to board at 5:57pm, coughing and almost hysterical. I felt my body get pushed back into my seat as the plane left the tarmac and watched as the spectacular Vivid light show in Sydney Harbour faded into the distance, and I was reminded again of God’s loving presence in Australia, in Cambodia, but also right there with me on that plane. Amidst the drone of the plane engine, I found myself singing a song that I had earlier been playing in my father’s car on the way to the airport.

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant in the trial and the change
This one thing remains

On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I’ll never, ever have to be afraid
‘Cause this one thing remains
This one thing remains

Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.

In death, in life, I’m confident and covered by the power of your great love.
My debt is paid, and there’s nothing that can separate my heart from your great love.

Koi Pond at Singapore Airport

As I write this I am safely in Cambodia, in my newly unpacked room. Two of the Christian Care for Cambodia staff who I am working with – Pern (Pip’s fiancee and self-confessed muffin addict) and Makara (my Khmer language tutor who I found out is also somehow able to fall asleep on the back of a motorbike; thankfully not while he’s the one driving) – insisted on disassembling the front of the wardrobe so they could squeeze it into my room and I could have a wardrobe. My first impression of my two new workmates was them climbing up the front of the wardrobe and squatting on the top, bashing at the front panel with a screwdriver handle. They have certainly gone to a lot of trouble for me this week and I’m so thankful to be working with such kind and thoughtful people.

Pip Miner and Cate Rogers from Global Interaction have been fantastic housemates and workmates, and because they have lived here a number of years they not only know all the good places to shop in the area, but they also speak fluent Khmer and have been patiently explaining a lot of cultural things to me. I couldn’t have been blessed with a better team to do life with here in Poipet.

My Room

I was really blessed this morning as we met together for a bible study (mostly in Khmer, but thankfully Cate translated for me) and we opened up to Psalm 121, to read a message on such similar lines to the song that has been on my heart ever since I left Australia.

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

This is a traveller’s Psalm that people would remember on their journeys as God protecting them and remaining with them, and Cate related it to our own life journeys as we remember God’s loving hand over us. Our great God is the maker of all things, he never sleeps, he never fails, never gives up on us and never runs out of love for us. I found it so helpful to remember that this week.

On the way to Poipet

On the way to Poipet

Since arriving here yesterday morning I have begun Khmer lessons with Makara (more language blunder stories to come), and I have started visiting the ABC English School around the corner from where I am living to observe how the teachers are structuring their classes and scoping out what to expect when I begin teaching. The teachers at the school are really excited to be having a barung (foreigner) teaching English here, and it has also been great to be able to practice my- very minimal- Khmer knowledge on the students. They were thrilled to hear me at least attempting to respond to them in their own language, although I have now earned the nickname “Eleven” because I told them I was bee darp moi ch’naam, or “two ten-one years old”. They thought it hilarious that I said I was two and eleven.
For those following on with language lessons, I quickly learned that the correct word for “twenty one” is in fact mupai moi. Apparently they’re not going to let me live that one down!

Tomorrow I am accompanying some of the CCFC staff as they make their fortnightly visit to the Drug Detention Centre in Serei Saophoan, the capital city of the Banteay Meanchey province where I am living. Please pray that the visit goes well and that God will bless the people we visit. In all of this I wish for people to see the hope that we have in God, that they might seek after that same hope.

Please also pray for me as I will begin teaching a short English crash course at ABC School starting Monday next week. I’m not trained as a teacher so I’m hoping that my efforts to convey my English knowledge will be helpful and informative anyhow!


EDIT: Prayer request from my previous post – ANSWERED! I turned up at the transit hotel and inquired about whether there were any last-minute cancellations, and there was one budget single room available for exactly the six-hour slot that I needed! Ever so thankful for the good night’s sleep I got while stopping over in Singapore! God is very good!

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Short Update & Urgent Prayer Request

Oh my, the weeks are flying past at an ever-increasing rate, and God seems to be pulling things together and bringing people into my life to encourage and challenge me in all sorts of contexts.

Even at home, it has been a rather tumultuous two weeks as some family issues have come up that have affected my parents in particular, and made me realise how much Mum’s singing, or lack of singing, affects my ability to cope with things, quite like having a canary in a mine shaft. Although it isn’t directly related to my own journey, I believe my parents could really use your prayers right now as some members of my extended family have suffered great loss and pain and it has come as a shock. God has been teaching us all things through it, and we have been praising God the whole way through, despite the hurt. We’re just hoping that each of our dark seasons end sooner rather than later.

On a rather urgent note, the Transit Hotel at Singapore Airport that I had requested a booking at has informed me that there is no room for me to stay there. This is where I will have an 8-hour stopover and, at this time, it’s looking like my options are rather limited and I might have to spend the night sleeping out in the public section of the airport, which would be alright if it were during the day, or if I were with people I knew and trusted, but as I will be travelling alone this will mean I will have to manage my own security and guard my own luggage – difficult to do when I’m also trying to sleep. I know it’s not a likely request, but please pray that a cancellation opens up a spot for me to have somewhere to sleep in the hotel for a few hours, as this was what my parents and I have been praying for. I know God has come through for us in impossible situations before, so if you could please join with us in praying for a hotel room in Singapore Airport, I would greatly appreciate the prayerful support, and I am hoping that God will surprise us again with his bigger plans. He is so very great and loving, and I trust that if he has brought me this far he will continue to fulfil every need for me and my family in the coming weeks and months, just as he has promised. Perhaps this might not come in the way that I might expect, but I trust that he will come through – we just need to keep asking and trusting!

Thank you so much for your prayers.

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…Not That I’m Counting

Not That I'm Counting

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Revision and Confirmation

Something that I learned in school over the years of my childhood and early adolescence, was a practice I at first resented but I eventually came to realise is so vital – almost as important as absorbing all the new information: getting into the habit of revising previous lessons every now and then to refresh the memory and make the piece of information easier to recall in future.

I’ve been searching again for confirmation about this decision to travel. From my perspective, I’d had confirmation enough. I was already convinced that it was God telling me to go to Cambodia, and I was a few hours away from paying for plane tickets when one of my parents told me that they hadn’t received the same feeling of confirmation. I sort of halted and the pace of everything changed as now I had to consider the possibility that I in fact hadn’t heard this from God, but perhaps I was chasing after some crazy idea, or perhaps their uneasiness was just a concerned parent’s worry. Those who were with me at our home group last Tuesday night would have remembered that we prayed together with my family as we asked for God to settle our hearts if this was right, or close the door if it wasn’t.

As the days crept forward and airline tickets grew more expensive, I sat impatiently waiting for an answer, for my parents to feel some kind of peace, some kind of deep-down “yes” in their spirit, so that I could book the tickets. I wanted something definite.

Dad, in passing, commented that it would be a real confirmation if someone I knew were to accompany me on my way there. Of course, this would be impossible, as signing up to go on a Global Interaction Short Term trip takes longer than four weeks to fill out all the paperwork for, as well as all the documentation outside of that that I’ve been trawling through for the past few months.

In revisiting old lessons, I’ve had to remember that if God isn’t seeming to respond, it’s either because the timing isn’t right and he wants me to wait, or because I have already been given the answer and I haven’t acted upon it.

If God was expecting me to wait any longer to go, then this ministry in Cambodia would be wrapped up and I would have nowhere to serve (Christian Care For Cambodia’s partnership with Global InterAction finishes up in October, and I hope to be out of everyone’s way before that time so they can focus on tying off loose ends). If I was ever going to go, it would have to be now. So the only alternative, I figured, was that God wanted me to remember what he had already told me in the past. During the week, while I was frantically digging and searching through my old things trying to look for my RTA Driving Test guide (yes, I finally went for, and got, my P1 Licence last Wednesday), I happened to come across an envelope given to me at my Year 12 Graduation, containing a letter from each of my parents, and several small messages from various teachers who had taken my classes over the years. It was my mother’s letter, this time, that was the thing to captivate me.

 “The Lord Himself has given you the gift of “choice” and as you already know, it doesn’t really matter what you choose to do, as long as you do it bringing glory to the Lord, your spirit will ALWAYS be content and satisfied.” Thursday, 23rd September 2010

I spent the latter part of 2010 in a state of stress, not about exams, but about having to make the “right” decision about what I was to do with the rest of my life. I spent a great deal of months continuing to fret, well into the new year of 2011. This indecisiveness was exactly the thing that caused me to want to enrol in Plunge Gap Year, as at the time I saw it as a way of putting off the dreaded career decision for another year. What my mother wrote in this letter was a truth that had still taken until many months after my graduation for me to finally understand and accept; God doesn’t “give” me a path, he offers me choices, and I can say “yes” to one path and have a glorious, wonderful adventure, or I can say “yes” to an entirely different path and still have a wonderful life and be loved and blessed by God through wherever that path takes me.

Dinner with Kayleen

Dinner with my beautiful friend and mentor Kayleen

God had made me an offer, and it was my choice whether I wanted to take it. I can’t vouch for whether serving in Cambodia will be a long-term thing. At the moment I look at the possibility with slight distaste, as it means leaving my life here. And I have a really good life, when I look at how many are here to support me, and how fortunate I am to have a family who love me. But for now, I’ve been given a first step, and I had chosen, so far, to say “yes”. When I deliberated over whether it was what God wanted, all I had to do was ask, does it honour and bring glory to God? If the answer was yes – which in this case, as long as I went with the right motivations,  it was – then of course I could choose to go. In late 2011 God promised me, in his own words, that he would take me on an adventure. And so far it has been quite a run. I can’t say it’s been great so far, particularly lately, but it has been an adventure, and I am very aware that it’s only the very beginning. This journey overseas is the next step, and on Friday 17th May 2013 I decided for certain that I was going to take it. I put my money where my mouth is, and I paid for my flights all in one go. That evening, when I got home, I found an envelope on the dining room table in my mother’s handwriting.

My darling Eleshia,

Whilst I still have not received the “Whizz Bang” Word from the Lord that I was hoping for, I am a little more at ease about you going.

This morning, I was wandering around Westpoint picking up various bits & pieces when I had (what I thought was) a feeling of peace come over me. I think I’m comfortable enough to say it was a peace about your Cambodia trip…

… So Eleshia, in as much as I can’t wait for you to come back and that I’ll never really be truly settled until such time as you ARE back, I’d also like to say, go in the Name of Jesus, be blessed and be a blessing to others. Be super sensitive to His Word and may it be very much His Word of Truth & Knowledge that will guide and protect your spirit in every step you’ll take…

… May every word you speak be inspired and generated by the Lord’s Spirit of Life Himself. May He be your comfort and strength. My prayer is that he will carry you through the lonely times – that you’ll learn to rely on him in a deeper, richer and more real way.

You are my firstborn present from Jesus. I love you dearly. Having you safely back home is what I would really like.

I’ll be eagerly awaiting your return home from this trip.

Be blessed and bless others in Jesus’ Name.


Marayong Station_Watermarked

I could very well end this update here, with the grand news of my mother receiving that feeling of peace (which is a tremendously big deal for a mother, especially for her firstborn daughter), my finally graduating off my Learner’s License (after four lazy years, on the first attempt),and my flights finally being booked and confirmed (I leave on Monday 10th June). However, as I was drafting this post today it became apparent that God wasn’t finished with this story just yet.

Work has been a bit frantic lately as both I and another coworker scramble to get as much work in order as possible before both of us leave to go to different parts of the world for a number of weeks. Her for a holiday in Europe, me to serve in South Asia. As such, our conversations have frequently returned to the subject of preparing for our imminent departures, new luggage bags we’ve purchased, which bank card gives the lowest fees on currency conversions, and exactly what time we need to be at the airport in order to get GST refunds on recently purchased photography equipment – we are both avid enthusiasts. In passing, today, my coworker mentioned that it was exactly three weeks until she left for her holiday – to which I remarked, “Oh, it’s three weeks for me too! We must be leaving on the same day!”

“Oh yes, but my flight leaves in the afternoon.”
“So does mine…”
“Mine leaves at 5:50.”
“… what airline did you book with?”
“Oh, some airline. Not the same one as yours. We’re stopping over in Singapore. Not the airline you booked… We’re on Singapore Airlines.”
“Rita, I think we’re on the same plane!”
“Oh. Are you sure?”

Turns out, my father’s idea of someone accompanying me on my flight out to Singapore wasn’t so impossible that God couldn’t utterly surprise me. My coworker and I had not discussed specific flight plans or dates, but I had picked the 10th of June as a date that was long enough after my 21st birthday that it would allow me with time to clean up and get last minute affairs together before leaving the country. My coworker had booked her flights months in advance. I booked mine last week.

Dad’s prayer was answered.

Thank you, to those who prayed for me and my family in the past week and a half particularly. God seems to love to surprise us with the seemingly impossible, and I have a feeling that this won’t be the only “impossible” thing he shows me in the coming months. May he continue to work in your lives too, and shower you with surprises, big and small, that cause you to remember why he is such a wonderful friend to have.


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