A New Brother…(In Christ)!…{continued}

Seeing God working in the lives of others is such a beautiful thing!! You may remember the story I blogged about a couple months ago (see: https://meganhensley98.wordpress.com/2015/07/25/a-new-brother-in-christ/ ), regarding having the opportunity to be with a young man named Ringson when he made the choice to give his life to the Lord. Ringson asked me all sorts of questions that day which really challenged me and made me think; but were good questions.

I was unable to attend last month’s Inshila meeting (which is also explained in the above link) so I sent a note with someone to give to Ringson saying I was praying for him, hoped he was doing well, and wondered if he had any other questions. He replied with a few questions for me and said God had really been working in his life in the last month! He didn’t say how, but just said God had been doing much in his life.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see the person who had the reply letter for me until today. So I received his letter today and also saw him today. lol..

After the Inshila meeting was finished, I went and read Ringson’s letter and then found him to reply in person. 😉 We ended up basically continuing our discussion from last time…He asked me a new set of questions and we revisited old ones. Four (ish..) other boys were also standing around asking questions and listening to our conversation.

Ringson had written down all of the questions he wanted to ask me, but when I asked him where the list was, he said, “I forgot it…but I will bring it next time!” But this didn’t stop our discussion!

One of the other young men named Warren asked what he must do to become a Christian. I turned to Ringson and asked him if he wanted to answer. He and I tag-teamed to answer the question; and after answering Warren and other had more questions.

As a group, we discussed the role of baptism. We discussed whether or not a person can attain perfection. We discussed why God sometimes does and why God sometimes doesn’t reveal a reason for suffering. We revisited the topic of why God allows bad things to happen. We discussed speaking in tongues. We discussed who God is in a physical sense. We discussed whether or not salvation is open to all people. We discussed how God answers prayer. We discussed different scenarios and whether or not the person/people in the scenarios were making right or wrong choices…etc.

I don’t pretend to know the hearts of any of the young men standing there, but after asking Ringson, I have NO doubt God is truly Lord in his life!

I asked him how he has seen God working in his life over the past two months and he said, “I understand the Word much better! I will be reading and God will help me understand it now in a new way Being a Christian…It just feels different. Like, He lives in me and it’s feels so different. I have changed now. And I’m so happy God has done this in my life!”

Evidence of God revealing things about Scripture to him was clear because he referenced the Bible often in our discussion. He said, “I was reading somewhere this month…” and go on with sharing about a story or verse and ask a question about it or share what he was learning from it. He referenced SO many different stories with true insight into those stories!

I said to him, “You have been reading your Bible a lot haven’t you?”

Ringson: “YES! I have! I am much changed now…!” He continued on and talked about how he had been reading the story of Moses rescuing the Israelites and they had just crossed the Red Sea. He talked about God’s role in this incident in using a man, working through Moses, even in his weakness, to accomplish this miracle of rescuing His people and parting the Red Sea.

After sharing this he said, “Okay, so what happens next in the story!?”

Me: “Are you reading this story right now?”

Ringson: “Yes! It is the story I am reading just now…”

Me: “Then you should read the story to find out what happens!”

It was such a joy to see him SO passionate about reading God’s Word and understanding more about Him.

I also asked him if he had faced any challenges the last couple months. He responded, “Yes..MANY temptations! I will be somewhere doing what-and-what and someone will say, ‘hey come do this thing’ and I will have to say, ‘AH! Lord have mercy to help me!’ and walk away from that. There are SO many temptations that are challenging…But God has helped me to walk away and to say no.”

I encouraged him by saying how wonderful it was that he has sought the Lord for help in those times to say “no” and walk away from temptation. I also told him he wasn’t the only one who struggled with temptation. Everyone is faced with temptation and everyone falls into those temptations at some point; but God is always there to catch us when we fall. He will forgive us when we sincerely ask…He already has forgiven us.

As I was preparing to leave, I quickly asked Ringson how I could be praying for him. He said, “Pray for me that I will have more faith and that I will not do the things I’m tempted to do and that God will help me to be a better person!”

Two of the other boys standing around asked if they also could bring me a list of questions they had about God and His Word. One of them stays just near Wiphan and the other said he would bring his list to that boy. I told them of course they could bring me a list of questions! And I departed with the promise to pray for them and a promise from them to pray for me and bring me lists of questions…

I know I said this at the beginning, but I just have to say again what a joy it is to see other come into the family of Christ! To see someone who is truly desiring to serve the Lord and honor Him with his/her life! Ringson is the first person I have ever been privileged to witness come to the point of salvation and then see the fruit of that in his life, and it has brought be so much joy to see God’s work in his life!

God is doing amazing things in Ringson’s life…God is doing amazing things in my life…He can do amazing things in your life as well!

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Job vs. Me

Hey everyone…Sorry about the incredibly long gap since my last post. Different circumstances have made my schedule a bit more busy than normal lately. In fact, I haven’t been on the computer (besides for school purposes) nearly as much as I normally am; and it has been really nice actually (but that’s another subject). However, I still want to keep up with my blog and I have something on my heart to write about; so here goes!

As anyone who has followed my blog long knows, our electricity here in Ndola goes off every day. It currently (usually) goes off in eight hour shifts: either 5am-1pm (0500-1300) or 1pm-9pm (1300-2100). Pretty much anyone we talk to with this same schedule agrees the afternoon/evening shift is far worse! In short, I think it’s worse because everything we do becomes about chasing daylight or preparing for the dark. It’s hard to cook when there’s no light, so dinner must be started early. Not to mention the charcoal has to have time to heat, so we have to account for that when we calculate dinner prep time. Then, candles must be found and all conglomerated in a central location so we can light them and distribute them around the house when darkness comes. Heating water for dishes must be considered when cooking so dishes can be washed (unless we want to do it later).

Not only this, but the things we can do are more limited with the evening outage. We can’t be outside after dark (mosquitoes=malaria); it’s a bit difficult to do school work in the dark; computer batteries only last a little while; etc.

So I say all this as a lead-in to my evening…

It hasn’t been anything out of the ordinary. As you might have guessed, the power is off (yes, I’m running on my little bit of computer battery) which means everything i talked about above applies to tonight.

I finished cooking dinner in time for us to still eat in (somewhat) daylight. Afterwards, I was a bit at a loss for what to do…But I quickly decided to read my Bible. I know, I know, I mentioned how hard it is to study school work in the dark…but I’m not writing anything down, my Bible is small, and I have a priveledge not everyone has in owning a Bible, so I’m going to read it even when it may not be the most convenient.

The thing is though, it was very convenient! I truly feel like God is using these incredibly annoying power outages to draw me closer to Him. It’s easy for me to get caught up in day-to-day life and overlook spending personal time with the Lord; especially right now with such a busy schedule…But God is encouraging and helping me to slow down, put other things aside, and come to Him…And you know what? The more time I’m spending with Him in those “convenient hours”, the more I desire to make time for Him during even the busiest of days!

So tonight, after I finished with dinner, I went outside with my Bible, a candle, and a cup of tea and sat beside the crackling charcoal fire from dinner and read God’s Word.

I’ve recently begun reading in Job. I was doing a brief study on the story in school, and decided i wanted to read the whole story again. I’m only 3 chapters in and I’ve already learned so much and been pondering even more!

I think about wise men of the past whom we frequently quote their “wise sayings” (say, Nelson Mandela or Theodore Roosevelt) and I wonder, “Why don’t we quote Job more often?” This man was wise!

In just a period of minutes, Job lost all his camels, sheep, donkeys, oxen, servants, and children! One messenger after another; while the one before “was yet speaking”, came to bear these terrible reports to Job…

If I were Job, I don’t even want to imagine my reactions! I’m sure I would be quite ashamed of them…But what does Job say?

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
…”Blessed be the name of the Lord”….Job loses ALL his children, servants, and livestock and what he says is ‘blessed be the name of the Lord’…!!!
Then, another day, Job is suffering from boils all over his body. His wife comes to him and advises him to “curse God and die!” To this, Job replies: “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”
The story is far from over at this point, however even in just this bit of passage, I have been incredibly convicted of my complaining attitude. Until reading this story again, I never really thought of myself as someone who complained; but in reality, I’m often complaining on the inside whether it shows outwardly or not. And I know good and well I complain about things far less consequential than what Job experienced…
Even in this blog post I’ve complained about the power outages…Sure, I also mentioned seeing a light in this dark time (pun intended) but I also see a whole lot of negatives as well; negatives which I am far too quick to point out and rant about before seeing the positives.
As I continue to read through Job, and as I continue to seek the Lord’s help weeding out sin in my life, I pray my focus will become less about my physical status and more about my heart’s status. I pray God will continue to reveal sins in my life to sift me and make me more like Him.
I realize this post has been a bit “all over the place” with regards to subject content, but I hope it all makes sense and that you have been encouraged.

Just Take Me As I Am….

I was sitting in the hospitality class at Wiphan yesterday singing and praying with my friends. Every knee was bowed, nearly every eye closed as we knelt on the ground in worship to the Lord; personally and corporately.

We were singing slow songs of prayer to our Lord. One song, which we sang in Bemba, translated means, “Just take me as I am. Just take me as I am. Lord Jesus Christ, who died for me, just take me as I am.”

I was kneeling on the ground as we sang this song. I opened my eyes for a moment and saw my hands. I noticed all these imperfections on my hands: I have a bad case of eczema on my wrists, and I have numerous cuts, blisters, calluses, bug bites, etc. on my hands and arms.

I saw all this and realized my imperfect state. I was crying out to God to “just take me as I am” and I realized in a very real way how imperfect I am!

I saw my wrists and hands and God spoke to me and said, “This is your heart.” My heart is as ugly and imperfect as my hands and wrists are! I felt overwhelmed by my sin and how unworthy I was to be asking this of the Lord; asking Him to ‘take me as I am’. I’ve sang this song many, many times, but yesterday it was real to me.

I’m thankful to God for putting that into perspective for me yesterday. One struggle I have is seeing sin in my life. I’m always quick to excuse, blame, deny any sin I’m faced with. But having that visual of seeing how unattractive my arms were, and then realizing my heart looks the same, I was completely overwhelmed. I thank God for making me truly broken over my sin and helping me to see how unworthy, sincerely unworthy I am!

So now, I cry out to God when I sing that song. If I sing this song with my heart in the right place, what a truly humbling song it is! “Just take me as I am..” I am humbling myself before God and admitting my unworthiness and imperfections to Him. I am admitting that I need Him….

International Conference

There was no fancy building, no running water, and no electricity (except for a small generator which powered a microphone and keyboard); but that was the beauty of it to me. We don’t need all these “excess” things to have a wonderfully enjoyable and powerful conference…and it truly was just that.

Upon hearing my parents would be speaking at an upcoming international conference with our dear friend’s church in Kapiri Mposhi (about a 2 hour drive), I didn’t exactly know what to expect. To be perfectly honest, I thought it would be ultra-boring and I was hoping I didn’t have to go.

I thank God that we did go because I had SO MUCH FUN!! When we arrived, I saw no real building structure except for a small cottage off to the side, but instead I saw six-foot high thatched walls. To my left, there were numerous rooms (all enclosed by the thatched walls) for the girls and the kitchen. Directly in front of me, was another girls’ room and then the conference room. To my right was the boys’ side modeled the same way.

None of these structures had a roof excepting the beautiful sky (besides the conference room which had a tarp over a portion of it), but oh how warm and loving the environment felt! The beautiful sense of community was displayed as they all worked, laughed, cooked, and LIVED together.

Greetings and Tours

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Headed to the conference!

When our family arrived Thursday evening, we were greeted with many warm hugs and handshakes. We knew a small fraction of the maybe 300 people who were there, and that fraction of people made sure we felt welcome! A woman I know named Naomi took me on a tour of all the ladies’ rooms. She excitedly grabbed me by the hand and led me over to the first room while carrying her sweet baby on her back. As we entered the first room, I looked around and saw numerous women and girls resting on blankets, laying clothes over the wall to dry, sipping cups of tea, etc. Naomi told me that most of the women I saw were pastor’s wives. So we went over to each of them and knelt down to greet them.

In each of the rooms (I believe there were four), my Bemba skills were tested. 😉 Someone would greet me and wait to hear if I could reply and when I did they would proceed to say and ask me numerous other things! I understood and was able to answer some things, but not others. They laughed and smiled and were quick to help me with what I didn’t understand. =) One woman attempted to greet me in Nyanja. I seriously know like 3 words in Nyanja, so I stuttered and said… “uhhh…bwino bwanji” very unsure of myself (and also not entirely sure of my spelling just now.. 😉 ) the woman laughed and clapped and went on in Nyanja before I had to tell her I didn’t understand any Nyanja and what I just said was the extent of my knowledge. Haha…She smiled and laughed some more and switched to Bemba.

Our dear friend Pastor Aaron also found me quickly and led me off to the kitchen. He insists on calling all kitchens “my office” because I can constantly be found in them. 😉 As we entered the kitchen, again a large thatched-wall, open roofed room, I saw 3-5 different fires going with large pots placed on them each containing something a bit different. I saw a handful of women sitting in one corner on logs and bricks cutting away at different vegetables. I saw a large table containing numerous plates and bowls and women washing them in buckets on the ground below.

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Kitchen photos…. =)

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Everyone looked up at us as Pastor Aaron led me into the room. I don’t remember recognizing anyone in the room (except one woman who I’ve seen once), so they were all probably a bit surprised to see a musungu randomly appearing in the kitchen! Pastor Aaron quickly explained what is what and told the ladies in the kitchen that he calls kitchens my office because I like to cook and if they needed help to ask me. Hahaha

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After leaving the kitchen, I was directed to where I could find my dear friend Victoria. When I saw her, she ran and gave me the biggest hug. ❤ She took over being my guide after that, introduced me to different people, and helped me find people I knew and hadn’t seen yet.

When The Sun Goes Down

It became dark rather quickly, but after a couple days, I decided that after dark it was the most fun! Why? Because everyone starts jamming out on the drums and breaking off into groups to sing after dark! As I sat eating with my family and a dear sweet couple, Bishop Chisupa (the elder of their denomination in Zambia) and his wife, I could hear the sounds of African drums being played to an African beat just over the wall. What was even more fascinating to me is that most of the times, the drums were being played by kids (mainly boys) younger than myself! Two or three of them could be playing on 2 or 3 different drums and still manage to play together in perfect rhythm.

After finishing supper, Victoria led me into the conference room area where my friend Blessing was playing keyboard and singing with a group of people including other friends of mine and a couple ‘soon-to-be’ friends ;). I grabbed my guitar and joined them for just a few minutes before mom said we were leaving. I had absolutely NO desire to leave! I was having tons of fun with them…but there was always the next day… 😉

Friday Morning

We spent the night at a lodge in town and came back Friday morning around 7:30. Throughout the day, I made two really great, new friends named Martha and Jane. I also was able to spend time with my sweet friend Joy (twin sister to Blessing)!

When I first arrived, I helped Victoria serve breakfast to the kids and then ate with her. Then, I went in the kitchen and helped Joy and a few other ladies cut rape (kale) for lunch. Of the ladies I was with, only Joy spoke fluent English and my Bemba is still far from fluent, so it made for interesting discussions. 😉

Meeting Jane and Martha

This morning during the conference, my mom was speaking to the women in one area while my dad spoke to the men in another. I entered the conference room as it was about to begin and Jane offered to let me sit beside her. This was my first time getting to talk to her. As we sang songs in Bemba, she explained any meanings I didn’t understand, and as my mom had us interact with one another by saying things to our neighbor, Jane was always my partner.

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Me and Jane!!

Then, my mom asked us all to find a prayer partner and ask that girl/woman how we could be praying for her and pray together. Jane and I naturally partnered with each other and had a wonderful time sharing and praying together! We finished before many of the others, and so had some time to get to know each other.

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And here we are being goofy! =)

After this first session, Jane took me to where she sleeps in her room and that’s where I met Martha! Both girls were wanting to go bathe in the river, but they couldn’t find a bucket. They knew Rejoice (whom I also got to know pretty well over the weekend, and younger brother to my friend Joy) had a bucket so we went on a search to find him. We walked the relatively short distance to the well, but he wasn’t there, so we circled back around and came up to the girls’ rooms the back way. It made for a pretty good walk, and we had some great, fun conversation during that time. It was quite funny when we arrived back at the main area and discovered there were buckets in the kitchen meaning our whole walk could’ve been avoided. 😉

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Me and Martha (beside me) and Tyonge (I’m totally not sure if I spelled that right…)

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Martha and I again, with Elizabeth in the front.

Before the girls headed to bathe, Jane and I were volunteered to clear off the Bishop’s table. My dad saw me and said, “How do you always find jobs to do?” My response: “Basically, I volunteer to help once or twice, then word gets around that I like to help and I just get volunteered.” 😉

Afternoon Session and Gloria

After the girls went to bathe, I helped Victoria serve the kids before the afternoon ladies’ session began. I sat beside a group of girls in the back. At one point, this little boy (no more than 2) comes running in the room pushing a stick across the dirt and making noises like a car. He comes running down our row going “vroom vroom” and each time he neared someone’s feet, he went “beep beep!” never looking up, just waiting for us to move our feet, and then go on. Then, the bench in front of ours broke with about 15 ladies sitting on it. This same thing happened, benches breaking, like 5 times just that I observed…hahaha…

A little girl named Gloria found her way to my lap and she ended up falling asleep. Victoria took her and laid her down in one of the rooms, but when she woke up an hour or so later, she came immediately back to me. ❤ This sweet girl was my shadow the whole day! ❤

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Gloria and I!

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And her sweet, adorable Gloria is again! ❤

Music!! ❤

After supper time, it was dark and different people were in groups singing. I went and joined Martha, Rejoice, and two other girls who I didn’t know and couldn’t really tell who they were anyway because it was dark… =P (I kind of feel bad about that… =P) They were singing so loudly and beautifully before I joined them, that I could hear them from 100yards away over the noise of the drums. We sang four or five Bemba songs I knew. Rejoice had a sore throat, but was still able to rock that tenor harmony. The girl to my right was belting the alto line. Martha and I switched off singing lead (singing in Zambia is a lot of call and echo) and singing the melody. And the last girl sometimes sang the melody and sometimes picked up a different harmony. We really got into our songs and were singing SO loud and dancing our hearts out laughing and smiling away! There were a handful of people around watching us, but I didn’t actually notice that until the end. HAHA! Oh how close to the Lord I feel in these moments as we sing beautiful worship songs to Him in beautiful Bemba while we dance to worship Him! ❤ That was definitely a highlight of my time there! But then again, isn’t the music always one of my highlights? 😉

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Rejoice on the left. I don’t know the name of the girl in the pink head wrap…Victoria in the back, and Joy to my right! =D

~~~~~~~~~~~

Saturday morning, I was full of mixed emotions. I was sad because I would be leaving in just a few short hours, but I was determined to make the most of the time I had. I spent a great deal of time talking to all my friends: Victoria, Joy, Jane, Martha, Rejoice, Blessing, Sibo (I’ll get to him in a minute), and others.

Tea and a New Friend

My first task at hand when I arrived was to help Victoria find a piece of paper. While searching through her bag, a dear sweet lady named Eunice (also known as Message) began talking to me in Bemba. We conversed for a bit, but when I was at the point of not understanding her, she quickly switched to fluent English. She introduced me to her children and then invited Victoria and I to have tea with her.

We reclined on the mat in her room and she kindly made us each a mug of tea. She apologized through laughs that she didn’t have a tea strainer. She said, “Ach, I just can’t manage to bring everything…no tea strainer, no knives, no what what. We just can’t manage!” I just loved her joyful attitude about it! She was simply happy to make do with what she had.

Our tea was quite nice and we had a WONDERFUL time! I laughed SO much and was able to know Message much better. She is a dear woman with an amazing testimony, and I’m sad that I may never see her again (on this earth anyway… 😉 ) She had buttered bread for us, and since I had already eaten (as had Victoria) we both didn’t eat very much.

When we insisted we were full, she said this, “Ladies, I could eat every piece of bread that is there!” (there was quite a lot…) “my stomach is quite large…I’ve had six children, so it’s quite large… And so I could eat EVERY bite! And even if I couldn’t quite eat it, it’s okay, there are plenty of toilets around because there is plenty of bush…So I am okay; and so are you ladies so eat!” Victoria was laughing harder than I’ve ever seen her laugh before! This dear sweet woman made my heart smile and laugh so much. I truly do miss her.

Morning Session and MORE MUSIC!!!

After this wonderful time, the morning program (again divided men and women) was about to begin. I sat between Jane and Martha and greatly enjoyed my time with them once again. =) We had a few minutes to visit with one another, and when my mom had everyone stand and hug 5 people, you can be sure these two girls were my first hugs! =)

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A crowd of kids surrounding Alex (my brother) arm wrestling another boy..

After lunch, I got my guitar out again and Blessing and I took turns playing while us and Sibo (also my friend and also a brother to Blessing. Just a recap: Joy, Blessing, Sibo, and Rejoice are all siblings.. 😉 haha..) sang. Once again, it was such a fun time! We sang “Lean on Me” and “How Great Thou Art”(in Bemba) which we’ve sang together before. They had to go, so I took my guitar and sat down on a log with Victoria and we sang together. I hadn’t played all the songs we sang before, so it was funny to work through wrong chords and not so great keys! Rejoice came and sat down with us for a bit. Victoria was called away after a minute, so then Rejoice and I visited and sang a bit.

We were quickly informed that the afternoon session was about to begin. This time, everyone was together, and my parents spoke to everyone. I ran and put my guitar away before heading inside and sat with Rejoice, Sibo, Joy, and Victoria.

Final Session Fun!

Now, the room was pretty much divided in half (we were in at the halfway point), boys/men on one side and girls/women on the other. My parents decided to shake things up a bit and Dad said, “We’ve been divided for two days now, so you probably haven’t seen your wife very much. So all you men, I want you to go find your wife and sit next to her.” The room erupted in action and shouts of excitement from the young/single people and from the married men and women. I could see the men’s smiles as they searched the other side of the room for their wives. Once everyone was seated, my dad said, “Now men, I want you to lift your arm and put it around your wife’s shoulders.” my parents were doing the same thing up in front, “Then, I want you to look at your wife and say, ‘I love you!’” This whole time the room was full of whistles, laughs, and shouts.

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A good photo of my mom teaching the women…This isn’t nearly all of them!

The man who was translating for my dad obviously could not sit down by his wife, so his wife came dancing up to the front with a beautiful smile on her face, and gave her husband a huge hug! You can imagine how that got the crowd going!!

Goodbyes……

This session marked the end of our time. Thankfully, before the session was quite over, my parents had everyone hug 5 people again, so I was able to give all my friends a goodbye hug…But it was still so sad to be leaving them. It’s amazing how quickly friendships and close bonds can grow! Even after only two days, I was incredibly sad to be leaving these friends; particularly the ones I may never see again (Jane and Martha). As our time came to a close, we took a few selfies, and I headed to my car…

Whether we return next year or not, I know I will never ever forget that wonderful weekend and that wonderful place! Not to mention all the wonderful lessons I learned from my mom who is incredibly gifted in public speaking. And also the lessons I learned from my dad when he spoke that final afternoon. They both are wonderful examples to me of what I should be like as a Godly woman and mother and what I should look for in a future husband. I thank the Lord for giving them to me. I am sincerely blessed to have them for my parents! ❤

Lesa musuma…ishita yonse (God is good….all the time)