Reminiscing a Saint

 

Let me tell you of a saint I met in a township.
A good few years ago I was part of a project that went into the township of Tembisa, in the distant proximity of the international airport in Johannesburg.  I had tagged along so that I could promote my food garden project.   The meaning of the name Tembisa is promise and hope.

Tembisa shacks
We met at the Moya Catholic Church, where we prayed and planned to help the poor people of that community.  Everybody was poor and struggling to make ends meet, and Joseph Kudema was one of the volunteers, a layman of the Church, who carried the Poor on his heart.  He would meet and greet us and welcome us into the community.
We were a group of volunteers under the leadership of the Christian Welfare Council – an agency of the Dutch Reform Church in South Africa, that does marvelous work of restitution among the Poor to this very day.
At that time in our history, it was a time for reconciliation among Black and White communities, and the time had come for not only welfare, but for development too.
We met occasionally with the intention to encourage the people to help pull the wheel of ‘development’  through the poverty gorge that was huge, deep and unending.

Joseph knew poverty well.  He was wise, for he was a man of the Church, and knew the potential that Christians could bring to beat the problem – if only they were willing.
Joseph was a gentle man, a soft spoken man, and a wise man.   He treated us with love, and was more of an encouragement to us than we were to him. We were always enriched at the end of each visit.   And so, I found, it was, with the ‘poor’ Black communities – they were rich in love, and shared it generously with those who would care enough to come and visit them.    The townships were hot beds of tensions in those days, not considered a safe place for well intending Whites to meander in.

One day Joseph shared his African wisdom with me, which I have kept as a treasure.

“Real leadership is when you can get a mouse, a cat and a dog to drink from the same saucer.”    That is real reconciliation.
And
“When the bus begins to move, the dogs begin to bark.    When progress comes, there will always be opposition, restraint, even persecution of a kind.

Joseph was one of those people who were silently great.   He blended into the background of community, and quietly went about his daily convictions, of helping the poor in whatever way he could.    To my mind he was a saint, not of the Catholic Papal kind, but of  humankind.

He would refer us to Matthew 25, which I believe is ever relevant, and needs to be
shared in the obese and ‘gluttoness’ world of our Today.

maneating burger

Poverty, and world hunger is real.
Sometimes it is impossible to consider the poor from our cozy suburban comfort zones,  for we are indeed worlds apart, but that does not alter the fact that hunger and poverty is prevalent, and that we can all do something to alleviate it in some small way.
Let’s look around our communities and share where we can, when we can,  to make that small  difference in someone’s life.
begging cup

White Bread

 

In every generation it is good to revisit Matthew 25.   It brings with it the reason and importance of caring for the Poor, and urges the Church to create capacity for its voluntary members to be  ‘doing their faith’  in practical expression.   Apart from it being a little scary to me, –  as it also hinges on the Judgment day !!

 

I-Care_Illustration


As then, and now, I still believe that the wisdom in Matthew 25 could form the Biblical basis of a welfare and development model for the poverty question.  Any Church, through its members can bring a major contribution to poverty and welfare development in an holistic manner – and through today’s networking power it could be of exponential value. – if only they were willing !

Matthew 25 : 34,35,36
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35. For I was hungry and you gave Me food;   I was thirsty and you gave Me drink;   I was a stranger and you took Me in;  36. I was naked and you clothed Me;  I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

Joseph Kudema,  would be remembered well, if we only heard his heart more astutely at that time, and earnestly followed his example of considering and helping the Poor within his reach, and thereby letting his light shine, and honouring God.

lit candle
I would like to believe that by reading this post, his light still shines on the darkness of poverty and will stir the hearts of caring people.  Rest in peace Joseph Kudema,  ‘Saint of Tembisa’ –  Saint of Promise and Hope.

 

 

Showing off

CareSA Designs had a lovely experience showing off all its crochet craft at the five day Kwa Zulu Natal Christmas Craft Market this December.

In the spirit of entrepreneurship more than 150 traders gathered at the City Hill Church auditorium in Hillcrest to show off their creations and hard work done during the course of 2016.   Certainly a work ethic is being developed to combat poverty.

As I quietly observed the people and their displays for progress I could not help ‘seeing’ an informal economic pillar being built for a better future.   Yes, not all will make the businessman or woman of the year, but there is resilience and resolve, and if perseverance is thrown in with good measure, it could make a small dent in poverty, and lay a foundation for a better future.

Entrepreneuring runs on Hope, develops imagination – where anything is possible – builds a necessary work ethic, releases expression and God given creative potential.

The other side of the coin however is getting to know the nuts and bolts of running a successful business.  This is another story altogether, yet has to be embraced by the budding entrepreneur,  if good  lasting results are to be obtained.  So the next phase would be to get business savvy, and look for mentors willing to take a walk with ‘the future economic builders’.   It may be a long walk, but a start has been made, and as they say … Rome was not built in a day.

Have a look at some of the 2016  CareSA Designs crochet craft range that was on sale at the Christmas Market this year, and feel free to leave a comment or two on new additions, improvements, or add some new ideas for developing a small enterprise.

All it takes is some pretty yarns, hooks, needles maybe a button or two and a little imagination to make a happy hobby – that one day will grow into a budding enterprise.

Here’s to diligence and to hope, and may the work of our hands prosper.

HOPE TRADERS

A quote I once read said this “leaders are dealers in hope.”

Well, what follows is the result of about two years’ meetings with community workers –  that there makes them leaders in themselves. Ladies who faithfully and diligently go into the poorest of communities to encourage and uplift people who are in dire poverty.  The contrasts in our communities are vast, and the outlaying communities from our cities are the worst off financially and materially –  yet so rich in community life.

In an endeavour to develop community crafting skills as a means to alleviate poverty these women have been meeting to seek out a practical plan or model for entrepreneurship.
The following writing is perhaps but one version of an expected final document that can capture the concept of   caring through community entrepreneurship.

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THE  HOPE  TRADERS  CO-OPERATIVE
–    Traders in Hope   –

Hope gives a future.

When the Non Profit Organisations came together through Durban’s Soul Action Network, a vision began to birth to capture entrepreneurship as a way to aid the alleviation of poverty among clients of their organisations. In 2012 the Hope Christmas Market saw the light of day and has since become a very successful annual event, complementing an entrepreneurial mind-set for community development.

Emerging from this initiative was a gathering of community workers who formed an Entrepreneurial Development Focus Group, who have been meeting for the past two years to establish a realistic and practical plan for entrepreneurial development for the local crafting communities.

The Hope Traders Co-Operative  writing is but one draft, that may take the task forward, through the following prospect.

To develop and promote  community entreprenuership, –  and advance Durban’s profile as a favourite tourism destination, – by establishing an unique retail space where creative displays of local craftsmanship  will attract visitors and revenue from the international and South African tourist industry, – and expose creative Crafters and their stories, to a global market, and Durban as a caring city.

Vision:

  • Create an unique tourist attraction for prospective visitors and investors to the city.
  • Establish an unique retail space to showcase local Crafters and their products.
  • Connect the consumer and producer through use of story/multimedia/experience.
  • Promote Entrepreneurship through creative collaboration in Durban and wider communities.

Mission:

  • To identify, celebrate and nurture the creative potential within communities.
  • To attract revenue from the tourist and local trade toward sustainable living for Crafters and their communities.
  • To facilitate opportunities for entrepreneurial and community development.
  • To act as a catalyst to integrate cultures.
  • To weave community caring into the fabric of the Durban society, and its city image.
  • To encourage and educate the South African public to buy local South African products.

Conclusion:

In South Africa we live in a society where the “resources” of its various members have the potential to – and yet do not always – address various forms of cognitive, physical, social and emotional poverty. (Phil Bowyer, Soul Action Durban)

If,  with the tools of our rich diverse cultures, community caring, crafting skills and imagination, we can harness a personal work ethic, through Entrepreneurship, there is no reason we cannot take on the mind-set of … “from poverty to progress“,  and contribute to an emerging informal economic pillar for a prosperous South Africa – that benefits all.

Durban’s best.
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Care Africa

Green Africa map

Life is made up of small things.
Everything you do matters.

Africa is a big continent.  It is a block of land that captures you.  Whether you are in the north or in the south of it it will lay claim to a corner of your heart.   I have heard of South Africans who leave Africa for more appealing shores, but often, very often have the yearning to come home again.   Its challenges, its diversities and its humanities, is like a magnet that draws all kinds of human emotions from the heart that has at its roots the most scary and at the same time the most amazing appeal.   Or perhaps, for me, its just home.
Famous words of Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa : “I am an African”
brings with it many connotations, because Africa has many connotations – anybody can be anybody in Africa.  Its diversity creates space for this, yet it also creates fragmentation, for diversity does not necessarily mean unity.   The trick is to bring diversity into a patchwork for unity.   I am not an African.  But I am a South African.  A white South African, does that make me an African ?

Nevertheless, Africa is a place for expression.  Africa will find you out !  There is room for everyone, for every kind under the sun in Africa – the good, the very good, the bad and the very bad, the place where humanity is at war with itself, and mirrors that for the world to see and to watch.

Love it or hate it Africa is the place that calls for attention.  And at the same time offers opportunity to express that humanity one way or another.

Many years ago now, I came across MAF and signed up for their newsletter.  What is MAF ?
An extract from their 2015 Annual  Report sums it up consicely .
Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is an international Christian organisation bringing help and hope to some of the poorest and most remote communities in the world….
We work with hundred of missions, churches, local groups, relief & development organisations and national government agencies.   Together we deliver practical medical and spiritual care in places with the deepest human needs ” – Prof. Polla Roux.

Furthermore to this is a very brief snippet of its history, supplied by the MAF office in South Africa:
In 1945 Murray Kendon, a New Zealander flying with the RAF Coastal Command during World War 2, wondered if the power and versatility of aircraft would only be used for conflict and carnage.   After realizing this dream was indeed God-given, he accepted the challenge and Mission Aviation Fellowship was born.
In 1970 David and Beryl Luke developed the MAF SA programme in the Transkei and it then moved to Johannesburg in the late ’70s.   In 2011 MAF saw the need to develop a programme in South Africa and the Flying for Life project was developed.
We currently work in the Vhembe District in Limpopo, taking in missionaries, churches, medical professionals and other organisations to help sustainably uplift the community.
Looking ahead, we are wanting to expand our eye doctor clinic to an additional hospital,
and extend into other provinces in South Africa. “

 

Care Africa Purple Bags
The Care Africa project is a small random project that encourages people to “grow a garden in your yard,  grow a garden in your heart”,  and encourages growing vegetables for food, and reading the Bible for growing the soul.   Both very necessary for human growth and sustainability – social development in an wholistic sense.
Recently I met up with Maxine Holman from MAFSA, and could give her two care bags to grow the concept of Care Africa.
Big or little deeds of kindness, whether a Flying Mission or a packet of spinach seeds, can make a difference in Africa.

I reckon poverty’s first priority is to combat hunger, and the growing of vegetables whether in a car tyre, an individual yard, or a community garden, will go a long way to addressing hunger, so prevalent in Africa today.  

In today’s shaky economic climate it makes sense to save cents by growing your own vegetable garden  – and together with reading the Word of God everyday you will begin to create a healthy, survival, sustainable and a good life.

Life is made up of small things.   What you do matters.

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Grow a garden in your yard,  Grow a garden in your heart,  and so join the Care Africa project.
 Start today, and let CareSA know how your gardens grow.   Grow well, eat well, share well
Happy gardening !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People Who Care

I have just spent the last two days in the sea of humanity.  It was rather intense, youthful, noisy, to the extent of being loud, colourful, fashionable statements with trendy “weaves” of the young aspiring women.  There was a sprinkle of White, Coloured and Indian Diversity, all draped in care and laced with humility –  all very vibrant, like only South Africans can be.   It was a privilege to be part of this event,  KWNCSOC – the Kwa Zulu Natal Civil Society Organisation Coalition safely birthed after a two and a half year interim period of formation.

The KWNCSOC is a network that draws the caring  society of Kwa Zulu Natal together in a coailtion  e.g the Non Profit Organisations, and others in Mercy Ministries who work  to bring some relief to poor and broken communities.  These are the caring angels of the peoples, the unsung passionate heroes of our societies, and, not duly recognised, as the semi invisible arm of the social development work of the government.
What made this event, so vibrant was the percentage of young adults that attended the occasion.  I sensed such a passion (and maybe it came from a place of survival !) yet there was an underlying caution, an alertness, a community intelligence, not to be drawn in and swayed by the flavours of the day. Present too were the donors of projects, and social drivers, all necessary for progress ? – or exploitations for other agendas ? But such is the way of politics.  But their polite caution, the listening ear, the hearing heart gave me a hope, for I do believe it is people and not  finance that will make the biggest difference to South Africa’s future.

Durban’s beautiful Botanical Gardens.

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The conference came together in a community hall situated at the entrance of the beautiful Durban Botanical Gardens – which I call the Green Cathedral. It is made magnificent with its three hundred year old tress planted in a vastness of green, with lawns and flowers and shrubs of every kind.  It is worth a visit, to linger and to soak up its splendour!  It is one of my most favourite places to be.

The organisers of the conference, the Democracy Development Program,  had arranged the chairs in little circles of five, where intense discussion could take place, where identities were revealed, hearts could be shared, and dreams could be told.
I listened, and heard mainly of the obstacles toward progress, but then also the aspirations and longing for a better life and a better future.

The Care Africa Movement.

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  A Care Garden envelope of spinach seeds to grow food in your yard for a promise from  you to read the Word of God to grow food for your soul.  

I, too could  share my dreams of a Care Africa Movement, where there are Care Gardens in the hearts of people, and a vegetable garden in their yards.   Hunger – or more positively Food Production is the pivotal place of poverty alleviation, it can also be a starting point for social development and entrepreneurship in Africa.  I shared my dream and gave a few seed envelopes to those who would receive them, and hope that they will join the movement, and send me photos of their gardens, to put on my blog for you to see.
Growth is a learning process whether you are growing your soul, or growing your food.
But basically, on different levels, it is the same.  There is the soil, (the heart) and then there is the seed  (the Word of God) that is sown.  Necessary is the nurturing, the watering, the weeding, and good nutrition (teaching) for good results.   After many months (or years) comes the harvest, the product, the bearing of fruit –  (or the character !)   Good seed will produce good results.  Finally comes the joy of achievement, and the sharing of what is good, the tasting of what is good, and the knowing  that God is good !

May the Care Africa Movement be a growing process for those who join in, and bear good results, for the soul, and for food for poverty alleviation.   Plant your Care gardens today – and make a difference in your life and in your community – and email me a photo to share with other.

Eat well,   Grow well,  Share well.

vegetables-colorful

CARESA CHRONICLES

I am so glad I finally got it – my Chukkit Bukkitt.  Recycling now – doing my bit for the planet.

It happened immediately, when I went with Billy to the Farmers Co-operative Store.   I was told to get up early, so that we could catch the glow of the early morning as we drove the 40 odd kilometers to Umhlali.  There is something special about early morning, you get to see all the “early birds”  –  I’m not one of them.   There was a stream of cyclists riding back from their trip into the rural area.  Runners, probably training for the famous Comrades Marathon from Durban to Pietermaritzburg.  Three or four early morning fishermen who had cast their lines on the Ballito Bay beach – we could see them as the road takes a bend and the beach comes into view.  I also noticed two huge vegetable growing enterprises, one on the slopes of a small hill, and one near Umhlali where row upon row of veggies stretched across the bow of the hill.  What a sight to excite my heart so early in the morning.  Then the little bushes of “curry cosmos” as I call them, brightening up the roadside.  The sky was blue, and the green rolling hills of the Natal sugar cane fields stretched for miles.  It was indeed a beautiful morning, in a beautiful place.  When we finally arrived at the Farmers Co-op my eye immediately spotted the Chukkit Bukkitt –  and I made it mine. !

IMG-20150529-WA0002.jpg Chuck it Bucket         ATT_1432896407532_IMG-20150529-WA0003.jpg Kitchen Herb garden

The Chukkit Bukkit is a new novelty from the Store.  It is a compost maker, using all the kitchen waste to turn into a fertilizing liquid for my vegetable patch.  Our household is still old school, where we buy vegetables, peel them, cook them and then eat them. Maybe old-fashioned by today’s trends, but there you have it.   However, it means I now get to make good compost for my Care Garden – which forms part of my Care Africa Movement project.  Speaking of vegetables, if you have the time please visit this website  www.goandproclaim.co.za  and view the wonderful vegetables growing through the God’s Greenhouse initiative in the Eastern Cape.  This initiative wants to empower Churches and individuals to grow food for themselves and the Poor and Needy folk in their communities.
May there be many more such initiatives following this example in South Africa, indeed in Africa too.  I believe food sufficiency is the pivotal place of social development.   May the Church lead the way.  The Church is in a sense God’s Greenhouse for the soul, why not for food provision too.?

The secret to growing good healthy vegetables is in the soil.  So composting is essential !
Yay then for my Chukkit Bukkitt !  God has provided all we need through the rich mineral deposits of the soil.  However sometimes the soil needs to be replenished by organic compost.  Our bodies are composed of minerals and vitamins that we get from the food we eat, so our food needs to be grown in rich organic soil.  Makes sense.

Growing vegetables is not always an instant success story.  It is only the beginning of getting to know the science of the soil, plants, water, sunshine and then there are the pests… that are beginning to chow on my newly planted tomatoes !  Thank goodness for Google !   But it is amazingly good to be in the garden, beside my growing spinach, Chinese cabbage, tomatoes and basil.  To make it a little easier to get to my herbs I put a few small pots of parsley and green peppers on a pretty stand outside my kitchen door.  Care gardens don’t have to be big with acres and acres of vegetables – nice if you can do that, and for community gardens, but a Care Garden can be growing vegetables in a container.

Why not join me in my Care Africa Movement project, by growing  some vegetables for yourself – and to share with your neighbours.  Take a photo of yourself in your garden and email it to me, with your name and the region and country you live in.   Also add your favourite Bible verse.  Perhaps we can create a photo blog for Care Africa. Plant some seeds in your soil,  Plant some seeds in your soul by reading God’s Word everyday, – and watch how your gardens grow !   Do your bit for the planet recycle where and when you can, and grow your very own special Care Gardens.    Happy gardening !

vegetables-colorful

For as the earth brings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth
before all the nations.                 Isaiah 61:11   

The Garden of Your Heart

Just to keep track of the Care Africa movement project I am continuing with the concept of Care Gardens.  The main focus of the project is to encourage people, especially in Africa, where there is so much poverty, to plant a care garden in their yards as a means to combat poverty.   By not only providing food there is much to learn from the science of nature, from the soil, the seed and the benefits of good nutrition.   For instance, to produce a good healthy crop of vegetable plants that flowers e.g. tomatoes, brinjals, strawberries etc. you may add to the soil the following : Half a cup of Ammonia mixed with 2 cups water,  300 ml beer, and 1 cup Epsom Salts.  Mix well and add 30 ml of this mixture to 5 litres of water, and use to feed fruiting plants.  This is a recipe that a Virologist gave me, I tried it and had the tastiest tomatoes ever. Go ahead try it. Get practical and Happy Gardening!

All gardens need to be cultivated, those in yards, and those in hearts.  Just as the soil needs to be nourished, so too does the soul need to be nourished.   Take a little time out and do an exercise in solitude, in nature if you can.  Quietly take note of what you feel, see, hear, touch, smell and  taste, then say thank you – say thank you for all the blessings that are just lingering there for you.  Be sure to add value to your soul by listening to uplifting music, reading good books, reading the Bible everyday will be like medicine for your soul for it is full of wisdom, strength and comfort whenever your soul needs it.  I take it everyday, I call it my “Gos pills”! My soul can’t do without them.

When tending to your soul be on the look out for poisonous plants, especially in the Garden of Despair.   Some deep seated seed grow deep roots in dark places, in fact thrive on and feed off the dark and negative thoughts.  Watch out for these.  They are toxic, dangerous and poison to the soul – and will effect those in proximity to your garden!   Call your Gardener at once.   Toxic thoughts come from bad memories, and can pop up at any time.  Recognise them, look for the roots from where they have grown so that He can pull them out – roots and all.    Then apply the good ointment of Forgiveness.  This is essential, as Forgiveness is a antiseptic, antibacterial anti viril and essential for cleaning out the wound in the soul.  Sprinkle the wound with a dusting of thanks too as this accelerates the healing.  Be constantly on the look out for other pathogens like Jealousy, this is an ugly plant,  Anger that can quickly turn to Hatred – quite potent,  Disappointment – often camouflaged in full sight, and the trailing Resentment that can entangle a choke other healthy plants in your garden.

Tend to your soul, its the essence of you.   Happy Gardening!

Introduction to CareSA

The CareSA Foundation

CareSA has grown from the concept Care South Africa : The Christian Resource Centre for Poverty Alleviation in 2001 to the CareSA Foundation in the coming 2015. The original vision was to encourage Christians to participate in community service through initiated campaigns, – and to seek out a national Christian strategy for poverty alleviation. This vision was housed and honed from CareSA Books, a Christian bookshop on the East Rand in Gauteng in South Africa.

Annual winter campaigns were initiated to appeal to the wider community for blankets and food for the poor, and to create an awareness of poverty in communities.

The Care Bag – a food parcel with vegetable seeds to plant food gardens, to encourage self-help projects.

In 2004 CareSA Foods saw the light of day with a focus on health, and creating income, that complimented the mindset to reach for wholeness in body soul and spirit, fuelled by a CareSA Newsletter to grow a network for health and wealth, as a means to combat poverty. Unfortunately it did not reach its potential., but the concept of a newsletter remained, probably the inception of this blog.

CareSA’s Let’s Talk was a community meeting, to discuss related social and emotional issues in the search for emotional healing, human development and wholeness.

CareSA Craft Project – generated micro incomes from the painting on shopping bags, developed into a sustainable sales project for more than two years.

New concepts began to form. And a CareSA fund for community service was initiated in 2006.

The need to network and find a wider reach saw a name change to CareSA Community Network, with a presence on the Internet., and with a newsletter called CareSA Chronicles to connect with community co-hearts.

1,000 Little Deeds of Kindness – a knitting project, with the knitting of squares to be sewn into blankets and distributed to the vulnerable and the frail in community, was a project that had a ripple effect in community, and endured far beyond expectation.

This campaign was a forerunner for
The Red Beanie Kindness Brigade – that focused on knitting beanies for children in needy areas, usually knitted by the Elderly folk in community.

This project spilled over into Care Lesotho and Care Botswana. Knitted beanies sent, with seeds for vegetable gardens, to contact caring persons in these two countries. So the seeds of a new vision were sown – Care Africa.

As hunger is the pivotal place for poverty alleviation it is necessary to encourage those in need to sustain themselves by planting their own food, and to begin to change the mindset from poverty to progress.

And so the seeds of the new vision began to grow : the Care Africa Movement project through Care Gardens, with the slogan : Plant a care garden in your yard, Plant a care garden in your heart.

CareSA Designs is a personal project, born out of the new trend in poverty alleviation and a developing new South Africa e.g. Entrepreneurship, creating a micro enterprise into a small business, using what is at hand, and what God-given talents are available.

As the new South Africa developed, and a sense of futility began to set in, new concepts with new writings began to form e.g. NEWSAS – the New South African Society, and SOCX, a vision for Social Caring, that are still incubating. blogging may bring constructive comment, and with faith hope and love these visions will grow and become a reality in South Africa, and indeed the African continent.

In 2011 CareSA relocated to Umhlanga in Kwa Zulu Natal, and the time had come to revamp the website, and a name change to that of the CareSA Foundation that incorporates past history and new concepts for a wider field of influence and exposure on the Internet – with a blog.

The website is being revamped, and may contain vision and other concept documents on social and human development in South Africa, when it is ready early in 2015.

The CareSA Foundation remains true to the original vision of community caring, and stands as a witness to the faithfulness of God that initiated this faith adventure from Ephesians 3:20,21   Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

CareSA
28 December 2014