Kishapu!

I have been AWOL! That means I left this blog without saying so much as a goodbye. Again! And that was almost two weeks ago. For this reason I feel extremely indebted to ask my faithful readers’ forgiveness. You have been extremely kind to me. These days, though, much of the time I travel without my laptop, which ends any writing plans I might have – until I get back home.

But, that aside, I have been to the most awesome place ever. For one, it is the hottest spot on earth; or, to be fair, certainly the hottest place I have ever been to. Here, the sun comes up earlier than normal and, by 8 a.m. the walls are already hot to the touch. By mid-day, when the sun is supposedly hottest, you are already toast. Everything is white and you cannot see clearly. If someone is coming towards you, say, a hundred meters or so away, they seem to be floating on air. Much like the preacher whose video has been circulating on the net, if you’ve had the misfortune of seeing it.

You would think things couldn’t get worse. But late afternoon, evening and the entire night brings even hotter tidings, and you go to sleep simply out of fatigue.

The town is called Kishapu. It is a small place in the municipality of Shinyanga. It is dirt poor. And it is far from any form of civilization.

But there are God’s people here and this was the reason we chose to host our regional ZGACT ladies’ conference here. Our regional churches comprise those in Shinyanga and Singida. We had ladies from both these regions attending.

We also had an outdoor crusade, which was held late in the evenings. The preachers were Majura and Boni Mkami, both renowned evangelists within our church. Pastor Eli Mpule was the key speaker at the ladies’ meetings, together with the women leaders.

At night, Evangelist Mwakitalu showed Christian films to large crowds.

The conference and crusade ran for a whole week. Far from what you might be thinking, what made Kishapu interesting was not the heat; rather, it was the presence of God. God’s presence was incredibly powerful in these meetings. God was at work, saving and healing people’s bodies and hearts. I, for one, was so blessed I did not want the meetings to end in spite of the unbearable heat.

Every day, during the crusades, people gave their lives to Christ and many souls were added to the Kingdom of God. And the ladies’ meetings were so full of the presence and anointing of God. The teachings were solid teachings meant to bring God’s people to maturity in the Spirit. The key to spiritual maturity? Deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Christ. It was a message meant, not just for women, but for every man and every young person also.

The resident pastor, Pamfile, had also invited the local pastors, many of whom attended the outdoor meetings for every one of the seven days that the meetings ran. On the last day, we had a get-together dinner with these wonderful men of God and their wives, where Pastor Mpule had the opportunity to introduce the gospel of the cross to these great men of God. It was poignant to see such men declaring they had never heard such words in their lives!

Kishapu was the place we ALL ought to have been!!

Below, in pictures.

  1. The ladies’ conference was powerful and edifying. Pastor Eli and Mrs. Boni ministering the gospel of the cross

2. The outdoor meetings were packed to capacityImage21184

3. And the praise and worship team was simply awesome

4. Many pastors from neighboring churches came to share in the blessingsImage21199

5. The incredibly gifted man of God, Boni, prepares to go to ministerImage21070

6. Every day, souls came forward to receive JesusImage21044

7. All the pastors who attended were at hand to minister to the sick and needyImage21119

8. Sometimes the meetings went way deep into the nightImage21154

9. Only God knows what could have been going in the heart of this little boyImage21113

10. “Let the little children come to me.” Appropriately enough, the children heard the gospel while seated on Jesus’s donkey cartImage20992

11. In the evenings, it was time to watch Evangelist Mwakitalu’s awe-inspiring filmsImage21061

12. The only way to escape Kishapu’s sizzling heat was to stay buried inside the church building… or six feet under

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Dar es Salaam Youth Camp 2018

Normally, youth camps are feisty affairs with a myriad of events including outdoor games and different other activities. But this year’s annual ZGACT youth conference was molded on an entirely different format: it was unofficially labeled a “Word tsunami”. Everything else was put aside and the youth were inundated with the Word of God.

The youth camps were held in 12 different locations all over the country. I, together with Brother Boni from Mwanza, were scheduled to minister at the Dar es Salaam camp.

And so it was that, by the grace of God, for five days we engaged the Dar es Salaam youth in the Word and in prayer. The young people left the conference thoroughly refreshed in their spirits, and ready to face new challenges in the Spirit.

Here, below, in pictures.

  • The small auditorium was packed to capacity
  • The greatest praise and worship team ever!
  • With our host, Joshua Goodluck
  • My co-worker, Brother Boni
  • Some of the young people shared their testimonies
  • There was great fellowship all around
  • After the conference, an early morning trolling of the beach…
  • … And we encountered some fishermen hauling in their catch
  • Finally, at the bus terminal ready to travel back home

 

 

Loving Jesus, Loving His Church – Part 1

And he is the head of the body, the church… Col. 1:18

Many years ago, when I was living in Musoma, a young man I knew was given the job of preparing a small piece of farm land down by the lake (Musoma is a port town situated on the shore of Lake Victoria). As he was digging up the earth, suddenly the hoe hit against a polythene bag that had been buried under the earth. The young man gingerly pulled up the bag and, as he did so, all the alarm bells in his body began ringing. He had the horrid feeling that the contents of that bag were not something he would want to see. But curiosity killed the cat, as they say. The mouth of the bag was tied with a thin, tight rope and, very cautiously, the boy began untying it. Upon peeping inside he saw what looked like the beginnings of human hair; and he did not wait to see the rest. He already knew what it was: it was a human head.

He dropped the bag and blazed a trail from that farm that would have been hard to erase. He ran as if the devil himself was after him.

I suspect none of us would have responded differently had we been in the same situation. Encountering a body-less head, or a headless body, would be an terrifyingly unspeakable nightmare for any normal human being.

If that is the case in the natural, should it not be much more so in the Spirit? Should it not be the scariest thing in the Spirit when we split up Jesus from His Body, the church? But, unbeknown to many, that is exactly what many believers are doing. And more terrifying is the fact that no one seems horrified by this attitude on the part of Christian believers. It appears as if it is the most normal state of affairs!

But we need to understand that the church is the apple of God’s eye. God looks upon nothing but the church. That is where His heart is. Just as a parent’s heart is on their child, God’s heart is on His church. That was why Jesus said,

“5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. 6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! 8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. 9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. 10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. 11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” (Mat. 18:5-11)

Jesus was talking of the church. The church is God’s “little ones”. You cannot destroy someone who has been washed by the blood of Jesus and get away with it.

But destroying the lives of God’s people is exactly what we do when we have no revelation that we need to lay down our lives. But, as we shall see in the second part of this post, preachers have taken it to an entirely new level.

Jesus told Peter,

“Feed my lambs” (Jn. 21:15)

“My lambs” was Jesus’s affectionate reference to His church.

Everyone is loudly declaring how much they love Jesus. You just go to any worship or prayer meeting and you will hear people emotionally telling Jesus how they love Him. But few can pay the price for the words they say, for the price of saying we love Jesus is to love God’s people with sacrificial love. God’s love demands that we lay down our lives for one another. Indeed, God’s love is the love that looks out for the spiritual wellbeing of your brother/sister-in-Christ.

You can easily gauge how much you love Jesus by measuring how well, especially, you wish God’s people in their spirits (3 Jn. 1:2).

Unfortunately, this kind of loving is one of the most difficult for most believers to do. This is clear from the fact that there are so many divisions within the church! There are inter-personal divisions: husband vs wife; parent vs child; brother vs brother, etc. There are social divisions: the rich are divided against the poor; the educated are ganged up against the illiterate; the Africans are gossiping against the whites; etc.

I believe with all my heart that God’s people first need to stop telling Jesus they love Him. When you tell Jesus that you love Him while you do not love the church, it is as if you were addressing a head which has no body. It is as if you are talking to the head and telling it, “I love you, head, alone, but not the body you are on. Cut yourself off that body and I will love you even more.”

Strange language indeed. This is the sort of thing that can only happen in voodoo. In voodoo they do these kinds of things.

But loving Jesus means loving our earthly brothers and sisters. The Apostle Peter tried to dodge the bullet, but Jesus would not allow it.

Jesus asked Peter,

“Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?”

Simon Peter answered,

“Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”

Jesus then told him,

“Feed my sheep.” (Jn. 21:16)

In other words, If you love me, give your life for my sheep!

Do we love the Lord?

In Part Two we will talk about the worst culprit of them all, the modern-day preachers.

[The price for loving the Lord is loving His church.]

Marangu!

Two weeks ago, our umbrella church organisation, CTMI (www.ctmi.org) held its 15th regional East African ladies’ conference in the small Tanzanian town of Marangu, situated on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The heartwarming moments, and the inexpressibly beautiful scenery, were priceless.

For most of the wonderful ladies who travelled from Singida to attend the conference, it was their very first time to travel so far from home and to such a beautiful gathering as this, not to mention the paradise-like greenery of the Mt. Kilimanjaro ecosystem.

For unavoidable reasons, I was not able to post this report earlier. But now, here, in pictures, is the story of their experience.

Stepping out.

Ogling at the age-old eucalyptus trees at Marangu-Mtoni.

One of the beautiful services at the conference.

Two of our sisters from Kenya.

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The Singida ladies welcoming their “mother”, Flo (yours truly), who arrived late.

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Some of the Singida ladies braved the early morning cold to catch a glimpse the elusive mountain.

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Mt. Kilimanjaro can just be seen in the background.

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Finally, a moment of rest for Pastor Stephen, sister Frida and the elders from the Lake Region.

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Prior to starting on their journey back home (and fully refreshed in their spirits), a group photograph for the Singida ladies.

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And… here comes the bus. Bye bye little town of Marangu.

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Beautiful Tanganyika

I wish to apologise for being ‘away without official leave’, meaning not being active on this blog for a quite a while. I hope and pray that everyone can forgive me.
For me, though, I have been through the most beautiful experience. That sounds selfish, but I better own up. I have been visiting with one of our churches in the village. I would come and go, but this was the main reason for my being awol because I simply did not have the time to stop and write. Moreover, internet in the hinterland is sketchy, so I had to leave my computer at home.
One of the real blessings that I count from God is bringing me to the Tanzanian hinterland. Apart from my early childhood, I have lived in cities and towns throughout my life. But for the last four years or so, I have been living in the ‘middle of nowhere’ in central Tanzania – and what an experience it has been! Sure, I live in a town, Singida, but it is a small rural town and, moreover, I have the opportunity of constantly going out into the vast, unlimited savannah bush regions of central Tanzania. This savannah land is what gave the name Tanganyika to the mainland. ‘Nyika’ means open plains. The name Tanzania came out of the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar.
Being in the Tanzanian hinterland is one of the biggest blessings in my life because I love adventure – and there is certainly no adventure in towns or cities, unless you are a gangster or the Mafia. But in the big, unspoilt regions of central Tanzania you can have as much adventure as you want, spiced with a whiff of danger. Just the other day, as we were walking in one trail in the bush, we found the biggest, blackest snake lying in the road. But it was dead; someone had just killed it. I couldn’t help wondering how things could have turned out if it was I who had encountered it.
We also went to visit a man who some nights ago had had an unfortunate encounter with a wild pig. He and his companions had been out hunting and it was he who was holding the flashlight. When they heard movement, he flashed the light in the direction of the noise. The pig, a big boar, thinking the light were the eyes of a lion, charged, kamikaze-style. Before anyone could make a move, the man had three of his leg bones broken.
Those are the kind of adventures that you find in the bush. But there is more. There is the exquisitely different and refreshing cuisine, including delicacies that you only hear of in the town: things like pure honey; and milk, both fresh and curdled. And then there is the night sky… oh, I’d forgotten about that. Yes, the night sky. I once wrote a friend that if I had the gift of time, I would spend it all watching the starry night. And there is no better place to watch the stars than in the Tanzanian hinterland, far from the city lights. While in the village, I asked my host for a reclining chair and I would wake up every night at 1 or 2 a.m. and finish off the rest of the night watching the incredible brilliance of the clear, starry night. I ended up seeing more amazing things and phenomena with my naked eye than you could read of in a book. And all the while feeling the presence of God in me and about me, leading me to worship Him fervently under my breathe.
But, really, nothing I could write here could truly bring out the beauty and pleasant flavor of Tanganyika. If you, the reader wish to take this post as a promotional for my country and my province, it would be my pleasure to concur with you. And to say, “Karibu!”
As for my fellow Tanzanians who love the comfort of the madding towns and cities, all I can say is, you don’t know what you are missing. And this splendour is right under your noses.

The mighty baobab

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No vehicle has ever set foot on this road

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A panoramic view of the home I was staying in

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Eating honey

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Marching to church

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And, finally, church. Here, even the dogs are allowed to listen in on the sermon

CTMI East Africa Youth Camp 2016

This year’s youth camp was held in Tanzania, in the town of Musoma, which is situated on the shores of Lake Victoria. The campsite was located in a resort situated at the extreme end of the Musoma peninsula.

The camp ran for five days, from the evening of 13th to the morning of Sunday, 18th December. More than 700 young people attended the camp. They came from all over East Africa; but we also had delegates from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mauritius and the UK.

The key speaker for the conference was Pastor Lenny Boy from Mauritius. His central message was two-fold:

  • a love for the cross, and;
  • becoming bearers of the spiritual inheritance.

Reading from the Book of Numbers chapter 21 verses 4 to 9, Pastor Lenny emphasized the danger of turning our backs on the cross especially in this rebellious generation.

“4 And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. 5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. 6 And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. 7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.”

East or west, north or south, our only hope of redemption is in the cross. The children of Israel had began to cultivate a love of (or, a return to) the world. They murmured against the way that God was taking them through. They did not like the long and difficult road one little bit, so they complained. Above all, and most displeasing to God, they “loatheth this light bread.”

But that “light bread” was Christ Himself! It had been given to them by God Himself, direct from heaven. But in their souls, they loathed this bread. In essence, they loathed Christ. They did not love the ways of the Lord. They wanted the bread and water of this world. God was deeply displeased with them, for they wanted their ways – the ways of this world – rather than the ways of the Lord.

In His anger, God brought fiery serpents in their midst, and many, many people died. When the people cried out to God, He gave them an antidote for the snakes’ poison; He instructed Moses to make a brass snake, and to set it up on a pole in the desert. Whoever got bitten and looked at the snake would live.

Brother Lenny told us that, in this adulterous generation, we are not to loathe the Christ who has been revealed to us, who is the crucified Christ. Our souls should not loathe the ways of the Lord. We should not tire of the cross. When we tire of the cross, sin quickly bites us.

But God is still merciful, and He has put a brass snake in the desert. When sin bites us, we can still turn to the cross and there find salvation and redemption when we repent and turn again to the Lord.

If we want to live in this rebellious and adulterous generation, we have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. East or west, our only hope of redemption is in the crucified Christ. If we fail to accept the ways of the Lord we shall die.

During the second part of this conference, Pastor Lenny also spoke of the need for the youth to desire to inherit the positions that the elders are leaving behind; not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. Lenny spoke about “passing the baton”, referring to the 4×4 relay race. He spoke about the readiness and anticipation that the one who is receiving the baton has to have.

The youth, he said, need to have that same readiness in the Spirit. It is a preaparedness of the spirit. When the youth are thus prepared in their spirits, the elders can walk away into the twilight of their lives in the firm assurance that the gospel will continue to abound and prosper.

The real enemy against this preparedness is a love for the world. Pastor Lenny spoke about how today’s youth are keen on the ways of this world. They are extremely tech-savvy. They boast in how easily they can master every new technological app!

But God does not want us to be carried away by these things. He wants us to know His ways, which are the ways of the cross. To have a readiness in our hearts to suffer with Christ, and to be a light unto the world. That is the only way the youth can be prepared to take the baton from their elders.

The meetings were extremely charged with the power of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, on the last day, Sunday, there was a special session of prayer for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Hundreds of young people came forward and got baptized in the Holy Spirit.

On that same Sunday, immediately after the morning service, there was a water baptism for those who had not yet been baptized. After all, we were right by the lake and there was much water!

Many young people came forward to be baptized, and there was much rejoicing.

And with that note, the camp came to a powerful ending. There was joy all around. But of even more importance, there were new resolutions made, new hope imparted and a true revival in the Spirit in the hearts of the young people.

God bless Pastor Lenny, God bless Pastor Stephen, God bless all the elders, God bless the youth!

[Below: The camp meeting in pictures]

Many traveled to the camp by bus:

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Lenny preaching the gospel:

God was at work in many young people’s hearts:

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A section of the large tent meeting:

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In the afternoons, it was time for games and recreation. Here, the young people prepare to go out to play…

… with the elders close in tow:

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In the playing fields, there was a wide variety of games:

In the meantime, the elders took time off to relax:

The scenic landscape of the Musoma peninsula…

… and a lovely sunset:

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The beautiful cottages of the Matvilla Beach Resort, where the camp was held:

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On Saturday evening, Brother Lenny made a special prayer for the sisters from Malawi:

And Pastor Stephen ministered briefly:

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The brethren who attended from Mauritius and the UK:

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The IT crew:

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The youth receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit!:

Scores of youth were also baptized in the waters of Lake Victoria:

And Bishop Elly Mpule was there to witness the occassion:

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Joe and I in a photo-op with Lenny:

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And, finally, the team from Singida…

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… who brought along some very original photo-shooting styles:

God and the Heart of Man

Better a little that is done from the heart than much that is not done from the heart. God loves things that are done from the heart. God is a person of the heart. In fact, the Bible says that God looks upon the heart. By the heart I mean that inner desire and joy that can only be born of God. Whatever we do from this kind of heart is very precious in the sight of God.

Not only that, but these are the things that are of true value to us and to our fellow humans. They are the things that make an impact in people’s lives. They are the things that bring about real change.

A nation, for example, whose leader leads the nation from his heart, that nation will prosper because it is built on a strong foundation. Our nation’s founding father, “Mwalimu” Julius Nyerere, built this nation on a strong foundation of unity. The great sense of internal peace that we enjoy in Tanzania today is a result of “Mwalimu”’s heart. He led this nation from the heart, and we are enjoying the fruits of his heart.

On the contrary, a nation that is not led from the heart cannot prosper. A nation that is led by the clout of money, charisma and other external bases will slowly deteriorate and perish. Much of the time, where money and power are involved, there is no heart. One of the greatest weaknesses of the natural man is the inability to conquer power and money.

I believe that is why God did not commit His Kingdom to the rich and powerful men and women of this world. The Bible tells us that God committed His calling to the poor, the downtrodden and the foolish of this world. Literally.

26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:26-31).

In the developed world, I hear there are people who are so rich that when they enter a shop and need to make some purchases, no one else is allowed in. They are allowed to shop privately. Such people may be rich, but theirs is a sorry form of richness for it is selfish and temporal. What a joy would it be for them to discover the true riches of serving God and their fellow man with their wealth!

In the church also, money and power corrupt men’s hearts. They fill them with pride and they cannot give God the glory. They take up the glory instead. On the contrary, a weak and poor man will quickly and easily give God the glory.

The true gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of the cross, however, gives us all the opportunity to allow God to deal with the flesh in order that we might serve God from the heart. Both the poor and the rich can benefit from this gospel. Both can learn to serve God from the heart, and not to trust in uncertain riches. No wonder Paul says in Galatians 3:28:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

What does it mean to be a Jew as we read in the above scripture? Apart from the literal meaning of the Jew (an Israelite), there is the connotation of a ‘Jew’ being a believer who knows many things about God or who deems himself close to God. But you could be a Jew in either sense of the word and not serve God from the heart. If you do not serve God from the heart, your knowledge or perceived closeness to God will neither endear you to God nor will it bear any fruit in the Spirit.

A true believer ought therefore be a person of the heart. If we do things to please men, that is hypocrisy. In our relationships, for example, we ought to be clear and not fear or despise others. God hates both these things – fear and despising of others – for He is a righteous God. In any case, nothing that we do to please men is born of God.  There are many things that we as believers do, believing that they are spiritual, but which are not. They are not spiritual because we do them with an eye to pleasing men. Such things are not born of God. Moreover, they are temporal and superficial.

(A strong and lasting structure must be born of the heart)

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