:: Update Fourteen ::

I’ve officially been home for 1 week. It seems like it’s been 3 months! Been doing a lot of thinking lately back on my trip. I’m here in the United States, but my heart, my brain….it’s still back home.

And I’ll be honest, it’s been hard for me to get back into life here. I’ll never fully ‘get  back’ into it. I’ve changed, and coming back into America, I have had culture shock. How can we have culture shock in our own culture we grew up in?

This past week as been aimless walking and honestly I’m done with that. I’ve got to do something to work towards going back. So in a way, I’m finally starting to ‘get back’ into life. (in a way.)

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Endurance. That is the first word that was grown into me. Learned over and over and almost instilled in me. I am so thankful for all those times and opportunities for growth and how over the past 5 months, that’s what God has been establishing in my life.

“And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, which shapes our characters.” Romans 5:3

“Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing.” James 1:2-4

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Trust. Trusting God knew what He was doing (which He always does) that He had me right where He wanted me for a very specific reason. In the beginning I didn’t see it at all. I wondered why God would bring me to Guatemala to change poopy diapers. Haha, I did more than just that;) But not until much time later is when I realized that it’s not just changing diapers…it’s being able to love them and give them the care they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Trusting He was going to help me with the language. Trusting His planes and coming back. I know He has something for me to learn here in the United States and I’m excited to see what it is. All of life is learning. We know that. But how often do we embrace it? A friend has encouraged me in so many times to take that situation and learn from it. Be excited because you get to grow from it! Not all of life is down and hard. But we have the privilege to keep learning and growing!

“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

 I have reached to wherever you are in the farthest corners of earth,
        and the most hidden places therein.
    I have called to you and said, “You are my servant.
        I have chosen you, not thrown you away!” Isaiah 41:9

 

Joy.

Finding my true deep joy from Jesus. Because when our joy and happiness is based off our circumstances, be ready for a roller coaster ride. You’ll be up and down because our circumstances change so fast. And I tried so many times to base it off of what was happening. It didn’t end well. But we can find our joy in the Lord and who He is. What He’s done for us. Just being able to KNOW His heart makes my heart so joyful!!

“The Eternal is the source of my strength and the shield that guards me.
    When I learn to rest and truly trust Him,
He sends His help. This is why my heart is singing!
    I open my mouth to praise Him, and thankfulness rises as song.” psalm 28:7

I am filled with joy and my soul vibrates with exuberant hope,
    because of the Eternal my God;
For He has dressed me with the garment of salvation,
    wrapped me with the robe of righteousness.
It’s as though I’m dressed for my wedding day,
    in the very best: a bridegroom’s garland and a bride’s jewels.” Isaiah 61:10

 

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Patience. I’m am (ok, used to be) a fast paced person. I loved my to do lists and having things to do every single minute. To sit and do nothing was like…”what? who even does that?”

Then I left home and went to a culture that is slow paced. And I lived a life for 5 1/2 months that was a full force of patience. It drove me crazy at first, but I’m so, so thankful He taught me to be patient. It is one of the most valuable lessons in life. With it you’ll go far.

 We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.” Romans 8:28

 Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arrogance in love; it’s never rude, crude, or indecent—it’s not self-absorbed. Love isn’t easily upset. Love doesn’t tally wrongs”

 Be humble. Be gentle. Be patient. Tolerate one another in an atmosphere thick with love.”

 

And I must say…having your flight delayed almost 4 1/2 hours, sitting in the airport for that long takes patience haha! We didn’t actually fly out until 2 am.

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It was so sweet, my family made signs when they came to pick me up. They patiently waited as my flight got changed several different times. Stayed up super early into the morning even tho they had to work the next day. Bought me flowers, and have been very kind to listen to me constantly talk about Guatemala ^_^

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And all of this that I am saying…I am not perfect at ALL. These are just things He’s been growing in my life. I still have so much to learn. And even now, I’m still learning to trust Him as I plan on going back, aiming for the beginning of next year.

As I look into furthering my education online so I can still travel and study.

As I just live life here.

As much as I miss it, and almost every dream I have, I’m in Guatemala, it is so good to be back with family for this little season of being home. To refresh and rest before heading back home! 🙂

 

 

:: Update Thirteen ::

Sitting here in the airport right now, my flight out of Guatemala was delayed, all of Delta is delayed and while everyone is not happy about it, i’m happy because it gives me more time not to have to enter the outside American world.

Honestly it’s been so hard. Coming in for landing in Atlanta, and the ‘culture shock’ from the air just hit so bad and I told God “God, I can’t do America. Honestly I can’t” I miss Guatemala and it’s ways so much. I miss the people and the atmosphere. I miss my home.

I am excited to see my family. Don’t get me wrong lol! It’s just so hard to leave someplace you know full well you belong. But God knows. His planes are perfect and I know He has some great things in store. I am also excited to see what else He has to show me while I’m home. Time to think and process this trip and start to prepare for the next:)

 

 

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Wednesday was my last day in the orphanage and in the school, and all 4 grades that i’ve been with these past months got together and almost all the kids gave me a little message. my heart just melted.

How is it one person can be so loved? It overwhelms my heart how much love these kids give.

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These past 6 months have been the hardest of my life. So much stripping of self and filling of who God is. So much growth in my faith. Trust. Patience. But not only that, He has grown my heart and mind. The ways I think and process life.

I’m still in the airport. And honestly afraid to leave it. I’m afraid for it to be daytime again where I can see America again in the light. I’m so afraid.

But God is good. All the time. Even when I don’t think I can handle something, He knows.

Joshua 1:9 keeps coming up. Have courage. Be strong. Don’t be afraid because I AM WITH YOU!!! What other promise do I need in life other than the promise that the maker of the universe, of galaxies to tiny plants that nobody sees, is with me, and He won’t abandon me.

While today technically ‘ends’ my trip, I still have a lot of processing to do. and I’m asking if you could please pray for me to:

. Be able to deal with culture shock.

. That I’d not get depressed to where I just quit learning.

. And as I’m praying about returning for a longer amount of time!

 

:: Update Twelve ::

“I’m still in your hands, this is my confidence and you’ve never failed me yet. Great is your faithfulness!”

He keeps reminding me that He is faithful. That He hasn’t abandoned me yet, and He won’t start now either.

A verse I read in Psalm 145 recently (and I’ll put in in English too, but I love the Spanish. I feel as tho it’s more rich!)

“El senor es bueno con todos; desborda compasion sobre toda su creacion.”

“The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation.”

He is so so good, and I feel like i won’t ever be able to grasp just how good He is with us.

Surrender. A word that sums up my life recently. Things come up in life that you have to surrender them to God. I’m leaving my home in 18 days. And I really feel like this is where God has called me to be for much longer than 51/2 months. But I have to surrender my desire to come back to Him. I have to surrender it to Him or I’ll end up trying to do it in my own time, in my own way. And God’s way is always better.

Surrender is such a scary thing. So many unknowns. But something that came up the other day about surrender, is so so true…

“You can have it all, Lord
Every part of my world
Take this life and breathe on
This heart that is now Yours

Oh the joy I’ve found
Surrendering my crowns
At the feet of the King
Who surrendered everything

Oh the peace that comes
When I’m broken and undone
By Your unfailing grace.”

 “Oh the joy I found, surrendering my crowns, at the feet of the King, who surrendered everything!”

And so as I prepare to go back home for a bit, my one prayer is that it would be my joy to surrender my ‘crowns’ at the feet of the one who gave everything. To the One who knows my future. To the One who tells me worrying doesn’t do any good, so don’t worry about my future. To the One who has taken me through these 51/2 months and I fully believe He will take me through this next season of preparing to come back for a longer term!!

 

 

 

: Update Eleven:

Honestly…its so hard to put this into words.

Jesus has promised…

I will not leave you as orpans; I am coming to you.

My heart breaks when I see these little lives…seemingly abandoned. Seemingly just left. But no. Jesus has promised He won’t abandon them. He’s promised to come to them. He IS coming to them even know. To bring beauty out of ashes and joy out of sadness. And I’ve seen Him do it over and over.

And getting to spend more one on one time (ok. More like one on seven time!) With these kids, whether it’s chasing a soccer ball, jump roping until your sides hurt, hanging out with them on the playground or just taking a little extra patience for that one or two kids in school who pester you with any and every question! Or taking the time to remember each name. I’ve come to know most of the kids on a more personal level, to a place where I’ll walk by them and a bunch of “hola ana!” are said followed by a bunch of little arms around my waist. And it’s this that I’ve come to love. Getting to know each of them on a more personal level.

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And I love watching their personalities blossom and bloom. Watching them grow and learn. Watching as something gives them joy. watching them laugh and smile.

Last Friday I taught Prepa with the school director, and in the morning we have prayer, and listening to this little boy, who doesn’t have much himself, pray for those kids who don’t have food. Who don’t have anything. Truly a humbling moment, and I honestly started to cry. Seeing their tender hearts come out for others.

1 1/2 months left. And having a terrible time with it. I don’t want to be another person to walk out of their lives. I don’t want to leave what’s become my life. I don’t want to not be able to walk up the stairs and have a good laugh with all my little friends. I don’t want to not be able to see them in church, singing and praising their hearts out to the King of kings. I don’t want to stop holding little hands and getting little hugs and kisses. I don’t want to stop all of this that has come to mean so so much to me.

It’s tearing me apart to leave. And maybe I’m just a mess but randomly crying is becoming kinda normal.

I’ve been asking God to let me come back. And have honestly prayed about coming back for a lot longer of a time.

I honestly believe this is where I am to be! And all I can do is to look back at these past months and say “thank you.” Thank you for the person you’ve changed me into. Thank you for these tough opportunities to lay my selfishness down and love others. Thank you for all these lives I’ve come to know. Thank you for your goodness in what ever comes to be. Even when I don’t understand any of it. Thank you that you are good and faithful through it all! Thank you, thank you that you ARE coming to these young lives!

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: Update Ten :

About maybe 3 weeks ago? (honestly can’t keep track of time!) I had to go get my visa renewed. Quite an experience! But what. I have 2 months left in this beautiful Country that has become my home. These beautiful people who have become part of my life, and I don’t ever want that to change. This culture that I’ve grown into. It’s all so become a part of my life and it’s a part of my life I don’t want to end. I’m not ready to go home to the culture in America. Granted I miss my family and friends a lot! ❤ But like my friend keeps reminding me, you still have 2 months. Take it day by day and focus on what’s in front of you! (thank you for always reminding me!!);)

(And I may have honestly thought about making this my more permanent home a few times…ok, more than a few.)

 

We honestly don’t know how long someone will be in our lives until they move on in their own life. It’s hard to let people go. Let them go live. But what little time they were in our lives, how did we invest in them? Pray over their tiny little life that’s just starting?!

I honestly miss holding this chubby little hand. Miss his hair that stood straight up after it dried from his bath. Miss his cuddles and watching him look around the world around him. Miss watching him light up and smile really big.

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So I have started helping in the school 2 mornings a week, and have absolutely loved it. 1) getting to know more of the kids and 2) I love watching them learn and grow. Teaching them new things or just helping with what they are working on in school right then. It’s also given me an opportunity to grow in my Spanish providing I hear less than 10 English words in that time of being in the school! But it’s been good, and if/when they speak slow enough, I can understand most of what they are saying!!

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I’ve been going through a lot of training lately. Just in everyday life. How you react to situations, am I going to act like my age and take responsibility? Honestly some days I don’t really want to be an adult. Overcoming so many fears, becoming more confident.

In my recent bible reading, Luke 9:23-24

“23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”

Letting go of my own interest and pouring into others interests. Into the interest of this little kid who wants to play with one toy for what seems to be a really long time to me. But it’s a way of investing in their lives.

Daily taking up my cross and following Him in what He has planned for me. EVEN when it doesn’t make any ounce of sense to our human brains. It’s perfect in His plans and it’s all working for the greater good.

 

 

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For Samana Santa (Holy week) us staff get time off  (we all take turns in two groups.) and combined with my weekend off, I had 4 days to just chill or go out and do something.  So I took a little road trip with 4 friends to Quetzaltenango (Xela). About 4-5 hours through vallies, little villages, mountains, and pretty much the whole way was curves. But it was worth it. So beautiful. And can I just say I love being surprised by Guatemala’s way of doing things. Like their hotels! Not at all what I expected but it was actually really cool/funny to see how they do it. (or the way they tie their cows by the road to graze!)

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So, so many gardens. It’s like one huge quilt laid out over the mountains.

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My one friend Vivian and I were partners in the water park we visited (my first ever water park!) And the slides I thought I wouldn’t like ended up being my favorite;)

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And all of the slides had their own names, but we renamed them all to what we thought it reminded us of.

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Day 2 of our vaca we visited Fuentes Georginas, the hot springs which was amazing! I’ve never been to hot springs before in my life and this was a good first time! But man, once you’ve been in such warm water and get out, the air is freezing!

 

 

This is Guatemala. You could get places quickly or be stuck in traffic for a really long time.

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One of my favorites is coffee with sweetbread. The sweet bread is hard and crunchy, kind of like a cookie, But when you dip it in your coffee, it’s amazing! (This ‘cookie’ has a name, but I don’t know what it is. It’s just good food lol!)

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Something I’ve been thinking over on the trip,

Psalm 18:6,

“in my distress I cried out to the Lord, yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from His sanctuary, my cry to Him reached His ears.”

Jesus, King of kings, being praised by thousands of angels and thousands that have gone before us, being praised and lifted high by His creation, but in the midst of being Mighty, Majestic, High above it all, He hears my simple little plea for help. What seems big to us is really just a speck to Him, but he doesn’t shove us away because our problem is so tiny to Him, no. He takes the time to listen to us. To hear us out and help us in the midst of it. What concerns us concerns him.

How awesome is He? How compassionate and merciful!?

God is so overwhelmingly good. So faithful to us. Always right there with something encouraging when we are down. I’m so thankful for the God I serve.

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“Que todo lo que soy alabe al Señor;
    con todo el corazón alabaré su santo nombre.”

 

: Update Nine :

Thanks to tonight being Sunday night, I’ve finally gotten this post together. Every Sunday night I have night shift. And I get about as much sleep as anyone does with 10 kids, 2 being babies that need bottles throughout the night. So, they all are asleep (for now!) and I get to sit down to eat and write while there’s no distraction!!!  I have so much more respect for moms across the globe! You all are so so amazing, and truly superwomen!!

Change. one word that sums up a lot of my life these past two months. Good change. Being stripped of self and control. There’s a lot I can’t control. How am I going to handle it?

Growing. the second word that sums up these past two months! Growing in my pursuit of God, in speaking and understanding Spanish. Patience. Loving when you don’t want to. Doing when you don’t want to.

So I got to meet a friend of my mamma’s and her family. It was such a nice refreshing day being able to hang out with them and get to know each of them. They are such a cool and sweet family, and I loved watching them work and interact with each other in such a loving way. And might I add, this wasn’t only the first zoo in Guatemala I’ve been to, but also the first zoo in my life!! lol. It was a fun experience.

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Besides the food ( 😉 ) getting to feed the giraffe was probably one of the highlights of the day. You pay 10 Q (like a little over a dollar) and you go up on this platform with a handful of food and feed it. Totally worth that 10 Q!! I joked I found a friend that was as tall as me…ok. Maybe a little taller.

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Church here is amazing. Yeah, I don’t understand all the words. One time I told my friend “I tried to understand the sermon. and do you know the one word I caught and remembered?….eyes.” ; ) haha! But I can understand the music better. And worship is worshipFULL. And it’s so filling. So thankful for it.

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On my weekend or day’s off, some friends have let me come and hang out/crash at their house. So last Saturday, he was going to the fresh market on the (what American’s call chicken bus) and it’s been 3 years since I’ve been on one of them. So I got to go along. You get on the bus and hang on to the bar running down the middle of the ceiling because as soon as your on, he’s going to hit the gas. And then quickly hit the break so he can stop to pick more people up. And when your getting off, you have to be so quick. Because you start to get off and he starts going. So like 4 guys whistle up to him which means “stop. wait” and you scramble off before he drives off!

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I love the market. Seeing all the people, how they work and the culture. Seeing all the produce or meats. Anything and everything. But something that has happened several times is “you need to meet my son! He’s tall and handsome. Do you like Guatemala? Do you have a boyfriend?” And I stand there and laugh because that’s what the last 5 guys have said!!

Or walking down the street and people are just watching you. I’m thinking, “what are they looking at? oh wait. I’m tall…and white.”

While I was waiting for my friend to buy something, and I’m looking around at the sea of people that are mostly shorter than me, and way down the aisle, I see someone else that’s tall. And we both look at each other like….”hey. your tall!”

 

Staying with my friends, they gave me chop sticks to eat with over the weekend, and I got so used to them that when I went back to using a fork, I kind of poked my food with it and thought “how on earth does this thing work?” Honestly, chopsticks are easier.

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These three…they know a bit of English, and I know a tiny bit of Spanish. So it’s learning for all of us! I think we do more laughing at eachother tho haha!

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At 11, we have a snack. and it can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes. So then you have 1 1/2 hours until lunch time. One time I had 4 of the kids in my care, so I took them all and we sat in one of those little play houses. It was squishy, but fun. And we stayed like that for a good hour ^_^

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This past Saturday, I had some help from 7:30-8. But then they needed to leave. So it was me, and 10 kiddos. The lady that cleans the house was so kind to help me a little bit. But I had them outside playing, and I was inside taking care of the two babies. And I came out to this. They had taken the stuffing out of a cushion and scattered it everywhere.

I stood there and laughed. How can they be so quick?!

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Hammock time is the bomb.com. These last few days have been pretty cold though. Around 71 but super windy.

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One thing I really miss is being able to walk into my kitchen at any given moment and bake/create something that involves food. My friend (and awesome Spanish teacher!) was helping make banana bread for the orphanage, and I got to help. She weaved my Spanish lesson into the experience!

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Ok, another one of my favorite things…being in the mountains, and it gets super foggy and the clouds/fog run through this place. Or going out and just looking up at the stars.

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Update Eight-Antigua

Yay, an everyday post! Yesterday I had the day off, and went to Antigua with several other people.

I love going to Antigua, seeing the volcanoes, valleys, the city and all the artistic-ness that is expressed all over the city. But also being in traffic, seeing people go about their day to day lives and watching the culture.

And getting to go shopping in the market, and when you go back and you and the shop keeper remember each other and have a cool conversation.

This is such a cool look out to the volcano ‘Agua’. (and for your info, after that wall, it doesn’t just drop down lol)

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For breakfast we took a shuttle up the mountain to El Tenedor, which is a restaurant up in the mountains, and we got to eat outside with this view.

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The food here is so good. There will be random times when I miss the food I used to eat in America. But it’s pretty rare.

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And one of my favorite parts! They make you an omelet to how you like it right there in front of you. I was so excited to have cebolla, queso blanco, tomate Y jamon on mine! (onion, white cheese(mozz.) tomato and ham.) Drizzled with cream. Think Creme fresh only 100 times better!

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Another view from the restaurant. And it wasn’t just a restaurant, but these huge gardens and so much art weaved into it. It was so refreshing to just walk around with no real agenda, and enjoy nature and fresh air! It’s a lot of diesel smell and fumes in the city.

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Jill is such an amazing person and friend. She pours out so much into so many lives in such a loving and fresh way! Love her so much!

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Part of the group of sweet people!

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A small part of the market.

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You walk by and they ask what your looking for and if you even start to look at something, they get it out and all the other colors they have, or they put it on you to see how you like it haha!

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Then they took us to see the mimo. That was fun to see.

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And at McDonalds, I found a friend! lol

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Going back home. (well, my second home!) It was so special to get to see the sunset. It’s one of my favorite things to watch but I usually am inside when it sets, and being in the mountains with a bunch of trees makes it hard to see it.

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And seeing this, Psalms 1oo:5 comes to mind…

Porque Jehová es bueno: para siempre es su misericordia, Y su verdad por todas las generaciones.

Because the Eternal is good,
    His loyal love and mercy will never end,
    and His truth will last throughout all generations.