Fall Retreat to Singapore and Back

DOS MRT 2017

Hey Restoration,

I loved being with so many of you at the fall retreat last weekend.  Our planning team did a superb job, the weather was perfect, and the content was challenging.  As you may know, a couple days after the retreat, Jeff Walton and I went to Singapore for their diocese’s triennial Mission Roundtable.  It has been such a good time to be with our friends from Cambodia (Jesse Blaine, Gregory Whitaker, Wong Tak Meng) and our friends from the Anglican Relief and Development Fund (Bill Deiss, Bill Haley) and our friends from Anglican Frontier Missions which is the sending agency for our folks in West Asia and on whose board Jeff Walton serves.

I love being around people who are passionate about the expansion of Jesus’ Kingdom and fame, who are creative about getting people interested in the Gospel, and who are courageous in getting to places that are hard to get to with this good news.  I REALLY love getting to be around those people on their turf, outside of the US.   This has been fun and encouraging.

A few highlights:

  1.  I joined the guys from ARDF to do a workshop on why relief and development is used by God to bring His Kingdom shalom.  I talked about how the local church partners with ARDF and how ARDF serves the local church to connect us to the needs of the world.   Quick reminder–  Restoration responded within days to the 2 earthquakes in Nepal back in 2015 by giving over $8ooo to ARDF.  Today, 85% of the churches that were destroyed in that earthquake have been rebuilt and the remaining 15% will be done by the end of the year.  The Anglican church in Nepal has grown by 50% since the earthquakes because of the witness of generosity, relief, and development.

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  2. The diocese of Singapore is a STRONG church.  I love their intentional, plan-filled hearts.  They have 6 mission ‘deaneries’:  Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, and Nepal.  I attended a workshop where the folks from Cambodia gave a robust update on the good work that God is doing through the church in that country.  Quick reminder–  Restoration sent Jesse, Sarah, and Clara Blaine to serve in Cambodia back in 2011.  Since that time, they have had 2 more girls, Jesse has been ordained to the priesthood and now leads a Khmer-speaking congregation, and they are leading the Alpha Course which they hope might become a church plant.

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  3. I spoke on a plenary panel about mission partnerships.  Jesse, Tak Meng, Stewart Wicker (of SAMS), Daryl Fenton (ACNA canon to SE Asia), and I talked about the relationship between Restoration (sending church), SAMS (sending missions agency), Singapore (Anglican diocese), and Jesse (mission church planter).  It was such a privilege to tell the story of our church and Cambodia–  the multiple teams we have sent; our desire to refresh the workers; the visits to Restoration from Tak Meng, Bolly Lapok, Jesse Blaine; the Holy Week financial gift we gave to CCOP for their church building project; the way we pray for the Blaines and Cambodia each month during our worship services.  Quick reminder:  I have been reminded many times of how unusual it is that we have such good, healthy, and deep global partnerships.  Most churches don’t have what we have and we have 3!!  (Cambodia, West Asia, and Bolivia).  I am so grateful to Liz Gray and her tireless work to help us stay connected and to go deep in these places.  And I am so grateful for the dozens and dozens of volunteers who have gone on trips, showed up at Resto prayer meetings, and given generously.  We have a vision to plant, to reproduce, to multiply (in Arlington and globally)–  and it was fun to tell that story this week.

Set up by the Fall Retreat…

Our topic at the fall retreat was ‘the problem of race and the power of the cross’.  Joe’s talk on Sunday morning was so educational for me.  He connected lots of dots as he spoke from Ephesians 3

When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.  This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Ephesians 3: 4-6

Joe explained that when we talk about multi-ethnicity, we are not just talking about a diverse room.  Paul was describing what would happen as Jews and Gentiles followed Christ together–  there would be a multi-racial, multi-cultural church, whose members would be heirs together, ‘body together’, and sharers (partakers) together.

I have seen these 3 traits on display this week in Singapore.  It is a very diverse group:  ethnic Chinese, Tamil Indians, Singaporeans, Malaysians, Nepalese, Khmer, Americans, folks from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Indonesia, and Thailand.  I have heard stories of national churches sharing resources so that there is a ‘shared inheritance’–  so that one church is not a ‘have’ and the other a ‘have not’.  I have watched churches ‘body together’ as they feel pain that is not their own, but treated as their own because another church is feeling it.  And I have watched churches ‘share together’- decide that ‘we are making it together.’  They are doing it across cultural and ethnic divisions, in spite of national pain, in defiance of being separated, as a declaration of unity for the sake of the Gospel.

It is beautiful.

Such is a week in my life at Restoration.  It doesn’t always involve such a swing of time zones, but every week seems to hold moments of God reconciling, empowering, emboldening, and healing.  Sometimes they are spectacular and public.  Most of the time they are quiet and hidden.

The mystery of Christ.

Grateful to be with you on the journey.

-David

hurricanes and dolphins

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Last week, my husband Simon and I went on a few days vacation. It was soooo delightful – we went to the beach and we walked, laughed, relaxed, ate good food. All those things we do when we’re away.

But it was hard not to be aware that we had unintentionally arrived in the middle of a time of high drama. Every person we met was buzzing with the latest news, weather report or statement from the Governor. Yup – we had landed up in the potential path of Hurricane Irma. We were told we would have to leave – immediately – well, tomorrow – OK, we could stay one more day… and then another, as Irma gradually shifted her trajectory and we were in the clear.

We could choose how long to stay. We knew we could get in our car, with plenty of notice and just – drive. And we’d soon be back to normalcy and safety. We could watch the news with interest, but without undue personal concern. We didn’t have to worry about small children, pets, photo albums, our home what momentos of our lives to save. We didn’t face the loss of our history and possessions.

So different for so many others – all those whose homes were about to be destroyed, who had struggled to rescue precious memories as Harvey loomed and then barreled through; who had watched the coming of Irma with dread and alarm.

It was so easy for us to delight in the beauty of the beach and the sunsets, the dolphins and the pelicans. So easy for us to arrive and then to leave. But now, I have met people, I’ve talked to them and heard their fear, and now it is Bob, Rhonda, David, Susan, Derrick not just faces but people. And so here I am scouring the news. Looking for pictures. Reading about flooding. Tornadoes. Hail. Storm surges. All just where we were 2 days ago…. 

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And so how can we respond?

We can pray for those affected – our neighbors, all those we hear of or see on TV clips. Pray for churches and leaders, for first responders, helicopter pilots and for journalists. Pray for the drivers of the endless electricity emergency vehicles we passed on the road heading down to Florida as we were driving up I95. Pray for those you know, for those you don’t. Ask for God’s mercy to extend through this traumatic time.

And we can give. As a church we have donated $6,000 through ARDF for their hurricane response. You can read more about how they are using the funds given here and here. I am so grateful to our vestry and to the Outreach Steering team who think so carefully about where we as a church community will give our money. And thankful to you for all giving so generously so that we can respond when there is need.

It can be easy just to watch. But as you do, why not pause for a moment and step into the shoes of the person on the screen – and ask God to make them a person not a face to you, then pray – whether it be a tragedy in Mexico, South Asia or just a few hundred miles away, watch and pray. 

~Liz

 

Bus 9: reflections from #RestoBolivia2

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During our time in Cochabamba, Bolivia we traveled through the city in a small bus that had a number 9 written on the front window.  It was driven by a very kindhearted man that became known as number 17, “Diecisiete”, on our team because when we would get on we would count off to make sure we were all there. Those of us who had been to Cochabamba the year before were pleased that it was the same bus and driver that we had during last year’s trip. I remembered him saying he especially enjoys times when he works with groups like us because he has more time in between our trips to spend at home with his family.

Upon arriving, bus 9 waited outside the airport to take us to where we would be staying. Since the bus looks like the other public buses (and usually is used for public transportation), it was quite common for us see locals attempt to flag down the bus and get on as we passed by. There usually was another bus like it not too far behind. Bus 9 took us to the NCV homes: Corazon del Pastor, Pedacito Del Cielo, and Sendero de Esperanza. It took us to a retreat center for the church retreat with La Trinidad (yes, there were llamas). There was luggage stacked in the aisles and on laps. Those who were feeling sick opted to sit up in the front of the bus next to the driver.  We sometimes packed children from the homes on the bus with us – quite the bonding experience. It took us to the Cristo de la Concordia for a beautiful view of the city. We took the bus to places that had delicious Bolivian food when we were hungry. The bus even took us to the largest open air market place in Bolivia, “La Cancha”.

On bus 9 we prayed, talked, laughed, cried and were quiet together. One time the bus stalled in the middle of a busy intersection and some of our team members got out to push until the engine started up again. The bus was usually on time, but everything usually started late. Our last trip on bus 9 was to the airport. Back where we began, but we were different. “Chao”, we said (goodbye that means we will see you again). God willing, we will be back on bus 9 next time.

~Andrew I.

The day after… thoughts from #RestoBolivia2

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Today is the day after the end of the Bolivia trip– the end of the most transformative summer of my life as a whole where I felt God challenging me and pushing me to use my heart in ways I had not done before. This summer I felt the presence of God work through people in unforeseen ways.

First, what did I bring on this trip and how did God take it and transform it for His good?

On this trip I brought my love for getting to know the people, culture, and traditions of Latin America, which long preceded my interest in joining Equipo (Team) Bolivia. The second thing I brought with me was my love for serving others-from serving my family, friends, community, and job- I seek to serve in everyway I have to opportunity to because I feel like I marginally bring the world to being restored from a state of need or brokenness. However, on this trip, God has given me a renewed heart and lens with which to view Latin America as well as serving.

I saw through the work we have done with La Trinidad, an Anglican sister church in Cochabamba, that sowing and reaping together rather than working on behalf of other people renders incredible results that glorify God. This has been instructive in how to serve cross-culturally in settings where historically having others come in from the outside often has negative results. In working with the La Trinidad, we were humbled to see the such an elaborate and dynamic church could arise- a church that includes the most marginalized and offers them an immediate and engaging experience alongside the of gospel of serving that the houses and tias (affectionate and formal term for the women that care for the children) live out day in and day out. This indeed informed my experience of seeing that as a church there is not a one-size fits all model, and there are cultural differences that are key to understand.

Secondly, I brought my love for serving people and thinking critically about how this service is impacting them. What God has taught me through the experience of sharing with Bolivians is that He wants us to uphold the relational aspect of His kingdom to reflect His love in this world. By living out the relational aspect of God’s kingdom, we expand the network of people we love, care for, know well, and connect with- which is exactly what I felt like the whole group did while in Bolivia.

During our debrief session before flying out of Cochabamba at the end of our trip, Tyson, the leader of the work we were doing with Niños con Valor, shared with us the healthiest and most helpful way to transition out of Bolivia is by integrating our experiences there into our present reality here. As I return back to the states, my hope is to integrate these experiences into a part of my life I have felt disconnected from for the past year as I have simultaneously been drawing closer to Restoration, which is an answer to the prayer of what my vocation should be. This is an area I have been praying to the Lord about for cohesion for in my life between my passions and my day-to-day work. I want to pivot my vocation to working with Latin Americans back in the U.S. and in Latin America directly with humility and a spirit of working alongside people in settings like Bolivia where there are obstacles and constraints as well as opportunities and abundant blessings.

Through the testimonies we all shared that followed the theme of being at the table with Jesus, we learned and lived what God continuously shows his disciples in Luke, which is that out of our little, He in turn provides abundantly.

And when it comes to service, it has been key to invite God into settings where we serve others joyfully and creatively where we can glorify Him and expand His love in His Kingdom. I will continue to pray for God to penetrate the ways I practice serving my Latin American community back here in the context of the greater Washington community. In the day after, I seek to continue to build on the experiences we all had with the children, tias, and homes into the practice of seeing how I want to live out service and my passion for Latin America in my day-to-day life. I think I will start with grabbing some mate (local tea) and staying in touch with some of the kids we connected with through letters and staying tuned to their lives in the larger context of Bolivia.

~Alexa A.

Un Equipo Increíble: Thoughts from #RestoBoliva2

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Short-term mission trips come with their share of challenges. Before the trip, I found it hard to believe that somehow in a 10 day period, a group of 16 people of different ages, backgrounds, and experiences could somehow come together, plant themselves in a foreign country, adjust to new food, language, and culture, and have a meaningful impact on the people they came to serve.

I was in awe of the way our group demonstrated flexibility, sensitivity, and openness to the daily realities that we faced in Bolivia.

Instead of expressing frustration at the church retreat that our detailed schedule was constantly being rearranged and delayed, our team expressed delight that we could embrace the Bolivian way, release our Type A grip on things, and simply open our arms wide to welcome the beautiful chaos that we know God was orchestrating. If we had been adamant about sticking to our rigid schedule, it could have caused a rift between Resto and La Trinidad. Instead, our team’s flexibility allowed for an easy integration of our groups during which we could focus on what God was teaching us.

Instead of going through the motions of giving gifts at the end of the week to our friends at Niños con Valor and offering a generic thank you to all of the Tias for their work with the children, our team decided to hand-write individual thank you notes to each of the 19 Tias.  After a long day of work, our team members willingly gathered around the table at our guesthouse until midnight, reflecting on the distinct personalities of the Tias and specific ways that they love the children of NCV. As we distributed the gifts and notes to each Tia on our final day in Cochabamba, it was brought to our attention that no group had ever thanked each of the Tia’s individually. This gesture was deeply meaningful to them, and I’d like to think that our words and actions played a role in “refreshing workers” – which was one of the main objectives of the trip.

 Instead of grumbling about the illnesses that plagued our group from some uninvited friends (amoebas and parasites to name a few), I watched our team members support one another by offering healing prayer and taking multiple trips to the pharmacies to buy various medications. In addition, those who were afflicted with various health issues maintained positive attitudes and continued to offer ways they could help the team fulfill our mission.

These are just a few of many ways that our group demonstrated that they came to Bolivia not to be served but to serve.

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” – Hebrews 6:10

I praise God for each individual that he placed on this team and I know that the fruits of their labor will continue to bless our Bolivian friends.

~Kate L.

Equipo Bolivia Vuelve

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We are home.

Hey Restoration!  Our Bolivia Team arrived home around 9pm on Sunday night.  Thank you for reading our emails and blogs, for praying, and for generously helping with our trip costs.  Some of you came to the Bowlivia Dinner, others of you dropped your kids with us for a Date Night, lots of you gave specific gifts to help with flights, visas, and thousands of Perler Beads (more on that, soon).  Restoration gives so generously of its time, prayers, and money.  I am always grateful and humbled by your participation when the opportunity presents itself.  Thank you.

I get the honor of offering some initial thoughts as we re-enter to North American life and culture.  You will hear from other members of our team over the next couple of weeks.

Resto People are Incredible People.

Our team started meeting as a small group during the spring trimester.  This is the way we have been prepping for mission trips for about 5 years.  It gives us a great opportunity to get to know each other, to pray for each other, and to prepare to serve together.  Over and over, I said thanks to God for the incredible people He put on this team.  We were lead by the dynamic trio of Endel Liias, Kate Liias, and Eva-Elizabeth Chisholm.  They were extraordinary:  calm, attentive to details, and compassionate towards the rest of us.  At least half the team was fluent in Spanish and another 1/4 could function well on their own in Spanish conversation.  That left a few people like me with LOTS of help when we got stuck tripping over our limited vocabulary.  We loved living in a guest house together and doing compline each night.  We worked hard leading a retreat and serving lots of kids.  We laughed, mourned, and were touched by the things God is doing in Bolivia.

We have this thing called RestoGoes (look for the yellow flyer in the narthex).  We try to get teams to our partners in Cambodia (Jan2017), West Asia (Nov2017), and Bolivia (Aug2017) each year.  One of the best parts of RestoGoes are the people who go with you.  The next opportunity is West Asia in November.  Want to join an incredible team?

La Trinidad Anglican Church

Most of us left Dulles at 11:30am on Thur, Aug 3.  We arrived in Cochabamba around 8am on Fri, Aug 4.  It’s a long way.

Our first task was to lead a retreat (Sat-Mon) for La Trinidad Anglican Church.  The format was familiar to us–  it’s just like our Restoration Fall Retreat (10/14-15, registration is open, last year we maxed out, don’t miss it!).

For 4 months, our team had worked on stories in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus has a meal with a group of people (there are over half a dozen of them).  Our retreat theme was:  En la mesa con Jesus.
Over the course of the weekend, we had six sessions where one team member taught the passage and a second team member gave a testimony for how that story impacted their life.  The combo was so good.  Our team had prepared with excellence.  Many of the team taught and shared in Spanish.  Some of us were translated by other members of the team.

Before we went, we discussed cultural differences we would encounter.  We used the phrase–  it’s not right or wrong, it’s just different.  One of those differences was how we view vulnerability.  Restoration is a church that views vulnerability as a strength.  In our small groups and friendships, we want to be known, to be sincere, to not hide.  Vulnerability as a strength came out in the way our team courageously shared their testimonies and it was very attractive.

La Trinidad in particular and perhaps Bolivian culture in general views vulnerability as a weakness (again, not right or wrong, just different).  During the retreat, the people of La Trinidad greatly appreciated the vulnerability of our team and their appreciation lead to long discussions of how their church might become more transparent with each other–  for the sake of the Gospel and the healing work that Jesus wants to do in us.

Our team was grateful to be able to bring the gift of our stories and grateful to see how the Holy Spirit used them to bless our friends at La Trinidad during the retreat.

I hope you will be quick to sign up for a fall small group where you can be known and build friendships with other folks at Restoration.

Niños Con Valor

From Tuesday to Saturday we volunteered with the organization, Niños Con Valor.  It was a rewarding combination of affection, hard work, crafts, conversation, prayer, and learning.

There was a narrative that became very real to me that week.  We had a presentation on the history of Bolivia that taught us the economic and political fragility of that country (the presentation was entitled, ‘Bolivia Exists!’).  Bolivia is not a powerful economy compared with its neighbors.  In addition,  we were working with children who had been orphaned or abandoned.  Many of them had special needs and almost half had HIV.  These children became so precious to us.  Yet, according to the currency and value assessment of most of the world, they could be dismissed as ‘the least of these.’  The staff and volunteers of NCV are truly standing in the gap for about 40 kids that might not have any other place to turn.  It was our deep, profound privilege to get to serve alongside them and to experience the expansion of our hearts in exuberant affection for these children.

Now…

I loved our time in Bolivia.  I believe we did some good.  I know we built relational partnerships that will continue to strengthen.  As we grow our work with RILA, and dream about a future Spanish service, and partner with our good friends at Casa Chirilagua, and wonder about how God will materialize our hopes for Incarnation Anglican Church in South Arlington, I know that this companionship in Bolivia is a part of our Restoration story.  I love trusting that God is leading us and coordinating us.  It is such an adventure!

Good to be home.  See you on Sunday.

-David

He has taken my little, and given me much

#RestoBolivia2 – Team reflections #1

Tu fe ha salvado; ve te en paz.

RestorationMission 2These are the words of Jesus as he blesses the woman who washed his feet with her tears. A simple sentence:

“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

These are the words of Jesus that have been on repeat (in Spanish and in English) since Sunday morning, after Laurel and Desiree shared testimonies and teaching with members of La Trinidad, the church here in Cochabamba. Words that carry blessing and hope.

I wasn’t ready for this trip. We’d put months of preparation in to it – some of us had literally been talking about this trip since we left Cochabamba last July. Plans were set – we knew who would be speaking – we knew who would be leading kids time – hours of prayer and encouragement and listening and learning were put into this trip. And still my heart was not quite ready. I was tired, struggling with some familiar voices of shame and the question of “has it been enough?”

Late Friday night I sent around an update for our prayer partners. I was exhausted after a full day of travel and little sleep, and in all honesty struggling to find words. But last night my words were re-read to me, and I realized that the prayer I’d written for our friends at La Trinidad was in many ways a prayer for myself: “that they will be able to enter into the next few days with ready hearts.”

Now, on the other side of the retreat, I am grateful for the ways God took my little and reminded me that he is enough. Our plans were used and changed and shared in ways that we didn’t always understand, but they did not return empty. So many of us were privileged to see many at La Trinidad share their stories in new and vulnerable ways. There was weeping and rejoicing, celebration and struggle.

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We also discovered that the Hanke family knows a thing or two about llamas

As we reflected on the story of the woman weeping at Jesus’ feet, I shared with our small group that as I imagined myself in her place, there was an overwhelming sense that the need for healing was greater than the weight of shame that could leave her (me) isolated and alone – that risking the judgment of the people watching was worth the relief that would come from Jesus’ grace.

 

This is my benediction: Your faith has saved you; go in peace

~Eva-Elizabeth

RILA and Matthew 25

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The Restoration Immigration Legal Aid (RILA) team is excited to announce that RILA has received a $25,000 matching grant from the Matthew 25 Initiative. This initiative started with a vision from Archbishop Foley Beach and his desire to use a generous grant from an anonymous donor to help churches reach the poor and needy in their communities.

These granted funds will enable RILA to hire a part-time Program Manager to expand and solidify the work already being done. It will also provide a small stipend to RILA’s Intake Coordinator.

Currently, RILA is serving over 50 immigrant families, most of whom are seeking asylum. This is hard work, requiring patience, perseverance, and dedication.  In each case, the RILA team invests time to build relationships with our clients and their families, many of whom have stories of trauma that led to their being here in the United States. In fact, many immigrant families that RILA represents fled their home countries within days or weeks of having their lives – or their children’s lives – threatened. In some cases, they had already been harmed and were  forced to leave to avoid being harmed further.

A handful of RILA clients are children who journeyed to the United States alone, fleeing imminent violence in their neighborhoods.  The RILA team is committed to walking alongside immigrant families and advocating on their behalf.  Though the stories we hear are heartbreaking, RILA has begun to see some successes.  However, we also believe we are successful as we listen well to our client’s stories and show compassion, in the name and way of Jesus.

We are SO thankful for the large and diverse group of volunteers at Restoration that enable this work to be done. We are continually humbled and inspired by our volunteers’ hard work and willing hearts.  Working together as the church to accomplish the enormous task of running a neighborhood immigration legal aid clinic is such a joy for all of us.  From praying to note taking to providing hospitality and translation, each RILA case is surely a team effort, demonstrating the body of Christ serving Restoration’s neighbors in need.

Support RILA here to help us meet our match!

If you are interested in learning more about RILA or getting involved, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are specifically looking for volunteers with fundraising experience, as the Matthew 25 initiative grant is a matching one. But translators, attorneys, researchers and general clinic volunteers are always welcome! Our holistic vision is to join God in the renewal of all things and to witness the transformative power of loving and serving our neighbors through giving immigration legal aid to the immigrant families in our neighborhoods. We’d love to have you join us on this journey!

You can learn more about the clinic here.

With thanks from the RILA team.

 

AFAC fun!

20170709_215356Summer fun….and with a good cause!  Come join us this Sunday to pick up fresh produce from the Columbia Pike Farmer’s Market and then sort it and bag it to give at the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC).  Great opportunity to meet people, get a free bright green t-shirt, and check out some fruit and veggies. 12:15pm- 3:30pm.

http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0e4ea5ac23a2f94-afac2

 

Matt’s Picture Movie Review: Resto Cambo team reflections #5

As I was flipping through my images from Cambodia and reflecting on the many good gifts that God gave me while I was there, I was surprised by how comprehensive a review of the trip I saw by holding the arrow key down on my image viewer.  Without further ado, here is my RestoCambo2017 Album with just a few tweaks.  Enjoy!

If you have questions about any quick bit that you saw, I would be happy to answer any of them.  Feel free to ask questions in the comments below.

-Matt

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