Exudes Cheer

It is definitely here.  It has arrived once again.

The time which we all have been waiting for (I’m equally thrilled).

It’s definitely the Christmas season! The mood of the world announces. I may be late to welcome this season but let me, please.

Christmas trees!

Christmas lights!

Christmas socks!

Christmas mistletoes!

Christmas tunes!

Christmas village!

Christmas presents!

Oh, how I love presents wrapped in different ways.

I have this attitude of collecting Christmas presents and keeping them wrapped until Christmas Eve. I always manage to control my excited self to open up the gifts once I received it (sometimes I would sneak a peak). So before the very Christmas day, one corner of my room will be loaded with boxes and bags of presents!!! AND it’s a repeat this time of the year.

I just finished attending two of the maybe many Christmas parties this month but the corner I have devoted to the gifts is already full-packed. Woohoo!

My love for the presents is as much as my love and recognition for the givers. I admire how they would tell me “I personally picked this for you knowing that you’ll like it” or “My child chose this by himself because he knew Teacher Jirah will like it.” Sweet! You know what? They all turned out correct. I love each and every piece!

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To be known personally by the giver – your needs, likes, and preferences – is something that outweighs the price of their gifts.

As I opened up the gifts, all of them radiate the affection and the gratefulness of the giver. There my heart is full. From the personally handpicked sophisticated bookmark to the vacuum flask (because they know my love for coffee) to the many fashionable scarfs (I’m considering the thought of becoming a scarfs collector) and to the many other presents, it’s not the price of these things that matters now but it’s the attitude of the giver who remembers you in their own webs of people.

It’s the effort of finding the right present which values greatly this time. I know this by heart because I just did my own painstaking gift hunting yesterday; SO MANY things to consider when looking for the perfect gift that the receiver would really appreciate. It even gets harder when my picky-self tries to overreact in each of the things I am considering buying. My habit of imagining the reaction of the receiver when opening the gift is an absolute delayer. Lol.

All I want is for every little thing I wrap to bring a little tickle on a spine of the giver that will result in a smile or a gesture of “Yes, I like it.”.

Then the wrapping comes. Yes, I managed to wrap them all today. I am just so excited to see whether they will like it. (To check out for their reaction if it will turn out the same as I imagined or maybe not) I hope they will. I love gift hunting and giving as much as receiving presents.

In this time of the year when giving and sharing is but normal, I believed that a shared joy is a doubled joy. So whatever present we may wrap in a normal wrapper as long as it is out the fullness of our hearts, nothing can be worth more than that. As we adorn it with our ribbon of love, we may seal it as well with good wishes. Why not? It’s free! ☺️

 

 

Love,

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P.S Thank you as well for the gifts of follows, likes, shares and the gift of dropping by my blog plus taking some of your precious time to read. I wish you more valuable presents from Life. xoxo.

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The Ripple Effect

The imminent smell of the Bermuda grass, the chirping of the Maya birds, the clucking of the mother hen trying to gather her chicks, the whistling of the afternoon wind soothing the already sun-kissed skin, the floating of the wild dandelions, the swarming of orange dragonflies, the monotonous chirping of the crickets pleasantly attached to the Narra tree … the day is about to rest.

How I love this scenic part of my childhood years.

When I was a kid, my brothers and I would usually play alongside the riverbank or at the bay of any bodies of water or just the normal roadside creek. It was always one of those afternoons when we would drop pieces of our chips and waited until it was soaked with water and eventually painted a colorful rainbow or we would pick up some sticks or stones and threw them as we count how many leaps would it make. Whoever makes the most number of laps wins. I love the effect of each and every stone thrown into the water. One drop created many ripples, too many that watching it did bring a kind of excitement to me and wanted, even more, ripples so I would throw stone after stone. Well, some of the stones sank deep the water for missing the right angle. Still, I would try to make of those ripples anyway.

How eager I was that time to make such effect on the water, only the dragonflies knew 😂.  I can still picture out myself twisting my body to a right angle so as to give my hand a free space for swinging and eventually throwing the stones into the water. That eagerness that I know still reigns over my veins. That eagerness that sometimes I just kept in a box.

Ripples. These series of waves caused by a sudden movement in the water.  Ripples. The series of emotions and actions that is slight but noticed.

If we could only throw a little kindness that will ripple through many hearts instead of giving out a wormy apple maybe there will be more genuine friendships and relationships.

If we could only throw a little ounce of compassion maybe there will be a food on the plate of the beggar we pass by along the street even for a day.

If we could only throw a little bit more patience maybe we could save the waiter for losing his job.

If we could only throw a little bit of encouragement than icy daggers maybe there will be more sunshine on a stormy day.

If we could only… in every single opportunity. Trust me, I was guilty at some point but it’s never too late.  Everything begins with our simple act. I cannot remember myself throwing big rocks into the water to create the ripples. I still remember I had the small stones.

So, yes, we should never underestimate what a small act can create. That simple smile, the simple utterances of kind words, that simple tap on the shoulder or an embrace… It will make such effect that differs.

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If we could just be all an agent of ripples in our simplest and most sincere ways, the world will be little better than it is today.

 

Love,

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*P.S.  Thank you for throwing me your support. I have been receiving amazing feedback on this blog site over the past weeks. Thank you for dropping by and reading. God bless you!  xoxo

Ultimate Truth about You

I am writing this to the person who is always bullied in the canteen for being deviant, to the one who failed the board exam, to the one who didn’t make it through the graduation due to an ignorant decision, to the one who was not accepted in her biggest interview due to an inadequate experience, to the one who questions his self worth, to the who at some point was badly knocked down by circumstances, to the one who has lost the courage to face tomorrow with confidence, to the one who considers himself unworthy, to the one who is always rejected, to the one who is belittled, to the one who is lacking of physical capabilities, to the one who has almost given up life for many reasons beyond comprehension, to the one who is reading this. Know that …

YOU ARE OF GREAT VALUE!

You were fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14). You are not just a nobody because, He, the sovereign is mindful of you (Psalms 8:4). You are His workmanship. He knew you before you were born (Jeremiah 1:5a, Psalms 139:13) and He has set you apart for a greater purpose (Jeremiah 1:5b).

So if you are at the lowest point of your life and you feel that nothing makes sense to you, be reminded of this.

 

Love,

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7 Things I Learned From Listening

Whenever my dad would whistle, I knew in an instant that it is Him. I knew it, right there and then, that the modulated whistle that goes through the wind was from Him. It always told me one thing – go home. How much more when he talks!

That instant knowledge of whose whistling or talking is the product of my close relationship with him.

I don’t need to wonder if that was my dad’s voice. I knew in a split second whose voice that was and I knew what he wanted because I grew up listening to his voice.

Listening has been a challenging game in today’s world. There are so many voices we hear today; so many that listening becomes very difficult. Identifying which one to listen to is just so confusing. I personally experienced being so confused by the voices I heard especially at times when I was deciding on something. It was myself to blame that whenever I sought for counsel, I tried so hard to collect as many pieces of advice from people whom I deemed to be more experienced than I am. However, the more I gained advises the more I became confused. I got confused by which one was the best among the bests. Later I found out that I was listening to the wrong voice.

As I grew in my spiritual life, I have developed a lifestyle of proper listening. I developed the habit of seeking first His Voice – my Creator’s voice – before I listen to others.

First thing first, I learned to identify His voice among the so many voices of the world.

So here are the7 things I learned from identifying and listening to the voice of God.

1. When I choose to listen to His voice, He directs me to a step that is consistent with the scripture. He will never ever break His laws and precepts.

2. Usually, the decisions I make through the His leading conflicts with human reason. The enemy would always bring me to the natural normal thing to do which pleases him.

3. As I listen to Him, He reminds me of the truth that the decision I need to make should not gratify the flesh. I learned to say no to an instantaneous gratification of the flesh.

4. Listening to His voice affirms my faith and builds my courage. If my decision doesn’t call for my faith, I always feel uneasy.

5. It causes me to think of the consequences of my decision to others. As no man is an island, considering what this may bring to the people around me is one thing I learned to think carefully about. As I matured I learned to take the full responsibility for every action I made.

6. Checking out the lifestyle of the person whom I am taking an advice is one thing I also learned from listening. We usually have this “go-to” person or maybe people. But God warns me when I am already sidetracked by the things I hear.

7. The best thing I gained from listening to Him, there is going to be a calmness in my spirit. I need not worry or grow weary of something. A peace that passes all understanding will just overtake those things as a product of a right connection of my spirit with Him. Eventually, it contributed to my spiritual growth.

By spending time with my dad, I got to know his voice and the changes in the tones and the mood that goes with it. Same thing with God, we need to know His voice and to grow in a deeper relationship with Him so we can experience the awesome opportunity of being guided by Him.

He is inviting you now. 🙂

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Extra Special

Flashback.

It is still a vivid experience. Something that is deeply carved in my senses. That very day that I was holding flashcards about weather conditions, teaching them how to read the words and what it is, sounding it out enthusiastically for them to imitate, adding some tune for better reception and recognition of the words such as sunny, windy, and others, gesturing with both hands for motion when one of them caught me by fear and surprise as she pulled the white hair clip off my hair. It was so abrupt that I was caught off guard of myself. I was for a second worried about staying even longer in the room where I was the only one with at least “normal” brain function. It was the longest 5 seconds of my life. One of them, whom I supposed was the “teachers’ pet” ran immediately to their Thai Teacher to report what had happened. There and then the standby Thai Teacher came in and reprimanded the poor child, led the girl in one of the corners of the room and talked to her very softly that I couldn’t decipher what the other teacher was trying to explain.

As my sense of normality came back, I recomposed myself. I tried to control my shaking voice of terror. No doubt that the act of this adolescent girl who was in need of special care has sent a shiver down my spine.  Still, I thank God for creating in me a brave heart that I was able to keep coming back to the room with 15 special children and finish the semester with them. I fully know that she didn’t want to cause harm to me; that it was the only way she could have the hair clip that time; that I wasn’t prepared for such. If only she could have enunciated what she wanted but one thing is for sure she had placed a specific concern for their special needs.

After more than a year, I was troubled by the same concern for these children with special need. This past week, during a school’s event, I happened to see myself worrying about a certain child who for a reason fall into the same category. While in the hall packed with so many other students and teachers and with the loud sounds and screams, I saw him grew uneasy of the scenario he was currently in. After a while, he just had a meltdown. He wasn’t able to manage himself while in the midst of so many colors, sounds, and performances. He fell on the floor trying to cover his ears, head on his knees and with eyes closed. I ran towards him, clasped him, his head on my shoulders as I covered his ears. I tried really hard to at least calm him down before he feels worse than that. As the sounds grew louder, we decided to take him out of the hall for a much calmer environment. I was so worried as a mom to her child.

I didn’t specialize in this kind of teaching. Never did I have an experience of teaching children with special need. These were such a remote experiences. I was wondering why God has allowed me to face such challenge. I know that He’s changing me and building something in me. And this is teaching on another level. Teaching them through the love you have for them beats all the learned strategies and book-based knowledge. Beyond the course outlines on the printed pages. Beyond the subject matters.

MISFIT

‘Cause you’re short and you’re little compared to those who usually deemed to do it – so you’re not qualified. You’re hindered, you’re stuck, you’re unwanted, and you’re discriminated for sure.  You’re that square peg in a round hole. You just don’t fit well or maybe you just don’t fit at all.

In this world where eyes become so picky, faultfinding and hypercritical, we become so anxious about how we look and how we act. You become so concerned about what other people may say about the blood red lipstick you were wearing in the office on a Monday morning or that rugged ripped jeans you wear to a party of girls wearing skirts.

You might be aspiring of becoming a flight steward. You made all necessary preparations and earned the needed education only to find out on the day of screening that you are short of 1 centimeter for the height requirement. Heels won’t help you either. So you didn’t qualify. You didn’t meet the standard.

You desired to be a university professor. You gained all the needed degrees and obtained all the necessary experience. The screening came, applicants in line and so you were. Then the panelists told you that you’re excellent as your records showed but there was a certain applicant who was more physically attractive than you are. He’s tall that would mean the students would look up to him (literally). And you’re not because you’re short of 1 inch to be at least 5 feet tall. So you weren’t chosen. You didn’t meet their set standard in physical terms.

(Insert deep, long, heavy sigh here) The world has made up so many standards for a certain job, position or stature. All of these standards are collective. That is, many people pile up standards through time and as the time goes the harder it gets to meet those. It’s even harder than climbing the Mt. Everest. The more I think about this the more I get anxious about life.

However, to keep me sane, I set my mind beyond these worldly expectations. I thank God for He sees the inner qualities of a man. He does not see the surface but goes beyond it. He created every single one perfect in His sight. And when He calls you to do a ministry for His kingdom, he wouldn’t check your educational background and won’t go checking your physique if you would fit. Our outward appearance may wither as the grasses in the fields but the beauty that comes from Him qualifies us to His calling. We need not worry about our bad hair days or what fancy outfits we would wear. He looks beyond all of these. He looks after the beauty of the heart.

So if you’re thinking of giving up on your aspirations just because the world tells you do not fit, take another thought and look at yourself one more time in the mirror.

Capital A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E

It’s 10:19 PM here in Thailand and I’m still wide awake. I just finished a movie – animated one and “The Boss Baby” to be specific plus the third episode of a Top Model Search on TV where two Filipina top Model aspirants were both in the bottom 2 this week. I’m quite an avid fan of this show which transformations of women can be seen and the exceedingly powerful personalities of ladies from different countries of Asia are being showcased.

However, as this show was running right before my eyes as I watched it on my Mac screen, I felt the outburst of writing this. I felt the shame as one of the Filipina models who were both in the bottom 2 tried to pull the other Filipina down. How shameful was it to see that every time she would talk ill about her co-Filipina competitor, the banner that says she’s from Philippines too would flash on the screen and over millions of people are watching and witnessed the disgraceful attitude of “crab mentality”. Instead of helping and encouraging one another, one would pull the other down to be able to climb up on top. Thinking that by pulling the other down, she could easily be on the top of even more deserving girls who are all vying for the title as well. I’m quite disappointed by her attitude and her intolerable overrated self-confidence just brought her down. She was then eliminated at the end of the episode and the person she was wishing to be eliminated remained in the competition.

The disappointment was just too much to bear because I was expecting that it would be the other way around. I’m pretty sure I’m not being so idealistic. I’m just quite hopeful that in one way or another, in this show maybe, the camaraderie and synergy among Filipinos could be made known and made clear to the world. I was hoping that, since they are both rooted from the same land, they would bring out the best culture of their motherland.

(Sigh) I just pray that, one day, all of us will be less tactless, will be less selfish and will be less self-serving. I pray that, a day will come, that even in a competition and in all the seasons of life, we’ll find ourselves self-denying and humble enough and not demeaning other people. I pray that my countrymen will be even more united and not self-seeking. I pray that everyone will seek to develop Christlike character. These, I pray.

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This Scar: A memento

In one of the ordinary noon breaks, while in the school’s comfort room, I was checking on myself whether I still look appropriate for the eyes of my first graders – the hair, not much of the face because I expect no disheveled makeup (I just wear it occasionally); that when I noticed the quite a big scar on my leg, almost on the side of the left knee. It’s barely noticeable since it’s almost the same color as my skin but unknowingly my eyes just led me to it. Flashbacks of when, where, when and how I got this flashed like a series of book leaflets blown by a strong wind in a sudden instance. I believe it was there for more than a decade to serve its purpose today.

A memento of the nearly forgotten past. 

I had a very exciting childhood years which I spent most in the rice fields. Being a pastor-farmer’s daughter, I grew up playing in the muddy puddle (I sounded like a piglet here saying proudly “I got wet, I got dirty but see I learnt, oinky oink oink” lol), in a newly plowed rice field and in the trees swinging with its branches or hanging from them upside down like baby monkeys in a jungle. Those days were when I was still quite flexible. I missed the gymnast side of me.

As I look at it, I remember how I acted like a boy.  As the only girl child in the family with two boys before and after me, I would always imitate my elder brother. My mom would make an effort to dress me up like a princess and neatly tied up my hair with a red bow as I rebelliously acted as one of the sidekicks of my elder brother in a shooting game or as I play as his base camp general. I am not fond of Barbie dolls or cooking ware toys. While other girls of my age played with them, I found myself playing with a bamboo shooter with small balls of wet paper as bullets or a homemade slingshot or a pulley-car made out of sticks craftily attached onto four inedible green fruits which until now I do not know the name. My elder brother is so much knowledgeable about these.

I never had a flawless legs when I was growing up, my legs are full of abrasions, lacerations and punctures. These legs are part of my physical insecurities. The scars created by these wounds are quite interesting now. They serve as reminders of how exciting my childhood days were and of whom I often played with and how scenic was the place where I usually play. Simple life in a very simple rural community with simple lifestyle and humble living – simplicity at its finest. 

As I look at the scars again, I contemplated. Wow! What great years I had during those times! This is another reason for me to thank God Almighty for giving me those priceless experiences which I wouldn’t trade for golds. Not all grown-ups of my age got to be hugged by the earth and be bathed by the stars under the umbrella of the misty night sky while playing “patintero” or “agawan base”  (both are traditional outdoor games). It was a perfect environment to make friends, to build relationships with mutual understanding, to learn to respect and to obey rules. It was perfect for the appreciation of the great past which led to who I am now,  to who my playmates are now, to who we are in a situation where we need to stick with the rules as our games dictated during those years, to  how we respond to those who leave us for reasons like our old friends  who transferred to another town and to what will we cherish from that experience beyond compare.

As one puts it, childhood is a short season. It is always fun to reminisce, to dive into those memories again and to freely feel and embrace the true emotions living in those memories.  I wonder whether this scar will ever be gone. However, so be it if it choose to stay in that corner of my knee. I would love to glance at it once in a while to remind me that inside me, there is a child who wants to play.

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FREEDOM in SURRENDER: Pakistani Refugees and their Unshakeable Faith

RELIGIOUS PERSECUTIONS. As the percentage of the world’s population edged upward, the rampant religious hostility gradually escalated through the years. Christians in areas with dreadful religious restrictions are compelled to pay a heavy price for their faith. Persecutions are experiences on a daily basis ranging from public humiliation to rape to torture to slavery to discrimination in employment and education and even more worst is death.

I’m not writing about them because I knew a lot. I knew little. Little things that make up the bigger ones. I knew and understand, with all my senses attesting to it, their deepest sorrows and grave suffering.

I came to Thailand bearing in mind this thought of religious persecutions;  not considering the fact that at some point, somewhere and somehow, I will be able to meet people who have experienced religious hostility and have fortunately escaped from the pangs of the oppressors but remained imprisoned by the discriminations and the end-result of their sudden flee.

The Compassionate God has opened the door for me to grasp the reality of the existence of these religious persecutions. I meet some Pakistani Refugees who are currently stuck here in Thailand and patiently waiting and seeking for the approval of their asylum status requests from UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). For most of them, application has lasted for more than a year or even so which bears great agonies, burdensome day-to-day living of no assurance of food and the frightful fleet from the eyes of the national police. Once caught, they will be imprisoned with a bail or deported back to their home country where persecutions are evident and rampant.

I was deeply moved by their situation knowing that the only hope they have is the assurance of God’s presence in this darkest moment of their lives. I was not sure of my calling of being a missionary but God has allowed me to feel the compassion He has for these people. One Sunday as I led the Praise and Worship, their great sorrow just fell onto me that it burdened me to pen this for the sole purpose of creating or opening even the smallest window of charity for them.

In their very present situation, families lack food and other basic needs. They adjusted themselves to eat “roti” or  “chapati” (a flatbread made from stoneground wholemeal flour) three to more times a day. The children have no sustainable access and resources for education. They get to learn from the visiting missionaries which classes are in an irregular occurrence which are usually conducted in a room that is not even conducive for learning.  The mothers who are in-charge of the whole house culturally have experienced the intensified burdens of the day-to-day demand for security of their husband and children and the stress being brought by the patrolling policemen. The fathers grow helpless due to unemployment and the lack of means to provide for their family. They are capable of doing things but the opportunity is little to none due to the issues of their documents or visas. Old people lack medical attention. They are not given adequate and proper care. For all of them, the access to medication and hospitalization dropped less to none. Only few missionaries would come to check on them, visit them when they get extra time, provide supplementary food when extra budgets are saved up or teach the kids when there is extra time on Sunday afternoon. Very few devote time or reach out to them when they needed it badly or maybe only few understand the real picture of their daily cross.

I heard one Pakistani mom’s cry of hopelessness during the Praise and worship and it bothered me. I cried out to the Lord for clearer message of why am I discerning their afflictions and He spoke to me.  He wanted them to know that He promised to never leave them nor forsake them especially in this most difficult struggle in which they are in. He wanted them to understand that He is true to His Words and promises. That as they suffer in the pursuit of their faith, the glory of the Lord will be more revealed to the nations.

In this present time, I praise the Lord for people and organisations, the individual churches, who tried their very best and stretch out their resources to give them a little to enough. I praise God for opening the eyes of the world for this kind of Christian battle, that at times like this, we can only find the genuine hope in surrender. There is freedom in surrender when we let God take lead of the battle.

Let’s continue to pray for these refugees and reach out to them in our simplest ways.

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Romans 8:17
And if we are children, then we are heirs: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ–if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him.

Coffee Diaries:What paralyzes you today?

No Coffee.

While writing this, I just happened to save myself from being groggy, dazed and stupefied for the final half of the day due to a caffeine deficiency. I made this disorder for myself due to an apparent change of force in my body for not taking a cup of coffee early this morning before I started working. This body of mine just set its own alarm of telling me I need an intake of caffeine or else I would again hear my students telling me “You’re like a zombie, Teacher Jirah”. I don’t want to be a coffee dependent  but the more I tried not to, the more I become one. 😛

Anyway, this is not about being a coffee addict. This is about how a simple thing could paralyze us. How about you? What paralyses you today?

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Move forward.

I think this is something that is supposed to be easily said than done. How much more is the phrase KEEP MOVING FORWARD. This is a more prolonged imperative than the former and the word “keep” and the tense of the verb which makes it a lot more demanding in every situation when you wanted to just breakdown.

There are so many causes of paralysis as trees has many roots. One cause is to one person would be my approximation since a single mind can make up its own problem and can make it even more complex. However, as I see it, our own mindset wins the crown of causing all of the day-to-day paralyses.

In natural cases, our physical incapability causes us to be stagnant and lead us to the decay of our dreams, goals and our little wants not being satisfied with our extra courageous efforts. Let me call this as “paralysis in physical nature”- complete or partial loss of function especially when involving the motion or sensation in a part of the body as Merriam-Webster defines it.

Our mindset or mental attitude, how we look and take in things around us and how we interpret them, has a much greater contribution on most of the paralyses that existed, that exist and that will exist. Yes, it is the thing to put the blame on. Meaning, the cause is not due to any external stimulus rather it’s internal. Even if the gravely difficult circumstance is offering probabilities and possibilities, an impaired mindset will never see any of these. It’s focus will always be on the side where there are impossibilities and unreasonableness.

So “blame yourself, not the situation! Nah! I knew the feeling of being betrayed by your own way of thinking. I was once a prisoner of my own negative thoughts and partial judgments of the condition I was in and the people I was with. I give due credit to God who opened my eyes to see what I needed to see, to hear what I need to hear, to understand what I needed to understand and to feel what I needed to feel to be able to be in a pace and a place of paralysis-free; it is where He wants me to linger on. It always a process. We learn through time and experiences.

A right perspective on things is a by-product of a healthy mind, a right attitude and a perfect faith on the One who authors everything that happened, that happens and that will happen.

So, shall we have another cup of coffee?

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