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The SAMBICA Blog

Pura Vida: A Costa Rica Adventure

Posted by Christine Szekeres in Costa Rica on March 18, 2016

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What can I say about spending a month in Costa Rica? It was exciting, yet challenging and frustrating at times. Most of all though, it was beautiful. From the mountains, to the sunrise and the sunsets, God’s creation was all around me. I saw the most beauty of God’s creation however, in the people. It was incredible to see that all these people are also made in the image of God, the same as you and me.
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I spent a month serving at Campamento Roblealto in the mountains in San Jose de la Montaña, Barva, Heredia, Costa Rica with another intern, Griffey. My time there was a huge opportunity for growth personally and spiritually. God chose me to be used to further His kingdom. I accepted the calling and I cheerfully served in whatever way I was needed. There’s something so beautiful about humbling yourself and putting others before yourself, and just being cheerful about serving them. I was able to let the light of Christ shine through me, and I believe the people I interacted with saw that through my actions.

My first week was spent working on service team in the kitchen. It was a great time of bonding with the staff and learning to become humble and serve where we were needed. We set tables, put out food, swept, and mopped, and hand washed hundreds of dishes every day. Week two, I was with the preschool group taking pictures and working programs. I got to play with the kids, run activities, and even was asked to come up with a game. Taking pictures that week was a great opportunity to catch a smile on the face of kids just having fun, and playing with each other. Doing the mud course with the kids was the most fun part of that week. Getting to run through mud, and just get messy with the kids was a blast. The joy on their faces was totally worth being out of my comfort zone and getting muddy. Later that week I was with the school aged kids doing programs, and the activities were so much fun. From getting water thrown on me by kids, to a whole bucket dumped on me by someone on program staff, that week was full of surprises.

During my third week there, I was back in the kitchen. This time there were less people that spoke English. I was thrown back into an uncomfortable place, and if I’m being totally honest, I really struggled that week. I was serving, and doing so happily. However, I being someone who struggles daily with anxiety, hit a wall, and I was a mess. They rearranged the tables in the dining hall, to make it more interesting for the kids. Along with that, because new people had come in, they didn’t know my system for the dishes. I immediately struggled with my need for organization. I had to quickly learn that I couldn’t have things be organized the way I wanted. This was for the kids, not for me. That is when God used Griffey in my life the most. Without Griffey, that day I would have totally lost focus. We prayed together, and talked, and I went back to work. The Lord knew what he was doing when he didn’t send us alone. Having each other during that month was crucial. We helped each other, but most of all we learned from each other. I learned more that week than any other. I saw myself grow, and sought to connect with God even deeper than I had before.

As we entered our final week, I experienced many emotions and feelings. We had two days of work that week before the rest of our team arrived for a week of service. When our team was to arrive, it was going to be a totally different week than we had experienced before. We didn’t know what to expect. I had been in a routine for a few weeks, and that routine was about to totally change. Though it was difficult changing routine, it was totally worth it. Our final week was spent working with kids from the Hope Project. These are kids that live in a slum community. I’ve spent time working with homeless, and kids from poor communities, but this was the first time I had gone into a slum community. My heart broke. Not out of pity, but the way that God’s heart breaks when He sees broken people. I immediately just desired to love those kids like our Father loves us. After all is said and done, Costa Rica gave me the chance to change who I am. I am being molded into who God wants me to be. I am furthering His kingdom every day. Pura Vida!

Written by Kady Treagesser

Being Humble

Posted by Christine Szekeres in Costa Rica on February 12, 2016

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There’s an interesting story behind this picture. I wasn’t even supposed to have the opportunity to visit this orphanage in Costa Rica. As soon as I found out there was an orphanage I so desperately wanted to visit. Since I was a little girl the thought of adoption has always been in my heart. On a typical day I normally wear my “I Am Second” bracelet as a reminder that God and others are before me. Not anymore.

Patricia and kids

While on my week long mission trip in Costa Rica we were going through the book “Humility” which is something I very much strive for, hence why I wear my “I Am Second” bracelet but I don’t have that bracelet anymore. I have a new one.

During the visit to the orphanage as I was saying my goodbyes, I knelt down giving hugs to the kids and the little boy in the bright blue t-shirt pointed at my bracelet. I looked up at him and in my not so good Spanish said “¿Quieres?” trying to ask if he wanted my bracelet. He shook his head yes so I took it off and gave it to him. Walking out of their loving home on my way back he had ran out to me with a bracelet on his hand. I thought he was giving me back my bracelet and I said “no Es para tú” attempting to say “No, it’s for you”. One of the three volunteers who made the orphanage visit with me, turned to me and said “No, he’s giving that to you”. It was a rubber band loom bracelet that he must have made himself. I was so surprised and grateful for such a kind gesture. I wear it everyday as my new reminder to stay humble.

God is so good. On our extremely long flights back to Seattle I was praying constantly about what was next for me and praying for all of the kids and staff I was fortunate enough to interact with in Costa Rica. SAMBICA has an after school program on Wednesdays where each intern gets to be a camp counselor of a small group of kids. We returned from Costa Rica on Tuesday so the very next day back we were right back into the swing of things. During our Wednesday morning meeting we were told we were going to have a few new students joining us this week and that one was recently adopted. As soon as I heard “adopted” I instantly was thinking “Oh my goodness! That is so great,” as we continued to learn that this student also didn’t speak very much English. At this point I was thinking, why on earth would they speak Spanish, they probably speak French, or Chinese, anything but Spanish. I was wrong. Alright Lord, what is that supposed to mean? What are you trying to tell me? I believe He’s bringing my passion for adoption into my everyday life and that is an amazing blessing!

Written by Patricia “Dyno” Elders

Internship: One Day at a Time

Posted by Christine Szekeres in Interns on January 15, 2016

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Hey everyone! Here are a few snapshots of what the life of an intern looks like. I know technically we are working but who says your job can’t be fun?

Monday’s: A day off! I like to sleep in and then go explore. I’m not from this area so my typical Monday off is taking the bus somewhere I’ve never been. Sometimes on days off though we all hang out and watch movies together.

Tuesday’s: Area work time. Each intern has their own area or project to do. Right now I’m currently working on the programming for midwinter break camp and I know there are others working on other events or even working on improving laser tag and archery.

Wednesday’s: Camp SAM, our after school program day. I love hanging out with the kids, it’s one of my favorite days of the week!

Thursday’s: Practical living and facilities day. The past couple of weeks for facilities we have been painting one of the cabins, it’s almost finished. I can’t wait! Practical living is a lot of fun too, we learn practical skills that are used for our future. We did a practical living session on cooking with our chef, Dale, and he taught us how to make pizza. We had such an awesome time enjoying each other’s company, and of course, eating pizza.

Friday’s & Weekends: we have a variety of events happening. For example last weekend we had middle school bash and Refuge, our high school event. It was Star Wars themed and all of the interns dressed up as characters, the kids loved it; it was such a great time!

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Coming up is schools out camp on January 18th, we are going to have such an awesome time! Then also in our near future, only three more weeks, we are headed to Costa Rica! We are all very excited for the upcoming events in 2016, here we go!

Written by Patricia “Dyno” Elders

Fun & Community at Issaquah Salmon Days

Posted by Christine Szekeres in Elementary Events on October 16, 2015

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Salmon Days 2015 was a huge success! How does one define success? Here at SAMBICA, seeing the joy on the faces of kids and youth, seeing families spend quality time together, and sharing Christ’s love in the community is success.

With five giant inflatables and our new 9-square-in-the-air game, the SAMBICA inflatable zone was packed with families from open to close. All team members (full time, interns, and volunteers) were encouraged to join in on the fun – and they did! It was exciting to see our new high school part-time team, interns, board members, and full time team remembering why we do what we do at camp – love our community.

I have been with SAMBICA for 6 summers and during this weekend I was reminded of the great community we are in. I’ve had the privilege of doing many different jobs on camp, some have been on the phone or behind a desk. It was overwhelming to have campers and parents come up saying hello that I know. Working at SAMBICA has been more than a summer job, it has allowed me to enter into the lives of our families and walk alongside them in this journey of life. It is an honor to be reminded of that great ministry.

Not only did I see families and faces that I know, I also had the chance to meet many new ones. We got to share SAMBICA with many new families in the area, many who had just moved to Washington in the past few months. I hope to see them again and be able to know them as family too. That is success!

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Written by Liz “Happy Feet” Pearse

Let’s Get Intentional: Youth Group Programming

Posted by Christine Szekeres in Intentional Programming on September 18, 2015

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As Fall returns to SAMBICA we will have many opportunities to create programming for the various groups, both youth and adult, that visit SAMBICA between September and May.

One of our first groups this season, Seattle Christian High School, presented a wonderful opportunity to create some intentional programming for the group while allowing the new intern team to take the lead! With 245 students, the plan was for a large-scale game of Mission Impossible on the upper field. The students engaged fully with the intern team and the game, making for a rousing experience that the seniors engaged in wholeheartedly (and competitively):

“3…” I looked around … confused, trying to find the missing bucket of tennis balls for redistribution (so all the players could have a chance to grab a ball at the start).

“2…” There it is! The seniors are hogging the bucket. Hmmm, this isn’t going to end well.

“1…” “Hey, wait, guys! I want to…” My words were not to be heard as a loud, booming “GO!!!!” echoed through the field’s loudspeakers.

I stood there in shock as bunch of senior guys took the entire bucket (at least 150 tennis balls), ran across the field (ignoring the hits along the way), and dumped them all into the goal (an airplane with a trash can). Game over!

My head spinning from their competitive ferocity, all I could think was, “Wait, why am I surprised? Seniors win no matter what, right?”

The switch is now edging to the halfway mark as we begin to turn “on” our fall, winter, and spring seasons with an increasing number of youth groups and youth events. Our vision at SAMBICA is to “inspire youth to a relationship with Jesus Christ,” and our goal this year is that half of the guests we serve are youth. Once we finish raising all of the funds to turf our field, we will be able to provide even more programming and activities for youth throughout the winter (when our field is traditionally a mud pit much of this season). I, for one, am looking forward to more ferocious games and opportunities to engage youth at a deeper level this year.

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Written by Lily “Hemi” Semenyuk

Costa Rica & Lesson’s Learned

Posted by Christine Szekeres in Costa Rica on June 12, 2015

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As I flip through photos of our recent trip to Costa Rica I’m amazed by how much happened in the short time we were there. In a week’s time our team of 12 was able to help support a fellow camp in the outskirts of San Jose, Costa Rica called Campamento Roblealto. The week started off with almost a full day of airplane rides and layovers, with most flights including some type of set back or delay but thankfully no missed flights! The delays gave us all a chance to relax and fellowship with one another.

Lesson 1: Don’t always be focused on the tasks that you miss the time to fellowship.

Finally touching down in San Jose just before midnight the 12 tired Sambicaites had arrived! With no missing luggage and no international incidents we were picked up by our old friend Adam who worked with our team to make this trip possible. After about an hour we arrived at camp and most, if not all, headed straight to bed. The next day we began our orientation and the first of our few work project days. The task was simple: use old tractor oil to stain the outside of two fairly sized cabins whilst not inhaling, letting it make contact with our skin, or falling off a ladder. By the end of the day each of us had done at least 2 of these. Many inside jokes and more team bonding occurred and it was a nice time to enjoy the sun and get some manual work done. My first task was to help hold a ladder while someone else was painting. My mindset was still set on the typical American thinking, “If we had more paintbrushes then that would multiply the amount of people staining which equals being done faster.” completely missing the fact that, as small as I felt my job was it was still important, it also gave me a chance to pray and think about things and enjoy the amazing sun.

Lesson 2: No job is too small, if done with the right attitude and mentality.

The second day involved much of the same work as well as a large thunderstorm that began to rain us out, but we were able to complete both of the cabins in time. Next up, on the weekend was children’s camp. We were working with a group called the Hope Project that works with under privileged kids in some of the poorer surrounding areas. The director of this project, a man by the name of Jugo, I had the pleasure of meeting last year when our group of interns came to help out and do similar work in Costa Rica. This man truly has a heart for all the kids he works with and you can tell by watching that they all love him. Before the kids arrived we were given the opportunity to decorate the dining hall in a way of welcoming them and giving them a surprise. Our team was given a bunch of different art supplies and everyone went nuts! I personally am not much of an artist and when it comes to things I don’t know and my natural self says “stand off to the side awkwardly and watch while trying to composite a plan.” Well at first as I was watching everyone I noticed something that seemed out of a strange reality TV show/home improvement show where everyone is scrambling around to get supplies and everyone is working on completely different things with no theme in mind. Instinctively I want to have a plan set. But a beautiful thing occurred. Everything worked together! I mean to help with a visual, we had balloons, giant colorful paper pompoms, paper ring chains, palm trees made out of paper bags and tissue paper, colorful cloth pendants with the camps name on it, egg cartons spray painted different colors, different signs welcoming the kids, cut out paper stars and black lights on the windows. Our efforts though whatever initially our motives were, they ended with a product that said “Hey Kids, We love and care about you” And that was all that needed to be said.

Lesson 3: God takes our mess as it is and He turns it into something beautiful for His glory.

The kids were greeted like stars as they entered into the dining hall giving high fives to staff and taking their seats. I will remember the look on their faces and the slight gasps as they were told they could eat and ask for as much food as they liked. This is not a problem we seem to face here in Bellevue, but to them, this was more than just camp. Our team was split into two work shifts and we took turns helping set up for meals and cleaning dishes, as well as having time to play with the kids and hang out with them. Our time with the kids involved playing in the pool, many of our staff went through the mud obstacle course, helping with a scavenger hunt, as well as being able to arrange a mini carnival for the kids. There was even a day we were able to introduce Mission Impossible to them! For me it was interesting to note that even though a lot of us could only communicate through broken Spanish and hand signals, all the kids wanted was to play with us and to know they were loved. There was many fun times and it was sad to see them all have to go back home. To many of us it was a sad thought that this was only a slight respite from their normal hardships that they face daily. But it is not us that gives this to them, but God. And God was who we were there to give glory to.

Lesson 4: Showing love brings glory to God.

In conclusion, I believe that this experience was truly a life changer for all, and I know everyone took away different things. But these are the things I will keep with me. That and the memories of the delicious food I ate that entire week.

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Written by Josh “Motor” Murakami

Full Circle

Posted by Christine Szekeres in Interns on March 26, 2015

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About three and a half years ago I found a place that changed my life, a place that has helped to shape me into who I am today. The people there redefined my view of Christianity and taught me about who Christ is and what his love is capable of. The place I’m talking about is the high school I attended during my sophomore and junior years. I was blessed to be poured into on a daily basis by the teachers, coaches, and the rest of the staff. During that time I was going through a lot at home and it was a time that now when I look back on it I can see just how much of a blessing that school was for me. That school is where I started to make my faith my own.

Turn the page, and I am in a different place in nearly every sense of the word. So much has happened, so much has changed, but I haven’t forgotten the place I found years ago. No longer a high school student, I am currently interning at a new place. This place has also changed my life, and this place even now as I’m writing this is constantly helping to shape me, helping me to grow in Christ teaching me how to live a life glorifying to him. This place is SAMBICA, and it too came into my life at a pivotal moment. God brought SAMBICA into my life when I was struggling to remember what I had learned just a year prior, when I had just finished teetering on the edge of holding on or letting go of my faith. A fire had been lit and what I needed at that moment was a chance to share that light with as many people as possible. I needed to pour out and I needed to be poured into, I needed a family in Christ. I needed SAMBICA.

Since becoming an intern at SAMBICA I have been blessed with a multitude of opportunities to work with youth of all ages, to laugh with them, to teach them, to listen to them, to be a light to them. It has been amazing to see God work through all of the people here at camp and to watch as little sparks begin to appear. One of the ways that I have been able work with the youth is by going on school visits. There are a few visits in particular that I know I won’t soon forget.

A little over a month ago Coach (Matt Wimmer), West Beach (Gerald Bouknight), and I had the privilege of visiting The Bear Creek School for their first ever volunteer service fair. We went there to tell the students and their families about different ways they could volunteer their time to help out at SAMBICA. What was really special about it was that at the same time we were able to talk with them about our mission and vision and explain the purpose behind what we do at camp and how in there volunteering they would be able to help us to do that as well. One of the other awesome things that I was able to do is reconnect with some of our campers from the previous summer. Gerald and I got to sit in on a camper’s choir rehearsal and I was able to help one of our campers revise a personal narrative in their English class!

During this same school visit I remember walking down the hall and seeing it lined with student art. They had recently done a project where they used words written in different fonts and sizes to create images. One that caught my eye was a silhouette of a girl all by herself, the student had used words like, “sad, alone, listen, and fear,” to create the image. However what was even more powerful than this picture was what was written on the piece of paper that hung next to it. On it the student had re wrote those words but in between each row of them she had written 2 Corinthians 4:7, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” As we left Bear Creek I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic as I recalled that place I found a little over three years ago.

Fairly soon after our visit to Bear Creek, Coach, West Beach, and I had the privilege of visiting Seattle Christian for their high school chapel service. As soon as I learned about our upcoming trip I couldn’t help but feel extremely excited. This visit was unlike the previous one as this time coach was to be the speaker at their weekly chapel service. Coach spoke to the students about how God’s love NEVER fails and I couldn’t help but feel emotional as I looked around the full multipurpose room as students listened intently, laughing at the right time and nodding their heads at different things. It was a familiar and beautiful sight to see. My heart felt full as a thought occurred to me, these students had found a place.

Towards the end of Coach’s talk Gerald asked the students to write down on a note card something that they needed prayer for so that we as a team back at SAMBICA could lift them up in prayer. After the students were done him and I went around and collected the folded notes. Later that week we shared the notes with the rest of our team, we read the prayer requests out loud and then one by one we prayed for those students and students everywhere. Afterwards I realized something else, these kids were going through a lot just like I had been during that stage in my life, and God with a love stronger than we can comprehend had blessed them in a similar way by providing for them an avenue to be poured into. During that chapel service I realized I had somehow come full circle. God has blessed me once again by giving me this opportunity and others like it to bless others as I have been blessed.

Written by Mackenzie “Bingo” Davis

Mid-Winter Break Camp: A Week of Firsts!

Posted by Christine Szekeres in Elementary Events on March 9, 2015

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A few weeks ago SAMBICA held the first ever Mid-Winter Break Camp! It was an amazing week full of the laughter and joy of kids. Here are a few collected stories from the week:

Yummy! Our kitchen crew did a great job of making tasty deserts each day for lunch. Not only were they delicious, they were also very creative! With a theme of “Under Construction” for the week, the kitchen team created deserts that had each camper anxiously awaiting desert after each lunch.

First S’more! With all the beautiful sunny and dry weather, we were able have a campfire one day and build s’mores! We had one little camper who had never had a s’more before due to a food allergy. Our team wanted to give her the opportunity to taste that gooey goodness for the first time so our chef searched for a cookie that this camper could eat. As she built her first s’more with all of her friends watching her smile the “chocolate and marshmallow grin” was the best moment all week!

Daddy! Nate, one of our interns and a counselor this past summer, loves working with kids throughout the year. He had an amazing experience this past week that the campers might never have known about. At one point the campers started cheering, “Nate is a daddy, Nate is a daddy”. Wait, he’s not a dad! But in the moment, he felt the most precious gift of responsibility of taking care of these campers. He may not be ready to be a dad yet, but what training he is receiving by taking care of these little ones.

Everything! On Thursday, we had two campers that were able to join for just one day. They had never been to camp before and were in awe of all that was happening. Neither of them were shy and they jumped right into the action! Abe asked one of the campers what her favorite part of camp had been that day and this little girl had to think for a long minute. What is she going to say? She slowly turned to Abe, looking up with a huge smile says, “Everything.” Ok, no really if you had to pick one thing what would you pick? “Everything”.

Written by Liz “Happy Feet” Pearse

Reaching Campers & Families Where They Are

Posted by Christine Szekeres in Elementary Events on February 3, 2015

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As an intern here at SAMBICA, the nights can get pretty quiet. The guest groups are enjoyable and they shake things up a bit. But nothing really compares to the joy of seeing and hearing campers running around camp.

On Friday January 16th, we had Middle School Bash. This was the second-ever Middle School Bash and it was Hunger Games themed. It was such a fun night. Campers were able to gather for worship, fellowship, fun, and a feast of strawberry shortcake. SAMBICA becomes a place of solace for almost everyone who has ever been here. To open up that safe-place where you can be yourself because you’re among family outside of summer is a gift, not only to the campers and their families, but also to the team here at SAMBICA. I grew up going to camp week-after-week in Indiana and each time I return, I find a new piece of myself that I didn’t know existed.

Days after the wrap-up of Middle School Bash, the planning of Kid’s Night Out began. Kid’s Night Out is a night for elementary age students to come to camp for a few hours. While there was originally only one on the schedule back in the fall, we discovered there was a demand for at least one more. So on Saturday, January 31st we had almost 60 campers out for Super Bowl Training Camp. Twenty of the sixty had never been to camp before.

These nights make way for the vision and mission of SAMBICA to appear. As campers come for a night of Super Bowl fun at SAMBICA, they are also introduced to Hebrews 12:1 where they learn about what it means to run the race, or in this case — play the game, while looking to Jesus — our ultimate example. At Middle School Bash, campers learned what it means to put on the Armor of God and stand firm in who God calls them to be. Focusing on Ephesians 6:13-17.

It’s always such a joy to reunite back at camp, to see how our campers are doing, and to greet new faces, welcoming them into the family. Here at SAMBICA, our mission is to be a light on the lake and our vision is to inspire youth to a relationship with Jesus Christ. Events like these are one of the ways we fulfill the mission and vision by reaching campers and families where they are at. Whether by being ready with the armor of God at the Hunger Games event, or learning to focus on Jesus at Super Bowl event — God moves here, and I am blessed to be a part of it.

Written by Carrie “Nala” McCoy

Interns: A Shining Light at SAMBICA

Posted by Christine Szekeres in Elementary Events on January 23, 2015

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“SAMBICA Interns exist to make God known by being a Christ-like example to HIS people, loving God, and growing in faith so that God gets the GLORY.”

This is the purpose statement of the 2014-15 SAMBICA Intern Team. After a refreshing Christmas break home with their families, our seven interns are back at it and ready for a great 2015. Our interns, Chelsea, Mackenzie, Carrie, Gerald, Nate, Ryan, and Adam, are busy being a light on the lake through their work all around camp.

They started off their year by immediately jumping in to serve one of our largest guest groups, Seattle Autoharpers Week. It was very apparent by working alongside our interns that we have a very contentious group. They have servants’ hearts!

Chelsea has stepped up and is leading the team as they run Camp SAM, our Wednesday after school camp that is serving 25-30 kids every week and showing them the LOVE of Jesus. They are working through 1 Corinthians 13 and focusing on what the Bible says love is. They have games, crafts, and snacks each week along with a themed activity to finish off the day. My son and daughter have been blessed to participate in this program so I know it has been a blessing to other students as well. Eli’s favorite weekly theme has been Football and Abby’s was the Christmas Carnival. Tons of fun!

A few highlights of the internship have been camping on Whidbey Island, a day trip to Bainbridge Island, and the chance to host a boating day with a group of homeless youth from Seattle. We have also produced separate night out events for elementary, middle school, and high school students. It is awesome to see some of the connections with campers from the summer continue throughout the year.

God is good, all the time, and that is evident every day in the work and growth of the SAMBICA Intern team so far this year.

Written by Ryan “Gilby” Gilbert.

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