Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Meaningful Easter for Kids


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All of us strive to celebrate our Savior’s resurrection in ways that reflect the incredible sacrifice Christ made for us.  But it’s becoming more challenging by the year to help our children understand what Easter really means when the cross is buried under a pile of ads for candy and toys, dresses and dvds, bunnies and eggs. 

We wanted to share a few ideas for creating family traditions that will help to anchor our children’s understanding of Christ’s death and resurrection.


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3 Meaningful Easter Activities for Kids
@Women Living Well Ministries
Resurrection Rolls, Easter Story Cookies and Resurrection Eggs



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A Meaningful Easter: Tips, Ideas & Traditions
@Impress Your Kids
Resurrection Garden and a long list of child-centered Easter activities in the comments

and
Easter Story Mix
@Clubhouse Magazine
A snack with a story


And here is a great explanation of what God did for us at Easter that children will be able to understand... by the wonderful folks at Veggie Tales:




Happy Resurrection Day!
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Monday, March 25, 2013

Boldly Sharing the Good News


by Joy Casey
For the safety of the people, I am not going to use the real name of the town nor will I show pictures of or use the true names of the Christians working in the town.
 

Asoto is a dusty town clustered alongside a rural highway in the southern part of Ethiopia. About 10,000 people live there and Asoto’s pace of life has a rhythm similar to many others of its size and location. The dominant feature of the town is a beautiful mosque, and the echo of the loudspeakers calling the faithful to prayer has been heard by generations.

Thirty-odd years ago, a 7-year-old boy accompanied his father to the mosque in Asoto to hear a discussion on Isa (Jesus is referred to as Isa in the Quran). His father and other men gathered in a side room of the mosque and the Imam began comparing what they believed about Isa to what the Christians believed about Jesus. Young Kadir became very attentive and his interest was piqued as he listened to the men discuss this honored man of the Quran. For some time he thought about what the men had said and began to want to know more about Isa. In the town of Asoto where he, his father, his father’s three wives and 16 siblings lived there were no Christians, so he kept his questions to himself but during the required prayer time, he would ask Allah.

When he was about 11-years-old he was allowed to go with his father to the nearby larger town, and it was during that visit that Kadir acquired a copy of the New Testament. Over the course of the next three years he surreptitiously read that little book, and as he read the Word, he became convinced that Jesus was the true Son of God. He no longer prayed to Allah, but began praying to Jesus. When his older brothers found out that he no longer believed Allah to be the true God, they told their father and Kadir was severely punished, but he would not renounce his conviction that Jesus was the only way to the Father. Eventually, he was disowned and told to leave.

Walking and catching rides, 14-year-old Kadir finally came to a town called Nazaret and for the very first time in his life entered a Christian church. He listened in awe to the worship and the pastor preaching, and at the end of the service went forward to publically dedicate his life to Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

God’s hand was on this new convert, and through fortuitous connections Kadir was able to finish his education and attend college. He married a young woman whose fervor for sharing about Jesus has never waned. He and his wife actively serve in their church and tell everyone they know about what God has done for them. Through Kadir’s persistent sharing, two of his brothers have become Christ followers and his older brother (the one who tattled on him to his father and got him in so much trouble) is now an elder in the church that has been planted in Asoto.
 
Abebe and Joy

I had the privilege of going to Asoto with Kadir to meet the leadership team of the church and to hear their strategies to reach their neighbors with the Good News. My friend Abebe and I went with Kadir, not knowing what to expect. We found a thriving fellowship of about 300 Christians determined to live out the gospel by caring for the widows and the poor. There are seven evangelists (all who formerly followed the Quran) who have each taken a section of the town or surrounding area where they boldly share their faith and are bringing some to Christ; the church is growing!
 
Morning worship

When I arrived at the compound, I heard children’s voices singing and as I followed the sound into the church, I saw a young boy enthusiastically leading a group of about 40 children in song. I found out the church gives spiritual training to the children every morning, and in the afternoon they attend the government school.
 
Future kindergarten

To nurture of the tender hearts of children, the church wants to build a kindergarten that will be open to the children in the town regardless of their faith. There will be no tuition, but along with the alphabet the Bible will also be taught. They have a good start on the classrooms and the pastor is trusting God to provide the funds to finish and to hire teachers. They also want to show the Jesus Film (both the child and adult versions) in their church every two weeks, but need a laptop and a projector to do this. There is enough room for a large kitchen garden to augment the support they give to widows and their families and they want to start a chicken project that will generate funds to support the evangelists. In order to do either of these things, they need to bring water to the compound.

I was inspired with their vision as well as what they have already accomplished. Only a small percentage of Asoto’s population is Christian. This area is a stronghold for the more militant brand of I*lam and they are indoctrinating their young systematically. I, along with Abebe and Kadir, know that with intense prayer the assignment Satan has for this area can be broken! The pastors and evangelists I met fully expect to be martyred for their faith, but their love for their neighbors and for Christ far outweighs their concern for their comfort and safety. I am not sure what role Adoption Ministry will have in this town… I am praying and waiting on God, but I hope that in some way we can, with the help of others, support and encourage these brave and dynamic church leaders.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

So Hungry

by Joy Casey

Tadelech
I am haunted by a meeting I had several days ago with a young woman I met in Addis Ababa. Through no fault of her own, she has become an instant mother of two, with no support or way to earn money. This lovely Ethiopian woman received employment as a house maid, and during her time of service was raped. She immediately left that house and began working for another woman, but shortly discovered she was pregnant. During this same time, her sister and brother-in-law died of AIDS and Tadelech took in their little girl, Meherit, who is 2-years-old.

Two months ago, Tadelech gave birth to a beautiful baby girl that she named Maramawit. With two little ones to raise, Tadelech cannot work and simply cannot continue forward with her current condition. Without intervention, these children will be added to the already overwhelming number of 6 million orphans in Ethiopia. Tadelech is trying as hard as she can so that does not happen, but she is losing the battle.

When she first came to me as I was doing intake for Adoption Ministry 1:27, I thought perhaps she was extremely cold or maybe she had a broken arm because she was holding herself so awkwardly. Upon further questioning, she burst into tears and said, “I am just so hungry!!” The two little ones looked well cared for, but that is because anything she gets she gives to them.

The woman she worked for when she gave birth has been giving her $2.75 a month to help with rent, but the only food she gets is from compassionate neighbors, who are themselves very poor. The kind woman helping her said she cannot continue her support. Tadelech's house is woefully inadequate and she is not safe where she lives. 

Without food for herself, she will quickly lose the ability to produce enough milk for her baby girl. In fact, when Demiss (the AM 1:27 case manager) went to buy food for Tadelech, he found her and her baby laying beside the road and the little 2-year-old playing in the dirt. She was so weak she could not walk any longer. Demiss said that intervention came just in time for this family!  From AM 1:27’s emergency fund, we bought her food staples to last a month.  

This woman loves the Lord and is faithful to attend church.  I am asking the church community in my country to lend her a helping hand. For $40 a month, you can help Tadelech significantly! She needs food, clothing and adequate housing to stabilize her family. Her story exemplifies what Adoption Ministry 1:27 exists to do - preserve families and prevent orphans.  Thank you!

**This young mother has now been sponsored - thanks to all who expressed desire to help.  You can see the many other at-risk families like Tadelech's on our AM 1:27 website at the link below!
 




If you’d like to sponsor Tadelech, please contact our AM 1:27 administrator:
She will send you the information you’ll need to set up your donations and also a prayer card for Tadelech.  You’ll also receive updates about how Tadelech is doing via our AM 1:27 case managers.

If you’d like to see all the families who need sponsors, please go to our Adoption Ministry 1:27 website where you can read their stories and sign up to become a sponsor!


Thursday, March 21, 2013

One-On-One Discipleship


Pastor Zerihun has one thing in common with Zacchaeus in the Bible - they are both small of stature.  Beyond that, Zerihun and Zacchaeus are total opposites. 

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Pastor Zerihun

Zacchaeus was very rich and Zerihun is very poor.
Zerihun is grounded in the Lord while Zacchaeus was new in his faith.

 
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Pastor Zerihun (right) with several of the evangelists he disciples

Zerihun has been coaching the 14 evangelists out of Gutumuma for the past 6-9 months, and I could tell there was a new vibrancy, strength and depth in the men’s lives.
 
 
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One of many times of prayer together with the evangelists

Zerihun teaches and travels with the 14 men he is sending out two-by-two to nearby villages to preach the Good News.  His strategy is simple and extremely effective, and Gutumuma is becoming the hub for Christianity in the area.  His heart and vision is to see his disciples (these 14 men) have hearts of integrity and complete devotion to God.  Both his personal lifestyle and teaching reflect these character qualities.
 
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These 14 men are accountable to him.  With his wise teaching and counsel, the evangelists are becoming stronger and more effective in their work. 
 
Zerihun outlined the three areas his teaching encompasses:

1) To enlarge the spiritual capacity of each evangelist and to teach them how to study God’s word in-depth
2) To give them evangelism strategies and how to share Christianity in culturally relevant ways
3) To give them understanding and practical tools to disciple converts

It is one thing to lead someone to Christ; it is something entirely different to disciple them.  Over the past 6-9 months, six additional villages have been introduced to the Gospel and so far 80 people have become Christ-followers.  Many small house churches have sprung up where discipleship training is the primary teaching. 



 
Pastor Zerihun & family

Zerihun has been supporting his family on the $100 per month he receives from two of our generous sponsors.  But as you can imagine, this is just not enough to feed and support a wife and two children.  We are seeking a church, a person or group of people willing to make a monthly commitment of $250 so he can work for us full time and meet his family's needs.  Please contact us if you are interested or would like more information:
 


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

An extraordinary ordinary day

by Joy Casey
written on Sunday, March 17

It is St. Patrick’s Day at home and yesterday my three daughters and their father ran a race together in Seattle … I hope the weather was nice for them! St. Patrick’s Day and Seattle are a long way off from where I am, not only in distance but in just about every way. Can I share my extraordinary ordinary day with you?

For the past several days I have been in Adama meeting the birth families of children placed for adoption and interviewing birthmothers who are placing their children for adoption. I also was blessed to have a wonderful time with our Widows and Orphans Home director and felt the presence of God helping us work through problems and come out the other side victorious and of one mind. But today, the Sabbath, we woke to a blazing sun that predicted a hot day, and it did not disappoint. We drove to Debre Zeit, about 50 minutes north of Adama, to the Meseret Kristos Bible College where a small international church meets.
 
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Samy and Ruth and their two little girls live as YWAM missionaries in Debre Zeit and Samy was going to preach this morning. Most of the congregation was White and from Holland; I was the only American, but it was nice to hear familiar worship songs and everything was in English.

After church, we went out for lunch and an Ethiopian brother, Raji, joined us as did Pastor Johannes from Bulbula. We had a leisurely lunch and then Samy, Ruth, their two little girls, Becky and Abby, Raji, Abebe and I headed out of town a ways to farm land where we walked amongst the cows to pray over 20 acres that Samy and Ruth want to buy to establish a YWAM center, school, house of prayer and perhaps a food machine. It was a fabulous time walking the land with the rolling hills in the distance, and Samy’s vision for what he believes God is wanting to do in this was contagious.

“I lift my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from God, maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1

Vision. Is it something we conjure up because we want something badly? Is it something God births in our heart and as it grows we start taking steps to make it happen? Do we always know 100% that it is God’s idea or just our own? I had a wise Bible teacher once who said that if we are sincerely praying for direction, the desires (vision) that grow in our heart is His will if it does not contradict God’s Word.

The next part of vision is implementation. Sometimes we allow the practical side of our nature to immobilize us, but that same wise Bible teacher also said that God can direct a moving car, but a car sitting in park is pretty hard to move.

It is interesting to note that while Samy and Ruth were “showing” me buildings and classrooms filled with students, I knew the hard fact that if their work/resident visa doesn’t come through in two weeks, they will have to leave Ethiopia and go back to their home in India. But Samy is not looking at the circumstances. He is standing on the firm conviction that God has called his family to Ethiopia and wants them to establish a school for children as well as YWAM schools to train missionaries. He is not looking at the stark reality that he may be deported and that he has no money whatsoever; but rather he lifts his eyes up to God, because he knows, that he knows, that he knows that that is where his help comes from.

So for the third time in Ethiopia, I stood on a piece of property with other people of faith and just prayed. The other two times were when I stood on what is now the site of our Widows and Orphans Home in Adama, and then again when I prayed over the barren property in Gutumuma on which now stands a school and worship center! As I was praying today, I wondered … what will this look like down the road? How will God bring this to pass? As I climbed back in the van, I felt a wave of excitement for this pioneer work, and if it had been appropriate, I would have danced down the road singing words of thanks to God for allowing me to pray and to partner with Him in whatever He has in mind for a YWAM base in Ethiopia.

As I mentioned earlier, the day was a scorcher and after standing out in the sun praying I was thirsty, dusty and hot. We drove back to Samy and Ruth’s house and Samy stopped and bought a watermelon. Stepping into their shaded house was like an oasis, and the sliced watermelon Samy put out was sweet and delicious, followed up with a cup of tea. It was a good day with my sweet friends and I reluctantly hugged them good-bye, giving kisses to their darling little girls.

As we drove out of the Rift Valley and up onto the plateau where Addis Ababa sits, the air grew cool, the wind came up, and for about ten minutes it poured cool, refreshing rain! I am in my guest house now with no electricity, but the clouds have parted, the wind and rain have stopped, and I am watching the sun go down on this day. God is good!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Showing Up and Saying YES


by Joy Casey
from Ethiopia

It is not who you are or what you bring to the table that determines if God can use you.  It is simply a matter of being available and being willing to step out and do what God has asked you to do:  show up and say yes! 

I have been traveling with a great group of people who have done just that.  Our time together was fun as well as spiritually rich.  From three gals from Texas who blow my socks off, to veteran YWAM colleagues Wick and Jan Nease (Streams of Mercy), Charlene Nease and her son Will (yes, they are related to Wick), to Brittany, a lovely young YWAM missionary from Canada, to Jacob, a 15-year-old who has become one of my favorite people, to a fantastic young adult (and former YWAMer), Josiah, who is videoing this trip… we had loads of fun.  We pulled together through flat tires, food poisoning, strep throat, odd food and squatty potties.  All were faced with faith and fortitude!

When we went to Gutumuma, a village about 6 hours from Addis in the Rift Valley, we had a wonderful time with the 14 evangelists working out of that village.  Most of us brought a word of encouragement to the men, and we had a powerful prayer time together.  Praying for these men and what they face daily is serious business, and everyone involved felt the anointing and presence of the Holy Spirit.
 
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Rebecca (one of the gals from Texas) lives every minute of her day intentionally for Jesus.  Her goal in everything she does is to introduce people to Jesus.  Rebecca is one of the dearest people and her acceptance, love and genuine kindness draws people to her.  Evangelism is her DNA, and she asked the Gutumuma evangelists if they would pray for her for favor, energy and success as she shares Jesus Christ in America.
 
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One of the gals from Texas brought all the evangelists caps, and they had fun picking out the one they liked best and it was rewarding to see them so delighted with their gift.  Just look at those smiles!



Sunday, March 17, 2013

A LOT is happening!


by Joy Casey
in Ethiopia


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The worship tree is still there offering its steady shade, but the Christian compound in Gutumuma is looking a lot different than it was several months ago when I visited. 


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A second kindergarten class is under construction and will be filled with 20 additional wiggly kindergarteners this fall.

 
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The worship center is just a couple weeks away from getting a roof! 

 
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Fun stuff, for sure, but the familiar faces of the 14 evangelists sitting under the worship tree are the people God is using to build His Church in this area. 





Friday, March 15, 2013

Caring Deeply For Moms

by Tara Dunn
Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending Created for Care -- a weekend retreat in North Georgia for "moms who share the spirit of adoption."  It's a time to be refreshed in the Lord, to be equipped, and to connect, encourage and be encouraged by other adoptive and foster moms from all over the country.  There is simply nothing like it!  You even get the opportunity to connect with moms who you've only met virtually...like YWAM moms!  

YWAM moms
It is amazing how close we adoptive moms can become, even when we've never met in person.  There is so much laughter, tears, joy, encouragement and hope shared over the weekend, it's hard to even process it all.  But you come away refreshed and encouraged, filled with hope as you go home to walk in your calling as a wife and mother.  

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Some of my favorite moments on the retreat are always the worship times.  It's impossible to describe what it's like to worship the Lord with 450 other moms who have the same heartbeat you do.  I was overwhelmed so many times as I looked around the room and saw so many women who had said yes with reckless abandon to care for the fatherless.  And we were all lifting our voices in unison to the One who loves more extravagantly than we could ever imagine.  Beyond the worship times, there were many opportunities to connect with the Lord (with no interruptions!), and that is simply priceless.

This year's theme was "Love Big."  So many of the sessions helped us adoptive and foster moms better understand our children and how to love them big, even when it's hard.  However, much of the weekend also focused on God's big love for us as moms.  Yes, God sees every pain, every loss, every struggle of our children.  But He also sees us as adoptive moms.  Our children are precious in His sight, but this weekend helped so many of us moms remember that we are precious in His sight also and that He cares deeply for us.  If you need refreshing and encouraging as an adoptive mom (and also just want to have a lot of fun!), you need to mark your calendars for next year.  You won't regret it!




You can read more about Created for Care at their website here and start saving to go next year!








Thursday, March 14, 2013

Our friends at Streams of Mercy



Wick Nease is the founder and director of Streams of Mercy, a ministry that meets the needs of orphans around the world by mobilizing volunteers and resources to assist the destitute.  Wick is a good friend and partner of our YWAM ministry in Ethiopia and has just spent time there with our ministry director, Joy Casey.

They visited our work in the village where we have a kindergarten and are building a worship center.  They also went to the village at the dump in Korah where Adoption Ministry 1:27 currently has sponsors for about 78 at-risk families.   You can read Wick’s posts about their time there in these articles on the Streams of Mercy blog:

Adoption-1-27-is-Transforming-Lives


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Many thanks to Wick, Jan and the team who traveled to Ethiopia!
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Among the Beloved of God


by Joy Casey in Ethiopia
at the church in Korah


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I could not understand all of the words, but the spirit of worship was loud and clear.  I and those traveling with me, were packed under a tarp canopy held up with eucalyptus poles.


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Children played on the dirt floor, mothers nursed their babies, and the ushers unseated the young to make room for the old.

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It basically was chaos until the music started when all entered into worship with abandon. 


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Rubbing shoulders with God’s people who look and smell and worship differently brought a sense of deep humility in me.  I am privileged beyond measure to worship with what some might consider “the least of these” (Matthew 25:45).  

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Singing Halleluia!

 
by Joy Casey in Ethiopia
Adoption Ministry Executive Director
written on Saturday, March 9


What a day! Abebe and I picked up four visitors from Texas this morning. They were pretty tired from their long trip, but I know from experience that it is best to keep pushing forward and not give in to sleep until a little closer to bedtime. After a nice breakfast and some strong Ethiopian coffee, we headed to one of our partner churches, Nefas Silk Meseret Kristos. On Saturday mornings a group of men and women meet for prayer, and we tiptoed into the room and dropped to our knees alongside them.
 
For some reason, I always feel honored to join in prayer with my sisters and brothers in Ethiopia and today was no different. After a time in prayer, the group from Texas brought their greetings and several in the prayer band expressed their appreciation to us for praying with them. We then invited them to join us on Mt. Entoto that overlooks Addis Ababa for prayer, and they eagerly accepted our invitation.

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The air was fresh and the sun hot as we hiked to a rock outcrop overlooking the sprawling metropolis of Addis Ababa. Our prayers were for the church in Ethiopia... strength and energy and resources to push back the encroaching religion that is systematically trying to take over Ethiopia. We also prayed for the government and for peace and prosperity. One person prayed that not only would Ethiopia become a strong Christian nation, but that Ethiopia would bring the gospel to their neighbors in Somalia, North Sudan and Djibouti.

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The prayers, both in Amharic and English, were powerful. Afterwards, our Ethiopian hosts began to sing and rejoice. Even though we Americans didn’t know the words they were singing, we were caught up in the exuberance and spirit of the worship!

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By mid-afternoon we were back at Meseret Kristos where the bi-monthly program for families accepted into YWAM’s Adoption Ministry 1:27 program was scheduled. It was wonderful to see all the mothers and children greeting each other and eagerly waiting for Asegid, their case manager, to share with them from the Bible.

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Three of the single mothers volunteered to share their stories with us, and all I could do is sit with a huge grin on my face and silently thank the many sponsors that bring such hope to these families. Asegid led us in a song that we could all sing together: it was simply the word Halleluia sung Ethiopian style, and I loved adding my voice to those around me and worshiping our God together in this way.

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Later this evening I will go back to the airport to pick up my good friend and colleague, Wick Nease, and others traveling with him. Wick has a fantastic ministry called Streams of Mercy and has been a strong advocate for the work Adoption Ministry does in Ethiopia. Tomorrow we will attend church at a growing and vibrant church that is also part of AM 1:27 and afterwards we will visit some of the families in our program. It will be a good day!
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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

You're Not Crazy

Watch and listen to Francis Chan share about the Orphan Summit...

Taking on the characteristics of the Father to the fatherless...
Uniting under the gospel to demonstrate the gospel.




Summit 9  May 2-3, 2013 in Nashville, TN

Information and registration at the Summit9 website!

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Have you seen it? Are you going?




Here's a great post about the documentary 'Stuck' coming to a theater near you!

Stuck
@Mercy Ink
"No matter whether you feel called to adoption or not, I believe this documentary is important because of the truths exposed on orphan care around the globe. For that reason alone, you should see this movie."

Let us know in a comment if any of you have already seen the film
and what you thought!

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