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This blog is a place for our staff, members and supporters to share news and reflections about Sister Parish.  You can sign up for our e-news to receive updates or contact us to submit a piece of your own.  See blog archives.

Blog en español.

Posted in Español, General

El término de solidaridad

English

por Carlos Quintanilla Morales
Guarjila, Chalatenango, El Salvador

Quiero de manera muy especial agradecer infinitamente el apoyo incondicional que los hermanamientos han dado a las comunidades del norte de Chalatenango, [y más recientemente a La Libertad], El Salvador.

Especialmente haré referencia a la comunidad de Guarjila, una comunidad que recibió y recibe  la bendición de contar con personas que brota de ellos y ellas el término de solidaridad, pero no solo de palabras sino que lo han demostrado con todas sus acciones que realizan diariamente; de la cual jóvenes, profesionales, y comunidad en general nos sentimos con un compromiso moral de seguir luchando porque sus ejemplos son dignos de imitar.

Espero que muy pronto estrechamos nuestros manos y formaremos una muralla humana que sin temor a equivocarme será más fuerte que un muro o una infraestructura construida de hierro y cemento que impide compartir el calor con los seres humanos y continuaremos viéndonos como hermanos hijos e hijas de un mismo Dios; todo esto será posible cuando cada uno de nosotros reconozcamos el término de solidaridad o simplemente veamos al otro como a mismo sin importar raza, religión, color, o clase social.

Carlos visita una granja durante la delegación a Wallingford UMC en Seattle.

Santos de Guarjila sirve la comunión durante la delegación a Wallingford UMC en Seattle.

Miembros de Guarjila participan en el retiro anual de la iglesia Wallingford UMC en Seattle.

Posted in Delegaciones, Español, sur al norte | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The true meaning of solidarity

Español

by Carlos Quintanilla Morales
Guarjila, Chalatenango, El Salvador

I want in a very special way to give infinite gratitude to Sister Parish churches in the United States for the unconditional support that they have given to the communities in the northern area of Chalatenango [and now recently in La Libertad], El Salvador.

Speaking specifically about my community, Guarjila has received and continues to receive the blessing of being partnered with people from whom springs the true meaning of solidarity, not only in their words but also as shown in their daily actions. Drawing on this solidarity, we—youth, professionals, and the community in general—feel a moral commitment to continue fighting; because their examples are worthy to imitate.

I look forward to joining hands again soon. When we do, we shall form a human wall that I have no doubt will be stronger than any wall built of iron and cement that prevents us from sharing warmth with human beings; and we will continue to see each other as brothers and sisters, as sons and daughters of one God. All this will be possible when each of us recognizes the true meaning of solidarity or simply sees the other as the same, regardless of race, religion, color, or social class.

Carlos visits a local farm on a visit with Wallingford UMC in Seattle.

Santos from Guarjila serves communion during a retreat with Wallingford UMC members during a South to North delegation.

Delegates from Guarjila participate in an all church retreat during their visit to Wallingford UMC in Seattle.

Posted in Delegations, South to North, United States | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

One million friends

by Nancy Wiens
from St Joan of Arc Catholic Community, after visiting Tierra Nueva II in Guatemala

The most amazing thing happened a few days after returning home. I was sitting at the kitchen table and the radio started playing the song, “Un Millón de Amigos”. What a coincidence! That was our delegation’s chosen cultural-sharing song, the one we belted out at community parties and in church. Translated to English, the refrain of the song goes,

I want to bring this song of friendship
To whomever might need it
I want to have a million friends
And stronger will I be able to sing.

On hearing it, I was immediately swept away with memories of my time together with Tierra Nueva II community members — holding babies and children, learning names, celebrating each others’ important anniversaries (weddings, birthdays), crying together over sadnesses, working out with the women’s group aerobics class (and teaching the chicken dance!), laughing over silly icebreakers with the youth, hearing the realities of the scholarship students and their families, making tortillas, eating tamales, participating in Sunday masses, learning painful Guatemalan history, listening to the hard and hopeful stories of a Guatemalan human rights advocate, traveling in the van with Rosario and Pedro to beautiful Lake Atitlán, making new friendships and renewing old ones, and sharing so much love.

“Un Millón de Amigos” couldn’t have been a more apt anthem for our delegation. Together our two communities are writing the lyrics of our 24-year relationship. We are taking the long view, building a lasting bond by exchanging gifts of presence, respect and understanding. Our strength comes from raising our intermingled voices in song and extending our hands in friendship, solidarity and love. Indeed, with a million friends, how can a world of peace not be within our grasp?

* Song by Roberto Carlos

St Joan of Arc delegation with friends from Tierra Nueva 2.

Tierra Nueva 2 shares songs of welcome and birthday celebrations with the delegation.


Posted in Delegations, Guatemala, North to South | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Marks on my heart

Originally published in the St Thomas Lutheran Church monthly newsletter after a 2018 delegation to visit partner community Chichipate in Guatemala.  Members hope to raise the profile of the relationship by including a piece each month.  In the July newsletter, the group highlighted the delegation visit to a computer school in Chichipate and in the June newsletter, the group wrote about connecting the Sunday school children to Chichipate by inviting them to a Guatemala-style breakfast and simulating the delegation experience. 

The following was written by delegate Caroline Hewitt.

Greetings, St. Thomas friends! For this month’s newsletter, Ronna Papesh invited me to share a reflection from our time in Chichipate, Guatemala, with our friends at our Sister Parish connection at Santo Domingo de Guzman. I’d like to start with an excerpt adapted from the travel journal I kept while there. The following paragraphs were written on March 15 and 16 of 2018, near the end of the trip:

“I’ve grown very accustomed to the level of noise that goes on pretty much all the time here. Ducks, chickens, roosters, turkeys, dogs, pigs, and the church across the street (not Santo Domingo de Guzman) playing loud music late at night! I’ve also become quite accustomed to the sound of tortillas being made. The women take the corn meal – it’s in some sort of dough form, I’m not sure what else is in it – and pound it back and forth between their palms. They make them flatter here than in El Salvador, [Sister Parish employee and one of our companions] Julieta says, but still much thicker than the ones you see in the U.S.

Last night, Julieta and I had a nice conversation with Juan Tut, our host-father. Julieta is a native speaker of Spanish, so they two speak a bit fast for me to contribute much besides listening, but I muster up a sentence here and there. At one point, he said that though we may eventually get tired of – or tired from – being here, after we leave, we will start to miss it. I said I’m sure that’s true. And I really will, I know it.

I’ll especially miss my host-brother Henri [awn-REE] and our little ‘prima’ [cousin] Vilma [VEEL-muh]. The two of them came to get Julieta and me after the meeting last night. We walked most of the way back to our host-home with the two children holding each of my hands and quizzing me on my Q’eqchi and teaching me new words. They also like to ask me what the words are in English. ¿’Casa’? ‘Ochoch’ in Q’eqchi. ¿En inglés? [In  English?] ‘House.’”

Our end-of-trip evaluations for Sister Parish asked us the following question: “What did you discover about your sister community?” We were asked to ponder the differences and similarities we saw between their culture and society and ours at home in Indiana. There
are a lot of possible answers to this question. But one of the things I noticed most strongly was the strength of their community. Chichipate is a thriving, growing community that places a lot of emphasis on the development of the area and the education of its children, while also remaining supportive and close-knit. I don’t mean to over-idealize what it is like there. Humans everywhere are a bit complicated and messy, especially where politics come in. But living in a place where children take your hand without hesitation and try to tell you a little bit about their culture, about the way they live – it makes a mark on your heart. I hope I never forget it.

Posted in Delegations, Guatemala, North to South | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Thank you Tierra Nueva Dos

Español

In August 2018, nine members of St Joan of Arc Catholic Community visited Tierra Nueva Dos in Guatemala. Daniluz Schueller gave the following thank you speech during the goodbye at mass.

Readings referenced below.

Hello, good morning.

My name is Daniluz Schueller and I am the youngest member of this delegation between our sister parishes, St Joan of Arc and Tierra Nueva Dos.  At the present time, our sistering relationship has lasted for more than 20 years. One of our goals is to build mutual understanding in solidarity between the communities of Tierra Nueva Dos and St Joan of Arc.  One of the ways we do this is through home stays and delegations. Our communities take turns traveling to the other country – from North to South and from South to North – every year. We hope this will help increase our knowledge of each other’s cultures and I feel that is what we do when we share our gifts through meals, dances, conversations, stories and hospitality.

The stories that the families share is a part I like because although the content is important, it also shows trust when they share profound and also humorous things. There is a lot of value in this because there are many people who are open to sharing their lives with you and it is like holding up a precious piece of the family that is not material.

The first reading speaks of wisdom and understanding and I think that wisdom has been shared in the houses where we stayed because we have shared family stories that are an important part of our lives. From this wisdom, we learn and we grow in our friendship and that is powerful.  During this delegation in our meetings with the committees, all together or separate, we could see that there are very strong people with a lot of passion in this community, like the Peregrinos bible study group, the women’s group, the craft group, the scholarship students, and the youth group.  I feel humbled by all of the work they do and I feel that the passion they have makes me also feel passionate about their goals. That is how the true meaning of solidarity was born in me.

I also feel that music is one of the best expressions of solidarity – whether it is a happy birthday song or the song “Un millon de amigos – A Million Friends” in honor of our friends. The second reading says that we should be filled with the spirit of God and we have done this by caring for each other and joining our voices to sing a song of love that comes from the heart.

A group of delegates sing “One Million Friends” after mass.

Finally, I don’t think I could finish speaking about our celebratory experience without talking about the food. I speak for everyone on the delegation when I say that we are all full of your delicious food and your infinite love. It is when we sit at the table to share a meal that we have had the best conversations.  We are not just two parishes – we are a family that shares achievements and difficulties together.  It was in these moments that I realized that our sense of confidence starts when we are vulnerable because we are welcomed and accepted at the table as we are. There we feel we can be honest with each other and this experience makes our partner relationship grow stronger.

In the Gospel, Jesus says that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood remains in him just as he remains in us. During our meals, we have shared the body and blood of Christ symbolized in the food that has given each of us life and has also kept our partner relationship alive.

Jesus also says that whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will have eternal life and even though we didn’t always eat bread, but also birthday cake and tortillas, these memories will be part of us forever because of the love that God has made us capable of feeling and sharing.

Thank you with all our hearts for receiving us in your community.  God bless our relationship. Thank you.

At a Bible reflection with Peregrinos – the altar commemorates members who have passed away.

Posted in Delegations, General, Guatemala, North to South | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gracias Tierra Nueva Dos

English

En agosto del 2018, nueve miembros de la Comunidad Católica de Sta Juana de Arco visitaron Tierra Nueva Dos en Guatemala.  Daniluz Schueller leyó la siguiente presentación de agradecimiento en la despedida al final de la misa.

Lecturas mencionadas en la presentación.

Hola, buenos días.

Me llamo Daniluz Schueller y soy la miembro más joven de esta delegación del hermanamiento de parroquias de Santa Juana de Arco y Tierra Nueva Dos. Hoy en día el hermanamiento ha mantenido una relación por más de 20 años. Una de nuestras metas es construir un entendimiento mutuo en solidaridad entre las comunidades de Tierra Nueva Dos y Santa Juana de Arco. Una de las maneras que nosotros hacemos esto es a través los hospedajes. Nuestras comunidades se turnan en viajar a los diferentes países de Norte a Sur y de Sur a Norte cada año. A través de esto queremos aumentar nuestro conocimiento de nuestras culturas y yo siento que hacemos esto cuando compartimos nuestros dones durante las comidas, los bailes, las conversaciones, las historias y la hospitalidad.

Las historias que las familias comparten es una parte que me gusta porque aunque el contenido es importante, también la confianza para compartir cosas profundas y graciosas están allí. Hay mucho valor en esto porque hay muchos que están abiertos a compartir sus vidas contigo que es como levantar un pedazo precioso de las familias que no es material.

En la primera lectura habla de la sabiduría y del entendimiento y yo creo que la sabiduría se ha levantado en las casas en las que nos hemos quedado porque hemos compartido historias familiares que son partes importante de nuestras vidas. Por esta sabiduría aprendimos y crecimos en nuestra amistad y eso es poderoso. En esta jornada nuestras reuniones con los comités, todos juntos o separados era algo en que podía ver que hay personas que tienen fuerza y mucha pasión como el grupo de Peregrinos, el Grupo de Mujeres y artesanías, los jóvenes becados y el grupo de jóvenes Cristo Vive. Yo me siento humilde por todo el trabajo que hacen y siento que la pasión que ellos tienen me hace sentirme también apasionada por sus objetivos. Entonces nace en mí el verdadero sentido de la solidaridad.

Yo también siento que la música es una de las mejores expresiones de solidaridad que puede ser una canción de feliz cumpleaños o un homenaje a los amigos como con la canción de Un Millón de Amigos.

La segunda lectura dice que debemos ser llenados con el espíritu de Dios y eso lo hacemos ateniéndonos los unos a los otros uniendo nuestras voces en un canto de amor que nace desde el corazón.

Un grupo de delegadas canta Un Millon de Amigos.

Finalmente no pienso que puedo terminar de hablar de nuestra experiencia de celebración sin hablar de la comida. Yo puedo hablar por todos de la delegación cuando digo que todos estamos muy llenos con tu comida deliciosa y con tu amor infinito. Es cuando nos sentamos a la mesa para compartir la comida que hemos tenido las más grandes conversaciones. No somos solo dos parroquias sino somos una familia que compartimos éxitos y dificultades juntos y en esos momentos es que me di cuenta que nuestra seguridad empieza cuando somos vulnerables porque somos bienvenidos y aceptados a la mesa como somos. Allí es que sentimos que podemos ser honestos los unos a los otros y ésta experiencia hace que nuestro hermanamiento crezca mucho más.

En el Evangelio Jesús dice que quien come su cuerpo y sangre permanece en él y él en nosotros. En nuestras comidas hemos compartido el cuerpo y la sangre de Cristo simbolizada por las comidas que nos han dado vida a cada uno de nosotros y han mantenido la vida de nuestro hermanamiento. Jesús también dice quién come mi cuerpo vivirá por siempre, y aunque no siempre comimos pan sino también pastel de cumpleaños y tortillas, las memorias se han quedado impregnadas en nosotros para siempre por el amor que Dios nos ha hecho capaces de sentir y compartir.

Gracias de todo corazón por acogernos en vuestra comunidad. Que Dios bendiga nuestro hermanamiento.

Gracias.

Estudio biblico con Peregrinos en Tierra Nueva Dos – el altar conmemora a las personas que se han fallecido.

Posted in Delegaciones, Español, General, Guatemala, norte al sur | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

ACOMUJERZA and UPAVIM exchange

Español

Members of UPAVIM and ACOMUJERZA have the opportunity to share their knowledge.

In August 2018, members of ACOMUJERZA in El Salvador traveled to Guatemala to have an exchange with UPAVIM.  Both cooperatives are members of Sister Parish Inc. and ACOMUJERZA’s partner church provided financial support for the exchange.  Photos from the trip.

What did the exchange between UPAVIM and ACOMUJERZA mean?

By Rafael Carranza

To start off with, before traveling to Guatemala, I was curious to meet the people and see their facilities.

Arriving at the cooperative, I realized that their facilities are very big and very beautiful. I was surprised by the growth that they have had throughout their history as a cooperative.  In comparison, at ACOMUJERZA we have a long way to go.

But then I began to realize that what makes this cooperative great is not the facilities, but the quality of the people that make up the cooperative.  As the hours passed, I learned that the most important part of this experience was getting to know the hearts, sensitivity, and feelings of these people. They truly opened their heart and gave it to us with their care, their hospitality and their excellent food.  I learned that as organizations, we have the same difficulties but in spite of the adversity, we have the commitment to keep fighting for real change in our lives and in our families’ lives. We also want to contribute to our society. There are no borders or definition of races that can prevent us from loving each other as human beings.

I am sure that if each of us shares these thoughts with others, we can achieve inner peace and real changes in our society.

Visit to Central Park in Guatemala.

Meetings with UPAVIM and ACOMUJERZA to share their experiences.

Meeting with Maryknoll Affiliates in Guatemala.

Visit to Antigua.

Visit to Antigua.

Local markets.

Delicious local food.

Posted in El Salvador, Guatemala | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Intercambio con UPAVIM y ACOMUJERZA

English

Miembros de ACOMUJERZA y UPAVIM comparten sus conocimientos.

En agosto 2018 representantes de ACOMUJERZA visitaron a UPAVIM en Guatemala para un intercambio de experiencias y aprendizajes.  Las dos cooperativas son miembros de Iglesias Hermanas y la iglesia hermana de ACOMUJERZA, People of Hope, dio un aporte para el viaje.  Fotos del viaje.

¿Qué significó el viaje de Intercambio UPAVIM – Guatemala  y ACOMUJERZA – El Salvador?

Por: Rafael Carranza

Bueno iniciando con el viaje previo a Guatemala yo tenía mucha curiosidad por conocer a la gente y sus instalaciones.

Al llegar a la cooperativa me di cuenta que sus instalaciones eran muy grandes y muy bonitas. Yo estaba sorprendido por el crecimiento que ellas han tenido a lo largo de su historia, y a la vez comparando que ACOMUJERZA le falta mucho camino por recorrer.

Pero luego me fui dando cuenta que las instalaciones no eran lo que hacía grande esa cooperativa sino la calidad de personas que la conforman. A medida que pasaron las horas fui aprendiendo que lo más importante de esa experiencia fue conocer el corazón, la sencillez y los sentimientos de esas personas. Realmente abrieron su corazón y nos lo entregaron con sus atenciones, su hospitalidad y la excelente comida. Aprendí que como instituciones tenemos las mismas dificultades pero que a pesar de las adversidades existe el sentimiento de seguir luchando por un cambio real en nuestras vidas y en las de nuestras familias, asi como tambien ser un aporte para la sociedad y que no existen Fronteras ni Razas para amarnos como humanos.

Estoy seguro que si difundimos cada quien estos mismos pensamientos, podremos lograr una paz interior y un cambio real en la sociedad.

Visita al Parque Central en Guatemala.

Intercambio con UPAVIM y ACOMUJERZA

Reunion con las afiliadas de Maryknoll en Guatemala.

Excursion a Antigua.

Excursion a Antigua.

Mercados locales.

Comidas tipicas.

 

 

Posted in El Salvador, Español, Guatemala | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Celebrating 25 years of love: St Francis anniversary delegation to Las Margaritas II

Pictures below

In July, a delegation of St. Francis parishioners traveled to the far ends of Guatemala to make a visit to Las Margaritas II, a rural village of about 100 indigenous Mayan families. 25 years ago, Fr. David McBriar and a handful of parishioners established this partnership in conjunction with the organization Sister Parish, Inc. to foster awareness and understanding of the plight of many in Central America for the sake of greater solidarity, justice, and peace in our world. Through shared prayer, mutually supporting each other in a variety of efforts, and exchanging visits, this “sister parish” linkage has allowed us to put ourselves in the reality of others and, thus, experience the profound gift of human solidarity across the many kinds of borders that divide us. Experiencing a real and profound connection of brotherhood and sisterhood is one of the most treasured gifts we can encounter in our lives.

This anniversary delegation provided an opportunity to deepen our walk of solidarity and love with Las Margaritas II, and as the reflections and pictures below reveal, this journey deeply affected our parishioners. Whether it was encountering the natural and wild beauty of the Guatemalan landscape, playing “football” (soccer) in the village, learning about the grassroots recovery in response to the recent volcano irruption, sharing a meal of tortillas and beans in a host family’s home, or celebrating mass together, our parishioners could not help falling in love with this country, its culture, its land, and especially its people. Indeed, with this particular “sister parish” relationship, hearts were opened, expanded, and filled with awe and gratitude and love. This is the gift of this ministry.

—————–

Austin Maher (father): Being part of our sister parish delegation really challenged me. I was in a different country. I was a member of a new community. I didn’t speak the language. But more importantly, I was brought face to face with questions that often seem philosophical but were also quite concrete. Who is my brother and sister? What does it mean to live in poverty? What can I do to promote social justice and to assist the poor? These are not new questions, but being part of this delegation brought them back to me and gave me a fresh perspective on them. Participating in the St. Francis delegation to Las Margaritas broadened my horizons, took me out of my comfort zone and gave me a new perspective on my life as a Christian.

Austin Maher (son): For me, this journey was a personal one. I was born in Guatemala and left the country at a very young age, so part of it was just to revisit and learn about my homeland. Not only that, but my internal journey that had hit a bit of a roadblock. I think it’s easy for us to get stuck, stressing over things at work or school, with friends and colleagues. Sometimes we just need that little push to get us back on our feet, whether it be the inspiration of a new landscape, or the kindness of a stranger. Some of us need to let go and get lost in the world. Some of us are lost and need to be found. This was an eye-opening experience for us all, and a big part of my personal journey.

Liz Mosler (mother): Our family has been connected with Sister Parish since we first hosted delegates in our home in 2005 and then again a few years later.  Now having visited the village twice with two of my children I feel even more connected. This particular trip was especially impactful as I felt like we were sharing life’s experiences, the good and bad, on an even deeper level. We laughed together, cried together, and prayed together, and no language barrier could ever taint the genuine exchange of emotion that was being shared. I struggle to put into words the many ways in which this time with LMII has impacted me. Each time I spend time with them, I am humbled and my perspective on life is forever altered.

Josie Mosler (daughter): When our delegation first arrived to Las Margaritas II, the sun was fading from the sky, and I was so anxious to be there. When our van pulled into the community, there were tons of families lined up waiting for us, the children chased the van with American flags, and when we finally got out, we were met with the purest welcome you could possibly imagine. The complete and utter joy I felt to see our brothers and sisters is overwhelming. I don’t think that there was a single moment during the days where we didn’t have at least ten children hanging on to each of us. The excitement from these children was overwhelming in the greatest way possible. The feeling that this gave me has been one of the things I will cherish most from this experience, giving me a feeling that I will never forget.

Trevor Thompson (father): I’ve traveled quite a bit, even living overseas for many years, but this journey to Guatemala was like no other trip I’ve taken. The opportunity to share life for four days within a family home of a rural indigenous Mayan family was incredible. The vulnerability, even awkwardness, but amazing grace of sharing life was an unparalleled experience of solidarity and love. I feel humbled, knowing I take far too much for granted. I also hold many stories in my heart now of those children and families who are showing up at our borders (and in our news). I now carry far great understanding and solidarity for their plight, their sacrifice, and their dreams. I’m incredibly grateful to have shared this time with my daughter; it is a memory we will continue to unpack over many years.

Sophia Thompson (daughter): The most meaningful thing to me was how much warmth and love we experienced from the kids, and everyone else in the village. They were thrilled and honored to have us. We are so different in so many ways, but we are also alike as well. We both share love and joy in having a community and family that loves us and takes care of us. We both share corn and coffee, music and dance, and especially faith. This is the main reason we visited the village in the first place, celebrating 25 years of love, journeying together with faith in the same God and Spirit, all together as family.

There’s already conversation about another journey to Guatemala next year!

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Fryeburg Academy visits Guatemala with Sister Parish

From May 24-June 2, a group of 8 students and 2 teachers from Fryeburg Academy visited Guatemala with Sister Parish.  Long-time Sister Parish member and former Board member Greg Huang-Dale facilitated the connection and participated in the delegation.

The students had the opportunity to learn from long-time Sister Parish members like Otto and Basilia from San Andres Itzapa, UPAVIM, and two youth groups from Tierra Nueva II.

We are so grateful to everyone who participated in making this delegation such a powerful experience.  We hope to see Fryeburg Academy again in the near future.

Youth exchange with Tierra Nueva II.

Learning new games, like the dragon game pictured here, during the youth exchange with Tierra Nueva II.

Visit to Iximche Mayan historical and archaeological site.

Meeting up with Sister Parish members at Iximche.

Visit to the National Police Archives.

Learning about nahuales at the Pop Wuj art gallery.

Visit to the Pop Wuj art gallery in Chichicastenango.

Learning about permaculture alternatives with the Campesino Committee of the Highlands.

Visit with UPAVIM school and craft area.

Hiking the Pacaya volcano.

Riding horses on Pacaya volcano hike.

Visit with Ruth and Naomi Cooperative in Chichicastenango.

Learning about natural dying techniques from a cooperative in San Juan la Laguna.

On the way to do volunteer work with Mayan Families.

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