a pictorial year in the life of amanda

Like I've done for the past two years (2005, 2006), I am summing up my entire 2007 in only 12 photos (one for each month).

I took less than half as many pictures this year as I did last year.  This year I only took a little over 4,000 . . . .it's kinda hard to beat 9000 in one year. :)  Nonetheless, it was still not easy to choose only one pic per month, but it is a fun way to showcase the various things that took place this past year.

January: Telling People about Jesus
Sharing Jesus at the park

February: Go to Thailand
Sunrise in Thailnd

March: I Play My Erhu in the Park
Me playing my erhu at the park

April: I Learn to Make Spring Rolls
Yummy . . . A Homemade Spring Roll

May: A Fantabulous Weekend Getaway to Neighboring Island--PengHu (which I never blogged about but always intended too)
historic old house on WangAn Island

June: Students Graduate
4-4B Graduating Students and Me

July: My Cousins Come to Taiwan!!
southern tip of taiwan

August: I move to Tainan
stuff in my new house

September: My First MIRL--I get to Meet Fellow Taiwan Blogger in Person
me and Char

October: Yuka, One of My Japanese Friends, Comes to Taiwan!!
me and yuka at Confuican Temple

November: New School, New Students, New Friends
April, Flora, Emily, Me, Fion, and Stacy

December: Christmas Parties Galore!

Quite different than previous years.  This year was filled with more "風風雨雨"  (wind, wind, rain, rain), a Chinese idiom which can be translated "ups and downs."  But still the year remains a testament to God's kindness.

If you'd like to join me in doing this, please do . . . just leave a comment below with the link to your own pictorial summary of
2007 so we can all go enjoy looking over your year (I tried Mr. Linky, but he doesn't do custom meme's anymore unless you pay).

cruel mercy

When the sun shines--the ice melts. When the Sun of
righteousness once shines with beams of grace upon
the soul--then it melts in mercy and tenderness.

Mercifulness is a melting disposition whereby we lay
to heart the miseries of others, and are instrumental
for their good. We must chiefly be merciful to the
SOULS of others. Indeed soul-mercy is the chief of

That is a cruel mercy--when we see men go on in
sin, and we let them alone. And that is a merciful
cruelty--when we are sharp against men's sins and
will not let them go to hell quietly.

Fond sentimentality is no better than cruelty.

The surgeon cuts and lances the flesh—but it is in
order to a cure. They are healing wounds. So when
we lance men's consciences and let out the blood of
sin, we exercise spiritual surgery. This is showing

"Rescue others by snatching them from the fire!"
(Jude 23). If a man had fallen into the fire, though
you hurt him a little in pulling him out--he would be
thankful and take it as a kindness.  Some men, when
we tell them of sin say, 'O, you are unloving!'  No!  it
is showing mercy.

If a man's house were on fire, and
another should see it and not tell him of it, for fear of
waking him--would not this be cruelty? When we see
others sleeping in their sin, and the fire of God's wrath
ready to burn them up--and we are silent--is not this

(Thomas Watson, 1660, "The Beatitudes." Public Domain as seen on Grace Gems.)


shrimp fried rice

This was yummy. It only cost $1.50. 

No other commentary needed. :)

hot pot just gets better

Pumpkin hot pot used to be my favorite.  But, I think I might have just found one that is even better. 

At A Guan, a restaurant near my apartment, they allow you to have two kinds of soup for boiling your food in by providing a split pot.  I chose coconut milk and curry.  The curry soup base was so wonderful I didn't even need the hot pot dipping sauce that I love so much.

This was also my first time to have chicken hot pot.  I usually choose beef or pork.  The chicken at this place was wonderful . . . I'd choose it again in a heartbeat. 

Anyone wanna come join me for hot pot this weekend?  I'd be happy to go again!

Chicken Hot Pot--cocnut milk and curry

Christmas Day

Christmas Dinner

I spent my Christmas Day evening with this lovely family (their dad is working in China).  They are some of my favorite people in the world.  What a blessing to live so close to them!


yummy food

This was my first time to host a "Christmas dinner."  I had fun doing it.  I made Grandma's sweet potato casserole, cherry coke jello, roasted potatoes, and broccoli with cheese.  Oh, yeah and a pumpkin pie too.  Corrina brought over a roasted chicken, salad, and pumpkin soup.  It was all SO yummy!!!


It was the first time they had ever really celebrated Christmas.  I gave each of the girls a blanket and then a family game set with 10 games inside.  I also gave Corrina some smell goods and coffee with mug.  She asked me incredulously "why do we all get more than one gift?  You spoil us."  I felt like I hadn't given them much at all--it's all perspective.  The girls were SO excited to get Christmas gifts!!


After we stuffed ourselves and opened gifts, we played Uno Spin and Chinese Checkers.  They had never played with four people before.  If you play Taiwanese style Chinese checkers, only up to 3 people can play. 

Corrina commented how so many American games are suitable for 6-10 players, while so many Taiwanese/Chinese games are limited to two or three players.  She and her girls concluded this is because Americans like to play games as a whole family, but Taiwanese/Chinese people use/used games to encourage critical thinking skills--not as family entertainment.  I think it is a pretty interesting theory/observation.


Merry Christmas!!

overwhelmed by generosity

Deb, one of my very first blog readers (by the way I don't think I ever replied to that first comment.  I never answered her question, and yet she still came back for more), was a HUGE encouragement when I first started blogging. 

And, just recently she was HUGE encouragement to me in another way . . . she sent me a box of goodies full of wonderful stuff (shhh . . .don't tell anyone but that box of thin mints is already empty).   She made me a dishcloth in my new kitchen colors, and she picked out a book for me that has several pages about journeys and paths (I'm not sure if that was on purpose or not, but I love it!!).  She even sent me a sunflower from her garden--how fun!!  And, there were lots of other goodies inside too.  I was TOTALLY overwhelmed by her kindness as I opened the package this week. 

Thanks Deb and Family!!

Thank you, Deb, for being so thoughtful and kind and overwhelming me with your generosity! 

happy, happy birthday!!

20431567_2Guess what is two years old today?? 

My blog!  That's right, Following an Unknown Path is two years old today

I started playing with the concept of blogging many times in past six years, I even tried to make a "blog" on my website (that after ten years of owning I finally let go of this year), but because I didn't truly grasp the concept it didn't quite work.  I started playing with different blogging platforms starting in the spring of 2005.  But it wasn't until December of 2005, that I created the concept of Following an Unknown Path and got hooked on blogging for real. 

(After Following an Unknown Path was birthed, I carried over some of the content from those other blogs I had played with.  That is why the archives go back into the spring of 2005--in case for some random reason you were wondering why my archives go back further than the birth of my blog.)

Following an Unknown Path has changed quite a bit from its original.  Content, layout, purpose, intent, some of the audience, design and look of the actual posts, writing style . . . .its all changed over the past two years.  I guess--in some ways--that is a good thing.

Honestly, I can't believe it's been two years!  Time goes SO fast. 

There have been times in this past blogging year that I've wanted to throw in the towel and call it quits.  But, I've not done so . . . yet, at least.  I enjoy writing, and I enjoy photography, and I need an outlet for sharing with others what God is doing in my life and what is going on in the world I find myself.  And, blogging seems to be a great outlet for all of these.  So, for now, I continue with my little hobby.

It is also such a blessing to be able to update my family on the other side of the world in a matter of seconds about what is going on in my life.  Now, if only I can convince them to start blogging about their lives so I can keep tabs on them.  (Wanna know a secret?  My paternal grandmother comments on my blog posts in handwriting and my grandfather scans in the letter and emails it to me as an attachment.  Pretty cool huh?)

It's been a neat blogging year since I've actually gotten to MIRL with some other Taiwan bloggers.  I've also been put back in touch with some college friends and their blogs. 

And, twice this year, blog readers told me to go check out some other blog they thought I might like . . . and BOTH times I actually knew these people in real life--just didn't know that they blogged!  How cool is that!?!?

Oh, yeah, and I entered my first bloggy contest and won an x-shot--thanks to readers voting for me! :) 

I've made some neat and special friends as I've blogged about my journey along this unknown path I follow.  Thank you!!  It's been fun, and I've enjoyed getting to "know" you.

So, all in all, it's been a neat journey with both its ups and downs.  However, as I sit here right now looking out over the Tainan skyline, I look forward to another
year of blogging, another year of changing, another year of living in
God's grace and being overwhelmed by his generosity and  . . . being able to share some of that with yall. 

I thought I'd continue a tradition I started last year on my blog's birthday, here are the first lines from the first posts of each month in the past year:

Firecrackers and fireworks--yes they are different (one goes "pow!
pow!" a hundred times and the other "swoooooosh! pop!")--went off all
around my apartment from about 9 or 10pm till about 2 or 3am in random
intervals. (Jan, 33 posts)

Sandy is a IRL friend
who is also a college teacher, tentmaking here in Taiwan. (Feb, 12 posts)

. . . in paths that they have not known I will guide them. (Isaiah 42:16) (March, 35 posts)

My coworker in the harvest has a brother who is also missionary. (A post about how five shirts is too many shirts to own.) (April, 21 posts)

The lens of my camera loves to focus on flowers. (May, 13 posts)

Stacy, an IRL friend who also lives here in Taiwan, tagged me while I was taking my bloggy break. (June, 31 posts)

Take heed of pride and haughtiness of spirit. (July, 36 posts)

Remember when I wrote about waiting and how hard it is. (August, 22 posts)

(When I grow up) I want to be a real missionary like her . . . or her (great book) . . . or her  . . . or any number of the bloggers listed here.  (September, 22 posts)

Ok, so we are not in Japan. (October, 26 posts)

For the past two weeks, there has been only one thought stuck on repeat in my mind about the beauty of kindness: It's your kindness that leads us to repentance, Oh Lord. (November, 8 posts)

My thirteenth year of life was horrible. (December, 22 posts so far)

Well, happy birthday little blog!  Thank you for helping me make friends
around the world!  Thank you for helping me draw closer to Christ.   

And, thanks to all of you who take the time to read and comment (I know I am bad about responding to comments--maybe I could try to work on that). 

I'm glad you stop!

ways to bless missionaries for free

13 awesome postage free ideas can be found here on the Desiring God site.

Please know that I'm NOT asking for any of these!!  I am simply passing on some great ideas that I know would bless the missionaries in your life. :)

I specifically recommend the ones that do not cost a penny at all:

  • Commit to pray for them on a specific day of the week for a year. 

  • Write a song or poem or story for them. Email them the text and a recording of you reading or singing it.

  • Get friends and family together to create a holiday video greeting for them using Google Video or YouTube.  Include lots of people you know they miss.

  • Pray specific Scripture for them and their ministry, and then email it to them.

  • Call or email their parents—Christmas might be just as lonely for the ones at home as the ones away.

  • Donate frequent flier miles to them. (I don't know this one might cost you a penny or two, but would be a great idea if you know what airline they already have frequent flier miles with or if you have enough for an entire free trip.  I know of several missionaries who have flown to the field or gone home during crises by "paying" for tickets this way.)

Christmas Past, 1981 (part 2, a repost)

Today my guestblogger, my mom, finishes the story she started yesterday.  (Just FYI, the pics are from 1979 and 1980--it's the best I could do with what I have here with me in Taiwan.)

Amanda @ Christmas 1979

It was a warm Texas December night and a very special one for us (ok – very special to me, the sentimental one!).

It was our first time decorating a tree with a child old enough to
participate.  We purchased a small Christmas tree from the local
grocery store and carted it home on top of our Pinto station wagon.
Ken crafted a tree stand out of scrap wood and we placed the tree on
top of our end table, hopefully out of the reach of our toddler’s
(Sarah’s) grasp.  We placed the lights on the tree and Amanda and I
began hanging ornaments.  She was so excited we were celebrating!  I
was so excited – I got to keep the traditions!

It came time to turn off the overhead lights and plug in the
Christmas tree lights.  As soon as the lights on the tree began
shining, Amanda, overcome at the beauty of what she was seeing,
spontaneously began to exclaim “Oh! Oh! Glory to God in the Highest!
Glory to God in the Highest!  Glory to God in the Highest!”  She raised
her arms and began dancing around that small glowing tree praising God,
repeating that phrase over and over just as the angels must have done
on the first Christmas night.

I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed worship as genuine as the worship
I saw that night!  Worship from one with such a pure heart and pure
motives – a precious three-year-old, who knew only that we were
celebrating the birth of Jesus and that our Christmas tree was shining
just as the heavens were the night of His birth when angels praised God
and proclaimed His glory. And, she wanted to celebrate and praise Him
in the same way!

That Christmas, God gave us just what we needed through the faith
and actions of a three-year-old child.  That experience changed our
perspective on Christmas celebrations.  We both realized that a
Christmas tradition held its meaning only in the heart of the person
participating in the tradition – you could focus on the warm and fuzzy
feelings felt by reliving the tradition or you could focus on the
original intent of the tradition or you could focus on the One for Whom
you were celebrating as you participated in the tradition.

In our family, we choose to focus not on feelings or original intent, but on the Reason we were celebrating.

Christmas 1980 or 81 ??

Each year, as we decorate our tree, it is a family tradition to tell
the story of the night we worshipped with Amanda around our first
family decorated Christmas tree. We seek to have the same worshipful
heart as a three-year-old who, though only looking at the lights on a
small Christmas tree, saw a sky filled with a host of heavenly angels
proclaiming God’s glory at the birth of His Son and joyfully joined in
the angels’ praises.

Now that is giving meaning to a Christmas tradition!


Amanda: Isn't that a great story!! I just LOVE it!!  My mom is
so right . . . when we look at our Christmas traditions--or any
traditions for that matter--we can foucs on one of three things: (1)
warm, fuzzy feelings, (2) original intent, or (3) Christ. 

For me and my sister (I think she would agree with me), that now
as adults, because our parents focused on Christ at Christmas, the
"warm, fuzzy feelings" of the holiday didn't dissappear but were
intensified.  It is not that our traditions became stoic--how can
worship of the long-awaited Savior be emotionless?  No, the "fuzzy
feelings" didn't dissappear, they just were not the reason we did the
things we did. 

As adults, my sister and I anticipate Christmas traditions because we are excited to worship the King of kings and Lord of lords;
we look forward to being able to express our love for him in unique
once-a-year Christmas ways.  Through participating in Christmas
traditions, we enjoy being able to proclaim "Oh! Oh! Glory to God in
the highest!!" and "Jesus, we love you!!" 

This is a repost from last year.  Originally posted here.

Christmas Past (1981) (a repost)

I, Amanda, asked my mom to share
one of my family's favorite Christmas stories.  So, today and tomorrow
she is guest blogging here at following an unknown path.  Now, without
further adieu, let my mom take you back 25 years, to the Christmas of
1981 . . .

my family in 1981

Christmastime is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, but
there was conflict in our household.  My husband and I disagreed for
most of our newly married four years on how we should celebrate
Christmas and neither of us wanted to give up any ground.  However our
children were getting older (3 years and 18 months), and we needed to
reach an agreement on how our young family would celebrate this season.

I am the sentimental one in our family.  I love the Christmas
season, all of it: the lights, the tree, the presents, cookie baking,
surprises and secrets, being with family and of course, celebrating the
Reason for the Season – God becoming a man and dwelling among us in
order to fulfill His plan of redemption.

On the other hand, I don’t think my husband has a sentimental bone
in his body!  He is very practical, very logical, extremely
well-grounded in Scripture and very matter-of-fact.  This particular
Christmas, he was finishing his education at seminary and had learned
that most of our traditional Christmas celebrations began as pagan
rituals.  He would come home after seminary classes and explain to me
what he had learned in class and the conflict would begin!  He didn’t
want our family to take part in any celebration that did not glorify
God.  With such a youthful intensity to do only that which glorified
God, he didn’t want us to participate in some of the traditions I loved
because of their original intent.

Technically I agreed, I certainly didn’t want to be a part of
anything that didn’t glorify God!…..but I couldn’t imagine Christmas
without all the traditions I had grown up with and loved nor could I
imagine not sharing those traditions with my children. 

After much discussion and heart searching, we decided we would keep
Christmas traditions as a part of our celebration (yeah! – I could
still have a Christmas tree!!), and purposefully seek to make the true
meaning of Christmas the focus in our family by telling the Christmas
story often to our young girls and singing religious Christmas carols
with them. 

It was our routine to read or tell bedtime stories each night to our
girls; and, during this season, the Christmas story was a much repeated
favorite.  Being a natural storyteller and intent on making sure his
daughters knew the true Christmas story, Ken would tell the birth of
Jesus with great enthusiasm and drama.  We weren’t sure how much their
young minds comprehended, but we were genuine in our desire to glorify
God with our Christmas celebrations.   Yet, Ken still was uncomfortable
about having the Christmas tree and other “pagan” celebrations in our
home, but God was about to give us a sign.

Come back tomorrow to find out how.
Joi (aka Amanda's mom)

This is a repost from last year.  Originally posted here.

advent calendar inspiration

Last year I made 26 "Names of Jesus ornaments" for my Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.  I was going to carry over the tradition of doing something crafty on Christmas Eve this year too . . . but I have class.  So, I invited my class to my house for a party.  That's an ok compromise in my book.

However, I know what this year's craft is going to be . . . I really want to make an Advent Calendar.  So, I've been collecting ideas while I wait for a time when I can actually make it (which I am hoping is sometime during my Chinese New Year break in January and February).

I REALLY like the toilet paper tree ones that I first found on Bringing School Home and then later on here and the paper box and match box ones that I first saw on the Better Homes and Gardens site. 

There are also some really cool family and around the world themed ones that I think are really neat.

So, maybe it is a good thing that I don't have time till Chinese New Year to work on my Advent Calendar . . . gives me time to collect some more toilet paper rolls. :) 

Thought I'd share with you some of the inspiration I've been collecting.  You can click on this mosaic and go to flickr to see the photo credits and also click through to the page with the original photo.  On those pages, some of the photographers/crafters explain how they created their advent calendar in case you see one you want to emulate.

A Collection of Ideas for Making an Advent Calendar

Aren't these all just awesome.  Some are quite simple and others are more elaborate.  There are several ideas I want to copy. 

In typical Amanda fashion, I would like to have oh . . . about 100 advent calendars.  Do you think that would be too many?

come on ring those bells . . .

Light the Christmas Tree!  Jesus is the King, born for you and me . . .

Welcome to all of you coming from BooMama's Christmas Tour of Homes.  Just to let you know, you've safely arrived in Taiwan. :) 

Most of my decorations are the same as last year; the main difference is that I moved this summer, so they are all placed a little differently in my new apartment.  But, I do have a few new things to show you.

Of course if your a little
tired of all the touring, you could just sit with me here on the couch
a little while a enjoy my new tree. (Snowmen booties courtesy of my

Christmas slippers from NeeNee

Are you ready now?  If so, here are my snowpeople this year:

hallway display  Over the Shoe Cabinet

And, here is my favorite little snowguy of all--he just blends right in! :) 

Gilby and the Snowpeople

In addition to snowmen, I also really like candles.  They just add a certain festive feel to the atmosphere.
Dinning Area Candles

Here is one of my new things for this year!!  This is a Chinese paper cut of a nativity scene which a dear friend gave me four years ago.  She was living in China at the time.  I only got around to framing it this year.  But, I love it!!

Chirstmas Papercut from China

The only thing I've splurged on this year for my home is this little jingle bell tree--isn't it so cute?  And, here is what my Christmas card wreath looks like this year.

jingle bell tree  Christmas Card Wreath

I've also gotten a few new ornaments from others and made some paper snowflakes.

The biggest change is that I bought a new Christmas tree.  Only thing is that it looks empty now . . . I love over stuffed, crowded trees that look like if you add one more thing they will fall over.  I guess this gives me room to grow and add and build. 

Gilby, Me, and the Tree 2007

Oh!  I did make some chocolate chip brownies, but they're all gone now.  So, can I offer you some green tea toast instead?  It's really yummy!!  I even tried to make it extra festive for you!!

chocolate chip brownies . . . all gone  Green Tea Toast

Well, thanks for coming to visit me in Taiwan!  Before you head off to visit other homes on the tour, let me just say 聖誕節快樂 (sheng dan jie kuai le) or in other words "Merry Christmas Yall!!"

Some New Snowmen Candles

thanks jess!!!


Saturday in the mail I got a package from the States from Jess

Jess, I love the cross ornament, it is beautiful on my tree!!  The bracelet is also very fun and a great surprise.  And . . . .I LOVE the smell of my living room--mmm . . . the smell of Christmas!  Thank you for your kindness.  It made me smile and warmed my heart!

amanda :)



well . . . not real snow. 

Christine (one of my little neighbors) and I made snowflakes two weeks ago and then covered my living room window with them. 

I just love them!!

graduation project update

Kara, Josephine, Me and Kara

They did it!!  They finished their graduation project and successfully defended it this past Tuesday.

This was a huge accomplishment!

These are the girls--Kara, Josephine, and Juliet--you helped by completing their online survey back in April.  They are grateful for your help.  Those of you requested a copy of their project will be receiving it after they make the suggested corrections by their oral defense committee. 

Even though I changed schools, I continued to be their project adviser.  They would take the train up to Tainan on the weekends in order to work on their project with me. 

To me, one of the best parts of being a teacher is watching my students shine.  And, this Tuesday, shine they did!!

come see the beauty!

“Come see the beauty of the Lord!” 

As we sang this song during the English worship service, an image of the gargantuan, dark idol on top of a temple in JhuNan flashed in my mind’s eye. 


How very different our God is!  He is beautiful.  He is clothed in majesty and glory.

Please pray with me for the Lord to open the eyes of the Taiwanese people that they may see His beauty. 

~in joy~


Picture Description:
    A close up of the idol’s angry glare.  He is a god of medicine—worshipers plead for health at this temple.  Click here for more pics taken at this temple.

Originally posted on my no longer active website on Sept 25, 2003.


I "share" the posts I read and think others would benefit from reading.  But sometimes, simply sharing them in my sidebar is not enough.  For example, there are parts of this clip below from Pulpit Magazine written by Jesse Johnson that I would totally highlight, underline and draw stars next too if I could mark up a computer screen!!

All believers are to be active in evangelism. In fact, all four Gospels end with Jesus commanding believers to bring salvation to the lost (Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; John 20:21). Jesus’ last earthly words were another repetition of this same command, to bear witness to the gospel (Acts 1:8). It is not an overstatement to say that all Christians should be driven by a love for evangelism. After all, it is our mission in life.

But while all Christians are called to be active in evangelism, not all Christians are equally gifted at this particular calling. Acts 21:8 and Ephesians 4:11 both imply that some have the gift of evangelism and some do not. But God in His wisdom has still called all Christians to evangelize.

Thus, one of the marks of a Christian is a love for evangelism. If you are fearful, evangelism gives you the opportunity to trust God for courage. If you are timid, evangelism gives you an opportunity to trust God for confidence. Christians are slaves to Christ, soldiers in His service, and sons of God. Our master, our general, and our Father has given us our orders: to reach the lost with the hope of the gospel.

As Christians, we love what God loves, and God loves the lost. As we become more and more sanctified, we become more and more like Christ. This growth causes us to grow in our love for those
who are still God’s enemies.

wanna learn something new?

My father instilled in me at a very young age the importance of
learning.  And isn't there a saying about how we should learn something
new every day?

Well, I highly encourage you to hop over to SIMPLICITY and learn something new about these young warriors in Kenya.

Moran trainees, originally uploaded by Boyznberry.

google me this

I've seen versions of this meme on both Butterfly Kisses, MzEllen and Co. and Lux Venit recently, and thought I could play along.  It is a fun and simple meme where you google images for the answers to questions and then choose one of the images from the first page of results.  Wanna play along?  If so, consider yourself tagged. :)

1. age at next birthday:
yeah, the big three-oh is next year.


2. place i'd like to travel
Kora2  Korea1
Know where this is?  Korea!!  Korea has been on my to visit wish-list for a LONG time now.


3. favorite place


4. favorite things
my answer to this one was "people"  . . . I love spending my free time with people!


5. favorite food
Tex  Chicken
Thinking of cravings and not what's for dinner tonight . . . I'd have to go with tex-mex or chicken and dumplings--at least for today.


6. favorite color


7. favorite flower
Daisy_2 Sun
gotta love daisys and sunflowers!!  They just smile at you!


8. town you live in
Tai Nan
in case you didn't know, i now live in tainan city.


9. name of a past pet
Rolo   Candy
do you see a theme here?  growing up we had a dog named rolo and another named kandy.  we had other dogs with non-food names too . . .


10. nickname
sometimes my sister calls me minda.


11. college major
can you guess?  communication theory.  I loved it by the way!


12. first job
My first paid job besides babysitting was filing papers at an insurance company.  I had lots of paper cuts that summer. :)

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