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The Body Working Together

December 5, 2014

The past year was filled with celebration! In addition to Landis Homes celebrating 50 years of serving, the Adult Day Services program turned 25 and the Children’s Learning Center finished its first decade. Reflecting on this time of celebration, a verse from Ephesians 4 comes to mind  . “… from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.”

Looking back at the beginnings of Landis Homes, we are grateful for the foresight and careful planning by our founders, supported by Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM). Connections run deep with more than 100 EMM alumni residing at Landis Homes. In addition, more than 50 retired pastors and spouses from Lancaster Mennonite Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference reside here. These folks, along with those of many faith traditions, have certainly been a part of the “whole body” building up what exists today.

Many of you are playing a part. At the annual Fellowship Day in September, total donated funds to the Caring Fund through 16 benefit auctions, crossed the one million dollar mark. We also see the body growing together through the final stages of the South Campus as we welcome residents to new cottages and hybrid homes. Growing bodies also need to plan ahead and the Landis Homes Board is doing this through the Campus Master Plan, adding a new Learning & Wellness Center along with new apartments. You can read more about this effort on our website www.landishomes.org

The “whole body,” as referenced in Ephesians, also applies to Landis Communities, the umbrella organization supporting Landis Homes. The reach and size of Landis at Home and Adult Day Services continues to grow with credit going to hardworking team members. At Steeple View Lofts, a vibrant community is forming in walkable downtown Lancaster. At Welsh Mountain Home, we are putting the finishing touches on a wonderful new kitchen and dining room space and have broken ground on Mountain View Terrace apartments for those with very limited financial resources. Landis Communities continues to work with others seeking ways to provide the services and living arrangements for a wide spectrum of people in the region.

We ask for your thoughts and prayers in the year to come as we seek to fulfill our mission of “serving aging adults and their families by honoring and enriching their lives in a community of Christ-like love.”

With much gratitude,

John W. Eby, Board Chairperson

and Larry J. Zook, President/CEO


Reflections shared at Service of Thanksgiving and Light — November 6, 2014

November 12, 2014

The following comments were shared by Larry Zook during the Service of Thanksgiving & Light, as part of the conclusion of Landis Homes’ 50th anniversary celebrations.

Greetings and welcome to all gathered here as well as those watching throughout the campus. We come to this service of Thanksgiving and Light to do several things. First and foremost we are grateful to God for guidance over the years. We also honor those who have gone before us. This 50th anniversary year has provided us the opportunity to reflect on the story of God’s work among us, and I am deeply grateful for all those who had the foresight and wisdom to dream what would become this community today.

As Donna said so well in the opening prayer, we find ourselves now in “a community with layers and rings that connects us and all of creation together, fashioned through God’s love.” We are grateful for our founders, for the first residents who moved here in 1964 and all who have joined the community since then. We are grateful for each staff and volunteer team member who have served over the years or are now serving and are part of this community, and we are grateful for God’s beautiful creation that we are privileged to steward for a season, and for God’s provision over the years

Through the years, we can truly look to God and know for certain as the hymn writer penned, Great is Thy Faithfulness, O God our Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not, As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

On our beautiful campus in the restored floodplain we are blessed to have a beautiful sycamore tree which is over 300 years old. I am encouraged each time that I see the sycamore tree, recognizing that “summer and winter, and springtime and harvest, Sun, moon and stars in their courses above, Join with all nature in manifold witness To God’s great faithfulness, mercy and love.”

Just as God provided for the sycamore tree these past 300 years, God provides for us “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessings all ours, with ten thousand beside!”

One of these many blessings is the generosity of many in supporting Landis Homes, giving of their time, their talent, and their treasure. We are grateful to all who contributed this year toward the Leaman Woods Accessibility Project. As we move to keep this woodland as natural as possible, our hope is that all who wish to visit it and explore God’s creation can do so safely. Your contributions to the Luminary effort have both honored your loved ones as well as will provide many the opportunity enjoy God’s creation through the changing seasons in Leaman Woods.

I am also grateful to the choir for their songs they are singing this evening. These songs clearly connect with several of our key beliefs. Landis Homes is built on a very strong foundation and commitment to serving aging adults and their families by honoring and enriching their lives in a community of Christ-like love. In all we do, both in our daily efforts and our long-range goals, we seek to be a community that keeps Christ as the cornerstone of our efforts.

Finally, as we go throughout the rest of this service, I would ask for prayers of wisdom for the board and management of Landis Homes as we turn our focus to the decades to come. We want to be wise stewards of all God has entrusted to us and provide ways of living that are helpful to all who currently and will call this community home. Thank you very much!

– Larry Zook



Celebrating Strong Connections

November 1, 2014

It is remarkable to realize we are nearing the end of the Landis Homes 50th Anniversary year. From kick-off events in February through the book release in the summer to plans for our memorial Luminary Walk, November 6, it has been a time of remembering the past, thinking about the present and exploring the future.

Two programs playing important parts in the life of the community at 1001 East Oregon Road are also celebrating milestone anniversaries. The Children’s Learning  Center at Landis Homes turns 10 this year. For a decade, not only has this program been providing high quality child care and education, but it has created significant  intergenerational connections benefiting residents of Landis Homes as well as the children. Weekly, CLC students have chances to play and learn together with residents. In a  culture where more and more children and  grandparents do not reside in the same area,  we feel these connections are very important  for everyone involved.

The second program celebrating a milestone  in 2014 is the Adult Day Services program  at Landis Homes. Begun 25 years ago,  this important service has expanded to  two locations on campus and recently has  experienced strong participation, though  we encourage anyone with interest to check  in about availability. By providing a safe and secure place, Adult Day Services allows  clients to live with their families longer and  gives them enjoyable, meaningful activities. Clients come from across Lancaster County,  particularly for the Eden East Center which  serves those with memory loss.

These programs exemplify our belief that if  organizations are to remain strong and vital,  they need to both do what they are doing  well and plan for changing times. The 2011  creation of Landis Communities aimed to do that and today it is exciting to see the growing  interconnectedness between parts of the  organization.

One example is Landis At Home. This  home-care program not only serves people on the campus of Landis Homes and the surrounding area, they also work closely with  Steeple View Lofts, Welsh Mountain Home,  and soon, Mountain View Terrace, to see if  their expertise could help residents in each place stay where they feel most at home.

Interconnectedness is also happening between the rental apartments at Steeple View Lofts and Landis Homes. A number of people who plan to come to Landis Homes in the  future are choosing to live at Steeple View  Lofts until the apartment they choose is built,  or they feel the time is right to move to the  retirement community.

All of these interconnections among the Landis Communities family of organizations help the whole become stronger. From the 23  people served in 1964 to the approximately  1,300 today, Landis Homes, and the whole  of Landis Communities, continue to strive to  carry out the mission  present since the  beginning of the  organization. We ask
for your prayers and  continued support.

Adult Day Services at Landis Homes Celebrates 25th Anniversary

August 18, 2014

by Larry Zook, President/CEO, Landis Communities/Landis Homes

The following comments were shared at the 25th Anniversary celebration on August 15, 2014.  Learn more about Adult Day Services at  https://www.landishomes.org/Home/Sections/Community_Services/Adult_Day_Services

Landis Homes’ dream of providing services for people wishing to remain at home was realized first in 1989 with the creation of Eden West Adult Day Services (ADS).

In a sense, it is this same dream that caused Landis Homes to create Landis Communities in September 2011 to be an umbrella organization over Landis Homes and other new ventures that support persons in living where they wish to live.

 The idea for Landis Communities goes back to 2008, when the Landis Homes Board of Directors and Management Team entered into a time of strategic planning guided by Mennonite Health Services.  We talked with 150 different stakeholders including residents, team members, business partners, church leaders, and other friends of Landis Homes. The stakeholders were asked four questions as part of this “Appreciative Inquiry,” including:   

  1. What do you see as core strengths of Landis Homes’ culture, services, and staff?
  2. What unique opportunities for enriching Landis Homes’ services do you see?
  3. What might be new opportunities or unmet needs in the larger community that Landis Homes should consider?
  4. As you think about your future as an older adult, are there ways we should explore that would serve you as a consumer?

When the board got the responses, several concerns clearly rose to the top: How can we be more involved in the larger Lancaster community? What can we do for people who choose not to live in a retirement community setting? What about people who may not be able to afford to live in a retirement community?

Considering these questions, the board saw the need to serve a broader spectrum of people, including those of varying financial situations. The result was the formation of Landis Communities, with the mission of “Following God’s call to creatively serve the diverse needs and interests of older adults by developing opportunities and collaborative relationships.”

Besides keeping Landis Homes strong and vital, the new organization is committed to providing a number of affordable living options for retirees in the surrounding community, serving persons in their homes, and developing creative partnerships in support of this mission.

Adult Day Services at Landis Homes, both the Eden West and Eden East centers, clearly align with this mission, and I am deeply grateful to each person who attends Adult Day Services and to each ADS staff member, along with the Office of Aging and other supporters of ADS, for your part in this service to the community.  Thank you!

Celebrating & Planning for the Future

July 17, 2014

by Larry Zook, President/CEO

Celebrating 50 years at Landis Homes provides us the opportunity to look back and see how the campus has changed. A time-lapse photo of campus would show changes brought on by demand for additional living options and settings for care. The only constant over this time has been thoughtful, well-planned change!

At Landis Homes, the Board of Directors guides these changes with a cycle of listening, trend watching and analysis leading to the creation of a strategic plan and campus master plan. The most recent version of the campus master plan was adopted by Board action on May 27, 2014. It sets the tone for the next five to eight years. It will help us transform the campus to reflect 21st century expectations, anticipate future utilization and
support the integrated, seamless delivery of services to the community. It gives Landis Homes the chance to provide needed space for Learning and Wellness activities, Pathways Institute classes, and expanded parking among other things.

As with anything new, there are questions and concerns. While the plan culminates with additional apartments and parking, it also necessitates development where there are now some older cottages. While we don’t make a habit of removing cottages, we do know desires are changing. As many as threequarters of potential residents desire a home with more than one bedroom whether it be one bedroom with den or two bedrooms.

Many are also looking for more than one bathroom as well. Currently, only about 18 percent of our apartments have 2 bedrooms. One danger of not moving ahead with this is having a large supply of one and two bedroom cottages too small to be marketable. After the planned change, we will still have many smaller, more affordable apartments and cottages.

Frequent updates and resident involvement are critical to successful implementation of this campus master plan. There will be numerous times of sharing where plans are presented and residents and staff will be given opportunity to share their thinking along the way. We will ensure the information process is shared broadly through the community, and communication will come in printed form, on digital platforms and in person.

Regular updates will also be provided in resident and staff meetings. An image of the Master Plan and Frequently Asked Questions are available on our website at Campus Master Plan Update. Please be in prayer for all those involved in this process. If you would like to share your thoughts and ideas, they can be sent to CampusPlan@landishomes.org or you can speak with anyone on the Management Team.

Corn Kernels Have Mighty Potential! — Meditation by Rachel Thomas Pellman

May 30, 2014

The Landis Homes Board of Directors begins each meeting with a meditation and prayer. In this blog I share a meditation by Board Member Rachel Thomas Pellman at the start of the May 27, 2014 Board Meeting.

In addition to the “Corn Kernels Have Mighty Potential” mnemonic that is described in the below meditation, several years ago Rachel also suggested the phrase, “Jesus Christ In Street Clothes”, as a way to assist recall of our guiding values, “Joy, Compassion, Integrity, Stewardship, and Community.” I am grateful for the creativity and wisdom of Landis Homes Board members over the years!

When there is something I want to keep in the memory bank of my head, these days I often create a reminder. I have one of those this morning. It goes like this: Corn Kernels Hold Mighty Potential.

It’s true!! Corn kernels are amazing little powerhouses of promise. I did a little research on corn. Each kernel, when planted, will yield a stalk of corn. A stalk will grow 1 large ear, and sometimes a second smaller ear. An ear of corn, growing in good conditions without pests or disease, will have about 700-800 kernels.

All that is to say, there is truth in the statement, Corn Kernels Hold Mighty Potential. But the reason I’m using that phrase this morning is that I’m hoping it will help us to remember something. The thing to remember comes from Colossians 3, verse 12 which reads, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Meekness, and Patience.” It was hard for me to remember what I should be clothed with, until I gave it a sentence. Corn (compassion), Kernels (kindness), Hold (humility), Mighty (meekness), Potential (patience). It worked for me. I can now say the phrase and come up with the attributes with which I am to be clothed. And I’ll be the first to admit, it’s easier to say it than to practice what it means.

Paul is writing to the Colossian church. It is significant that he addresses the people, in the beginning of verse 12, as “God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved.” This is important because the Colossian church included Gentiles. The words, chosen, holy, and beloved were words that had traditionally been used to describe Jews. Paul uses them now to include Gentiles. Gentiles had a history of being treated as second rate individuals. It wasn’t always clear that Gentiles were “good enough” to be included with Jews as part of the church. The Colossian church would certainly have noted this inclusion. It was a note to them to avoid prejudice and a reminder that all are invited in God’s kingdom.

Paul gives instructions in this passage about what we are to put on. Perhaps Paul used the analogy of getting dressed because he knew it had to be done each day. Each day we need to make an effort to clothe ourselves in these attributes.

How might it change us and our working relationships if we make a conscious effort, each day, to clothe ourselves in compassion?  Compassion is emotional in nature, and some people seem to be innately more gifted than others in being able to feel what others are feeling. And yet, we all can make a choice to be compassionate, for it is really, I think, a choice to live by the golden rule which asks us simply to do unto others as we would like them to do to us. Every day, clothe yourself with compassion.

Next is Kindness:  Wayne Blank says that, the origin of the word is from the Saxon word kind which means family, or child, as in kin, or kindred. So – translated literaly, Kindness means being gentle and caring, as with a child, or with family.”

Think about being gentle and caring, as with a child. With children we listen without judgment. We want to see the world through their eyes. We want to imagine with them. Kindness does what it can to help others to grow and develop.  Every day, put on kindness.

Next on the list is humility.  It seems hard to talk about because too often we think of humility as putting ourselves down. At its best, humility gives us the ability to see ourselves honestly and clearly, and to channel our God given gifts to benefit others rather than just ourselves.   Humility is a gift to be desired and developed. It makes us more, not less effective as we relate to each other. Every day, put on humility.

Meekness.  If I were to draw a picture of meekness it would be tiny. The sound it would make would be sqeaky and slight. Its posture would be bent. But that might be a skewed image.
Meekness is a choice to be, as wikepedia suggests, “God fearing, righteous, teachable, patient under suffering.”   Meekness might not be the easiest character trait to develop, but as I think about it, it is something I love in a friend. A meek person is strong, but open to learning, sensitive and feeling, but not overcome by difficulty, a person who turns to God for strength and sustenance, knowing God will be there, but not expecting God to turn everything to roses. Every day, put on meekness.

And then there is patience!   A dictionary definition of patience says it is, “..the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain”….and now here comes the very hard part….”without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.”    I don’t believe that means I can’t express myself. There are many examples in the Bible where great persons of faith cry out to God when they feel alone, sad, overlooked. Jesus himself gets close to a complaint when he cries, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” Patience, I think, must involve the practice of accepting what is before me, moment by moment. So much of rushing has to do with being concerned about what I need to do next, or what I’m not doing if I’m waiting. If I can learn to live in the present moment, to be grateful for what is happening right now, that will exhibit itself as patience.

We’ve had compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. We are now fully dressed. But we won’t all look alike. Some of us will where bright colors, others more subdued. These attributes will look different practiced by different people. In the same way that clothing is individual and distinctive; our practice of living out God’s mandate will vary for each of us.

Being so well dressed, in compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, we might think we’re ready to step out. But, in verse 14 Paul adds, “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Above all. Love is the key to making this all work. There is a story of a little boy who was asked by his teacher to describe salt. Thinking for a minute he said, “Salt is what spoils the potatoes when you leave it out.” Love is like that. It will spoil the outfit if we leave it out.

As we look ahead, we need to remember that we are planting seeds for the future. Each of us should be dressed appropriately as we try to embody the values God wants for us and for Landis Homes. I hope we can remember that great things come from very small seeds. Corn kernels have mighty potential!!


Celebrating New Life

May 9, 2014

By Larry J. Zook, President/CEO

After a seemingly endless winter, spring has finally come and with it the joy of new life. Not only do we see this in our courtyards gardens and floodplain, we can see it within Landis Homes itself.

For the first time since 2008, Landis Homes has embarked on a strategic planning process. We have engaged the services of CliftonLarsonAllen to guide a process of listening, talking and envisioning what the future will bring. Just as the 2008 process
guided our work in the intervening years, I am excited about this “new life” being birthed. We anticipate sharing more on this planning process in the months to come.

In addition to the celebration of our 50th Anniversary, one bright spot this winter has been the ongoing recognitions the organization received. Strong state survey results across all parts of Landis Homes attest to team members serving residents and clients well. In addition, the Resident Satisfaction Survey gave team members much affirmation for their efforts along with helping us see places to keep improving.

The Hybrid Homes were honored with a Gold Achievement Award in the Best of 50+Housing in Recognition of Sustainable Features at the National Association of Home Builders convention. The project was also recognized with an Innovation Award. In addition, the Floodplain Restoration project was selected  Sustainable Site of the Year at the 2014 Forever Green Awards sponsored by US Green Building Council, Central PA Chapter.

Other parts of Landis Communities are also experiencing the newness of spring. Steeple View Lofts was awarded a Leadership Award by Envision Lancaster County in the area of Sustainable Growth. Welsh Mountain Home is anticipating breaking ground on a new kitchen and dining area project as well as on 36 Low Income Housing apartments.

May you feel God’s presence as you celebrate the gift of life this spring!

China Update

March 12, 2014

It is now almost two years since Mennonite Partners in China (MPC) Director Myrrl Byler in April 2012 first suggested collaboration between Christians in the US and China who share a mission to create communities for seniors.  MPC is a joint effort of groups like Eastern Mennonite Missions, Mennonite Central Committee, and others.

The first step in exploration of this opportunity was a November 2012 10-day visit by Ron Yoder and myself to China, which included a 2 ½ day seminar for over 30 pastors and church workers from across China on leadership and operation of retirement communities.  We also travelled to several different cities to visit church leaders who have either opened or plan to open retirement homes.

Landis Homes residents generously supported the November 2012 visit through a Sunday morning offering and other contributions.  Funds given beyond the expenses of the November 2012 visit were to be used for future collaboration work, and supported activity throughout 2013.

In November 2013, the International Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, of which Landis Homes is a member through our membership in the United States branch of IAHSA, LeadingAge, held its biennial conference in Shanghai, China, which I attended as well, instead of attending the national 2013 LeadingAge Conference in Dallas, TX.  Members of the China Christian Council also attended the IAHSA Conference in Shanghai, and it provided opportunity to plan future training opportunities.

Later in 2013 after the IAHSA Conference, another gathering of more than 60 church and retirement home leaders from across China was held in Nanjing and several staff from Mennonite Health Services helped lead this gathering.   One of the outcomes of that gathering was a commitment to form an alliance of Christian retirement homes across China similar to the Mennonite Health Services Alliance in the United States.

Another outcome of the November 2012 meetings that Ron Yoder and I participated in was the visit in early March 2014 by a delegation of pastors and retirement home leaders from China to the United States in conjunction with the Mennonite Health Assembly held in Kansas City, Missouri.  Ron Yoder, who in 2013 retired from his CEO role at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community to become Director of International Relations for Mennonite Health Services, hosted the group in the United States.  It was a joy to join Ron in welcoming the group to the United States since we had met them in China at the Harbin training event in November 2012.

We continue to keep abreast of the work in China, and are very encouraged to see the way that God is working in the church to both meet the needs of aging adults in China, as well as to spread the good news of Jesus Christ through these ministries.


Looking Back & Looking Forward

March 12, 2014

February 18, 2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of Superintendent and Matron George and Grace Leaman welcoming Henry and Mary Weber as the first residents of Landis Homes. Over the past 50 years more than 3000 people also became residents. As Frank Enck, one of the founders challenged from the beginning, Landis Homes continues to seek “to honor and enrich the lives of aging adults and families in a community of Christ-like love.”

2014 also marks the 20th anniversary of my joining the team at Landis Homes, and the seventh anniversary of my appointment as President. Over these years I have been influenced by, and developed deep appreciation for, many residents and staff and volunteer team members who live our guiding values of Joy, Compassion, Integrity, Stewardship and Community through ‘Serving one Another.’

As we prepare to celebrate our 50th Anniversary, I believe it is helpful not only to remember back to God’s work among us these past 50 years, but also to look forward to the future as well. I’m reminded of comments made by founder Orie Miller at the first meeting of the Retirement Home Planning Group in November 1961. He asked, “For what is God giving us these additional years?” He answered his own question: “Certainly for a purpose, and youth and old age together should find ways to make these extended years meaningful.”

We are a community both where team members seek to serve residents well, and a community of residents who are actively serving others. This sense of being a serving community is reflected in the active involvement of many residents who are serving both as volunteers here at Landis Homes and in the broader community. Over the years, Landis Homes residents have also demonstrated support for Landis Homes serving beyond the residential community. Our first Adult Day Services program opened 25 years ago in 1989, the Children’s Learning Center 10 years ago in 2004, and Landis at Home seven years ago in 2007. Our swimming pool serves the broader community as we offer exercise and therapy classes, and we offer various support groups and the Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning as well.

In 2011, Landis Homes created Landis Communities to support the on-going vitality and strength of Landis Homes, as well as to explore new options of affordable living and providing services at home, while being open to creatively partnering with others. In 2013, Welsh Mountain Home affiliated with Landis Communities and Steeple View Lofts opened in downtown Lancaster.

As the founders of Landis Homes did 50 years ago, we today prayerfully seek God’s direction for the future, and eagerly anticipate continuing to find ways to seek to make these extended years meaningful. Thank you for choosing to be part of this journey within the community at Landis Homes and beyond.


Following God’s Leading

March 12, 2014

Sharing the below letter from John W Eby, Board Chair of Landis Homes, and Larry Zook, President/CEO, that introduced the 2013 Landis Homes Annual Report.  The entire annual report is online at 2013 Annual Report

The 23rd Psalm closes with an embracing of the wonder of God’s promise. “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” This scripture fits well with Landis Homes’ experiences in 2013. We will celebrate our 50th anniversary in February 2014, along with other commemorative events throughout the year. Looking back we see clearly God’s goodness and love following along the history of our organization.

We are grateful to end the year with very strong occupancy and with additional housing under construction, all of which is under reservation. The new cottage homes are finished and two new hybrid home buildings are rapidly taking shape. We are also grateful for the hard work of team members who implemented a new computer system designed not only to streamline work for those entering clinical, financial and other data, but to allow for interconnectivity with hospitals and other providers.

The Psalm also mentions “green pastures” and “quiet waters,” both of which are present on our campus in new ways thanks to the floodplain restoration project. More than 25,000 plugs of grasses, along with trees and shrubs, have transformed Kurtz Run into a place where God’s creation is on display in new ways.

We sense God’s leading as well within the larger Landis Communities organization. This year saw the opening of Steeple View Lofts, containing 36 rental apartments in Downtown Lancaster.

The growing community developing between residents, as well as with Miesse Candies and Friendship Heart Gallery, is wonderful. Welsh Mountain Home is also experiencing new paths.  A very generous benefactor has made it possible for the organization to plan a new kitchen, dining room and gathering space. In addition, approval was granted for a new project called Mountain View Terrace, which will provide needed housing for those with very few financial resources.

As we close this year, we experience blessings in many ways. We are most blessed by knowing others are supporting us in our work to be “Leaders in Serving” and living out our guiding values of Joy, Compassion, Integrity, Stewardship and Community each day. May you sense God’s leading in your lives in the year to come.

With much gratitude,

John W. Eby                               Larry J. Zook
Board Chairperson                      President/CEO

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