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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Friday, February 26, 2010


This morning, all the trees in the forest stand with their arms extended, bearing grace. Some will look and not see grace, because the blessing is in the form of snow. Some will think, “But its cold and heavy. It pushes the branches down, and may permanently change the shape of young trees and even break old branches.”

All of that is true. The snow does have the potential to change the trees. Young saplings may indeed be modified by the weight on their branches, and some boughs that are old and tired or even dead but still hanging on may be brought down.

Yet, it is all a blessing, for in this way the forest is tested, modified and pruned. Then, the snow falls to the ground and provides protection for the roots. Eventually it melts and provides life giving nourishment to the tree. Our world is like that.

We are like those trees. Life’s cold winds and the accumulating years can often lay burdens in our arms that may seem cold, harsh and heavy to bear. The load will stretch and reshape us, and there is even a chance that we may break under its weight.

Life’s problems will definitely change us. Is it possible that those challenges are really an unrecognized form of grace?

Posted by Carman

Thursday, February 25, 2010


OK, so here's the response to the "Yes, but..." that many of you were thinking after you read yesterday's Perfect blog!Surely you can't expect me to be perfect! Nobody's perfect.

Recently I've had the opportunity to speak with many pastors about the potential in their people, some young people, some not so young. And very often the question is about whether or not the person in question is ready or not for the job, the priesthood call, the responsibility, whatever. How do you tell if someone is ready?

Pastors, by their very nature, tend to be very caring people, "pastoral" you might say. They often would rather just keep piling work on themselves rather than burden someone else, especially someone who might not be ready for the task at hand.

So I ask, who is ever totally and completely ready for anything? Who is ready to start this job? to be a parent? to step before this audience? to write this book, or blog, or sermon? But you need to step into the future and get the experience and maybe some day in the future you'll be ready. But then, the call will come for some newer bigger challenge. It's how life works.

If you are a pastor or a leader just now, look around at who might someday be ready, make the call and then stand by to mentor and support but also be prepared to let them go and do the job. They might be more ready than you imagined.

Posted by Marion

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Those of you following the Olympics have been hearing this word quite a lot over the past several days. Whether it's applied to the winning routine of Canada's young ice dancers, or the impossible twisting aerial flip of the snow boarder. I've even applied it to the perfect placement of that granite rock into the curling rings!

Perfect! exclaims the expert commentator and the totally unknowledgable spectators cheer their agreement. It's right there for all to see, perfection.

And then we spend long minutes, hours, days talking about what made "it" perfect. Because it isn't a single thing It's the coming together of many things: natural ability, determination, practice, excellent coaching, dedicated support, incredible coincidences, stubborn determination, self-control, capacity for focus, mental, emotional as well as physical strength. So many things.

Then I ask myself, where in my life do I strive for perfection? What is it that I'm working towards with anything like the intensity and dedication that might yield a perfect score?

Be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matt 5:48

I think it has much to do with setting goals. In what element of my life or work or relationships do I want to focus my energies? Because I really don't think I'll get there without that kind of start, the first step. Whether it's a perfect inside back death spiral, or an engaging scripture-based sermon or maybe even a genuine atmosphere of hospitality in my congregation, it all starts with deciding to do what it takes to get it right, not to give up just because I've crashed into the boards for the fortieth time.

One thing I learn from Olympic games is that perfect can look so, so different--a bull's eye, a slap shot or seven one hundredths of a second. Just depends what you set out to do. Where is your call to perfection?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Last Sunday afternoon I spent a couple of wonderful hours with my youngest son, Dan, listening to an incredible collection of guitarists and other musicians playing a 2007 benefit concert for the Crossroads Centre in Antigua. Crossroads is a premier centre for the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction established by the legendary Eric Clapton following his own struggles with those elements.

Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Buddy Guy, John Mayer, Robbie Robertson, Doyle Bramhall II, Susan Tedeschi, Jeff Beck, Cheryl Crow, Johnny Winter B.B. King, Willie Nelson...the list goes on and on. These are the best of the best. It was as close to musical heaven as a non-musician like me is ever likely to get.

Beyond the incredible music, what impressed me is the fact that all of these people came together for a benefit concert. It was the willingness of this group to give their music away for the benefit of others that I find positively inspiring. Each one has spent years and years practicing and practicing to become great at what they do, and then they give it away for free for the benefit of a bunch of drug addicts and alcoholics! In that incredible gift, I find evidence of divinity.


Posted by Carman

Monday, February 22, 2010


There is something magical about music. Not only does it have the power to sooth the savage beast, but some believe it has the power to change the world. It certainly has the ability to change hearts and minds, and make the world better.

Last evening, I heard part of a radio documentary on the music and life of Elvis Presley. According to that broadcast, ‘the king’ often experienced periods of unhappiness, especially when faced with unfair criticism as all high profile people are. On such occasions he turned increasingly toward gospel music.

A member of his back-up band, the Jordanaires, talked about Presley’s recording of How Great Thou Art. He said that Elvis poured everything he had into that song, and at the end of it, he fell to one knee in the studio. His face was white with exertion, but there appeared a little smile on his face. He knew he had done something great musically and was once again at peace.

I could cite many examples of music creating change at both a personal and international level, but perhaps another day. Consider this my attempt at brevity.

Has music changed your world?

Posted by Carman

Friday, February 19, 2010


Ladies and gentlemen, I'm going to tell you something that may be difficult to hear. The meaning of the word peruse is "to read carefully, in detail; to examine closely"!

It's the one word that is almost always used incorrectly; in fact it's almost always used to mean the exact opposite of what it really means! Folks will say "Oh I just had time to peruse it" meaning, they just skimmed it, didn't really take much time at all, took a cursory glance at.

It comes from the middle English word that means "to use up, to consume totally, leaving nothing behind, all gone, every jott and tittle, every last little crumb..." Well maybe not all those words; I might have got a little carried away. But you get the idea.

I looked at several sources. They all agree. It means "examine carefully, read with close attention to every detail."

Now what are we going to do with this bit of information? Are we going to change our ways? or are we going to use a different word? I'll be listening.

Posted by Marion (ex English teacher)

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Yesterday’s mail brought one of the most startling letters I can recall receiving. It is a letter from President Stephen Veazey to our pastors and leaders calling the church to prayer. Receiving such a letter is not surprising. What astonished me is the letter’s boldness. It is a boldness born of a deep conviction of the call of God to us individually and to the church. I quote in part below.

“God is calling the church to engage in spiritual transformation that will give birth to the future of the church and God’s peaceable reign on earth. Starting today, I invite you to join with the World Church Leadership Council each day in intentional prayer for World Conference, April 10-17. As members worldwide open themselves to the Holy Spirit, we will join our hearts and minds with God’s will for us individually as disciple of Jesus Christ and corporately as God’s agents of peace in the world.

I’m asking you as a Community of Christ leader, to call your congregation to daily prayer and to spiritual practices that lead to discernment as an important aspect of being a prophetic people. As we join in prayer and discernment, God will be in our midst; and we will better understand where God is leading us at this vital time for the church.”

This request itself is not new. President Veazey issued his call to prayer and discernment when he gave us the Counsel to the Church on January 17. Since that time we have been talking in this blog and other places, about the need to “go deeper” in our prayer and discernment activities. Sunday, February 21 has been designated as a day of prayer and fasting for World Conference. It is time for all of us to take this seriously.

For a copy of the entire text of this letter, please see your pastor.

Posted by Carman

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


There is a lot of uncharacteristic Canadian excitement at the moment. It is all about the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. People are glued to their TV’s watching mogul skiing, speed skating, figure skating, and the awarding of medals. They check their computers for the latest results on curling and sports they probably never thought much about before. Now both women’s and men’s hockey has started, and the excitement is growing to fever pitch.

In the midst of all this amazing energy, I have found myself wondering what would happen if we each had that kind of passion for the ministry of the church. We may be about to find out.

In the past week, I have had two remarkable meeting with people in an effort to recruit them to volunteer ministry. In both cases, I was amazed to discover a level of passion for God and excitement to serve that I had not previously known they had, at least not to that degree. They were honoured to be asked, thrilled to be considered, and anxious to get started. And the best part is that for all of these people, the excitement grew out of their love for God. It was not about ego or to somehow become a public figure. It was about a chance to do something for God and make a difference in the lives of people they do not even know yet. They have true passion.

That’s the spirit we need! Do you have it?

Posted by Carman

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


One thing I’ve noticed lately is that both Carman and I have been getting more and more wordy. So today I’m resolved to keep my message short!

I’ve often quoted someone (a quotation variously attributed: Mark Twain, Proust, Pliny the Younger, Winston Churchill) who wrote “I’m sorry this letter is so long; I didn’t have time to write a short one!”

All really good writers truly appreciate a good editor, whose job is to ensure the message is polished to the most concise way of making a clear statement.

I beg your forgiveness for the times I’ve rambled and failed to clearly and concisely convey my thought. And now that you are finished reading, have a nice long good day.

Posted by Marion

Monday, February 15, 2010


Do you ever wonder about the juxtaposition of words, events or ideas that sometimes seem to come together in surprising ways? Often it is the fact that they all ocurr at or near the same time that surprises us. Is this just coincidence or is something else going on? Here are a few recent and wierd examples that have happened around this Blog.

Last Wednesday, Marion posted a piece on What’s the Good Word entitled Infrastructure. At our staff meeting that day, we had a presentation on a new phone system for our offices, and discussions regarding how we handle our garbage, recycling, etc. In short, most of that meeting was about infrastructure! A little surprising, but no big deal.

On Thursday, I posted a piece entitled Deeper. It was a reflection on verse 3 of President Veazey’s Counsel to the Church, and how this portion calls us to go deeper in our discipleship. On the way home, I stopped by the post office and found the February Herald waiting there. On the Up Front page of this issue is President Becky Savage with an article entitled Called to Go Deeper. What is going on here?

Early Thursday morning, I was thinking about all this synchronicity, and wondered what surprises might be in store on that day. I went downstairs to the treadmill, and to make my workout time go faster, I turned on the TV which happened to be tuned to MuchMusic or some such station. A medley of songs played including one about bones, followed immediately by a song entitled Skeleton. Then in the afternoon, Marion prepared a blog post for Friday…you guessed it…entitled Skeleton! Okay, this is getting weird! Believe me, we had not talked about this.

So here are my questions about all of this. (I will tell you right up front, I don’t have any answers.) Is all of this just a series of coincidences or is there something else going on? Are we each picking up ideas that, for some unknown reason, are dominant right now in the energetic matrix? Do we each unknowingly respond or give expression to those in our own way and then discover other people are doing the same thing?

And here’s another thought. Do such parallel events just happen on some days but not others? If so, why? Or is it that they happen all the time but we are often so preoccupied with other things that we don’t notice?

So how about you? Are there any remarkably synchronistic events going on in your life at the moment? Is it coincidence or is something else going on?

Posted by Carman

Friday, February 12, 2010


I’m listening to the news and I’m hearing the word skeleton. Is this a good word for today or not, I ask myself. But I’m hearing it again! Is this an omen? So I start to explore the ideas the news people are putting out there.

It seems Canadians are leaders in the sporting world of skeleton racing. It all started at the Calgary Olympics years ago—hurtling headlong and head first down an icy track on a tiny piece of equipment guaranteed to result in death or dismemberment if not managed exactly right. It seems the Germans have found a way to make the sled (if that’s the correct term) even faster and more lethal by adding a magnet to the thing. And the Canadians are protesting. After all, skeleton is one of those events Canadians are expecting to win gold!

Then I hear another skeleton story. Hot young politician turns out to have skeletons in his closet and must pull out of mayoralty race. Now everyone is trying to decide if he can still run the transit system when he’s confessed to cheating on his girlfriend, etc. etc. etc. Questions of integrity and transparency, of authenticity and playing by the rules arise. One of the commenters suggested he’s just human and all humans have skeletons and we should cut them some slack. And besides, it’s politics and it’s all just a game.

By this time I have myself in a real knot. Am I talking about games or about life? What are the important questions here? What are the universal principles that apply? And how willing am I to engage in this discussion?

Are there any enduring principles to be pulled out of these two skeleton stories? What matters most?

Posted by Marion

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Verse 3 of President Veazey’s January 17, 2010 Counsel to the Church is a call to each of us to go deeper.

3 a. All church members are urged to examine the depth of your baptismal commitment. Having been baptized and confirmed, become fully immersed in the servant life of Christ.
b. Live the meaning of your baptism daily as you grow in the skills and qualities of discipleship. Actively and generously support the ministries of the church, which was divinely established to restore Christ’s covenant of peace, even the Zion of your hopes.
c. The Eternal Christ invites those who have yet to experience the blessings of baptism to “Follow me in the way of righteousness and peace.” Be baptized of water and the Spirit and discover your spiritual home as a fully functioning member of the body.

Examine the depth, become fully immersed, live the meaning, grow in skills and qualities; these are among the key words and phrases that call to us as followers of Jesus. It is an interesting series of verbs, isn’t it? The order of their expression suggests a nice progression in our discipleship.

The first step is to examine our commitment. How deep is it? What does it mean? How serious are we about it? And so on. In other words, we are invited to take a good look at ourselves from the inside out.

The second step outlined is to become fully immersed in the servant life of Christ. To become fully immersed does not suggest that we test the water by sticking our toe in. On the contrary, it suggests we get right in over our head! It suggests we really need to be fully engaged.

Step three in this progression is to live the meaning of our baptism daily. Having examined ourselves and committed to the process, live it out! Live it every day! This one rather reminds me of the old Nike slogan, Just Do It!

The fourth step is to be done in conjunction with the third; grow in skills and qualities. As most of us have learned already, thinking, deciding, and attempting are not enough. We also have to learn and grow. It is necessary to progress in our learning, to learn from our mistakes and to become better at what we do. It is a critically important part of the process.

The challenge in all of this, of course, is that reading this list of words and phrases is not enough; we have to do them! If we accept the challenge, we can grow in our discipleship, become more effective disciples of Jesus, and make a difference in the world. If we don’t, they are just nice words and phrases.

We are called to go deeper. Are you ready?

Posted by Carman

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


There has been a large crew of workers outside my office window over the last few weeks. This week they're installing new utility poles and hoisting up huge reels of cable. Up and down the streets other equipment and workers are digging holes, doing some kind of underground exploratory work. We've been warned that this is just the beginning of a major overhaul of this whole street!

In fact, there is so much infrastructure work planned in this town that wise thinkers at city hall have also instituted a publicity campaign to "placate the masses" and we are also seeing and hearing the slogan It Will Be Worth It in ads, print and broadcast. It's pretty easy to understand; planners realize there's going to be lots of discomfort and inconvenience for several months, maybe years, while we're working on our infrastructure.

We've come to a point in this city, and apparently many others, where the original work done down there under the streets, mostly unseen but really, really important to our smootly functioning lives, needs attention. It might need to be pulled up and totally redone. Hopefully improved materials and technology will make things even better.

What has this to do with our faith story, our congregational life? I know there have been times in my life I wondered if the struggle, the not knowing, the hard questions have made me feel really uncomfortable. I've wished I could just avoid all this "digging" I seemed to have been forced to do. I've wondered if it really was worth it.

But apparently, that's just the way life works. Every so often I get pushed to take a hard look at the foundations of my life and my faith. I spend a few hours, or days or years digging in the basement. And now, having lived through many of those life renovation projects I must say "It IS worth it."

If you're contemplating or in the middle of your own faith infrastructure project, I say Hang in! Keep struggling! It will be worth it.

Posted by Marion

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Peace Prayer

Many congregations have established a "peace candle" tradition. Most have been lighting their candle and offering a prayer for peace every Sunday for years and years. It's one of the ways they stay connected to the Temple and the Daily Prayer for Peace that happens there every day at one o'clock, central time.

Corinth and Windsor come to mind. I've often been there and appreciated the prayers they offer as they turn attention to Lesotho or Qatar or Lebanon or India. (There are others I know. Send me a note if you're part of this group.)

If you haven't looked at this lately, check out the link to the World Church website here for resources you can incorporate into your worship experience. It might be a tradition you'd like to revive as we approach 2010 World Conference, or as we're thinking of our global brothers and sisters in community.

If you want an even greater connection, why not consider writing a prayer for peace. Daily prayers are created by people from around the church and used in the Temple service. If you or someone you know has this gift, send them to that same link for information about how to submit your prayer.

Be part of this global phenomenon, our church praying daily for peace in the world! And be sure to let us know when your prayer is accepted so we can put it into What's the Good Word.

Posted by Marion

Monday, February 8, 2010


"All who actively engaged in prayer, discussion, and discernment about important issues in the church’s life are commended for your faithful response. Your disciplined effort to open your lives more fully to God’s Spirit in response to the call to be a prophetic people has become a blessing to the entire church. Your spiritual yearning for light and truth has created a favorable environment for the Spirit’s movement to provide inspired counsel as authoritative guidance for the church."

I dropped in on our Proton congregation yesterday. It was such a glorious, sunny morning when I awoke, it seemed like a great day for a drive into snow country. I was right!

Beautiful snow-covered fields, sparkling ice-frosted trees, clear blue cloudless skies accompanied the whole drive, right to the door of our pretty little rural Proton church. The door opened into a bright foyer, thanks to the sun through their stained glass south-east window. Coffee was on; Peggy's eggy muffins were hot from the oven. Hugs and hospitality everflowed.

Guests (who'd been invited by someone) were introduced and about fifteen of us settled down to discuss and discern about the Words of Counsel to the church.

Questions, opinions, perspectives flowed freely. Scriptures were explored, testimonies shared. "What does it mean to open our lives?" "How can our rural Ontario story mesh with other global stories?" Wisdom and insight was evident around that circle. It was a blessing for us all to be there.

And we noted the truth in the statement that a favourable environment is created for the Spirit to move when we are open to, and yearning for, new light and truth.

Thanks to all the Proton folk who enjoy that good spirit in their gathering and in their living. I've only shared a tiny bit of my experience there; maybe I'll share more in future posts.

Posted by Marion

Friday, February 5, 2010


“The challenges and opportunities are momentous. Will you remain hesitant in the shadows of your fears, insecurities, and competing loyalties? Or will you move forward in the light of your divinely instilled call and vision?” (January 17, 2010 Counsel to the Church, verse 9e)

There is something very encouraging in the last sentence of the above quote; “Or will you move forward in the light of your divinely instilled call and vision?”

For me, a vision of greatness for our congregations and for Canada East Mission is never really a problem. Sensing who we are called to be and what we need to do is not difficult. Ideas often bubble up freely, and it is easy for me to feel inspired by the excitement of the challenge. But still, there is always the nagging wonder if this is really the right path. Call it self-doubt or sober second thought, but I always have to ask myself, is this really what God would have us do, or is this just me?

Don’t misunderstand, I firmly believe this kind of self-questioning is a good thing, and getting feedback or support from others is critically important. One does not want to be deluded with arrogance or carried away with ideas that are misguided. Careful examination of one’s ideas along with thoughtful and prayerful reflection is time very well spent. Still, the doubts often remain.

Having spent time over the past couple of weeks in careful reflection on the words of Counsel to the Church (as you probably have), I have come to value a great many of its words and phrases. It was not until yesterday, however, that the full impact of this particular quotation hit me. Your divinely instilled call and vision...are You talking to me? Can we really take this personally?

I can readily attest to the fact that the challenges before us are enormous, and that the opportunities are equally as great. In fact, that enormity is the very reason for my hesitation. I do not want to ask the people of our mission to spend enormous energy and considerable funds to chase a vision that is not do-able. And yet it is do-able! Further, I firmly believe it is at least part of what we are called to do.

We simply must trust that God is with us. It is easy to say, but not always easy to do. It is, of course, what the Scriptures have always taught us, and yet it is still so easy to lose that confidence.

I find great comfort and encouragement in the counsel to “move forward in your divinely instilled call and vision.

Posted by Carman

Thursday, February 4, 2010


“The challenges and opportunities are momentous. Will you remain hesitant in the shadows of your fears, insecurities, and competing loyalties? Or will you move forward in the light of your divinely instilled call and vision?” (January 17, 2010 Counsel to the Church, verse 9e)

There are a few adjectives in the English language that seek to convey to us that something is beyond the normal, the routine, or the hum-drum. Words such as gigantic or enormous are in that category. It is almost like there is an exclamation point right in the middle of the sentence. No matter what the subject matter, such words alert us to the possibility that this is beyond the usual or customary standard.

Momentous is just such a word. This adjective demands that we pay attention because the idea being explored is of great or far-reaching importance or consequence.

The challenges and opportunities are momentous. The challenges are momentous…but so are the opportunities. The word calls to us and demands that we pay attention and think about it. Somehow it also insists that we make a decision. Everest is before you! Will you walk around it without looking up until it fades into the landscape as something no longer seen, or will you prepare to scale its heights and risk everything in order to see the vistas that await you there? Will you continue in the everyday, habitual activities of life, or will you go where few mortals have ever gone before?

The challenges and opportunties are momentous. The word demands something from us, and to put it out of our minds is already to have decided!

There is so much more to say about this little paragraph.

Posted by Carman

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I am in a de-cluttering mood just now. Tomorrow is pick-up day on my street and I've got a couple of big bags to go to charity and the nicest, neatest dresser drawers you could imagine.

My house was built in 1904, so closet space is very limited. When something comes in, something must go out. I've already confessed my stacks of books; truly I have other stacks as well. Today I begin to clear some of this paper clutter from my surroundings.

We speak quite alot about setting goals, establishing priorities, determining what matters most. Maybe one of the reasons this sometimes is so hard is that we try to hang onto too many things. Maybe we need to be honest about some of the things we're holding onto and confess that some of that stuff is just clutter!

Continuing conversations about Goals, Enduring Principles and now Words of Counsel might also include making some decisions about things I've always thought. I just might need to clear some of my personal clutter as I seek out the universal spiritual principles.

I am trying to hear that call to covenant that "requires whole-life stewardship dedicated to expanding the church’s restoring ministries" and I don't want any of my clutter getting in the way.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I debated for a bit about whether to post the word movies but decided on film instead. I am venturing into territory where I really don't have much expertise. I'm especially humble following our recent CPI experience with Don Compier. That man is a real film connoiseur. And, of course, our old friend Ken had seen and had an opinion on virutally every movie ever made! (To him I owe thanks for Bon Cop, Bad Cop and Kinky Boots!)

So today the Academy Awards nominations are announced. Popular movie culture is big business. And I really don't have an opinion on any of the nominated films.

I am interested in the conversations that surround film. The arguments between those who want "mindless entertainment" and those seeking "underlying messages" and "artful direction."

I can share with you the fact that the first film I ever pressed Rewind and watched the whole thing over again (it was a video, and I was home alone) was the movie Groundhog Day!

I realized I was watching for both reasons at the same time. I found that movie both entertaining and meaningful. I'm hearing the same sort of thing being said about Avatar and even Up. People are impressed by others, some very small movies, but they warn that I/we might not be entertained by such as Precious or Hurt Locker. What does that mean?

I'm opening the topic today, in honour of my beloved Groundhog Day and in recognition of the Academy Awards. Are there film buffs out there? Do you have opinions on film or movies? Do you distinguish between those two good words? I welcome your comments.

Posted by Marion

Monday, February 1, 2010


Has anyone else noticed there's getting to be more daylight hours? Oh it's not getting any warmer, of course. In fact Saturday was downright frigid in my part of the country. But it was lovely and bright. The sun arose before I did and lingered for quite a long time on the western horizon. The sun's arc through the sky is quite a bit longer each day as it comes in my eastern bedroom window and swings around to the kitchen side several hours later.

I really do love the changing seasons. I'm thinking as we enter February that the end is in sight. It's a short month, full of curling and the Olympics and folks returning from their forays into southern climes for a bit of a breather in the midst of our Canadian winter. You're welcome to those breathers, friends. I don't begrudge them a bit.

But I'll stay here and count the extra minutes of daylight each day. Light is coming back into our northern world; and light is greatly to be appreciated. Do we appreciate it more than those who have it all the time? Do our northern countrymen who have periods of total darkness appreciate it more still?

Who knows! As for me, I'm feeling quite grateful today for the extended daylight minutes, and for the well-functioning furnace, and my cozy alpaca socks.

Greetings to all you snow-birds reading our blog today. It will soon be safe to return.

Posted by Marion