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FLDS vs WOFF – How People Who Leave are Treated – part 8

    The subject matter of this post is hard to begin. During my years at WOFF, I was guilty of treating those who left in the manner that I am about to describe. All I can say is that now that I am out and looking back, it is a convoluted way to treat those you may have spent hours along side working or “worshipping”.  Those who leave are shunned and it is a known reinforced rule from the top – “Do Not Call someone who leaves or speak to them unless you find out from Jane if it is okay. You could loose an attack on them and/or the church.” That was made very clear. If you talk to them without “checking it out with authority”, then the sin that caused them to leave is in you! Your devils will hook-up and you will be out of here!”

    ( One side note: most every phrase in these posts that is in quotes, has a unique meaning to WOFF and in a future post I will attempt to explain how the unique language of this group was used to further their control over members. It is a VERY common practice in religious control groups to re-define words or add new meanings to words in order to prohibit individual thought. This happens at WOFF like NO OTHER group I have been a part of or read about. As I heard recently, “He who names the game, owns the game.. )

     As mentioned in previous posts, frequently fear was pronounced on the members about what would happen if they left WOFF. Many times, those who have left would have their names brought up and used as examples of what happens when “you don’t deal with your sin”, “when you don’t open your heart”, “when you allow one thought to take you over and the devil drives you out of WOFF”, “when you hide the “unclean”, lose hold of the “call of God”. Only one time on 16 years do I remember Jane Whaley ever saying a person was better off outside of WOFF and “back with their parents..” Every other time it was a big deal when someone left. Three times, that I can remember families were “sent out”, but the underlying presumption was that they would stay in fellowship with Jane and the church and the things taught by WOFF; two families did and one family did not. (as far as I know..)

     Sometimes we would be told right away when a person left. Other times it would be a while before Jane would mention that “so and so” is gone “They did not want to serve God.” There were no good reasons to leave for most folks. Many times a “Judas spirit took them over…” or “Their rebellion took them over”.. It was no mistaking the spoken and unspoken meanings to these descriptions of those who leave- they were in trouble!

     Sad to say that when folks I had been close to left, I succumbed to the pressures to not call or speak to them. I do regret my participation in that whole scene. You just knew that there would be “hell to pay” if you were caught “fellow-shipping with the Judases”.. How much true love can be in that? It set a bad example for the children to see adults cut off long relationships over a choice made to leave a church. That is another part that I deeply regret. Our children learn by the example we set. I cannot say I set a good example while spending time at WOFF when it came to talking to those who have left or showing true love to those when may have been “put out to find a place of repentance”.

“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” – Thomas Jefferson

Continue reading FLDS vs WOFF – How People Who Leave are Treated – part 8

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We don’t do that “out from under authority..”

     In the first few years after moving to WOFF, I worked for a property management company owned by a family in the church. Though, I had many years experience in consumer finance, I had no experience in property management. That new experience in itself will proivde material for more posts at a later date. Sufficient to say that even with another part-time job at a credit union, the personal finances were tight.

     If my memory serves me correctly; these events occurred during the summer or fall of 2003. I had heard of a job opening in sales and was quite impressed with the chemicals sold by the company. I called for an interview. Later, I went to a hotel in the same city in South Carolina where I worked in property management, to speak with the regional manager of the chemical company. After leaving the interview, I did not particularly want the job; but just looking for other possibilities for income gave me hope.

     The very next church service I was called outside to speak with some “leadership” in front of the church. One of the owners of the property management company began, “I heard about the job interview.” He went on to tell me that going to the interview was not “gotten ahold of in God”. Up until that point I did not even know why I had been called out. As best I remember there were at least two other “leadership” folks there. One was the person who would eventually become the Holocaust teacher who is big on keeping people from books, TVs, magazines and newspapers.                     

  (see previous post – )

     The teacher began by saying she had just gotten off the phone with Jane. (Jane was in Brazil (?)) “Jane was very grieved that you would do something like this without getting ahold of this in GodWe don’t do things like that out from under authority. You need to find a place of repentance for even allowing the thought of going to that interview.”

     At this point, the pressures mounted up more than I could take and I began to cry, slowly at first. I now realize that the “leadership” there may have taken that as a sign that I agreed. That could not have been further from the truth! As I am writing this post, I can still feel the emotion of being told I needed to repent for not asking before looking for another job! The financial pressures were too great to just ignore. Later, I found out that many at WOFF were in the same predicament, barely paying their bills. Even with the part-time job, we had taken a cut in income to move to North Carolina.

     Again, the owner of the company spoke up and asked if my wife was getting paid for teaching in the Christian school? I said “No”. He said, “I have been carrying it that she should get paid.” He would talk to Jane about that….. 

     Looking back, I should have recognized that “getting ahold of things in God” meant asking Jane for permission to do something and “being out from under authority” meant you had not asked Jane for permission. Any delusion about how things worked at WOFF, should have gone out the window! I had just been scalded for seeking employment outside the church. I went to an interview for a job that I didn’t really want. But, the pressures were too great to stay in the job I had at the time. The hours were very long and the pay was limited.

     Another thing that should have jumped out at me, the people in that meeting thought that what had just happened with me being pulled out of the church service to be told that Jane was upset with me, was normal! Apparently, everyone else there in that meeting had already been shown how critical to life at WOFF was to not “be out from under authority!”  That meant they had already been shown who ran the church! It would be five more years before I would exit from this church. Apparently, I was a slow learner.

     Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. It could very well save their life. There are readers at WOFF. I KNOW for sure and will share that post soon.

     Look on the right side of any post for “Categories”, select the drop down box and view any previous post by selecting “Uncategorized”. Use the slide bar on the right to scroll down to the bottom. Select “Previous Entries” to review older posts.

      (Please, take time to read the Terms of Use for this personal blog. As mentioned, the information about WOFF is from my memories and recollections as perfect as that may be or not be. )

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FLDS vs WOFF Similarites – Holidays – part 7

     Celebrating holidays evolved over time in both groups. More accurately, the prohibition of celebrating holidays evolved over time. As far as is known, WOFF at this time does not celebrate any holidays, officially. Recently, I am told that more freedom has been allowed for family time on Thanksgiving. But, I feel sure the prohibition on eating turkey on that day is still in place. (that made for some creative meals on Thanksgiving, spaghetti anyone?)

     Elissa Wall in “Stolen Innocence” (copyright 2008) explains that FLDS did not celebrate traditional Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter. (page 64-65) FLDS did celebrate birthdays, even of deceased church leaders. (page 65)  From Ms. Wall’s account of celebrating Halloween for the first time, it was clear FLDS did not celebrate that holiday either. (page 261-262)

     My memories of Jane and Sam Whaley coming to the house we shared with another family in the Greenville church in 1994, are clear. Jane was given a tour of the house and commented on the Christmas tree we had displayed. She liked it and pointed it out to Sam. She even asked where it had been purchased? However, back then word was getting around the church that certain traditional things should be left out of the celebration. Santa Claus, over decorating with elves and reindeer were to be avoided. Wreaths were fine as long as they were not gaudy. Little did we know that in years to come Christmas would not be celebrated at all for WOFF members.

     Years ago, the first holiday to be jettisoned at WOFF was Halloween. Well, that would be obvious. Celebrating demonic things did not fit with the direction God had for WOFF or any other churches who were following the lead of Jane Whaley. “It is not wise to make light of demons.”

     Next, Valentine’s Day got the axe. “Why if you knew the roots of the tradition, you would not allow it in your home.” (Greek mythology) So, the pattern was set. Research soon was done on other holidays. ” By her death, the founder of Mother’s Day regretted even starting it.” Father’s Day could not be done if mother’s were left out. Soon the roots of other days like Fourth of July- “Firecrackers were invented by the Chinese to scare off devils.” Every holiday came under scrutiny. Easter? Well, “that date is tied to the phases of the moon, how can God be in that?” Easter bunnies and Easter eggs? “Signs of early druid worship.”

     In years past, WOFF had held special “Christmas Music Services” that later transitioned into just “Special Music” services. Relatives and friends in the community were invited. The crowds were large on some nights and the singing services were scheduled for two nights to accommodate the crowds. However, it became harder and harder to find Christmas songs that could stand the many tests. After all, Jane’s brother said “No where in the Bible does it say angels sing.” That bit of information took out several songs. Since the service was “an outreach”, Jane began to write songs that told the story of Jesus’ life from the gospels. Some were quite lengthy. All of this came to a head as Jane was “realizing” how demonic birthdays were. She then proclaimed Christmas as a birthday celebration for Jesus and therefore, it must be stopped. She said she had come to this “revelation a long time ago and was just now able to share it with the people. God had dealt with her.” That was a year full of relatives, co-workers and people in the community calling into question the happenings at WOFF.

     WOFF members were coached to write our relatives letters explaining our new understanding and why they would not celebrate Christmas as in years past. This was a very tense time as some relatives became hostile and felt personally rejected from the stopping of family get-togethers with all the traditional doings. Many “walk out strategies” were formed. First, no presents; then presents received way before the season or after December 25th may be kept. Office parties for those still working for companies not owned by church members were a special deal. Even companies owned by church members with employees other than WOFF church members, had a sticky path to walk. What about Christmas bonuses or turkeys given out at Thanksgiving? Do you accept those gifts? If not, how do you refuse a bonus? It was such a confusing time. If you accepted the gift and were not supposed to, then you were “partaking of the table of demons!”

     As a church, we were shown the “Origins of Christmas” video from the History Channel. Some children were encouraged to cover their eyes and ears. As well as certain parts were fast-forwarded even for the adults! From this video, the groundwork to reject Christmas AND birthdays was laid.

     After all, WOFF had so many other special meetings and seminars that focused on “the things of God”, why would they need holidays? WOFF had week long seminars in the month of May which was set around the week of Memorial Day. Then in July there was a youth seminar for everyone. This was usually the week of or weekend of the Fourth of July. Next, there was November seminar which was the week of Thanksgiving. The last Friday of these week long meetings evolved into a “Fellowship Night”.  Usually, children in 6th grade and under would stay at the church for dinner and games. Seventh grade and up would go to Jane and Sam’s for dinner and fellowship. For parents, you were expected to be with your children to “help take hold of their play time.” Then afterwards, most everyone was expected to help with clean-up. This meant yet another long evening as groups were assigned certain tasks to keep things moving.

    As in WOFF, FLDS did not celebrate major holidays, they had there own celebrations. Elissa Wall further explains, “… We had our own events to celebrate during the year, three of which took place in the summer months.” (page 65)

     The “B” in the “B.I.T.E model” stands for “Behavoir Control”. Steven Hassan explains an aspect of this in “Releasing the Bonds”(copyright 2000). He writes, “In the case of Jehovah Witnesses, members are told not to celebrate birthdays or holidays, like Easter or Christmas, because if they do, they will be in sin.”(page 47)  That is one of the first questions a WOFFer gets when they tell someone that they do not celebrate Christmas or birthdays; are you a Jehovah Witness?

     The Apostle Paul writes about certain convictions that need to be kept personal and not neccesarily taught as doctrine in the church.  

Romans 14:22
Your personal convictions [on such matters]–exercise [them] as in God’s presence, keeping them to yourself[striving only to know the truth and obey His will]. Blessed (happy, to be envied) is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves [who does not convict himself by what he chooses to do]. (Amplified version- Jane Whaley approved version, emphasis added)

     So many of Jane Whaley’s personal convictions are taught as valid doctrine. These “revelations” just end up being another tool of control. Sadly, this control process has been going on for years and has harmed many folks.

     Again in “Stolen Innocence”, Ms. Wall writes, “Our religion left no room for logical reasoning and honest questioning. Warren made no attempt to understand or tolerate any of this, deeming it as absolute rebellion”.  (page 44) Again, as with FLDS so it is with WOFF. Logical reasoning and honest questions about anything was not tolerated.  If you did not agree with Jane Whaley as she “heard God”, it was hard to stay at WOFF. That was especially true in the area of celebrating holidays and birthdays.

     Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. It could very well save their life.

      (Please, take time to read the Terms of Use for this personal blog. As mentioned, the information about WOFF is from my memories and recollections as perfect as that may be or not be. )

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Why No Note Taking During the Service!

     Several times it has been mentioned that during the services note taking was not allowed. Well, this was not always the case. It changed during a service when a woman came to the microphone. She was an office helper and it was common to see her at the podium making announcements. She said she had just read the notes from the notebook of a certain young man. She called his name and it was known she had been “helping” this young fellow and his family. This fellow’s father was the construction worker in the post about the magazine prohibition.

    The woman began to explain to Jane and others in a general address, that she had looked around during the services and seen people taking notes and not paying attention to “the word” (usually being preached by Jane). She put forth the idea that taking notes was a distraction. In order to prove her point, she began to read to the whole congregation the notes the young man had taken. Now, some were incomplete thoughts- BUT, THEY WERE NOTES! They were his personal notes!  It would be a safe assumption to say he did not expect them to be read aloud to the congregation. The content of the pages is NOT the issue here. From this discovery by this fledgling lieutenant, Jane approved the banning of note taking during services. The only approved note taking was scripture references: no dates, no names, no personal reflections, nothing but scripture references with not even a word or two about the scriptures!  

      The effect was clear and near immediate. “Note Nazis” sprang up EVERYWHERE! You were encouraged to watch your neighbor and make sure they were “taking hold” of the new dictates. Being watched for such details was a horrible feeling that just perpetuated itself on so many areas at WOFF.

     Several children took special interest in their ability to critique and report on adult behavior. During one service, a young boy told his mom that a visiting Brazilian was taking notes during the singing. The mom felt her usual pressure to make sure she reported any transgressions, told Jane in front of the whole congregation. Jane immediately called this man’s name and he was visibly flustered. He went to the front to talk to Jane and explain himself (get checked out..). After a brief conversation, Jane announced to everyone that the notes were okay because he was taking notes on the songs for his church in Brazil. So, the tension was diffused. However, the commandment to keeping watching the behavior of everyone in the service was clear. No one, well almost no one was exempt.

     This spying behavior is clearly explained as a characteristic of a destructive mind control group in Steven Hassan’s “Releasing the Bonds” (copyright 2000) . During the explanation of the B.I.T.E. model of common mind control behaviors; he explains the “I” as representing “Information control”. He explains: “People are expected to spy on one another and report improper activites or comments, such as criticism of the leader, doctrine or organization.” (page 49)

     It should also be noted that the spying requirement on each other was in FLDS. Elissa Wall in “Stolen Innocence“, outlines a situtation where her older sister went to Warren Jeffs about the doubts her mother was having. This led to the break up of her family. ( page 55) This was totally acceptable behavior in FLDS. Yet another similarity between FLDS and WOFF.

     The stopping of members taking notes went along with the increased contol over the audio or video tapes of the services. Since the “attack in 1995” (Inside Edition);  the tapes of services were increasingly controlled. First, you had to sign the tapes out with the person running the sound booth. You could take them with you but, were warned not to leave them in your car! “That could open the church up to an attack.” Next, you could not take the tapes off of the property, you had to listen to them in the fellowship hall. This was required for people missing a service or many of the folks on church discipline. Most nights of a week long seminar, tapes of the morning services or previous evening services were played after the evening service. If you missed the morning service, you were expected to stay after the evening service and watch the tape. Yes, WOFF would score pretty high when it comes to “Information control” as compared to other well documented religious mind control groups.

     Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. It could very well save their life.

      (Please, take time to read the Terms of Use for this personal blog. As mentioned, the information about WOFF is from my memories and recollections as perfect as that may be or not be. )

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The $50,000 Offering

      One evening service, Jane came to the podium and said “we need $25,000 to meet the bills in the office”. She went on to say God had told her that some folks were saving money for their children. “God said to give it”.  What kind of pressure was this? With the environment already described, would this cause certain folks to feel bad or evil if they did not give up their children’s inheritance? The person that “hears God” on every matter in the church just said “God said to give it”…

     Later after the offering was taken and counted, Jane came back to the microphone. She was very excited, “We have had a miracle”. The offering had been counted and it was $50,000! (wow, on the first try!) She then shed a tear and thanked those folks who had obeyed God say to give the money they were saving for their children.  By the offering coming in, it confirmed to Jane she had obeyed God in her “putting it before the people”.

      One of the first questions in my mind, what will you do with the “extra” $25,000? But, as we have discussed, it was never mentioned. There is no complete open accounting of the offerings given by the members. It only leads to more questions. What is all this money being spent on? It was mentioned that it takes $20,000 a week to meet the bills. So, what is done with the million or so dollars taken in over a year? Some of the larger needs we were told were property insurance and taxes. The church has people watching the grounds 24/7. This is supposed to help get a discount on the property/liability insurance. Men or couples “volunteer” to take shifts over night. The premium was “high because some folks had made a claim against the church insurance” according to Sam. We were also encouraged to not put large amounts of cash in the offering if it was not in an offering envelope. The IRS did not like that.

     If more than one offering had to be taken because we have not “met the budget”, then folks would be strongly encouraged to inquire of God, again! Sam would say, “If we don’t get the need met the first time, some folks are not “hearing God”!  As mentioned, some services the plates would be passed three or four times, “until we get it”.. Then folks would be chastised for not giving the right amount the first time the plates were passed!

     Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. It could very well save their life.

      (Please, take time to read the Terms of Use for this personal blog. As mentioned, the information about WOFF is from my memories and recollections as perfect as that may be or not be. )

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Jane Whaley – the Medical Debt Collector

      On Sunday, after an evening service in December of 2007, there was a list read from the podium of members that needed to report to the fellowship hall. My name was on the list and I immediately tried to figure out the purpose of the meeting from the other names on the list. It was a mystery, but not for long.

     After the group was all in the room, Jane Whaley came in as her daughter and another lady were already at the front of the room. Jane began the session by saying that a certain doctor in the church had not taken a salary in two years.  She wanted to talk to those in the church that owed him money. She was given a list of names and balances. (apparently, I did not see the list, but she constantly referenced it during the meeting.) Jane’s daughter and the other lady worked for the doctor. The second lady  was the doctor’s daughter! They were answering Jane’s questions about who was paying and who was not, in front of the whole group!

     Jane began addressing individuals calling their name, saying how much they owed and asking what they could pay? One of the attorney’s in the church was present. He asked why he was there? He was told in front of everyone- “Your grandmother owes a balance” (under $300). He immediately stroked a check, handed it to the doctor’s daughter and huffed as he left the room. That answered my question, if Jane had sought legal counsel before she set out to “help her friend..”.  

     Next, Jane called the name and amount owed for an African American lady sitting close to the front. “You owe this amount- (she stated it)- You have not paid since (she named the date)…When can you pay? Jane then brought her mother into the conversation by asking her to explain why her daughter was not paying? The accused lady began to recount her struggles of finding a job. Then Jane and her daughter chimed in that it was her fault she could not keep a job. Jane’s daughter told her – God has given you several jobs and you are not grateful. You attack God’s plan by the way you act on your job. Finally, it was either Jane or her daughter who told the lady in front of everyone that if she could not pay, then find another doctor. Actually, it was addressed to everyone, if they were not able to pay then go to another doctor.

     There were about 25 folks in the room. My name was called, but the daughter of the doctor told Jane I was paying every month. Every person’s information was reviewed by Jane, some people she would not call out for what ever reason. But, it was clear, Jane was “trying to help her friend”.

     So, what is wrong with this picture? My background is consumer debt collection. I have been in this field for most of 28 years. I have heard several attorneys speak on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA),  as well as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996(HIPMA). Though I have never personally been cited for violations of these two acts, I have seen others who were accused of such violations. In my opinion, this meeting was a total violation of both FDCPA and HIPAA. Not only Jane, but her daughter and the doctor’s daughter were violating the rights of EVERYONE in the room who where protected by these laws. There was an attempt to excuse the meeting as “trying to help a friend”, but the privacy of each person was violated. The audacity of Jane Whaley to call out individuals and reveal their medical debts in front of others is AMAZING! Obviously, she did not seek any counsel as to the legality of the meeting, otherwise the attorney who left a huff would have redirected her efforts. But, what is new about that thought? Jane seeks help from no one who would stop her personal agenda.

     Why would no one have sought help with this meeting before? I do not know that someone has not, but if someone has, they risked being shunned and put out of WOFF for even bringing up the questions. I left the meeting in total shock about what I had just witnessed. I had seen power displays before from Jane in different situations, but this one was one of the most blatant displays in my 16 years of involvement at WOFF.

     Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. It could very well save their life.

      (Please, take time to read the Terms of Use for this personal blog. As mentioned, the information about WOFF is from my memories and recollections as perfect as that may be or not be. )

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The Church Service No One was to Talk About

     Sunday evening meetings at WOFF would often times include the discussion of “church family” issues. Sometimes issues were addressed in an open forum. Jane would ask a question and  open the podium for others to ask questions or tell what they saw during a “situation”.  At times, families or households would be called up front and stand before the congregation while the situation was being discussed.  These meetings could include public rebukes for anyone in attendance or listening over the phone to the service. Also, most engagements or births were announced in these services.

     One Sunday service, (not sure if morning or evening) Jane said, “I think we have an announcement?”.  Then the as the couple that was to announce came to the podium. This happened to be a couple slightly older than the normal range for first marriages. The fellow had come to WOFF a few years ago and had gone through many struggles and changes. The lady had come from Texas and may have been a part of a very large church there. She worked on staff at WOFF. He worked selling granite at a church-member owned company. The woman had been a “friend” to the fellow for a while. As he went through his adjustments and struggles, she was there to “help” him. They had been on two or three “ministry” trips together with other folks. So, this was not a surprise.

     Next, another older couple got up to announce that “God had shown them they were to be married”. He was quite animated and asked Jane if they could get married VERY SOON. Well, just asking Jane did not guarantee the ceremony would happen quickly. They still had to “walk out a relationship” and get some more “breakthroughs”.

     I am not sure of the order of the next few events. But, there may have been some singing and/or prayers of thankfulness offered. Members started coming to Jane who always sits on the front row, and speaking in her ear. This was common for many folks to do. Some even would kneel before her. Men and women of all ages made their way to the front. Jane soon allowed the “news” to start being told. The people were coming telling Jane that “God had shown them who their mate was to be..” When Jane had a “release” about it, she would nod or give some signal. The couple would come to the podium and speak into the microphone what had just taken place. They were “set on course in a new relationship” and the understood part: this would lead to marriage.

     The couples kept coming and coming. The flood gates were opened. By the end of the service, there were 21 couples engaged in the church! Most of them had been first acknowledged in this meeting. Each one had “checked it out with Jane” before moving to the podium to share with the congregation. Some had been friends for a while, some had never spent time together they were just “obeying God”.

     Towards the end of this time, Jane began to tell the members that this was not a service to go out in the community and talk about. Why? Some folks coming were under the legal age of consent and had heard to marry this person that they had never spent any time with… Jane said she was not sure about some of the younger couples of high school age, especially the ones in eleventh grade. But, she would “carry the whole situation and see where God would take it”. She did say “others would not understand what God had just done so don’t go talking about it loosely”. This was a service that I didn’t know if I understood. The behaviors displayed were strange even to one who had been in the group for years.

     WOFF had been rightfully accused of monitoring closely the personal intimate lives of married couples. So, how would this news of impromptu relationships approved by Jane be understood within the surrounding community? Several folks have been married since this services. But, I have no updates on the young high school age folks that said “God told us to be married”.

      Later, Jane announced that one man had already been on the phone calling his son who had left the church, telling him if he was still in the church; God may have given him a mate! It was truly one of the strangest services I had ever experienced in the 16 years of attending WOFF. This is the only service I remember that Jane wanted kept secret.

     Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. It could very well save their life.

      (Please, take time to read the Terms of Use for this personal blog. As mentioned, the information about WOFF is from my memories and recollections as perfect as that may be or not be. )

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