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May-June 2000

Final Exams!

I’ve just finished my first year of language school, and received the highest possible marks on all my exams. Praise the Lord! I don't feel like I know Russian well enough to rate such high marks, but I have made tremendous progress in 10 months. I didn't know much more than "yes, no, thank you" a year ago. Now I understand most of what I hear or read, and I can carry on a conversation, although VERY SLOWLY with lots of mistakes. I preached for the first time in Russian a few weeks ago. It took me many, many hours to write out 10 minutes worth of sermon, and I read it from the pulpit. I have also started to witness in Russian, but I’ll need a lot more practice before I can really do a good job.

I plan to take one more year of language study here in Kiev. I am so glad I followed the advice of some good friends who recommended the Kiev State Linguistics University. I feel that I am receiving the highest quality education - and enjoying it, too. My language studies included a thorough introduction to Russian literature, history, and geography - very interesting and helpful. My first year of language school was a very positive experience for my family and me.

My long-range plans are to go to Russia. I have my eyes on the Oryol oblast - a rural area about 235 miles south of Moscow. I will be making a survey trip there in a few weeks with my son David if all the details can be worked out by then. I have two months off school before the fall semester starts.

While our pastor, Matt Hudson, is gone to America for a few months, I am helping missionary John Magas with the church here. He serves as interim pastor, and I lead the singing. Our first service without the Hudsons was on a Wednesday night. The message was good, and the interpreter did well, but the music was very “dead” without Mrs. Hudson at the piano. I had to do something! I remembered seeing another missionary’s “electronic hymnal”, which plays music for places where you don’t have a piano player. I looked on the internet for hymns in MIDI format that could be used as a "soundtrack" to back up our congregational singing. Most of what I found was formal 'high church' organ style, or else rock and roll. Finally, I found www.joyfulnoisemusic.com. There are over 100 great songs, played in the old-fashioned evangelistic piano style. I made up a CD with music for many of the songs in our songbook, and used it on Sunday. What a difference! It's not nearly as good as a live piano player, but it will keep us going until the Hudsons get back.

We received tragic news from some missionaries who live a few hundred miles south of here, in the city of Simferopol. Josiah, the 8-month-old son of Mike and Terri Clark, came down with a cough that didn’t seem to be anything serious. After a few days, he suddenly became much worse, so they took him to the hospital. Tests revealed that he had heart disease. His body was not able to fight off the infection, and he died soon after arriving at the hospital. Please pray for the Clarks. They testify that God is giving them His grace and peace.

Miscellaneous news and praises:

- If you want to read an amazing true story about Russia that will touch your heart, go to www.pfbaptistpress.org and find “Greasy the Robber”. 

- My wife and I celebrated our 18th anniversary in June. Praise God for a happy marriage!

- Maybe you read in the papers that there was a fire in June at the Chernobyl nuclear station (50 miles from here), but it was only a forest fire in the Chernobyl “isolation zone”. We saw the smoke, but it really was nothing to worry about.

In the service of the King,
Don Ossewaarde