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November/December 2000

Studying, traveling, serving…

Ruth and the kids continue to take Russian lessons with a private tutor at home three days a week. They have been doing this since the beginning of September. We can already see some encouraging signs of progress, but they have a long way to go. Meanwhile, I am at the university every day preparing to take first semester final exams in Russian.

A missionary friend in southern Ukraine (Crimea) called me with a problem. He was planning a big day for Sunday, and he promised to give each person a book. He was having trouble getting the books delivered from Kiev, and it seemed he wouldn't get them in time. He asked if I could pick up 300 books and take them on the train to the city of Simferopol where he lives. He invited me to bring the whole family and spend the weekend with his family. We agreed, of course, and headed for Simferopol. The train ride took 19 hours. It's an overnight trip, and you sleep in a bed on the way. 

Crimea is, of course, the most beautiful place in the entire former Soviet Union. It is a large peninsula on the Black Sea. There is a mountain range there close to the sea. All of the famous vacation resorts for Russian leaders are there. Our two families had time to spend a day sightseeing. We hiked in the mountains, saw the ruins of ancient forts, and looked over the beautiful Black Sea. Later, we took a brief tour of the city of Sevastopol and saw the Russian naval fleet, which is docked there. We also saw the famous town of Yalta, where Roosevelt met with Churchill and Stalin during World War 2.

We participated in a young people's fellowship meeting. The topic was "Science and Creation". Some of the young people there were not saved. I helped answer some of their questions.

On Sunday, I led the singing and preached in Russian. The kids and I sang a special song in Russian. I have only preached in Russian 3 times before, and I always wrote the sermon out word for word and just read it. This time, I wanted to just prepare an outline and preach without reading like I would in English. I was nervous, but it came out real well. The people said they understood me just fine. One lady came forward for salvation. We were very happy! We were sorry that we had to leave for home Sunday afternoon. 

At the end of November, we had to leave Ukraine to get our visas renewed. We chose to go to Budapest, Hungary to do the paperwork. Hungary borders on the west side of Ukraine, and we have friends who are missionaries there. We spent two weeks In Budapest getting the visas processed. We were able to spend some time working with our friends - the Marc Patton family. I preached twice while I was there. We received 3-year, multiple-entry visas, for which we are very thankful. We were also very thankful to be back home in Kiev after a 25-hour train ride!

A widow lady from our church dropped a teapot and severely burned her arm. Ruth went to her apartment for several days in a row to help her change her bandages and to do some housework. It's wonderful to have the opportunity to minister to people's needs and show them some love.

Our church put on a very nice Christmas program with the Sunday School kids. Many unsaved parents attended for the first time. All four of our children were able to participate.

We followed the US election results with great interest. America is deserving of God's judgement because of her national sins, but our prayer is that God will bless America and that He will save America. It's because of a free America that we have the opportunity to bring the Gospel to Russia. We like to think that what we are doing here on the mission field gives God a reason to let America survive. If you will continue to faithfully support and pray for foreign missions, you will give God yet another reason to bless and spare our nation. 

In the service of the King,
Don Ossewaarde