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January - March 2001

Preaching in Russian!

The pastor of our church here in Kiev has allowed me to lead the singing in the services for quite some time now. Recently he asked me to preach every Sunday night for 10-15 minutes. This has been helpful to me in my Russian language study, and I am thankful for the practice. Hopefully I am a blessing to the people - I know I still make a lot of mistakes. One Sunday night I said something in my sermon about the Devil, and used a form of the word that I didn't realize is normally used only as a curse word! The people are very patient and encouraging.

In January I took my first semester final exams. Once again I praise the Lord for His help - I passed every one with the highest possible marks.

In February our church had a baptism service. We have to rent a swimming pool at a sports complex, but it is still such a blessing. Five people were baptized. 

My four kids are regularly participating in the church services - they sing specials in Russian, set up the PA system, help in the nursery, and make themselves available for anything that is needed. Sometimes Cindy will babysit for the pastor's three small children during the week.

Everybody in our family is doing well. There is a flu epidemic going around Kiev. All of the public schools are closed because of it. None of us have caught the flu yet! The whole family takes Russian lessons at home three times a week while I am studying at the university. It certainly is difficult, but they are making progress, 

The winter here in Kiev, Ukraine has been relatively mild, but we seem to have had more snow than last year. It snows and then melts. It has already done that twice, and it's starting to melt a third time. We try to get out about every other day for ice skating, sledding, and snowmen if the weather is nice enough.

There are demonstrators downtown demanding the resignation of President Kuchma. He was apparently involved in the murder of an anti-government journalist, and other forms of corruption as well. So far the protests have not been very large, but hundreds of protesters are camped out in tents on the main street downtown. Some people are wondering if the president will call in the army to sweep out the protesters. I don't think the American media is covering this story very much. We all went downtown the other day to see the protesters in their tents. 

Ukraine has been stagnating since the breakup up the Soviet Union. It is rich in natural resources, but the corruption in government is so bad that people still continue to live in poverty. Communists and fascist groups are trying to take advantage of the situation to move the country back to totalitarianism. For now, we have nearly complete freedom to preach, witness on the streets, and pass out tracts. Please pray that the present political crisis will not affect the opportunities we have to bring the Gospel to the lost millions of the former Soviet Union.

We are still making preparations to move to Russia this summer. Please pray that we will be able to get the visas that we need. It looks like we have found a way, but we need your prayers. 

In the service of the King,
Don Ossewaarde