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June - July 2001

Russian Visas!

Language school is over! I spent most of June preparing for and taking my final exams. There were five of them, and I passed each one with the highest marks possible. On the day of the last exam, I spent several hours going around the campus getting signatures on my paperwork to officially complete the school year. Praise the Lord for His help! I am confident that I am fluent enough in the Russian language to work without any interpreter.

We had a "farewell Sunday" at Trinity Baptist Church where we have served since we came to Kiev. I preached in Russian for both the morning and evening services. Our family sang a few special Russian songs. It was good to have a time to say goodbye to these church members that we have grown to love.

I mentioned in previous letters that we have been trying to get visas to get into Russia. A Baptist pastor, whom I met last summer, said he would go to Moscow for me and get the invitations we needed in order to obtain visas. I was skeptical, but I told him to give it his best try. The day after my last final exam, the letters of invitation arrived by fax. I immediately applied for visas at the Russian embassy, just to see what would happen. One week and $1500 later, I was surprised to be holding six multiple-entry visas, one for each member of my family! They are good for one year, then we can apply again every year. The best part is, they are missionary visas, so we can operate openly and legally.  We are very pleased and more than a little bit surprised. This is far beyond our expectations. It is truly a miracle of God!

We left at once for a three-day family visit to Oryol. My wife and I, and the children, love the place - it's a city of 350,000 people with a decent standard of living. I was able to preach several times during this visit. Two men walked the aisle for salvation while we were there! We also attended a baptism service at the lake in a nearby village. Pastor Peter took us to the village of Narishkino, 20 kilometers west of Oryol. There are about 4000 people there, and no Baptist church. We plan to begin our ministry in Russia by starting a church in this village. Please pray that we can get a church planted there soon.

We hope to move from Kiev to Oryol as soon as possible. The biggest obstacle right now is this: we need a three-bedroom apartment for our family of six. There are several such apartments there, but they are only available for sale, not for rent. Russian banks do not have the money to loan for housing, and American banks will not loan money for Russian real estate, since it is considered to have no value as collateral. We are working with some Christian people in an American financial institution that may be able to get us a loan. I am not trying to raise funds for this purpose. We will be able to make the payments if we can secure the financing. Please pray with us about this.

In the service of the King,
Don Ossewaarde