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May - July 2002

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Psalm 116:15

During the first two weeks of May, we received increasingly troubling reports about the failing health of Ruth’s father. He was 86 years of age, and the doctors did not expect him to live much longer. After carefully considering his diagnosis, the doctors advised us it was time to come home.

We are very thankful for modern air travel. Air France gave us a special discount fare that made it possible for all of us to come home. In the morning we were in our apartment in Kiev, before noon we were in Paris, France, and by 3:30 pm we were in Chicago. That evening we went to the nursing home to see Ruth’s Dad. They told us that he was asleep or comatose most of the time, but he woke and recognized us when we came in the room. He weakly spoke our names and told us that he loved us.

We were so happy to have the opportunity to sit by his bed and minister to him for a week as he passed over to Heaven. Many other family members visited regularly. There was singing, scripture reading, lots of hugs and hand holding, and the sweet privilege of working to make him comfortable. We trimmed his nails and washed his face and hands, and he obviously enjoyed the fellowship and attention. Often he lifted his hands in worship, and murmured "Amen" or "Hallelujah".   We thank the Lord for making it a sweet time. Ruth and I were with him when he took his last breath and went to be with Jesus.

The family asked me to preach the funeral. Since he was such a godly man, it was easy to know what to say. A son of the village shoemaker, he grew up during the great depression, studied at Moody Bible Institute, served with honor on the battlefields of World War II, was a loving, hard working husband, father of four children, and a faithful witness for Christ as a layman until the end of his life. The text of his funeral message was 1 Tim.  4:12 - he was “an example of the believers”.

Our trip to America lasted for seven weeks, during which time we were able to see almost all of our relatives. We had been out of the country for almost three years, and the grandparents especially enjoyed seeing our kids. We spent a lot of time helping Ruth’s mom adjust to life by herself after 55 years of marriage. I was able to preach in the church where I grew up, and in our home church in Bourbonnais, IL. It was also very profitable for me to spend some time fellowshipping and counseling with my pastor.

We flew back to Kiev on the fourth of July. Although we dearly love America, we all looked forward to returning to our place of service in God’s will - the former USSR.

Now we have to pick up where we left off. Here are some things we’d like you to pray about:

- Our Russian visas expired in June. Since we were not there to get the re-application process started, it will be late August before we can receive new visas. Pray that there will not be any unnecessary delays. I purchased a temporary tourist visa and returned to Russia to try and finish our apartment so we can move.

- While we were gone, the builders did almost no work on our apartment. I fired the crew that was supposed to be working on it and hired a different crew that seems to be more trustworthy.

- Pray that the Lord will prepare people’s hearts and lead us to them as we try to get some new churches started in this area. I witnessed to a man on the train last week who travels to China every month to buy paintings. (It’s a seven day train ride each way.) He listened to me for almost two hours. At last he said, “I want to believe, but there’s so much I can’t understand about God.” He promised to invite me to his home when he was ready to hear more. Pray for “Valeriy”.

In the service of the King,
Don Ossewaarde