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November 2002 - January 2003

From Ukraine to Russia 

David and I spent most of November and the first half of December away from the rest of the family. We were in Oryol, Russia getting our apartment finished. We worked with our crew of laborers as they finished the floors, the doors, the plumbing, and the painting. I installed all of the electric sockets, switches, and lights. Ruth and the rest of the kids waited for us in Kiev, Ukraine and packed our things for the move.

In mid-December the apartment was finished just enough so that we could move in. I went back to Kiev and helped finish the packing. We ordered a big semi truck to move all of our furniture and things. Ruth and the girls took the train to Oryol and waited for me to come with the moving truck. Several missionary friends came over to help us load the truck, just a few days before Christmas. 

I had a great opportunity to witness to the driver as we traveled. It was a trip of about 16 hours. He believes in God, but he does not see that the Bible is the only source of God’s truth. He feels that the “holy fathers” of the Orthodox church must have some authority as well as the Bible. We talked for many hours and he heard a clear presentation of the plan of salvation. Pray for “Yury”. We became friends, and I think he will agree to talk to me again. 

I expected lots of red tape and delay at the international border between Ukraine and Russia. We had been told that it could take up to three days of waiting in long lines to make the crossing. The customs agents can demand large “fees”, entirely at their own discretion. My truck driver was very experienced in such things, and he was a big help. We crossed the border in less than six hours! We had to pay some fees, but I think they were reasonable. 

A crew of Russian friends was waiting in Oryol to unload the moving truck. What a blessing! In just a few hours all of our things were moved in. Our refrigerator and washing machine were damaged in the moving truck, partly because the roads are so rough, and partly because I did not pack them properly.  I was able to fix the washing machine and we had a repairman fix the refrigerator. 

It has been colder here this winter than it was when we lived in Kiev. The temperatures have been below zero Fahrenheit several times already, and we have a foot or two of snow. This year is colder than normal here, with record breaking low temperatures. We love the winter weather, and take advantage of it, building snow forts and throwing snowballs. 

We celebrated Christmas in our new apartment amidst our packing crates. We are truly thankful that God has brought us here at last.

On New Year’s Day the girls and I visited the homes of the men that worked on our apartment. We delivered a pocket knife and sang a Christmas carol at each home, and they invited us in for tea. The builders always admired the knives that my boys and I used as we worked together, so we decided to buy one for each of them. 

April has already met two Russian girls. Pavel, who built our stairs, asked if his daughter Polli could practice her English by talking to April. Another man runs a shop nearby, and he also asked if his daughter Lena could practice her English with April. We invited these girls over, and April presented the Gospel to Polli. Lena talked so much that April didn’t get a chance. Pray for these girls to be saved. 

In January we went for the first time to an invalid's home in Narishkino, a village about 30 minutes from here. They said we could put on a "holiday program". I preached and my family sang. There are 282 residents at the home. Most of them attended the service, and several responded for salvation at the invitation. We went to all the rooms and gave gifts to the residents. There is an opening to go back there again. We hope to start a church in this village, and this nursing home outreach gives us an opportunity to make many new contacts.

Cindy started guitar lessons with a Russian teacher. She wants to learn to play for our ministry here.

We are praising the Lord that he gave us phone service in our apartment just before we moved in. Our Russian friends were shocked that it only took two days to get our phone line activated. Some of them have been waiting almost a year and still don’t have a phone line. To call us from the USA, dial 011-7-0862-76-01-71. We are 9 hours ahead of Chicago. (When it's noon in Chicago, it's already 9 PM here in Oryol.)

In the service of the King,
Don Ossewaarde