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December 2004 - January 2005

CHRISTmas and other winter events

Winter came later than usual this year. We wondered when it would ever get cold, but when it finally did, temperatures went down to -15 degrees F. The river near our home froze smooth as glass before the snow fell, so we had a wonderful place to ice skate for awhile. We went cross-country skiing a few times on the trails in the woods by the river.

Hundreds of thousands of people protested in Kiev, Ukraine during the presidential elections there. The corrupt administration falsified the vote count, and the citizens refused to accept the results. Russia supported the ones who did the cheating, but Ukrainians demanded another vote. They elected a man who is more likely to allow freedom. There is a lot of talk that something similar might happen here in Russia someday. The peaceful “revolution” in Ukraine sends a message to Russia that people want freedom.

We have been using our supply of New Testaments in our door-to-door soulwinning. We go to an apartment building and ring the bell at each door. If they answer, we offer them a New Testament. About 25% of them will take one - the others either already have one or are not interested. If they take the New Testament, we tell them that we have a Bible study every Sunday morning and ask them if they're interested in studying the Bible. This leads to the question of eternity and the plan of salvation. I have a picture book with scriptures that I try to show them.

An older man invited us in and heard the plan of salvation. He was sickly and very thin - just skin and bones! It was really pitiful. He could barely walk - he used a chair as a walker. He lives on the fifth floor of a building with no elevator. I can’t imagine how he could ever walk up or down all those stairs. He listened as we told him of God’s love and the gift of salvation. Then he said that he has suffered so much in his life, that it is hard for him to believe anything.

We invited a neighbor lady and she promised to come, but never did. Later, we saw her outside and invited her again. She said, "I'm sorry, but my daughter won't let me. She says she won't let me live with her if I come to your services."

Yulia came to our Sunday service for the first time. She is a professor of English at the University here, has been to America twice, and speaks English really well. She loves our family and has started coming regularly. Yulia really thinks she is a Christian, but she still thinks that good works make the difference where you go when you die. No matter how plainly we tell her, she just doesn’t seem to “get it”.

Another man invited us into his house, and he thought he had to give us something, so he offered us a glass of homemade berry wine. We thanked him, but told him that we couldn't drink the wine, so he asked his wife to make us some tea. He let us go through the plan of salvation, but he just wanted to talk about philosophy and poetry. Then a drunken neighbor came over to tell him not to talk to us, and tried to start arguments. Finally we had to leave. Only about once in a hundred doors will someone listen to the plan of salvation. Pray that God will open hearts here.

We had a wonderful Christmas season. We attended some nice concerts, decorated the house, gave and received gifts, visited in the homes of friends, made taffy and caramel apples, sang songs, read the Christmas story, and just thanked Jesus for coming to this world so that we could be saved. The lost world around us ignored Christmas and celebrated the New Year with a new 10-day holiday that left behind a tragedy of drunkenness, death, and broken hearts. Pray that God will use us to help them find the true joy of having their sins forgiven.

In the service of the King,

Don Ossewaarde