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April - May 2005

End of First Term

We have been serving as missionaries here in the former Soviet Union since 1999. During that time I have been back to the United States only once - in 2002 for six weeks when Ruth’s father died. It’s time for us to take a furlough! Our two oldest children, David and Cindy, are ready to go to Bible college in America, so we will bring them there and help them get settled in. We plan to stay in the US for four months, until the end of September. We want to see our relatives and visit some of our supporting churches.

David, Cindy, and Alan worked for several months to prepare for their ACT tests. Then they went to Moscow and took the tests at a private school there. Praise the Lord, they did very well.

When I recently gave some lectures at the State University, some of the students asked me if I would consider having a Bible study in English. Our Sunday Bible study is in Russian, so we agreed to try a Thursday afternoon meeting in English. Seven different students have come, and we are having a good time. Pray that this part of our ministry will grow and bear fruit.

We distributed 3000 more Russian New Testaments. Many of them were given away at the “yarmarok” which is a special open market they have here every three months.

We took a trip out to the village of Znamenskoye where Alan and Cindy played accordion and we sang in the public park. We gave away a few hundred Bibles there.

I talked to the director of a large military academy here in Oryol and asked if we could give a New Testament to each of the 5000 soldier boys there. He said that would not be possible, but he did accept a few hundred copies for the academy library. He said they will be on display and anybody who wants one can take one.

We have given away about 19,000 New Testaments since we moved to Oryol, Russia. There are 6000 more in storage for future distribution.

Our favorite taxi driver, Zakharich, came to our home for dinner with his wife and granddaughter. We have been telling him about Jesus for a long time now. He likes us, but he shows little interest in spiritual things. They had a good time talking, eating, and playing games. Pray that God will open their eyes to their need of Salvation.

Yulia, our college professor friend, invited us to her house for dinner. We enjoyed the evening with her and Alexei, her husband. She comes faithfully to our Bible study, but she does not think she is a sinner, so we are still working on her. Alexei is a friendly host. He does not understand why we will not drink vodka with him, but he gives us mineral water instead. He told me that Americans want Russia to fail, so that Russians will live in poverty. I tried to convince him that most Americans want Russians to be free and prosperous, but he would not believe me. He holds to the old communist idea that if someone has a lot, it is only because he took from somebody else. Alexei will not listen to anything about God or the Bible. Pray that the Lord will use us to reach him.

Varvara is our elderly friend who was saved recently. She is not able to get out much, so we have been visiting her every Sunday afternoon. We bring the guitar and sing with her, and I share some of my Sunday sermon with her. She is so frail and she forgets things a lot. She loses her glasses and thinks that somebody must have stolen them. We help her find them, and that makes her feel much better.

The family has been active with springtime sports like tennis, horse riding, soccer, ping pong, and baseball.

I applied for “permanent residency”, which is permission to live here for 5 years. This status would allow me to register an organization, which would make it easier to rent or buy property for our ministry. I should get an answer to my application in November. Pray that the authorities will approve this request.

In the service of the King,

Don Ossewaarde