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November - December 2011

We have received several more letters from inmates in the local hospital for the criminally insane. Iím not sure how they got my address, but I am glad to respond to them. Most of their letters are simple requests for a Bible. We send them Bibles, some Christian books, and a long personal letter that clearly explains the plan of salvation. One man wrote a short letter that was almost impossible to read. I deciphered it with the help of Alex, who used to be a schoolteacher. It said, ďPlease excuse my bad handwriting. I am almost illiterate. I went to a special education school, but I didnít learn much. I have done a crime. I killed someoneís grandmother, and so I am here. I am very regretful. Please send me a cross that I can wear on a string around my neckĒ. I sent him a Bible, a story book, and a letter explaining why he needs Jesus, and not a cross on a string. Please pray for him. His name is Yevgeny (Eugene).

We had a nice thanksgiving this year. We were especially glad to find some turkey meat this year. It was delicious!

The national elections for the Russian parliament in December were tainted by widespread accusations of fraud. Mr. Putinís political party, United Russia, holds an overwhelming majority of all government offices. They tried hard to keep that majority, but many voters are unhappy that Putin has decided to run for president again next year. His party lost 77 parliament seats, going from a 70% majority to 52%. Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Moscow and other cities across Russia to call attention to reports that the elections were rigged. They say that United Russia would have done even worse in the elections if they had not stuffed the ballot boxes with phony votes. The protesters have been peaceful. They are not looking for revolution. They are mostly middle class or wealthy people who want to have a free, fair, and prosperous society. They do not have many political options. Many of them voted for the Communist party as a form of protest, but the country does not want to return to communism. Pray that the Lord will bring more freedom to Russia.

Our missionary friends, the Deckers, have gone on furlough for five months. Their church is about 30 miles away from ours, in the city of Mtsensk. Just before they left, we brought a van load of our church people there for a combined Sunday evening service. There were about 25 people in attendance. While the Deckers are gone, I am traveling to Mtsensk every Sunday night to preach there.

Sergei started attending our services in December. He found one of our tracts in a mailbox. He left the Orthodox Church years ago, because he was sure they did not teach the truth. He studied with the Jehovahís witnesses for a while, but he left them for the same reason. He really likes our music and our preaching. He does not have a clear testimony of salvation, but he knows a lot about the Bible, and we pray that he will settle the question soon.

In November, we made the final payment on our church building loan. In 2006, we borrowed $52,000, and the total payback, including all the interest, was $61,441.99. Praise the Lord! We are very grateful to all of you who made special donations to this need.

Ruth and I expect to be in the states for a furlough in 2012. Our plans are not final yet, but we should be there from May through September. Please contact us if you would like us to visit your church. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you!

In the service of the King,
Don Ossewaarde