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March - April 2014

A Turbulent Region

The crisis between Russia and Ukraine continues to get worse. In March, Russian forces in disguise took over the Crimean peninsula. A vote was quickly arranged to allow the people of Crimea to choose to secede from Ukraine and become a part of Russia. (They were not allowed the choice to remain a part of Ukraine.) After the vote, Russia quickly moved to annex Crimea. Most of the western world does not approve, but apparently there is little that can be done to change it. Russia is now fomenting violent activities in eastern Ukraine, hoping that some of these areas will also secede from Ukraine. Several people have been killed, and the situation is looking more and more like a war. I want to make it clear that the violence is hundreds of miles from where we live. We still feel safe here.

The propaganda in the Russian media is ridiculous. They tell non-stop lies about the situation in Ukraine. They claim that Ukraine has fallen into the hands of Nazis, and they are preparing to kill all Russians, and other such nonsense. Of course, (they say) America is in support of all this evil, and all patriotic Russians need to support president Putin as he bravely stands up to protect Russia from the attacks of the enemy. The misinformation has not been this bad since the days of the Soviet Union. Most of the people that come to our church services believe what they see on television, and they ask me how the American government can do such awful things. Nobody is hostile towards us, but they are confused. Pray that I do not get distracted into political debates.

Without going into details, I would ask you to pray about a new law that could affect our ability to stay here. It would not apply to all missionaries, but it might turn out to be a problem for us. If we are able to complete certain documents before the law takes effect, everything should be all right.

We had a very blessed Easter Sunday. Ruth made personalized Easter eggs for everybody. She decorated the church building with scripture verses about the resurrection, and pictures of angels, the stone rolled away, and people at the empty tomb. “He is not here: for He is risen!” It’s good to see how the church yard is beginning to look green again, and the fruit trees are in full blossom.

We are trying to get the church building connected to the city sewer system. We now use an underground holding tank, which has to be pumped out when it gets full. We share that tank with a neighbor, whose house is about 12 inches lower than ours. When the tank gets full, his house is sometimes flooded. It took me about six months to complete the red tape and paperwork for this project. We expect it will cost about $2500, and most of the funds are already set aside.

We were very glad to see the Decker family return from their furlough. They are missionaries in a nearby town, and I conducted services for them in their absence. I also looked after their house while they were gone. Their heating unit quit working towards the end of the cold weather, and I was able to get a man to come in and repair it.

In the service of the King,
Don Ossewaarde