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September - October 2014

A New Furnace

Our hot water heater at the church house started leaking water. It had been repaired twice before, so that was no longer an option. I had two choices. I could buy a new hot water heater, which would not be very expensive, or I could buy a combination unit that would heat the building and also provide hot water. Our old boiler, which works as the furnace for the house, has problems every winter, and it was overdue to be replaced. I decided to buy a very high quality German made combination unit, which replaced the hot water heater and the boiler. Our friends, Travis and Colleen Decker, donated the money for the furnace, and our church people donated money to help with the installation costs. The new unit works great, and we are ready now for the winter.

Sanctions against Russia are having an effect on the Russian economy. Since the beginning of 2014 the value of the ruble has fallen by about 25 percent against the dollar. This is actually a benefit for us, because we get more rubles when we exchange our dollars. Prices are going up as well. The falling price of oil is also damaging the Russian economy, because most of the national budget depends upon the sale of oil. The Russian government imposed a sanction of its own by prohibiting all food imports from Europe and America. Several of our favorite products, like blue cheese, are already disappearing from the stores. This particular sanction hurts the Russian people more than it hurts Western countries.

Ruth’s application for another five year extension to her residency was accepted, and is awaiting final approval. We were concerned that some new laws would make it impossible for her to continue living here, but it appears that this will not be a problem. My residency is still valid for another four years, and if things don't change, it can continue to be renewed every five years.

I was invited again to the Oryol State University to give a lecture about the United States Constitution to students who are studying English. As I have before, I spoke mostly about the Bible principles that influenced our founding fathers. I spoke for over an hour and took questions for about 30 minutes. There were a surprising number of atheist students and not so surprisingly a lot of socialists, but most were very engaged and respectful. I gave them tracts, New Testaments, and DVD videos.

News from America has been dreadful! When I read about Ebola, refugees on the border, violence in the streets, and a city mayor issuing subpoenas for pastors’ sermons, I feel thankful to be in Russia. Then I learned that two university students, who came here to Oryol from Africa, were suspected of having Ebola! It turned out to be a false alarm, praise the Lord.

I celebrated my 54th birthday in October. We had a little party at church on the next Sunday. The favorite activity was “pin the tail on the donkey”. It was amazing to see how grown up people could have so much fun playing this child’s game.

In the service of the King,
Don Ossewaarde