Back to Life in Voronezh

Ann - July 2007

 

Our trip to the U.S., to be a part of our son?s wedding, also afforded us the opportunity to visit some family and friends, and invest some substantial sweat equity in preparing our house in Texas for the rental market.  And, as always, we were able to put some time into doing some of the support development work that is a necessary part of this ministry.

 

We were able to get our one year visas with fairly little hassle, though delayed a bit, and we are good to go for another year.  We?ve gotten several emails from friends saying they were thinking and praying for our transition back into our lives in Russia and hoping that we were getting a little rest from our whirlwind time in the States before things pick up.

 

We had to laugh.  We got home to Voronezh toward the end of June, and within two days, 4 more guys were moved into the transition ministry on the 2nd floor.  So much for rest!  But this is what we are here for and we are pumped!

 

East side of house.  A view not previously possible before the house next door was leveled while we were gone. East side of house. A view not previously possible before the house next door was leveled while we were gone.

Originally the new guys weren?t suppose to come until the end of August, giving us plenty of time to get the floor set up for multiple residents, some rules established and translated etc.  But, as is often the case here, things can change rather quickly.  We continue to learn to be flexible!  When we think we can?t be stretched much further, God shows us that in His strength we can!

 

One of the guys that moved in is Kostia, someone who we met at our first Camp Joy in 1999 and then a few years later we saw him again when we brought a team to his orphanage for a program.

 

Kostia is one of those kinds of kids that you just don?t forget.  He has a smile that can light up your heart and twinkling eyes that usually tell you he?s up to something.  The video that Robert did that year at camp features Kostya prominently.  He always managed to get in the shot! 

Ann and Kostia in March Ann and Kostia in March

I have often thought about him over the years and wondered what happened to him.  The week before we left to come to the States our friend and co-laborer, Gennaidy Petrov called and said that Kostia was in town and he heard we lived here and he wanted to see us.  Of course we invited him over and we spent a day catching up with this now 21 year old young man.  He still has that smile and those sparkling eyes!

 

We sat around the table and talked old times.  He kept asking us, ?have you remembered me??  What a joy to be able to say, ?Yes!?  I even remembered that potatoes with fried onions was his favorite food and he was amazed.  (only the Lord could bring that back to my memory!)

 

Kostia seems eager to learn anything Robert will teach him, but in reality, perhaps it's more about feeling connected and validated. Kostia seems eager to learn anything Robert will teach him, but in reality, perhaps it's more about feeling connected and validated.

Robert pulled out the video of Camp Joy on our little CD player and Kostia sat there mesmerized as he watched it over and over.  He could name many of the kids that were at camp that year and he remembered the names of the Americans on the team.  What a blessing to be able to remind Kostia that we not only remembered him but that His Heavenly Father had never forgotten him as well.

 

Kostia graduated from the orphanage two years ago and was sent to a trade school out side of Voronezh that has taught him brick masonry.  He has several medical diagnoses that have pretty much labeled him and hindered him from much success.  At the time he came to our house that day he was finishing up his trade school in a few months and not sure where he would go or what he would do.  He had been trained for a profession that for one, was not of his choosing, but also would almost assuredly not provide him a job.

 

So, we were not at all surprised when, the day after our return, Gennaidy calls again to tell us that Kostya is homeless and could we provide a temporary place for him.  Okay Lord, are we ready for this?  The answer is ?no? but He is.  So after prayer and discussion with our staff it was agreed that Kostya could come for the summer.  We already had the roommates decided for the 2nd floor ministry but we felt like we could handle one more, at least temporarily.

 

No shirt?  No problem!  They guys gathered round our kitchen table. No shirt? No problem! They guys gathered round our kitchen table.

So Kostya is living with the other guys who have been part of the You Are Not Alone Club ministry.  These guys are providing a first hand look at what it means to be men of God and he?s not real sure what to think about it.  He says he has never been treated as well by people as he has by these guys.

 

Praise God!  Our desire is to see these guys not only grow in their own spiritual relationships with God but to be equipped to minister to their world.  They have been given this opportunity up close and personal with Kostia now a part of all of this.

 

Kostia has manipulations as any kid who has learned to survive on his own develops.  It?s kept him alive.  So please pray for us and those involved in his life that we can be what he really needs and not just a comfortable place to live for awhile.  We are still so limited in our language but God is using Kostya to accelerate our lessons!

 

He?s a little slow but for me that is so helpful.  He helps me with pronunciation and I think it gives him a feeling of satisfaction that he is contributing to our needs.  He?s also doing odd jobs around the house to earn his room and board.  Just keeping him busy is almost another full-time job for Robert.

 

The fence crew, posing next to the project that greeted us in June. The fence crew, posing next to the project that greeted us in June.

He and Robert are working on a shaslik pit (like bar-b-que) in the backyard, and have repaired some of our steps in the front, putting Kostia?s masonry skills to work.  Old houses that are being demolished all around us, to build new homes and apartment buildings, have provided us a lot of the needed materials for our work projects.  The first day he was here they worked along with Vova, one of our other new residents, to replace an old torn up fence that ran along our property.  When we returned from America the old house that was next door had been leveled and most of the fence went with it.

So God is giving us a crash course in this thing called ?post-orphanage ministry? but it feels so good to know we are exactly where we are suppose to be.  Even with that though we are WAY over our heads and we need your prayers ? daily!