Sabbatical - Fall 2009

Ann - August 2009


I thought only really smart people took sabbaticals.  Isn't that for professors or writers or doctors doing medical research?   So I went to Wikipedia and discovered this:

In recent times, "sabbatical" has come to mean any extended absence in the career of an individual in order to achieve something. In the modern sense, one takes sabbatical typically to fulfill some goal, e.g., writing a book or traveling extensively for research.

Sabbaticals are often taken by professors, pastors, cartoonists, musicians, programmers, and sportsmen

We don't fit in any of those categories but it appears God is sending us on a sabbatical.  We definitely are going to be working on achieving something while away from the regular duties of our 'career', or in our case ministry.


Here's the deal:

We are still waiting for our residency permit for Russia.  They tell us we should get the answer by the end of the year.  It will have been a 2-year process involving lots of:

       paperwork (in 2 languages w/lots of official looking stamps)

       traveling (in and out of the country)

       traveling all over Voronezh to various offices and clinics




       praising for each door He has opened along the way.  Too many to mention here.


We think we are close.  Oh so close . . . . to being official residents of Russia.  (And to those of you who might be concerned - we still are American citizens and we don't hear God asking us to relinquish our US passports.)


But in the meantime . . . we are under a new visa, with the same restrictions of having to be out of the country for 3 months for every 6 months we live here.  Many missionaries have had to leave because of the burden this placed on their ministry and their pocketbooks.


By the grace of God we have been able to stay enough to remain connected to our ministry team and our guys who live with us here at Hope House.


Yet, it's time to get out of the country, again. 

In looking for the best place and way to use our time away we discovered an intensive language school in South Carolina.  Through an initial phone call of inquiry the doors began to fly open for us to attend the fall semester of ISLC ? Institute of Strategic Language and Culture in Columbia, South Carolina.


God is sending us on sabbatical!  And what we hope to be achieving while we are away is the deepening of our Russian language skills.


Our job for the next 4 months is to focus on the Russian language and culture in a concentrated school setting. We desperately need this.  We have learned that running a 24/7 post-orphanage transitional ministry does not afford much time for book study.  And we need to get some book study in to take us to the next level. We believe this is a perfect time, place and opportunity to do it.


So . . . we are going to be full-time students again!  For those of you that prayed for me the first go-around of my Russian language school in Krasnodar Russia in 2005 -  thank you!  Your prayers helped keep me from going over the edge then, and I am counting on your prayers (and anyone else who wants to join in!) for our time in language school this time.


ISLC has an excellent reputation (check them out on this link) and we are excited about being in South Carolina where we know NO one and will not have as many distractions.


Of course we are going to stay very involved in the ministry from across the ocean via email and Skype.  But our FOCUS will be on going deeper with the language.  They are encouraging Robert that they can take him at least 2 more levels in his language and with me, well, they haven?t met me, but they are more than willing to meet with me one-on-one if need me to get me further along.


I will probably start in the beginning level (even though I had a year of a good solid program at New View Culture and Language School in 2005-2006).  I still want to do as Julie Andrews sings, 'Let's start at the very beginning.'  I at least know the alphabet going into this beginners class!  I am a step ahead from where I was 4 years ago.


So we plan to leave our home in Voronezh again on August 14th and will return sometime before New Year's which is the big celebration here.  Russian Christmas is not until January 7th which will allow us the blessing of spending our first Christmas in Texas with our family since we moved to Russia in 2005 - an added bonus!


We are busily working to leave the guys, the staff and the ministry in the best shape as possible while we are absent.  God often reminds us that he does not need us to keep this ministry going.  He is more than able.


And we are encouraged by our staff and support team and their willingness to get things better defined and commitment to fill in the gaps while we are away and keep us in the loop with regular reporting.  Praise God for email and Skype! 


And our guys - they seem to be handling this latest news well.  I think they are a little shocked with how long we will be away this time and yet they know what the purposes are and that our desire is so that we can better connect with them.  And the past year of being forced in and out so much has taught our guys one thing - Robert and Ann always come back!


We covet your prayers as we once again, pack our bags (this time we need to have 2 seasons of clothes) and head for South Carolina!


Will you join with us in PRAYING for the needs:

       leaving the house, guys, staff and ministry in good shape

       to get done the things that need to be done and be able to let go of the things that can be let go (always a hard one for us - we want to do it ALL!)

       for the ministry to flourish and be all that God wants it to be while we are away

       for traveling mercies (again!)

       for the funds to cover hidden expenses that we know will pop up from time to time

       for the use of a dependable car for the time we are in the States (please contact us at: immediately if you have any leads or suggestions)

       for our preparation to be students again - emotional, physically, spiritually, and mentally

       for our housing and household goods to all come together

       for our 57 year old brains - that God will do His mighty work in them to learn this language for His glory and the good of the ministry

       for our personal walks with the Lord - that we continue to make pursuing Jesus our first and foremost goal in life and trust God with all the other stuff


And will you join us in PRAISING God for:

       His incredible provision to get us back to Russia in July in the black with enough to make this next part of our journey a reality!

       His continued grace and mercy on us and this ministry

       His work in the lives of a bunch of ragamuffin Russian kids who often causes us to stop and think, "who is ministering to who here?They are such a blessing in our lives!

       His Church, the body of Christ, on both of sides of the ocean, who God uses in so many ways to encourage and empower us to do what He has called us to do.

       His faithfulness that extends to all generations and the joy we have getting to pour into the next generation.


God is so good!  He is good in the good times and the hard times.  He is good in the times of plenty and the times of want.  He is good when we can see Him and His hand on our lives and He is good when we don?t have a clue where He is or what He is doing.


Because we know . . . when we can't see His hand . . . we can trust His heart.  Because we know, we experience on a regular basis - His heart is good!  To Him be the glory!


We can still be reached at our email addresses, no matter what continent we are on, if you are not sure.  Sometimes we aren't even sure!


And always you can keep track of us on our website at:

The Kids Then & Now Photos