Interview with Anne Sokol
This is something new for my blog and I’m very excited about it! you can listen to this interview by clicking on the player provided on this page. I hope you enjoy this new aspect of this website. I also have the transcript of this interview at the bottom of this page if you would rather read than listen.
Or to findout about the Christian birth education courses that Anne mentions, you can visit charischildbirth.org
Their mission agency is www.titusinternational.org
Please visit their websites and support them with your prayers, and consider supporting them financially as well.
Thanks again to Anne. You were a great first guest on this blog!
Transcript of Interview
Keri: So Anne I’m excited to talk to you this is the first time we’ve ever spoken.
Anne: I’m excited to be here with you
Keri: I told her she was my guinea pig because I’ve never done an interview on my blog before.
Why don’t’ you tell us just a little bit about how a girl went from Chattanooga ended up in the Ukraine?
Anne: When I was in High school we had a lot of missionaries come in and out of our church That was also the time when the wall of communism fell in Eastern Europe. I’d heard a lot of things about Russia and the former Soviet Union. And my dream became. Well let me back up a little bit. I had a lot of other interests. I was also interested in the pro-life movement and I was involved in that in my hometown. I also wanted to be a nurse midwife that was my dream. So I combined all these things and I wanted to be a missionary in Russia and help women who were having abortions because there was such an astronomical abortion rate in Russia. My dream was to have a home for women who were in crisis pregnancies and I would be their midwife and help them be able to work, go to school, and not have to abort their babies and this was my whole dream.
When I was 18 I went for the summer to Ukraine and the Lord really attached my heart here. I have actually never been to Russia but I’ve been here and loved it. And then I wanted to come here full time for a long time. I was at school at Bob Jones for years and during those several years and I worked at HomeSat for several years. And all during this time at certain periods this desire to be on the mission field would come and I would just cry and just ask God why do you give me this desire and don’t let me fulfill it. You don’t fulfill it. It was really a purging time, just the Lord taking away just a lot of the wrong motives and humbling me and making me ready for being on the mission field. Then one day I got an e-mail from Pavlo who was a student at Bob Jones and he had gone back to Kiev here and he had started a little Bible institute. He wrote an e-mail asking for someone to come and teach English to the students. As soon as I read that e-mail I knew form God that that was my job. So He finally let me come here full time and I came as a single missionary. The funny thing is that Vitaliy my husband was one of my students and we got to know each other, and he has such an amazing character and love for the Lord. Then the next year we were teachers together at the school and he had a very high level of English so we could communicate well at that time. I’m just so thankful that the Lord brought us together. The Lord helped me be obedient at the right time so I could meet Vitaliy and I could live the life now that the Lord has given me. So that’s how I wound up in Ukraine. We were married in 2004 almost 6 years ago now. That’s our little story.
Keri: That’s so great. When you went to Bob Jones then, were you looking to be in missions is that what you majored in? How did that start?
Anne: That is also a very funny story. You know I wanted to be a nurse midwife.,and that summer that I was in Odessa before I started school at Bob Jones. I went into a hospital and you know when I walked out of that hospital I just knew that I did not want to be a nurse. This whole dream that I had created just dissolved. I got back home and I had a week before I started school and I was flipping through the catalogue. And my mom is an Engilsh teacher and she said “”you’ve always loved to write, why don’t’ you do something with writing? So I chose creative writing. The day was so interesting the day that I started my creative writing classes I just knew that t was just like coming home. It explained who I was and why I was so weird and it explained a lot of things for me. And now I’m really thankful for how the Lord led me, because I’m still becoming involved in childbirth and things like that.
Keri: That is interesting and you do write,, a lot and I love reading what you write so it all works out. And at that point in time you probably did not envision the internet being what it was, or what it would become and how that would connect your ministry with the States in the way that it probably has.
Anne: Yes, it has been wonderful
Keri: When you went to Ukraine as a single missionary did you go on deputation or were you more of a tentmaker?
Anne: I went on deputation because the school or the little institute they didn’t have any funds to support me so I had churches and people supporting me
Keri: So you’ve been supported the whole time you were over there, I never knew that. What about living in Ukraine has been difficult for you?
Anne: Well you that is a really interesting question because it evolves. When I was first here it was hard to go out the door because well because first of all there were like 7 locks you had to go through to get the door actually open. And two doors.
But not just that, the locks were sort of symbolic, just walking out of the house was terrifying because I didn’t want anyone to know that I was a foreigner. I would go to the market and I hated going to the market and people would be talking to me and talking to me. I preferred the supermarket because no one speaks to you and you can just go and read your stuff.
And riding the bus I was always afraid to say where I wanted to go and everyone hears it and I didn’t want the whole bus to know that I was a foreigner. I’ve come a long way since then. I’m not afraid for them to know that I was a foreigner. I get around really well.
The thing I would say probably the last two or three years, I’m going to get kind of personal here. There thing that has been the hardest for me is how my expectations have changed since I had children.
Because I’m used to growing up in a house and unh having all these family traditions and having a nice house and here I live in an apartment and it is living in a huge city where you live in this little matchbox with your children and I think the hardest thing for me the last two or three years has been to be content with the house we are able to have because not the fact that I want to have a house with a yard so my kids can go out and play. To be really honest, to not be jealous of other missionaries who have nicer apartments, who have apartments that they have been able to fix up and I live in this really Ukrainian apartment that I hate and uh I can’t change any of the furniture or décoration because we rent it. That probably has been one of my hugest struggles in the last two or three years. Just letting, the verse where God says you have to leave your father, mother, house and everything and you have to be willing to give all those things up for the Lord. That is one thing that god has been in one way just being willing to give up my longing for an American house. Giving that up to the Lord right now. And honestly I look at it now, I’ve come through struggling with that and the Lord has been helping me a lot and showing me lately things that he is able to do in my heart because I’ve lived here and wrestled with all those things and becoming thankful that God has used this to humble me and to show me things where I wasn’t depending on Christ and finding my sufficiency in Christ. Lately that has been one thing I have been struggling with.
Keri: That is understandable, I think everything is a lot more personal when you have kids because you feel so responsible. Just like your dreams about going to Ukraine, I think you have dreams about how your children will grow up and you are always comparing that. I feel for you.
What do you love about living in Ukraine?
Anne: You know, when I first started living here I loved the bread, butter and cheese. They have wonderful bread here. People come here and buy bulk and take it home and freeze it.
I’ve sort of gotten used to that now.
I think some things I love about life here right now is the people that we’ve gotten to know in the church that we have and um a lot of really just being able to do some of the ministry that Vitaliy has been able to get into and that I’ve been able to do. That is probably the thing I love the most. Because I really can’t ever imagine going to live back in the states because I just feel like there is so much we do here that that we love to do. So I’m just really thankful for those things. Especially the work that God has given us to do here I think is probably what I love most about living here.
Keri:I know that you and Vitaliy both have a lot of ministries going on and you had talked earlier on about your nurse midwife dream and I’d like you to tell the listeners about how the Lord is bringing some of that to fruition in your life now.
Anne: That desire to be a midwife has never really left me. You know it goes under the water for a while but it always resurfaces. It’s like it follows me. About 2 years ago I started studying to be a doula and childbirth educator. Started studying with a Christian organization called Charis childbirth. It was sort of, I never really saw how I could do it here because birth here is kind of a mystery for me. I knew women usually have horrible experiences; but it was hard to get any real details and to really know what it looked like but I started studying this class and through women in my church, I started teaching them childbirth preparation classes. Then I was able to accompany them at their births. That has been a major eye opener seeing an actual birth in a birth house. Other women choose to have homebirths and watching how those things happen. The women in my church, and the husbands too, have been so thankful for this ministry that is unique and something that not very many people do. They are so happy to be having happy birth experiences. Now I’m starting to get clients who are not Christians and it has been wonderful to have chances to witness to them. Lately, I’ve been working with a couple from Belgium they are English speakers. Vitaliy and I went out to dinner with them and He presented the gospel to them. It’s neat how childbirth is such an open time in people’s lives. Being educated about it and serving people make them so open to listen to you about any area of life. It has made people really open to the Lord. I’m really thankful for that.
Keri: That’s wonderful. Tell us about your Crisis pregnancy outreach as well.
Anne: I heard a couple of years ago about a man who had a dream here, a Ukrainian man here, to start a home for women who did not want to have abortions. So I’ve always had this childhood dream to do that so I called him and he said, I called him about a year or two ago and he said he just got a building to do that. So I started meeting with him to do that. Hopefully next year Lord willing we will be opening a home for women and teenagers who are pregnant and in a situation where they are being pressured to have an abortion or basically face abandonment. We are going to open our doors to take in ladies like this. Lord willing they will come to the Lord and see what a normal family life looks like and the Lord can lead them from there and their children.
Keri: I don’t think I realized that abortion was such a prevalent thing in the Ukraine. I think we think of that as an American problem.
Anne: You know, I’ve heard these statistics before, 2 percent of the world’s abortions happen in the United States, but 98 percent of all pro-life funds are spent in the United States. Only 2 percent of pro-life funds are going out to the world where most of the abortions are happening. It is a major problem.
When my assistant, she is an Ob-gyn, they had a very strict rotation in the hospital where she worked. They would do births, prenatal care, and they do abortions. When it came her turn to do abortions that is when she left her job because she was a Christian. She just has told me that in that job, being an OBGYN here, it’s more of a culture of death. Especially under communism because abortions was how you got money. So they would very often encourage abortions, and there were no morals qualms about it. So they were done a lot.
Keri: That really puts it in perspective.
Anne: I’ve heard testimonies of women who have had 20; one woman stopped counting at 25. We’ve been doing post abortion Bible study because we want to have this as a constant ministry because there are so many women that come into the church because of abortions. The healing that they can have in the Lord. They come to the Lord and become Christians and they are always asking forgiveness for their abortions you have to get the healing form the Lord.
Keri: I want to switch gears now and talk a little about your family. Tell us a little bit about your girls and what you see coming in the future with your family so we know what is going on with you.
Anne: We have two little girls, Skyla is 4 years old and Vika will be 3 soon. (Vika is Victoria in Russian) We have been for over about 2 years now wanting to adopt a little boy he has some birth defects. We learned about him when he was put in the hospital. One of my friend’s has a ministry where she arranges for Christian women to sit in the hospital with him so that because they don’t have enough personnel workers in the orphanage to stay with one baby in the hospital all the time. So I got to stay with him one night. He’s a little boy named Paul. We have all of our papers ready, and we were really excited waiting to get him. But the laws in Ukraine… the current president is favorable toward adoption which is wonderful because now there are many more adoptive parents. Because of that, the standards have become a lot stricter. Right now, we do not own our own apartment, we did before but we sold it.
We need to become homeowners before we can become adoptive parents.
The difficulty with that is that normally people get loans through a bank and we can’t get loans from Uk banks because they are not reliable and the interest that they charge is like 30 percent. Right now they are not even giving loans because of the crisis. American banks don’t give loans for foreign property. We are hoping that some Christians might be able to loan us money to buy our own place. We are praying about it if the Lord would burden someone about that.
Hopefully, we will have another baby sometime soon. It’s been a very interesting experience doing all this. We will just see how the Lord works.
Keri: A lot of people go to the Ukraine to adopt a baby and it’s interesting to me that you are married to a Ukrainian and going to adopt there. It gives us a perspective here.
So that leads us to how we can pray for you in the coming months. I know you will be coming here on a deputation furlough type time. What kind of things can we pray for you about?
Anne: One thing that you can always pray about is that Vitaliy does a lot of witnessing and evangelism and just constantly praying that the Lord will lead him to open hearts. People who want to hear the gospel, people who are ready to hear the gospel.
Then, praying for our home for women in crisis pregnancy that is going to be open. We need a lot of wisdom and diligence as we work on that.
One of my major projects that I’m doing right now is doing our support raising. We’ve had a lot of our support changing in the last 2 to 3 years since moving to a major city and having another vehicle and having more ministry needs. I’ve been praying about this a lot about how the Lord will bring friends into our lives as supporters. We will be in the states in April and May of this coming year visiting some people. We have several churches that support us and then we mostly have individuals who support us. They help us find others who might be interested in supporting us. Its developing friendship with people and being generous to people and burdening people who want to be a part of our work here.
Keri: We will be praying that you get lots of meetings.
I’ll be praying that you find a way to get your house bought. it sounds like Paul needs you and you need Paul. It’s been a blessing getting to know you Anne. Your story encourages me and I hope it encourages those who listen to it.