Saturday, December 31, 2005

Mom In Russia

My Mom recently spent 2 weeks touring, and helping, in Russia as part of a church expedition, Volunteers In Missions, aka the VIM.

Although parts of Russia no doubt have modern conveniences, such as cellular phone networks, Internet Cafes, and private homes with Internet access, the VIM Policy was that no member of the VIM Team would carry any electronic communications devices, such as cell phones or computers. All communications (except for one) were by the team as a unit.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Other Efforts Helping In Russia

The VIM yearly expedition to Russia is one of many American efforts.

The International Missions Board reports in Call of God keeps missionaries to Russia committed to the task of another.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Return From Russia

After spending 2 weeks touring Russia, and losing only 1 small camera (with how many pictures, Mom?), the bus carrying Mom and several other expedition members, and my 2 sisters and 1 nephew, were delayed by a major traffic shutdown of I-95 south of Fredericksburg VA for several hours.


Tractor-Trailer Accident Shuts Down I-95

Associated Press
Thursday, July 7, 2005; 7:45 a.m.

A crash involving three tractor-trailers and a
chemical spill has closed Interstate 95 south of
Fredericksburg this morning.

Sgt. F.L. Tyler, spokesperson for the Va. State
Police, said the accident occured at 1 a.m. between
Massaponax and Thornburg and one of the
tractor-trailers spilled a chemical onto the roadway.

Hazmat officials are on the scene and two northbound
lanes were open after 7 a.m., but Tyler said the
southbound lanes would likely be closed for several
more hours.

Traffic is being re-routed onto Route 1 at mile-marker
122 and back to I-95 southbound at mile-marker 118 at
the Thornburg exit.

Tyler said police are asking drivers to be patient and
said they should look for alternate routes and avoid
I-95 and Route 1 for several hours.


Deadly I-95 crash creates traffic snarl
Three-truck wreck, a chemical spill require both sides
to be closed


Jul 8, 2005


FREDERICKSBURG - Interstate 95 was shut down in both
directions near Fredericksburg yesterday after a
three-truck crash that resulted in a chemical spill
and one death.

Southbound motorists reported travel delays of four or
more hours yesterday afternoon and evening. Some
motorists caught in the backup were seen toting
gasoline canisters along the roadside. Truckers idled
their rigs along exit ramps and waited.

Two northbound lanes had reopened by 7 a.m., several
hours after the 1 a.m. crash, but all southbound lanes
at mile marker 122 in Spotsylvania County were
expected to be closed until midnight - almost a full
24 hours.

Highway crews began removing contaminated asphalt and
repaving a 200-yard section of the interstate at 7
p.m., after hazardous materials and accident
investigation teams finished their work, said Ryan
Hall, a Virginia Department of Transportation

The repaving was required by the state Department of
Environ- mental Quality after the chemical, a
fungicide, penetrated the roadway, state
transportation officials said. State police said three
to five 275-gallon containers had ruptured.

Just one of the southbound lanes was expected to
reopen around midnight, with the other two reopening
by morning rush hour, Hall said. The third northbound
lane had reopened by 8 p.m.

Click Here.

Traffic was detoured yesterday onto U.S. 1 and 301,
both of which quickly became choked, VDOT spokeswoman
Tina Bundy said. "Everything is a parking lot."

Last night during rush hour, southbound traffic was
backed up 26 miles into Prince William County.

Virginia State Police said the accident occurred when
the first two trucks were approaching a highway-paving
project and were either slowed or stopped and the
third truck, carrying the chemical, crashed into the
second, causing a chain-reaction crash into the first

Police confirmed there was one fatality, the driver of
the truck hauling the fungicide. The driver, a
41-year-old male, was from out of state, but police
did not identify him.

The drivers of the other two trucks were treated at
local hospitals and released.

At least two state troopers were taken to Mary
Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg for
decontamination, said Virginia State Police Sgt. F.L.
Tyler. He said the troopers were treated and released.

Bundy said some VDOT employees also underwent


According to my one sister who was driving the bus, they may have well missed being actively involved in the accident by as little as 10 minutes, as they made a brief rest stop in Fredericksburg.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Email #8 - 7/6

Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2005 05:42:24 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Gerald Flinchbaugh"
Subject: VIM Russia 2005 E-mail #8
To: "Gerald Flinchbaugh"

VIM Russia 2005 E-mail #8

Dear Friends,

Below is newsletter #8.

I just received the following newsletter this morning. I hope you enjoy it.

Blessings to all of you.


VIM Russia # 8
July 6, 2005- Newsletter from Pyatigorsk, except now we’re in St. Petersburg!

We are here on the last leg of our wonderful trip, in St. Petersburg, getting to understand more about the Russian people we have grown to love so much.

On the Friday after our home visits, it was time to say good-bye to our Pyatigorsk friends. Day school wrapped up in the morning, the finishing touches were put on the Dance Room, and we met in the Dining Room for the Farewell Lunch with the Boarding School Staff. We were so impressed with the hospitality shown us by our Russian friends, that it was hard to say “Until next time!” The Kitchen Staff have kept us well fed so we could play and work hard. The Boarding School Staff have worked side-by-side with us in their environment. Our Interpreters were wonderful, and certainly went a step beyond what was expected in always being there for us to translate what was going on into words we could understand, whether it be speech, or customs. Yes, the Lord’s hand has certainly been in the making of this work trip to Pyatigorsk!

In the afternoon, we met up with several of our friends from the Pyatigorsk United Methodist Church and went to dinner at a neat restaurant out in the country on a lake. We enjoyed our time with Victor and Olga, Pastor Alexander and his bride Olga, and many other friends from the church. After admiring the minnows, watching the frog and the swallows, trying our feet again at a little Russian (and popular!) dancing, and visiting with each other, we said “Until next time” to these kind people, our brothers and sisters in Christ in this Russian church.

We went “home” to the Boarding School for one last night, to pack our bags, and pull out enough stuff to get them down to 42 pounds! Our final Team Meeting was one of much thanksgiving for the opportunities that God had given us to minister to others, but mostly, to be ministered to, for the physical work completed in the Boarding School, but mostly for the friends we made among the Team of Americans and of Russians.

Early the next morning, we headed for the airport and Moscow! We all voted unanimously to keep the same Interpreters the next time we come! They went with us to the airport, and helped us through the hard parts, except they were no help when it was time to part from them! I do believe that in the days we were together, we did all become one team, working for the Lord.

In Moscow we had a full day of sightseeing with a little shopping, more eating, and more fun together. We got to visit the Kremlin, see the Russian Circus, and take a bus tour of Moscow. Our guide was wonderful. She gave us an overview of the history, and kept us on track for where we were going. Late in the evening, we boarded the overnight train to St. Petersburg. It didn’t take us long to settle in to our beds and close our eyes for much needed rest, only to hear Bill Wynn pounding on each door as he moved down the hall: “Got any snacks??” I think he was looking for some for Sam, but it was too late for anyone to want to share! (Now that I think of it, I wonder if this was a test??!!)

We arrived in St. Petersburg at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 3, and the sun was already high in the sky! We were able to check in at the Moscow Hotel (this is St. Petersburg, remember?), get a hot shower and clean up before we hit the road running. We learned quickly about the buffet-system of meals at the hotel, and then reboarded our bus to explore at the wonderful museum called The Hermitage. Lena, our guide is so knowledgeable about all of Russian history, that she made the tour (and all the rest!) quite fascinating with facts and details about the Russian rulers and what was going on around the area at the time.

Lena our guide, is not only Christian, she is United Methodist! When she started giving tours, she was so impressed with the Methodists and the work that they do with and for children here, that she became a Methodist. She and her Methodist husband were married in the Methodist Church! Don’t you know that God is at work even when we don’t think about it?!

We are in the “Time of White Nights”, when, in St. Petersburg, the sun barely goes down before it is up again for another day! When the clock says 10:30 p.m., it looks outside and feels as if it should be only about 4:30! We have taken full advantage of the many day-light hours, by getting to know St. Petersburg: bus tour around the city with stops at Palaces and Cathedrals of the great rulers, a boat ride on the Neva River, a view of the Peter and Paul Fortress from all angles outside and even from the inside, and of course, more shopping for just the right gifts for those at home. We were surprised with little American flags on the Fourth of July that were shared by a Team Member who received them in one of the devotionals that someone sent with her. Just a little bit of home in a foreign country… We saw a performance by a local Folk Group with much Russian dancing, and music played by local musicians. and as we arrived to see the performance by the Folk Group, we were greeted by a horn and tuba playing the Star Spangled Banner! As the Team went on the bus to go sight-seeing, Julia Brooks was always with us, perched in the front seat of the bus. Because of a problem with her leg, she couldn’t get along without her walker, but we all learned a lot about handicaps on this trip. Just because someone can’t walk doesn’t mean they can’t see. Just because someone can’t speak eloquently doesn’t mean they can’t share God’s love. Just because you have always been self-sufficient doesn’t mean you can’t accept help from others when you need it. Receiving graciously is as much a gift as the gift given. Julia learned this first-hand while the team were out seeing the sights, as she sat on the bus and waited for our return. The bus driver spoke not much English, and Julia knows not much Russian, but they communicated quite well. He offered to bring her a soda, and didn’t leave her for long at a time, just so she would feel safe. Once while he was gone, a couple of fellows came to the bus to sell Julia a cracked CD. She declined. They came back, and tried again, and as one was talking to her, she caught a glimpse of the other one trying to take the bus driver’s jacket. She grabbed the jacket and emphatically told them “You can’t have that jacket and Go Away!”, which they promptly did. Fortunately, Julia was safe, and so was the bus driver’s jacket! He was so thankful, that he gave Miss Julia a bottle of wine!

I think we all have enjoyed our time in this metropolitan hotel, seeing tourists and business people from all over the world, Japan, Korea, the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and who knows where else. We are on our own this morning, until check-out at noon, then lunch and then to the airport for the last part of our trip.

We all thank the Lord for health, safety, and a feeling of worth on this mission trip where we have been more blessed than we could ever imagine. Thanks you for your support, your love, and your prayers. We may very well see you before you see this!

Yours in Christ,

UMVIM-Russia 2005 Team, Jean Taylor reporting

PS – Many thanks to Jean Taylor for her tanacious spirit, and willing heart in providing the insights of our trip. In a few hours we will board a plane for the USA eagerly awaiting our family and friends. Many thanks for your prayers. Sam NeSmith, team leader.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Email #7 - 7/5

Date: Tue, 5 Jul 2005 07:37:59 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Charlotte Croll"
Subject: Yo Chuck
To: Chuck

Traveling on plane, train, bus, boat, taxi, tram.
Been in St Petersburg for the last 2 days, leaving
Wednesday at 5:30 pm local time. Guess I'm the Old
Lady on the trip--but it hasn't been wasted. I've been
busy with the best of em. More fun than a barrel of
monkeys! Please forward to SL and Marty.
First chance to use an Internet Cafe!! Just to
satisy your expertise and my curiousity... Love, Mom

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Email #6 - 7/2

Date: Sat, 2 Jul 2005 06:42:46 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Gerald Flinchbaugh"
Subject: VIM Russia 2005 E-mail #7
To: "Gerald Flinchbaugh"

VIM Russia 2005 E-mail #7

Dear Friends,

Below is newsletter #7.

Here is the note from my friend in Russia.

Dear Gerry:
This is attached final Newsletter #7 from VIM as they left this morning for Moscowto proceed on train to St. Petersburg. All left in high spirits and good health.

Blessings to all of you. Have a safe and pleasant weekend and 4th of July.


VIM Russia # 7

July 1, 2005- Newsletter from Pyatigorsk

One of the highlights of this trip for many has been the opportunity to visit in the homes of our Russian friends for one night. The hosts picked up ones or twos at the Boarding School at 7:00 p.m. and took them away for the night. They all returned after breakfast this morning in time to finish up our work projects and the final day of Day Camp. Below, you will find why this was such a special experience.

Jerry Tussing and Dave Williams met with three generations of a well-to-do Russian family. We experienced traditional Russian hospitality, food, drink, gifts, and great conversations, although English was difficult, we were able to discuss similarities and differences, and experiences with each other’s countries. The wife is Vice Regent of the Computer Information Department at the University; the husband works at a computer sales company. The daughter works at the Computer Center and has a very cute and precocious 5 year-old daughter. They expected that we would have negative feelings about our Russian experience, however, we assured them that our time here has truly been a blessing. It was a wonderful experience with a loving family in a warm and inviting home worthy of any in Europe or America.

Nancy Haines: I was with Pastor Alexander and his wife. The discussions we had, and their loving hospitality made this a highlight for me.

Gladyne Swartz: It was wonderful to be in the home of Tanya who I met last year and have written to since. Our friend Lydia made home-made sausage for us…. The communication and the recocnition that we are sisters in faith made this a highlight of my trip.

Bill Wynn: It was so important because I had an opportunity to celebrate my birthday in the home of a Russian family who could not speak English, and at the same time we were able to communicate continuously for over two hours! I was not aware that they knew it was my birthday, and they presented me with a cake and gift! Both are members of the Methodist Church of Pyatigorsk.

Sandra Carter: After having Vova at my house for one week, I spent the night with his Mom and Dad. They don’t know much English, but with the help of their grandson, we managed to communicate. I am so glad my husband and I changed the life of one young man, hopefully for the best.

Charlotte Croll: I just liked being there and seeing how they live. My host was a head chef in a restaurant, so you know the meal was wonderful! I slept in a nice comfortable bed… Since they could speak no English, and I no Russian, we communicated by computer! I wrote in English, and the computer translated to Russian. They wrote in Russian and the computer translated to English. They were true Russians. They were wonderful hosts, and have become great friends.

The Lewis Family, Andrew, Deanna, Christine, and Nathan: We were fortunate to be able to go together to one house. The family we visited were wealthy, had a nice home. The Grandparents, Mother and Father, and two sons of college age all live together. We had a typical Russian dinner with other relatives and neighbors included. During the meal, there were several toasts. At one point the Father made a toast to all Russian and American Women. At this toast, all men must stand to honor their women. Deanna decided that we should continue this tradition in America! It was a highlight because our hosts were so happy that we were there, and wanted to learn so much about us. They also wanted to share themselves with us. We feel very blessed to have spent time with this family and know that they feel the same way.

Pat Jones: For me, this was an opportunity to really experience Russian culture. Also, it showed me how much we are all alike. We all need the basic necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter. The family I visited showed me much love, for this I am grateful.

Andrew Conard: The hospitality of the family was a blessing to me. It was very good to get a small taste of a Russian home.

Martha Clement: The generous spirit, abundant food, constant affection, a chance to see real life people in their own home is what I liked best.

Lyn Conley: Nadia and Peter Bely graciously opened their small home to us. Our evening began with a feast fit for kings, including shashlik (Russian barbecue) cooked by Peter on swords on an open fire. YUM!! Peter and Nadia gave up their beds for us. Peter slept in the loft over the summer kitchen, and fought the mosquitoes bravely. Their kitchen area is approximately 6’ x 12’, and Nadia served 11 people dinner, and had enough left over to feed an army. Nadia’s Russian name is Nadezhda, which means “Hope”, and she embodies the spirit of all the Russians that we have encountered.

Cheryl Hall: My good friend, Olga Litvisko and I finally had an opportunity to sit and relax and just share what has been going on in our lives. Her husband Sergei and his friend Max were very polite and interested in discussing our culture versus Russia’s.

As usual the Russian food was excellent and the hospitality was over the top. I cherish our friendship and look forward to Olga residing in the United States next year.

Beth Breeding- My family was very welcoming and showed me the greatest hospitality. They served wonderful food and we had a lovely time. I watched the movie Shrek twice in Russian with their young two-year-old son. I am grateful for the experience.

UMVIM-Russia 2005 Team, Jean Taylor reporting

Friday, July 01, 2005

Email #5 - 7/1

Date: Fri, 1 Jul 2005 05:50:15 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Gerald Flinchbaugh"
Subject: VIM Russia 2005 E-mail #6
To: "Gerald Flinchbaugh"

VIM Russia 2005 E-mail #6

Dear Friends,

Below is newsletter #6.

Sorry I am a later this morning getting this to you. I had some internet access problems this morning, but I believe they are resolved now.

Enjoy the newsletter. I understand from our friend Victor, that the plans are for one or maybe two more newsletters before the team flies back home. If I get them, I will do my best to make sure you get them.

God’s rich blessing to all of you! God is good!


Subject: VIM Russia #6, June 30, 2005

VIM Russia- Team 2005 is so-o-o blessed! By each other, and those around us, by the love of God we see here in Pyatigorsk!

Each morning and each evening, we have Team devotionals. Our Russian Interpreters and our Russian Teacher-friends from this school join us. It’s such a meaningful way to begin and end the day, with each other wrapped in God’s love as one of us shares a devotional sent with them from their friends and brothers and sisters in Christ, or brought to share with the Team.

This morning, we worked again on our projects… painted ourselves out of a job in the Gym! Music Room is done. Cafeteria needs a little trim work, and the Dance Room needs handrails hung, tops put on the radiator covers, and the wallpaper hung, then all will be done!

We went this afternoon to the Pyatigorsk City Orphanage. The Directors warmly greeted us. After a tour of the dormitory for the smallest children and meeting those children, those same children treated us to the cutest play. AND we had tea and treats with a question and answer session. It turns out that they have many of the same problems with bureaucracy that we do. What an education we are getting in how much the same we all are, especially as children of God!

On return to the Boarding School, most of us prepared for an evening in the home of a “real Russian”! (we were hosted by our brothers and sisters in Christ from the PUMC and from the University.)

We continue to pray for you, as we know you are praying for us.

UMVIM-Russia 2005 Team Jean Taylor reporting

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Email #4 - 6/30

Date: Thu, 30 Jun 2005 07:01:49 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Gerald Flinchbaugh"
Subject: VIM Russia 2005 E-mail #5
To: "Gerald Flinchbaugh"

VIM Russia 2005 E-mail #5

Dear Friends,

Below is newsletter #5.

Enjoy the newsletter. Have a blessed day!


Subject: VIM Russia #5, June 29, 2005

Again, greetings from Pyatigorsk!! Our days continue to be busy and full of Blessings! These last 24 hours have been no exception. Devotions on Tuesday evening were very touching as Oksana (one of our interpreters) shared with us how much she has learned about Americans, and how much she has grown to love us… We all agreed that the feelings are mutual between the Team and the Interpreters, and the People from the Boarding School.

Wednesday found many of us going off in a variety of directions. Four went early this morning to spend the day visiting the Russian Peace Foundation office in Stavropol.

Devotionals were brought by Jean H. and Charlotte. It’s so amazing how God moves among us!

Later in the morning, two more were able to visit the local public Library and spend time sharing and learning with the people there.

The rest of us stayed at the Boarding School and continued work on our projects. Most are nearing completion, and we are proud of what we have been able to accomplish! The Day School is up to 58 different children attending, with 38 of them today!

After lunch, we went up to see where and what the Sewing Teacher does her magic… They do embroidery, clothing construction, and many other types of needlework. Each of us received a stuffed animal that the children had made! They were very proud of the items they had been able to make with the materials they received from the Team last year, and are looking forward to sorting the bag of stuff we left this time.

Then we traveled to the Social Services Children’s Day Care Department. They were most excited to see us, and explained how the organization works and what they do for children in the city. Then, the children in the “drama” part put on a concert for us. They sang different types of Russian songs, played the piano, and performed the part they had had in the big Pyatigorsk Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Great War. Their songs were touching and fun, the performers well-trained, and many exhibited a very real stage-presence, and all thoroughly enjoyed that part of the afternoon… even putting to use the dance lessons we had yesterday afternoon!

After that visit, we went shopping in down-town Pyatigorsk! What an adventure!! We also did a little sight-seeing…

Every place we have been has been an education, sights and sounds, the feel of the area, and the warmth and hospitality of the Russian people. We are so blessed to be here!

We will all be sad when our time here is done, but know that God has been busy while we have been here, working through us, and through all of those whom we meet.

We continue to pray for you, as we know you are praying for us.

UMVIM-Russia 2005 Team Jean Taylor reporting

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From: Cheryl Hall

To: Shady Grove UMC

We continue our Boarding School work projects and marvel everyday at the signs of God’s presence. The teachers and translators are so talented at the reconstruction work that we enjoy learning “their methods”. Last evening, we had a Bible study with the Pyatigorsk Church. Julia Brooks, our oldest, dearest team member spoke about “ For God So Loved The World”. We have experienced so much love and grace from our Russian family that our goodbyes are painful, but we know we will return next year. So for now, we say God bless and das vidanya.

Cheryl Hall & Bobbie Stein

To: Shirley Hall

From: Cheryl Hall

Our work projects continue (the weather has been exceptionally sunny and cool) and hopefully will complete them by Friday. Bobbie, Gladyne & I had a wonderful dinner and meeting with Pastor Alexander & his wife Olga, so Weds. was an .exceptional day. We leave for St. Petersburg Saturday and, as you know, I am always emotional about leaving my Russian friends. Take care. Das vidanya.



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From Jerry, Jerry, Nancy, Jean T., Dave, Gladyne, Bill, Andrew, Andrew, Deanna, Christine, Nathan

To St. Stephen’s UMC

We all are well and busy, busy, busy!!! Have truly felt your prayers and are so thankful for them and your support for this mission. There is such need here!! The Spirit of the Lord is truly at work. Take good care of yourselves! We leave here on Saturday morning early for Moscow then St. Petersburg, then home on July 6… Don’t forget to come get us at the airport! Love you all, Smiles and Prayers from all of us.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Email #3 - 6/29

Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 04:12:00 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Gerald Flinchbaugh"
Subject: VIM Russia 2005 E-mail #4
To: "Gerald Flinchbaugh"

VIM Russia 2005 E-mail #4

Dear Friends,

Below is newsletter #4.

Yesterday I told you that I would check into what happened to Newsletter # 1. I learned that there was no newsletter #1 for general distribution.

Enjoy the newsletter. Have a blessed day!


Subject: VIM Russia #4, June 28, 2005

Greetings again from Pyatigorsk!! Our days continue to be busy and full of Blessings! Picking up where we last left off, our Monday evening devotionals were highlighted by a spontaneous presentation on the Russian Republic of Dzachistan by Nina and Olly, two of our new interpreters. They described life as a Russian living in a mostly Muslim area, including the challenges and the positives and gave personal perspectives as a Christian in a Muslim culture. Pat topped off the devotional with a lesson for our Russian friends on the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Afterwards fun and games continued with the Russian children in the playground area with rousing games of “volleysoccer,” basketball and such.

Tuesday brought more work. But first, we prepared for the visit to the War Veteran’s Hospital by practicing several of our songs, soulfully led by Andrew L. and Deanna. The neighbors have commented to the school staff how wonderful our singing is, so we gave them more to appreciate! Work continued in the Theater room <**???**> with preparation for new linoleum flooring, but repairs to the base required 24 hours to dry, so the windows were scraped of decades of built up paint and repainted. Installation of wainscoting in the dance room continued and major repainting of the main Gym room was completed.

Andrew Conard continues to explore the Russian culture and political systems through interviews with our hosts and other key people.

We were touched at lunch by the blessing of the meal by a Russian employee of the Boarding School. The Russians continue to actively participate in our devotionals and meals and are a true blessing to all of us as our relationships continue

to build.

After lunch, we were fortunate to be able to visit the Veterans Hospital. One elderly veteran of WWII, expressed his extreme gratitude to the Americans, saying the first time he saw any Americans was when they freed him from a German Prison Camp in 1945. The second time was today.

We had Bible Study following that at the PUMC, with lessons by Pastor Alexander and Julia Brooks… both touched our hearts, and taught us again about being salt and light.

We continue to love our time here, especially being with our Russian friends, and feeling the work of the Holy Spirit.

UMVIM-Russia 2005 Team - Jerrys Tussing, Cottrell, and Jean Taylor reporting

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From Bill Wynn: Requests St. Stephen’s UMC office and other Team Supporters to call his wife Mary Jane to send his love and let her know he is fine and doing well (she does not get email). Number is 703-425-8153. (P.S. Who won the NBA championship????)

To Good News Class: Thanks for your cards, letters, and inspirational books. Can’t wait to share my experience with you! Bill.

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From Jerry Tussing: Continued prayers for Judy Ryan and Sonja’s mom Margaret as they recover from their surgeries. My love to Sonja, Candice and Austin and the extended family as Margaret begins her recovery from this malignancy.

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From Jean T.: Guess what?! We got to visit the Veteran’s Hospital this afternoon, and they let me saw this morning! Love you all! Jean/Mom.

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From Dick to all in Deltaville: We are here, doing well, enjoying working with the people here. Our love to all our families!

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From Tim: Doing good! Love to all!!

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From Lyn: Today’s visit to the Veterans Hospital was very touching. The veterans we saw were very appreciative of the Americans’ part in the Great War. I visited the surgical unit and we saw Olga, Sr.’s mother there, who is recovering from abdominal surgery. This team is very musical, and I have enjoyed participating in all the singing. For the RDYC: we have a new word: “oishkey-benoishkey”! Love to all, Lyn.

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From Andrew C. – Mom, Dad, Jonathan, Melissa and Kristin – Eating well, and getting enough sleep. K – hope things are going well in jolly England. I’m taking good notes to tell you all about it.

Nicole – How is the beta? Are you on call this week? Can’t wait to see you. Ily

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From Bobbie & Cheryl: Dear Marjorie, Staff & Congregation:

We have arrived safely in Pyatigorsk and have begun our work projects. We are experiencing the wonderful warmth, friendship and love from our family and friends at the Boarding School. Our first Sunday with the Pyatigorsk UMC congregation was a special moment (seeing many old friends plus new ones). Pastor Alexander Kozorazov sends his greetings and blessings. Thank you for your prayers and support of our mission.

Love, Bobbie & Cheryl


Dear Mom,

Hi…just a note to say thank you for your support and prayers of my time here in Russia. We are being well taken care of by our friends and family here at the Boarding School. Pastor Alexander sends his regards. I’ll see you on July 11th. Take care.

Love, Cheryl

Note: You may respond to this email address if you would like to…

From Bobbie:

Once again this is a wonderful trip. Visited a vet hospital today with ten bags of supplies. Weather fine. Only a few days left to finish many projects. Been busy organizing supplies and hanging wallpaper.

Love, Mom

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Email #2 - 6/28

Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 03:41:48 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Gerald Flinchbaugh"
Subject: VIM Russia 2005 E-mail 3
To: "Gerald Flinchbaugh"

VIM Russia 2005 E-mail 3

Dear Friends,

I am including the newsletters below that I received from the team today as in line text. My experience indicates that this is the best way to send them to you as opposed to attached files.

Based upon the numbering of the newsletters from the team it appears that I did not receive Newsletter # 1. I am checking into that and will let you know what find out.

Have a blessed day!


Subject: VIM Russia

Greetings from Pyatigorsk!! Just want to let you know that all 31 members of the VIM-Russia Team have arrived safely in Pyatigorsk (along with all 62 pieces of checked luggage and multiple carry-on bags)! The flight to Moscow was uneventful, as long flights go; being an overnight, we had time to close our eyes and dream about the projects and people to come! On arrival in Moscow, we were privileged to spend the night in the famous Hotel Rossia (at the time of construction, the largest in the world with 6,000 beds!) They say that by the time this Team returns next June, it will be torn down and replaced by a bigger and better structure! We were treated to dinner at the American Bar and Grill. We entered a large building that appeared to have come from America’s Old West, complete with exposed beams in the ceiling, wagon wheel lights, and chaps on the wall. The food introduced us to typical Russian fare: spinach and greens salad, chicken over mashed potatoes, covered with a Kiev sauce. The 26-hour, all day, all night train ride to Pyatigorsk was a highlight with lots of time to see beautiful and interesting Russian country-side and get to know other members of the Team. It had two or three 20 to 30 minute stops when we could get off and stretch our legs, and buy ice cream or other treats from the kiosks at the stations.

On arrival in Pyatigorsk, we were warmly greeted by many friends from the United Methodist Church and the Boarding School. That day, we moved in to the Boarding School, visited the Social Services Center of Pyatigorsk, and heard about all they do for

the community (same as most of ours: help with childcare of young children, assist senior citizens, reach out to those in need in the community, and offer space for the local United Methodist Church to meet). We were entertained by some of their senior citizens, who did some traditional Russian dancing and some Pyatigorskan “comedy” routines, both of which we were included! Then we met with the Pyatigorsk United Methodist Church people for a devotional by Pastor Alexander. After dinner, we met all the important people at the Boarding School, from the Director Olga, Lead Maintenance Person Peter, Peter’s wife, Nadya, our Interpreters, and others. We were pleased to have Olga and Julia back as interpreters!

We began our work projects on Saturday, stripping wall paper, preparing walls for painting, replacing wall boards in the dining hall. We took a break in the afternoon to ride the cable car up Mount Mashuk, saw beautiful scenery and were able to really SEE how big Pyatigorsk really is… (350,000 people). Then we all piled back on the bus and went to beautiful St. Lazarus Church. The Orthodox Priest there gave us a mini-tour and explained the naming of the church and the significance of several important icons. We had the opportunity to shop in the gift shop adjacent to the church and explore the old cemetery, too. Next, we visited Victor and Olga’s newly reconstructed home for an official House Blessing. After our evening meal, we learned much about the Russian system of money lending, and the similarities and differences between construction in the U.S. and Russia.

The food at every meal has been delicious Russian food: borscht, sausages, cabbage salad, fried eggs and buckwheat, delicious bread and local jams, and always fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden.

All is well, and God certainly is at work in us and through us and all around us. Thank you for your prayers.

Greetings from Lyn Conley! It was wonderful to see all my friends and Russian family here at the Boarding School. The neighborhood children have all greeted us enthusiastically and I was pleased to see many familiar faces. I am currently on the wallpaper team, working with several of the Russian teachers and other Americans. Saturday at dinner (lunch to us) I sat with Olga (Jr), her sister Larissa, and other teachers. We questioned each other at length about our respective educational systems. It was informative and enlightening. One of the best things happening is many of the Russian team members are attending our devotional times. Olga is interpreting and they seem really interested. Note of interest: Olga is coming to the US as a Fulbright Scholar sometime near the end of August. She will be at either Pittsburgh Univ., or at George Washington in DC. I am hoping for the GW appointment as she would be within driving distance for many of us. Love to all in Kilmarnock and elsewhere – thanks for the many prayers and thoughts! Jim – Olga says she can do our plastering – you just have to wait until August!

Greetings all from Helen and John

We arrived safely in Pyatigorsk as described above….tired, but happy and ready to begin our work here at the boarding school. We were greeted by old and new friends from the school and the church. Our projects began today to be continued on Monday. We continue to be amazed at the resourcefulness of the Russian workers (and by the skills of the team members). A further report will describe to you the progress of our work here as well as the visits to various supported organizations and places of interest here. We trust the team is in your prayers….you are in ours. God Bless!

Subject: VIM Russia #3, June 27, 2005

Greetings from Pyatigorsk!! Since you last heard from us, we have been busy! Sunday, we were able to spend a wonderful Sabbath with friends old and new. The Team were blessed to worship with our brothers and sisters of the Pyatigorsk United Methodist Church. What a Spirit-filled time! The Team made up the new UMVIM Russia Choir and made their initial offerings for the worship service. Deanna and Lyn, as well as Christine and Nathan sang special numbers. Pastor Alexander most graciously entrenched both Andrews in the worship service: Andrew Lewis as substitute organist and music director, and Andrew Conard bringing the message. Several gifts were presented to the church during the service. At the close, we were so pleased to have a concert by local musicians, the music’s of which could very easily be professional! It was wonderful for them to share their gifts of song, violins and clarinet with us. Our family of the Pyatigorsk Church presented us with a pot-luck lunch. The food was just like all Methodist Pot-lucks… most delicious and varied! We all ate way too much ! We all enjoyed meeting with and visiting our kind and gracious brothers and sisters of the Pyatigorsk Church.

Following lunch, we took a sight-seeing tour to Kislovodsk and the surrounding area. We enjoyed the ride through the Russian country-side, and a view of the “Five Mountains” for which Pyatigorsk is named “the five mountain town”. Learning that where we were used to be under the sea (thousands of years ago) makes us so thankful for progress! The afternoon was filled with seeing the sights and doing a little shopping (some real shopping, and a lot of “window shopping”) in this resort town with 5 natural springs of “healthy, healing” water!

On return to the Boarding School, the staff had a delicious dinner waiting for us. After we got our land-legs back, many of us played with the local children until time for evening devotionals. We play “33” like a basketball game of “21”, dodge ball, soccer and volleyball, Hokey Pokey, Duck-Duck-Goose and other games we all know and love! Evening devotionals wrapped up a Sabbath full of the Spirit of the Lord, from worship, seeing His World, and mostly getting to know those of His Children He has led us to.

Monday, we began our work projects in earnest. Some hung wallpaper in a couple of rooms, some painted the gym, some worked to put up wainscoting in the dance studio, and others ran the Day Camp, which we would call Vacation Bible School, and other continued to sort the gifts and donations that we brought along. There were 31 children at the Camp for the first day! That is how many have been there on the last day in the past, so the Russian children must be expecting this group from Virginia! Some work projects were completed today, and others still have small amounts of work to be finished up. Everyone really feels as if they have arrived, having been able to put elbow grease to their prayers for these gentle, hospitable Russian people.

After working most of the day, and a chance to take warm showers this afternoon, we all learned some Russian dances so we’ll be ready for the big party on Friday night! Sam and John offered jelly-making classes to some of the teachers in the Boarding School while the rest of us were dancing. Mulberry and cherry and currant were the flavors of the day! And THEN we Americans learned to make pelmeni! Jerry T. told us they looked like perogis. Others referred to them as ravioli. A small amount of seasoned meat was placed in the center of a special pastry circle, which was folded over and sealed to be boiled like a dumpling. Needless to say, we had to eat our “art work” for supper! Thankfully, the way they were put together did not affect the delicious taste or the nourishment!!

We are having the best time here learning about our Russian neighbors, both in working side-by-side, by teaching each other about our customs, and in sharing in devotional time every day. Surely the Spirit of the Lord is in this place! We continue to pray for your health, strength, and peace as we hope you continue to pray for us.

UMVIM-Russia 2005 Team - Jean Taylor, reporting

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From Sandra to John, Whitney and Steven: I love and miss you very much! I hope you all are doing well and taking care of those fat cats! I love being over here with these wonderful, appreciative Russian people, especially the children. I’ll be home before you know it! Love, Sandra.


From Jerry Tussing: We’re all thinking about Judy Ryan and Sonja’s Mom as they have their surgeries. Prayers for the Doctors, nurses and all those who will take care of them in the hospital and afterward. Prayers for them for strength and the Peace that passes all understanding.


From Tim to Missy and Kids: Doing well! Working hard! Love you and miss you… See you soon! Tim/Dad.


From Charlotte to Sarah Lynn, and Charles, and Andrew, and Anita: I had a dancing lesson today! Tell the cat I miss her! Love, Mom.


From Andrew L., Deanna, Christine, and Nathan to Mom: Everything is great. The kids are having a blast! The Russians are very hospitable… Can’t wait to see you in your new house! Love you, all the Lewises.


From Lynn to Jim and everyone: Today we really got into our work projects. I helped paint the gym today, and helped wall-paper the anteroom. There were 31 children at Bible School today. I think that was a new first-day record! Cameron Carter, all the children say to tell you Hello! Tonight we learned to make pelmeni (Russian ravioli). Guess what we’re having for dinner! Love you all, keep those prayers coming. Lyn.

P.S. Jim, don’t forget to water the plants!


From Beth to Mom and Dad: Just wanted to say hello! I have been painting and having a good time playing with the children. See you in a few days!! Love, Beth.


From Jean Taylor to Jerry Taylor, John, Jamie, Kylie, Pop, Susan, Mom & Dad T. and all the rest! I did find my voice, much to the chagrin of the rest of the team who know me well (ha-ha!) … we are having a wonderful time, and I really am glad that I am here. Had dance lessons this afternoon after cutting and putting up wainscoting in the dance room… What fun to be doing something!! Hope you got where you are going okay, Jerry. Love and mush to each of you with smiles and prayers! Jean.

P.S. Welcome to Pastor Sandy! Am looking forward to getting to know you! J.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Email #1 - 6/27

Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 04:52:42 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Gerald Flinchbaugh"
Subject: VIM Russia 2005 E-mail 2
To: "Gerald Flinchbaugh"

Subject: Good News, but not a Newsletter

Dear Friends,

I received the following message from a friend of mine
in Russia and I thought you would be glad to read it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~begin message from Russia~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Gerry:

VIM team arrived safely - all sound and in high
spirits. This year the program is a bit different, and
more intensive, but the team does quite

I will proceed sending mails as Sam provides
Newsletters in the next

Warmly yours,
~~~~~~~~~~~~end message from Russia~~~~~~~~~~~

Have a blessed day!


VIM - Russia 2005 E-mail 2