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.

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