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