Final Post - Friday/SaturdayEarly Friday morning we traveled from Donetsk to Amsterdam where we spent the night at the Ibis Hotel. We all had an opportunity to see the city in the late afternoon and early evening.
The Hotel had a shuttle to the airport where we could take the train into downtown Amsterdam. The train was fast and comfortable.
Part of the group went to the flower market to check out the Tulips.
The rest of us went to see the Anne Frank house. It was a moving experience to actually walk up the narrow stairways and visit the "hiding place". The rooms have been maintained in their authentic state but are empty because the furniture was carted away directly after the arrest. Salvaged documents and objects belonging to the eight people who hid there are on display. Videos are played in many of the rooms that tell the story. Even Anne's father was on film telling about her and why he wanted her diary published.
We also managed to walk around the city, visit the souvenir shops, and stop and eat some Weiner Schnitzel (an Austrian dish).
We all were supposed to travel from Amsterdam to Nashville via Detroit on Saturday afternoon. But David and I ended up out of synch again and had to leave mid morning for Nashville via Minneapolis.
Everyone arrived home safe and sound Saturday evening.
This was a tremendous trip. We stayed busy every day imparting the good news of the gospel to both young and old. We met old friends and made many new ones. We give all the glory to God and thank him for allowing us safe passage.
posted by Bob Schmitt
Friday, July 25, the next to the last dayWe made it all to Amsterdam fine. Long day- up at 230 and after two flights and a little site seeing we are ready to hit the hay. More later when we are coherent.
The last day, Thursday July 24, Our work ............is complete and tomorrow "Turns again home".
Today we finished our work in Ukraine. This morning was double VBSs and double ladies classes. Sissy taught at Bujonski and Pat taught at Prolatarski. I was wrong yesterday when I said that Pat taught. They swapped and Connie taught Wednesday and Pat today. This split team thing makes communication difficult. David taught the VBS at Bujonski and Tony was due to teach the VBS at Prolatarski.
I am really beginning to get frustrated with those guys who built the Tower of Babel. If we all spoke the same language things would be so great. Little children or grown-ups approach you and start talking in Russian or Ukrainian and you don't have a clue what they are saying. It is really frustrating.
Tonight we had a great lesson on Barnabas by Matt. When David led the closing song he made mention of Matt's age the congregation just oohed and ahhed, amazed at a talented young man. I am, too. Dasha translated for him and she is only 17. We are so blessed to have Tansy (who can speak more Russian than you can believe and knows all the songs and motions in Russian as well.), Matt, Dasha, Lera, Eugene and, of course, Kostya on our team. Great contributors.
Yesterday while at Good Shepherd, Doug had suggested we use a skit to teach the story about the lost sheep. Matt was the shepherd, Doug was the narrator (being the creator has it privledges), the rest of us were sheep with Tony doubling as a lion and me as a bear. After we acted out the story, Doug asked some review questions. One of which was "How many sheep did the shepherd have". One little boy decided to cheat and he counted us!! Of course his answer was right but cute!
Well, the bus comes at 3 am for us so I better pack and get some sleep. More later from Amsterdam, time permitting. We are due back Saturday night so please pray for our safe return and all the Christians here in Ukraine. They have a hard work and a hard life.
Love to all,
Day 11, sigh. the end of our trip is coming sooo fast!Well, things are beginning to wrap up for us here. We had another busy day today. Sissy, Susan, Matt, David, Buddy, Eugene and Dasha went to Bujonski for the first time. Susan, David, and Buddy taught the kids. Matt went with one of the ladies from the congreagtion to get snacks. The kids are getting hungry and we are too. We hope they come back in time for tomorrow's lesson. Just kidding! Seeing if any of the Browns were reading the blog. Matt also helped teach the kids and Sissy taught the ladies. It was a little disappointing to have only 3 kids and 3 ladies today at Bujonski, but that is the way it goes.
The other team went to Prolatarski. Pat taught the ladies of which there were 10!!! Doug taught the kids and there were TEN kids as well. Great day there. At lunch we all went to Prolatarski where Ray and the congregation had prepared chicken, green beans and mashed potatoes. Some of us are just picky eaters, but I ate everything they put in front of us. It was delicious. Tansy had plenty of chicken and Matt consumed enough mashed potatoes and chicken to hold him to supper time. Tony even went back for seconds!
After lunch we went to the Good Shepherd orphanage for our last teaching session with the kids there. I think we had about 16-20. It is hard to count them as they move around A LOT!. We all have our favoriates. Like Little Dema, AKA little DEMON and the Ukranian terrorist. Yesterday as we were loading the bus we had a few of the kids on the bus with us. Yes, little Dema, all of four years old was leading the pack. He is precious. Today he was doing all the motions to the songs (a half of a step behind, but he did them all. We went to Good Shepherd last year. This year only Vitya and Daniel looked familiar. The rest were new to us. This place is doing an amazing work.
We went back to our respective congregations for evening service where we had 20 in attendance at Bujonski. Bob delivered a fine lesson on where the Church worships the way it does. Matt did an excellent job leading singing. Still tough for 5 Americans to sing loud enough to be heard over 15 Ukrainians. Tony taught the class at Prolatarski that evening.
We had our team dinner with thank you gifts for our great translators. I think I have mentioned them all in one of the blogs except for Kostya. He has grown a lot in the last three years we have worked together. He has that sense to take care of things before we think of them. These "kids" are really fine examples of youth in any country. Kostya leads the pack. They have great senses of humor. For example, we were talking about how the taxi drivers seem to know that we were Americans. I suggested we should keep our mouths shut and maybe they wouldn't know. Dasha said, "They'll know." "How?", I asked. "Your backpacks" came the answer "But you are wearing a backpack", I said. "Yes, but I am young" came the smiling reply. I guess "older" people here don't wear backpacks. Come to think of it, I don't generally carry one at home.
Tomorrow we have morning VBS's and then evening services. The afternoon is free for us so maybe we will get some sigthtseeing and shopping in.
The van comes for us at 3 am Friday morning. All 11 Americans, 4 translators, Ray, the driver and all our luggage will be loaded on a 9 passenger van. You get real close to people on these trips. At least it won't be 90 degrees and all sweaty at that time.
I'll try to update you sometime on the way home. This is Buddy signing out. By the way, last night's blog was submitted by Matt. There is no end to that young man's talents.
Day 10Hello from the Ukraine! We have had a very busy week so far, despite the fact of us being busy and having hot weather much good has been acomplished. Today was each team's last day at their first congregation, Matt and Tony taught the childrens lessons this morning and we had Tansy and the translaors to help in our singing. Not to mention many attempts from the fellow troops from MJ. There were 4 kids at Prolatarski and 5 children at Bajamaski. Then for our ladies classes taught by Sissy and Connie each class had 10 people.
This afternoon was our second day at Good Shepard. We were able to spend some time with the kids as well as sing, have a lesson, and do crafts. There were about 25 children there and we will go back tomorrow for our last day with those children. It has been mostly younger kids from about 3-7 so we have had our hands full to say the least but have still been able to tell them stories about Jesus.
Tonight Doug spoke to Bajamaski and gave a great lesson about edification. And Buddy gave a lesson on the birth, death, burial, and ressurection of Jesus at Prolatarski. Both congregations have been very acceptive of us as well as they have shown us great love and hospitality. One evening Tony lead singing at Bajamaski and asked for request. So someone from the church said a song but Tony did not know it. So the preacher had to step in in relief. But we appreciate the efforts given by Tony as well as everybody on this trip.
Throughout this trip David has gotten many new nicknames. With his handyman expertise and mr.fix it abilities he has been call the Dr. the wizard, mcgyver, the professor. We have been very glad to have him on our trip, he is always able to get us out of 'sticky situations' or figure out easy ways to put air in an air matress.
I'm sure everyone has many stories to tell about the trip as well as eachother. And we Can not wait to Be home and tell everyon our stories.
We love getting post on the blog as well as all the prayers given back at home. We miss you all but we will back before long.
Well that is all for day 10.
Day 9 and Day 8 revisitedI can't believe that I left something out of yesterday's report. In addition to the feast the ladies at Kras had for us, they presented each of us with a gift. I think you would call it a table runner. Very pretty and each was picked out for us individually. For example, they gave a special wedding runner for Doug and Connie. There are a couple of traditions regarding the wedding runner. One involves bread. The other says that they put the runner on the floor and the first one to step on it is the boss of the family. It was clear that they had thoughtfully considered each gift and look at each of us as individuals and not just those people from America. Again, wonderful people at Krasnoarmeysk.
Today, we took taxis to the congregations that we are working with. Sissy, Susan, Matt, David, Dasha, Eugene and me went to Prolatarski in the morning and Bob, Doug, Connie, Pat, Tony, Tansy, Kostya, and Lera went to Bujonski. We had a children's VBS and a ladies class at each place. We then met together for lunch at Prolatarski, prepared by Ray and Lynn. Again, another set of wonderful people. From there we went to Good Shepherd for a modified VBS with the kids there and then back to our respective congregations for Bible studies.
Matt led singing for our group. First time he has ever led singing in English and all he heard was Russian. We had about 27 there. David taught the lesson and did a great job as you would expect.
We are doing double duty by splitting the team. The up side is we are covering more ground. The down side is that we are not together all the time. We will deal with that to expose more children to the life of Christ and edify the congregations here.
Eugene, one of our translators, is doing a great job for us. Turns out this is his first translating job. You wouldn't think it by the job he does. He ate at his first McDonald's today! Can you imagine that!! Also he was right in there gluing and coloring with the kids at the orphange.
Time to go shopping for the daily necessities and down the hill for the a good night's sleep.
More Later, Buddy
Sunday, Day 8The day of two cities.
Dimitorv this morning with about 27 people not counting the children. Sasha preached and seemed to have a good sermon. The ladies of Kras put on a feast for us. Ira made pizza for us.There were salami and cucumber sandwiches, tomatoes, cucumbers, several pastries. Not a meal for a diabetic. Compote and water to drink. They are really wonderful people.
By the way Vera 1 really should be Vera 2. Vera who speaks English was taught the gospel by Nancy Hackney. The other Vera was baptized later, I think. Anyway neither Vera went to the hospital. Vera 2 (non English Speaking Vera) was checked out by an ambulance crew and she was released. Both were at church. Vera 2 doesn't look good. I know she needs cataract surgery on both eyes but there is something else wrong with her as she does seem to be herself. Please continue praying for her.
Young Ira, actually the middle one as there is an Ira who is 5-6 (call her #3)and one who is married to Roman (call her #1), who was baptized at the camp this year, is still in the hospital with injuries as a result of her beating. Please pray for her as well.
We really worked Dasha over today. The other 3 translators had to go to their University to take an exam to see if they will be accepted into their masters program. They left early this morning and made it back in time for evening services. Little ole Dasha had to keep up with her 11 Americans all day. When we to services at Prolartarksi, she translated for one of the Sasha's who preach at Prolatarski. The tough one to understand. She did a great job, but struggled with understanding him at times. Also during the visit with the folks at Kras, they performed some skits for us. Ira #1 and Roman got into their roles so much that they didn't give Dasha a chance to translate. But she did the best she could. Chip off the Masha block.
While at prolatarski, there was a baptism of an elderly lady who needed a wheel chair to get around. Good work is being done at that congreagtion also.
Half of the group went to Prolatarksy and the other half went to Bujonaski. Then we all met at Liverpool for dinner. Tansy and Matt ate at booth with the translators. The rest of us at a big table. It was marvelous seeing these "kids" enjoying time together.
Busy day tomorrow so I will head down to the river to rest my bones.
Keep the posts coming. More Later.
Day 7 Back to DonetskHello from Donetsk,
We finished our work on a little bit of a down note-maybe 2. At the end of the services it was announced that Vera 1 (non English speaking Vera) was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, but we have neard nothing more. Also Ira, one of the young teens who was baptized, was also taken to the hospital. She had been beaten by some young boys recently and was suffering from a head injury. Still nothing more on them today. We will di our best to get an update tomorrow when we travel to Dimitrov for services. Please pray for these two Christian women and all the members here in Ukraine.
Last night Matt treated the congregation with a great lesson on Barnabas. Connie taught the ladies in the early session and Doug taught the kids. Good things are going at Krasnoarmeysk. They have challenges, but growth can be seen.
Today we parted with our house hostesses. It gets harder every year. Our agreement was that they would feed us two meals a day and we would provide our own breakfast. They fed us breakfast this morning, I assume because we didn't get lunch our first day and they wanted to make sure we got what we paid for. As always the meal was great! 6 out of the 8 men eat everything in sight! We have a couple who are a little more judicious, but no one should worry, all of us are eating well.
The bus ride from Krasnoarmeysk to Donetsk. We have 2 apartments that we have had on previous trips. David, Eugene, Matt and I have the flat on the 12th floor above the river. Great view. Sissy, Susan and Dasha are where Sissy, Susan and Masha were last year so they are happy. Pat, Tansy, Lera, and Connie are in a great first floor apartment, recently renovated. We haven't heard from the other guys since they dropped us off about one so we expect that they are in the high class hotel! Just kidding! While we are not sure which apartment, everyone is snug as a bug in a rug. Matt and I are a little drippy as it rained on us walking to the apartment tonight. Lisa, he is fine and doing a great job.
We got a little shopping in Pushkin park, lunch and are settled in for the week.
OK, we are considering changing the name of the blog to the Fleming Family chronicles. There are 11 of us here and David is the club house leader in posts.
Tomorrow is a day of worship with Kranoarmeysk and then back to Donetsk to worship with Prolatarski.
I guess I'll close for the evening and plan to have someone post tomorrow night.
This is Buddy signing off. Pray for the work here.
Friday, Day 6
Hello from K-town! Your team in Ukraine says hello. We are all doing well and working hard together.
On Thursday we conducted a VBS in the park and had 4 teanage girls. Matt talk the class and was joined by Tansy, David, Sasha, Julia and Young Sasha. Great class, but disappointing that there were no questions nor discussion as we had hoped. Today we had one young lady, Stacey, return for the 4th day in a row. At the end of Matt's lesson he asked for questions and Stacey opened her heart and mind. It was a wonderful flow of thoughtful comments and questions. Very intelligent questions: "if you are good and don't break the laws, can you go to heaven" and "why shouldn't you live with someone before you get married to make sure you should get married". Sasha, Matt, Doug, Tansy, and Julia, all took turns giving her feedback. After the discussion she seemed somewhat satisfied and Julia stayed with her for a while. It would be wonderful if those two young women could establish a relationship that would develop into an eternal one. She is a lovely 16 year old who has a good head on her shoulders and just needs teaching.
At the top is a picture of Matt and Stacey at the first of the week during our recreational time.
This evening we return to Sasha and Julia's apartment for our last meeting there. We will have a ladies class at four and Bible class for the congregation at 5. Matt is teaching tonight and Doug is teaching the children tonight. Everyone is taking a turn at teaching.
Last evening we had a new converts class for 2 of the 3 recent members. ONe had a court appearance and could not make it. David worked with Roman and Ira's son and Tony taught Ludmilla.
During the new converts class Doug and Connie were sitting in the area where the children's class was going to be and struck up a conversation with a young boy his sisters. They were invited to stay for class but the young boy asked "o'clock?" and pointed at his watch. When Doug indicated it was at 5, he replied he had to go home and rushed off. But a contact was made that might develop later with Sasha and Julia. One advantage of meeting in Sasha's apartment building.
As usual we have great translators acquired by Ray Grayham. Two of them we have had before-Kostya and Lera. The third seems like she has worked with us as she is Masha's sister, Dasha. Eugene is the fourth. I could tell you a story on each but I will jsut tell you one now to give you an idea of the character of these young peole. One of them had an exam in Donetsk yesterday. She got up very early walked to the bus stop to get a bus to Donetsk (at least an hour), took he exam, rode the bus back and then translated two classes for us last night. She was one whipped puppy when her day was done.
From year to year you can see incredible growth in these young people. Mature beyond their years. Much like the two we have brought with us.
Matt and Tansy are inspirations to all of us "older people". They jump in and do things willingly and volunteer for teaching teens, children or adults with more courage, wisdom and knowledge than most people their age and many older.
After services tonight we pack for Donetsk and head there tomorrow. On Sunday we will travel back to Dimitrov for worship with a combined Krasnoarkmeysk and Dimitrov group then return for evening services at Proletarski.
Our work at Proletarski, Budyonovski, and Good Shepherd orphanage starts on Monday. More on those works then.
Greg, David, Melissa and Andrew, you are missed and are asked about everywhere we go. PD, Vera said to tell you the cherry crop in Ukraine is spoiling because no one is here it eat them!!
I'll sign off now and give you reports later in the trip. For the team this is Buddy saying "God Bless and keep you until we return, continue lifting prayers on our behalf"!!
Day 5 - Is it?One of the things that occurs to me on these trips is a loss of time, particularly when we come to Ukraine.
My last post was titled Day 1, 2, and 3 and it actually covered 4 days. Time flies when you are having fun, I guess. Any way nothing significant happened on the loss day other than travel AND EVERY PIECE OF LUGGAGE ARRIVES!!!! Several have asked about that and rest assured we haven't had that challenge.
Heat is a little more pressing, but certainly bearable. If heat bothers you, you don't need to come here in the summer.
Sunflowers are in the process of blooming and look really great.
Today was jammed packed. VBS in the park, rush back to the houses to eat lunch, out to Dimitrova for VBS at Roman, Ira, Vassy, Aluna's house. Aluna has grown a foot since last year. There were 8 children there today. Then on the Sasha's house for ladies's class and evening session with the congregation.
In the morning VBS Matt Brown taught the teens that we had come.
Another good day.
Tomorrow will be more of the same with the new converts class replacing the ladies class.
Everyone is well tonight, but tired. A good night's sleep will do us all good.
Day 1, 2 and 3Hello from Krasnoarmeysk!
We are finally on-line. It has been a busy few days. We flew out on Saturday some leaving at 10 am and the rest at 5 pm, all taking the same route and arriving safely a little bit late in Donetsk. Bob and David had to depart early due to a problem with our flight arrangements, but as I said we are all safe and doing well.
After a short night on Sunday we spent most of the day on Monday gathering our team and supplies and taking a very crowded bus to Kranoarmeysk. (As always Ray Grayham and Lynn Allison were tremendous helps in getting things for us and we look forward to working with them next week.) Even Tony appoved of the safety of the driver. We are staying with the same ladies that we stayed with last year and their warm hospitality is felt by all.
They are feeding us Ukrainian food-buckwheat, cabbage, meat steak, borscht, etc. Most of us are eating all they bring and others are being selective, but everyone is very satisfied.
We began our work today with the children of Kranoarmeysk at the park. We had 12- all girls. One was a new convert and there were 12 in all. Julia and Sasha led them to the park like Pied Pipers. Doug taught the lesson and we all played with them and sang and did crafts. Great morning.
Tonight we have services at Krasnoarmeysk. The rest of the week we have VBS with Kransoarmeysk in the morning, twice we go to Dimitrov for a VBS, conduct two ladies classes, one new converts class and have services with Krasnoarmysk congregation each night. Whew!!! It is going to be busy week. Ooops. I forgot that Matt and Tansy are going to have a teen class for some of the girls from Krasnoarmysk during the children's classes this week. It is great to have such eager, bright minds with us.
We do miss the "old" hands and they have been asked about over here.
Next week we split time between the two congregations in Donetsk=Prolatarsky and Bujonaski. I am sure I am not spelling these right, but who can know for sure.
Things are going well. Fluidity is important and the team flexes to make things work.
The work at Krasnoarmyesk seems to be progressing. "Big" Roman and his family have moved to Dimitrov. Instead of this being a negative it has opened the door for more work. Sasha now teaching a lesson in his apartment for the Kranoarmeysk congregation and most Lord's days then goes to Dimitrov to teach a second time. Sound familar, David? At least we come to you!
Please pray for the work here and the safety of the team.
This is Buddy signing off for the team. More updates later as time permits.
We Need Your Help!
Ukraine Mission Trip
July 12 - 26 2008
It is once again time for the Ukraine Mission. Those of you who have been to a foreign mission point know it is not always easy; it is definitely not a vacation. Airports, customs agents, ticket agents, baggage, foreign currency, and strange foods can be trying for some people. If you are not easily discouraged by small inconveniences such as these, you may want to consider planning a foreign mission trip for a future date. This year, our team will fly from Nashville to Detroit, from there to Amsterdam, then to Kiev, and then to our destination in Donetsk, Ukraine.
When we arrive we plan to spend the first day in Donetsk; then we will bus to Krasnoarmeysk, where we will work for the first week with the church there. At the end of that week we return to Donetsk and spend the balance of our time working with the churches at Proletarsky and Budyonofsky. During the morning hours we plan to have VBS and classes for ladies. Our evenings will be Bible classes for the congregations. We also hope to be able to visit members of the congregations, do Bible studies, and encourage the members in any way we can.
This may prove to be quite an undertaking. WE NEED YOUR HELP! Here are some things you can do:
May God continue to bless you as you join us in this work. The team this year is to be led by Bob Schmitt; also going are, Buddy & Sissy Pickler, Doug Allen, Connie Scoggins, Susan McCulloch, Tansy Waldrop, Matthew Brown, David Fleming, & Tony & Pat Huddleston.
Matthew 28:19-20 "Go ye into all the world and make disciples of all the nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
Mt. Juliet Church of Christ
1940 N. Mt. Juliet Road
Mt. Juliet, TN 37122
Mt.Juliet, TN 37121-0248
Sunday Early Worship: 8AM
Sunday Bible Study: 9:15AM
Sunday Late Worship: 10:15AM
Night Worship: 6PM
Wednesday Bible Study: 7PM