Monthly Newsletter June 2010


One of the mobile phone companies in Ukraine is called “Life”. It is the company I use and most of my friends also use it as it has free calls between users. But last week Life was broken in Rzh for about 4-5 days. It was almost a minor catastrophe. We wondered how people ever managed to live and accomplish their daily lives before mobile phones. I couldn’t call my workers when I needed to. Social gatherings were hard to organise. It was eye-opening to see how much of our lives we have made dependent upon a piece of technology. It was also wonderful to realise that meaningful time spent with people, uninterrupted by telephones, is a lost art worth rediscovering

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Monthly Newsletter May 2010


I’ve got nothing to write. No great quotes, no special illustrations from life. It’s late and I’ve been sitting in front of the computer wondering what is special that I can share. The only thing I can think of is spring. Spring is pretty special here in Ukraine. After a long harsh winter – the waking up and coming to life of so many trees and flowers is special. But I thought that was a bit boring to share with you. Then I realised – it is only boring because we have made it boring. We live fast-paced, modern technological lives. We update our Facebook statuses, we listen to our iPods or play doodle jump on our iPhones . We forget to look at the grass, the flowers, the trees, the bugs, the bees, the river, the clouds etc. Spring is beautiful. On Friday night the trees on my street were so laden with white blossoms that in the headlights of my van I almost thought it was winter and the snow had returned. I hope I don’t get so busy or so distracted that I forget to enjoy the miracle of spring.

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Monthly Newsletter April 2010


A break! I am really glad to be having a one week break. I’m off to Poland later today and will drive to Hungary to visit Max and then back again via Vienna to take in the sights of a new city – a little rushed but something I am looking forward to.

Last week I finally made it to Chernihiv. I spent the time looking at available office space to feel the market there and had a really good chat with the owner of an English teaching school. They have been operating there for 15 years. Although I haven’t made a decision, we will probably not pursue a school there at this time; however I mean to keep in touch with the company I met there and maybe work together somehow in the future.

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Monthly Newsletter March 2010


A while ago I watched the movie Julie and Julia. I’ve discovered how therapeutic cooking can be. On the odd occasion that I don’t eat up the road at Ruth and Jon’s, I’ve enjoyed trying to cook with a bit of creativity. Last week I decided to make bread. It came out perfectly. Nice fresh homemade bread – it rose so high it nearly hit the top of the oven. So today I tried again. Igor and I ate a slice of the rocks I produced. What went wrong? I don’t know. I used the same recipe, same ingredients. I tried to copy exactly the same methods as last time – but this time it all went pear shaped.

I think tomorrow I’ll bake a cake.


It’s hard to believe that we are less than three months away from completing our second year. We have 79 students at last count.

Our new replacement teacher, Zhenya, has fitted in like a glove and I am thankful. Sveta has made it back to NZ for a second year of music study and Simbo and Asia have had a baby girl all safe and sound and praising God.

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Monthly Newsletter February 2010


My flat mate (house mate) Igor commented that he was very happy to have a real winter. That means lots of snow and lots of cold temperatures. When I asked him why, he said it felt right to have a cold winter, not a mild one. Weak answer!

Highlights of this ‘real winter’ include:

  • Frozen pipes – mine and many of my friends
  • Buying more thermal underwear – I now own a pair of ‘stockings for men without socks’
  • My van hasn’t gone anywhere in well over a month
  • Taking about 15 minutes to get ready to go
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Monthly Newsletter January 2010


As I write, we are nearing the end of our two week New Year and Christmas break. Yes, New Year comes first in Ukraine and is a big celebration. Christmas is January 7th and the evening of the 6th is a special family celebration with a tradition of eating twelve different dishes.

UTSIM has been running for 1 ½ years now. We look ahead to the following things for 2010:

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Monthly Newsletter December 2009


As a child I enjoyed reading the Chronicles of Narnia. Being from the southern hemisphere I never fully understood the terrible feeling the children felt knowing that the White Witch of Narnia made it always winter but never Christmas. We grow up with the expectation that certain things should always go hand in hand. Here people expect snow with winter. But we are yet to see snow this winter which is very unusual. We all have expectations for Christmas holidays. We have expectations for New Year. We have our own expectations in friendships, work situations, service in shops and restaurants. And we feel grieved when our expectations are not met. This is natural. Sometimes it is helpful. I have expectations of my workers and if they constantly fall short it is my job to draw their attention to their responsibilities. But often our expectations are unrealistic, selfish or both. We focus on what we expect from life and those around us rather than what we can give to others.

May I grow to give more and expect less. Ouch – that can be a hard lesson.

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