Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Are you someone who verbalises a “probably should but know I won’t” idea to everyone and see if you can get at least til the middle of January?

Recently I heard a great saying: “You always have time for the things you do first.”


From the experience of the last two years at UTSIM, the second half of the year is always the hardest. It starts in the middle of the cold winter and as the dull months drag on and people pine for spring and summer, enthusiasm wanes and motivation is hard to muster.

On top of that we have a few changes happening at UTSIM. Neil Rhodes has been an ‘on the ground’ director and I want to thank him for his time and efforts over the past four months. He is now stepping down from that role and I will look to manage affairs from Australia through the hard work and guidance of Natasha and Shane. Another of our volunteers, Sergei Landik, is returning to the USA with his wife for the birth of their second child and so I am keenly looking for replacements for the few classes he has been teaching diligently these past four months.

I have had a good talk with Natasha and am very pleased to hear reports of student progress and the continued good-will that UTSIM has both in Rzhyshchiv and Kaharlyk.

I have also had some good discussions with business people regarding future plans for UTSIM. Continue with me as I journey down the road that is slowly being revealing.

LIFE OUTSIDE OF BUSINESS (or inside Australia)

For the Christmas break, I drove north to relax at the farm at Eureka. There was plenty of rain so our annual cricket matches were a few days delayed – but still thoroughly enjoyed, tightly contested, and Rog’s team was pipped in all three matches (next year Rog).

An enjoyable day just after masses of rain; I ventured with Gollan family and Steve and Aunty Janice through a beautiful moist subtropical rain forest (and 1000s of leeches) down to the base of Minyon Falls. The water gushing over the falls and crashing below was so intense it created a gale force feeling out of the bottom of the gully. A truly memorable experience.

New Year ’s Eve was at the country town Alstonville Festival. They have the right idea. The fireworks were at 9:30pm not at midnight. We were home before midnight (guess New Year’s is not a big deal for me)!

2011 had me on the road to Queensland and I spent a few days with Tim, Judith and kids. It’s great to see them again as they grow up so fast. Tim, as always, did emergency tech work on my computer. I am so indebted to him.

Dinner with Josh and Bec and hanging out with their rapidly growing family was also a plus.

Back down to Sydney and I hosted 18 Ukrainians and Russians for Orthodox Christmas. Thanks Watkins for the use of your place. I’m enjoying feeling like I’m keeping in touch with my Slavic family I’ve entered into, as well as hanging out with some nice people.

Last Saturday it was a privilege to see Kim Grace and Brett Stapylton get married. It was a beautiful day.

And now, I’m in Houhora!!! So where is that? You can look it up on Wikipedia. Til then – I’m enjoying myself, sleeping in a tent about 5 metres away from State Highway #1.


And like a stuck record, I’m still going with Tolstoy’s War and Peace. I’ve been making progress and really starting to get into the character’s lives and enjoy the book.


Air New Zealand for worry free travel and being friendly to Jeff J

Love Jono

Keep Looking Up