Monthly Update August 2012


To be described as generous is for me a very high compliment. And at times I have been told this. However I believe I live an oxymoron in this regard. I am happy to give, but on my terms. I am happy to sacrifice, a little, yet still live comfortably. I am happy to compare myself with my peers who I consider to have more or live more extravagantly.

I left my home culture in 2004 and made some sacrifices. Over the ensuing years I became comfortable in my level of sacrifice and generosity. Now what should I give? I don't know. But I have been convicted recently that I am too caught up in seeking my own comfort. As Blaise Pascal said, "All men seek happiness." That is our natural bent.

What is my motivation in being generous? What is yours? I fear that often I seek the applause of men rather than the unseen applause of heaven. I want to pour my life out as an offering.


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Monthly Update July 2012


How much is too much to drink? I guess that depends what you are drinking. Last week I drank a lot. About 65 people and a few dogs spent a week on an island in the middle of the Dnipr River and it was hot. Really hot! I think I may have drunk more water than I have all year. I am aware health experts say we should all drink a decent amount of water every day. Usually I don’t. But when you are hot and thirsty, a good long drink of refreshing water is the perfect antidote.

Another person drank too much. Every year for camp we have taken our water from a nearby well on the mainland. The caretaker there has often given us varying degrees of welcome/hostility. This year I noted that the old guy had grown a beard and become a lot more friendly. That’s until Dan went to talk to him and found out it’s a new guy. The old guy had drunk too much vodka, fallen into the river and drowned. Vodka was his constant companion. Yes, you can drink too much.

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Monthly Update June 2012


I write this update the night before I jump on a jet plane to head to Ukraine (via Dubai).

I am happy to report that Natasha skyped me last week and said that she has decided to continue running UTSIM for another year. I am really happy about this and I am sure both students and Sveta, the teacher, are also glad. I will be helping them move into new premises this week when I arrive. The town council have helped provide a better room in an even better location at a better price. (Sometimes it isn’t wrong to overuse a word, ‘better’ sounded really good just then)

My house. I am excited to go back to my house. It is easy to become attached to a place or a piece of real estate. It got me thinking about the first time I went back to this house in 2005.


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Monthly Update May 2012


A favourite question of TV presenters when interviewing celebrities is: “What is the best advice you have ever been given?” The answers vary. Sometimes they relate to business or career paths. Often they will relate to the person’s inner thoughts or their relations to other people. Sometimes they are merely clever clichés.

What is the best advice you have ever been given? Feel free to share with me if you have the time and inclination. I love learning from others.

The best advice I have ever been given (the same many times over) is: “Jono, you have to do what God wants you to do.”

We often seek advice when big life decisions are before us. And this advice is the best advice in my view (even for you if you swap the name Jono with your name). Of course it is not very prescriptive or specific. But if we have a solid foundation of what is most important, then the next layers of our decision making processes will not topple.

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Monthly Update April 2012


India is an intense place! Well I can't judge all of India but 3 days in Mumbai have left me a plethora of experiences, emotions and challenging notions. I will continue to take processing time. Here the ears are bombarded with the varying pitches of the honkng of horns. The eyes are kept busy with an explosion of constant colour and constant movement. The nose is greeted with an array of aromas, curries and spices, incense near every corner shrine, and the reminders of how difficult sanitation is in over populated areas. The mouth has been host to a wonderful gourmet experience, yes even Jono has been loving the curries, garlic naans and mango lassis. And all you need to do is ride the train system to know what it means to touch a lot of people at one time. One certainly needs to redefine one's meaning of personal space.

When is culture right or wrong? Can more than one opposing idea be right? Ghandi wrote: "I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.”

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Monthly Update March 2012

How much do you know about Central Asia?  The highest mountain is Ismoil Somoni standing at 7495 metres. It is the 50th highest mountain in the world and is more than 3 times higher than Australia’s Mt. Kosciuszko and twice as high as NZ’s Mt Cook. I leave in just over a week. I will be spending time with friends from Australia there. Please email me for a more detailed description of what I expect. After a couple weeks there, I have 3 days in Mumbai, India and then a week in Chiang Mai, Thailand visiting good friends Dan and Xan.

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Monthly Update February 2012


One of the quotes on my website says: “When I grow up I want to be a little boy.” It is by Joseph Heller an American author. One of his well-known books is Catch-22 which I read a while back. If you read a lot of what Heller has to say about life and about God – he is very cynical. The quote almost seems to say – don’t grow up because then everything just gets too complicated.

Maybe you feel like that – sometimes I do. But I want us to think about children. Can you think back to your childhood? I’m sure there are a mixture of good and bad memories and feelings. But the chances are that one overshadows the other and you look back on childhood with a pleasant feeling or it is very painful for you.


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