Monthly Update January 2012


‎Thankfulness and Anticipation

I want to look back on 2011 with thankfulness. Try it. Try listing all the things you can be thankful for last year.

I am thankful for a place to live, a car, a job, a wonderful school of staff and students, my family in various parts of the world, visiting and visits from friends, rugby, Gollans, Weldons, Turners, coffee, Skype, NZ, Ukraine, Australia, mountains, Millers, Pirinis, van Ballegooys, Walkers, Kirkegards, Bryants, Watkins, Facebook, cricket, health, table-tennis, good food, and there is so much more I could add. I notice how richly God has blessed me with good people in my life. Thank you to everyone reading this who has been a part of my life this year. That’s looking back.

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Monthly Update December 2011


‎How did 2011 start for you? How long ago was it? Maybe it seems like an eternity, or maybe just yesterday. The so called “silly season” is upon us. This time of year is the end of many things. School, clubs, Uni, sports schedules, regular monthly activities – so many things end for the year. How well do you end? At school I am encouraging the students to ‘finish well’. I too am finishing my contract at school. How will I finish?


Last week I had a Skype call with Natasha and Losha and I got to see Lilya and Denis. I had a little chat with Lilya – she has grown up so much. I realised how much I miss my Ukrainian family. I am looking forward to the possibility of a trip to Ukraine next year. I have been away too long and realise how much I miss those I have come to love there over the past few years.

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Monthly Update November 2011


 ‎”Goodness is not an abstract concept, it is an element of the character of God.”

I always like to believe the best about people. I always try to find the good in any situation. I expect people to be upright, honest and generally good. Maybe I am naïve. Maybe I am trying to encourage people to be the best they can be. But I want people to be good. I want to believe they are good. I want to be good and I want to believe that I am good.

But the only way I can achieve those dreams is to reduce goodness to something that I can grasp, understand and possibly attain.

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Monthly Update October 2011


Over the course of my life a number of people have told me that I ramble on, I talk a lot, I have the gift of the gab – and other flattering and not so flattering ways of putting it. I’ll admit it. I love to talk! Even my profession allows me to get paid doing a lot of talking. I’ve been thinking about the substance of the things I talk about. The substance and the reasoning. Reading the diary of Anne Frank – I wonder what tedious work it would be for someone to read my diary. I’d repeat myself often. I’d contradict myself. I’d be opinionated.

You see thoughts come and go. And in the course of any short given space of time our thoughts follow our emotions, our circumstances, the things we hear from others, the things we see, the basic feelings that we experience (hot, cold, hungry, tired etc.); and our thoughts ride upon the rollercoaster of the above mentioned factors (plus many more).

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Monthly Update September 2011


‎This week marks the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attack known globally as 9/11. I remember it well. I was up late and saw the footage. But I remember it well for another reason. It was my first year teaching. We were given a debrief on how we should handle an event of this nature with our students. My students were in grade 3. They graduated last year from High School. One student told me that he still remembers the song I played. I don’t remember everything I said. But we had a time of quiet and a time of prayer and I played “The Blessing”. Every time I hear that song now it reminds me of that day. 

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Monthly Update August 2011


Ukraine connections with me are usually two different types. There are all the expats who usually have a well organised blog or email with prayer points. I regularly try to keep well updated about Rzhyshchiv and some other towns where I have good friends. I’ll share a few below.

But then there are the little snippets of communication with my Ukrainian friends. There are emails, Skype, MSN, the odd SMS or phone call. But mostly we utilise Face Book or Vkontakte (the slightly less secure Russian equivalent of FB). Today I had a good friend reminisce about hanging out with Ruth and Jon and I. Another former UTSIM student wrote “Hello! how are you? you soon to our Rzhyshchiv come?” I guess I need to go back and help her with her grammar. Today I have also been having an MSN conversation with a good friend who has a big struggle in his life right now. Please pray for this friend.

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Monthly Update May 2011


There is only one month left of this academic year. UTSIM will have completed 3 years, thanks to all who have prayed and supported in some way. The next 12 months will look different for UTSIM and will be a building time. The staff are considering their careers. Natasha leads the wonderful UTSIM team.

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