Monthly Newsletter June 2009


I was riding the Kyiv Metro the other day when a young boy hopped on and started a spiel about something, hoping to be given some money. He was probably about 14 and he had some sort of disability that affected his speaking and cognitive abilities. I generally try to avoid beggars on the Metro system. He wandered the length of my carriage and I was surprised at the amount of people who placed money in his cup. Mostly elderly people and mostly 1 or 2 hrivna or even just a couple of coins. I thought about NZ or Australia. Those with disabilities are helped firstly by their families, but also by the government. Their level of care is pretty good. But maybe as fellow human beings we have absolved our consciences of responsibility by letting the tax dollar do the work. It’s rather impersonal. Ukraine’s system does very little for the disadvantaged. So perhaps the Kyiv Metro is the alternative to the welfare system. And perhaps it doesn’t hurt us to actually physically give instead of electing someone else to fulfil the responsibility for us. I’d already missed my chance. I quickly jumped out at the next station, tapped him on the shoulder and handed him 5 hrivna. The look of thanks in his eyes was worth a lot more than that!

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Monthly Newsletter May 2009


When I write the next monthly update, we will have completed the first academic year of UTSIM!! If you had asked me a year ago what I would expect by now – I would not have even dreamed that we would be where we are.

The next four weeks will be flat out with testing students and planning a special presentation and end of year celebration. It feels like there is a lot to do and I know I could feel a little stretched come the end of this month.

We will start looking towards next year (that means September – I have to get used to talking like that in the Northern Hemisphere). We have a program to write. We have chosen a curriculum to use as our base curriculum. This will mean some staff training and purchasing of materials. We have new contracts to make with parents. Schedules to plan and coordinate, and we wish to broaden our student base so as to become financially viable.

I’m happy to announce the appointment of a curriculum and resource development worker. My sister Ruth is going to work part time with us next year and I’m looking forward to the energy, skills and educational experience she will bring to UTSIM.

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April Monthly Update 2009

Of all my failings and weaknesses, anger is not usually one of them. But it seems that something here has a propensity towards making me angry. Driving on Ukraine’s roads! It’s a combination of the condition of the roads and the huge hunk of metal with no suspension and no power steering known as my van. Add to that drivers who have no regard for road rules. Aaaahhhhhh!!!
Our recent trip to Zhovti Vody for a conference was not something I want to replicate again soon in my van. At times I was driving on the shoulder of the road because it was smoother than the road itself. Other times I was on the wrong side approaching oncoming traffic or vice versa. All just to dodge a hole the size of Parramatta.
I sometimes ended up screaming out loud, “Who makes these roads!” Why can’t they make them properly? It is amazing how a small, physical happening which is unimportant in the scheme of things can produce such emotions. Shouldn’t I be angry at things like injustice, war, abuse of children, sin, etc. Instead I take it out on Ukraine’s roads – or more realistically I take it out on my passengers as they are the ones who have to listen to me rant and rave.
I think I’ve written this to preach to myself. But maybe we can conclude that road rage is not just physical acts of violence towards other people, but a condition of one’s heart caused whilst driving.

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Monthly Newsletter March 2009


clip_image002[6]clip_image002[4]He wears the cap, he wears the badges. It’s supposed to represent something, but what? Last night I was pulled over by a police man. He informed me I was speeding and showed me his speed gun saying 90km. I’m not sure how fast I was going but I estimate it between 70-80. I asked him what the speed limit was. He said 60. I said I was sure it was at least 70 along here. He said there is a sign back there saying 40 but the maximum is 60. He had trouble reading my documents, didn’t seem to know what to ask me for, and eventually found my name and started calling me Yonatan. He was then studying my Kyrgyzstan visa for a while. He kept saying we had a problem so I told him to write me out a ticket. He said he couldn’t do that, and that I had a problem because the cashier was closed at this late hour. He was just fishing for a bribe. I basically dared him to write me a ticket. He said we needed to fix our problem. Then he found my last name, and said Miller fix it. I said I only do things one way, the straight way. He said Miller, blyart, (which I won’t translate), get out! And handed me back my documents.

clip_image002[10]I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved that I had my documents back or to be disgusted at his manner and rudeness. He basically told me to F-off because I wouldn’t pay him. I drove on just feeling yucky. The uniform on the man says he should be one thing – an upholder of justice, and yet he gave me the exact opposite impression.



I guess in the education industry you have the constant reminder every day that the students are the real reason we are in this business. Every day we see kids smile, watch lights come on as something new is discovered, learn about their lives and share a part of our own lives. It is a blessing to teach these young people. We have students as young as 7 yrs old and up to 50.

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Monthly Newsletter February 2009


For the last 100 years or so, the All Blacks have been the bench mark in world rugby. The team to beat. Everyone raises their game against us. The fact that we have only won one world cup is a painful thing for NZ rugby supporters. The expectation is that we are the best, must be the best and will always be the best and should never ever lose.

I’ve had a bit of a chuckle to myself this summer as I have watched firstly South Africa pull Australia apart in the cricket, and Australia’s woes continue as NZ has won the first two one dayers. It’s hard being the best. Everyone is out to get you.

What about my life? Do I want to be the best? Naturally I do. But if I am my best – that is not very good. And even if it is quite good for a while, I will eventually fall, the higher up I get, the harder will be the landing.


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Monthly Newsletter January 2009


People carry around all sorts of baggage. Our past experiences combine to bring about various reactions in certain situations.

My past experiences of airline travel are leaving me less and less trusting of their ability to deliver luggage. I have recently been to NZ and Australia. I was in NZ for our 4 yearly family reunion. When I arrived in Auckland my bag did not arrive. I still haven’t got it back. So I bought a new case and filled it with books for the English school and headed back here – and believe it or not I arrived back in Kyiv yesterday – again with no luggage.

I was wandering around the airport looking to see if I could buy a jumper or something – as I had checked in my jacket and only had a t shirt on. I bumped into some people I knew who gave me a ride into town. I got off near a second hand shop and walked over to find it was shut. I said I need a jacket so they took me inside and about 12 ladies were standing around – laughing at the poor foreigner who had no jacket and gave me a jumper and jacket and said they were for free!!

All the same – I hope my luggage turns up.

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November Monthly Update 2008

I had trouble sleeping last night. This is a very rare occurrence for me. Many thoughts were swirling around in my head; obstacles and difficulties loomed before me as insurmountable. Suddenly an image of an elephant came into my mind along with the question “How do you eat an elephant?” I remember Colin Lees teaching this to a grade 5 class at Pacific Hills. The answer being, “One mouthful at a time.”
When I can’t see the way out of the maze, the light at the end of the tunnel or the solution to my problem; then in faith I must take one step at a time holding the hand of Jesus. Oh Jesus will never let me go – may I never let go of Him.

If September was crazy – October just flew by. We now have 22 students, and at the beginning level have had to turn students away. I would dearly like to be able to start more classes in the New Year. This will require two things, extra rooms and extra teachers.

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