Ukraine Update 3 -- 30th July 2006

Hi there again
Thanks for your prayers. We have made a decision as to the next year's location. We have decided to shift back to London. Jon has accepted a job in a school in Weald, north London teaching music to primary-aged students for the next year finishing July 2007. We have booked train tickets which leave Ukraine on the 14th Aug heading to Poland. We aim to spend some time in Poland, Germany and Holland before we get back to England around about the 20 -25th August.
So with about 3 weeks left here we have made a few plans to get some jobs around Jono's house completed and we will also travel next week to the Black Sea for a 3-4 day camping and explore trip. We will take about 2-3 other young people from here with us. This week we have spent a lot of time tidying and relaxing, got Jono's new curtains up etc. Once we are back from our road trip we aim to get stuck into a few big jobs including building a BBQ, making some steps, reinforcing a wall, and maybe helping to fix the pump and other stuff. Well those are on the list at least, we may find time to complete a few of them in between Settlers games!
Last Saturday (after watching the rugby) Jon and Ben attempted to busk in Kiev, but with the amp cutting out and the mayor making new rules so the police had to move them on, it wasn't entirely successful. They shifted to another spot and managed to draw a crowd of about 5 drummers, so by the time we left it was a drum fiesta -- sounding lovely as you can imagine! We aim to head into Kiev this Saturday too for the next All Black test.
We also visited a nearby town last Sunday and went to church there. It was a really a thought-provoking day as the pastor there showed us through the massive building the church has bought -- an old sewing factory and told us about the different ideas and visions he has for each room etc. We then went and saw the bio diesel/gas and mushroom factory that they have started. There is heaps of opportunities here for business-minded people to help get the economy back on its feet and provide good jobs for people. The pastor in the town we are in too has started a strawberry farm and is also making jam. Its a really great way to bring Christian principles into the workplace. One of the girls who works on the strawberry farm earns the equivalent of $1NZ an hour, which is double what another girl earns who works here in town. Its strange to find out and understand how unfair the way money works in this world. The thought of saving enough money to travel is way beyond most people's minds here.
We have had plenty to think about while we have been here, and enjoying conversations with many different people. Although we have chosen to head back to London it hasn't been without thought of the great people we have made friends with that we will leave behind here.
Well until next time,

Ukraine Update 2 -- 9th July 2006

Hi there again...

We are still alive and survived the week marooned on the island! It was definitely a different type of camping than what we are used to in New Zealand, but none the less enjoyable and in such a beautiful spot! The pit toilets were a challenge; I still haven't yet mastered 'the squat'! The food also was an interesting experience, and I think we were all glad to get back to a big lasagna I made the first night back. We meet heaps of very cool people there, and the hunger for God is something completely unmatched in the western world. Most, if not all, of these Christians are first generation believers and often the only one in there family. There have been lots of things that we are much more thankful for now that we used to take for granted, and some things we didn't even realize we took for granted, but were just a part of our lives.

Since the camp we have spent 2 days in Kiev, the first day was a tour of the city and souvenir shopping, and yesterday we went to some clothes markets. This has all been with a mission team from Pacific Hills Christian School in Sydney who have been here for the past 2 and a half weeks. We saw them off at the airport yesterday, and as Jono had been leading the team here it has been a busy past 3 weeks! We will slow down a bit for awhile and get a few things sorted, and then hope to travel maybe next week to Poland or somewhere.

You can pray for us as we feel we have come to a crossroads in our travels, Jon has been offered a job in England that is primary school music teaching, we haven't heard back from the Kiev school, and we could also come home. So with these 3 options and many others we could consider we feel a bit confused and need prayer for direction and guidance.

So hope this keeps you up to date....

Jon’s corner...

Language learning again is awesome but much more difficult than Spanish, although it is said once you have learned a second language it is much easier to learn a third. And though I would not claim to have 'learned' Spanish in its entirety I certainly feel like it has opened my mind to some different dynamics within language. I guess more than all this though in seeing many different ways of existing on this earth from the obscene amounts of money that circulate in England to the very miniscule dirty pieces of paper that are exchanged between paupers in the main streets, we are left a little confused as to where God wants us in this picture. On one hand there is the freedom from the rat-race and the promise of discovering deep relationships but on the other hand there is the reality of earning the elusive but necessary dollar to maintain this standard of living we call 'normal'. I really do wonder about the possibility of having the best of both worlds but highly doubt my ability to live consistently with what I believe whilst being part of the rat-race. As for the concept of financial independence, I don't buy it mainly because all the people I know who are trying to achieve this goal seem to have lost sight of the important things in life. Anyway, please pray that God would give us a conviction about our next moves.

Until next time

Ukraine Life -- 7th July 2006

Hi there everyone...

We have now been in Ukraine for almost 2 weeks. Things have been non-stop since we arrived with a mission's team from Australia arriving 4 days after us and also one of Jono's (my brother) friends (Ben) from Australia arriving a day after us. Ben and Jono are in charge of the mission team while they are here and they are also running a camp together.

We have been involved with both of these things and managed to keep ourselves busy. Although the projects (running a camp and youth work) are very similar to what we used to do in New Zealand it is great to be a part of it in another culture and also as a helper rather than an organizer.

The village we are staying in is built next to a big river and the beach and water is a big part of the community's life now as it is summer. The camp we are having starts this Monday until Friday and is on an island in the river. It is an absolutely beautiful spot and an amazing piece of God's paradise here on the other side of the world. We have spent the last 2 days setting the camp up, taking dozens of boatloads (Jon) of people, firewood, tents etc. over there. We are looking forward to a great time.

The people here are very friendly and we have made friends easily within the group of young people and the church here. We have spent time on the beach with them, watching the world cup, going to the circus and also a traditional festival. The town was celebrating its 855th year -- there is so much history here its really amazing. Going to the war memorial where battles actually happened was also quite sobering to think about.

We are enjoying our time... still not sure yet as to where to after this- I think we will think about that when it happens!!

Until next time