Europe Trip -- 26th August 2006

Well here we are safe and sound back in England.
It has been an interesting trip and we often asked ourselves why are we doing this! We dragged all our luggage through 4-5 countries and on 2 trains and 3 bus rides. As you can imagine we have lots of things to remember and took many photos, but we are only able to share a small part of this with you.
Leaving Ukraine
We found this very hard to do as we have made some really good friends here but we left anyway to Lviv (west actually) and spent one day there. It is a very old city and quaint. (See photos for streets being made). We then took an overnight bus to Poland, with a 3-4 hour stop at the border!
We enjoyed Poland, esp.. the city we stayed in -- Krakow. We spent one day visiting Auschwitz (hard to comprehend and really believe) and we also visited Schindler's factory (from Schindler's List -- the movie), and Wawel castle. It too is an old city and has an awesome town centre and atmosphere.
We then took another overnight train to Berlin, hoping to get in early enough to catch the All Blacks in a pub, but again the we were late and we managed to get the last 30 mins or so in an internet cafe -- Go the All Blacks. We camped in Berlin in "Tent City" which is an urban camping ground in the middle of the city the set up for the world cup. It was an awesome place to stay, we had great tent neighbors and really enjoyed it there. We hired bikes one day (and became a menace to the general public -- esp.. because they had bells on them!) and took a look at the Brandenburg gates, parts of the Berlin wall and other parts of the city. After this, Jono left us to go back to Ukraine and we headed off for Holland.
It's hard to know what to write about this place... we caught an overnight bus to Amsterdam, and this time arrived early (4:30am) with nothing really organized we started wandering the streets with all our stuff. It then started to rain and before we knew it we were in the red light district!!! I believe that God sent us an angel tho as a guy offered to find us a hostel. He was a really nice guy and helped us get rid of some other unpleasant characters! Without too much detail (the full story is at we were pretty shocked with Amsterdam, and decided to stay only 1 night. We did manage to visit while we were there the Van Gogh museum (again hired bikes!) and also Corrie Ten Boom's house in Haarlem, known as 'the Hiding Place' as her family helped Jews during the war. I had read the book as a child and it was almost surreal to be in the house where it all happened.
From there we caught another bus overnight to London, crossing the English Channel by ferry and landing at Dover. We arrived in London at 6am in the pouring rain and had a terrible day (see for the story). The short story is that we now have a flat which we shifted into today (address at bottom of email) and we are thankful to God for good friends, and his provision.
Jon will go into the school next week to sort things out, and I will start supply (sigh) teaching again when school resumes on 4th Sept.
Our updates will become more scarce, but we do aim to keep you informed with how we are and what we are doing. Please let us know if you would rather not receive these anymore.
Until next time...

Goodbye from Ukraine -- 13th August 2006

The time has come again to say goodbye to another set of friends we have made and another country! We leave tomorrow morning and head into Kiev, where we will catch a bus late at night and travel overnight to Liviv (city in the east close to the border of Poland). We will spend the day there and then catch a train that night (again overnight) over the border into Poland. We aim to spend 3 days in Poland, one of which will be a trip to Auschwitz. We then aim to travel to Germany and spend 3 days there, and then onto Holland with 3 days there before we head back to London. We want to get to London about the 25th or 26th August. School starts about a week after that. My brother Jono will come with us most of the way and then head back to Ukraine as we head to London.
It has been a great time here, and been mind-blowing to again experience another culture and how they respond to life and God. The people here are passionate and real about their belief in God. It is there first love and much more authentic than what I have seen in the 'western' world. We would love to come back next summer if it is possible.
We also really enjoyed our trip to Odessa, where we parked up and camped wherever we pleased, swum in the Black Sea, and had a good holiday with 3 Ukraine young people with us. It was a long road trip with about 8 hours in the van. The wheat and sunflower fields on either side of the road where very impressive though, as they went for miles.
On our last morning as we were packing up, Jon went for a wash in the sea, checked carefully to see if it was deep etc. then dived in but hit a rock. He came back up to me with the towel on his head and warned me he had hurt himself before he showed me!! Just as well, because I couldn't help clean up the gashes as I started to feel queasy. So Jono cleaned him up. He had a deeper gash on his forehead, and on the bridge of his nose, with scrapes up his stomach, arms and cuts on his feet. As we traveled back that day, and stopped for lunch, he got a few stares, as he looked like a war victim out of a cheesy movie with a big bandage on his head!It has healed really well though, and almost gone now. We are thankful that it was no worse!
Last weekend Jon attempted to busk again on the main street in Kiev, and got a good response. It was really interesting to watch a crowd gather, and then come up and ask for songs. This week we have spent time around the house fixing the pump, concreting steps, making a BBQ/hosting area, and other odd jobs. Playing a bit of Settlers and spending time with people before we go.
Last night we went to a traditional Ukrainian wedding of a couple from the church here. It was interesting to see the many many traditions they have. One which is to steal the bride's shoe and then they have to do strange things to get it back. Also another one is that the groom washes the bride's mums feet with watered-down vodka and leaves and then once they are washed he gives her a new pair of shoes and then dances with her in the new shoes. There where so many more as well-- about 800 years worth of accumulated traditions! Interesting to watch, but made the day very long!
Well that's the news from our end
Until next time...