Hello from the Homeowners

Well I suppose that’s the big news for us this month.
We have just bought a house here!

Although we thought the process would be a long one, in the end it was rather painless. There were a few hiccups along the way, but then everything came through in the end & it kinda doesn’t yet seem real. We are excited that is a clear direction we are now heading in & plan to be here now for 3-5 (or longer) years.

The house has been well built (brick) with a level underneath. It has 3 bedrooms, and bathroom & kitchen of sorts. It also has a garage with a ‘summer kitchen’ on the back of it. There is plenty of land at the back with fruit trees & plenty of space for a big lawn & garden. It overlooks the river & with another storey on top it would be a fantastic view!

It is in the town Rzhyshchiv (hour south of Kiev) and just up the road from my brother’s house. Our plan is to go back most weekends, and maybe get the garden etc. under control, while waiting for warmer weather to do any major alterations. We think it would make sense to stay here for our summer holidays (July & Aug) to work on the house. So anyone up for a real summer holiday (up to 40 degrees with a beach down the road) you would be most welcome to join us? We would then try to travel to NZ for the southern hemisphere summer later on next year.

Although we will carry on here in Kiev teaching for the next year or so, our plans are to shift out there in a couple of years & maybe start an internet café & takeaway business.

It was an interesting if not a bit scary process in paying for the house. We withdrew $60,000 US dollars from the bank & gave it to the guy. First time I have ever (& probably last) seen that kind of money! So with our savings from London & a little help from the bank of Mum & Dad we have entered the booming Ukrainian real estate industry!

Is still keeping us busy. It can get interesting at times with the mix of so many cultures, and languages, but on the whole we are enjoying our jobs. We have made some good friends with some of the staff, and we always have things to do & places to go. Life seems rather busy!

Jon has been invited to join a band here called “Kroke’. They have already produced 2 albums & play a pop/country style of music. They had a concert here in Kiev a couple of weeks ago & then we travelled (overnight by train – heaps of fun) to Lviv the next weekend for another concert. It is great music & a really cool group of people. You can get a small glimpse of it on our website. (Or order a CD from us!)

We had our first snow yesterday…rather cool setting off fireworks (for Guy Fawkes) wearing hat & gloves! I’m not so sure our excitement & fascination will still be around in a month or so when it becomes rather normal! We plan to make the most of the snow & have planned a week in the Carpathian mountains over Christmas relaxing & also a couple of days skiing.

Health System
Our friend Masha broke her leg a few weeks ago, which required a rather major operation. It was an interesting experience for us to witness first-hand the health system. For the 2 weeks she was in hospital most nights we visited her after work with dinner. There is little or no help (unless friends or relatives provide it) with food, eating & other things like that. She is on the way to recovery but it will be a slow process.

Jon is doing quite well in this area & manages to make himself understood in most situations. I am just realising how much effort I need to put in to get there. I am going to give it a good shot though.

We are enjoying living over here (although there are times we get homesick) and really loving making friends with some great people. So if you have itchy feet & want to see a bit of the world, there’s a spare bed here & a great country to explore & people to meet.

Hello from Ukraine

Sorry about the long update silence. Yes we have arrived in Ukraine safely with all our gear, but we have had sporadic email/internet in the past 5 weeks hence the long wait.

Summer Holiday

Well we arrived 5 weeks ago to a wall of heat (especially compared to rainy London) and have enjoyed a summer holiday before we started work last week.

We stayed at my brother’s place (1 hour south of Kiev) in a lovely sleepy village. We spent our time sleeping, reading, helping around the place & spending time with the locals. We also took a 10 day road trip through the western part of Ukraine.

We stayed in 4 different spots & explored many different places. It is lovely countryside & still very ‘old fashioned’ looking. The Carpathian Mountain area is absolutely beautiful, as was the very old castle in Kamyanets Podil’ski (which we camped right next too) and the old quaint city of Lviv. There were 6 of us that went & we had a great time -- although it did rain a couple of days & turned a little bit cool.

Once we got back from the trip, the temp just got progressively higher everyday until the day we shifted into Kiev it was almost unbearable in our apartment at about 38 (or maybe higher) degrees. It has dropped back down though & is lovely autumn weather, gotta make the most of it!

We have also spent a bit of time checking out the property market. We have put an offer on a house, (near my brother’s one) but at this stage just waiting to see what happens. We realise that nothing will happen in a hurry here. It is the land of documentation & official stamps, which I am sure is the source of half the countries jobs!

International School

Last week we had 3 teachers’ only days to prepare our classes etc. We were delighted to find that our classes had 12 (Jon) and 18 (Ruth) students in them, and as they are Bi-Lingual classes (the core subjects are taught in both Ukrainian & English) we only teach about half the periods each week. I am teaching a Year 5 class, & Jon has Year 6.

The school year here always starts on Sept 1st with a first bell ceremony. Unfortunately it fell on a Saturday this year, so although we had no classes we had to attend the first bell ceremony. It is a big thing for the Year 1 students as this is there first day of school. They get really dressed up, say little poems, sing songs, & dance. There were a few speeches also & of course the bell was rung. The students also bring bouquets of flowers to their teachers. The house looked a bit like a funeral parlour after that!

So we started lessons this week, both our classes are really nice, no behavioural problems at all, they love to learn & are very eager, although at times they don’t completely understand! It is actually fun teaching here & we are looking forward to a great year. The Year 4 teacher didn’t show, so if anyone is interested…come have the best teaching year in your life!

Language & Culture

Couldn’t finish this letter without a word about Jon’s no-shame language skills! He is actually doing really well with Ukrainian (although it is a bit disappointing to find that they mainly speak Russian in Kiev) & tries to learn 5 new words every day. So awhile ago one of his words for the day was ‘service’ & we were in the markets buying him some shorts, so he tries his new word out & says to the lady, “Thanks for your service.” He found out later that the version of ‘service’ that he had been learning actually meant ‘church service’ which explained the weird look the lady gave him!

There are times when we feel a bit homesick or frustrated that we are not understood, but with our great jobs & some good friends (that speak English) it helps to even it out.

Our Flat

We have moved into a 1 bedroom flat (it was a bit of a mission to find anything good both price-wise & condition) that is close to school. We have had to buy quite a few things to get going, but now it is beginning to feel like home. We want to be able to have people over often & feel maybe that we can feed & care for some of the students we know that have come to Kiev to study from the villages.

Well that about wraps it up for us this time…rather longer than usual. Although I will just have to end by saying “GO THE ALL BLACKS”! With staff from England, Wales, SAF, AUS, Ireland, & Canada I’m sure the rugby will make for some great conversations!!

P.S. Here is a photo we received the other day of a bus that is travelling around Tauranga…gave us a good laugh!

Farewell UK

With one more week to go, we have been reflecting on our year here, & feel as though this has been a bonus/detour stage of our lives. It has given us some experience, savings & training but it was never meant to be for a long time. We feel like we are now heading off into the second stage/level of our lives together. We are excited & nervous at the same time.


We leave London on Tuesday 24th July. We will spend a month or so staying with my brother, having a bit of a holiday and trying to find a place to live etc.

Our jobs start on 29th Aug with few orientation & teacher only days before the children start in September.

As our jobs are based in Kiev (British International School) we will be finding a flat/house to rent in the city, but aim to head south (about an hour) most weekends to spend time in Rzhyshchiv where my brother lives.

It is also our intention to buy a house out that way & spend our weekends working on it.


We had our last day at church toady. We have really enjoyed being apart of this church family, and will miss the encouragement & challenge from these guys – they have restored our faith in modern church gatherings.


I am continuing with cricket, with my last game this coming Sunday before we leave. I have learnt heaps & loved being part of the team. You can check out my statistics on our club's website.
We hope to keep up some kind of sport in Ukraine – I think we might have to start with squash & the gym and wait & see what other sports are available.


We haven’t been anywhere lately, just spent a lot of time enduring the rainy season they call summer over here & in between trying to play cricket & enjoy the BBQ & backyard!


Our contract with the school in Kiev is initially for a year but we think we would like to be in Ukraine longer than this. At this stage we are thinking more like a stay of 3-5 years, but who knows what will happen & where God will lead. We will take one year at a time, but we do feel as though this is a ‘niche’ we could live in for a long while.

Long time...no hear!

May & June 2007

We have been rather busy & our computer has decided to pass away, so it has been a rather long time since we have updated you on what we have been doing etc.


I started fulltime 6 weeks ago & have really enjoyed having my own class. It is great to go to work now & I am glad to be back in the classroom properly. We have 5 weeks to go until school finishes for the summer & we are counting down the days, especially Jon who is finding this job not the most fulfilling, but has definitely been a learning curve.


We haven’t been a lot lately, although Jon has joined the worship team & is enjoying playing another guy’s brand new Strat. Each time we do get there, we are challenged & stimulated, which is great.


We are really enjoying the company of our flatmates & have some great times together. It was Matt’s 30th birthday last weekend, so we had a great party & we all chipped in to buy him a Wii, so we have been having fun playing with that. Our backyard is looking fantastic & we feel our home is a great place to chill out & unwind.


With the cricket wickets in the backyard I have been practising & I had my first game a couple of weeks ago. I did alright with 34 not out (with 6 fours) and a catch & run-out. I had another game today, but didn’t get a bat. I train every Tuesday, and play mostly on Sunday, Jon plays often on a Saturday. He has played well too, with his highest score at this stage being 11. We are also playing touch every Wednesday & I am back running, so it feels like we are back on top of our game fitness-wise.


2 weeks ago we had a week off for mid-term, so we travelled down to Cornwall & stayed in our relatives bach in a place called Praa Sands, (picture below) which is near Penzance. It was great to get out of the city & walk along the beach. We visited the Eden Project, Lands End (southern most point of England), Cape Cornwall (western most point) and Newquay. We went with our flatmates & another couple. It was a great long weekend & lovely countryside.


Well we fly out to Kiev on 24th July & have about a month to have a holiday & sort out accommodation etc before we start work on 29th August.

We plan on buying a house there as soon as we can which we aim to renovate during the year. We see this as a trial project & investment and may keep doing this if it works out well. Jon has started learning the language & is doing really well. We are looking forward to our time there, and excited about the next step in our adventures.

PS. We have found this new phone service called JustVOIP which we are now using instead of SKYPE. It gives you free calls to landlines in NZ, UK & heaps of other places.

Cornwall Trip Photos

View from the lounge

Cape Cornwall

Rugged Coastline

Southern most point

St. Michael's Mount

14th century low-tide path to
Michael's Mount

April for us

Change is good! Our backyard has changed, our jobs & location will be changing in July & we know that our lives are changing. Although we haven’t found change all that easy…we know that without change we become boring & predictable and are in danger of ‘just cranking it out one more time!’


Well it is official… we have 88 days until we finish with school here in the UK, which is about 12 weeks of teaching. We have accepted jobs at the British International School in Kiev, Ukraine for the new academic year starting in September. We are really looking forward to it, but also conscious of doing good here & finishing well. I start fulltime at school next week & am looking forward to being with the same class each day!


We are still enjoying our time at Watford Community Church, and the input we get there. We have also been reading & exploring lately some sermons & articles on the web about the emerging church. We enjoyed & were challenged by Michael Frost’s series (http://www.christianityworks.com/pages/teachers.asp?pid=150) about worldview…where the quote at the top comes from.


We have been transforming our backyard so it will be useable for summer. It is already looking heaps better (it was rather neglected) & we have planted some herbs, tomatoes, lettuce & sunflowers! We have also bought a BBQ & outside fire. It hasn’t rained for 3 weeks & we have had beautiful weather, so we are enjoying the long evenings outside.


Alongside tidying our backyard, Jon & Matt have made a putting green, & have a net they chip the golf ball into as well. They seem to enjoy themselves most evenings out there. Our touch season starts next week, & also my cricket training starts for real now every Tuesday. We were also cheering on the Black Caps!


Well we had a 2 week holiday over Easter, & for 1 week of that we hired a car & explored Chester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Hadrian’s Wall, then into Scotland & Edinburgh, then west to Wigtown (where an ancestor of mine was martyred) & then back into England & to the Lake District where we stayed at Lake Windermere for a couple of days, then the last night we visited Blackpool. It was a great trip & we enjoyed meeting some of my relatives & experiencing real English culture. We even spent a day at a traditional English point to point horse race! It was also good to get behind the wheel of a car again, & with the good English roads, it hardly seemed like we traveled 1200 miles!


We have lots of dreams & thoughts about what this will look like. We know this past year that as we have traveled we have learnt things about ourselves & how we function that inside our culture & comfort zone we wouldn’t have noticed. We have learnt that working with passion & where we are gifted brings fulfillment. It has been good to understand more where our strengths lie & that we have missed having an open home. Where this next year will lead we don’t know…but we do know that this story is still being written.

We do plan to use this coming year in Kiev to also learn the language & see what happens after that. A holiday back to NZ maybe on the cards near the end of 2008…but who knows!

Spring is in the air!

The weather has started to warm, the days are getting longer & the trees have buds & blossoms on them. Although in saying that, we had a light dusting of snow last night. Rather strange!


We have been plodding away at work, which has started to become less fulfilling. We have both realized that we love youth/children & teaching, but the classroom setting is more about management & less about relationship. I will start fulltime at school next term which will help the money saving, but we are really counting the days until the end of year (July 20th) & will most probably be leaving then.


Been really enjoying church lately, making a few friends & feel encouraged each time we go. Jon has started playing with the band and we feel at home there. We are doing a series at the moment entitled cross/words leading up to Easter, which have been really good. You can check out the sermons at http://www.watfordcommunitychurch.org


Our house has seen some changes with new flatmates (Matt & Tess). Matt is a teacher at school & we get on with them really well. We spend time together eating, discussing & doing stuff, so our house now feels more like a shared home rather than just a place we sleep & eat.


We started back at playing squash each week, Jon plays badminton with the teachers each week too, & I have started cricket training with a teacher from school. We have also joined a touch team for the coming season. It has been good to get back into sport & socialize at the same time. With Matt moving in, we no longer need to walk to his place each morning, so the sport provides another form of exercise. Plus we have had our fair share of couch sport with the cricket & rugby!


While my brother was here we lived life at a hectic pace, one weekend we were in Guildford visiting relatives, Brighton another weekend, a monopoly board crawl with photos at each street, & then in the mid-term break we headed off to Ireland for 4 days. We stayed in Dublin, but explored out to the west to Galway, & south to Kilkenny. It was beautiful scenery & really friendly people. We were also there while the Irish vs. English 6 nations rugby game was being played. We watched it in a packed pub & really enjoyed the atmosphere, especially as the English were given a hiding!

My friend from Ukraine who was going to come & visit these coming holidays was denied a visa, so instead for the Easter break we are planning a 7 day road trip through Wales, northern England, a bit of Scotland & the Lake District. Really looking forward to it, as we explore & see more of God’s beautiful creation.


We have had many plans, offers & thoughts about what we should do at the end of our time here. It has been confusing at times & often we felt torn in two (or three or four). But we have waited for God to open doors & at this time we are preparing to go & live in Ukraine. We have been in contact with the British International School in Kiev & it seems highly likely that we will both be offered jobs there, so we are now in the process of dealing with the logistics of shifting & starting there in September.

Little anecdotes & other thoughts & stories can be found on either of these blogsites…

www.roofellin.blogspot.com & www.ruthpastor.blogspot.com

Let it Snow

Hello everyone,

Well although it has been strange spending January in school, we have had a busy month! School has been going well, and now that I have 2 permanent days, I am finding I have work at least 4 days most weeks. Next term I will be replacing a current teacher as she has maternity leave so I will be fulltime until the end of the academic year (July) and the possibility of the same in September if we decide to stay. This has worked out really well as we both like the school and staff & enjoy working in the same workplace.

A big piece of excitement (not just for the foreigners but also the locals) this month has been the arrival of snow. We had a small snowfall 2 weeks ago of about 2.5cm which was really lovely, and then this last week we had quite a big amount of about 10cm. A lot of schools were closed (although ours wasn’t!) and this time there was enough to make a snowman!

Church this year has been really encouraging & ‘re-hydrating’ for us. We have really enjoyed going & hope to get a little more involved as the year wears on.

My brother & his friend Gaven have been with us for a few weeks, and will be for a couple more. It has been good to show them around a little bit & spend time together. Jono has also been doing some supply teaching while he has been here.

During some of my spare time when I haven’t been at work, I have made a new website (www.jrpirini.blogspot.com) and also practiced some of my skills using photoshop to make some of the graphics.

Out & about we have been quite busy…we have been up the London Eye which was really cool to see the city from above (at night), we went to our first football (soccer) game last Tuesday to watch Australia play Denmark, we hired a car yesterday & drove down to Brighton where we showed my brother around, we have also visited Westminster Abbey last Sunday for the evening service…it is a amazing, awesome place.

In regards to Ukraine, we had a couple stay with us a few nights & it was great to talk to them, and also Gaven about possibilities of work over there. It seems as though the dairy farming idea is not that feasible at this stage, but we have been in contact with an international school in Kiev in regards to jobs September 07. They have asked us to send our CV’s and we are waiting to hear back from them.

Our housemates are moving out this week (shifting back to Australia) so at the end of the month a teacher from school (who is from Rotorua, NZ) & his partner will be shifting in. We were wondering who our new housemates would be, and are glad that is someone we know & who we get on well with.

So that’s what’s happening with us… hope you are all well & enjoyed your summer,

God Bless,

February Slideshow Photos

Happy New Year -- 7th January 2007

It has definately been a memorable & life-changing year for us. There have been many new things that we have experienced & lots of thoughts & ideals challenged. We have learnt more about ourselves, the world that God has placed us in & the people that live in this world. I think the most fascinating part of our travels has been the introductions to different cultures & understanding how diverse & fascinating this world is.

December has been busy for us in regards to work, as Jon completed the organization of a Christmas production at school, which in the end went really well. I have carried on with supply work at the same school and was very pleased on the last day of term to be offered a permanent 2 days a week. There is also a possibility to cover maternity leave next term which will be 5 days a week. We enjoy the school’s atmosphere & staff, and it is a good place to work. We had our end of year/xmas staff dinner on the last day of school (the night before we flew to Ukraine) and although it was an expensive meal (especially if you convert it to NZ dollars) it was good evening.

Thursday 21st December saw us making our way back to the airport for some long queues and a slight delay (other flights where delayed quite a few hours due to the heavy fog) before we set off to Ukraine. It was great to catch up with my brother (Jono) & good friends. We spent most of our time in the little village Rzhyshiv where my brother lives, relaxing, playing settlers, catching up with people etc. The weather was pretty mild while we were there, and although we were hoping for a white xmas it didn’t look very likely. Early Xmas morning though, the temperature dropped quite quickly and although it wasn’t much, we did get a dusting of snow & the ground & landscape were definitely white! We were rather excited, although the locals weren’t quite sure why! We spent Christmas with some of the other foreigners living in the town, and had a good day. I took with us a NZ leg of lamb & kumara, so the next day we had a NZ Christmas meal at my brothers complete with pudding & custard. Jon & Jono spent there pocket money on a whole lot of fireworks (the good ones you cant buy anywhere else!) and so New Years Eve was rather loud & exciting as we watched the firework spectacle. Jon managed to get the greeting wrong in Ukrainian and was actually saying “happy new hand!” We really enjoyed our time back there, and feel like it is home for us. We spent time there talking, & thinking about the possibility of going back there to live, and what kind of job/business opportunities there would be there for us. At the moment we are exploring the idea of maybe buying some land/cows & entering the world of dairy farming! We are not yet decided, but we are thinking at this stage that in July (when school finishes here) we head back to Ukraine for the summer & will look after my brothers house while he is away for about a year, then plan to head back to NZ nearer the end of 2008 & decide then whether we head back for a longer period of time.

Other things out & about…we attended the famous Jazz Café in Camden early in December to hear “James Taylor quartet”. We thought it was the original James Taylor, and although it wasn’t we weren’t disappointed. The jazz was excellent & we had a great night out. Friday 5th Jan saw us celebrating 5 years of marriage, and as we had only got back from Ukraine 2 days earlier we just headed out for dinner & a movie to celebrate.

My brother & his friend, Gaven, will be heading over this way at the end of the month for 4 weeks, Jono will be trying out the supply teaching for about 3 weeks, and we have booked tickets to Ireland for our mid-term break at the end of February.

My friend Masha (from Ukraine) is hoping to come & visit here too in March for 2 weeks. She is applying for a visa at the moment, so we are praying that this will work out.

We feel as though we are settling in here a lot better now, and feel more on top of things. The winter has been pretty mild so far (except the horrible cold fog just before Christmas) and it is starting to get lighter, but we are told it will also get colder!

Until next time,