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 CafĂ© 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,

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