Autumn 2009

Summer is slowly fading away as the days get shorter and there is a bit of a nip in the air!

We are still getting some very lovely days and like the wise ant we are trying to get our place in order to hunker down for winter.

This summer has been productive in a different number of ways. Here’s what we have been up to…


We have started to clean up the front of our house and Tom & Jon built a really nice stone wall. Based on an idea we got in Italy we have put fake terracotta planters on the top of this with a box hedge in them. We really like the look of this & hope it will last the winter or someone stealing them!! Sasha then made us the very lovely iron gates complete with the lights on the top of the pillars. We are hoping to concrete this area in the next week or so, and tile the steps up to our house to finish it all off.

We have also started 2 other projects – downstairs & upstairs. Downstairs is just a small room we will gib and carpet – it will become Jon’s studio. Upstairs is a bit more of a major project. Tom & Igor have knocked out the front side and rebuilt a straight wall, made stairs & sorted out the floor. We are hoping to have 2 bedrooms and a toilet up there. This will really extend the usefulness of our house and having people to stay.

It is great to be living in our own house, enjoying the view and working with our hands to improve it.


We had a week in Crimea making the most of the beach and beautiful scenery, exploring a Genoese Fortress, going up a 1300m cable car, playing cards & generally having fun. We have also spent this summer reading (see my blog for a list & reviews) and chilling out with BBQ’s and friends. It has been good.


Jon has started working with a few people from our church, helping them out with learning guitar etc. They are coming over every second Saturday night for a practice and a jam. We are hoping this will be a good time for growth and community building.

School & Study

Jon is back to school & driving 2-3 hours a day, which is tiring, but he is enjoying living at home, rather than in an apartment. He has moved down to teach Year 5 this year (stealing all my plans from last year) and enjoying his new class. I am still studying (have been since July – second Semester in NZ) and I will finish in 3 weeks time. I am not sure what I will do during the NZ summer holidays (Nov – Feb) but probably will include some painting upstairs etc & maybe some language lessons. I will also continue with the 2 students that I have started to teach 2 afternoons a week. They are the 2 oldest in a missionary family that home school, so I am taking them for Science & Social Studies. I am really enjoying this and it keeps my teaching fresh.


We took the plunge and got a dog that had been rescued off the streets in Kiev. He was a very quiet dog that loved to sleep – named him Dozer. Unfortunately he didn’t last even a week before he went “walkies”. I think someone liked the look of him. As a consolation prize though, I was given a kitten called Dumpy (affectionately known as Dumpster) for my birthday. She has survived so far!

Looking ahead

We are praying about and want to start actively working toward becoming part of Christian camping here in Ukraine. This is one idea that initially drew us to this country, and we would like to pursue it. We are trying to find out what is currently here in this country, but would like to manage a camp where we would run outreach holiday camps for children, school camps with team building and problem solving the main focus, and have a great facility for other organizations/churches to hire. Will keep you posted as we forge ahead in this area.

Just a simple glimpse into what we are up to.

Hope this finds you well.

God Bless,

Ruth-Ellen & Jon Pirini

July 2009

Looking back at our last update it seems most definitely time for a new one. Snow is a distant memory as we are now enjoying heat in the 30’s and loving being on summer holidays!


Well it felt like it took forever for school to finish but it did at last on the 26th June after some very hot days in the classroom. Our new director has made some good improvements, so it was a little sad for me to leave, even so sometimes all we can say to some of the random stuff that happens at school is “this is Ukraine!”

Next Academic Year

Jon will carry on teaching there next year, starting September. He will be moving to teach a Year 5 class. The last 2 years we have had an apartment in Kiev, and traveled down to Rzhyshchiv most weekends, but this year we will live here in Rzhyshchiv and Jon will travel everyday to Kiev. It is just over an hours drive, but he says he won’t notice it because of the bonus of living in our own house and not in the city!


Talking about driving, just before school ended we purchased a car, which was going to be a necessity for Jon to be able to do this. It is so good to be able to drive again and have the independence of just jumping in the car & going where & when you need to. We have bought it from Avis a lease company, it is only 2 years old, with very few kms and regular services, so here’s hoping it will last us a good while without having to try & get stuff fixed on it. It is a dark blue Ford Fiesta and runs very nicely, it was a very good deal and we feel very blessed.


3 days after school finished we went to Italy (via Poland) for a week. We hired a car while we were there & did quite a lot of driving & sight seeing. We went to Venice & Rome and also spent 3 nights in a small medieval village in a lovely villa that my Aunty owns. It wasn’t really a relaxing time, but it was great to see the history of the country and just have a change of scenery. We especially enjoyed the Collesuem in Rome and marveled at the amazing lengths they went to build stuff!! My view of Italy is on my blog.

We are also heading off to Crimea (the Black Sea) at the beginning of August, so that should be a nice relaxing time for us before summer begins to slide away.


It is now great to be completely in our own house and slowly making it feel like home. I have started building some little things for around the house, like a towel shelf in the bathroom & bedside tables etc. I enjoy doing this and it keeps me busy. Our deck is mostly complete and we have a custom made BBQ that will keep us fed most summer nights. It has been great to have people over for a BBQ & just enjoy sitting on our deck, taking in the view & sipping wine!! I love summer!

My Study

I have officially started my study online with Waikato University. I will first upgrade my teaching diploma to a degree, and then continue on to get a Diploma of Sport & Leisure with the hope of becoming a PE teacher or something similar. So far I have found it stimulating and interesting. Apparently it should keep me busy for about 30 hours a week!!

We are still praying about heading home to NZ in Oct 2010 for at least a year if not longer. We are not really sure what lies ahead, but learning just to enjoy where we are for now.

Thank you for your prayers & friendship, we feel it & it is appreciated.


We were both feeling the heat the other day, so took a bit of weight off by shaving each other’s hair. This is the result!!


Since our last email update it seems as though we have spent a lot of time waiting for things to happen or work out. Some of these things have fallen into place & for others we are still waiting!

Well firstly our good friend from here, Sveta, has made it to NZ & is currently studying at EXCEL School of Performing Arts in Auckland. In the end it was no small miracle that she arrived safe & sound. The last few weeks were rather harrowing with late night phone calls to NZ or Moscow where her visa was being issued. And then finding out less than 24 hours before she was to fly that she needed a transit visa for Sydney (although she was going to be there for less than a hour) – good one Australia!! But she is there now & loving it so we are praying for a great year for her.

We have a new director at school who was taken some good steps forward in managing our school which is really positive (after our last director did a runner!). We have had our job-share proposal (to teach 2 & half days a week each with the same class) turned down so that is a bit disappointing. So the plan for the next academic year (starting September 09) is that Jon will work fulltime at the school & bring home the bacon & I have enrolled in Waikato University to upgrade my Diploma to a Degree & then move on to get a Graduate Diploma in Sport & Leisure. I will also work 2 days in a voluntary role for my brother’s English language business as the Curriculum & Resource Development Officer. That’s right I will be developing resources & curriculum!

Spring & warm temperatures have finally come to Ukraine – it hasn’t rained for over a month! Our backyard is beginning to bloom and to make the most of it we are in the process of building a deck on the back of our house. This term is full of long weekends so we are making the most of these back at our house doing odd jobs & relaxing.
We have even managed to get to the ballet & theatre for some great evenings out with friends!
My brother who is currently living in London came over for the long Easter weekend. It was good to catch up with him & show him a little bit of Ukraine.
We celebrated ANZAC Day in style with a game of cricket (NZ v AUS), some ANZAC biscuits & our Aussie friends even made lamingtons, pavlova & meat pies!! My brother played the Last Post on his bugle & it was good to hang out & remember our ANZAC’s.

We are counting down the days to the end of school (38 school days left) and looking forward to 2 months of summer. We have booked tickets to Italy for just over a week, also hope to visit Crimea again & also get some work completed around our house.

We are still waiting and wondering what to do in regards to children. According to the tests we had done in NZ I am not ovulating, so we are wondering about the best course of action from here. Not sure I really want to approach the medical system here in another language!!

Well that’s about all the news for now. We have been talking a lot about our future and where we are headed. We are conscious of making the most of now & using our time wisely to achieve all we can where we are. We have put a tentative “18 months” (thanks to some wise advice from Donny!) on the table as to the time when we head back to NZ – and are open to what God wants us to do.

Until next time…
Jon & Ruth

1 Year & 3 months on...

I’m sure it is true that good things take time…because although it has taken time, it has been very good to move into our own house!

Coming back

Well we arrived back from NZ with our luggage safe & sound 3 weeks ago and it almost seems like we never even went there!

We thoroughly enjoyed our time there catching up with friends and family. It was with mixed emotions that we headed back to Ukraine and after 40 hours of travel arrived to a snowy but not too cold Kiev.

We began school again the next day and although it was a shock to the system it was good to get back into a work routine again.


We have contracts up until Sept 2010 but have asked that next year we only take one position/class and share the job. This proposal doesn’t seem too popular at the moment, but we are just praying about this as it would give us more time down at our house and being involved with people there.

The economic crisis has hit people in Ukraine hard & we feel the effects at the school which sometimes makes for strange decisions and interesting situations. The students & staff still remain fun to work with, so that keeps us going.


3 days after arriving back we signed up a new apartment which is about 10 mins walk from our school. In the last few months rent prices in Kiev have almost halved so we were able to get a very nice, big 4 room apartment for not much more than what we were paying last year for a 2 room apartment. We are living here during the week and although we have moved most of our stuff into our house in Rzhyshchiv we are only staying there for the weekends at this stage.

But it is good to see our project to come to some sort of completion…and we are very thankful to God for this beautiful place to relax in & entertain people. It’s a never ending job owning property, but we can now comfortably (very) live there.


We are in the process of applying for a visa for our friend Sveta to come & study in NZ. Most other details have fallen into place, and we are just awaiting this. We hope that she will be on the plane at the beginning of March ready for a huge year at EXCEL!

We are making inquires and would like to be involved in some sort of way with street kids/orphanage work here in Kiev. Not sure what form this will take, but are looking into this.


We are unsure as we look into the hazy distance, but just enjoying what life throws us at the moment.

While in NZ we had tests done regarding having children, and are still trying to figure out the best path for us to take. We are not 100% sure what needs to happen, but this may result in us coming back to NZ for medical help within the next 12-18 months.

Our half-term ends next week, so we are taking a short break to Norway, Oslo were we also hope to get Jon’s computer fixed and have a relaxing break.

Thanks for your friendship & prayers

Until next time

Ruth & Jon