Happy New Year

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year! (or should I say Happy Holidays)?

A lot and a little can happen in three months! 
We have now been back in NZ for 3 months and it seems as though we have made some progress and in other ways none at all. 

We are living in a place called Pukenui (which is 30mins north of Kaitaia) which is were Jon grew up.  For the first 2 months we were house-sitting his parents place while they were away in Canada.  While they were away our job was to pull out the old kitchen and deisgn & sort out a new one.  It was an interesting & at times frustrating project, but one that kept us busy and useful. 
Kitchen after
Kitchen before
For the last month or so we have shifted over the road into a small “portacom” which will be our base from now on.  Although it is small (1 bedroom) we have managed to un-pack a lot of our boxes and it is beginning to feel like home.  We still love to have people come & stay or visit – we have a big outdoor lounge!

Our lounge
Coming back right at the end of a year has been good in some ways.  Although we have had opportunity to apply for lots of jobs for next year, we have strongly felt that we dont want to jump straight into a fulltime job each.  Instead we have given our CV's to 4-5 school principals which has yeilded quite a bit of day to day relieving in the past few months.  Through this we have also been able to secure some permanent partime work for the next year.  Jon has 3 days as a music teacher at one school, and maybe another half day at another school.  At this stage I have 1 permanent day at 1 school, and maybe 3 mornings at another school.  We are happy how this has worked out, although it has been rather a process getting back into 'the system'!

Youth Group
Our office
Jon's parents had started a small youth group which we have been given responsibility for.  It has been really good to get to know some of the youth, and see them learn & grow.  We have also enjoyed the challenge of preparing studies each week for them.  We ended the year with a camp, and hope to start it up again in the new year. 
I have really enjoyed teaching the Sunday school especially because it is a chance to give input into my nephews. 
Our kitchen
Jon has been involved in the music, and has been asked to lead that next year.  He is teaching our oldest nephew some of the songs & getting him involved too. 
Outdoor Bowls
We have joined the bowling club and try to make it along every Tuesday. It is mainly retirees and older people, but it is a great chance to enjoy sport & be in amongst the community. 
Girl Guides
I have become a Girl Guide leader in what is a very struggling club.  It is a great opportunity to be a part of girls lives, teach them & be their friends.  I hope to be more involved next year as it starts again. 
Future ideas
Jon is thinking about starting evening group music classes for a minimal chrage at the local school, and maybe a recording studio.  
I am thinking through the possibilities of maybe offerign cooking lessons to youth or people who are on a tight budget.  Yet to see how these things will pan out. 

Other interests
We have started the learning process of growing our own vegetables.  We have already enjoyed some of our own produce, and hope to expand this so we can produce more & give away some too.
We have spent a bit of time doing this lately, with mixed results.  We also have a net just over the bank (100m from our house) that we check each day. 
At least once a week I go and help out milking 180 cows on my sister-in-law's diary farm.  They think I am strange that I enjoy this, but for me it is quite satisfying!

The Future
In the distance it is very hazy, but for now we are here for at least 2011.  After seeing a specialist we have placed on a waiting list for IVF which is from 12-20 months long.  The differing opinions we have had from our appointments has been confusing and hard to understand.  We are unsure of what our next steps are, so just taking it one at a time. 
We still have the dream in our hearts of managing a children's camp, whether here or in Ukraine.
We have struggled as we settle back down here, adjusting to many different things, and wondering what is going to happen. It has been hard at times, and we sometimes feel like “displaced” people but we have many things to be thankful for.

We hope you have had a blessed Christmas and wish you all the best for 2011. 
Keep in touch & if you are in NZ, we would love for you to come & visit
Ruth Ellen & Jon Pirini 
View from our house

Second Spring?

Well we have arrived safely with all our baggage to a rather wet, wild & sometimes warm & sunny New Zealand Spring. 
We really enjoyed our last few weeks in Ukraine, making the most of the hot summer days, and having people over for dinner to chill-out on our deck. 
The 10 days we had with my sister and her family was great fun – going to the Aqua Park, boat trip on the river, the outdoor museum, a test hangi, and generally just spending time together. 
The weather then turned very hot as we started to finish off odd jobs on our house, and tie up loose ends before we left. 
August 21st was the day we had planned for our farewell hangi.  We counted up who had been invited and figured we would be catering for about 80 or more people.  We were very fortunate to have Matt & Andy Dow from the far north in NZ to make it all the way to our house for this weekend.  They were on a biking trip around Europe and decided to fit Ukraine into the itinerary.  Other friends also arrived and with a full house we managed to pull off a really nice hangi. We also had live music, a rendition of the haka, and taught everyone how to play the “stick game” (see my blog for more details & video).  It was a really special night with all our friends, and one that will stay in our memories for a long time to come. 
With not many days left we packed our house, bringing only 20kg each with us, said our goodbyes (rather emotional at times) and headed out on the 3rd September. 
First stop was Dubai, then Delhi, Bangalore, Singapore, before touching down in NZ. I have blogged more detail about each stop (click on the city names to read about it) too much to write here – needless to say it was relief, but a sudden blast of cold that hit us, on arrival in NZ!
We stayed with my parents to start with in Pukekohe, Auckland while we sorted out a car, bank issues (we had $4000 stolen out of our account!), visiting the doctor and other bits & pieces.  It was also nice to catch up with my sister & her 3 children, who have obviously grown a lot since we were last here. 
We are now down in Tauranga, catching up with friends and the church where we used to work.  We are going to Taupo for the weekend, then will visit friends in Rotorua & Hamilton.  We will head up north to Jon’s family on Thursday, probably with a car-load of boxes!!
We have started the path of medical help in regards to having children and have a few appointments lined up.  Should be an interesting & costly process, but we are pretty chilled out about it. 
We have definitely have experienced some reverse culture shock – why is everyone so polite & helpful?  It will take us awhile to get settled but now we realise that there is a lot to not take for granted.  

Our summer update

To view the original click here

Spring 2010

Click here to view as a PDF                       

How much hope does that little word bring? We have had a loooong, white winter with the last of the snow melting about 10 days ago. It’s amazing how our spirits lift when we can get outdoors and be active again. We have had our first BBQ (in jackets), our yard has been cleaned up, grass seeded, and the all-important vege garden competition is underway.
So what else have we been up to?

I have started my study again with my last 3 papers. I have found it enjoyable and stretches my mind. It is good to be busy again. I have continued with my 2 students each week and have been seriously considering turning this kind of tutoring/teaching into an online business venture. I have started blogging again (see www.roofellin.blogspot.com) and enjoying reading other people’s blogs and exercising my intellect this way.

My friend Cheryl and I have spent some serious hours upstairs finishing off the lining, gib and painting. We laid carpet and then managed to get our couch up the stairs before Jon built the interior walls. We have just had the electricity put in, and with just paint, and few other small jobs to go it is almost finished. It has been a long process, but we are already enjoying the benefits of an extra lounge space/guest bedroom. It also has a fantastic view. This is the last major project we will complete on our house, and we although enjoyable we will be glad it is over, and we can just enjoy having people here. (Photo story at end)
Jon is still travelling every day about 3-4 hours and it is really beginning to take its toll. He is looking forward to finishing up at the school, and having a well-deserved break. He is still music teaching 4-5 people (bass/guitar) each Saturday morn and leading the music at church. His studio is working out really well for this. He also enjoys playing squash each week with my brother. (I have had an injury break for the past 3 months!)

This summer is looking fun & busy for us. We are happy to have my parents visit in June for about 3 weeks, and then my sister and her family will also visit at the end of July for 10 days. We think we also might put on a hangi at our place for our friends and neighbours near the end of August.

About a month ago my brother borrowed our car, and through no fault of his own had a major accident and wrote it off! (Full story here) So we are very thankful to God that he walked out alive, but we no longer have a car. We have decided to rent a car for the next 5 months, BECAUSE in 5 months time we will be travelling back to NZ. We have booked our tickets and leave here on the 3rd September, spending time in Abu Dhabi, Delhi, Bangalore, & Singapore, before arriving in NZ on the 14th September. We have bought one-way tickets, but still with the idea of returning here at some stage. We hope to rent our house while we are gone.

We seem to be at a crossroads in regards to making a decision about the future. We have come to a place
here now where we are setup with house and language skills (well Jon at least) and now do we take
the plunge and commit long-term, or is it time to move on. We really want something specific to return to here. At this point it seems as though we are the batsman ready to run (somewhere) and are getting
the call “WAITING” and are yet to see whether it is
waiting no, or waiting yes.We do know that God holds the future, and we can trust in Him.

Looking forward to seeing a lot of you later on in the year – be great to catch up when we are back in NZ
with a lot of friends and family.
Keep in touch,
Ruth & Jon

Upstairs progress…

Happy New Year

Autumn and winter here in Ukraine has not bought about a lot of activity. The normal everyday plodding along with school and study has been interrupted in a number of interesting ways…

My study (online through Waikato NZ)

I enjoyed my 3 papers on Language & Cognition, ICT and Assessment and managed to finish and pass them near the end of October.

For me it was then a short week’s trip to London to renew my visa. I stayed with my brother and enjoyed being in an English speaking country for awhile, and of course bringing back a lot of goodies from the supermarket that we can’t get here!

Since then I have started Russian lessons once a week (about all my brain can handle) and continued with my 2 students and working around the house.

My friend and I also spent 2 days at another friends house ripping out her old kitchen bench & sink (which was leaking & rotten) and then replacing it with our own workmanship. Not completely mistake-free, but sturdy, workable & safe. It was a fun project.

I was also involved in organizing a café night which we invited women from around our town too. It was a fun night even though it snowed solid the whole night & day beforehand which made it more of an adventure for people to come!

I do feel rather lazy though, and will look forward to enrolling again for what should be my last 3 papers in February.

Jon’s work

By the end of October Jon was ready for midterm break! We calculated that he had driven the road to Kiev over 40 times in the past 2 months! Well little did he know that the break was going to turn into a whole month off work. The Ukrainian government freaked out over the swine flu virus and declared a 3 week quarantine on all schools & public gatherings. The only disadvantage is that he has to make up the time now teaching on Saturdays! Anyway he made the most of the time off, completing his studio downstairs, preparing 2 talks for a youth conference and other bits & pieces.

Then it was back to work for a 6 day week (thankfully only for 4 weeks) until the Christmas holidays. We have really enjoyed our Christmas holidays spending a lot of it working on the lining of the upstairs area, having a wonderful Christmas dinner & day here, a 2 day mini break on our 8th wedding anniversary, buying some musical equipment for Jon’s studio, playing settlers online & generally relaxing INSIDE! We are defiantly having a white winter here…up until mid December it was strangely warm, and then we were hit with cold & white. With a huge amazing dump of snow we spent about 36 hours without power. No big deal really except our water and heating all run of electricity so we were rather happy when it came back on. Dealing with the snow & driving in it has proved some concern at times, but we are thankful for a light, reliable car and always conscious of God’s protection on the roads (while holding tight to the seat at times!! LOL)

Looking forward

We have much to be thankful for and looking forward to 2010 with anticipation. We know that it will bring some changes…

Jon will finish his contract at school at the end of June. We then hope to spend the summer here and then travel back to NZ (maybe via South Africa & India) arriving near the end of September. We plan to be in NZ for 6-12 months but it maybe longer or shorter – who knows what will happen!

We are still hoping and praying for children and want to set aside a day to fast & pray about this matter. If you want to join us on Jan 23rd to pray for a miracle that would be great. We have also started to talk about going down the road of adoption.

Other cool stuff

We now have 2 cats – Rocky (Rockstar) & Dumpy (Dumpster)

We should be getting fast internet tonight! (YAY – we can watch NZ sport & TV online)

Our fire should be hooked up today & working tomorrow (ready for the power to go off again!)

Jon got his first police fine here –although he has been pulled up many times they normally can’t be bothered filling out the paper work and just want a quick bribe!

The single girls in our church are asking for all single guys to come here for a visit or to work (plumbers, electricians, mechanics, builders etc wanted!)

We hope that 2010 will be a year to remember and filled with many good memories and times of happiness and a good mood. (In typical Ukrainian tradition)