As I write, we are nearing the end of our two week New Year and Christmas break. Yes, New Year comes first in Ukraine and is a big celebration. Christmas is January 7th and the evening of the 6th is a special family celebration with a tradition of eating twelve different dishes.

UTSIM has been running for 1 ½ years now. We look ahead to the following things for 2010:

  • Simeon and Asia Ewing (part time volunteer teachers) are on leave for at least 4 months for the birth of their first child.
  • Sveta Artiukh commences with us as their replacement.
  • Most classes are well behind schedule to finish the courses we have started by the end of May.
  • Spring includes a lot of public holidays.
  • Natasha Kurilko is due to give birth in April or May to their second child. She is the backbone of UTSIM from a business point of view and without her guidance, I’m not sure where we would be. (plus accountant, tax office, payroll, personnel, and a host of other responsibilities)
  • Summer time – although a long way off – we need to have wisdom about how much and what to do during this time.



I took a bit of time off during the break and travelled first to Lviv for New Year. Here it was great to catch up with Nat and Losha and Nikita and both of their respective families. I feel like I have been to a lot of celebrations with Nat’s family. New Year with Did Moroz (Father Frost or Santa) was another great celebration. And I was the designated driver for the night and got to drive Losha’s rather fancy car. The next day he borrowed his mum’s even fancier car (a brand new Mercedes 4 wheel drive) and we managed to get it stuck in the snow, ice and mud. Losha got it stuck so I let him get it out (it was freezing and I had no gloves). He stepped through some ice into a nice cold puddle. I managed to catch up with fellow Kiwi Dave and Tanya in Lviv also. Then I trekked by freezing cold bus to Kamyanets Podilsky where I visited Irina, George and George and Alla. I was able to give a copy of You Are Special to George Jnr. He is walking with help now (he is 4 years old). Pray for more miracles in his life as he takes steps. I had my first Ukrainian Christmas with Irina’s family and ate more than sufficient (it is hard to say no to her mum). Now it’s back to Rzhyshchiv and ready to start work again next week.


Not too sure what has been happening in Rzhyshchiv the last couple of weeks, except a big snow storm which wiped out electricity for about 36 hours at my house. Igor has been living with me for more than 7 months now. I’m glad to share a house with him (even if I yell at you for stupid things Igor).


My holiday reading was Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. Once you are orientated with the characters and the chronology of this novel, you don’t want to put it down and yet you don’t want it to end. It is full of funny, hilarious, sombre and startling moments from beginning to end. A conversation between the young American pilot Nately, and an old Italian man is pure genius. Go on, read the book! 5/5


To Heather Wilkins who sent a large box of books and other bits and pieces for UTSIM (including blu tack)

Love Jono

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