When I write the next monthly update, we will have completed the first academic year of UTSIM!! If you had asked me a year ago what I would expect by now – I would not have even dreamed that we would be where we are.

The next four weeks will be flat out with testing students and planning a special presentation and end of year celebration. It feels like there is a lot to do and I know I could feel a little stretched come the end of this month.

We will start looking towards next year (that means September – I have to get used to talking like that in the Northern Hemisphere). We have a program to write. We have chosen a curriculum to use as our base curriculum. This will mean some staff training and purchasing of materials. We have new contracts to make with parents. Schedules to plan and coordinate, and we wish to broaden our student base so as to become financially viable.

I’m happy to announce the appointment of a curriculum and resource development worker. My sister Ruth is going to work part time with us next year and I’m looking forward to the energy, skills and educational experience she will bring to UTSIM.

Last month I mentioned that Cheryl had a problem with her leg. She has been away for a month and only just returned to Rzhyshchiv under strict doctor’s orders to be available for light duties only – no lifting etc. So the maintenance and equipment development has been on hold for a while.



I was sobered by ANZAC Day this year. Ruth organised a get together for NZers and Aussies at their place in Rzh. The weather was good and we played cricket and golf and had ANZAC biscuits and a lovely meal complete with pavs made by Gav. Ruth had asked me to do a short ‘ceremony’ especially for the kids who knew very little of why we celebrate ANZAC Day. I read many stories and poems and was reminded of the great cost of the battles at Gallipoli. We often quote history in dry terms with facts and figures and dates. But thinking of the people, their hopes and dreams, their families, their relationships, is a sobering thing. I cannot and will not ever condone war – but may we never forget. “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.” (Laurence Binyon, ‘For the Fallen’)

Last Sunday I took my neighbours to a nearby village for “Hrobnytsya”. This is a special time in the Orthodox calendar for remembering relatives who have passed away. The cemeteries are jam-packed full of people. Next to each grave site is a table where the family will have a picnic together. It was five years ago that the grandfather next door died. I had just moved into this house. My Gran also died five years ago. My neighbour remembered this and talked to me about it. Today Ruth and Jon and I watched a part of the video of Gran’s funeral. I was reminded of how much my Gran prayed for people.


There are lots of public holidays at this time of the year and so today together with Ruth, Jon, Jesse, Marie, Brod and Bron we got stuck into the back yard. It’s been five years since I seriously tidied it up and we cut and burned a lot of stuff. It felt good to work outside and also to work together. Tomorrow I’ll go to Jon’s and help him build his deck out the back of his house.

All of my original chickens are no more. I caught a neighbour’s cat eating one of them, and can only conjecture the demise of the others. Some friends bought me some more and are looking after them until they are bigger. Jon and I have also modified the chook run, not to stop chooks getting out but to stop predators getting in.

We saw a squirrel wander across the lawn today; they are great animals to watch. It had a walnut in its paws. Suddenly my cat was after it! With the speed and agility of an All Black winger dodging a Wallaby, the squirrel side stepped the cat and was up the tree in a flash.

Thinking about rugby, I do miss it. I often wonder if I will ever get to play again. The best I can do now is read the score of the super 14 on the internet. Now that we are down towards the end of the season – if anyone wants to record some games and send them to me – I will love you forever!


I’m still reading “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy. I’m about half way through.


To Bruce for the chilli and corn bread ‘to go’ on Wednesday night!!

Love Jono

Keep Looking Up


enjoyed the update, see you tonight for homegroup.

1 decade ago