My picture was printed in the Scottish Sun Tabloid last week. I was with my friend Simbo 7 ½ years ago and . . . well he saw it first, so he tells the story.
“They say every picture tells a story. Well what a story this one tells today. It was taken on October 11th 2006, me and Jono Miller soaking up the atmosphere on Independence Square, Kyiv, a few hours before Ukraine beat Scotland 2-0 in Euro2008 qualifying. Kenny Miller missed a glorious chance at 1-0, there was a dive for the penalty that made it 2-0. Anyway, this picture appeared TODAY (88 months later) in a Scottish newspaper as the draw for Euro 2016 was revealed. Today, while thousands in Scotland looked at this picture and thought about football, I was on Independence Square in Kyiv, sharing all kinds of emotions with thousands gathered to remember the 88 people who died here in the last week, fighting for a better future for this country. And today, I added the Saltire you see round Jono's neck, to the many other flags hung from the Independence Square Christmas tree, a few feet from where this picture was taken.”Marie’s Corner
“If they would just let me work, then everything would be ok.” This is one of the first things my new refugee family told me when I met them last week. Having been recently unemployed for nearly a year (while waiting for visas and nursing registration to go through) I really feel for this guy who just wants to be allowed to provide for his family. Being unemployed is depressing and demoralizing, not to mention stressful when thinking about all the financial implications.
Paul famously encouraged a young church to work hard by saying that people who didn’t work, shouldn’t be given food to eat. But what happens when we tell people not to work? I wonder what the long term implications of forcing people to go ‘on the dole’ will be. Will people get used to receiving handouts and become unmotivated to work? Or will people get angry with a system that forces stigma on them? Something else? I’m not sure, but I wonder how many people receiving governments handouts wouldn’t need them if they were just allowed to work instead.
My doctor’s visit a few weeks ago was a productive one. Thanks for praying with me about that. Now I have a name for some of my symptoms: rheumatoid arthritis. It has been good to learn more about this illness over the last few weeks and come up with a plan for how to handle it.Pray for Ukraine
I am at a loss for words. I am scared of what could happen between my writing this and you reading it. I am hopeful. I am hopeful for peace and for no more bloodshed. The events of the past few weeks in Ukraine have left me feeling so far away and disconnected and yet so attached to Ukraine you would think I lived there my entire life. Pray for peace, no bloodshed and no more loss of life. Pray for the hope of a better and fairer future. Above all pray that people in their times of desperation will turn to Jesus for ultimate security, the security of salvation from sin and the corruption of the devil.Life in the Big Smoke
Jono has been sick and Marie played nurse. Now it’s Jono’s turn to care for Marie while she is sick. I think Marie is both a better nurse AND a better patient! Although it is never fun to be sick, it is nice to have someone to look after you. Just one of the benefits of marriage.
Aside from sickness, we have both been very busy. Fulltime work for Jono is both a privilege and a challenge. Our school has rolled out iPads to all students this year and the technology learning curve has been very steep. Marie has been volunteering at school and with the refugee team as well as working at Hornsby Hospital. She has been doing some really nice painting in her spare time. Jono has been playing touch footy as a token means of staying fit. The touch season is about to end and the rugby season about to begin. My body could be about to get a rude awakening. Jono also continues to enjoy leading at Live Wire Youth Group on Friday nights. There have been some new students attend who do not know Christ, please continue to pray for this ministry.
Hosting people is always fun. We have had some BBQs making the most of an outdoor courtyard and good Aussie weather.Prayer And Praise
Praise God because he understands us even when we don’t have words
Pray the Aussie government would have compassion on refugees, process visas and allow them to work
Pray that recently arrived refugee families with children won’t face the stress of a forced move to PNG
Pray for peace to come to Ukraine
Pray for solutions to Marie’s rheumatoid arthritis
Pray for the teacher and students in 3M at PHCSTHANKS
To Jo Edwards, Pete and Soph McCrindle and Phil and Jen Thorp for donating furniture to Marie’s new refugee family.AttachmentSize 201403 JAM March 2014.pdf262.99 KB
How much do you really need?
You can’t have wings and roots!
Recently I have toyed with the idea of putting down roots, choosing a place, saving for a house deposit. Today I was challenged with a story from the Scriptures (Luke 12:13-21). Throughout history mankind has had a love affair with land. They have sought for it, fought for it, bought it, thought about more of it, caught it (inheritance), tried to thwart others from having it.
But really, HOW MUCH LAND DOES ONE NEED?Miller’s Adventures (through Marie’s eyes)
A recap of our summer trip: We started in the South Island in Christchurch and stayed with some cousins for a day before heading up to “sunny Nelson” where we stayed a week with Jono’s aunty and uncle. We spent one day walking around Lake Rotoiti which was a beautiful hike through beech forests. Another day, we went to the Abel Tasman National Park and saw some beautiful beaches.
The interislander ferry took us to the North Island. It was nice to have a break to play cards and watch cricket (I’m starting to understand the game a bit) before landing in Wellington. Wellington was a very interesting city – reminded me of Seattle in some ways, a bit punk-rockish maybe. We were surprised that the backpacker’s place we were staying at upgraded us to a private room. To top it off, we found a burger place that had gluten free buns and were used to making food for people with allergies. It’s so refreshing to go somewhere and feel like they know what they’re doing.
After that we headed up to Jono’s parents’ house to spend Christmas with them and Jono’s sister’s family. They took us for a hike and showed us around their new town as we hadn’t been to visit them there before. They took us on a hike around a mountain that is also a peninsula, so quite a cool walk.
Next we went to Jono’s sister Pris’ house for a few days to play with the nieces and nephew before heading up to the far North to spend New Year’s Eve on our own at another backpackers’ place. We went and saw the new Hobbit movie (a must do while in New Zealand) and then went out to see fireworks over the water. It was beautiful. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep in the car on the way home; not really used to staying up that late.
Then we went to Jono’s sister Ruth’s house for a few days to prepare for camp. I slept the first day we were there as I was feeling ill. I came upstairs after a nap and Jono announced that he found the culprit – there was wheat in the cumin that I had been using to cook our food. I didn’t realize that some spice brands mix additives in with the spices.
Camp was really good. I was in the kitchen again and Jono was the evening speaker as well as teaching archery and doing whatever else he could to help out. We hung out with Ruth and Jon for a week after camp and I was introduced to online Settlers – we had a great time playing against each other. We’ve even had a few games since we’ve gotten back to Sydney.
We saw a few more people in Auckland on our way home. Pris took us to the Auckland museum for a day trip with the kids which was fun.
Then we came home and Jono went straight to work and I collapsed.Pray For Ukraine
You are living under a rock if you are unaware of the riots and tensions that have been happening in Ukraine since November last year. I will not try to give yet another “expert” opinion as to what I think is really happening. I have had many people point out that it is much greater than merely a battle between Russia and Europe as some media outlets like to peddle. What I want to do is ask you to pray. I have friends there. It affects them deeply. They are torn at the heart by what is happening in their country. They have said to me, “Jono, please tell everyone and please ask them to pray for us.” I ask myself and you; do we really believe that God answers prayers and changes situations? How big is your God?Marie’s Corner
Thank you for praying for work with the Sydney Refugee Team! I asked you to pray for a closer relationship with my refugee family and God answered that prayer. The last few times I’ve visited have felt more natural and genuine and I’ve been really grateful for that. But as it happens, my family have moved out of our area of service and I’m not sure if I’ll see them again. I’ve encouraged them to call me but, as they’ve never called before, it seems unlikely that they will. I will still be helping sort out food for distributions on Wednesdays and I will probably get a new family assigned to me in the next month or two.
Another prayer request is for my doctor’s appointment this week. My health has been up and down and I’m not sure what to do about it so I’m hoping the specialist will have some helpful advice. Prayers for healing are always appreciated too!Life in the Big Smoke
Please pray for Jono transitioning to full time work. I have come full circle from where I started my teaching career and am again the teacher of 3M in a classroom a little above where the original 3M portable room was located back in 2001.Prayer For
Praise God that Jesus is enough for us
Praise God for a wonderful time in NZ
Praise God for Kids Camp in NZ and for the ongoing ministry this year
Pray for peace to come to Ukraine
Pray for a solution to Marie’s ongoing health issues
Pray for the students in 3M at PHCSTHANKS
To the Seattle Seahawks for winning the Super Bowl just for us!! (tick tick Legion of Boom!)AttachmentSize 201402 JAM February 2014.pdf358.79 KB
Marie and I are enjoying holidays in NZ and will have reports and photos in our next JAM. For now we would like to thank those who love us and pray for us and encourage us. We have a few requests for prayer. We are thankful that we can bring all things to our heavenly father and that he is in control of everything.Kids Camp
I am writing this update from Lonsdale Children's Camp. I will again be bringing the Bible talks to the kids each evening. We have a jungle theme and I have written an allegory about a person named Lyudi searching for the Fountain of Life and the true King of the Jungle. Pray for many new children who will hear about Jesus, some possibly for the first time.Ukraine
UTSIM UPDATE (Sveta's own words)
"Natasha told me that you wanted me to write a few words about how the things are going here. Ok, I'll try..
Holidays are coming! I'm glad there will be a little break, ready for it.. :)
We are still renting the same room at the Culture House, which is a big blessing - very convenient and central spot. Because of the New Year's season there is a big Christmas tree (the main one of Rzhyshchiv) just outside my window so I can enjoy the lights from it when it's dark :) and also there is another one inside. That's a beautiful time of the year!
The kids are also beautiful ;) Some of them are very beautiful - so obedient and so sweet!!! Some have behavior problems, nothing has changed - it has always been that way... :)
Anyway, I am thankful for each kid, though it's hard sometimes.
Many students from last year came back, that was encouraging! It's always nice to hear from the kids or from the parents: "he did well in his school English test" or "I've got a good mark today"... That encourages me to keep on. And of course, I see the children's progress too. Some of them are slower in progress which is a bit sad, because they stay in the same place simply because they don't spend time learning the new words; others are slower because it's easier for them to learn Maths or History, perhaps their memory is like... mine sometimes;). However, they listen to me speaking simple English and their understanding IS getting better and most of them CAN respond in simple language too. So we work not in vain :)
Jemimah is teaching Sasha (Stecyura) this year, I'm so happy for that! She's been studying with us for 4 years now and we decided to ask Jem if she wants to teach her, she agreed. Practice - that's what Sasha needs. And Jemimah is a good person to spend time with :).
There is another Sasha, oh Jono, she is so good! She is just eight or nine, but she understands a lot, builds sentences, so fast! And also is such a sweet kid!!!
So my youngest ones are 5 this year, the oldest - 18 years old. No 'one on one' lessons. In the kindergarten group there are maximum 3 kids, sometimes they are my hardest lessons... I like to work with a bit... older kids :), but still it's good to have them "for business" because they come in the early afternoon, when kids from school are still at school.
This week we were making some New Year's and Christmas crafts, with some I read a Christmas story, some of them already got their little prizes for the pluses that they were getting during the term... Tomorrow is the last day of lessons in 2013. Time is just flying! Thankful for God helping me and for everything we have!"Prayer For
Sveta teaching in Rzhyshchiv
Hearts of kids coming to camp
Leaders at camp
Marie and I for strength, health and love while on campAttachmentSize 201401 JAM January 2014.pdf268.02 KB
Today I sang some Christmas carols and I enjoyed it. In fact I loved it. Those who have endured my rants about the Christmas season may be shocked. A few year ago I wrote “I don’t believe in Christmas”. Recently I have been teaching a few students about Ukraine. One interesting contrast is between Christmas in Australia and Christmas in Ukraine. Ukraine celebrates New Year as a festive fun celebration full of family, friends, food, Father Frost, decorated trees, presents etc. It is great to have fun celebrations. Christmas in Ukraine is on January 7th and celebrates the nativity – the birth of the Messiah, the Saviour of the world. As I sang carols today I was reminded of the awesomeness of the truths of the incarnation and the implications that has for us. We didn’t sing about one-horse sleighs, frosty the snowman, Santa coming to town, or the most wonderful time of the year. We sang “mild he lays his glory by, born that we no more may die, born to raise us from the earth, born to give us second birth” and “myrrh is mine; it’s bitter perfume; breathes a life of gathering gloom; sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in the stone-cold tomb. Glorious now behold him arise; King and God and sacrifice: Alleluia, Alleluia”
I would much rather separate our holiday festive season and our celebration of the coming of Christ to earth. God becoming man is far too important to merely be a part of an annual tradition. But as for the majority of society who barely give Jesus a thought all year, I am stoked that they will hear the Gospel through Christmas Carols. So let’s have as much carol singing as possible this year!A Saga of Love
“Above all, love each other deeply.” (1 Peter 4:8) This command applies to more than just husbands and wives. But it is a great command to maintain a strong marriage. A deep love is not dependent upon whimsical feelings, flippant attitudes, perceived benefits, worthiness of love or a mutual reception of love. Deep love goes beyond all of this, and it covers any imperfection or error. It is such a blessed thing to be a recipient of such love because I am imperfect. The more I bask in the deep love of Jesus, the more deeply I am capable of loving my spouse. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)Miller’s Nook
Thanksgiving was a great time to reflect over the year; we have so much to be thankful for. Our friends the McCrindles joined us for the evening and we enjoyed duck (the turkey wasn’t quite right) and Marie’s amazing pumpkin pie. We often seem to invite people over who have a global connection. We are thankful to God to have a place where we can entertain both inside and out. We are away for much of the summer but come late January we would love to see you at our house.Marie’s Corner
What an eventful month. There are lots of things I could write about, but am afraid to overwhelm or bore you, so I’ll pick just a few to write about today. If you want to hear more about how my friend and her team in Central Asia were told to leave their homes, my current health update, or our New Zealand travel plans then shoot me an email and we’ll chat.
Praise God, my casual nursing job at Hornsby hospital is going well. I’ve been able to work two or three shifts per week and am starting to understand the different policies, procedures and general hospital culture. I’ve still got a long way to go, but the other nurses that I’ve worked with have been really helpful and I’m thankful for all the time and effort they’ve put into showing me the ropes.
I started volunteering once a week with International Teams on the Sydney Refugee Team. I help sort out food packets for needy refugee families and then deliver one of the packets on my way home. It’s been great getting to know this Persian family as they often remind me of my time in Central Asia. Having this connection helps me to feel a little less homesick for my Asian friends, but I don’t want to fall into the trap of putting them in a cultural box. Please pray that God would help me to make a more personal connection with them in the coming months.
Speaking of being homesick, Jono and I booked tickets to go to the States for my sister Julia’s wedding in July! We were only able to get a few weeks off work, so this will be the shortest trip home I’ve ever done, but a short trip is better than nothing. I’m really looking forward to seeing all of my American family and friends again. If you want to catch up with us while we’re in America, please send me an email so I can make sure to set aside time for you.GLOBAL CONNECTIONS
God answers prayer! Vlad has been moved to a different jail and a number of my friends have had the freedom to go and visit him. Please continue to pray for an early release for Vlad.
Ukraine is in need of your prayers. As the time of Christmas approaches and we think of “peace on earth”, what is happening in Ukraine reminds us that peace does not yet reign everywhere. I have many friends in Ukraine. One friend wrote: “If we tolerate such things against our people, we'll find ourselves in a new dictatorship very soon. Today once again we make history of our nation. I want my children to live in a free country.” Please also pray for Lena and Sergei my friends from Rzhyshchiv. They have a small baby. Sergei is in the police force. Lena writes: “I have no peace in my heart, because of the current situation in Ukraine. I pray that it all ends soon.... pray that my husband is not sent to the Square in Kyiv, and we can sleep at night ... Join me in your prayers ...”
Papua New Guinea is a close neighbour of ours. YWAM in Townsville run a number of ministries and one of them is taking physical and spiritual health to remote areas of PNG. Please check out Sam Murphy’s page. He is a mate of mine following the call of God on his life. I would love to challenge someone reading this to take on the role of supporting Sam.Life in the Big Smoke
The big news is that I have a full time job at Pacific Hills Christian School starting in 2014. Praise God for this provision. I will be teaching Grade 3 and I really look forward to the input God will allow me to have in the students’ lives as we grow and learn together. Please be in prayer for my students and for me. There are a few steep learning curves in curriculum and technology for me to master.
As far as 2013 is concerned, work is almost finished for the year. Marie and I are thoroughly looking forward to visiting NZ. We start in Christchurch, then move to my Aunt’s in the Nelson area where I grew up. We will even spend a night in the house I grew up in which is now a Bed and Breakfast. We then go to Picton and ferry across to Wellington and then drive up to my parent’s new place in Kati Kati for an early Christmas. From there we visit my sister Priscilla and family before heading north for New Year which we will spend together in Keri Keri. Then it’s on to Kaitaia with Ruth and Jon, firstly doing Lonsdale Kids Camp and then holidaying and relaxing in New Zealand’s far north until it’s time to come home and go back to work. Yay!PRAYER AND PRAISE
Praise God that Jesus came to earth
Praise God for a great start to Marie’s new job
Pray for a deeper connection between Marie and the refugee family she is visiting
Pray for a peaceful and fair resolution to the protests in Ukraine
Praise God for Vlad’s transfer
Praise God for a job for Jono next yearTHANKS
To every person who spoke an encouraging word to Marie or Jono this yearAttachmentSize 201312 JAM December 2013.pdf499.5 KB