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
I think I know why I am feeling run down and with a sore throat at the moment.
Not only am I home schooling 4 kids (teens to tweens) but I have an extra 90minutes a day doing specialist work with one, helping another with her traineeship studies, and then having to reply to people when they talk to me… This is without adding work into the mix.
This traineeship stuff isn’t easy to work out how to do and i think her boss has a bit more work to do then was originally planned for.
Next year the teens will have extra studies from their local (ish) Tafe. And if things go the way they are, my work will pick up and the only spare time I will have will be when I am hiding at my desk on a short lunch break.
Need to add to this my running. Gotta keep that up.
The new year looks to be a busy one, no slowing down but picking up pace.
Last month I wrote about Jesus and Exclusivity. I figured I needed to pontificate from a different spectra today – but I can’t! Every way I look currently, I am reminded of the person and the place of Jesus. He mysteriously asks us to eat his flesh and drink his blood. God gives him the highest place in the universe and declares that all will bow before him. He rose from the dead. He is alive. His name divulges tension and controversy.
Just last night I heard Peter Hitchens (brother of the late renowned atheist, Christopher Hitchens) say in front of a packed audience in Sydney’s Opera house, “The most dangerous idea in human history remains the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and rose from the dead.”
On Sunday night I shared at church in our series from 1 Peter. We have to know who Jesus is, before we can know who we are, so we can know what to do. The sentence which continues to impact me was, “We will become more and more grounded as we realize more and more the honour that Jesus has.”A Saga of Love
I love love! It is really growing on me. Love deepens. Love gives. Love twists and turns and morphs, growing and expanding in depth, beauty and nature. Love can be thwarted. Love can shrivel and die. Love can be pressed into an unnatural mold. But when it is released to flourish then all who stand in its path are swept along by a current and overflowed by a saturation that goes beyond words. And so my words must stop to allow time and space for my love to grow even more. (translation: I am very happily married!)Miller’s Nook
Marie and I are enjoying hosting people. Last month we have had a couple of BBQs and dinner parties. We love entertaining people, sharing our lives and learning about the lives of others. A fun night recently was a Russian Revolution Party we held here. It was great to hear of my friend Alyosha receiving a Gideon’s Bible in Russian in the 1980s that his dad, an international pilot, picked up in a hotel in Japan.Marie’s Corner
T Praise God, I’ve got a job! I’m excited to use my nursing skills again, hopefully in the near future. I got the call a few weeks ago that my application has been successful for a casual position at Hornsby Hospital. They are still waiting for all of my paperwork to go through before I can start work, but I feel so blessed to have found a flexible nursing job near our home in Pennant Hills. Thanks for all your prayers for this. It has been such a relief to be able to catch up on projects around the house now that I’m not filling out job applications every day.
Another exciting piece of news is that I’m nearly finished applying to volunteer with International Teams on the Sydney Refugee Team. I’m hoping to spend a day per week helping sort through food packets for people who need them and also hope to befriend a newly arrived refugee or refugee family when they come to settle in Sydney. I know what it’s like to arrive in a country with a little bit of luggage and no linguistic or cultural skills and try to make do. Fortunately, I had a lot of help and encouragement from both teammates and local friends when I was settling in and I hope to be that kind of friend to someone who is trying to settle in here.GLOBAL CONNECTIONS
Recently I was discussing with friends the differing attitudes people have towards other cultures. Often, the amount of exposure one has had with people from other lands brings a wider perspective and understanding. While our lives are fairly rooted in Sydney for the time-being, we want to keep a keen sense of what God is doing around the world and invite you to be aware and to pray also.
As always please keep on praying for Rzhyshchiv. There are new pictures and an interesting update from Dan Gollan here. Check out the new super market in town. Pray also for Vlad who continues to sit in jail. Praise God for fellowship with other believers. Pray for his family and pray for a miraculous early release.Life in the Big Smoke
I continue doing casual teaching at Pacific Hills Christian School and pick up between 3-5 days a week. I’m enjoying playing touch football on Monday nights and actually winning a couple of games makes it more fun than last year. Livewire on a Friday night is something I really love and have appreciated being able to facilitate a couple of discussions recently. I had a spectacular fall running full speed down a ramp in the dark that turned out to be steps and not a ramp. I hope I never get too old for this!
Holidays are coming up soon and Marie and I are off to NZ. It will include both islands, lots of travelling about and Lonsdale Children’s Camp in January. Please pray as I start to prepare talks for the children. More to come next JAM.PRAYER AND PRAISE
Praise God that Jesus is the pinnacle of the Universe
Praise God for the first four months of our marriage
Praise God that Marie has nursing work and has (very nearly) started
Pray for Angel Gollan who had a nasty knock to the head recently
Praise God for the growth of the church in Rzhyshchiv
Praise God for new growth at LivewireTHANKS
Brendon for lots of together time – Livewire, cards, cleaning my BBQ etc. Love ya bro!AttachmentSize 201311 JAM November 2013.pdf434.38 KB
I have been reading through the Gospel of John. Slowly! One verse at a time trying to watch the flow and connection of the discourse. I am currently in chapter six. The message does not match popular religious ideology. Popular religion has the soul of man at the core, God is undefinable and broad in essence, tolerance and acceptance are key concepts, and Jesus is one of many possible options. Exclusivity is the antithesis of popular religion. Yet the message I read in the Bible shows us that Jesus is the only way by which we can know father God. And although some limay find this restrictive, I find it freeing. The onus is no longer on me. I don’t have to do because the doing has already been done. “Who the Son sets free, shall be free indeed!” (John 8:36)A Saga of Love
As I type this, we have been married three months and a day. I love telling people that marriage is awesome. It is! That doesn’t mean it is always plain sailing. Yesterday at church we sang “Your Love Endures Forever”. I was thinking about some of the “sacrifices of love” I have made for my wife. I wondered how they would compare to the unconditional love and sacrifices God has made to show me his love through Jesus. I realized I didn’t really have much of a leg to stand on. It is easy to think that after you have done a few things for your spouse, you are sort of owed something in return. Three months in – I figure I will learn a lot about love for a long time to come.Miller’s Nook
Pennant Hills is beginning to feel like home. Marie and I have enjoyed hosting a few people for meals and would like to increase doing that so please feel free to contact us for an invite. I have been inviting myself to other people’s places for years, it is time to return the favor!Marie’s Corner
Thanks to everyone who has been praying for me to find nursing work and to people who have emailed suggestions and job ads to me. I’ve had a few interviews, a few rejections, and am waiting to hear back on a few other applications. Jono and I just listened to a message at church yesterday based on the life of Joseph about following your God-given dreams and it has made me consider broadening the type of work that I’m looking for. I’ve always wanted to work with refugees, so maybe this is my chance. I’ve enjoyed reading more about refugees on the Refugee Council of Australia website. Or maybe I could look at some non-nursing work that I’m interested in. Whatever it is that God has in store for me, I am looking forward to finding my place here in Sydney and I hope that working outside the home will be at least a part of that place.GLOBAL CONNECTIONS
Please pray for M. She lives in a culture where believing in Jesus is at best, discouraged, to at worst, life-threatening. But she has seen Jesus at work in the lives of others and is being drawn towards his wonderful kingdom. Please pray for her as the enemy will battle fiercely against her entering the kingdom of light.
I want to invite you to continuing praying for Ukraine and Rzhyshchiv in particular. Read about and pray for the ministry of the church I was involved with. Read about and pray for the ministry of the Lighthouse café. Pray for Natasha and Sveta and the work of UTSIM. Pray also for Igor living in my house and some ongoing decisions I have to make owning a house in Ukraine.Life in the Big Smoke
We have both enjoyed the holiday period but the responsibilities of budgeting for a family are a reminder that casual work has benefits and drawbacks.
Please pray for Livewire in term 4. We welcome year 6 students as they prepare to enter high school next year. Pray that the impact we have in their lives during these years of great decision making will be governed by the Holy Spirit.
I am playing touch footy on Monday nights with a group of blokes. It is great for my fitness but also a good opportunity to be a witness for Christ. Pray for meaningful conversations to arise.PRAYER AND PRAISE
Praise God that Jesus has made open a way for us to know God
Pray for our marriage to grow strong in our love for each other
Pray for the right job for Marie at the right time
Pray for M to come to know Jesus as Saviour
Praise God for student ministry in Rzhyshchiv
Praise God for Livewire and the students we interact withTHANKS
To my brother Tim for updating our website and keeping us technologically current and to my niece Miranda for making the JAM PDFs.AttachmentSize 201310 JAM October 2013.pdf420.06 KB
The concept of redemption has been flitting through my thoughts recently. I decided to see what the popular meanings of this word are. The number one sight from Google was about a documentary of that name. “Redemption is a documentary about New York City's canners - the men and women who survive by redeeming bottles and cans they collect from curbs, garbage cans and apartment complexes.” Wikipedia talks about religious and legal meanings before moving on to movies and books bearing the name Redemption. The dictionary has a few uses of the word. I was brought up hearing the word mainly in connection to theology. God has redeemed mankind from sinfulness and purchased them with the blood of Jesus. Whichever way we think about redemption, there has to be a change, a metamorphosis, a renewal. The state or destiny or substance of something or someone is transformed during the process of redemption. The greater realization one has of the change that one experiences, the more he or she can personally appreciate what it means in my life over the past months are the confirmation of a redemption that is both beautiful and unquestionable.A Saga of Love
To be in love is truly a glorious feeling. To be loved and to love teaches you so much about yourself. I feel I have learned more of what it means to be loved and accepted by God. As I am bound to Marie in marriage, I share in the joys of being accepted and also being changed as the intertwining process makes our two lives more and more one life.
I guess that is enough philosophizing by one married barely two months! We both love being married and were so blessed to celebrate with friends and family both in USA and Australia. Thanks to so many people who have helped to cherish love with us.Miller’s Nook
We have been blessed by God to have a place to call home. We are renting the bottom half of a house in Pennant Hills, Sydney. It is great to be close to work and to church and to have a great spot to entertain people both indoors and outdoors. We both have a strong sense that one way we can be used by God to bless others is through hospitality. We would love you to contact us if you are interested in coming over for a catch up. I have to say that Marie does make the best brownies in Australia.
Thank you to so many people who have given us furniture, appliances and other domestic necessities. Roadside council cleanups have also contributed to us being very well set up.
So far it has been great to host Marie’s sister Spring and her boyfriend Patrick from California, my brother Tim from Brisbane and my parents from NZ (with a little help). We’ve had plenty of others come for meals and the traditional roast is going gangbusters as I slowly perfect the gravy making process.Time to Make Jam
I, Jono, have written RPDs and Monthly updates for almost 10 years. It is time for a change. JAM stands for Jono And Marie. We plan to write JAM each month. We want to tell you about our lives and what God is doing in and around us. We aim to challenge you with thoughts that challenge us. We also love to encourage you to pray. We do hope to return to Central Asia in the future and will probably return to a weekly prayer update, but for now monthly will suffice.Marie’s Corner
I feel honoured (‘honored’ for the Americans reading this) to be invited to share my thoughts here on Jono’s website. I’ve enjoyed reading his thoughts ever since we met last March and it’s strange for me to think that this insightful man is now my husband – a lot has changed for both of us in the last year and a half! Moving to a new home in a new suburb, learning to live with a new housemate, and getting to know a new family. Through all the changes and excitement of moving, travelling and getting married, God remains unchanged, someone stable for me to hold on to.
Our very thick spouse visa application has been officially received! This means that I now have access to Medicare (yay!) while they are processing the application, which can take anywhere from 12 to 16 months, depending on who you talk to that day. I thought finishing the application would mean that I would be done with paperwork for a while, but I’m still quite busy filling out follow up forms for the visa and trying to look for a nursing job while Jono is at work during the day. During the evenings, I’m enjoying Bible study, hanging out with friends and spending time with my funny, kind, loving best friend.Ukraine
Many of you have followed my life in Ukraine and prayed faithfully for the country, for the town of Rzhyshchiv, for UTSIM (the English school I started) and for many individuals by name. Recently, I was saddened to hear of the death of a lovely lady who lived on my street across from Dan and Pris. Please pray for the family of Baba Galya.
Many of you have prayed for Vlad. I have heard very little recently except that there may be an alternative method of a chance for an early release. Please keep praying for Vlad and I hope to keep you updated.
UTSIM will continue again into the new school year with Sveta teaching a number of students around Rzhyshchiv. UTSIM continues to operate out of a room in the council buildings and is appreciated by the town.Life in the Big Smoke
I am working as a casual teacher at Pacific Hills Christian School and this keeps me at school more often than not. The rugby season has just finished for the year and it was only on the last day that I came home with a rather nasty leg injury. This forty year old is still good to go around again – the older I get, the faster I was.
Marie and I both help lead at Livewire (youth group) on Friday nights. Please pray that we make meaningful relationships and help young people find out who they are and their place in God’s world.PRAYER AND PRAISE
Thank God for the gift of love and the gift of marriage
Pray for Marie’s spouse visa to be granted
Pray for the right job for Marie
Praise God for Livewire and pray for the students and leaders going on camp at the end of this month
Pray for Vlad in prison to remain strong in his faithTHANKS
We would like to thank the many people who helped us celebrate our USA and Aussie weddings.AttachmentSize 201309 JAM September 2013.pdf297.83 KB