Monday, January 16, 2017

Fiction, in fact!

I'm a Jack of any trade. Please... just ANY!

I wish I was fantastic at one thing, rather than pretty good at a few. Time is a'movin on and I can't help but feel I should have figured out who I am by now - or at least narrowed it down! 

Nevertheless, it's time to either come to terms with the fact that I'm a couldabeen, had I discovered my talent a lot earlier; OR, I can keep having a crack at stuff.

So, I'm having a crack!

Somehow, over the years I've managed to write stories, articles and letters that have been a notch above "average". Not necessarily really good, but not bad at least! (I have used this skill to glorious effect when sending eloquent emails in order to save my butt for whatever reason).

Did I miss something important? If there's some raw, unharnessed, uncultivated, primordial talent hidden down there somewhere, then perhaps it's not too late to nurture? Yeah?

Well, we're about to find out.

My next "thing" is a course on how to write Fiction. If nothing else, I'll keep the kids entertained.

Wish me luck!

Monday, January 26, 2015

I'm dying!

Reading back through my old emails, I stumbled across one that I wrote, presumably in response to those annoying mass emails that were circulating quite commonly at the time.

I just read it out to the boys and they almost wet their duds.

Time to bring it back to light and have another chuckle!

SUBJECT: Goiter (DO NOT DELETE) - Please forward
DATE: 17/11/2006

Hi people,

My name is Brett and I'm dying of a huge 5kg goiter on my left earlobe.

If I don't have a much needed operation by Friday, I'm going to die from severe neck injury. The problem is, I have no money for this operation. I spent it all on Pokemon cards.

Well I really thought I was going to die... honest! I believed that all hope was lost. Then I received great news from the "House Of Liberation From Goiters" saying they will give me 25c for every idiot that forwards my email (regardless of the fact they've no way of tracking the email and finding out how many suckers actually DID forward it).

This is great news... since I've seen how popular these kinds of emails are, and how many suckers DO believe them and forward them on.

Please don't discard this email. Have a heart... would you really want a helpless child like me to suffer and die a painful death?

Well, as I write, my goiter is the size of a Queensland bush pumpkin, and my earlobe hangs to just below my right hip... No wait, it's my left ear, that's left. Anyway.

I can't live a normal life, I have to walk 12 kilometers to school alone, with my goiter in a wheelbarrow. I'm a walking timebomb... and this thing could burst any day, so you can imagine I have no friends.

This thing on my ear is a dangerous object to anybody close by, since one swing of my head could leave them in a 12 month coma, or worse! I don't want that to happen. I'm scared....

My mother left home before I was born, and my father was killed when he fell into a cup of boiling hot coffee. The rest of my family and relatives lost their lives on the Titanic.

I really appreciate what the HOLFG is doing for me, but it can't happen without you. So find that special place in your heart for a little child like me, and my huge goiter.

If you don't pass this on, you will be suddenly attacked by a hoard of giant, ravenous, flying centepedes. It's true!! Why would I lie?

However, if you DO forward this message right now to 155 people, within the next 12 seconds, then SOMETHING GOOD WILL HAPPEN!! I can't tell you what -- it's a surprise!!

P.S. You have 5 seconds remaining.

(This message has an amazing inbuilt counter programmed by NASA, which links directly back to the HOLFG mainframe server, and gives an up-to-date reading on number of people who have read this email. Including anyone standing behind you reading it.)

CURRENT COUNT:  1,002,542 people. A total of $250,635.50 !!
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU... I almost have enough to pay for my operation!!

P.S. 1 second remaining.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Whippin up some cash

As much as we love it here in Siberia, there is the daunting reality setting in that we're slowly losing contact with the folk back home, and support for what we are doing here may eventually dwindle away! I talked a bit about this in the previous post.

I'm loving so much being able to spend time with the children at the kids club, and have been hanging out for residency so that I can finish up full time study. That would give us a ton of time to do much more in the community and seek out additional opportunities to make a difference in people's lives.

I'd hate to get residence, finish uni, then fill up my time with a full-time working commitment. Doesn't make sense. I can do that in Australia for at least 3 times the wage I could earn here.

What's the answer?

I'm hoping it's at least one of few things, all of which I'm dabbling in at once.

First, it's the aforementioned (in the previous post) possibility that will become a brand of some sort. This may lead into teaching English online.

By the way, I've joined a Facebook group of over 2,200 mostly Iranians learning Aussie English. I was surprised to discover that there are over 70,000 Iranians living in Australia - did you know that? This group has been good fun, and I was quickly promoted to Administrator and encouraged to share my blog posts and any videos I make in the future.

Apart from that, I have been looking into It seems there are viable opportunities there to create video lessons on any topic (including Australian English) and make a steady income online.

Another interesting thing I've been researching is YouTube channels and how even the dorkiest people are making income from a popular channel.

Some of these things seem like pipedreams for the occasional lucky pioneer. Time will tell if any of them will pay off for me.

In the meantime, I'm doing it the hard way. In MacGyver fashion, I've rigged up a little sound recording booth with a microphone, a chair and a big fluffy dooner. My cousin Dave gave me a little USB sound mixer and I've scored my first job on

So what will I be doing?

Don't get excited. It's a 1 hour job worth $10.80. But at the end I get feedback (hopefully good) on the quality of my work.

All I have to do is read 200 lines of text in my awesome Aussie accent, save them as an audio file and send them off to my employer.

If I manage to score bigger and better jobs from this, then great. Otherwise, at least $10.80 will buy the Phillips Family more than a week's supply of milk!

I'd love to hear your ideas on passive or online income opportunities if you've had experience in any of these areas. (No, not get rich quick schemes - just honest income). Feel free to comment below.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Keeping busy

Challenge of the Century... Managing a stack of homework, five kids, extra-curricular activities, family time, ministry, making friends and social connections while somehow keeping family, friends and sponsors informed and involved.

The list goes on...

I realise that I need to fit something new in there. Somehow I need to start making some income. I can't work here in Russia, as I'm still on a student visa. We also cannot rely on sponsorship forever.

So I recently revisited a little project of mine that I started five years ago: Aussie English from the Sticks.

This was a blog and podcast that I abandoned after just a few episodes. However, when I logged back in to check if it still existed, I discovered something phenomenal.

I noticed the following:
Aussie English from the Sticks
Learn Australian English with a pro like me!
  • I had a stack of comments on the posts from foreigners. They were from Spain, China, Iran, Russia, Sweden and so many other countries. They were all begging me to keep it up!
  • I had emails in my blog's email address with recordings from foreigners practicing their Aussie English.
  • I checked my stats and discovered I'd had thousands of viewers of the page.
  • Finally, upon viewing my podcast stats, I was floored to discover that my podcast had been downloaded over 12,000 times and still had over 130 active subscribers!

Could I do something with this?

It was time to do a bit of reading. That's when I discovered it was actually possible to make some money if you were putting out content that a targeted audience wanted (e.g. Aussie English lessons).

Since then, I've been slowly working towards optimising my website in my "spare" time. That means writing content, preparing some more recordings, fine-tuning advertising and affiliate links.

While I may never make a huge income, I am feeling confident that something good might come of my efforts.

On a side note, but totally related, I noticed that THIS blog had received twelve book orders through affiliate program. Commission is only 5%, but it's money I earned passively without even realising!

If you're interested in my blog, check it out via my new domain name:

And just between you and me, Janene has something in the pipeline too ;-)

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Well waddaya know?

[Several months later...]

Suddenly we are now the SEVEN in Siberia! Yes that's right, for those of you who only know me through this blog, we took a little intermission in there somewhere to welcome baby Anna into the world!
Anna-banana (as we jokingly call her)

Woh, that totally wasn't expected, believe me! But you might be able to judge from my post back in November 2013 that I was harbouring this little secret!

So we were totally blessed with 5 months back in beautiful Australia while little Anna made her grand, unplanned entrance to the world. We got to live in the outback on my mum and dad's 250 acre property.

Those were wonderful months for us, full of treasured memories.

Snakes, magpies, kangaroos, huge spiders... cooking yabbies and eating damper. And most importantly, our kids spending time with their Gma and Pa.

Now we're back in frozen Siberia in the city of Krasnoyarsk. We love it here! Everything is so different, but not TOO different to freak us out.

The kids are slowly adjusting to Russian life, and language is taking it's sweet time in taking root in our brains - especially my teen son, who's not so keen on studying.

Send your best language learning tips our way!

Monday, November 25, 2013


Should I?

So now I have more convenient access to the net, and to blogging... Should I revive my efforts to keep track of life?

We'll see if I really have time for that.

But oh, how life has changed since all those earlier blog posts! Here we are on the other side of the planet, living in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. YES! Banished to Siberia (by divine appointment, I hope).

There are six of us at present; nothing more I'm ready to add there. But a little two-bedroom apartment can put a wee strain on family relations from time to time, let me tell you.

Until my next spare moment...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bracelets in the Ukraine

So let me share another little story. This relates to the GOSPEL bracelets we use as a ministry tool when sharing the Christian Gospel with the kids in Russia.

A bracelet consists of 5 colours: YELLOW (Heaven), BLACK (sin), RED (Jesus' blood), WHITE (purity/forgiveness) and GREEN (Christian growth in the Holy Spirit). Each bracelet comes with a little card explaining this Gospel message in finer detail, along with Scripture verses.

With that information in mind, here's the story:

Near the end of our time in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, I had finished giving a sermon to the young church there. We were standing around in a big circle singing hymns and chanting ancient psalms in Russian when Captain Sergey Katchinov asked if anybody would like to share. There were a few young folk sharing from the bottom of their joyful hearts and finally there was silence. Fumbling in my pocket, I felt a spare Gospel bracelet. I pulled it out and asked if I could share the story. I showed them how we had shared the Gospel in a simple, “colourful” way with the children in Russia.

Then I told them I had about 70 of these bracelets left, along with information cards, and if they would like them to use in the ministry they are doing in the orphan homes, I’d be glad to give them.

Natasha, one of the young ladies we had spent the week visiting the orphan homes with, was moved almost to tears, and said she also needed to share from her heart. Then she began to relay how that very morning, she and her friends gathered in prayer, and prayed specifically for a simple way to reach the orphans with the gospel. They had made many visits to the orphan homes, but, many being new Christians themselves, were not sure how they could effectively share such an important message.

So the Gospel bracelets have now made their impact in both Russia and the Ukraine. Please pray for the ministry these young Christians are pioneering in the city of Dnepropetrovsk.