My reasons for leaving Alice Springs never wavered during our 5500km road trip back to Queensland. I love the vastness of this country and for those who love a travel itinerary, here goes. Alice Springs to Coober Pedy to Port Augusta to Adelaide to Port Fairy to Melbourne (via the Great Ocean Road) to Forbes to Dubbo to Newcastle to Coffs Harbour to Tweed Heads to Sunshine Coast. Plenty of future articles contained in every single place, every time zone we encountered (4!) and state of Australia we moved through (5!).
It was an opportune time to bond again with my wife and three sons. The school I was teaching at in Alice Springs provided me the opportunity 5 days and 3 nights a week to interact with indigenous Australian kids aged between 12-17. I have taught them, coached them, laughed with them, prayed with them and listened and learned about their life. But it was time to move on. I had no job and no idea what I was heading back to. The only thing I knew was that I was heading back closer to my parents (thanks Dad and Mum for giving us a place to stay!), family and old friends.
Not having a job certainly plays with your emotions and your spiritual life. Partly you worry, get anxious and just pray and hope a job miraculously lands on your lap. Partly you get excited to be living the life of a stay at home Dad, taking the boys to the beach (does it ever stop raining here?), improving your surfing, reacquainting yourself with family routines and trying to step in and "be" the Dad you were called to be.
Partly it's about getting off your backside and move with God, get out, talk to people, hand in resumÃ¨s and drop as many names as you can in a world where "it's not what you know, but who you know." You do start to become overly concerned about whether you have made the right move when you hear, on more than one occasion, people say to you, "Teaching job on the Sunshine Coast… Ha Ha…Good luck." "I am having trouble getting out of this school…there is no other job to go to." "My wife has finally got a full time job at [school name] after 3 years waiting for one to open up."
Some teachers went back to work 10 days ago. 8 days ago I am getting ready for bed and I get a phone call asking me to come in for an interview for a job I did not know existed. An ex student of mine and her mother (thank you Maddy and Cheryl) somehow gave the Head of Secondary at a Christian School my mobile phone number and the rest is history. I started this week teaching Grade 7 students English and Physical Education this week (my first time teaching Grade 7 kids full time in 19 years of teaching- an interesting 20th year ahead).
My wife encouraged me with this verse from Jeremiah 29 (NIV) the morning of my interview:
4 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce…7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." 10 This is what the LORD says: "[When seventy years are completed for Babylon], I will come to you and fulfil my good promise to bring you back to this place.
11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you," declares the LORD…
I moved, sought guidance from the Lord, questioned him, ignored Him, begged Him, found Him again and I am thankful for the plans He has placed before me. A new chapter in my family's life and journey with God.
Russell Modlin teaches English and Physical Education at a Christian School on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda and they have three children.
Russell Modlin's archive of previous article can be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/russell-modlin.html