I returned from the Philippines at the end of November 2014, after ten months serving at the Ruel Foundation orphanage on the island of Mindoro. It was a fantastic experience but ultimately there were too many cultural and gender related barriers which I was unable to overcome.
When I returned to Australia I faced two months of unemployment, as it was the long school vacation period. So I got straight to work:
I had been working on my Compassion book, ‘GoInto All The World,’ all through 2014 and it was published just as I arrived back in Australia.
I held two separate book launches for friends early in the year and I had opportunities to appear on TV and radio (http://historymakersradio.com/podcast/david-chalmers) to talk about the book.
I have not sold as many as would have liked, but right from the start I dedicated it to God and I look forward to seeing what He does with it.
A few years ago I worked for a small YMCA-owned business called “YMCA Funworks.” We would go to schools, birthday parties and community events and play games, such as the giant earthball, parachute, tug-o-war, jumping castles, mini-golf etc. Unfortunately it folded after a couple of years, since it wasn’t marketed effectively and ended up costing the YMCA money. I always thought I could turn it into my own business idea, so in the period of inactivity at the start of the year I took the plunge, creating “DC Fun and Games.” I bought the business name, created a website and purchased equipment. The business did not take off this year because I ended up getting a teaching job, but I have the business name for three years, so who knows what could happen?
I have been a Compassion sponsor and advocate for nine years, and it was a major reason I returned to Australia; I missed being involved. When I returned, I was re-connected with nine kids I sponsored before I went to the Philippines and then sponsored eight more, making a total of 17, plus I am also a correspondent sponsor to five kids from Kenya, which means they have a financial sponsor but I write to them.
During the year I had the opportunity to speak at four churches about Compassion, and approximately 20 kids were sponsored as a result.
Overseas travel has become a pretty normal part of my life. In July I headed to New York (the city of my dreams since I was 12), where I saw U2 (my favourite band) play a concert at Madison Square Garden (definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience)!
Then I headed down to Guatemala and Nicaragua to revisit four of my Compassion kids I had visited previously: Yeymi, Josefa, Antonio and Kelle. It was an interesting experience to visit them for a second time and see how things had changed.
If you’re a regular follower of the blog, you know that I love to write, and I also love sport, so this year I made a decision to combine the two, with a view to possibly taking it more seriously in the future. I enrolled in a couple of online Sports Journalism courses through Australian College and Open Colleges and set a goal for myself: “Down the track I would like to be covering Basketball and Australian Football, and get myself published.” Little did I know that within three months I would have already accomplished that goal.
The Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA) is the third tier competition in Victoria and my brother was involved with a club in a lower division. So I jumped on the website and they were advertising for scribes to report weekly for their various competitions. I enquired and all of a sudden I was writing for Premier B, which is the second highest VAFA division! My role involved writing a roundup of the five Premier B matches each week, and my work appeared in the weekly VAFA publication which was online and read by many people at the matches as well.
With basketball, I was involved in doing stats for the Werribee Devils in the Big V competition (third tier comp in the state) for several years and I felt the Devils were not getting much coverage in the local newspapers, so I contacted the Wyndham Leader and offered to submit a match report each week. My offer was accepted and I had eight articles published in the local paper, as well as increased coverage for the Werribee Devils.
I also did my first feature interview with Devils veteran Andrew Johnston on his 200th game and my first media release, announcing the new Devils coach for 2016, Michael Czepil.
I have coached junior basketball since 2002, and it was another thing I missed when I was in the Philippines. This year I took on an Under 8 Girls and an Under 10 Boys team for the Heathdale Hornets in the local domestic competition. They were both beginner teams and while the first season was difficult with ordinary on-court results, they all came back for more and in the last few months it has been great to see the confidence and skill level improve for both teams and they’re enjoying their basketball.
I also served as an assistant coach for the Werribee Devils at Junior Representative level, joining as a sidekick firstly for an Under 14 Girls team, and now in the Under 12 Girls first team.
I am blessed to have a good relationship with both my siblings and their families, and I am a very hands-on uncle to my three nephews and two nieces aged three to seven. I know they really missed me last year and I can tell you the feeling was mutual. We met together regularly as a family and I was able to help with babysitting, creating memories and having lots of fun with them.
Because I have bad knees (trochlear dysplasia, four dislocations, one operation), I’ve never really been able to play sport. A few years ago I had a go at tenpin bowling and found I was pretty good at it, so this year I decided to invest in it, bowling in a couple of leagues. Earlier in the year I won the Phantom League at Wyncity Bowl and Entertainment with an average of 176, which I was pretty happy with. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to back it up in Season #2, finishing second.
In addition to everything else that went on this year, I somehow found time to make a living as an educator. I have been a teacher for eight years now and worked in a variety of classrooms and schools. A week before the school year began in February I was watching the Australian Open tennis on TV and I received a phone call from my old school where I attended as a student and also taught Grade 1 in 2013, before I went to the Philippines. They had a part-time job come up at the last minute, teaching Middle School (Years 5-8) Physical Education. An hour later I was sitting in front of the senior staff in an interview and later that afternoon I had the job!
So I spent this year as a PE teacher and ‘gap-filler’ in the Middle and Senior schools, and while working with the older students was out of my comfort zone, I really enjoyed it and God provided me with more than enough work.
2016 is uncertain at this point but it is shaping up to be just as awesome with possibilities, opportunities and above all I know God has it all under control.