Month: October 2016

Apicultor

First, I want to thank everyone who has been praying for us that I would find a job soon. It is pretty incredible to know that we have people thousands of miles away who care about us and pray for us. Your prayers are greatly appreciated and we have definitely felt God’s comfort through all those who have been praying.

Secondly, I am pleased to say that I have finally found a job! It felt like I was out of work for so long! Before we left, I put my two weeks in at my previous job at Starbucks a little more than a month before I was set to depart, so that I could have time to finish up last minute packing and errands that I needed to do. When I finally got to the Dominican Republic, I wasn’t working for another two months! Now that I have something to fill my time with, I haven’t been such a Debbie Downer (I’m sure Leslie could tell you stories!).

The title of this blogpost is my job title. I work for a beekeeper. It is a testament to how God intimately knows us and our hearts, because he knows that a conventional job is not something that would fit well with me. When we first arrived, I heard that there was a beekeeper living in the apartments with us and that he was looking for an assistant as he had to fire his previous employee. I thought to myself, “What a coincidence, I have been interested in beekeeping for a while now.” So I got in contact with him (his name is Jonatan) and told him that I was interested in working for him. I worked with him for a week, visiting the sites that he has the bees kept and doing projects in the office. Unfortunately he was unable to pay me for this first month because he was still having to pay his former employee. Here in the DR, there aren’t government assistance programs like unemployment, so it is up to the employer to pay their former employee a set amount of money while they find a new job. I thought that this was a closed door.

We were still emailing my resumé to several places in the area and I tried to apply for some online work. We hadn’t heard from anyone and none of the online work worked out. There was also the incident with the Hard Rock Hotel that I wrote about a while ago. I was starting to get discouraged to say the least.

The end of September rolls around, and I still hadn’t been contacted by anyone. It was then that I felt I should reach out to Jonatan and see if he still needed an assistant. At this point he would be able to pay me. He did still need someone, and so I started working with him in the beginning of October.

My first day on the job, we cleaned out the storage shed on the property that he keeps the bees. We moved out old hive frames that needed to be burned, we moved out all the unused hives (which are just wooden boxes), and we needed to sweep the place. During all this we encountered all sorts of critters! We saw three rats, a big spider, an even bigger tarantula, and countless cockroaches. Jonatan had a machete and was trying to cut rats in half! He got the tail off of one of them, but there wasn’t much carnage after that. Just a lot of stomping on cockroaches. We assume that the rats snuck out while we weren’t looking because we didn’t see anymore of them the rest of the day.

After we were done cleaning out the storage shed, we checked on the bees. There are several things that you want to check in each hive to make sure that it is healthy. You want to make sure that there is a queen in each hive. At first glance, all the worker bees look like they are just randomly going about their day, and there are so many of them that it just looks like chaos. But there is an order to how the hive works and runs. Once you can recognize that order, you can tell the difference between a hive that has a queen, and a hive that doesn’t. When a hive doesn’t have a queen, the bees seem lost and have no orders to follow. They look even more disorganized than a healthy hive to the naked eye. The next thing you want to look for is if the queen is laying eggs. Egg cells in the hive look different than the rest of the cells. They are either filled with larva or are capped off as the larva turn into bees. There are also honey cells, food cells, and drone cells. The next thing we want to look for is to see if there are drones (male bees) in the hive. We don’t want there to be too many of those, but every hive needs a few. Drones are bigger than the worker bees. They are longer and wider. The queen bee is long and skinny compared to the worker and the drone bees. We want to make sure that the hive has food, and if it doesn’t, we will feed the bees. We also look to make sure that the hives are free of intruders. We check to make sure that there aren’t any mites, ants, or other insects. Here are a few pictures that I took while working with the bees one day:

We also do a lot of projects in the office. Right now we are focusing on trying to get a clientele so that we can sell the honey to more people. Something interesting about Jonatan’s honey is that it is flavored. I had never encountered this before, so I thought it was very interesting. He uses natural and organic ingredients to make coffee honey, cinnamon honey, ginger honey, chocolate honey, moringa honey, anise honey, orange honey, and of course he has a classic honey as well. We have been filling orders for a gas station and we have been making product for sampling for a super market and the Punta Cana International airport.

We have been incredibly blessed to have found something that not only allows me to provide for my wife, but also something that really interests me. The work is not easy, with hot days and sometimes physically demanding tasks, but I have enjoyed it a lot and it is cool to get to work with God’s creation. Bees are so interesting to watch and to see their natural order. It’s almost like peeking into an entire different world, even though they are part of our own. Thanks again for the prayers!

In God’s grip,
Alex and Leslie

P.S. #SaveTheBees

 

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Hurricane Matthew

We have been getting a lot of people who are concerned about our well being as hurricane Matthew rips its way through the Caribbean. This is just a very quick update on how we are. Hurricane Matthew’s path is headed between Haiti and Cuba. Because we share the island of Hispañola with Haiti, we are getting the very edges of the hurricane. We have been getting a lot of rain and a lot of wind the past few days. Other than that, we are perfectly okay! We really do appreciate everyone’s concern and appreciate your prayers even more! 

In God’s grip,

Alex and Leslie

Blessings

The last post ended in a more frustrated tone, and I don’t want to dismiss the amazing things that God has been doing in our lives. One of the things that Paul says in Philippians has really been standing out to me. Now, Christians are notorious for ripping this verse out of context, so I want to put it into perspective: “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:10-13.

“…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”
-Philippians 4:11

This has been my mantra the last couple of weeks. God has really shown us the ways in which he has blessed us.

He has provided a job for Leslie. When we initially were looking for jobs for her out here, we were applying all over in the Dominican Republic. We were applying for teaching jobs in Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, and in Santiago. We weren’t really hearing anything from anyone. She had even applied for a few jobs in Abu Dhabi in the UAE, but we didn’t hear anything from those schools. There was one Christian school in Santo Domingo that she interviewed for and was offered a job, but we just didn’t feel good about it. There was a lot of internal struggle on her part and a lot of uncertainty on my part. We decided to decline the offer and wait to see what else there was. That is when she interviewed with a school here in Punta Cana. She interviewed twice and was offered a job, and it was the one that we really wanted!

He has provided a roof over our heads. One of the perks of working for the school, is that all the teachers are provided an apartment. We all live in the same complex and it feels a lot like we are one big family. The apartments come at a significantly lower cost than were we to live in Santo Domingo. The apartments also come furnished with couches, a table, and all major appliances. If we were living in Santo Domingo, we would have to buy all those for the apartment. I really like the place where we live, it’s such a beautiful place.

We get to live in a new place. Living in Punta Cana is not only new for me, but it is new for Leslie as well. She was born and raised in Santo Domingo. We have had a great time exploring and getting to know the city that we live in. We have been to the local grocery store, A LOT! So much so, that all the employees know us and ask me how learning Spanish is going for me. We have been going to the beach, which I love because I never grew up near the ocean and it has been so amazing to see creation in a beautiful, new aspect. We also took a trip to a small island off the southeastern coast called Isla Saona. We got to ride a catamaran and spend a few hours on the island. Its beauty is very different from that of my home in Utah, but it’s a beauty unique to the Dominican Republic.

Even amidst a storm of doubt, confusion, and uncertainty, God provides. It’s not always in the way that we assume, expect, or even want at the time. He is God: he is good, and he is sovereign.