We all go through seasons of life where we feel like we are being called to work on something specific. After knowing that we would be moving, we were dealing with a lot of self-focus. We needed to get a lawyer for me (Alex) so that we could get my visa and residency process ready. We had to downsize all of our belongings to decide what we wanted to take with us and what to leave behind. We were upset that we would be separated, even though it would only be a few weeks before we would be reunited. We were upset that we had to move.
Once reunited, we faced grief over what we had left in Utah: friends, family, and an amazing church. That was challenging for us. We had to learn to depend on God and each other for strength and comfort. Following this period of grief we moved onto acceptance, rest, and settling in. We started to get used to our new surroundings, make friends, and transition into our jobs. We were setting up our little apartment to be a home.
We always enjoyed visiting friends in their homes, eating their food, and hanging out with them and their kids. However, we didn’t have a place to call our own to invite people over as we were living with my parents before moving (and we selfishly liked going back to our own space after hanging out with friends). When we finally got our own place, with which we could do whatever we wanted, we wanted to build a shrine to our own self-comfort and create this nice little bubble. But if you have ever read The Bible, you will know how God likes to tear down our idols. It was at that point that God provided opportunities for us to grow in hospitality.
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers…”
Our first visitors were Anny and Rebecca. They came during our period of grief. They had done some mission work in Santo Domingo and had come to Punta Cana for some R & R (we actually had to look up what R & R meant, which for those of you who don’t know, is rest and relaxation), and needed a couch to crash for one night.
Then we had a man named Gherzon, a full time Colombian missionary to Mozambique, stay with us a few nights. It was very encouraging to hear about the work that God is doing through him in the mission field. This was not a planned visit. Leslie was at work and got a message from Anny (same Anny as above) asking if we would be willing to host one of her good friends who would be arriving into town that same day. So you could say that it was on pretty short notice! It was during this time when we realized we were struggling with the idol of self-comfort, and we did not like it. I told Leslie we would only keep him for one night, because I wanted to have a weekend. However, after getting to know him and exchanging testimonies, I told Leslie I was okay if he stayed both nights. Needless to say, we really liked him, and so did Zeus.
Soon after having Gherzon, we went on our anniversary trip to a hostel in the mountains of Jarabacoa. We had a great time and we were planning on coming home alone. However, we met some cool people that needed a ride to Punta Cana. Their names were Camila and Manuel. Camila is from Brazil and Manuel is from Italy. One of the interesting things we learned about Manuel was that, even though he is Italian, German is his first language because he lives so close to the German border. We ended up riding back home with the two of them and Camila crashed our couch since she was flying back home to Brazil the next day.
All of our guests had been invited by God up to this point. So we decided we might as well start inviting people. We did and they started coming. Our next guests were our good friends Cody and Cindy. It was great getting to see them again! We had lots of meaningful conversations along with great food and Piña Coladas. We got to explore Santo Domingo and relax at the beach with them. Seeing some familiar faces was extremely refreshing and edifying.
Our most recent visitor was Miss Mary. The last time I (Leslie) was in the same state as Mary was three years ago. She had met Alex when he was one of the youth students at the youth group where we both volunteered (about 5 years ago), but hadn’t seen him since. When I told her I was dating Alex, her response was, “Is he of age?!” a very “Mary” response. Suffice it to say, we had a lot of catching up to do. Mary came bearing gifts– beer and Sriracha. Both were very appreciated! Mary is the lowest maintenance guest ever. She let us sleep in till noon, let us drag her to the beach and feed her whenever we pleased. Thanks, Mary!
As we said previously, God likes to tear down idols and conform us to his image more and more, day by day. I think the idol of comfort is one that God constantly has to tear down in his children because we don’t like to be uncomfortable. During this season, we have seen God conform us more into his image by helping us grow in hospitality and we hope to have more visitors in the future, invited by us and/or by God.
In God’s grip,
Leslie and Alex