Category: Travel

Montaña Redonda 

About a month ago, we were still on summer vacation so we decided to do something that everyone at the school has done at least once—we took a trip to Montaña Redonda near Miches, Dominican Republic. I believe the reason it took us so long to finally make this trip is because I (Alex) hate doing things that are sensationalized and overly touristic, but the views are so amazing that we couldn’t avoid it any longer. We went in an off time after all the veteran teachers had gone and right before all the new arrivals got here. 

The road up to the top of the mountain is not paved so it was a wild adventure driving to the top to see these amazing views. At the top there are a few swings and some props for people to pose with and take pictures. Being on the swings felt like being on the edge of the world and at any moment you could fall off into oblivion. 

Here are some of the pictures we took:




That same day, we went to Macao, one of the most beautiful beaches in the Dominican Republic, at least in my opinion. It is definitely a must see if you are ever on the island. Macao is part of the Atlantic Ocean so there are waves that are fun to swim in and play around in. 

At one point, a huge wave came and crashed into both Leslie and me and threw us about in the water! The ocean is a powerful thing and we forget that often. Especially for those who have never grown up near a beach, like myself.

Macao:

Later that night, we had to vacuum Leslie’s hair out because so much sand had gotten in it from being tossed about by the waves! For those of you who don’t know my wife, she has really curly hair due to her heritage. It was a recipe for disaster! She was still shaking sand out even after a few weeks! 

In the end, we had an amazing day filled with adventure and relaxation—a great ending to our summer vacation. 

In God’s grip, 

Alex and Leslie

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Rest

It is interesting how we can get so anxious about things in life. Even Christians, who believe in a sovereign and loving God, are bogged down by the trials and monotony of every day life. We forget that we have a God who is for us and not against us, a God who is fighting for us.

As I sit here at our kitchen table, listening to Lorde’s new album, Melodrama (which is amazing by the way), with my wife, I am reminded that resting in God isn’t something we are simply able to do. Resting in the Lord is something that takes practice and commitment and hard work. I know, that sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s true nonetheless. Right now we are resting in God.

It’s easy to write this out at the tail-end of stressing out about Leslie’s tourist visa last week. Our constant prayer was this: “Father God, we know that you are sovereign. We know that whatever happens, whether we receive the visa or not, you are in control and you know what is good for us. You know better than we ever will what is good for us. Help us to remember that you are good, that you are for us and not against us.”

We were so stressed out because the visa holds so much weight. It determines a lot of things about our future, not just allowing us to visit family and friends for Christmas this year. Thankfully I can report that we did receive the visa. We honestly didn’t even have to worry. Leslie had told me that one person’s reason for wanting a visa was that they wanted to see the Statue of Liberty in New York, and they were granted a visa! So being married to a citizen and having family in the States was reason enough for the government.

For those of you who don’t know, I (Alex) will be staying behind in Utah in December in order to start working and getting ready for Leslie to join me after we get her green card. The road for both of us being back in the US is still a long one. Please pray for us, we need it! Luckily, Leslie will get to visit me when she has holidays (we enjoy a lot of holidays living in a predominantly Roman Catholic country) and during the summer of 2018, and soon after that we will hopefully have her green card.

We want to thank everyone who was praying for us while we were waiting to see if we would get the visa or not. We really appreciate all your prayers and it is comforting to know that God hears the prayers of his children!

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.

 

Honey Jars

Well, I dropped Leslie off at the airport yesterday. The night before she left we were finishing up some last minute packing. We probably shifted things in her bags five or six times to make sure that it wasn’t over the fifty pound weight limit (which is a one hundred dollar fee). It’s crazy how much stuff we accumulate as humans, and we are only taking mostly clothes. I convinced Leslie to let me take my record player and vinyls (yay! I love music). You really don’t know how much stuff you have until you pack it up to move. We didn’t even have a full house of things and I was surprised by how much stuff we had! I’ll be going through that coming up here in the next few weeks (hopefully, prayerfully).

Tuesday night was one of the worst nights we’ve experienced together. Two weeks may not seem like a long time for most people, but for us it feels like the day for me to join her in the Dominican Republic is an eternity away. I don’t know if it gets easier to be away from someone you love the longer you’ve been married, and I’m sure it is different for everyone. Maybe some couples who have been married a while could weigh in on that for us. We were cuddling after finishing packing and Leslie asked me to sing Honey Jars to her, a song by Bryan John Appleby. It’s about an old man who lost his wife and is dealing with being alone. He wrote it after he and his girlfriend had broken up and she moved to California. He said that his ability as a lyricist comes from being able to dramatize a situation. The most compelling lines in the song are these: “And now your honey jars are frozen. And in the window, your books have browned. And there’s too much room inside our bed, I think I’ll join you in the ground.” Call it dramatic, call it what you will, but being alone without your husband or wife is neither fun nor a walk in the park. We tasted that for the first time since being married last November. I will add a link to Honey Jars at the end of this post. It is a truly beautiful song.

I’m really thankful for how technology has advanced. It is a huge blessing to be able to see my wife’s face over FaceTime. I stayed up until three in the morning to make sure that she made it safe and sound to her mother’s house. I was getting worried as the time she was supposed to arrive drew closer and closer, and I hadn’t heard anything from her yet. I ended up messaging her brother, Jose, over WhatsApp to see if he had heard anything yet. I was just worrying myself for no reason. She made it home safely and we were able to FaceTime before going to bed.

As of now, we are just waiting for my visa to come back so that I can move and establish residency in the DR. We sent in the application with all the required documents on Monday and the process takes anywhere from 2-3 weeks. We are praying that it comes back fairly quickly. I just got a call from the Dominican consulate in California asking for a copy of Leslie’s passport. It is encouraging knowing that they have already started working on it.

Prayer Requests:
-That my visa comes back quickly
-That Leslie is able to take care of finding a car for us
-That time goes by quickly
-That we wouldn’t get too stressed over all the things we still have to do

Thank you to everyone who has been praying for us! We really appreciate it!

In God’s grip,
Alex