Category: Uncategorized

A Visa for Travel

We want to give a quick update and ask for prayers. We are meeting with the Dominican government this Monday to see if Leslie will be able to get her tourist visa. This will determine if we are able to come visit our lovely friends and family for Christmas this year. Please be praying with us that God’s will would be done, no matter what the outcome, and that He would give us grace to accept whatever he chooses for us. We love and miss our family and friends and hope to see you all during the Christmas holiday!

In God’s grip, 

Leslie and Alex

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Hospitality

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…”

-Hebrews 13:2

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

Life: A Light Blog Post

I don’t know how it happened, I guess time kept turning or something, but we have now been in the Dominican Republic for 6 months. It feels like home. We have our routines. We know where to go.

I think that’s part of the reason why we haven’t blogged in a while. Everything seems normal now and who wants to write about normal, let alone read about normal? I’m grateful for normal.

November and December were jam-packed with one special date after another— Alex’s birthday, our anniversary, my birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s. We were able to spend all of those days together and, some of them, with my side of the family. What a huge blessing!

Along with all the celebrations, we got a girl kitty to be our big boy’s little sister. Her name is Jules and we absolutely love her. Those two keep us laughing.

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You know how when it’s winter you wish there was at least one warm day, so that you could stop hibernating? Let me tell you something, all of our days are relatively warm (62 degrees Fahrenheit being the coldest I’ve seen during the night), and we’re still hibernating.

We’re looking forward to having some really dear friends come visit us during this first part of the year! Let us know if you’re coming to visit too. We’d love to have you!

In God’s grip,

Alex + Leslie

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

 

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

Jobs (and the Lack Thereof)

Man, we need to be better about updating this blog. My wife just wrote a post, but I haven’t written in a while. It was our goal for this blog to be as authentic as possible, yet I haven’t felt like there has really been anything worth or exciting to update you fine people on. That’s not really being authentic, now is it? All that to say, we will try to write at least one post a month.

I have now been in the Dominican Republic for a little over a month. It has been an emotional rollercoaster! With the stress of moving, Leslie starting her job, finishing all my paperwork to become a resident, trying to find me a job, and trying to get plugged into a church. It has been one crazy ride so far!

Leslie started her job almost a month ago. The first two weeks she went through some training and team building to get to know her coworkers and figure out how this new school ran things. She has been formally teaching for a few weeks now. She has been enjoying it a lot!

We have unsuccessfully tried to find a job for me. Not working has been very challenging for me. I was so used to it being one of my constants back in Utah. That is definitely not a bad thing, as I really enjoyed my job as a barista. Getting to know my coworkers and customers was what I looked forward to everyday. So, going from that to having no job at all has been difficult. I am lucky that I have my wife and one of my best friends to exhort and encourage me. They both have reminded me that my identity isn’t tied up in my job and that not having one right now does not diminish my value before God. It is good to be reminded of these things because I have been mildly depressed these last few weeks. It’s good to be reminded that God is sovereign and that he has something lined up for me. I just need to be patient and lean and depend on him for all things. I believe that God has a few open doors for me and it’s just a matter of his timing in which we find something.

On Wednesday the seventh, I went to a hiring event for the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. I didn’t know what to expect, so when I got there and saw around 300 people I was a bit overwhelmed. It can be daunting going to one of these things when you don’t even speak the same language as the people around you. There were three long lines of people waiting to receive applications, fill them out, and waiting to be seated under a tented area that had even more people in it. I received my application after about 30 minutes. This is all outside, mind you, and I am still not acclimated to the humidity. I had to google translate a lot of the application as it was in Spanish and not English.

While waiting in line, I met a nice gentleman by the name of Miguel, or Mike, as he preferred to be called. He spoke fairly good English and we chatted a bit. He told his friend that I was likely to get a job because I look like a hard rocker with my piercings and tattoos. I took that as a compliment. When I finally got to the front of the line, I was seated under the tents, which was a nice break from the blistering sun. Mike and I discussed interviewing tactics for a bit. I didn’t have to wait too long in the tented area as they were separating English speakers from non-English speakers. They then took me to an inside room with, if you can believe it, even more people! I was only there for about 5 minutes when they called my name. After waiting for about three hours, most of that time being outside, I was told that I could not be interviewed because I did not yet have my Dominican ID. That was devastating. I had really hoped to at least be interviewed, and I didn’t even get that. We have my file number and document saying that I am eligible to work, but I guess the Hard Rock’s standards are pretty high regarding that area. I was disappointed and frustrated that I didn’t get interviewed. But as I stated above, God is sovereign, and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for Leslie and me.

If you could continue to pray for us we would really appreciate it! Prayer for patience in waiting for a job and with each other.

In God’s grip,
Alex and Leslie

Transition

Transition: /tranˈziSH(ə)n,tranˈsiSH(ə)n/ (n.) movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change.

I cringe a little every time I hear the word—whether I’m teaching, playing the guitar with someone, or planning a student’s education goals. Transition. The word itself implies that things are about to change. Things that I wasn’t necessarily not enjoying. Things that might have been working just fine. I’ll lie to myself and others and say stuff like, “Change is good,” and swallow really heavily after I’ve said it, because I don’t necessarily believe it. I want to believe it, but I don’t. Alex can sing really well, but I’m the one with the novice guitar skills. I’m letting you know that this is Leslie writing.

This move has been a huge transition. Everything that could be different from our old life IS. We were living in a basement, now we live on a third floor. We were living in the land of mountains and now we live at sea level. We were living with dogs, turns out we have a cat! (Sweet victory!) That’s just the beginning.

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Guys and ladies, sometimes as humans we delude ourselves into believing that things will be easy. We can carry that on for a few weeks, maybe months at a time, if you’re really strong. Then one day you wake up and realize things are difficult. In our young married life, change by far has been the most difficult.

A dear friend of Alex messaged him a little after we were reunited in July and said something that I really value (I’m going to butcher it, Andrew. I’m so sorry.):

“You two are getting to experience something that most couples don’t ever have to go through. You are moving to her country and she is moving back. You’ve never met her in her native culture, and she has never met you in a culture different to yours. You guys are privileged, AND it is a challenge.”

Thanks, Andrew. I feel like I could end this post here.

Moving is the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do. It’s altered our lifestyle, our relationship dynamic, the way we value each other, the people we hang out with, the people we don’t hang out with, the little things we rejoice over, the BIG things that we don’t get to rejoice over. Everything.

I wish I could write more details into this post, but I’m a big picture kind of person. Alex will hopefully write a post soon and he will focus on the details— most definitely my better half. God is doing so much in our lives right now that I can’t begin to put it into words. I’m overwhelmed by His grace and His love. We get to see His care for us at least once per week— and I mean, REALLY see it.

We need prayer. Right now, I feel like we pray more than ever. Living in a developing country (a.k.a. “The Third World”) will do that to you. We rejoice in that too, as crazy as it sounds. It’s a lot easier to understand that you do not control anything when you live in a country with many limitations. That’s the real blessing and where much of the growth in our lives is happening.

Going back to the main idea, we need prayer. If you’re looking for prayer requests here are a few:
Please be praying that in His timing, God will provide a job for Alex. We’ve been applying to many places, but haven’t heard back from any.
Please be praying for us as a couple and individually. Moving is stressful and being out of a job is as well; therefore, we experience the friction that comes with that. Pray that God will preserve our union and remind us of the grace He’s extended to us that we may extend that to one another.
Most importantly, please pray that God will let us see Him and that He will continue to prune us into the people He created us to be.

Thanks for reading this. Feel free to reach out to us if you’d like to FaceTime, Skype, e-mail, visit, or anything. We love you, guys, Dominican, American, Filipino, Irish, and everything in between!

In God’s grip,

Alex and Leslie
Bibliography
transition. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved September 10, 2016 from Dictionary.com website