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.

 

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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

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

 

 

Stress and Statistics

Time has flown by! We’ve now been married for seven months and we have packed everything other than what we will be taking with us. Have I put all of my winter clothes away because I am aware that for at least another two years I will not need them? Yes. Is my infamous blue coat still hanging on our closet door in case I need it in the middle of the summer? You bet it is. If you know us personally, by this point you probably realize that this is Leslie writing.

Are we excited? Very! Are we nervous? Oh, you know, a fair amount, considering that we are moving in less than a month. We have so many emotions at once that it’s hard to write them all down. Every two or three days one of us breaks down due to overwhelming emotion (Alex 5% of the time, the other 95% of the time it’s his other half, but we won’t mention names). It is seriously by God’s grace that we can be decent members of society right now and semi-function.

I finished the school year a month ago, so now I am officially unemployed in the States. Alex is still working at Starbucks until July 11th. Notice how I said I am not employed in the U.S.? That is very true! I’m no longer employed in Utah, but I am employed in the Dominican Republic! We got and accepted an offer in April and we could not be happier about that! We had been praying and applying for jobs for a few months. I had interviewed with some schools, but we were not convinced that any of them were a right fit for us (trust me, even if we didn’t think they were a right fit, if we had not gotten another offer we would have made it fit). We were looking for something outside the city, but only kept getting offers in the capital, Santo Domingo, where I am from. Let me give you an overview of Santo Domingo— oldest and, in my “humble” opinion, most beautiful European settlement and city in the Americas, fantastic colonial architecture, exciting nightlife, amazing restaurants, tons of traffic, and 3,263,053 people (density: 6,519 people / sq. mi) in 501 square miles. That’s 300k more people than the population of Utah in a space 0.005 (0.5%) times the size of Utah. In other words, too many people for us. You can imagine our relief and excitement when we got an offer from a school that is five miles away from the beautiful East Coast beaches in Punta Cana— population 44,000.

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It’s fun to write about having a job now that we are not stressed about figuring out how we’re going to make a living and about where we’re going to live, but let me tell you, the wait was hard. I don’t think I had ever applied for jobs so intently and waited so long to hear back from schools. It was stressful for both of us. It made me doubt my competency, my education, and my identity. I know it wasn’t fun for Alex either. God entrusted him with helping in keeping me sane. It’s a tough job, I tell you, but God has made him a good man. Alex would consistently pray for me and with me and remind me that I am not in this alone. That was a much needed reminder.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Life is filled with constant change. I think change is there for a reason. Change reminds us of our limitations, our lack of sovereignty, and we do not enjoy that, to say the least. However, change also points us to the One who is Sovereign, Who is immanent, transcendent, and unlimited— the One with Whom we will be Home someday.  We’ve shed our fair share of tears and freaked out at each other more than once. We can honestly say that He’s the One sustaining us through all of the challenges and changes. In Him we find our identity— and not the “identity” job hunts and lack of skills make us doubt— our true identity.

Till next time, if we make it out alive, in God’s grip,

Alex & Leslie a.k.a. The Hursts

Not Yet Home

Hi, our names are Leslie and Alex. We have been married for a little over three months now and it has been great! It has been very challenging and we have both grown so much in this short amount of time and we pray that we continue to do so.

A few months before we tied the knot, Leslie was checking her visa and passport and realized that she was subject to a two year commitment of returning to her home country, the Dominican Republic, because of a contract she had signed with her government. They had paid for all of her education out here in Utah and they require their students to come back for at least two years and work in the country. I (Alex) was already madly in love and was willing to go wherever we needed to go, I just wanted to be married to this wonderful woman whom I had known for a few years.

So, here we are, a few months out from moving to another country. We will most likely be moving midway through June. Leslie has started applying for teaching jobs out in the Dominican Republic (and one other place, you might hear more about that in a future post). So far we have only been contacted by one school and the offer they made wasn’t what we need financially, so we will keep looking for teaching jobs for her. We won’t be able to find work for me until we actually get out there and apply for temporary residency.

The first few months of marriage like I said, have been challenging. We have been living with my parents in that small amount of time. It has been a huge blessing because we have been able to save up money for our move in June. However, we are ready to have our own place that we can call home. That brings us to the name of our blog: Not Yet Home. One day a few weeks ago, I was melancholically thinking about the fact that we don’t have a place to call ours. I came to the realization that no matter where we go or where we settle down, we will never be quite home. As Christians, we won’t ever be truly home until we are absent in body and present with the Lord Jesus Christ. There will certainly be times where we catch glimpses of heaven here on earth, but only glimpses. We can’t wait for that glorious day when Jesus calls us home, but until then we are called to be in the world, but not of it.
For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. -Hebrews 13:14

Please be praying with us that God would be opening and closing doors as he sees fit as far as where we should work and live. Also that we would continue to put our faith and trust in him, wherever he might take us.

In God’s grip,
Leslie and Alex

P.S. We will both be contributing to posts on this blog and we will do our best to denote who is writing.