by Jacob Beaty
Life costs money. I knew that fact when I quit my job as science teacher. I figured I had enough money in savings to get us by for a while here in Bolivia. I felt compelled to write a book with my dad, “Winter’s Comin.’” This book will recount the adventures of our family when we moved from the city to build a log a cabin in the woods. I was five years old at the time, and we lived in the cabin for six years. We never did have electricity, and spent the first year without running water, melting snow for bathing and so on. Hard times, severe winters, but I have good memories. The cabin is still my favorite place on earth. I wanted to spend time with my dad hearing his stories from that time and writing them down. I’m not expecting to ever make any money on the book, but I need to record the story.
Meanwhile, we started planning a trip north to visit family in the States. I looked at the ticket prices and swallowed hard. Travel, or retire? Travel, or retire? We’re moving to a bigger place on August 1st. It’s going to cost money – every month! Food, gas, lights, internet – these cost money too. Here’s an idea, a bad one, I could mooch off the limited income my wife receives from donors to manage Casa de Amor. I wracked my brain for options and kept coming up short. I was irritable and touchy one moment, then resigned and complacent the next. What was I going to do?
I looked into teaching Chemistry and being the chaplain for the Carachipampa Christian School in exchange for a home on campus for my family. We had looked at four places before this, and they all had issues: forty minutes away; an hour away; rooms too small; or under the flight path of the airport. Then we found a place under a beam of light shining down from heaven. We heard angels singing. Maybe I don’t need to trade my chemistry skills for a house after all.
We went to visit the house at the Christian school. It was very functional. And square. And just one bathroom. It turns out the school can’t allow a teacher to live on campus rent free. The school is paying rent for the buildings, and they usually recoup it from their teachers who come as volunteers. Well, I wasn’t going to reduce my time available to write the book by working as a volunteer and still have to pay rent. (Later, the school actually found a way to let us live on campus without paying rent, but we had already made our decision to go a different direction and were well along the path. If you know anyone who could teach chemistry and/or be the chaplain, they are still looking for that person.)
I had peace about the decision to focus on the book and rent the house under the beam of light, but there was still the matter of how to pay for the plane tickets. Rudi and Carla, volunteers from Oregon helping with Casa de Amor, mentioned a way to earn money through the internet – freelance writing. A distant relative of theirs contacted them and explained her situation. She and her husband had moved from Ohio to Tarija, Bolivia, and she was making good money as a native English freelance writer.
I decided to look into it. I sent an email to Rudi and Carla’s relative and in her reply, she said she worked through oDesk.com. She said that it can be hard to get your foot in the door – “start by searching for jobs with the word ‘newbie.’” She warned me that the pay would be low, but the employers would give five star ratings. After gaining enough experience, I would be able to land higher paying jobs.
So I searched for “newbie.” The first job offer was a chance to sell my integrity for $1. All I had to do was place five product reviews on Amazon for items I’d never purchased, and I would earn $1 and five stars. I declined the offer. I decided to search for “native English.” I received another offer. I needed to take product descriptions and turn them in to first person stories. I think I can do that. Then I found out what the products were: mushroom grow kits; vaporizers; salvia divinorum (hallucinogenic mint); peyote – drugs! This job would pay $25. No thanks. Doggone it! I could do something menial for a low wage, but I wasn’t going to lie or push drugs.
I had already applied to eleven jobs. Each time stressed me out. I was making myself vulnerable to rejection. None of the employers were bothering to respond, so I stopped applying. I took a walk and prayed. Maybe that’s where I should have started? I had prayed about each step along the way, but not so much about this last one. I didn’t ask for a job, but I asked for help to trust in God’s provision.
A couple days later I received an email. Some employer had looked at my profile and invited me to apply for the position he was trying to fill: Internet Marketer. The list of qualifications disqualified me: knowledge of HTML; SEO basics; PPC; Conversion Optimization; Google Analytics. An hour of Wikipedia reading later, I still didn’t feel qualified. Did this guy click my name on accident? There were twenty-eight other names, all of them with “SEO” big and bold among their skill sets.
I decided to pretend that he had selected me on purpose and sold myself like my paycheck depended on it. I said that I had never done any of that stuff before, but I was eager and able to learn. I had made radical jumps between industries in the past – maritime to healthcare to education – and I could do it again.
He wrote back and asked me to indicate times when I might be available for an interview. He had selected eight people, and I was one of them! I wrote to say when I could be ready, and when 11:30am came I was waiting. An hour passed. He didn’t call. The second time window, 2:30 pm, approached, and I was ready again. A second hour passed. He still didn’t call. Ugh. My heart sank. Was it that word I spelled wrong in my email? Is it because I don’t have a video camera for skype? He never even replied!
Another hour later, I leaned back in my chair and looked up at the laundry hanging on the line to dry. Yeah, we’re a little tight in the apartment, and my “office” is under the laundry. I reached up to unroll the hem of a pair of shorts. I exhaled a long sad breath. “Okay, God,” I said, “I give the job to You.”
I turned back to my computer and there was a message in my inbox from the employer: “Any update, Jake?” Update? What? I’ve been waiting here all day! I scrambled to reply. I called his office and left a message. I checked my skype. Finally he came online and asked if I was ready to interview. “Yes, I’m ready.” We talked for thirty-eight minutes. It was a great interview. I asked him when he might decide. He said 48 hours.
“If we decide to hire you,” he wrote the next morning, “and work hours were unlimited, how many would you like to work each week?” I replied. Then I waited.
He wrote again that afternoon, "Congratulations! I'm ready to move forward with you as the newest member of our team." It was to be a full time job, consistent pay, no need to go looking for other freelance gigs, opportunities for a raise every three months, he would pay me while he was training me. I’m making the same wage that I made teaching science – without the stress of ruffians! I never did lie or push drugs. I never did have to start at the basement of the wage scale. Now I’m helping law firms optimize their web pages, and the future looks bright. I should still be able to write the book with my dad.
I’m thankful to God for His trustworthy provision.
This picture was made to show the boys working on their costumes for boy scouts, but also shows how Jake goes "behind the sheet" to work in peace :)