Pen Pal Bus Rider

10408823_10152872957405407_8213931553917393179_nOur daughter, Graciana and Chris are pen pals, well, keypad pals really. They met on good ol’ Facebook and have been engaging in conversations about music, faith and life as we know it for the past year.

Today we’ll be picking Chris, a recent graduate of Berklee School of Music in Boston, up at the MetroBus in Washington DC and he will be riding along, living in community with us and those we neighbor alongside and trying his hand at “slow touring” until June 26.

We are excited to meet him and share life, story and music over the next month.

This is Chris Kazarian folks:

Age: 25
Birthday: 03.10.1990
Relationship status: Family, friend, pen pal, acquaintance
Biggest fear: fear
Dream Job: self employment
Dream Car: Tesla S
Dream House: small house in a remote city in Southern California. Buuut for now, Workin towards a loft in NY.

FAVOURITE?
Artist: our creator
Movie: the one where they blow stuff up! Make people laugh and cry. You know? That one lol
Song: not really a song but Watermelon Man on the Herbie Hancock album “Headhunters”
TV series: Dragon Ball Z
Animal: Silver Back Gorilla
Book: Captain Underpants
Colour: sepia tone

THIS OR THAT?
Twitter or facebook: outside
Twitter or Instagram: being Outside!!
Facebook or Instagram: OTHER THINGS!!
Coke or Pepsi: well they both divide people . . .
Tea or Coffee: coffee to wake up, tea to calm down
Tacos or Pizza: Tacos
Winter or summer: Summer!!

WOULD YOU EVER?
Get married: Yes
Have Kids: 20
Swim with sharks: in a cage, are these sharks alive? . . . Do they have to be?
Share a banana: yes
Eat rotten food: no

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Photo Journalist

545371_10150940796765376_1314888666_nIn 2010, Kara Counard started coming regularly to our local shows in Northeast Wisconsin. She would show up with her son, friends and a handful of brightly colored hula hoops. Her spirit was humble and as she engaged with our music, a joy would permeate through out the venue. If there was a show where she wasn’t present, we would all make note afterwards, stating that we missed her dancing and jovial hooping. At a certain point, I remember approaching her and declaring how much we appreciated her presence and noted her commitment as a “fan” but that we were keen to share community and story with her and wanted her to be our friend. She shyly agreed to joining us for dinner on our patio one summer evening and that was the beginning of our dear friendship.

Besides being an excellent hooper, Kara has a natural gift and honed talent as a professional photographer. In fact, her eye is prolific, capturing not only the perfect composition but seeing and embracing the light that makes life look absolutely beautiful.

At the beginning of 2015, a conversation began about her desire to ride along on the Hollands bus, as a photo journalist, documenting life on the road. This spring she flew to Asheville and rode with us for a solid week, camera in tow. She chronicled intimate family time, exploring Asheville, a house concert in Pittsboro, historical Richmond, and a beach day in Virginia Beach.

Prior to Kara’s arrival, our son, Banjo, had developed a desire to try his hand at photography. He had been researching camera’s for months and hoped to purchase one for his 14th birthday. So, while Kara was on board, he really sought her expertise on the subject, discovering even more information about brands, lenses, and the art of photography.

IMG_2500A few days into her time with us, her camera started acting up and we had to visit a camera store. Although it was unfortunate the problem was solvable and she had a rented camera within the hour. Her inconvenience ended up being a blessing in disguise for Banjo, as the forced visit to the camera store accelerated his purchase and he walked out with a used Nikon D90 and 50 millimeter lens. Immediately the photography lessons commenced and before the day’s end, with Kara’s guidance, Banjo conquered the Nikon’s components, ready to practice honing his “eye.”

It’s been a blast watching him explore his new-found love, especially with his sister, who is always looking for a photographer for her Dutchygazelle Blog. Big thanks to Kara for taking time away from family and friends, for honoring us with her amazing gifts and talents and for being our friend!

To see more of Kara’s awesome work visit www.bloomphotographybykara.com

Gotreaux Family Farm

IMG_9925Chaz Jones… you remember him? He was our first bus rider. He’s living back down in Lafayette, LA, engaged to the darling Victoria, and learning alongside the Gotreaux family and farms.

Chaz definitely has the gift of hospitality and invited us down to his community for a few days. He organized a house concert, where we were going to park and how long we could stay. We were told that we could park at the farm and that it would be the first time that this family would open their home to strangers like us. We didn’t know much else, except they were a family and they ran an organic farm.

Gotreaux Family FarmWhen we arrived, we knew we were in for a real treat as our welcoming party consisted of twelve of the most beautiful, pure faces on the planet. All curious about the arrival of this big ol’ bus and it’s inhabitants.

Over the course of the next few days we would learn about Mother and Father, Dawn and Brian’s meeting in high school, Brian’s love for building car, a spiritual awaking that brought them to a deeper understanding of God and their purpose, a call to adoption and a new path that eventually would lead them to where they are now, as owners and stewards of one of Louisiana’s most innovative organic farms.

Gotreaux Family Farm is a diversified natural family farm growing nutrient dense food. They raise chickens, turkeys, tilapia and have a fantastic veggie patch. The care they took in understanding all aspects of their farm was incredible and inspiring. For instance, we learned much about their Tilapia farm, and all the science and love that is involved in maintaining their above water tanks, creating an optimal environment for fish that are raised without antibiotics, chemicals or hormones. We learned about the PH of soil and how the quality of that soil affects the nutrients in our food. And, we learned about omega 3 and 6 in the diet of a chickens and how that translates to benefit human consumption.

Learning alongside Brian was a real treat for Craig, as it tapped into his desire to someday work the earth again. And, for Banjo the running with the wind, trudging through the mud and being with all of the Gotreaux boys was just the medicine our spirited young teen needed.

One afternoon we went for a hike at a local lake in hopes of seeing “gaiters.” This part of the country is so mysterious with its brilliant greens and swampy mangroves. It beckons the onlooker to venture into the wild and leave the path. And yet, we kept our footing and forged ahead. The youth however, were enticed by the mystery and moved past the margin, to the edge of the river. Because of their bravery, or maybe insanity, not only did we see alligators but the boys actually caught (and released) a baby alligator!

During our visit, it rained a few of the evenings and because of that, the Gotreaux’s normal routine slowed down, allowing us plenty of time to just be with one another. We made blueberry pies, shared meals, talked through and encouraged each other in our parenting, marriages and faith. And, our children all ranging from 12-18, along with Rhys (our current bus rider) spent hours playing games and making music.

It’s always so amazing to us the way that the saints are woven together in this great big tapestry of humanity. The depth of connectivity we can have in just a moment and that sense of time ceasing to exist, often catches our breath. When we pulled out of the driveway, only a few days after we arrived, we were pleased to leave a little piece of our hearts at the Gotreaux family farm. We don’t doubt that it will be well cared for and we delight in the idea of one day returning and enjoying another season with this precious family.

Hashtag Bus Riders

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Greg and Jeffery

Meet Greg and Jeffery. They will be riding along with us over the next eight weeks, as we make our way from Phoenix, AZ to Dubuque, IA.

Greg is a recent History graduate from St. Norberts College in Green Bay, WI. We met Greg about five years ago through mutual friends and have watched him grow into a fine musician and man. His project, Yosemite has opened for us several times in the North East Wisconsin area and when he requested to ride the bus we were stoked.

Jeffery is a professional musician, aviator, and nature lover from my home town, Grand Rapids, MI. We met Jeffery last summer while working at the Small Wonders Farm just north of Grand Rapids. We extended an invitation and conversations lead to his commitment to serve alongside us during this leg of our journey.

They both arrived in PHX a week ago to 101 degree temps and the harsh reality of 300 square feet with no air conditioning. They are troopers however, and both found ways to jump into community with us, connecting with our hosts, helping with building projects and sharing in late night jams. We’ll be traveling over 3000 miles these next few weeks, working alongside organizations doing some amazing things to care for and promote community. Our music touring schedule will be light but we don’t doubt there will be plenty of time and kinfolk to play a song or two with.

Bus ConversionOur hope for Jeffery and Greg is that they will be encouraged by our families commitment to learning, community, and the ministry of reconciliation. We hope they will walk away inspired to live in the moment, to swim upstream, and to see on a very personal level the interconnectedness of humanity to a faithful God.

Our routing takes us to: Albuquerque, NM, Santa Fe, NM, Austin, TX, Dallas, TX, Hot Springs, AR, Nashville, TN, Bowling Green, KY, and on up to Dubuque, IA (with a few stops in-between)