The Skinny on Finances

20130515-183702.jpgFolks often ask how we make our way.  In 2010 we started off with ideals that involved becoming self-sustainable, working on ways to market and expand our trade. The simple explanation is that we book shows that offer payment for our performance. Of course, through our travels we have found greater purpose in connecting with and serving communities, involvement in social justice and helps organizations and encouraging kinfolk to live their dream; all the while, still performing.  And, although our original business model only generates about 70% of what we really need to be sustainable we’ve experienced something bigger than us. We’ve experienced the gift of faith and generosity.

On our journey, when troubles have come, there always seemed to be someone who without knowledge or very little knowledge of our situation, that would bless us with just enough to keep us on our way. These moments are beyond our comprehension and we don’t take any credit for them. We didn’t market or try to convince anyone that we were worth it, they were unconditional gifts. Through these experiences we have learned that there is another economy that we can be apart of. It’s not capitalism, socialism, communism, utopianism, prosperity gospel, or even karma.. We call it the divine economy. We think the crux of it is listening, openness and to be genuinely others focused, not in a “pay it forward” sort of way, which says if you give, you’ll receive, but it’s an “even if there is no return, I will give, even my life for another.”

We aren’t taught to operate this way in the business world. Even in vocational ministry, we are taught to have flashy marketing and newsletters proclaiming our mission statement and worth in order to receive tax-deductible donations. And so, two months ago we began a quiet relationship with Modern Day, which allows kinfolk to give to us through their site. They keep a record and at the end of the month they process the tax-free donations, deposit it into our bank account, minus a very small %, and send us a statement. At the end of the year, they send out all of the tax paperwork to both us and our donors. We had planned on introducing our partnership with Modern Day in a smooth, thought out way. However, that graceful introduction was muddled when our bus broke down in Chattanooga a few weeks ago.

Already a difficult month, traveling a new territory with very little income coming in, we were beyond our means and struggling to find community or hope. We were also wrestling with the little things that start to pop up in nomadic life. Things like the discomfort of four people living in 300 sq ft, not having hot water, or the ability to have power without being plugged in, and we were trying to finish up the last month of school.  So when the bus broke down, our hearts sank. There was a moment where doubt crept in and we wondered if we made the right decision to link up with an organization, taking us in a more traditional route of fund raising. We wondered if we had stepped out of that divine economy. We were significantly in the red and we needed a miracle.

A miracle is exactly what we got! What we found was that through the traditional system of giving, the divine economy superseded and yesterday Modern Day sent us a statement with a $2200 in donations.  We had no idea that kinfolk had given to our need until they sent the statement. And, the exciting thing is that the amount donated covers almost all of the bus repair!  We are so absolutely humbled and grateful for that support!

The process of trying to communicate needs doesn’t come natural for us but at the end of the day, whether we have flashy marketing or don’t say a word, it doesn’t really matter. The divine economy is active and incorrupt despite all of us. Palms open, hearts soft, and to God be the glory!

Bus Update – Brake Job

From the Desk of Craig Holland;

20130515-170813.jpgWhen we bought this 1984 MCI-9 we were totally in the dark about its history or mechanical state. We have built our home in it and it is pure grace that we’ve been able to drive it over 35,000 miles around this grand ol’ country so far.

We are currently parked at the Choo Choo Express Garage for repairs in Chattanooga TN. We’ve had minor repairs, mostly dealing with our tires, but this is our first major break down in the year and a half that we have owned the bus.

A little history; back in January we were rolling through California and one of my rear brakes locked up. A police motorcyclist just happened upon us and helped guide me out of the way. At the time, I was more worried that he would take a closer look at our moving house and want to write me up for who knows what. However, the brake ended up releasing and we went on our way.

This past week, while coming down a big hill on Hwy 24 (outside of Nashville), my brakes were smoking, which I had never noticed before. I pulled over and gave the rig a chance to cool down and we continued on to Chattanooga. We parked for a few days visiting family and making music. When it was time to go, I did a once over inspection and we left for our next stop in Asheville, NC. As we were leaving however, I noticed the left rear end tire locked up again.

We stopped and investigated, researching garages, debating financial options and the timing of our tour/schedule. I found a list of mechanics on busconversion.com, a bus forum community I’m a part of, and the Choo Choo Express Garage came highly recommend. It happened to be located just thirty minutes south of where we were parked. Also we were sitting on a three-day open window before our next gig. So, as much as I didn’t want to deal with the cost and inconvenience of repairs, we decided to bite the bullet and have it looked at.

20130515-170947.jpgWe arrived at the shop where we were met by Don, the owner and proprietor since 1975 and Joel his head mechanic. I was invited to observe and learn along side the fella’s and as we did an inspection my brakes, we found them all totally worn down and about 4-5 seal leaks. To translate for folks who aren’t mechanically inclined, leaking oil on the pads gets hot and sparks a screw that is exposed which leads to a tire fire. Ultimately it could have ended poor if not catastrophic.

I tend to be a white knuckle sort of person and sometimes God has to knock me upside my head to avert bigger troubles. I’m thankful for this and the fact that I’ll have peace of mind running down the road (or hills) with good brakes all round. I’m also glad we are getting a once over and a base line for what this rig might need down the line. And, thanks to the hospitality of Don and his crew we’ve been able to park/plug-in at the shop during this two night stay.

Community has been a focus for us all along and we see this inconvenience as a way to participate in relationship through divine commerce and time spent with these fella’s, practicing perseverance, learning about the mechanics of our bus and trusting that we are covered though the ups and downs.

20130515-183702.jpgOur total bill was $2829.06. If you would like to partner with us to off set the costs of these repairs and keep us on our way you can visit www.modernday.org and share a tax-deductible donation.  We are humbled and grateful for your continued support.

And for those who find themselves in need of the Choo Choo Express Garage, you won’t find them on-line or in the phone book, but you can reach them at 706-891-1242

Their address is 135 Prater Rd. Rossille, GA 30741