Bus Conversion; New Flooring

Celu'haven floorWe parked in the Skeens driveway for 10 days. They live in Central Phoenix. Besides being a pretty wise missiologist, Jeff has mad skills in construction and spent a couple of afternoons helping Craig build a vanity for the bathroom and lay the flooring in the bus.

We were donated four boxes of the hardwood flooring from the Wall family in Green Bay back in July of 2012 and purchased four more at cost from Jeff’s dad, Med who works in the flooring industry in Phoenix. The final product is bright, comfortable and super easy to clean!

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Bus Conversion- Painting

Inspired by the historical street cars in San Francisco, specifically the 1946 “Philadelphia,” and this little potting planter, we have chosen to paint our bus what some folks call sea-foam green. We had the paint organized and Craig had been slowly stripping  the sides of the bus. It was one of those projects that was sure to take a long time, chipping away at it here and there. However, upon arrival at our host home in Mt. Vernon Iowa, we found an eager and expert set of helping hands in the Anderson fellows. They are the one’s who actually brought the subject up in conversation. Asking, if we had any desire to paint the bus. We answered, “well, sure, someday.” That someday was this weekend. With tools in tow and paint, they sanded and cleaned up the remainder of the bus. Taped it off and away they went.

We couldn’t have organized or asked for a better scenario. Besides, a helping and encouraging hand at painting the bus, we enjoyed the delights of solace amongst the fall colors, sharing meals and inspiring conversation, and plenty of activity for the kids on the  the Anderson’s farm.

We didn’t see it coming and the blessing will continue to go with us as a reminder as we continue down the road. Serendipity!

Below showcases the process.

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Some day, day down the line, we’ll add a red pin strip and art work on the back.

Flat Tire

As we roll down the highway, it’s not uncommon to hear other drivers honk their horns. We usually smile and wave. However, this day we had a few cars in a row signal and felt a desperation in their honks. So, Craig began to look closely in his rear view mirrors and to his surprise, spark and flames flowed from behind. We pulled over and found a smoking hot trailer tire worn to the rim and ripped to shreds.

He offered a thanks for the warning and went into problem solving mode. Spare tire and once we were settled for a day, two new trailer tires. It wasn’t long before we were back in the saddle again.


Bus Conversion – Progress

Slowly but surely the little things that are being shored up:

Craig has built and installed all of our kitchen cabinets, dining room light, book shelf, trim around the doors, bathroom cabinets, curtain around the toilet, even a few decorations hung. And, last but not least, our bedroom door.

Next on the list is plumbing. We are thankful for the graciousness offered by those we stay with for showers and washing dishes but are so ready for a little running water.

Back In The Saddle Again

We landed in Denver, CO after thirty hours of travel. It had been seven weeks since we last lived in our bus (Celu’haven) and we were anxious to see her. Thanks to the folks at Radiance Church, our bus had been parked in the back lot, safe and sound.

Our minds were filled with all of the amazing adventures from the past two month in Australia but quickly had to move into survival mode as the reality of living in a half build bus was more than apparent. We had no food in the fridge and struggled to find comfort in the 90 degree heat with no plumbing or air conditioning. Thank God my sister only lived 1 1/2 hours away in Estes Park. We drove up to her home and enjoyed a shower and her speciality, Enchilada’s Verde. Yum! The next few days were spent working on the oil leak in the engine, gathering supplies and reconnecting with folks in the US. Our daughter especially enjoyed getting her phone back on-line. (Although, I will say, the seven weeks phone free down under was a nice respite.)

We got our driving legs back on and began to forge our way towards the midwest. A few hours later we hit another oasis in North Platte, NE. Our global/local neighbors, Job and Gail Vigil, owners of Da Buzz Coffeehouse, had this precious text welcoming us. When we arrived there was a hot meal and another shower waiting for us.


Bus Conversion – celu’haven Update

We fly to Australia on Monday, March 7, 2012. Before we go, we thought we’d leave you with a little glimpse of our current living conditions.

We purchased the bus in early September 2011 and with the efforts of over 50 helping hands, we now have our living space nearly finished. Our table collapses and turns into a guest bed. The kitchen is nearly functional. With a refrigerator that hold just what we need and stays cool up to eight hours as we drive. Our propane stove is a new addition and allows for us to host many delicious gatherings in celu’haven. Floors and upper cabinets are the last projects for that area. The bedrooms are also quite livable. The kids each have a bunk with storage for clothing and personal items. They have a closet for homeschool materials and desk to work from. The master bedroom is 7×7 and holds our queen size bed, closet, under bed storage and a side table. The bathroom is our last space to finish but it currently works as a storage space and emergency toilet thanks to our friends at www.altrec.com.

The installation of the electrical system has revolutionised our experience, allowing us to plug-in the school computers, refrigerator and of course the tea kettle. We also have three electric heaters and can sleep comfortably in 20 degrees or more.

The under cab storage is like our basement with a bay of electrical, building supplies, tools and musical equipment. We also have a bay of tubs with items waiting for a place to go on the bus.

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Next on the agenda, plumbing for our kitchen and bathroom.

Golden Gate

2/15-2/17   Excited to visit with dear friends, we pulled in and set up shop in the little sleeper town of Vacaville, CA. It was our first stop where we were parking on the street and we were unsure about it all. The first night went smoothly and after our experience at the camp ground we were becoming old pro’s at leveling out Celu’haven.  However, the next morning we had a run in with a cadet who told us we had to move. And so, after much debate we ended up packing our bags and bedding and parking at The Mission, a church down the road from our friends. That afternoon we were enjoying a little hula hooping in the driveway when a squad car rolled by. He had a confused look on his face, rolled down his window and asked if this was a certain address? We answered yes. He glanced back and forth and then said, “Hmm, I don’t see a bus. Was there a bus here?” We laughed and said yes, that it was ours and it was moved a few hours ago. He smiled and asked what it was all about. We told him our story and he was delighted. He shared about his travels with the military, about his joy of music and wished us well. And that was that.


Besides the initial excitement our time in Vacaville was quiet and refreshing. We had time to just rest, do laundry, school and enjoy everyday life with dear friends. The kids picked fresh oranges and lemons from the tree in the back yard. We played a few songs with Kathryn Grace, meet some really lovely kinfolk and we watched The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which is a new family favorite. Yep, that’s one cuss of a movie.

2/18 SAN FRANCISCO- Although we were on a tight budge we had a wonderful day filled with sites, sounds, culture and fantastic overstimulation. We did the Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, watched the seals swim and frolic, road a trolley downtown, admired street performers, walked  Lombard Street, Chinatown and Haight-Ashbury. The only places we didn’t see was Alcatraz and Ghirardelli Square and that is unfortunate because we love rebels and we love chocolate.  But there is always next time.


We spent about half the day in Chinatown. It was rich in unique smells, colors and flavors. As we wandered through the park there was traditional music blaring over the loud speakers as the old fella’s played their pipas, yuehus, dizi and tonggu. There was a man and a woman singing along to the ancient sounds as men and women were huddled in groups of five to eight. They were each playing a gambling game of some sort. Across the park there were folks practicing Falun Gong. We sat for quite sometime taken by the sights and sounds.


Later we made our way down the main drag and found ourselves in a long line in front of the Golden Gate Bakery. We asked what all the fuss was about and found out this particular Asian Bakery specializes in Custard Tarts. So, we we’re hard pressed to leave our spots and found our way to the ordering counter. They were worth the wait and we enjoyed those tarts! Later that evening we decided to take google’s advice and eat at Sam Wo’s. That was quite the experience. I felt like I was in a Jerry Lewis film as we walked through the kitchen, up the stairs and to our table. The waiter made is orders and lowered the ticket down through a little dumb-waiter. When the order was ready a buzzer would sound and the waiter would pulley up the meal and serve it up. It was a dirty little hole in the wall but it was unique, the food was good and we didn’t get sick afterwards. So, maybe we’d go back?

Emotional Inventory – Lessons Learned

Lessons learned.

On Feb. 12, 2012 we crossed from Oregon into the state of California. As we made our way down I-5, we realized that this was our first moment alone as a family in a long time and it was our first stop where we were not staying with friends or family. The Gateway RV Park welcomed us to Redding, CA and as we pulled into our site (late night arrival) we found the ground to be uneven. Grant’s pass was not kind and we were exhausted from the drive. I could tell Craig was limited in the energy he had and I didn’t want to nag much about the leaning of Celu’haven but I did voice my concern just before heading into town to pick up some groceries. I was gone for about an hour and during that time I had resigned myself to the fact that we were probably going to end up sleeping with a tilt.

The site was quite upon my return and as I crawled in bed I propped my pillow up so the blood wouldn’t flow to my head all night. I had a restless night sleep, tossing and turning as I felt myself slipping head down. The next morning when we woke Craig asked how my sleep was and I answered, “horrible, I felt like I was falling all night.” He lay silent and offered no empathy or mutual concern. As I made my way back from the community bathroom I noticed that the left wheels of the bus were up on blocks. I was in a quandary. I thought, “What?! When did he do this? Couldn’t have been when I was in the toilet as there wouldn’t have been enough time and I would have heard him.” And then it dawned on me,  “he did this last night, when I was at the store!” I rushed into the bus and had a look. Sure enough, it was level. I went back to my bedroom, it was level too. I slept all night totally convinced that I was on an uncomfortable angle!

I went to the main room and everyone had a big smile on their faces. I lowered my eyes and said, “So, it seems I’ve deceived myself.” We all had a good laugh. Funny thing is, this is quite common. We walk around believing that we are the victim, truly believing it and all along our perception is wrong.  If only I would have been open, maybe trusted that Craig was really going to look out for us, maybe investigated a little, I would have had quite the restful night. In the end, it was a good lesson to learn. The lesson that my emotions aren’t always the end of the story. The lesson that we are on this journey as a family and the biggest lesson in learning to trust that we can trust one another. Really trust.

celu’haven update

The process of refinement is truly that, a process. One of the hardest mindsets to push against is the cultural notion that things should happen instantly. “I want and I want it now, and I will do whatever it takes to make it happen.” In rejecting this notion we are finding peace and great joy. Waves of mercy wash over us as the blessing of community and support come along side in ways we could never produce on our own accord.

We are thankful for folks like Mike Dyer Construction for giving up two days and much need supplies to frame our kitchen. 20120123-114715.jpg

Also, Ben Miller’s willingness to share his expertise and help design the electrical system. And, the simple coupon for 10% off at Lowes that my mom gave us and the financial gifts of those who in their generosity have allowed us to continue to serve others.

Just like us, “celu’haven” (our bus/home) is a work in progress and for that we are thankful.









We have two weeks left in Central Oregon. Once we leave this nest we’ll be on the road. Our loose schedule as follows:
2-4: Seattle area
5-12: Portland area
13-19: Redding, Vacaville CA
20-21: LA
22-26: Phoenix area
27-29: Albuquerque area
29-March 1: Colorado Springs
2-4: Denver area

If you live in any of these areas and would like to host The Hollands! we would be delighted to visit with you.

The PNW is Our Soft Spot

After a whirlwind summer and all of the community and individual effort it took to get us on our way, we find ourselves in a similar situation to a new born baby that fought her way into the world only to find she’s helpless. We had a vauge plan when we left, knowing that tilling and traveling was our call, but not knowing the how or where we would find ourselves. I think they call that “faith.” 🙂

Honestly, we could not have planned a better first stop on our journey of mobility. The Pacific Northwest has become our soft spot. We were ready for the hard road but the gentle hand and Author of our journey had a different idea. A better idea. And so, we are fixed in central Oregon in a little town called Sisters until mid-Feb.

While we are here we are finding a valid place in community. We have been welcomed with open arms. The feeling is remarkable and some days a bit surreal. Even the mountains cry out with joy and the stars sing down upon us. Folks are eager and ready for us to share our gifts and talents. They are hospitable and open to growth. There is no doubt that we are suppose to be here for this time.

On a practical level, we named our bus. Calling it Celu’ Haven which means, “safe place of wholeness.”  It is not livable yet and so, we have been staying with a gracious and kind host couple appropriately named, “The Goldens” and they are golden. They live in a log cabin on a beautiful plot with gardens and a little tree hut that their grown son built when he was Banjo’s age. The kids have enjoyed the stability offered by staying with them and are starting to make friends through youth group at VAST and Young Life. They are also enrolled for an elective class at the local school. Graciana picked art and Banjo picked Gym. There is also a fantastic program through the parks and rec that offers kids the opportunity to learn to snow board at Hoodo. Banjo is stoked!

We are still trying to figure out the balance between working for a living and living to serve. We have nothing but we have everything and some how we make it through each day amazed and baffled at how God provides and keeps us on our way. For now, we are safe in His arms and for that we are thankful.

Here are some photo updates: