Bendigo-go

BendigoBendigo. One of our favorite stops on our tour in Australia hands down! In fact, if it had been located nearer the beach, we might have just stayed there and never come home.

It’s a major regional city with a population of about 100K and growing. It sits 2 hours just northwest of Melbourne. The original land owners are the Jaara people and in the 1880’s it was the hub for the gold rush. Bendigo has loads of cycling and walking trails, parklands and nature reserves. It is also the home of a La Trobe University and so the city has a youthful, artsy, festive vibe with plenty of little boutiques, cafes, and art exhibits. 

Our host family, The Vincents, have lived in Bendigo for about 5 years and are actively involved in creating connection through the arts and faith. They live common purse in a sort of Monastic community called Cornerstone. The community began 40 years ago and functions as a wonderful training ground for those interested in learning and participating in “Intentional Community.” You can learn more about Cornerstone here.

Cornerstone Community Bendigo VIC AUWe met the Vincent’s at Surrender Conference a few weeks prior. We were performing in the Salvos tent and out of the corner of my eye I saw a beautiful dark-haired woman waltz over. She stood on the edge of the tent for a bit, smiling at us and swaying to the music. Our eyes met and I knew we’d be friends. Later, I approached her and introduced myself and my family. We each shared a quick version of our story with the intention of connecting again. On the last night of the festival we caught up and she invited our family to her home in Bendigo.

We arrived to the Vincent’s darling Victorian home on the last leg of our trip. We were pretty weary by this point but excited to hear about this families commitment to community, faith and the arts. They welcomed us with one of the best hand made meals we’d had in three months.

Cornerstone Community Bendigo VIC AUDuring dinner a conversation about heritage ensued and we learned that Rose was half Mexican. We were so surprised to hear this as Australia is quite void of the Mexican culture. And, to tell you the truth, besides family, friends and our bus, it was the thing we missed most while overseas. Hearing her mother (Mexican) and fathers (Australian) love story was inspiring and although, they have lived in Australia for the last 40 years or so, we could still sense the cultural impact of her Mexican heritage.

The Old Church on the HIll Bendigo VIC AUOur day was filled with thrifting or going to Op Shops (opportunity shops) as they are called in Australia and in the evening we performed our final farewell show at The Old Church on the Hill. The former Uniting church was purchased and donated to Cornerstone Community and they use the building as a sort of community center. They host a Yarn club, and let me tell you, those folks know how to knit! In fact, they are currently in the process of creating a “Yarn Bomb” for a tram that runs through out the city. That’s a big endeavor! They also host Hip Hop dance classes, karate classes, and have a thrift store on site. They are in the process of putting together a community garden and are host to many events, including concerts.

The Old Church on The HIll Bendigo, VIC, AU After traveling over 3,000 km through out Victoria and New South Wales, performing in 35 venues over a three month period, this was the perfect last show for our family. What a joy to sing in this old historic building, that had been shown so much love by the community, to a handful of listening and attentive ears.

We invited the young Wilis, a fellow folkie muso, to delight us with a few of his beautiful  pieces. And, during our set he and his band mate, Marshall, joined us on the last song, Wayfaring Stranger.

A fitting chorus for our final song in Australia.

I’m going home to see my Saviour
I’m going home no more to roam
I’m just going over Jordan
I’m just going over home.

Until next time friends. We’ll be seeing you.

 

 

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Child of the Humble Sod

Hope thru ArtWe arrived in Phoenix on Thursday and jumped right into life with our friends at Kineo Community. We met Kineo through our dear friend, the late, Steve Malakowsky with Hope thru Art. This is our third visit to Kineo.

They are located on a large block in Central Phoenix between a mostly low-income Hispanic neighborhood and college students at Grand Canyon University.

Kineo has a heart for the broken hearted and use their time, possessions and talents to nurture relationships. They are committed to exploring ways to live in intentional community, caring for each other and for their neighborhood. One of those ways is to use their property as a gathering space. They are also in the embryo stages of planning an urban farm and we are excited to partner with them for the next five weeks. We are looking forward to getting our hands dirty but mostly for opportunities to encourage and offering a healing presence; to share the joys and woes of real life with our brothers and sisters here on the ground in this hot, tough soil.

TillingOur first weekend we literaly “tilled” the soil and laid sod. We cared for the little ones in the neighborhood and community by offering art, dance, games and music while the adults and older kids worked hard. Our friends, the Huff family, joined in the fun. We meet them in Omaha, NE two ago and recently they gave all they had away and began traveling and serving communities. They just happened to be in Phoenix at the same time and came over to help out.

Kineo has graciously offered us the space and freedom to serve along side of them. Five weeks are a long time for a community to care for us and so, we would like to invite our friends from around the country to partner with us by offering a tax-deductible donation towards our efforts here on the ground. We are specifically hoping to purchase art supplies, offer meals, and building supplies for the many project that they have, including building a chicken coop, paint, decking, and wood for the raised gardens beds.

Donations can be made at MODERN DAY. https://giving.modernday.org/client/index.php 

Thank you for caring for us so that we can care for others.

Intentional Community

It does exist, on a real and organized level and for that we are thankful, however this last month of travels has been so different from those before and we are beginning to see intentional community in a different light. We have talked much about “Hidden Community” and this last month was a real testament to that idea.

To be learners and move into the beauty and mystery of those we are deeply connected to, to participate in relationship, without fear of condemnation or judgement, without expectation for return but with open hearts and minds, this is our definition of being intentional about community.

Over the last month we only had two stops in driveway’s, otherwise we were in RV, State and National Parks. It was lovely to experience the nature and quiet time, but there was also a perceived sense of  loneliness that came over us. However, as we look back on the month we begin to see this amazing tapestry of community, and although our time with each was short, over the whole, it was intense and we now see that our perception of loneliness was off. Maybe it was something else we were sensing, maybe it was just the uneasiness of moving into a new chapter.

This month we met and fell in love with the Jessup family, who opened up their home and lives to us on a Sunny Kentucky Wednesday. We shared engaging conversation over a bon fire with Ben and Marlena at Mammoth Cave National Park. We journeyed down to Nashville, where we neighbored with Lynette and Emily, had lunch with the lovely Thompson family, enjoyed Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream with Aaron Wilson, dinner and deep thoughts with Aimee Wilson, a rollicking night of music with the Insomniac Folklore crew. We also went to a potluck and jam at Sulpher Creek Organic Farms where a whole fantastic crew of  fellow ‘Cornerstoners’ converged, we had late night prayer with Laurel Heiss and Lauryn Peacock. We shared time with the Price family during our bus break down in Chattanooga. We shared a meal with Dustin and Marcia Price in the oldest farmhouse in Buncombe County.  In Lexington, Kentucky, we broke bread with the Gladding family, celebrated Banjo’s 12th birthday with the Brown family. We helped the Salmon’s with a little remodeling project and last night we played Viking Kubbs and shared a meal with the Crowley’s in Dayton, OH.

When we put it all together in writing we see, with greater perspective, the faithfulness of a creator with a fantastic knack for restoration and connection. We see that we are not alone and we look joyward to more opportunities to learn and move in the beauty and vastness of community.