Bells And Wheels

Got a little change in my pockets going jing-o-ling-o-ling…

Two weeks in Australia with no vehicle or phone, really tested our fortitude as a family!

We landed in Brisbane late one evening, after Wallaby Creek Music Festival. We were tired, loaded with luggage and music gear, hungry and needed showers badly. Thankfully, our new friend, Zoe’s (Ladi Abundance), whom we met at the festival, welcomed us to stay in her flat in Brisbane, we just had to figure out how to get there. We checked on renting a car but found out that because of school holidays there were no cars for rent. Then we checked the shuttles but they wouldn’t drop us at her door, so that wasn’t an option, specially with all of our gear. Finally we hailed a taxi van and paid the $65 to get to the house.

12074861_10152989209836222_8878810417459657622_nOnce we arrived all of the feelings of uncertainty started to melt away as we found space to spread out and time to catch our breath. Zoe was a gracious host and her home was a fantastic little abode nestled in the bohemian and culturally diverse suburb of Brisbane’s West End.

As we laid our heads to bed that night, we contemplated the last 24hrs and though, how great it was that the person set to help us find our footing and resources happened to go by “Ladi Abundance.”

The next morning we woke, ready to tackle the tasks at hand, finding a car and phone. We sourced a rental car in the city at $40 a day. Craig took an hour bus ride to the rental car facility and picked up the car. He returned and we got busy scouring local papers and websites like Gumtree. We struggled to find a vehicle in our price range ($3500US) that would carry four passengers and a ton of music gear. Phones were just as discouraging to shop for, as most shops/websites were selling iPhones for well over our budget ($60). So we continued to search, pray and wait.

We took time to go grocery shopping, make a meal, do some laundry and caught up on wifi communications. The next morning, Zoe popped over to the house to pick something up and we asked if she knew of anyone who had a phone that they’d be willing to part with? She mentioned that her band mate, Mariel, had one and we were elated to find out that she was open to sharing it with us for exactly what our budget was!

We took the phone immediately and drove to the nearest mall to get a sim card and set up our phone. We chose Vodaphone as it was the cheapest plan at $50 for a month of unlimited calls/text to Australia and the US, plus 3GB of wifi for our maps and instagram updates. Everything seemed to be going smoothly until I called my parents in the US and the call cut out. When I returned the call I heard a message that our service needed to be upgraded because we used all of our plan. I was miffed to say the least. We just bought the card. When I returned to the shop the young lady behind the counter didn’t seem interested in helping me much. She told me to call customer service and they would take care of it. I persisted to enlist her help and she finally took my phone and called the service center herself. They said they would reset my card and it should be up and running within the next two hours. We left, ate lunch and started back to the apartment to continue our search.

IMG_5914As we drove through the city we stumbled upon a little car lot and decided to take a look. Most of the cars in the lot were to small for us but there was one minivan available for $4999 AUST, and although it was above our price range we felt like we needed to have a better look.

The owner of the shop, Geoff, came out to answer our questions. It was a 2002 Honda Odyssey, white, with about 125,000 miles on it. We took it for a spin. And as we drove, we talked about our budget and prayed again. We asked in our prayer for the price to come down to $4200 (which would round out to about $3500US).

When we came back, we let Geoff know we were interested but couldn’t afford his asking price and asked him what his bottom line was? He answered, $4200 for everything, taxes, fees, etc… We looked at each other in amazement and said we’d take it! He was delighted and said he’d get the paper work in order and to come back in the morning to pick it up. Working through the purchase was a little more complicated than we had anticipated but all in all, Geoff was a great guide and in the end, we found all of the necessary proofs of identity and residence we needed to make the final sale.

In the morning, my phone still wasn’t working and our time was short but we decided that another visit to the Vodaphone store was necessary before we left the area, as any attempts to fix the problem by calling customer service were futile. We had to pick up our new car, drop off our rental car across town and then make our way south two hours to Byron Bay for a performance. So the stop off at the store was an inconvenience to say the least.

As we were working through the logistics for the day we sensed a critical spirit trying to sneak in. Our patience was wearing thin and the process of working with a clerk who didn’t seem to care about our problem didn’t make for the most enjoyable experience. I have to say though, that once we realized that pride was trying to steal our joy, we shifted our thinking and instead of allowing the clerk to set a tone of despondence we turned our attention to what we could control, our own attitudes. It’s easy to carry a sense of thanksgiving when everything is working out, but it’s in the trials that we find out if that spirit of gratitude is real and sustainable. This was a good test for us. In the end, the clerk changed her tune, she became vested in our case and as a result we walked out with a phone that worked and a humility that brought about great joy. And, honestly, we walked out feeling a sense of connection to that young lady. Which is even more cool!

Working through logistics isn’t really much fun. We’d rather be at the beach! However, working through logistics does offer opportunity to be apart of some wonderful human interactions.

We on our way now, in the flow, and thankful for Zoe, Mariel, Geoff and the young lady who helped us a Vodaphone. We’re thankful for those who cared for us ahead of time through Modern Day, in order for us to afford a van and phone. And, we’re thankful for the way the Holy Spirit continues to delight us with goodness and traveling mercies!

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When Push Comes to Shove

Have you heard the saying that, “at the end of the day, we do what we care most about.” For us that is community. It doesn’t always come natural to be in community with others but at the end of the day, we push through to honor the “tie that binds” us all together.

When we choose to make relationship a priority over logistics we experience the miracle of community… and more problems get solved.

This past weekend we had intentions to go and spend a few days alone as a family in the Redwoods of California. We had just come off of a full Holiday season with family and friends and then, recording in Portland. We were really looking forward to the down time. And, mind you we don’t often seek “down” time. So, when the time came for our departure and the bus didn’t start, all heads sank low. We had made plans that morning to share breakfast with the Nolan family that had moved from our old stomping grounds in Wisconsin to Vancouver, WA and were very near to where we were parked. We were meant to load up and drive the bus over to their neighborhood, have breakfast and then be on our way down to sunny California via a stop over for a few gigs in Cottage Grove and Roseburg, Oregon.

OK, so shift gears, this bus is not only our home but our means of transportation and we really are not mechanically inclined. So, when something goes awry it can throw a real spanner in the works. All of our minds efforts go mush and there is a paralyzing feeling that comes over us. Add to that the overwhelming amount of logistics that we have to process each day that we travel and it’s a recipe for disaster. However, when this challenge came we decided to lay it down, set it aside and go for breakfast. It was a challenge not to worry about our issues but in the end we had a lovely visit.

We made our way in our mini-van, four hours south to Cottage Grove and Roseburg, where we stayed with strangers turned kinfolk.

Arriving back in WA, accepting the fact that we were not going to see the redwoods but rather spend the needed time fixing the bus, we dove in. Travis Nolan who we had shared that breakfast with a few days prior just happened to be a diesel mechanic in the Coast Guard for years and offered a helping hand. He and his wife, Cindy, came over at 8am and plugged right into bus life with us. We shared lunch, kept problem solving, looking at the batteries, starter, wires, etc and about 1pm Travis began scouring the manual to find a little blurb about gears. He asked Craig, “What gear is it in?” Craig went and looked, and said with a loud exclamation, “Fourth, it’s in forth!!” That was it, simple as that! The bus wouldn’t start because it was in the wrong gear. We laughed, rejoiced and laughed more. Then Cindy and I ran some errands and gathered together one last time as families to share a meal and celebrate.

We departed the next morning towards Oakland, CA via Redding. Originally we were going to miss Redding but because of our waylay this was our new route. This opened the door for us to link up with our dear old friends, the Nero’s. And, our host in Oakland, Josh Harper, called and connected us with his parents who live in Redding for a late night coffee. We pulled into Redding after a 8 hour drive and found that our electrical was out of order, so in the same vain we had a decision to make. Craig pulled a few bold moves and fixed up the electrical, woofed down his meal and off we went. The door to the Harper home opened and we immediately felt like we were with family. We settled in for a few hours and shared precious time with these kind folks. This morning we were able to connect for breakfast at the Cottonwood Eatery with the Lori and John and share stories and encouragement.

Had we decided that previous Saturday morning when the bus wouldn’t start that we were going to make fixing it the priority things may have turned out similar but I’m not sure we would have experienced the joy of community. The joy of sharing in one accord and problem solving together. In that 72 hour period we had the opportunity to connect with multiple folks on all sorts of levels, all the while getting things done. This choice to keep relationship on the for front allowed for the gifts to flow and for faith to rise up! And for that we are most grateful.

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