Folklife Family Expedition

Folklife; is the accumulated traditions practiced or appreciated by members of a group who share a common history or way of life. A group’s traditions may include a wide range of skills and knowledge, from customs and belief to stories and songs, from music and dance to crafts and other decorative handmade objects. Generally, traditions are learned informally and passed on from one person in the group to the next, often orally, by imitation, or in performance.

Expedition; a journey or voyage undertaken by a  group of people with a particular purpose.

Family: We are a Mother, Father, Sister and Brother, bound by blood and vision to travel about this earth, spreading a message of reconciliation and connectivity through LOVE. We make our way sharing the gifts and talents given us; Music, Craftsmanship, Mentor-ship and Instruction, Merrymaking and Community building. We believe the opportunity for creativity in any culture engages humanity in the act of being human, offering dignity to both the creator and created. We see music and art as universal languages. They are tools that can bridge cultural gaps and offer opportunities to bring about peace. Using these tools, our desire is to connect with those we find along the way and encourage community and growth in relationship.

Here we go! A few months ago, when we ditched the bus in Alburqueque, New Mexico and put out a request to visit kinfolk in Southeast Asia, we couldn’t have imagined the way that our routing would be orchestrated. Of course, each day will be up to the good Lord, but we have a basic route to follow. We will travel light, with one small backpack and one instrument each, allowing for ease of load and plenty of opportunity to share story and song. We’ll be eyes wide open during this 9 week expedition, seeing sites, exploring the land and learning about the history in the places we go, but our main focus will be on learning from a local level about life through the eyes of our hosts. Our hope is to offer encouragement, share traditions and be able to come home with inspiration and stories of real people¬†who are living lives of sacrifice, actively¬†loving and caring for their neighbors and making a difference in a time such as this!

Nov 18 we fly to Manila Philippines, where we’ll come alongside KIDSIM, a far-reaching organization with various programs that cater to those most in need of food, shelter, education, and medical attention.

From there we fly to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We will follow the routing in the photo above and will be connecting with a variety of hosts and communities along our way. Jan 12 we head to Singapore and then back to Australia until further notice.

Practically, our trip will be funded by the savings that we have made from our intense two month tour in Australia and a small handful of amazing friends and family who have faithfully given financially through our Modern Day fund. However, many have asked how they can help and we do actually have a few needs. One of the things we are finding is that many of our hosts do not have room to accommodate us, so the need for our lodging funds has increased. Also, we’ve just found out about added unforeseen visa costs and have been warned about bribes at border crossings. And, of course, we’d love to be able to share what we have with our hosts, so any extra will go straight from our hands to theirs.

And so, as you are rounding out your giving for 2015, we’d be so encouraged if you’d commit to¬†care for us over the next bit of time, so that we can care for others. If you would like to become one of our patrons you can do so by visiting MODERN DAY. It’s easy, tax deductible and if you’d like to¬†set up an on going monthly giving cycle, that’s an option too.

We can’t wait to share this adventure with you all and are profoundly moved every time we see God’s hand in our lives. We are so thankful for all of your encouragement, prayers and for trusting us with your gifts. This wouldn’t be possible without amazing grace and covenant community, so be blessed and know that you are loved!

 

Ditch The Bus

Yep, you read right, we’re ditching the bus. Well, at least for a little while, or maybe longer, ¬†who knows.

It all started when we decided to book another music tour to Australia. While¬†in the planning stages we had lots of conversations as a family about all we’ve learned in the past four years about ourselves and our creator through full-time travel. We recognized that our family is built to come alongside and¬†encourage. We also realized that we are “learners” and we thrive¬†when our theology and understanding of the world is rocked to the core and deconstructed.¬†And, boy have we been rocked!

And so, over the past few months of conversations we’ve started feeling a stirring in our souls. That same longing that first invoked us to dream and take the leap of faith, giving our possessions away and hitting the road began to roar and we began to ask, was there something more?

Over the past two years we have been meeting and nurturing relationships with people ¬†from all over the world but mostly in Southeast Asia and those interactions inspired conversation about potential visits. And, so as we were planning our very practical musical tour, we found that the question of how long we would stay over and when we would return was open for debate. And so, we did what we alway do when we don’t have the full picture, we moved forward.

We bought a one way ticket!

I mean, why not, we already live gas tank to gas tank, what’s the difference if it’s a bus tank or an airplane, train or van tank that need filling.

As soon as we bought that one way ticket, we knew we were entering a new chapter in our journey of faith, community and creativity.

Photo by Kara Counard; Bloom Photography
Photo by Kara Counard; Bloom Photography

We don’t know how long or exactly where the road, sky or water will take us but we do have a light outline.

We will be flying out of Albuquerque Sept 15 and landing in Melbourne Australia the morning of Sept 17. We will stay for a week in Melbourne before flying up to Cairns for the Wallaby Creek Music Festival. From there we will fly down to Brisbane where we will try to source a vehicle (preferably a small bus or van) that we will travel/tour up and down the east coast in until November. (tour dates at http://www.thehollands.org)

November 18, we will fly to Manilla, Philippines where we will come alongside our friends the Hommels and learn/serve at JAZ Home, a¬†residential home for young girls, offering solace and security in a hostile world. From there we will visit¬†with filmmaker and musician, Tinh¬†Mahoney in Vietnam to see life through his eyes, learning about a school he founded in his hometown and playing music. And, by early December we’ll be in Cambodia where we will connect¬†with our friend Craig Greenfield at Alongsiders International and¬†participate in a roundtable discussion on The Heart of God for Justice and our response through ¬†Worship.¬†We are also in early conversations with folks about possible visit to Indonesia and Thailand.

Jan 5, we know we’ll be flying back to Australia for another two month music tour, and from there we are open to possibilities continuing on in Australia or heading north again to Southeast Asia or going even further up into China or west towards India. We also have aspirations to connect with kinfolk in Europe. So, we’ll be waiting to see it all unfold as you are.

So, stay tuned! And if you feel inclined you can partner with us at MODERN DAY.

Summer Camp

Camp TekakwithaCamp Tekakwitha

Bus ConversionEvery summer, for the past few years, we’ve volunteered for one week at Camp Tek in Shawano, WI. ¬†Our friend and fellow bandmate, Eric Blumreich is the director at the camp. We met Eric and his family while our kids attended St. Matthews Catholic School in Green Bay, WI. We became fast friends with our love of music, laughter and over all good vibes. Eric recorded bass on our 2011 album Ashes to Beauty and over the years we have camped together, celebrated the 4th of July, and enjoyed countless meals together. So, volunteering for a week, was really sweetened as the idea of spending a week with the Blumreich clan was always a¬†welcomed experience.

Last summer, during our week at camp we felt an inkling that next summer we’d like to explore what it would look like for us to volunteer all nine weeks. The conversations about that possibility were lively and exciting as the idea tapped into everyone’s desires to be in one spot for a longer stay. A desire for a place that would allow time to try our hands at new things including¬†craftsmanship, mentoring, and of course, time to rest before our next tour.

As the year progressed, we solidified our plans and after a four-month tour in Australia and a trek across the US we began moving in the general directions of Wisconsin. We purposely booked only 6 premier shows for the summer so that we could really focus on our time at the camp. However, as we came closer to our visit, we were a little apprehensive about our plan to volunteer all summer, giving up our main source of income. We were anxious and we wondered how our daily needs would be cared for. And then, a few months before we arrived, Eric offered me a part-time position as a cook in the kitchen, which was our first sign that God was working things out.  We also had a few unexpected gifts via our Modern Day Missions fund and of course, the six shows offered enough to get us through. One day at a time, just what we need, when we need it. That has been a consistent theme for almost three years. Not sure why we seem to always forget but as we approach other unknown season, we will hopefully look back and remember and in doing so be an encouragement to others.

Camp TekakwithaOne young counselor asked me what I personally learned by being at Camp all summer. I had to think about it for a minute, the leading of song, connecting with staff, campers and overall support was familiar but being on staff part-time in the kitchen was a curious experience for me. I haven’t been in a roll where what I had to say or how I felt wasn’t necessarily an important part of conversation, rather my role was as a cook, preparing food, cleaning, organizing, and making sure things ran smoothly in the kitchen so that the campers had a good time at camp. Although my bosses were quality, it was a humbling experience the first few weeks, re-learning what finding harmony in an environment even when things were out of my control meant. I learned that harmony is squelched when we aren’t willing to see the impact we have on others. And, that harmony only comes when we lay down our pride and lift others up. It would be easy to spout off ideals and beliefs about building community and reconciliation as we travel and be disconnected from the realities of the daily grind. But, being at camp in that kitchen brought me down to earth and thrust me into a situation that I probably wouldn’t have chosen had I known the lackluster of it all. It’s through these uncomfortable experiences that our true colors come out and we find out if we practice what we preach. For me, this nine weeks was a blessing. It was filled with moments of deep observation, quietness and most of all the people who worked alongside me will forever be precious in my mind.

As for an overall picture, what did nine weeks at Camp Tek look like for the rest of team Holland? It looked like our teenagers engaging on a daily basis with peers, working out attitudes, faith and beliefs. Camp provided Graciana with her first consistent paycheck, as she worked full-time in the kitchen as an aid.  It was a summer of making camp friends, managing time and responsibilities, learning lessons about money and time management, and finishing up her finals towards high school graduation. For Banjo, it was pure bliss. He was engaged daily with the campers, whether he was an official camper or not, he was fully into every week, playing hard and making friends.

Camp TekakwithaCraig volunteered all of his time and talents at Camp and used his hands and creative building skills to enhance the grounds. He remodeled and organized the maintenance workshop, building storage sheds, walking paths, and team building games on the grounds. He was often seen rolling around on the lawn mower and eventually became Lawn Mower Man. One a side note, he used this summer to grow out his hair, needless to say not much sprouted¬†and thus ensued the mourning process of an age gone by. Although, he did really try to rock that side hair. Who knows, maybe he’ll keep it and start a new wave of fashion.

Summer Camp was nine weeks of beautiful weather, getting to some of our unfinished projects, re-evaluating our families vision and desires, connecting with young people, mentoring and building up the body through worship, it was a time of reflection on all that has transpired over the past year. It was beautiful sunsets on Loon lake, camp fires, silly camp songs, swimming, Ga-ga Ball, cooking for hundreds of kids, participating as a team in the kitchen and sharing quality time with the Blumreich’s and the Saladars. It looked exactly how it was meant to look. Summer of 2014 we be one we all will remember.

Dream Talk 2014

…But when desire cometh, it is a tree of life!

We were able to travel over 17,000 miles, repair the brakes on our bus, create a new album, start a new way of home school (road school), welcomed travelers on the bus, begin the healing process from Skin Cancer, and learned so many wonderful things from experts and laymen alike. We were graciously welcomed into over 40 communities and homes through out the USA, all open to hearing our message of reconciliation and restoration, sharing our gifts of music, craftsmanship, mentorship, merrymaking and community building. 

Dream Talk for 2014.

These are all tentative plans and dreams. Your prayers and well wishes are so appreciated as we move forward.

Jan-April;  AUSTRALIA, excited to see what adventures wait for us down under.

April-June; 

-A young friend, Greg, has graduated from University and is looking for an opportunity to serve, play music and seek mentorship. He has asked to ride the bus.

-We hope to serve again, alongside Hope in Transit in Show Low, AZ and East Central Ministries, in Albuquerque, NM

РWe hope to connect with communities in Austin TX, Hot Springs AR, Memphis and Nashville TN, St. Louis MO and Mt. Vernon IA, and anywhere in between.

June/July/Aug,  We made a commitment to volunteer at a Catholic youth camp in Shawano, WI June and July. We will be helping with maintenance, mentoring counselors, bonfire jam sessions once a week with the campers and working in the kitchen.

Sept-Dec, We¬†are looking for a community that is open to caring for us for a season. Our hope is to rest, create, record a new album, and prepare for 2015 where we hope to nurture verbal invitations to Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia, Philippines, Israel, Germany and Italy. We’re delighted to go where ever the doors open and are actively pursuing what it might look like to serve globally.

Will you consider helping us on our way in 2014? 

We have partnered with Modern Day Missions and hope that you find the giving process safe and efficient.

Please visit Modern Day to set up your tax-deductible giving account TODAY. 

 

 

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.

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