Asheville Insider

10407423_10100338304337696_7181686143079004780_nWe met Dustin and Marcia Price two years ago when we showcased at the Southeastern Folk Alliance conference and kept in touch with them over the years. When they heard we were coming back through Asheville, they invited us to come and park in their flat driveway in Candler, a suburb just west of downtown Asheville. I say flat, because, it’s probably the only flat driveway in the Asheville area, which sits in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Their new home is positioned perfectly and allows for breathtaking views that overlook downtown and the surrounding mountain range.

IMG_1954We pulled in on a sunny afternoon, settled in and shared a meal and story that evening. We learned about their five year adventure in China and the transition back to the US. We learned about “group culture vs individual culture,” as well as, testimony about faith in China. It was inspiring to sit with them and learn, hear their story of meeting in college, while Marcia was over from Brazil, taking visa’s, house remodel, and their excitement as they were preparing for the arrival of their new baby, Esther.

One of the best thing about staying with a host family is being able to jump into life with them, exploring their tastes, likes and dislikes. And, with a sunny day on our hands, the first order of business with the Prices was to take a drive in the convertible. They decide to trek down to the new outdoor outlet mall for the grand opening. As we pulled in, the long line of cars & police directing traffic fostered a sense of excitement for this segment of the local population. We hoped on board and rode the wave, enjoying an afternoon sitting in the outdoor plaza watching people walk by, checking out the Asheville flare.

On Saturday morning the fella’s joined Dustin and did a bit of yard work while I worked on a blog. In the afternoon, we all went downtown Asheville to explore Lexington Street. Graciana and I stopped in to have tea at Dobra, enjoying a refreshing house made chai and some sweets. That evening we shared dinner, more conversation and later the fella’s went to a friends house to watch the Mayweather vs Pacquiao fight. Craig and his handle bar mustache fit right in, as most of the fella’s there were sporting their mountain beards. All in all, it was a night of men being men.

IMG_1964On Sunday we went to church with the Prices and a few of their friends and after shared a meal at a local favorite, Rocky’s Hot Chicken shack. The menu featured Chicken and Waffles with different levels of heat intensity. At face value, we’re foodies and especially focused on organics, so the Chicken Shack wouldn’t have been something we would have though to stop at. However, the joy of someone else taking you through their list of best eats is more adventures to us than sticking with our comfort zone. And, as it turns out, we we’re all pretty smitten with Chicken and Waffles. The combination of sweet and super spicy really worked.

IMG_2066Another fun adventure, was a night out at the Biltmore. At $40 a ticket we could have never afforded to enter the grounds of this robber baron castle, but the Prices had a membership that allowed us to go onto the grounds and enjoy a wine tasting in the Winery that sits down the hill from the house. We spent about an hour and a half tasting the Biltmore wines, which were average but the conversation and joy of being with friends was priceless. Later we explored some of gardens and grounds, catching a back view of the castle and snapping a few photos. We finished off the night at Pour, a local bar on the up and coming east side of Asheville. The bar was unique in that it had over 80 beers and 12 wines on tap, we each got a wrist band with a fancy computer chip that allowed us to fill our glasses as much as we wanted with any of the beers or wines on tap. The computer chip calculated our total ounces and payment was taken at the end.

Our hope as we travel is to experience local like and neighboring with the Price’s offered us a wonderful chance to explore Asheville!  It is the little nuances and insider knowledge that is priceless to us, as well as, the joy of being in community, unshackling from bias and allowing for a deeper flow of relationship to transpire. We are so thankful for kinfolk like the Prices who allow us to come into their world, try new things and be inspired by their zest for life.

Advertisements

Borders and Wide Open Spaces

Tillers and TravelersThe pilgrimage is sometimes just as exciting as the destination and the trek down to West Texas proved so, both for our hearts and our minds eye. First off we didn’t expect to see mountainous formations, and then there was the fine artisan world that we stumbled upon, specially when we hit Marfa, TX.  We had heard about Marfa from Dony Wynn, a fellow muso from Austin TX. He had mentioned that it’s an oasis of artists and creative types and we’d probably really like it. At the same time, we heard about Big Bend National Park and all it’s glory from fellow travelers, the Herd of Turtles. So, we decided to combine the two and make a few days of it.

Tumble Inn Marfa TXWe set up camp at the Tumble Inn for $40 a night which included elec/water, showers, laundry and a sweet little picnic table. The RV park was a half a mile from Marfa’s city center and about an hour and a half from the top of Big Bend.

The fella’s planned on going down early and spending all day exploring the massive park, hiking, dipping their toes into the Rio Grand and taking pictures, while us girls stayed in Marfa and explored the little artsy town on our bicycles. 

The guys day trip to Big Bend included a run down Hwy 67 through Ojinage, through Big Bend Ranch State Park, along the Rio Grande, where the fella’s may or may not have crossed the border. 🙂 Then they drove further into Big Bend National Park to the Santa Elena Canyon Trail where they hiked to the look out. From there they drove north through the park and back up to Marfa on Hwy 385. They left at 6am and were home for dinner at 7pm. All up the trip was approxomently 300 miles. 

Our girls day was pretty chill. We didn’t have a big agenda and spent the morning relaxing in our bus at the Tumble Inn. We rode bikes into town for lunch at a little cafe called Squeeze. Then we rode around the neighborhoods dreaming about what it must be like to live in Marfa year round and decided that the lack of water was too much for our dry bones. We rode out to the Chinati Foundation to see 1970s, minimalist artist Donald Judd’s work, where he created giant works of art that bask beneath the vast desert skies. He’s noted as the artist that put Marfa on the map for the world of arts. 

Marfa is an interesting place and the little town seemed to have two streams of consciousness. We did find that the artsy, public radio, creative folks in Marfa. However, it is also home to Fort D.A. Russel (Border Control station) and is responsible for 68 border miles between the U.S. and Mexico. The presence of Border Control was very noticeable and for some reason invoked a feeling of uneasiness in us as we peddled around the town. 

At the same time we were absorbing the juxtaposition in town, the fella’s on their way home from Big Bend, were stopped at a mandatory but temporary Border Control station. They were directed to get out and allow the van to be searched. The officer told them that they were being searched because their dog sensed that they had drugs. Of course, they didn’t. Our 12 yr old was taken aback by the whole situation and bummed to find that the search dog broke his i-pad case.

When they returned and shared the story, I began to think about freedom and about the feeling of freedom.  It’s easy in these moments to take our past and present experiences, mixed with political rhetoric, a pinch of pride and become cynical. 

In an effort to stay balanced I began to think about the big picture of it all, I began to remember the pilgrimage. We are all on a pilgrimage physically and spiritually and for some it truly is just as enthralling as the destination. But, for some the pilgrimage is long and the destination is the only hope.

20140520-163905.jpgThere is perspective to be found in those wide open spaces of West Texas. Looking for clarity, I see that cynicism and pride are joy stealers and the willingness to starve them will lead to compassion. Compassion is the heart of the greatest sacrifice in history and that sacrifice offers freedom. Now, hear me, I’m talking about real freedom. Freedom to love and freedom to be loved. The idea that there are people on either side of a border and that the border keeps them from really being neighbors is a reality on this earth. However, it is a difficult concept to grapple with if you are a person who longs for a reconciled world. It requires patience towards the persons on either side of the border. It requires an openness to bleed for both sides. And, most of all, a hope that the pilgrimage will lead to the destination of peace.

 

 

Neighbors in New Mexico

20130305-104244.jpgWe have been in New Mexico for three weeks, one of our longer stop overs. We are parked in the cul de sac neighborhood of North Foothills. Our hosts, the Burtons, connected us with the Mulder’s, their next door neighbors and they allowed us to park in their “flat” driveway. The Burton’s have six  children and the Mulder’s have four, they both home school and have been such gracious hosts.

We have a brief history with the Burtons via our time at a community in Chicago. There is something connective about living with others that binds us together with others who have also lived there, even if our connection at the time of living in community was limited. I suppose it’s what folks who have been in the military or a sorority/fraternity might feel when they meet someone along the way who was in the same one. It’s a familiar feeling, yes, it feels like being with family. While with the Burtons we celebrated birthdays, had dinner parties, went hiking and enjoyed everyday life. I had the opportunity to cook for the whole clan most nights, which was a real joy for me. We shared homeschool stories and duties, (Craig taught math to the kids, David taught Mountain Biking, Sofjia taught English, and I taught Art). Sofija writes a blog and interviewed us about our journey homeschooling on the road. You can read that at “Teach Where You Live”

While in town, we also connected with a few other kinfolk. My dear friend, Holly and her family moved to Albuquerque a few years back and we enjoyed renewed friendship and encouragement. We had fun working out at Hot Yoga, dining at a hibachi grill, and working on a project at her house, building a fence for her dogs. It was so good to see her. Also, we connected with another close family, the Grovers, who moved to Albuquerque about 9 months ago to care for aging parents. Brian Grover is a mate of Craig’s and used to play music with him back in the old Ballydowse days. We performed in Albuquerque and Brian joined us for that show on Bass.

Cornville Mission and Food Bank

“If Food is Love, then the Sermon’s in the Soup!” Cornville Mission Motto

The Roeller's
The Roeller’s

Greg and Debby Roeller spent more than half their lives serving in the church. Burnt out and tired they resigned, moved to the country and started to seek a slower pace. They thought they would find little jobs at local gas stations and live out the rest of lives quietly in the small town of Cornville, AZ. However, God is faithful and the ultimate reviver, giving purpose and strength to those who have none left. A few years ago the Roeller’s found their slower pace by taking on the directorship of the Cornville Mission and Food Bank.

They are perfectly suited for this roll and it was encouraging to hear their story. They are open, eager, persaverant and think out of the box. These gifts allow them to see past the cultural standards and reach deeper into community. Not only do they have a heart to see the church involved and connected but they also work to build relationships with the local schools, their neighbors, the fire station across the street and the local winery’s at the end of the block. Faith has been showered upon them and they told stories of poverty and food/donations showing up right on time. And, of town’s folk protesting their efforts to care for the downtrodden and then later finding themselves serving right along side the Roeller’s.

B20130212-080505.jpg

They live in community with the residence’s in the Cornville Mission apartments, including one of the Greg and Debby’s daughters, son-in-law and grand children. We also, met Ben one of their kinfolk, a wandering soul from Flordia, practicing the Lakota way. Ben was a beautiful fella, and with the encouragement of the Roeller’s is settling in and trying his hand as making and selling art in his trading post, at the mission.  Then there was Jacque, a peculiar and fun older fella from Boston. Jacque is the grounds keeper and right hand man. He lives on site in his trailer in the back of the food bank. We met others briefly and could feel the family tie. We were delighted to be their neighbors if only for a moment and look forward to being with them again.

If you would like more information about how to support the Cornville Mission please visit h4hh.org

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Real Raiders

Love Your EnemiesThe idea of visiting Oakland, CA. really wasn’t on our radar, however after a brief shout out on a group forum via Facebook we found a welcoming host, Josh Harper excited to have us come to his New Hope community.

Oakland, isn’t that the city we always hear about in crime reports? Highest murder rates per capita, gangs, drugs, sex trafficking, homelessness, orphans, violence, immigrants, and extreme poverty. I mean, who just goes to Oakland? And yet, as we learned from our visit, there are a handful of highly educated, doctors, lawyers, nurses, social workers and teachers that have moved purposefully from their exterior, safe, comfortable lives into this dynamic and dangerous neighborhood. They have moved here intentionally to live in community with one another and with those they feel called to engage, inspire, and protect. These saints are the crux of our story about Oakland. These saints are the “Real Raiders.”

Celu'havenThere is something intriguing that happens when we pull our big ol bus into a tight city block, it takes all of the neighbors efforts to make it happen. This means, that all of the normal ‘hello’s and get to know ya’s” have to take a back seat, because there is problem solving to do. And, so when we finally settled into our little nest of a driveway (let’s just say we had about 6 inches on each side to spare) we were already fast friends with our host family, the Bekaert’s. They are precious people who just returned from four years in Guatemala. Nic, a frenchman and social worker, and his wife Mo, a nurse, Layla and Gabriel. Prior to Guatemala, The Bekaert’s lived in the New Hope community for about 15 years and are considered “pillars” of their community. They are wise beyond their years, they are generous and they are kind.

The Bekaert's The Harpers

Along with the Bekaert’s welcome, was the fella we had been corresponding with via the world wide web, Josh Harper. Josh is the ultimate host. He is an organized, highly social visionary and his wheels are always spinning. He’s the husband of Marjie and the father of Lucy ad Beatrice. He’s also the National Coordinator of Urban Projects for a group called InterVarsity. However, you would never know that he’s the “big dog” as his focus is often on listening and meeting others needs. If not for his willingness to hear, we probably would not have connected in the deep way that we did. There are kinfolk and then there are “Kinfolk.”  The Harpers are “Kinfolk.”

Josh knew exactly how to plug us into his community. In the five solid days that we were with them, we shared a movement and song class with the pre-school that New Hope runs, and we offered a workshop for third-fifth graders on “Sound scape.” We also performed a house concert and shared our gifts of music on Sunday morning at Sacred Space. We enjoyed meals within the community, enjoyed encouraging and rich conversation and learned much about the history of New Hope’s vision to care for the “poor, orphans and aliens” by living and engage in an area where there are obvious consequences. Sometimes in life we feel stuck in the place where we are at. Here, in Oakland, with the New Hope Community, it felt quite the opposite. It felt vibrant and purposeful.

On our final full day together we shared an intimate moment where everything about why and what made sense. Sunday morning, we gathered to worship in unity. The morning started out with prayers. Specific prayers for this community, this neighborhood. It was tender to hear prayers for individual teachers from the local school, for specific people enslaved by poverty and hopelessness, for International Blvd. which borders the neighborhood and is where much of the sex trafficking in Oakland takes place. Their were prayers for specific neighbors, for local government, for peace to come over their neighborhood and for unity. It was deep, meaningful and reflective. During that prayer time, it all made sense, why 60 or so educated folks would move into this neighborhood, why they would risk safety and give us monetary gain. If not for their purposeful decision to engage, their prayers would have been second hand. Their is nothing wrong with praying for communities far off, but there is something profound about living out the message of reconciliation in and with those you pray for. To see the gospel manifested in a way where the sacrifice was apparent, humble and in it for the long haul. That inspires us! And, we look joyward to more times with these “Kinfolk.”