Infusing Community

Community. We talk a lot about the subject, calling ourselves Community architects, builders, and encouragers. We take great delight being apart of and watching humanity weave together naturally. We love to see unity and harmony among our fellow-man. Practically though, people ask, how do we do that? There are all sorts of programs out there on building community, from creating small groups (cell groups), joining clubs, to hosting regular gatherings. We appreciate them all, but our favorite way of encouraging the coming together of folks is to offer our musical gifts in a house concert setting. It is here that the host sets the tone of openness by taking a risk and doing something out of the norm. Neighbors and friends from all walks of life gather, enjoy food, drink, conversation and song.

Recently, we were parked with the Heikkila/Hansen families just outside of Austin, TX. They are two beautiful families, linked by a brother and sister relationship, who are united in lifestyle and situated on the same property. They share life with one another on a daily basis. And, although they have a desire to connect with surrounding neighbors, they haven’t known how to go about starting that process.  Our arrival and offer to do a concert in their backyard got their wheels turning. After a little explanation of how the night moves, they felt comfortable and began to put the word out to friends and neighbors. The night brought together kinfolk from all walks of life and the result was an infusion of encouragement and just a little bit stronger bond of understanding and commitment in the neighborhood.

We love twinkle lights, we love playing music together, we love good food and drink but most of all we love seeing people connect and engage. That’s the spice of life for us Hollands! That’s why we call ourselves merrymakers and that is why we do what we do.

If you would like us to come and play in your backyard, we’d be delighted.

 

All of the amazing photos were taken by Van Teodosio.

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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.

 

 

When in Roswell

20140520-144206.jpgWe stopped for a night in Roswell, NM to see what all of the alien hoop-la was about. We visited the International UFO Museum and Research Center, which is a museum that provides information about the 1947 Roswell Incident, as well as other phenomenon’s relating to UFO’s.  Other than a few faux reenactment exhibits, the museum was mostly papers and photos on story board. Sort of reminded us of a middle school science fair from the 1970’s.

My favorite exhibit was reproduced from TOP SECRET/MAJIC by permission of Mr. Stanton Friedman, titled “Why cover-up the Mountain of UFO data?” The answers varied from rule number one for security, ‘that you can’t tell your friends anything without also telling your enemies. Opening files would give competitors access to the new technology.’ To theories that suggest that the acceptance of aliens would ultimately push for a new view of ourselves. Instead of thinking… American, Canadian, Chinese, French etc… we would start to think of ourselves as earthlings and no government wants it citizens to owe their allegiance to the planet instead of a nation.’ Fascinating to think about but a little steep at $5 a person. However, when in Roswell…

Bottomless Lake State Park SunsetAfter an hour in the museum, we were looking for more to do. It was about 98 degrees so finding water was pretty high on the list. We looked up watering holes and found the Bottomless Lakes State Park just 10 miles down the road. The unique lakes at this park are sinkholes, ranging from 17 to 90 feet deep. The water was salty and reminiscent of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. There were fun hiking trails everywhere and the sunset was spectacular off the bathhouse.

We’ll remember this stop for next time around, as the rate for full hook ups was only $18 a night as opposed to our $50 a night at the local RV park.  

Bottomless Lake State Park

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.

 

 

Yackandandah Folk Festival

Yachandandah Folk FestivalAustralians do folk festivals really well. They are organized but laid back, welcoming and most of all very festive! Except for a few large commercial events, the folk festivals are grass-roots, usually hosted by a town council or group of people and lots of volunteers in a town with a common desire to enrich culture and community in their rural area.

Yachandandah Folk FestivalIt was an honor to have played the Yackandandah Folk Festival and to be included in the unity that this vibrant and creative community works towards. We had three performances over the weekend, each in their unique space. It was a good learning experience for us all to take into considerations the mood, lighting and vibe of each space and offered the audience three similar but very different performances.

One of our favorite things about festivals is that they offer us a chance to connect with other muso’s out there touring like we do. And, at Yackandandah we finally got to meet our friends The April Maze after years and years of internet friendship. What a joy to hear their journey coming together as a couple and as musicians, and their performance was breathtaking.  We meet another US traveling family/band called the Alaskan String Band, and talked shop about buses, home school and serving. There was also a fantastic youth tent with bands from around the region, one of which our son admired called The Hounds Homebound from Yackandandah. And, our favorite new find was the Good Lovelies from Canada. Their harmonies were like silk, just beautiful and reminded us of The Andrews Sisters.

A highlight was connecting with our mates, The Beez (from Berlin), who we met at the Burke and Wills festival a few years back. Thanks to our gracious host family, Fiona and Ken Jones, we enjoyed an evening meal and “after party” of jamming and sharing road warrior stories.

The Beez (From Berlin)

Hope to see you next time around YACK!

 

The Australian Alps

Mount Buffalo National ParkAustAlpsRegionMapPositioned in southwestern part of the Australian Alps is Mount Buffalo National Park. Boasting 77,000 acres of striking granite boulders, rock formations and waterfalls, it is a fantastic place for bush hikes and is filled with plenty of wildlife such as Lyrebirds, Eastern Rosellas, wombats and swamp wallabies.

The Aboriginal Traditional Owners of Victoria are the Mitambuta and Taugaurong and they identify the Mount Buffalo National Park as their Traditional Country.  Declared a national park in 1898, Mount Buffalo is rich in history and is loved by bushwalkers, adventurers and birdwatchers alike – and by those who just want to take in the clear mountain air.

It’s free, family friendly and worth a day or more of exploration.

Byron Bay And The New Earth Tribe

20140228-190313.jpgI’m a beach girl. The surf and sand call to me in my dreams. Craig has taken note of my intense need for this natural setting and booked us a few shows up on the New South Wales coast.

We made our way up from Melbourne to Wollongong, Sydney and as far north as Yamba. We had 2 days free between shows and had our eyes set on Byron Bay. Only another few hours north through banana and sugar cane fields and we could be basking in the sun on one of my dream beaches. It was a birthday wish of mine, but an expensive wish, at over $200 a night in Byron Bay. So, we needed to find a host, and actually really we wanted to find a host. There is nothing more life-giving than sharing a meal and story with kinfolk. And, even better than that is, sharing in that community, ON THE BEACH!

A friend in the US, went to a school called Deep End School of the Supernatural in Byron Bay and sent out an SOS to friends there. At the same time another friend in Australia, totally unrelated to our friend in the US, sent out an e-mail to a friend named Phil Mason. Phil and his wife, Maria are the spiritual directors at a grassroots Spiritual Community in the heart of Bryon Bay called New Earth Tribe. And get this, the Tribe runs a ministry school, the same school our friend in the US attended, so we knew it was meant to be!

20140228-173627.jpgPhil put us on to Hans, one of the Tribe leaders, who was happy to host us. Hans welcomed us to his rustic jungle surf shack.  There was talk of spiders, lizards and the Boa that lives on the roof of the front house, just above Hans’ room. We also talked about the possibility of sharing a meal and an impromptu house concert, which we were happy to do. However, it was the first week of school and both Hans, Phil and Maria were flat-out getting life in order for the new students. And so, we all decided to play it by ear and see what unfolded over the next 48 hours.

Byron Bay BeachAfter we settled in, we found our way down to the beach and experienced one of the most mystical, beautiful, and joyful places we’ve ever seen. We dined that evening at Orgasmic Food Byron Bay, a Middle Eastern Restaurant boasting the best Falafel around. We couldn’t agree more, even our 12 yr old with his picky taste buds, loved it! After a long stroll on the beach we finished off the night with a gelato from Bella Rosa.

Despite the fear of spiders, we had a decent sleep in the surf shack. We woke the next morning before the sun and hurried down to the beach to watch the sunrise. The air, colors and gentle movement of the waves were mesmerizing and enchanting. We stood in awe and savored the precious moment with praise and thanksgiving.

Byron Bay SurfAfter a light breakfast and nap we were ready for the surf! We had our first lesson in Carmel, CA in October and our son was stoked to give it another go.  The waves were fluffy, that’s really the only word I can think of to describe them. They were like riding on fluffy clouds. The sand was softer than talcum powder and a light brown color.

Besides the 9000 locals, Byron Bay attracts millions of backpackers from around the world.  The beach was packed with crowds, but everyone was kind and had a sincerity about them. They all seemed to be as genuinely amazed as we were by the surroundings. We enjoyed a light lunch and a spent another hour or so in the crystal blue water before heading back to camp to get ready for dinner and the gathering that Hans organized.

Phil and Maria MasonAt dinner we dined with Hans, Phil and Maria. Although, our first time meeting Phil and Maria, it was as if we were old dear friends. We sat across the table soaking up every word they said, taking it all in, and longing to stay. We were encouraged to hear about their work in a community that is a mecca for a diverse range of creative and alternative cultures. Also known as the rainbow region, the area in and around Byron is considered to be the spiritual home of Australia’s hippy movement. With that climate in mind, New Earth Tribe was birthed. They are disciples of Christ who are seeking to recapture the essence, power and relationship with the Spirit that He walked in.  I love it when a ministry is in context to the culture around it, meeting people where they are at and offering and opportunity for folks to truly know God more.

After dinner we drove about 25 minutes into the hills to the Cloverdale house. There were fairy lights and candles lit, wine and nibbles set on white linens and blankets strung about the lawn. The vibe was festive and four beautiful women welcomed us to their historical Queensland home. More kinfolk from the Tribe joined the gathering and we enjoyed a night of festivity, celebrating a faithful God who delights in putting the body together.

One day at a time. That’s become a motto, not so much because we are so laid back and easy-going, but because we have been so stripped back touring here in Australia that we really have had times where we go to bed at night unsure what the next day will hold.

Sometimes the weight of logistics can really take its toll on our little family. But, then there are times where we let go and just allow things to unfold. These have been the times where we have experienced provision, seen the most amazing miracles, connected with hidden community and found deep solace in a God who goes before us.

20140228-174927.jpgBy the way, we were smitten with this lovely little bus. We spotted it in a town called Bangalow along side of the road. And, it was for sale! $21,000 or best offer.

After two months without our bus/home we are missing the conveniences of having a home on wheels. There was a tickle of a thought that maybe we could purchase this darling orange mobile but it was too quick to catch and it fluttered away. How cool would that be though?!