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!

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Hospitality in Los Angeles

Rest fell upon us in the most incredulous of all places, Los Angeles. It’s not where I think to go to when I’m looking to relax. It’s crowded, fast and it takes forever to drive anywhere. However, our couple day stop at the Halula abode in Montrose, turned out to be one of the most pleasant and unassuming times we’ve had. We meet Jenica and Wes Halula at the Holland House Gallery night in 2007 and thought they were some cool cats. They run a production company called Happy Fun Time and they are the kind of friends we call “kinfolk.” We kept up here and there, on Myspace and then Facebook and who knew that we’d be camped in their front yard four years later. It was the most challenging drive way we’ve, or I should say, Craig has managed. But, with the help of Banjo and Wes, it was conquered and we set up shop.

Enjoying the warmth of the sun and the surrounding mountains, we were able to tackle some good school days, get some groceries and enjoy company with old friends, Michelle and Kevin. We also hosted our first dinner party with the Halula’s as our guests. It was such a pleasure to finally be able to share in hospitality using our space.

On a side note; we have been blown away by the constant provision from God, through those with compassionate hearts. Always in the neck of time too.

When we arrived in LA we realized that we were down to our last fifty dollars. It had cost us $1100 in Gas to drive these last twenty days. Needless to say, our hearts pattered a few beats as we realized that our gigs we’re still a week away and we had no income in sight. With in a day however, we had two spontaneous gifts given to us, that allowed us to refill the tank and get our groceries. We still can’t figure it out. Nobody knew, we hadn’t put out a prayer request or set up a fundraiser and we didn’t do some special service project or anything noble. It just happened or did it?

Now, there is the prosperity gospel and there is the poverty gospel, both of which we don’t aspire to. We just don’t believe in a “woe is me” manipulation so those around us feel sorry and give to us, and we surely don’t believe that we’re doing something so significant that we are warranted some great reward. We’re just living life. We are however, learning that this journey isn’t about us at all, that our needs being met isn’t even the point, but rather that we are apart of a bigger picture, we are one big “body,” like the “sea pens,” and our motion is connected to others motion. No, things don’t “just happen.” We really believe there is a beautiful tapestry being woven and we are all apart of it. So, as hard as it is, our focus remains on serving and trusting. And, although it has been humbling and hard to learn to receive, we have had such graciousness and mercy bestowed upon us that we can’t hardly wait to pass it on.