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.

Hammer and Tack

The Judy Patio Set

Besides shredding on the guitar, my man can build and I have to say it really turns me on! I knew he was handy and had a logistical mind but watching him these past two years on the road, building our bus has been fantastic.  And then, to see him take it to the next level and build as a means to care for others as well as for the art of it, well it’s just straight up sexy.

We were recently in Arizona and he built this lovely patio table and chairs for my mom and dad. We enjoyed dining on this set over the Thanksgiving holiday. His gift of craftsmanship is quality and the design work is beautiful.

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.

Refocus

20130930-160911.jpgAbout every three months or so we have a “dream talk”, a sort of come to the table talk as a family. Our hope is to refocus, hear each other’s longings, dreams, desires and frustrations, placing them on the table and offering them up to the author of our journey.  We want to be obedient, we want to be good parents, we want to be good stewards of our finances and we want to succeed. However, this isn’t always an easy task as we each often come with different agenda’s.

Our latest table talk exposed a few twisted ideals. We found that we’ve worked so hard this summer, playing shows, releasing our third album, and toiling in the music business that we’ve drifted towards self-sufficiency rather than interdependence without even noticing. We also found that our dream talks were becoming angsty with both of our children making demands about their expectations and us feeling guilty for not meeting them as parents. Needless to say, it has been an emotionally exhausting couple of months. And, although we have seen some beautiful parts of the country, explored rock caves, beaches, forests and rivers, we have forgotten our first love. We have learned that humility is not something we have until humbling ourselves is something we do. We have been isolated much of this time and we are longing for community and purpose beyond just playing music and exploring nature. (Although, we do love both!) Ultimately, this past table talk revealed that we needed to go back to the beginning, to remember where we came from, why we made the life choice we did to swim upstream, and who the author was. We needed to lay down our pride and revisit our vision statement:

“We are The Hollands! We are a Mother, Father, Sister and Brother. Bound by blood and vision to travel about this earth, spreading a message of reconciliation through LOVE. We make our way sharing the gifts and talents given us; Music, Craftsmanship, Mentorship and Instruction, Merrymaking and Community building. Our desire is to connect with those we find along the way and encourage community and growth in relationship.”

With this new focus we are anxious to enter into our next chapter of service and although we don’t know exactly how we will be used we know that we will be used well.

As we make our way down the coast of California we will be connecting with our friends at New Hope Community in Oakland again. They have just experienced the tragic loss of their youth pastor, Jose. He was helping to push a car that was broken down to the side of the road when a drunk driver hit him. He was rushed to the hospital but did not make it. We are prayerful as we make our way to them and however we serve, our hope is to bring a tenderness and strength to our time with them.

The second week of October we will be serving alongside a new community in Monterey, CA. We connected with Brian Bajari through a mutual group on Facebook called The Parish Collective. (on a side note, we also met New Hope through this group.)  We are looking to meeting Brian and his community Gathering By the Bay, learning about their work with the homeless and helping any way we can. We are also keen to learn to surf and Brian has offered to introduce us to that world.

By mid-Oct we will be in San Diego with our hosts, the Penley family. We met them when we visited with our friends and their family in Colorado Springs, CO. They gave us an open invitation. My grandfather was stationed in San Diego and I have always had a fondness for the city. This will be our first time there and we are excited to neighbor with the Penley’s.

The end of October takes us to Arizona, where we will park for seven weeks and work alongside our Kineo Community in Central Phoenix. This will be our second long-term stop since we launched in 2011. Our longest was our first stop in Sister, OR where we stayed for twelve weeks, serving at Vast Church and building our bus.

We are so grateful for our Kineo community’s commitment to us and to all of those around the country who have encouraged us on our way. We are thankful for God’s amazing grace and patience. Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desires of our hearts.

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.”

Camp Tekawitha

Summer Camp! Craig and I both have great memories of camp during our childhood and teen years. Including; canoeing, swimming, horse back riding (well, not so much for Craig), arts & crafts, friendship bracelets, theater, archery, songs, stories, campfires, etc… So, when Camp Director and friend, Eric Blumreich, expressed a desire to have us at Camp Tekawitha in Shawano, WI, we said, “YES!”

Camp Tekawitha is open year round for all sorts of retreats and groups but in the summer it caters to K-8th and a CIT (Counselor In Training) program for 9th-12th grade. It is located on a small manageable lake called Lake Loon. We’ve served at Camp over the past two summers but this year we were able to bring out our bus and come for two weeks of fun. Our kids each experienced life as a camper and Grace was able to participate in the CIT program. Meanwhile we shared musically throughout the week, playing a few Hollands! set, fun camp songs and leading a sound scape exercise where the kids broke into groups and created a sound track to the creation story. Also, Craig took some time to help build a storage unit for the sails/sailboats.

Volunteering at Camp Tekawitha offered an opportunity for us to plug in and use the gifts and talents that we long to share and gave us a much needed rest from the fast track of touring that we had been on. It also gave each of our children a chance to spend quality time with other young people, many of them friends from their days at St. Matthews School in Green Bay, WI. These are the moments that we cherish and as we continue down the line, we look forward to opportunities to serve in these ways.

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Sea Pens

Have you heard of Sea Pens? They offer a fascinating analogy of community!!

A sea pen looks and acts like a single organism but it’s actually a colony of tiny animals called polyps with a bulbous foot at it’s base–the bulb anchors the sea pen in the muddy or sandy bottom. The primary polyp loses its tentacles and becomes the stalk of the sea pen. The various secondary polyps form the sea pen’s “branches” and have specialized functions from trapping food, reproducing to channeling water in and out of the colony. Others make slime that glows in the dark…

Oh! what a longing we have to be apart of something that fantastic! We believe that we are connected to the stalk/foot but what if the other polyps don’t respond or they withhold from us because we don’t have the right marketing or enough credibility or what if we are judged and ignored? Do we need the other polyps? Well, sure we do, it’s not a sea pen otherwise.

…But, this is the hard part, trusting that everyone is working in one accord.

We aren’t the only ones to acknowledge this issue of trust in community. One of the founding fathers of “tilling and traveling” wrote of the same dilemma. His name was, Paul, formerly Saul. He had a remarkable revelation one day and turned full circle from his life of high society and religious piety. He became “all things to all people” by making himself available to go where ever the door opened. His soul desire was to spread a gospel of revolutionary magnitude. A gospel that suggested we could actually experience real reconciliation and freedom in our lives. Paul was convinced that like the sea pen we were made individually but meant to come together as a whole, clinging to the stalk that was connected to the foot. Folks seemed pretty excited about his passion until he started going into parts of society that they deemed unexceptionable and his support dwindled if not ceased. He responded with a push back to those who called themselves believers, to those who claimed to be his family. He shared his pain and disappointment but not for his own gain. No, he understood the heart condition and knew that if his “family” had treated him this way, they were probably treating others, who were doing a good work, the same way.

Paul admonished them to take a look in the mirror. To realize that their perspective was off and they have forgotten where they came from. Then he encouraged them to remember. He warned them of their past and the danger markers in their history book. He said, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!  And, when you see people reducing God to something they can use or control, get out of their company as fast as you can.” And later he says, “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well.”

And, so we remember the pit that we have been pulled out of. We remember the pain and discord of our rebellion. We remember how quickly our pride can lead the way. We remember the faithfulness, mercy and compassion granted us when we deserved a good slap in the ass. We remember the refining process thus far and we refocus our perspective on not only living well but living to serve. We remember that it is not up to us to know the “how” only to be available and continue to be all things to all people.

We are like the polyps who are connected to the stalk and channel water in and out. We have to trust that those who are suppose to light our way, will do so with their glow in the dark slim.

Learning to trust, becoming trustworthy and remembering; that sounds like a good way to start 2012. We look joyward to putting this into practice. with. you.