Bells And Wheels

Got a little change in my pockets going jing-o-ling-o-ling…

Two weeks in Australia with no vehicle or phone, really tested our fortitude as a family!

We landed in Brisbane late one evening, after Wallaby Creek Music Festival. We were tired, loaded with luggage and music gear, hungry and needed showers badly. Thankfully, our new friend, Zoe’s (Ladi Abundance), whom we met at the festival, welcomed us to stay in her flat in Brisbane, we just had to figure out how to get there. We checked on renting a car but found out that because of school holidays there were no cars for rent. Then we checked the shuttles but they wouldn’t drop us at her door, so that wasn’t an option, specially with all of our gear. Finally we hailed a taxi van and paid the $65 to get to the house.

12074861_10152989209836222_8878810417459657622_nOnce we arrived all of the feelings of uncertainty started to melt away as we found space to spread out and time to catch our breath. Zoe was a gracious host and her home was a fantastic little abode nestled in the bohemian and culturally diverse suburb of Brisbane’s West End.

As we laid our heads to bed that night, we contemplated the last 24hrs and though, how great it was that the person set to help us find our footing and resources happened to go by “Ladi Abundance.”

The next morning we woke, ready to tackle the tasks at hand, finding a car and phone. We sourced a rental car in the city at $40 a day. Craig took an hour bus ride to the rental car facility and picked up the car. He returned and we got busy scouring local papers and websites like Gumtree. We struggled to find a vehicle in our price range ($3500US) that would carry four passengers and a ton of music gear. Phones were just as discouraging to shop for, as most shops/websites were selling iPhones for well over our budget ($60). So we continued to search, pray and wait.

We took time to go grocery shopping, make a meal, do some laundry and caught up on wifi communications. The next morning, Zoe popped over to the house to pick something up and we asked if she knew of anyone who had a phone that they’d be willing to part with? She mentioned that her band mate, Mariel, had one and we were elated to find out that she was open to sharing it with us for exactly what our budget was!

We took the phone immediately and drove to the nearest mall to get a sim card and set up our phone. We chose Vodaphone as it was the cheapest plan at $50 for a month of unlimited calls/text to Australia and the US, plus 3GB of wifi for our maps and instagram updates. Everything seemed to be going smoothly until I called my parents in the US and the call cut out. When I returned the call I heard a message that our service needed to be upgraded because we used all of our plan. I was miffed to say the least. We just bought the card. When I returned to the shop the young lady behind the counter didn’t seem interested in helping me much. She told me to call customer service and they would take care of it. I persisted to enlist her help and she finally took my phone and called the service center herself. They said they would reset my card and it should be up and running within the next two hours. We left, ate lunch and started back to the apartment to continue our search.

IMG_5914As we drove through the city we stumbled upon a little car lot and decided to take a look. Most of the cars in the lot were to small for us but there was one minivan available for $4999 AUST, and although it was above our price range we felt like we needed to have a better look.

The owner of the shop, Geoff, came out to answer our questions. It was a 2002 Honda Odyssey, white, with about 125,000 miles on it. We took it for a spin. And as we drove, we talked about our budget and prayed again. We asked in our prayer for the price to come down to $4200 (which would round out to about $3500US).

When we came back, we let Geoff know we were interested but couldn’t afford his asking price and asked him what his bottom line was? He answered, $4200 for everything, taxes, fees, etc… We looked at each other in amazement and said we’d take it! He was delighted and said he’d get the paper work in order and to come back in the morning to pick it up. Working through the purchase was a little more complicated than we had anticipated but all in all, Geoff was a great guide and in the end, we found all of the necessary proofs of identity and residence we needed to make the final sale.

In the morning, my phone still wasn’t working and our time was short but we decided that another visit to the Vodaphone store was necessary before we left the area, as any attempts to fix the problem by calling customer service were futile. We had to pick up our new car, drop off our rental car across town and then make our way south two hours to Byron Bay for a performance. So the stop off at the store was an inconvenience to say the least.

As we were working through the logistics for the day we sensed a critical spirit trying to sneak in. Our patience was wearing thin and the process of working with a clerk who didn’t seem to care about our problem didn’t make for the most enjoyable experience. I have to say though, that once we realized that pride was trying to steal our joy, we shifted our thinking and instead of allowing the clerk to set a tone of despondence we turned our attention to what we could control, our own attitudes. It’s easy to carry a sense of thanksgiving when everything is working out, but it’s in the trials that we find out if that spirit of gratitude is real and sustainable. This was a good test for us. In the end, the clerk changed her tune, she became vested in our case and as a result we walked out with a phone that worked and a humility that brought about great joy. And, honestly, we walked out feeling a sense of connection to that young lady. Which is even more cool!

Working through logistics isn’t really much fun. We’d rather be at the beach! However, working through logistics does offer opportunity to be apart of some wonderful human interactions.

We on our way now, in the flow, and thankful for Zoe, Mariel, Geoff and the young lady who helped us a Vodaphone. We’re thankful for those who cared for us ahead of time through Modern Day, in order for us to afford a van and phone. And, we’re thankful for the way the Holy Spirit continues to delight us with goodness and traveling mercies!

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Dream Talk 2015

North America - 16x20 Close Up-800x800We are so excited for all that 2015 will and already is offering. This year, (October) we will celebrate four years of full-time family travel! And, even more exciting, this year will be our first trek to the East Coast & Eastern Canada.

As we look forward our vision is clear and we are ready to go ahead with what we’ve been given. Over these three years on the road, we’ve received a hardy portion of amazing grace and freedom. We’re deeply rooted in the message of reconciliation and know our way around the faith. We’re ready to do what we’ve been taught and continue to let our living intoxicate those we meet along the way. Musically, we have a strong sense that more will come, but hold loosely to whatever shape that might take. We are excited to see who ends up riding with us over the next season of travel. We can barely contain the joy when we think about all of the community we will meet on this new route and know that serendipity will find us every single day!

As we embark on new territory we would love to invite you to join us on that journey. If you have kinfolk on the East Coast, that you think might be interested in a visit from us Hollands! please send us their way. Or, if you’d like to ride the bus for a stint, please contact us at thehollands@thehollands.org

We will be in Austin until February 8, shoring up loose ends with our bus. We have to get a new tire, finish off a few building projects and refuel, which we’ll be able to afford thanks to our kinfolk, who have generously given through our Helping Hands/Modern Day Fund. We also need to say one last goodbyes to all of our precious friends here in ATX!

Here is a very loose itinerary for 2015:

FEB: South Padre Island TX, Beaumont TX, Lafayette LA, New Orleans LA (Celebrating Jana’s Birthday, all are welcome to come and camp with us the last weekend of Feb)

MARCH: We will be in Florida for the whole month of March. We are not exactly sure of our routing in FL and totally open at this point. We do have our sights set on a stop in the Ocala National Forest where we hope to bring our merrymaking to the Rainbow community. We also feel a strong pull to go to Key West. Who wouldn’t, right?! 🙂

APRIL/MAY: Hoping to connect with kinfolk in the southeast, including: (and anywhere in-between) Savanna GA, Charleston SC, Atlanta GA, Asheville NC, Wilmington NC, Richmond VA, Washington DC

JUNE: Philadelphia PA, Allentown PA, New York NY, Cape Cod MA, Boston MA

JULY: Portland ME, Old Town ME, Mid-July we’ll make our way up through North East Canada through Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto

AUGUST: Lansing MI, Muskegon MI, Chicago IL, Door County WI, Delavan WI

SEPT-DEC: We are applying for festivals in Australia and hope to be overseas by the middle of September. Our desire is to continue on through Oceania and make our way up to SE Asia or Europe. We’re open however, to other options. So stay tuned.

WordleWe look forward to the road that lies ahead and anticipate an awesome year of learning and growing. Our dream talk wouldn’t be complete without our “naming ceremony.” It’s time where we each quiet our hearts and listen, hoping to hear that still small voice speak a word over us; a word that will take on new meaning as trials and joys come our way. This year, Craig’s word is “embrace.” Graciana’s word is “patience.” Banjo’s word is “courage.’ And, my word is “treasure.” Each word by themselves is significant to each of us individually. However, we see the beauty in all four of our words impacting us as a whole. As we move through each day of 2015, our hope is for a spirit of abundant and bountiful thanksgivings. And, as we show our gratitude through our merrymaking, coming alongside, mentorship & craftsmanship that others will be moved by the extravagance of God in our lives.

We hope that you are encouraged by our dream talk and that you might sit down with your family allowing time and space to really hash out your thoughts, dreams and desires; looking for the interconnectivity of them and spurring one another on through out the year.  If so, please share, especially any other traditions that you might incorporate into your dream talks? And, if you do the naming ceremony, we’d love to know what word comes to mind when you quiet your heart?

Around the Table in Colorado

We’ve spent the last three weeks in Colorado including Denver, Winter Park, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins. We had a handful of legit folkie shows and the rest of our time was spent around the table.

Our first stop was in snowy Denver with the Stephan family. We were referred to them by a dear friend in Green Bay, WI. We parked street side in the new Stapleton Estates. Easy going, the Stephan’s made us feel right at home. We rested after a long trek across the plains states, enjoyed encouraging conversation and on our final night I had the opportunity to make a dinner for us all in their kitchen. Stocked with full amenities, all the bells and whistles, I was like a kid in a candy shop. Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking in my bus kitchen, but this was a delight. We had organic Shepard’s pie, leafy greens and flourless chocolate cake for dessert, all from my ‘The Apron Strings‘ Cookbook.

   

The Stephan’s also connected us with a local charity, The Urban Farm and we were able to connect for a benefit show. That lead to us meeting a first grade teacher at Fletcher Primary, who invited us to come and share our Australian Folklore workshop with eighty 1st graders. They loved Craig’s mustache, and sang ‘Waltzing Matilda’ with all their might.

Next we stored our rig with our dear friends at Radiant Church and drove our mini-van up to Winter Park/Fraser to serve at Timberline School. The drive is terrifying coming up that pass but once we were there the beautiful sunshine and snowy mountain tops erased all the fear.  Our friends, Dan and Sarah Thomas are the directors at Timberline and we have always wanted to offer some sort of service to their efforts. So when we were planning our fall tour, we blocked out a week to pour in. We shared in song with the students, we joined them for most of the morning and lunch meals, we helped with child care, building projects and enjoyed making a meal or two for the Thomas’s. And, just a small family affair, we celebrated Graciana’s sixteenth birthday with a home-made pizza party. We had a french themed party for her in September with all of our friends in Chicago, but it’s special to celebrate on the day as well.

Back to Denver for a gig at Swallow Hill and short but sweet say with some of our old friends; Randy, Beki and Diego. Through out our travels we have met amazing kinfolk but there is something about a visit with an old friend. There is an ease to laugh, cry and share deep moments. This was just what we needed. We meet Beki and Randy at Lifest in 2007 and have performed with them and enjoyed community with them. Plus we were able to share a meal in celebration for Craig’s birthday, which falls right after Graciana’s.

On to Colorado Springs to spend a few days with the Penley family. We met them through the Thomas’s and have connected with them over the years. The Penley’s are generous and kind kinfolk. Younger than us but wise beyond their years. Their house was full to the brim with family and the laughter of children. With three children and fostering one, Christy is a super mom in the best sense. She is strong, organized and gentle all at the same time. And, Paul, he’s about the smartest person we’ve ever meet. We enjoyed conversations over delightful meals, a bon fire, quiet time of reading, baking with the kids and shared in song at their church, 1st Presbyterian. While there, Graciana connected with a new friend, discovering a similar taste in books, music and in the journey of being homeschooled.

 

We also had an opportunity to do a little sight-seeing, visiting the Olympic Training Center. Highlight was seeing the wide open arm span of Michael Phelps. That boy is big!

  

And our final Colorado stop was in Fort Collins with the Borden family. Dear friends from Chicago, Diane was my boss at Grrr Records and, the most encouraging person you’ll ever meet. We dove right in at the Borden house, cleaning and getting the garage space ready for about 28 folk to enjoy a Thanksgiving fest. It was a joy to sort through and organize (I’ll admit, I love organizing, I have been known to spend a good amount of time at the thrift store organizing the dresses by size, then color. Ha!) It was also a great visit for our kids, as the Borden clan is five strong. They watched movies, played a building video game called mine craft, helped prepare Thanksgiving decorations, put on plays with dress ups, and made funny movies on their I-Pad. We connect with kinfolk and got our worship on at ECC. Craig got his craftsman fix in by laying down a deck for the Borden’s. And, on our last night I made Asparagus/Mushroom/Leek with a wine cream sauce and Crepes for dinner.

 

We are thankful for our time in Colorado, for the community and encouragement that keeps us on our way and for the many meals shared with kinfolk, new and old.