Sing My Joy

10409290_971041472909311_6025193075287294830_nYou remember Chaz Jones, don’t you? He was our first bus rider. We met Chaz at a festival in 2012 and he kept in touch. In Feb of 2013 he invited us to visit his community in Lafayette, LA. We met many of his kinfolk, sharing song and a meal. Near the end of our visit, Chaz mentioned that he was keen to ride our bus and wondered if we would be open to that idea. Over the next few months we chatted about what that might look like and in late July of 2013 Chaz took a greyhound up to Michigan to meet us for a five week tour that would take us across the US, finally getting off the bus in Boise, ID. It was an exciting time for us all, learning how to communicate needs, desires, boundaries, encouraging and challenging one another. By the end, there was no denying the intensity and deep connectivity of living in community with Chaz. He was endeared to us as family and his mark would forever be upon us as we travelled forward.

A few months later, we had new enquiries about riding the bus so we reached out to Chaz and asked if he would offer any feedback or insights into his time with us. Anything that might help us be better hosts with new riders. I was ready for the skinny, thinking there surely had to be some admonishment coming. You see, it’s a tricky and humbling thing to live in community with outsiders, allowing them to come into the fold. Although, he was always gracious with us, I don’t doubt Chaz saw all of our ugly. It’s very difficult to play perfect little family, specially in 300 square feet. And so, we wanted to hear his heart, allowing him to put everything on the table, sharing what he had learned, the good and bad. His words caught us off guard.

He wrote: “Man, I could probably write a book. Let’s see, Before I arrived, I was a real people pleaser. I felt like I always had to explain myself in times of uncertainty rather than just being vulnerable and saying  “I don’t know where i’m going or what i’m doing exactly” I realize now that when I arrived my passion was lacking but I was hungry for purpose.

During my time on the bus, I was able to reflect on my life and saw that I had been half-hearted in just about everything, especially my relationship with God and with the people that I love. I met so many people during my time on the bus and I learned that you can never go to a place or meet a person and think you’ve got it/them figured out. I found that coming into these new situations gave me fresh perspective and understanding about that place/person, which gave me even more understanding about myself.

I learned to really live in the moment, to not just spend the present thinking and worrying about the past or future but to most importantly just BE. There’s so much growth that takes place when traveling in community. I know that being with The Hollands has helped me grow in my communication skills. I really loved being able to go into various types of people-groups and find common ground, especially within the church.

I’m so thankful for the fellowship with The Hollands and really felt at home among family. I’ve learned to “step into the mystery” and I look forward to more times of living and laughing together.

Highlights: Jana’s cooking, of course! I Really enjoyed enjoyed floating in the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Colorado was just lovely. Meeting Trippnwk. Craig’s morning coffee pour-overs. Visiting Jpusa, and camping at Lake Michigan.

Suggestions for other who may travel with The Hollands: Be open and just fully live in the moment. And hold your nose when the bus is leaving to take off! Ha!”

10801946_971125486234243_957717618970174661_nIt has been a year and a half since Chaz rode the bus and on a cool December afternoon in Lafayette, LA, we celebrated the marriage of Chaz and his new bride, Victoria. The country farm setting of the Gotreaux Family farm was the perfect backdrop, with a large Live Oak as the cornerstone and a vintage Volkswagen van as the sidekick. Victoria’s styling was shabby chic 1930’s with a touch of retro 1970’s. Her dress was beautiful and her bridesmaids complimented the styling with pale pink, peach and cream colors. The fella’s wore browns and whites with bow ties and suspenders. Their ceremony was short and sweet with music compliments of two of us Hollands, along with two of Victoria’s brothers and a friend of theirs. Chaz played banjo when he toured with us, so it was no surprise when he asked for a few numbers heavy on the banjo. Their wedding party consisted of dear friends that they had both met at Masters Commission in Lafayette, LA.

The reception followed naturally right after the ceremony, with guests meandering under the oak trees, enjoying appetizers and signing the guest book. A lovely cajun dinner was served, capped by a delicious white wedding cake with rosemary. Beautiful speeches were given by family and friends and us Hollands! finished the night with merrymaking and delight.

It is a honor to be invited into the lives of others, to share each others woes and joys. We are thankful for our time with Chaz and excited to see what all may come for he and Victoria as they embark on their own journey!

All Photos by Claire Vogelgesang: