Friday, May 20, 2011

The Chronicle of Sightings | Entry One: The Glory Bus

"Sighting! Sighting!"

For years, whenever our family has clearly witnessed God's hand at work in our lives, someone is always apt to exclaim: "Sighting!" The phrase comes from the time when us older four (Whit, Ben, Taylor, and Leesha) were just young whippersnappers and Mom was reading the "Tales of the Kingdom" series to us before bed. It was a highlight of the day and we eagerly looked forward to each new adventure and lesson. We came across a story which described a young boy looking for the King. Each time he would spy the King, in sometimes the most obscure ways, he would cry "Sighting!" Henceforth, it has become a favorite cry in our family. :)

Last year we began a notebook which we lovingly entitled, "The Chronicles of Sightings". It came out of a period when I in particular was wondering if God truly exsisted and cared to be involved in our lives. Dad and Mom brought the idea to the family to chronicle the times we've spotted God clearly working in every detail, providing for all our needs, and moving mountains we were powerless to move. Stories began to fill up the pages over the weeks, but in the midst of cleaning for company shortly after, the notebook was moved from the kitchen counter to a quiet spot in the back of the home, sitting unnoticed for many months.

Not too long ago, we pulled the notebook out of its hiding place to resume its familiar resting spot. Since then there have been more entries, and I think it's time to share and give God the glory through some of the chronicles we recorded. He alone deserves the wonderful praise for all the intricate and amazing things He works in our lives, sometimes things so small we overlook them, or so huge that we are overwhelmed by His gracious hand.

And what better and more timely topic to start with then the Glory Bus? :)

To quote the chronicle from May 11th, 2011...

"Ever since we traded in our van for the "Glory Bus", we have seen God's leading and gracious provision through:

- the sign of the rainbow;
- no high MN sales tax (it was an even trade);
- installing the hitch was half of what we were expecting to pay;
- special cleaning chemical worked for one of the headlights, instead of [having to buy] two new ones;
- diesel being less than regular gas. [Recently when we filled up the bus, it was actually less than regular gas!]"

God has worked many little details to provide for our bus while on a tight budget. Things we thought tough or impossible to cover financially God has provided. We are amazed at His provision; give Him the glory, honor, and praise!

Next up on "The Chronicles", surprise blessings through Dad's unemployment!

Blessings and Joy in the Journey!
Taylor for TGF

Monday, May 16, 2011

Members of the Midwest Quartet Association

Hi Y'all!


We received word a few weeks ago that we have been accepted into the Midwest Quartet Association (yes, this blog announcement is behind - sorry!). We filled out an application last year and were so happy to hear the news! Years ago when we were first starting as a band, we dreamed of possibly applying for membership, so this is a neat step in the Great Adventure.


For more information about the MWQA, please visit: http://www.mwqa.org/.


Blessings and Joy in the Journey!
Taylor for TGF

P.S. This is unrelated, random, but pertinent to our family band: a friend shared with me (thanks Amy!) that a photographer, Eric Vest, for the Lake Itasca Family Music Festival recently posted pictures of the fest on his blog, and if you do some scrolling, you'll spot us in his photo collection (look for people in orange, an accordian, and a weird sepia picture toward the bottom of the post! :) )! Click here to view the photos, and if you go here, you'll find a few more photos of different members of the family (again, just look for the orange outfits!).

Friday, May 6, 2011

"Big" Changes for Great Adventure

Yesterday we made one of the "biggest" decisions we've made thus far for our ministry:


We got a bus.


We know the word "bus" provides images of bunks, plush couches, closets, kitchen, bathroom/shower facilities and mega money all packed into 45 feet. If God dropped a tour bus onto our driveway, wonderful, except for the gigantical diesel gas prices. But the Lord has instead provided for our family band:


"The Glory Bus"


Yes, we traded our beautiful 2003 Chevy Express van for a 1997 Champion Freightliner bus yesterday. This change has not come about without much consideration, research, long talks, phone calls, dreaming, and advice. It was a decision not reached easily, but we made the right choice.


Our family has always loved dreaming about busses, even before we seriously started the band. We would go on bus sale websites and stay up late talking, laughing, and dreaming. There was "Vanilly", "Thunderbolt", and, oh yes, "The Banana", but all of those were too expensive. But knowing tour busses eat fuel like crazy, we decided to be more realistic and look into Sprinters and shuttle busses. We have friends who have gone the Sprinter route and they enjoy it, and we have played around with making a Sprinter work for our family for many months now. With gas prices going up and longer trips facing our ministry, we knew our van would have to be replaced.
Mom did some searching, like normal, last week on Craigslist and found two smaller busses and a Sprinter. She printed off the info and pictures, and looking over these options, there was one which stood out. My first reaction to the white bus was "No!", and then on second glance, "Actually, it's kind of cute. Hey, that's the Glory Bus! Here comes Great Adventure Gospel Band in the Glory Bus!" :)


Now today, it's sitting in our driveway.


We have not found a vehicle that fits our needs so perfectly for this time. Rides will now be more comfortable with reclining seats and lots of space. There are currently 21 seats in the bus, and everyone has their seat claimed. The options for customization are vast - with money and time being our main variables. But best of all, it has a CD player! Wahoo! :)


It is not in mint condition, and needs some elbow grease and scrubbing. The chasis has over 200,000 miles on it, and the engine (it was replaced several years ago) has 80,000 miles. Our van and trailer got about 9 mpg (gas), while the Glory Bus (hopefully) will get about 16-18 mpg (diesel). It needs a hitch and a few other fix-ups, but it is definitely a step up in needed space and mileage.

Photo Recap from the Trip


Caleb, all smiles during the final trip in the van.


BLT: Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomatos - er, Ben, Leesha, and Taylor - chillin' on Grandpa's couch. :) We stopped over at Grandpa's house for lunch, and he rode along with us to check out the bus.


Who else? The LAs hanging out in Grandpa's chair.

Almost to New Ulm! Dad, driving his van for the last time.



The last few miles in the van. :(


Meeting the Glory Bus.


Inside, looking everything over.




What a "beauty"! :-D That's Dad underneath, checking everything over.

"Wanna ride?" Taylor and Leesha goofing off.


Your photographer for the day: Ben. :)



The test drive! Years ago, Dad was a school bus driver, so his training (not coincidental, because there are no coincidences when you walk with the Lord!) comes in very handy with the bus!


Experiencing the Glory Bus for the first time.

You can tell Caleb's mind was settled during the test drive!


Grandpa and Caleb bargaining over Caleb's fishing cap. :)


The new owner and Dad and Mom heading off to take care of the final details. What a faithful vehicle the van was! (The van is a sports car compared to the Glory Bus!)


Well, we are no longer "normal" people in the fact our main transportation is now a bus. (Of course, we weren't even "normal" with our 15 passenger van!) We have been laughing over imagining going to church with the bus, to Wal-Mart, to concerts, to friends' homes and seeing people's reactions. :)


This is an adventure! We have taken a step forward in our committment to the ministry God has called us and there is no turning back. That is scary, yet very exciting! The van has been with us since the real "Great Adventure", and feels like an old friend, a family member, so it was sad to say goodbye to it.



The family and the van right before we started on the first Great Adventure in 2002.


The last moments with the van, almost nine years later.

One of the things I personally will miss most about it is the little people stickers on the back window. Having sat in the back seat for many years now, I have had the privilege of watching other drivers smile and point at all our "little people". For the last time yesterday, I saw a young boy trying to count all of us, and then watched as he got his mother counting as well. To see their joyful expressions and laughter was humorous and special to me.



After trading the van and beginning the journey back home in the bus, Dad suddenly yelled out from the driver's seat, "Look! There's a rainbow!" Immediately a peace and reassurance passed over us and joy filled our hearts as we stared in shock at the rainbow directly ahead of us. We couldn't believe it!

If you have heard/read our Great Adventure story, you'll recall how after the church building project fell through in Brentwood, California, Dad and Mom sat in our van praying, seeking the Lord's guidance. A rainbow suddenly appeared in the sky before them, and remembering how rainbows symbolize God's promise, Dad and Mom felt peace, knowing God was with our family. He had a plan, even when all our plans were falling through. We eventually left California, trusting in the Lord. Arriving at a gas station in Blythe, Arizona during the return trip, we spotted a rainbow to the north and decided to follow it, having no other place to go. After traveling for a while, Mom found a campground in the direction we were heading, and it turned out to be the campground which we called our second home (for four months), and the place where we met Mal.

Rainbows have become a sign of God's visible presence, care, guidance, and reassurance for our family, and that rainbow, we confidently believe, was a promise from the Lord that this is the direction He wants us to go in our journey. What a precious sign from God! Thank You, Lord!




Now the work begins!


Blessings and Joy in the Journey!
Taylor for TGF