Fall Tour

Preparing to leave.

It’s kind of weird packing for a two week trip when you’ve only recently moved. It feels like you just pretty much take everything. Travis and I restrung our guitars before we left (thank you Esther for the Elixirs). And this was my first time replacing a bridge. It took me a long time to get the bone sanded down..but it actually worked, and she still plays great.

The ferry ride to Vancouver Island.

The Craigdarroch castle.

We went to this awesome castle in Victoria. It was a mansion a guy was building for his family..then he died before it was finished. The inside was incredible, and there was this guy in a kilt that could really blast on the bagpipes. The streets around the place were quite small for ‘the whale’ to turn around in, and there weren’t hardly any parking lots, prompting Mike to speak his mind,

‘If I was on the city council, I’d pass a law that says we’re gonna take every building that halfway needs repairs, tear it down, and put up a parking lot.’

On the island.

I tried calling home on a payphone. But it wouldn’t accept my debit card for some reason..would have been so cool though.

At one prison we got the pleasure of loading and unloading our equipment in the rain. Good times.

Back across.

The last prison service.

We got to go in alongside the regular volunteers Sam and Debby Bass and Deby Berkilmer: all wonderful people. We actually got three Debbies in one picture there.

Nile Valley Church.

This was our only church service of the tour. Pastor Toby and his family were really fun to hang out with. The man has got tons of good jokes.

The countryside.

The bus.

It was awesome having Bethany, the new nanny, along. She makes great food and is just generally pretty fun.

Canadian things.

So long.



Someday I’d like to have a desk that looks like Einstein’s.

I got to go a concert last week to see Jason Gray, Josh Wilson, and JJ Heller. It was a pretty good show that was held a beautiful dome-shaped church. JJ Heller was my favorite; her and her husband Dave did most of their songs with just her voice and a Gibson. It was really lovely. ‘Who Will Love Me for Me’ was the highlight..so good. Probably the most surprising part of the night was seeing how much Josh Wilson looks like Karlin Bacher.

On Tuesday the long-awaited arrival of Travis Miller from Missouri was accomplished. He drove his red Honda all the way. He plays a Taylor, brought a bunch of snacks, and we like a lot of the same things in life..so he’s a pretty cool hombre thus far.


It’s always a nice thing to see big boxes on my doorstep, and even nicer when they’re addressed to me. My dear mom sent me some essentials. Timely ones too, we leave for a two week tour to Canada tomorrow evening. These will be a great addition to my living quarters. Said living quarters will be much more crowded this time around since Travis’s six foot three frame and earthly possessions will be sharing it with me. It’s alright though. I’ll gladly trade half the space for a bro to go with me. ‘Friendship halves our space and doubles our joy’..or something.

mother knows best

Last night, Wednesday, Travis and I decided to go to a concert in Eugene at five and left at six. Since we were in a hurry and our printer is broken, we decided to buy our tickets at the venue. As I was handing the box office lady at the Hult Center my $21, a kind lady named Heidi came up and offered us her two extra tickets. So we got to watch Steven Curtis Chapman, Mac Powell, and Brandon Heath put on a great show from the $38 seats. It was a really good concert which I don’t have any pictures of it because I think it’s so dumb when you go watch fireworks and half the people just video the whole time. I decided this time I’d just take in the show instead of trying to capture it for later. I think there’s something to be said for that. They were all three fun to watch perform; masters of their craft no doubt. Two of which have been around for quite a while…not sure if Chapman was using in-ear monitoring or hearing aids. My favorite part was Brandon Heath doing his song ‘Paul Brown Petty’, a story about his grandpa. When the most expensive part of a concert is the milkshake afterwords, maybe God broke the printer.

Today I replaced my guitar’s saddle. Sounds easy enough in theory I suppose. But when you buy a saddle (made out of bone), what they send you is too big and you have to shape it to fit your guitar. So today I spent about two hours sanding bone to match the size of the old saddle. But alas, it fits and plays and does not buzz. Victory.

Remember to pray for those of us that are far from home.

Ashton – Colorado,

Aleisha – Arizona,

Mahlon’s – Colorado,

Joe’s – Virginia,

Kris – Ohio,

Judd’s – Ireland,

Shawn, Corey, and Tristan bound for Asia,

Dillon – Virginia,

Christi – Africa,

Amber – Jamaica,

Karlin – Africa…unless he’s still on his honeymoon…

Travis – downstairs

(and those I probably couldn’t remember tonight)

Here’s what I’ve been eating for midnight.

October Sky, Dead Poet’s Society, 

Marigold – Reliant K, Sound Of A Living Heart – JJ Heller, Floodplain – Sara Groves, Paul Brown Petty – Brandon Heath, Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty, On Jordan’s Stormy Banks – Jars of Clay,    If You Feel Too Much – Jamie Tworkowski, The Complete Stories – Flannery O’Conner,

– Javen.

on 9/28/16 at 12:25 a.m. I was thinking about the Townville ‘shooter’ named Jesse.

That all went down about six minutes from my house.


It’s an evil something awful,

That lets you kill your own,

What kind of demon runs inside you,

How many times have you been lied to,

In this hell of a nightmare,

That keeps you waking up alone,

It’s the loneliness of the wilderness,

That wells up inside a man,

When everything he hears spoken,

Kills and leaves him broken,

He shakes his fist at Heaven,

And turns and kills again,

I wanna know,

What was the reason,

How are you sleeping,

At three in the morning,

Where do you stand,

I’m so sorry,

That when you awake,

And rise to meet the day,

You’ll tie your shoelaces,

With blood on your hands,

There’s an anthem of mercy,

That’s calling out to you,

While you’re sitting in the prisons,

Of the darkness where you’re living,

That even a murderer,

Can be made new,

Even kids like me,

Even boys like you,

Murderers and liars,

Can still be made new,


The Rock of Ages retirement village in McMinnville, Oregon hosts an event every year that features lots of live music, hot air balloons, food tents, face painting, bouncy houses, and my favorite, a huge water slide for anyone who wants to get wet. As it turned out that meant me and tons of kids from five to thirteen charging down a soapy black tarp at high speeds for a long time. It was pretty awesome. The Hummlys, which is a band comprised of three siblings, played about half way through the day. They were super good.

The lady on the left (Joanne?) made a comment about my t-shirt..which turned into a long conversation about all kinds of things, including their friendship with the young Mat Kearney. Joanne and Dianne.


One day I went fishing on the Calapooia River which runs right through my hometown of Brownsville. The fishing was good. The catching was not so good. Reminded me of the quote I’ve seen on my calendar for the last four years, “I’ve fished through fishless days that I remember happily without regret.” – Roderick Haig-Brown

About a week ago our youth group headed to the coast after lunch on Sunday. We chilled on the beach, ate supper, watched the sunset, and sang some songs. I also ran into a really nice guy named Greg who was carrying a much nice Nikon than mine. We talked for a while, and he shed some light on that very subject.

In this photo there are four home states represented: South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Missouri. Shania is in town to visit family, and Travis will be joining the Gospel Echoes team and moving in with David and me later in September. There’s obviously a mighty northerly gale whipping at the moment.

me, sharina, ellie, and travis

Every year at the Gospel Echoes auction some kind people near Salem donate a meal to the highest bidder. Through a series of fortunate events, at least for me, I got to go along. The trip includes a ride to the coast in the tour bus, hanging out in some seaside towns, and of course, a meal with four of them. This year it also included a spontaneous stop to a mostly picked over estate sale. But I did snag an old AM radio for a dollar. The food was incredible, and was served to us by about ten people.


Last night some friends (including Brianna and Alisha Mullett who are in town for a few days)  and I went to the state fair. It featured a free (unless you got VIP) Jeremy Camp and MercyMe concert. They were both pretty good. MercyMe was my favorite. Afterwards we bought some tickets and road a mini roller-coaster. Quite thrilling. And then on the way out to the van this energetic worker of the ‘Rock and Roll’ ride beckoned us to hop on free of charge. A good Mennonite does not simply turn down such generosity. And wow. The thrill. The terror. The screaming. The rush of blood to the head.

Jeremy Camp
Mercy Me

Here’s a picture of the cool old barn in the Brownsville park.

the holes are where the light shines through


This is the coolest thing I seen today. So I thought I’d paste it in here. If you have fifteen minutes to be encouraged, click the middle.

‘Be strong, all you people of the land,’ and work. ‘For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’ – Haggai 2:4-5

A Long Way Home.

Summer tour has been wrapped up. My good friends have come and gone. Here’s pictures of it all.

Butte, Montana

We had a day where we got to go hike around the falls in Idaho where the Snake river takes a plummet. I forget where these houses were but they really cracked me up. They apparently live in the same house but everyone gets their own colors and stuff. The one with the different size hedge looks straight out of ‘Picture Perfect’

George: ‘Yeah, and here’s a joke for you: I think your pathetic hedges are a violation of the homeowner’s code. ‘

Vickie: Oh my, illegal shrubs. Whatever will I do?’

We parked at Mike’s parents’ house in Canton, Ohio for part of a day. While there they were kind enough to put my name on the cake along with Michelle’s and Abby’s.

We went to the Bruneau Dunes in Idaho. The picture of Mike on the right does have a story. He’s just beginning a valiant charge down the dune. Little does he know scalding, sun-baked sand awaits his tender phalanges. He was thoroughly singed and soon after reported that he’d, ‘had enough sand dunes for forty years.’

some interesting signs..

Collin and Colson came and hung out for about six days. We  really enjoyed the coast. This is Cannon beach..not where I had intended we go..but it was a cool beach nevertheless. I thought we were headed for the place I’d been earlier..turns out there’s more than one place on the Oregon coast with big pointy rocks.


Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania

Here’s pictures from our week in Goshen. We had a nice meal in a beautiful old barn and then later in the week was the annual ‘all team sing’.

While in Goshen we stayed with Ron and Julie Martin..they took us swimming..

..and fishing with a friend on Lake Michigan..

That night Everett and Charlotte Martin came over and we ate fish. #fresh

A few more from the road..


Recording and Ambling On

The kids finished recording their new album after three days of hard work with the guys in the Gospel Echoes studio. I think it turned out pretty well. During the recording I didn’t have a whole lot to do besides observing the process.

Tim and Todd.
the guys who make it happen

During the time we were in Goshen, I got to see the Ron and Julie Martin (Dad’s sister) and family. I hung out with their church’s youth group Friday night and stayed the night at their house. They were very good to me, and it’s always good to see faces you know the names for.

the Martin house

We headed out of Goshen Friday the first of July bound for Michigan. We met up with Mike’s parents (and his sister Christine) who were gracious enough to buy our supper at Bob Evans..which serves up a pretty good salad.

Mike. Elmer. Martha. Christine. Lars. Debbie

A group of about 60 people gathered in a Walmart parking lot on Saturday morning to get ready to do a prison rally. We headed to the prison and played music and served ‘pop’ to many many inmates. It was a fun thing to be a part of, and you could tell the guys really enjoyed the fact that people came out and served them. Then we drove several hours up into the first finger on the left side of the Michigan hand to Corwin and Trenda Schrock’s house in Traverse City where we parked for the night. They are really nice people. We used their shower, petted their dog, ate their pancakes, and played at their church on Sunday morning. It was an a cappella service which was difficult for us since we don’t ever sing a cappella at services. They were kind enough to serve us a good lunch in the basement church afterwards before we drove downtown to see the Blue Angles air show over the bay of Lake Michigan I believe. Someone told me this is the first show they’ve done since one of their men crashed and died. It was a good show and a beautiful day.

Does it get more American that the Blue Angles on July 4th weekend?

After the show we hit the road and got back to Goshen in time to see fireworks from Jim’s yard..along with quite a few others. Good food, sweat tea, good times.

We’ll be here in Goshen for the rest of the week for the annual planning meetings. My family is coming on Wednesday I think. I look forward to that. Take care my friends.


Thousand Oaks Gospel Camp

On Friday the 24th we arrived at the annual gospel sing event that happens in Winkler, Manitoba. It’s a great gathering of people (about a thousand) who come to camp, hear music, and spit sunflower seeds. I found their spitting method peculiar. They put one seed in their mouth at a time instead of loading in a whole handful. We definitely weren’t in America anymore. Our team sang four times over the course of the three days, and we were privileged to sing alongside the legendary John Schmid  in one set. He had also been traveling with us several days that week and doing services in prison with us. He’s a great storyteller, singer, and even throws in a little rap now and then: I definitely enjoyed hanging out and laughing with him all week.The man is a walking library of great tales and abides by Mark Twain’s advice to ‘never let the truth get in the way of a good story’. We were also privileged to travel with Corbin one of the nicest John Yoders I’ve ever met. John is the director of Gospel Echoes Canada and did the speaking/preaching in the prisons we visited. He also took us out for Denny’s and Tim Horton’s quite a few times. The man has given up the fight and is unashamedly addicted to Tim Horton’s coffee.

There were quite a few different groups that came out to sing, including the Wissmann family. Basically you jumped up on stage, plugged in whatever you needed, and performed for 4o minutes and then someone else came on. It was fun..hard for me though as we had to dig deep to play different songs for 4 sets..and I didn’t know most of them. So I either tried to look like I knew what was doing or chilled in the white tent to the left of the stage (pictured below). The weather was beautiful Friday and Saturday. Sunday was rainy and cold..so the  musicians were at times about 100 yards from the audience taking cover under the big white tent.

Below are pictures from Thousand Oaks and the road towards it..


Around Thousand Oaks

We left Manitoba on Sunday night, parked at a Walmart in North Dakota, and then got to Indiana Monday night. Now we’re in Goshen where the kids are recording their new album. Thanks for all your prayers and good words.


When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me



Oh! Canada

Today about 5 p.m. we crossed into the second greatest country in all of North America..it was pretty exciting. We entered Canada with no trouble at all. Right now I’m sitting in the McDonald’s of the Walmart Supercentre where we’re parked for the night. I hear Maroon 5 on the speakers, so apparently they have access to some of the same music here. About an hour ago I purchased a large pack of Canada Dry and a big bag of all dressed chips. Those are two areas where they’ve really got something going for them.

So now actually I’m mooching off the wifi in a Best Western motel in Canada. Wifi is rather hard to come by on the road. Today was another long day. We went to bed about        1   a.m. and got up about 7 a.m. (I’m getting to see both sides of many days 🙂 and then played 2 services in a prison. We loaded up and then drove 3 hours to another prison and played another service. We’re getting better and the services are becoming enjoyable. I didn’t have much fun the first couple times we played, but it’s getting better. Tomorrow we’re joined by the man, the myth the legend: John Schmidt. Should be a good time. Last I heard we’re in Manitoba. Long way from home eh?

Here’s some pictures from the journey so far. (I’m still pretty bad at navigating this site so bear with me as I learn)

a really cool joint in Conrad, Montana where they made me a cherry, vanilla Coke. The girl comes outside and takes your order with the change thing on her belt..super cool.
Hood River, OR
Home for the night.
My faithful companions awaiting our first gig in the Conrad Mission Church.