Serving the Voices Blog

Posts Tagged Hospitality

Refuge from the Storm

Our Irma Experience with a RYFO Host Home

Guest Written By: Nichole of Chiaroscuro (wife of David Hamilton – RYFO’s Director of Operations)


When David and I first heard about hurricane Irma, we weren’t too concerned. We both grew up in tornado country and have lived in Florida the past seven years without major incident. Year after year, you pay attention, you prepare, and then you watch comfortably from your home as nothing serious happens. But as it turns out, this time was different.

Day by day, the storm drew closer and continued to pick up strength. All of a sudden, there was a very real possibility that it could be a category four or five when it hit Florida, and that Polk County could be taking a direct hit. When you live in the middle of the state, this just isn’t something you expect to deal with. Native Floridians all around us were making plans, and lots of people starting boarding up their windows. In other words, everyone started taking things serious for the first time in seven years.

On Friday evening, we decided that we would check the weather update when it came out at 2am on Saturday. If there was a possibility that IRMA could hit us at a four or higher, we would leave. So, David got up early, studied the forecasts, and woke me up about an hour later to tell me that it could indeed be a four by the time it got here. Of course, you never know with hurricanes, but we were convinced that leaving was the right decision. At worst, our city would face massive destruction. At best, out power would be out for several days, maybe weeks.

Leaving was a very difficult and emotional decision to make. The duplex is the first house we’ve ever owned, and we love it. Leaving it all behind, not knowing what we might come back to was painful. It felt a little bit like we were abandoning our home, a place that has much more value than the money it cost and the stuff inside it. We were also fearful for our city. There are so many people and businesses here that we are invested in. What would happen to them?


We buttoned up the inside of the house as best we could, and fled the state at about 4:30am. We arrived in Tallahassee a few hours later, and it was time to make another decision. We could head to New Orleans, where we have friends that could possibly take us in, or to a RYFO host home in Alabama, which was much closer. We didn’t have a concrete solution worked out in either place, but we had faith that it would work out one way or another. We stopped at a local coffee shop to take a break, clear our heads, and wait for an answer. By the time we had finished our coffee, we had gotten word from our RYFO host home. They said to come on over, they would be happy to have us.

We arrived at their house in Auburn a few hours later, physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. Walking into a new place can be intimidating and foreign, but their home was warm and inviting right from the start. We had a bunch of stuff with us, including our little dog and even my pet snake, but they didn’t bat an eye. They prepared a little room for us (someone who lives there actually gave up her room for us), and we immediately crashed. We were so thankful to have a safe place to rest and ride out this storm.

 

The next several days were strange, but memorable. The first two days we were anxiously awaiting the passing of the storm. I was constantly checking social media for updates from friends and businesses back home. People were still very concerned, but prepared to ride it out together. As we were keeping an eye on Florida, we were also getting to know our host family and their charming city. We ate together, played music, watched movies and laughed. It was a fantastic relief to have a place of rest, but it was also a wonderful experience getting to explore new places, new people, and being a part of the family for a few days.

Thankfully, Irma passed through central Florida without major incident. Most people didn’t have power, but most people also didn’t have serious damage. We were so grateful that this monster storm ended up being only a little worse than the norm. The trip back to Florida was stressful (due to traffic) but we were at peace. We were heading back to our city and home, both of which were almost entirely intact.


Our hurricane Irma experience was emotional and tense. It was a scary disruption to our normal life, and it gave us important insight into what a RYFO host home really is. When we were alone and unsure of where to go, a family of strangers welcomed us into their home and took care of us. This is what host families do everyday. They embrace those in need, and show them the love through hospitality. It may sound like a small thing, but for us, it made all the difference in the world.


“For You have been a strong-place for those who could not help themselves and for those in need because of much trouble. You have been a safe place from the storm and a shadow from the heat.” Isaiah 25:4


 

Artist Testimonial // JD Vazquez

Testimonial JD Vasquez Shadow of Whales

JD Vazquez // Shadow of Whales

“I’m here to talk about an organization that is near and dear to my heart called RYFO. Recently, we were playing in Lawrence, Kansas, and as a couple of small town boys from Texas, we needed a godsend to keep us from sleeping in our van. Thanks to RYFO, we found one. After driving six hundred miles, playing a rock show, trying to connect with and thank every new fan that night, we were exhausted. The last thing we wanted to do was drive another six hundred miles. Because of the incredible people at RYFO, we didn’t have to. We had warm beds to sleep in, breakfast the next morning, and conversation with some of the nicest people we’ve met on the road. Not to mention a fond and safe farewell. The team at RYFO make it possible for bands like us to extend our reach beyond what we thought possible. We are so grateful to be partnered with them and definitely recommend it to musicians alike.”

Quick Fix Recipes for Late Night Bands

Quick Fix Recipes

Rarely, do any of the bands that stay with us arrive when we are actually eating dinner. Most of our stays arrive at midnight, or well into the morning. All the bands have something in common though…they are all hungry. Since life on the road lends to an unusual schedule, bands tend to eat whatever they can get from a convenience store or through a drive-thru.

When bands stay with us we like to have something healthy and hearty to serve them. It is however hard to motivate yourself to cook a full meal at midnight. So, here are 3 quick fix recipes for those late night arrivals. You can get these started, and be ready to go when the band walks through the door.


 Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Buttermilk Biscuits

 Courtesy of Dash of Texas

Quick Fix Recipes for Late Night Bands

For the Soup:

  • 3 cups cooked shredded chicken (about 4 breasts or most of a rotisserie)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup green beans, sniped in half
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 Russet potato, peeled and diced
  • ¼ scant cup flour
  • 7 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup whole milk (optional)

For the Biscuits:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup butter, cold and cubed into ½”
  • ¾ cup buttermilk, cold
Instructions
  1. In a heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the onion and garlic. Cook until soft and translucent. Add the carrots and potato chunks and cook for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the flour to the vegetables in the pot and stir to coat, letting cook for about 3 more minutes. Add the chicken stock while whisking, stirring out any lumps. Add the whole milk (optional – will just make the base a little more creamy instead of solely brothy).
  3. Add the peas, corn, green beans, and chicken. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots are tender.
  4. To make the biscuits, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cute in the cubes of butter until pieces no bigger than peas remain. Make a little well in the bowl, and add the chilled buttermilk. Stir with a large spoon until the mixture comes together. Knead once or twice in the bowl.
  5. Lay the dough on a lightly floured surface and gently roll out into a ¾” rectangle (don’t over-roll – as that will make tough biscuits). Fold the rectangle into thirds, like a letter, then roll out gently again. Repeat this process 2 or 3 more times (this creates flaky layers in the biscuits).
  6. Roll out into a ¾” rectangle again, and cut out biscuits using a biscuit cutter or the mouth of a drinking glass. Place close together on a baking sheet, 1-2 inches apart from each other. Bake in an oven heated at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, or until golden. Serve with warm soup.

Notes

Any and all of the vegetables can be frozen or fresh. If using frozen potatoes or carrots, simply gauge if they need more time to cook through on the stove.


 Breakfast Casserole with Sausage, Hashbrowns & Eggs

 Courtesy of Gimme Some Oven

Quick Fix Recipes for Late Night Bands

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Italian sausage (I prefer hot, but mild or sweet also work)
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 (20 ounce) bag frozen hash browns, thawed
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • (optional topping: thinly sliced green onions)

 

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Add the sausage to a medium saute pan. Cook over medium-high heat until browned, crumbling the sausage with a spoon as it cooks. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Reserve about 1 tablespoon of sausage grease in the saute pan, discarding the rest.
  3. Add the onion and red pepper to the saute pan, and saute for 5 minutes until cooked.
  4. Add the garlic and saute for an additional 2 minutes until fragrant.
  5. Pour the vegetable mixture into the mixing bowl with the sausage.
  6. Add the hash browns and 1 1/2 cups cheese to the mixing bowl with the sausage and veggies. Stir to combine.
  7. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and black pepper until combined.
  8. Add them to the hashbrown mixture, and stir to combine.
  9. Pour the mixture into a 11×7-inch or a 9×9-inch baking dish (a 9×13-inch dish will also work), and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.
  10. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  11. Remove the aluminum foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes and the top of the potatoes begin to slightly brown.
  12. Remove and let the casserole rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with green onions and serve!

 Chicken Enchilada Pasta

 Courtesy of Cooking With Curls

Quick Fix Recipes for Late Night Bands

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 Large clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Cups enchilada sauce
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt (I used Fage)
  • 2 Cups shredded, cooked chicken (rotisserie is perfect)
  • 8 Ounces rigatoni pasta, cooked and drained (reserve 1 cup of pasta water)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • sour cream/yogurt, sliced olives, diced green onions (to garnish)

Instructions

  1. Cook chicken. Shred and set aside.
  2. Cook pasta and drain, reserving 1 cup of water.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, stir and cook for one minute.
  5. Add enchilada sauce and stir in sour cream.
  6. Add the chicken and stir to combine.
  7. Add drained pasta and stir to coat. If the sauce is too thick, add the reserved pasta water 1/4 cup at a time.
  8. Sprinkle cheese over pasta mixture, cover and reduce heat to low.
  9. Heat until cheese is melted and mixture is bubbly.
  10. Serve with sour cream, sliced olives and green onions.

Voices From the Road: Phinehas

“Life on tour is hard. RYFO is here to help”. This statement, however simple it may seem, holds profound truth to me as it has been realized in my life over the past 4+ years. My name is Lee Humerian and I play drums in a band called Phinehas.

My first tour was also Phinehas’ first tour – a short run in the summer of  2009 that started where we were from in southern California up to Washington state and back. I’m pretty sure we did more driving than playing, but it was a chance for us to play out of state and get our feet wet in the road grind. Back then, when we weren’t driving overnight, we relied on family for a place to eat, shower and sleep.

That’s pretty much how it was for us for our next couple tours in the summers of 2010 and 2011. We would plan on playing a summer festival and book as many shows in between as we could. There were no tour budgets and no back-up plans – just (hopefully) enough fuel to get us to the next show. Twice we popped the radiator on our van. The first time we used my credit card for the repair and borrowed a family mini-van for a couple shows. The second time, we also blew a head gasket in our engine and couldn’t afford the fix. We were stranded in Cle Elum, Washington for three days until our friend Tyrone from Bakersfield drove 1000 miles one way (!) to pick us and our trailer up. This unbelievable display of kindness is one of COUNTLESS acts of selflessness we have experienced in our years of touring. I firmly believe that we wouldn’t be a band today if it weren’t for the love and blessing we’ve received by people like this.11822561_10153158925174492_7489272583621173184_n

Many of these kind, incredible acts have been poured out on us by folks we’ve met through the RYFO organization. RYFO is a non-profit advocate for outreach to musicians. Basically, they are a community of people who open their homes to touring musicians to provide not only a place to sleep, but full-fledged meals, clean showers, laundry, and many other amenities that are often difficult to find or afford while on tour.

We met a RYFO representative at a festival in 2010 and started staying in host homes consistently when we started touring full time in 2012. While playing shows every night is an absolute blast and something we in Phinehas are very fortunate to have the opportunity to do, touring can be very exhausting. After a while, the sleep-deprivation, poor eating habits, sweaty clothes and filthy van can get to you no matter how much or how little you’ve toured. That’s why we love staying at RYFO host homes so much.

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Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Kemp

Whenever we have the opportunity to stay at a RYFO home, we almost always take it. Rest is so invaluable in life, but it can be extremely difficult to come by while on the road. RYFO stays are so replenishing for me in every way: Physically, emotionally and spiritually. What they offer is so seemingly simple, but when you’ve been away from family for weeks, stuck in a dirty van and eating poorly and irregularly, a bed, shower and meal go a really long way. On top of this, there have been many times RYFO families have gone above and beyond their call of duty. We’ve had a couple drive 4 hours one way to pick us and our gear up from a transmission shop and take us to that night’s show, then drive us 4 hours back so we could pick up our van. We’ve had hot meals waiting for us at 4am after an all-night drive. We’ve received care packages of snacks and sports drinks. We’ve had long, deep conversations about life. I could truly go on and on.

Phinehas visiting one of our host homes in Oklahoma

Phinehas visiting one of our host homes in Oklahoma

Needless to say, the people involved with RYFO are incredible. We are so fortunate to know the people we’ve stayed with. Many of them have become like family to us, and it is only possible through their loving generosity. We in Phinehas are so thankful to be a part of RYFO – this organization and the host families a part of it have blessed us immensely. If you are in a touring band, we highly encourage you to sign up for RYFO. You’ll be so glad you did! If you have the heart and the means to host and these stories moved you in any way, then we would encourage you to apply to be a host home!

Grace and peace to you, and long live RYFO!
Lee Humerian & PHINEHAS

 

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How We Will Be Serving the Voices in 2015

RYFO Serving 2015

By: Simeon Lohrmann (Team Leader)

Serving the Voices the past 6 years has broadened our understanding of family and taught us about the power of sacrificial service.

As a staff we are continually amazed by the families we are blessed to partner with through our Host Home program. Some of these families discovered RYFO through an advertisement, others stumbled upon us while browsing online, and still others were referred by someone to check us out. Regardless of the way in which they happened upon our ministry, God was at work in every case, directing these radical families to join us in Serving the Voices.

As it stands today RYFO has Host Homes in 26 States and 1 Canadian Province. We are a growing network of servants who understand the needs of touring musicians, and who have said YES to the call to respond to those needs.

One of our most tenured families, the Lubs, recently reported that over the past 5 years they’ve hosted 239 different musicians, served 1,214 individual meals, and made 564 beds. Can you imagine the conversations they’ve had during those meals, and the friendships that have been formed with bands who have stayed with them during multiple tours? It’s truly amazing. These families are portraying the love of Christ through Radical Hospitality.

I count myself blessed to be leading this amazing ministry and I’m excited to share a snapshot of what’s ahead in 2015.

The RYFO FAM

Last week we mailed gift packages to the 30 individuals/families who currently make regular financial investments in our ministry. We’ve chosen to name this committed group The RYFO FAM. Without their partnership our ministry could not exist. FAM is about transforming the lives of musicians who are outside of the local church, by providing backstage access for the Gospel and discipleship.

In the coming weeks we will begin extending an invitation for others to join this group by committing to invest a minimum amount of “Five-A-Month.” Through the expansion of The RYFO FAM we are confident that in 2015 we can begin investing more resources back into our Host Homes than we currently allocate towards our administrative expenses. This financial transition will enable us to actively recruit and better equip our Host Home network, as well as improve the platform we developed for bands to connect with our homes while on the road.

A RYFO Tour

We firmly believe that the best step forward is to go deep with the Host Homes we are currently partnered with. In order to do that we need to invest time being with them. So we devised a plan to do just that.

This coming summer my family and I will be traveling around the country to deepen our relationship with RYFO’s existing Host Homes, and to raise awareness for our ministry. We plan to cover as much of the country as possible, including areas where RYFO is looking to expand by recruiting new Host Homes.

RYFO Chaplains

After many years of dreaming about serving musicians in ways that extend beyond Host Homes, 2015 is the year for that vision to take form. Last week our staff began the process of developing a Chaplaincy program for the musician community. This program will be relevant to both local and touring musicians. Chaplains will proactively bring truth and hope backstage in venues and concert halls around the country, while also being available to connect with bands as they come through town. Some Chaplains may even find themselves on tour with a band. The options are as diverse as the needs for which they exist.


If you are interested in any of these initiatives we would love to hear from you

You can contact us by emailing info@ryfo.org

Serving the Voices at Warped Tour

Vans Warped Tour

By: Simeon Lohrmann (RYFO Team Leader)

With over 100 bands performing in 32 states in under 2 months, Warped Tour is a MASSIVE undertaking! This summer Warped is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and while the tour is celebrating its 20th year; we’re celebrating our 1st time having a RYFO presence on the tour!

Since the tour kicked off last month in Texas, our volunteers have been spreading the word about our Host Home network, and looking for opportunities to build relationships with the bands on the tour. When it’s all said and done 21 different volunteers will have represented RYFO at select tour dates in 6 different states. With one date remaining for our volunteers in Atlanta next week, we wanted to share about our experience thus far.

A Warm Welcome

Since our first appearance on the tour at the San Antonio date, the bands have been wowed by our desire to care for their needs on the road. Some of the bands went so far as to stop what they were doing to sign up on the spot. Comments like, “This is the best idea I’ve ever heard!” have been repeatedly noted by our volunteers as they share about RYFO. Simply put, RYFO has been warmly welcomed into the Warped Tour Community!

One notable, and somewhat comical comment made by an artist at the Pomona date went something like this…(a phone conversation while walking up to our booth in the catering area) “I’m about to get lunch (brief pause while reading our sign) and apparently I’m about to get a shower!” We proceeded to share with this artist, as we have with most of the musicians on the tour, about the hospitality of our amazing Host Homes all around the country. He was blown away!

In contrast, some of the artists we connected with thought RYFO was simply too good to be true. When Audrey Thompson, RYFO’s Host Home Coordinator was asked, “So what’s the catch?” by one of the more skeptical artists. She responded plainly, “Well actually there is a catch. We’re doing it all for Jesus.” To which the artist responded, “That’s a good catch!

To add to all the positive receptivity from the Warped bands, RYFO’s acceptance on the tour was fully cemented when Warped Tour’s founder Kevin Lyman took it upon himself to approach our table and personally thank us for serving their artist community.

With such a warm welcome across the board our staff has concluded one thing for sure – This summer won’t be the last time we’re Serving the Voices at Warped Tour!

 

A big shout out and thank you to our amazing volunteers!

 

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Host Home Spotlight: Meet the Harners

Harner family

Welcome to the next edition of the semi-regular feature “Meet the Host Homes.” It’s time to get to know the Harner family. Dave and Sarah live in Dayton, Ohio, with their 3 sons.

Meet the Harners
By: Cathy Hill

The first band the Harners hosted was Icon for Hire in early 2012, when the band seemed to be in the area every month. Dave made a point of connecting with Shawn Jump, the band’s guitarist, and exchanging information and offering them an open invitation to stay whenever they’d pass through next. The band finally stayed in March, and during their visit Dave asked drummer Adam Kronshagen how the family might better connect with bands and offer hospitality (short of “stalking them,” he says!) and Adam mentioned RYFO. So thanks to Icon for Hire for being the RYFO advocate! Not long after that conversation, the Harners were registered as a RYFO host home and had Reverse Order as their first “official” RYFO group.

Dave’s wife Sarah is the expert in the food area (she’s from the south and loves to cook for visitors). Her “go-to” meal is a taco buffet with salad, chicken, and whatever else she brings out. “The bands eat so much garbage on the road, so we always make sure to have lots of fresh veggies and fruit,” says Dave. “They always appreciate whatever is served because it’s ten times better than anything they get along the road. My advice is to have fun feeding them because they will appreciate Hamburger Helper if that’s all you can make. In the end, bless the food and let them eat. Don’t burn yourself out.”

I asked the Harners for any trade secrets for host homes, and I love this one: buy small, foldable fabric coolers (from Goodwill, for instance) and send the bands along with extras and leftovers. They can be folded away or tossed afterwards (or brought back to be refilled on the next visit!).

Matthew 6:6 is a verse that Dave cites as meaningful: “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Dave likes how it talks about being humble and not looking for praise from men. “Your Father knows what you do, and you will be rewarded for it,” says Dave. “If I did something ‘worthy’ others will notice and I can point to God.”

Much of what RYFO host homes do is unnoticed by “the world” but the bands recognize them as the hands and feet of Jesus. This is why we serve. The Harner family has chosen to be rebranded fans and offer the road-weary musicians love and support in the form of a bed, a meal and encouraging words.

Host Home Spotlight: Meet the Petersons

Meet the Petersons host home spotlight

This blog post is the first in a new series of blogs through which we plan to gradually introduce each of our Host Home families. Our desire is for you to be inspired by the testimony of their experience as a Host Home. As described by the men of Silent Planet, “The heart of the Gospel is truly alive in these revolutionary families.” They are Serving the Voices!

Meet the Petersons
By: Cathy Hill

As I begin to introduce our RYFO Host Homes, it seemed logical to start with Doug and Michelle Peterson, since they have been hosting bands even before the start of RYFO. The Petersons, along with their children Mekahla and Kendon, live in the Kansas City area and have been serving the voices for 7 years. They estimate that they have welcomed more than 40 bands into their home.

The Petersons have been able to dedicate their entire basement to serving the bands. It’s full of beds, made and ready to sleep in. They have a lot of towels (“they don’t match but still work!”). And there is always a lot of good food for everyone. “People always appreciate food and it puts them at ease,” says Michelle. “Doug loves to smoke pork ribs or roast for pulled pork. I make cheesy potato casserole, salad and dessert to go with it.” And, she adds, there can never be too much popcorn: “We love to introduce people to our favorite topping which is Hidden Valley Ranch Dip powdered mix. It is awesome!”

When I asked the family to share a meaningful Bible passage, they chose one that clearly articulates the RYFO vision: 1 Peter 4:9-10. “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”

Before becoming involved with RYFO, the family did not recognize hospitality as a gifting. Michelle says, “I thought of it as something we just do (be hospitable). Now I understand that it truly is a gift and we are blessed to have it! Our family has been blessed to meet all of the people that we have over the years. Isn’t it is just like our God to provide blessings back to the people who are just trying to serve! Our families thought we were crazy for opening our home up like this; they worried that our kids were going to be abused, illegal things were going to happen, things would be stolen. Absolutely nothing even close to their misgivings has ever happened. Our involvement with RYFO has witnessed to our families in a way that a church service never could. We are grateful!”