Monday, October 28, 2013

This community is awesome!

I love Montana. Sometimes simple statements are all I can come up with but I think you get the picture. I've been calling this year 'my year of firsts' and I am so thankful and excited that there are so many people here that are excited and willing to share this things with me. In case you hadn't heard, I shot some guns a couple of weeks ago, because you know, that's what people do here, or so I am told. I am terrible at it and quite frankly it was quite alarming but I am glad to have been able to experience it. Before I shot this gun, I had never ever touched a gun before, this was a fact very hard for people here to believe. I had to convince them that I honestly didn't ever know where to get one if I wanted one at home.
I saw this snake while walking down the road the other day. That was certainly a first. While I have seen snakes before, I can't say I have ever seen one on the side of a road. He was just chilling there sunning himself on the side of the road so we just said hey to each other and moved about our days.
People in town kept telling me I was on the front page of the paper and I was super confused because no one would tell me why, but kept making a big deal of it. I finally see the paper and determine it was a group picture of me with some of the kids from the youth group I help with, after we collected food for the food pantry. I'm still not sure why everyone in town kept acting like I was the only one on the front page but I guess they were just excited they knew someone on the front page. I am also so proud of the kids as they collected 900 lbs of food for the food pantry where I volunteer. It was a huge help and made big change to the shelves that were getting pretty empty with the upcoming holidays and government issues.

This past weekend we went to the Lutheran church to worship. After worship we helped clean up the church yard a bit followed by a potluck. I have never been to so many potlucks in my life. That is apparently a thing here. Pretty much any and every gathering ends up being a potluck. It is always delicious and a wonderful time of fellowship. This potluck however was followed by a hay ride through town, pulled by two horses!
This was an incredible way to end the afternoon. These were the kids we were on the hay ride with and I'm not sure who was more excited, them or me, but for the record, some adults went on it too.
The weather was very nice to gently break me in to this winter with temperatures in the 20s and just a dusting of snow.
So as the first snow falls and gently swirls and blankets the ground, it seems to have muffled all the sounds and thoughts swirly though my head. I have a deep sense of peace and calm. Those feeling always comes with the first snow for me, it's pretty, it's novel, it's changed the scenery and it changes me a bit too.

Life is good, love is strong. That's where I'm at and I hope you're there with me.

Sending you peace that passes understanding.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Presbytery at Whitlash

We went to presbytery this past weekend in Whitlash, Montana. It is quite a small town so I was highly amused by the this huge garbage can on the way, bit of a juxtaposition if you will.
Giant garbage can!
Also people are really helpful in Montana, they even give you directions on how to use the toilet paper in the rest stations on the side of the road. The most helpful and friendly vandalism I have ever seen.
This is the road to Whitlash. You turn down a gravel road drive for 30 miles down a gravel road, all of which look quite similar to this.
Delicious carrot cake and super cute picture of their church on the cake.
The church presbytery was held in was the Whiltash Community Presbyterian Church which has 12 members. It is a super cute little church that was celebrating 100 years of existence!
The actual town of Whiltash contains 6 people on most days, on days the one family has their kids, the population goes up to 10. And I thought Chinook was cute and small? Another fun fact, they get their eggs and meat from the mailman. And then there is the sign post in town telling you where all the families/ranches in the are in which direction.
Hey look a deer!
Presbytery here is what I imagine church government should be. It was a lot of fellowship and worship, and a small amount of business. No fighting, no arguing, just working together to follow God. It reminded me that I am Presbyterian, it's a good thing, and it can work. I had an amazing time and truly appreciated the time to get to talk with some of the pastors of the state.
So as the sun rises, I am reminded that my time here is still just beginning. I have come to know a lot of people in the community, been loving my jobs, and truly felt loved and embraced by the town. Yet I know I still have much to do and learn.

Sunsets and sunrises both look the same if you don't know the direction you are facing. As I seek to follow God's direction for my life, I turn towards the son, soaking in this warmth, eagerly embracing the journey of a new day.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Wildlife museum

Sometimes in life you have this overwhelming desire to take pictures with animals (or maybe that's just me) and they don't want to cooperate. Going to a wildlife museum solves that problem. Case and point all of the follow pictures. I had a ton of fun taking selfies with the animals as I'm sure you can tell from the pictures. 
Hey there Mr Bear!
Aww, look at the elk! Kisses!
Racoons, on my head?!?
Excited face and moose!
Aww, look at the baby!
This is our 'we're serious' face
He looks confused so I was confused with him.
Kisses little goat!
Last but not least is the buffalo jump exhibit. This exhibit is seriously amazing. If you are ever in town you should stop by the museum if for no other reason than to see this. Historically speaking, buffalo were chased off the side of a cliff by a man in a pelt and after the buffalo fell off the cliff, if the fall didn't kill them, the natives could kill the buffalo much easier than out on the plains.
Buffalo falling to his doom!
I had an amazing time in the museum. Life is what you make of it. Have fun anywhere you are, it's contagious and even if people think you are crazy (like I'm sure some of you are now thinking that about me) enjoy every minute of it.

God says "I am who I am" (Exodus 3:14) and since we are made in his image, I too proudly say I am who I am, that silly, weird girl that finds joy and laughter in all places.

Sending you peace, love, joy and laughter from Montana.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sugarbeet festival

So one of the attractions on the list of things to do in Chinook is the Sugarbeet Festival. This is apparently what a sugarbeet looks like. 
There used to be factory in town that procesed them into sugar, never knew that was a thing. But the town school's mascot is named after them so that's fun and who doesn't like festivals. There was also a Sugarbeet decorating contest, cute!
The kids at the high school also get a day off school so each class makes tangier own float. Their rivals at the home coming game the following day this year was the badger hence the caged badger.
The band also played and marched. Look at how tiny the band is, yet still impressive considering how the size of the school.
The festival had two parades; one with just the high schoolers and a slightly larger one the next day with various groups. So this is what I learned about small town parades: they turn around and come back and you watch the entire parade again. I am not joking. They turn, go around the block so the seniors at their appartments can see, then proceed down the first street again. I was told this ahead of time but did not realize literally everyone stays and watches the second time around. So I stopped and watched the entire parade a second time.

JUMP, which is the youth group I work with, also had a pie fundraiser during the festival. Ooo, look at all the yummy pies! And this was not all the choice either.
Also super fun event was the reenactment of a bank robbery. It was really impressive; the guys were climbing on roofs and shooting off guns, riding into and out of town on horses, and it was even staged at the Wells Fargo Bank. These were some of the guys from the reenactment during the parade. They were giving out fake money to kids.

In summary, it was a really awesome weekend, filled with friends, community and some amazing small town charm.

Monday, September 23, 2013

People say there is nothing fun to do in a small town

And I say Oh nay nay. One should definitely go to the county museum. Behold the wonders. Ginormous elk head sticking out of the wall
And this awesome buffalo coat that I bet would keep you quite toasty even in the winters out here. 

Man am I jealous of whoever was around 75 million years ago to take this picture! 
JK but there are a lot of dinosaur bones in Montana and that is seriously awesome. Like for example the Gorgosaurus which makes me think of the Gorgs from Fraggle rock. 
So clearly I pretended to be one and took my picture with a skull. 
Also speaking of skulls, look at the size of that work horse skull. It's huge!
And last but not least, a picture of camera that while similar to my phone in that if does not have any cell reception, it would be undoubtedly more difficult to post pictures for you all if this was all I had to use. 
Big thanks to the Blaine County Museum for endless entertainment and for being FREE so it makes it even more awesome. 

So to sum it all up, life is good and even the dumpsters are happy. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Musings and mailings

So tomorrow officially marks 3 weeks in Montana. People are asking just this weekend if I am getting settle in and getting used to town, if I am finding things okay now. 
That question always makes me smile every time. Yes, everything is gorgeous and everyone is friendly but also town is tiny. I'm pretty sure I explored the entire town the first couple days here. The Chinook website calls the town "small town charm, big city ambience." I'm not quite sure there is anything big city about Chinook but I love them all the more for thinking there is. 
People have asked what I'm missing most about NJ other than people and I must say it was the smells. At home, the wind always smells like water, whether its the ocean or the bay or the river/creek/lagoon etc. As I'm sure you can imagine from the picture above, it smells like hay or horses or cattle (I have to keep reminding myself to use the word cattle because every time I see them I think 'Ooo cows!' But that is apparently wrong. Aka cattle not cows). 
While there is no water close by, there is a library! Which as I'm sure you can tell by the excited face with my new library card above is super exciting. They also are part of the digital library so I can now borrow books from Nj and Mt at the same time on my Nook! 10 books potentially at a time instead of 5, my mind is exploding at the thought. 
Also this past week on Monday, I got a ton of books that I will be using throughout the year. I'll be helping out tutor some math this year at the high school and I just admit I was more excited that I should be at getting 3 math books. I know, I'm such a dork, but you love me anyway. And yes, that is in fact the Virgin Mary behind my shoulder. I didn't realize she was there until after I took the picture but I really enjoy the fact that I got photobombed by the Virgin Mary. 

Also, mail is fun, like this postcard I got from Colleen! So if you want to be cool like that, feel free to send me a nifty postcard or other such mail like shenanigans @ the following address

PO Box 231
Chinook, MT 59523

Monday, September 2, 2013


Montana is epic. The first two pictures are from the drive into Chinook from Billings. There really isn't much between the two places as you can see by the pictures but it is also a really nifty drive because you really get to see almost every type of geography the state has to offer.

I am loving every minute of life but I've already learned a few things that I'm not sure I ever expected. I guess that's the thing about learning new things, sometimes it just happens and there is no preparation. I think a lot of times in life I've set out to learn something specific or at the very least acknowledging I have very little knowledge about some aspect of life. I think this is the first time I've truly been surprised about what I have been learning. I came into this year knowing I had a lot to learn about the physical area (flora, fauna, geographic stuff etc) but I honestly didn't think that there would be a difference in the way we define city.

When I was flying into Billings on the plane, they made the announcement that we were approaching the city and we would be landing in a few minutes. Looking out the window, I see nothing but beautiful landscape so I'm thinking, "No, we can't be approaching a city, there are no houses, no suburbs surrounding the city." So we land and there's no announcement about what terminal baggage is in, I'm thinking "hmm, that's odd" well as it turns out there is only one, hence no announcement.

I am from the city. This is a statement that of course I disagreed with the first time I heard it. City? Me? No, silly, I'm from the suburbs. New York, that's a city, Philly, also a city, Newark and Camden, sure. Toms River, not a city. Then it hits me. Billings is the largest town in Montana, as in the ENTIRE STATE, and it is roughly the size of Toms River. Relatively speaking I suppose I see why it would be called a city so relatively speaking, I am now from the city.

 This city girl is excited to be spending her year in Chinook. I crossed a "highway" to get to this sign. AKA, I walked across a two lane street with absolutely no cars or trucks on it or in sight at the time.
I'm the Chinook water tower and I'm super cute!

Look, I have horses who live down the street!

The view looking down the street at the end of town