My camera's still broken (can't afford a new one yet, or even a repair at the price Best Buy quoted) but here's a photo I found online that's pretty similar to the landscape of where we live:
Isn't it beautiful? For me it's just breath-taking. I love the mountains, love the snow, love the scent of pine... just love it here!
Here are a few more I found:
The first two were obviously taken during the summer, so picture them with snow, but they also show the layout of the land: vast, rolling prairies, the Black Hills and surrounding mountains, and forests of Ponderosa pine. We live just a few miles from the Wyoming border and not much farther from the Montana border (about an hour). The Black Hills are gorgeous, especially in the winter, and most people where we live are cattle ranchers. Our place is actually on a ranch, so there are horses of all kinds, cattle, and even llamas. My dad raises chickens and guinea hens, and down the street they have several donkeys.
Ethan's crazy about John Deere tractors, so this is his kind of place! He loves the animals and the snow (although it's been too cold for him to do much playing outside) and likes feeding bread to my dad's chickens.
Some great things:
* Yesterday we went to Ethan's first living nativity at First Methodist, and Ethan loved seeing the animals and the representation of baby Jesus. The weather was clear and warmer than usual, with a crystalline white, brilliant full moon. After we walked around the church and saw several nativity scenes with live animals and heard readings from the Scriptures, we went inside for hot cocoa and Christmas cookies.
* Fun with friends - it's been great to meet our pastor and his wife again (Andy and Cheryl) and go shopping in Rapid City with friend Leah, who's also the mom of a cute nearly three-year-old. Athos and I had already visited here twice before our move, so we remember many of the church members - and they were ready for us with all kinds of donated quilts and furniture. It feels good to be home!
* Christmas sales! I can't believe how CHEAP everything is here! I keep looking at the sales fliers and restaurant menus in disbelief. Clothes, shoes, food, household items - all much cheaper than what we paid in Brazil. And so many sales! I can hardly keep up with them all.
* A CAR!! We've been praying for a car, and through a mutual friend we met a woman ready to sell a beautiful Chrysler sedan that she's kept in excellent condition. And with LEATHER HEATED SEATS!!! She needs it today and maybe until the end of the week to get to work until she gets her other vehicle from North Dakota, but she promised (even after knocking a thousand dollars off the price) not to sell it to anybody else. :)
* Boots and coats and scarves! I LOVE winter coat - sweaters, boots, and jackets. Ethan has a down vest like my dad, and proudly puts on his vest "like Grandpa." He also got a pair of brown shoes from Walmart "like Grandpa." Thanks to Jenn for your Lands' End gift, and thanks to Janell for your box of size 3T boys' clothing!
* SNOW!!! I just LOVE snow! It was so much fun watching Ethan see snow fall for the first time, and showing him how to scoop up handfuls to eat. Snow is magic - Christmasy - cozy - and beautiful. The mountains are blue and white with snow and pines, and the fields are tawny gold, whispering with winter wheat and dried grasses. Christmas lights along the street! Strings of colored lights on houses and trees! And snow falling in the headlights like soft, white kisses.
* Most of our neighbors and church friends are ranchers, so I see Stetsons, leather vests, and cowboy boots every day. But these duds aren't for show - most of our friends actually work out in the fields, drive tractors, and herd cattle. I love the simpler lifestyle and rolling hills.
* Like wild game? This is the place! Since arriving here less than three weeks ago we (including Ethan) have eaten antelope stew, antelope and venison chili, venison sausage, and eaten cage-free, free-range chicken eggs from my dad's back yard. We buy raw unpasturized milk from a dairy just over the hill, in glass bottles. When Athos gets here it'll still be doe season, so he might get to go hunting for the first time.
I don't have Internet yet (waiting for Athos to arrive) but am checking when I can from our pastor's house and the local library. Would you pray for us for the following items:
1. For God to bring Athos soon and safely - just ten more days! and provide him with a good job;
2. For Ethan to adjust well; and
3. For Him to close this deal on the car successfully and help us get our house set up on a limited budget.
Thanks for remembering us! You can comment here or email me, and I'll see it when I check in.