I’ve been listening to Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner lately, and it has me yearning for Montana – for the West. But in particular, I keep thinking of a small town I served in during my mission, Chinook. We were actually living in Havre, but there was a branch of the church in Chinook, about 30 minutes away. All the blank space on this map will give you an idea of what it was like there.
As missionaries, this area was problematic because we were two hours away from any other missionaries and our area was so large that I don’t think I ever even saw all of the edges. We covered two Reservations and many, many small towns.
We would go to Chinook every other week for church and to visit families. In particular, there was one family there that I loved so much, the Johnsons. They lived on a farm even further away and would often invite us over. They had 8 kids (I think) who were so much fun to play with. One time they took us out to a huge pile of hay bales – the beautiful round kind that I loved so much. And we played tag while hopping from bale to bale. Here’s a picture of one of the girls. I’m so sad that I don’t remember her name anymore, and it’s strange to think that she would probably be in college now.
Here’s another photo from Chinook, including one of my mission companions, Sister Khisghee.
(Sorry about the poor quality of these photos. I had to take a picture of the photo since my scanner doesn’t work. Sadly, I only have these two photos with me. The rest of my mission photos (and too many other souvenirs) are packed in a huge plastic container and stored in Utah.)
As someone who lived in Western Montana and visited there every summer growing up, I had a huge bias for that part of Montana. It’s the greener, more mountainous part of Montana and I think it’s possibly one of the most beautiful places in the world. I was also a Utah girl, accustomed to mountains all around me. I didn’t think I would like the flat plains of Central Montana, but I did. Khishgee (and I) are standing on one of tallest hills in the area and you can see the vantage point. I think I could see into Canada from there. I had the whole world around me. Cooped up in the city, in the humid air that just hangs here, the openness and crispness of my memories of Montana appeal to me.