The Montana X-Files

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Far in the distance, the Mission Mountains snow peaked caps shine brightly in the sunshine and provide a stark contrast for the grisly scene that lays before us. Only a few yards away, lie the remains of a cow that has only recently perished. Not sensing anything out of the ordinary, I urge my horse to approach the scene to further investigate. We take two steps and my horse balks, as well as the other man and horse next to me. The other man however, doesn’t balk from fear as the horses did, but because he knows that something isn’t right. He has seen this exact same scene before, not a half mile away, and to the exact day one year ago. He knows that this death isn’t a natural one that is to be expected while tending to hundreds of cattle. This was something else entirely.

The first cow ‘mutilation’ that Lonnie experienced was on this same ranch and less than a mile away. On June 24th, 2012, he approached a cow that was healthy only days ago, but lay stiff and still and decomposing today. Time of death, June 20th, the summer solstice. Not sure what he was seeing at the time or why he felt uneasy, Lonnie took several pictures of the body and left the scene to continue with the days work. The next day, he returned with a Lake County Sheriffs Deputy to further examine the scene. Upon investigation, both men concluded that this cow had not died or been further harmed by what most would deem ‘natural causes’. Experts were called in to assess the situation and all walked away in disbelief or with shrugged shoulders. All said the same thing,

“I don’t know”

All they could say for certain was that they had never seen anything of the sort and that they believed there was a human culprit to be found.

The cow laid in a lush bed of grass that had been grazed short until within a few feet of her. Within this invisible boundary, it seemed as if no animal had dared to tread. The Lake County Sheriffs Department called its search and rescue trackers to determine how the culprits approached, operated, and left. The trackers spread out and scoured the property. They could not find any vehicle sign, footprints, point of entry, or any predator tracks on the surrounding property. They looked again. And again. Still nothing. Finally, they looked at each other and shrugged,

“I don’t know”

The cow laid on her right side with a large portion of hide missing from the left side of her ribs, several slits were cut in between each rib, and her reproductive organs had been removed. All of this would be attributable to the work of predators and scavengers had there been any blood on the ground around, but the ground was bone dry. The skin and organs had all been removed with a surgical precision and had been done without spilling a single drop of blood. To verify the findings, an autopsy was performed. A local vet confirmed what they believed and revealed further information.

The arcing cut that exposed the ribs was made with a knife. The heart was also missing and had been removed with staggering precision. She believed that someone had to have done that. The only opening large enough was at the base of the neck. No predator could have removed the heart through such a small opening without damaging the lungs and surrounding tissue. When asked who she believed did this or why, she shrugged,

“I don’t know”

The second cow that was found on this same ranch, was eerily similar to the first. Both bloodless, removed of organs, and untouched by anything around it. This cow had died the night before, the same night as the last. June 20th, the summer solstice. I had heard the story of the first cow several times and was always hesitant to believe. Not that I doubted the multiple sources who credited the story, just that things like this are too wild to really believe. I didn’t know what to think until I personally rode upon that animal scorching in the sun. Having lived my entire life in a ranching community, dead animals and the circumstances surrounding it are no stranger, it is merely a fact of life. After close inspection of this particular animal, I fully believed everything was not as it seemed in the Mission Valley.

Not a single person who viewed the scene could determine who had done this, how they had gotten there, or why. The cow seemed to have been dropped out of thin air after all of the work had been done without a single shred of evidence to be found. If you were to google this topic, thousands of reports can be found from locations all over the world. Many are easily attributable to predators or natural occurrences. Many are not so easily dismissed. There are a great many people that believe this is a great government conspiracy or that extra-terrestrial life is involved. Some believe that it is a combination of the two. What I saw that day didn’t suggest either of those explanations but that doesn’t mean I have a good answer for you. Ask me who or what is responsible for this and I’ll shrug and say,

“I don’t know”

Easter: Culture Changes, The Story Doesn’t

Angel

Having grown up in the 90’s and now living in 2016, I’ve seen many aspects of our culture here in America change. I remember riding my bicycle without a helmet, drinking water from a garden hose and riding in the back of a pickup truck. These things are now considered “unacceptable” by today’s societal standards. I also remember combing over my hair before school, checking my flip phone for texts and listening to The Red Hot Chili Peppers. These things are now outdated.

Our cultural norms and standards of what is “ok” and what is “not ok” change. They always have and always will.

Another thing I’ve seen change over my short 23-year span here on earth is standards or expectations on how a church service is held. I grew up in a very traditional Christian Reformed (a specific denomination of Christianity) church. My family dressed up every Sunday morning, found our spot in the pews and stood up or sat down IMG_6178depending on whether the pastor was speaking or we were singing hymns along with the choir. The pastor wore a suit, the lights were always on and there were no screens. There is nothing necessarily right or wrong, good or bad about these things. It’s just how it was.

Today’s church culture is vastly different than the one I grew accustomed to. Pastors don’t always wear suits, the lights aren’t always on and you won’t get pinched by your mom or dad for using your phone during the service – Bible app for the win. Many churches now cater to the younger generation and feel more like a concert than a traditional service to the veteran church-goer. There are now hip clothes, drums, electric guitars and the occasional YouTube video during a service. It’s safe to say, things aren’t the way they used to be in church culture.

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the gospel message. The Bible. God has provided us with this timeless salvation story. This is the story in which Jesus Christ, the son of God, came down from Heaven, died the death that we deserved and saved us from eternal damnation. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

That is of utmost importance. It is important that this story never changes. We should never dilute it or add to it. It does not matter that the music is louder and the lights are dimmer. Those things will continue to change and adapt to whatever society deems “normal.” We should not let those changes divide us as believers. We should be united knowing that the other believers around us have their faith and hope in the same promises that we do – that Jesus will come again. John 14:1-3 Ephesians 4:1-5

Here is a quote erikfrom Roger Flynn, church manager of Zootown Church – the church I attend in Missoula, MT. “We’re different than some of the other churches in town, we don’t do anything that would be traditional. We try to avoid tradition in the sense that we don’t want to just do church to do church. We want to do church to reach the city of Missoula.”

It would be detrimental for Christians to “do church to do church.” That is religion for religion’s sake instead of pursuing a real, meaningful relationship with Jesus. Then, when we pursue Jesus together, we can unite to reach the unbelievers in our communities just as we were called to do. Mark 16:15

So, I hope on this Easter Sunday you were able to celebrate and share the resurrection story of Jesus in unity with believers and unbelievers, whether or not you were comfortable with how dim the lights were or how tight the jeans were. Culture is ever-changing and we will all be uncomfortable with some standards at one point or another. Let’s look beyond that – culture changes, the story doesn’t.

Luke 23-24

If you’re not a believer, I pray that you give a church in your community a chance. Not because you have to go to be considered a good person but because they will, hopefully, introduce you to a relationship with Jesus that will change your eternal future. Romans 10:9-13

By: Nate Christoffels

Lace Up: Anyone Can Be A Runner

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 2.51.02 PM The amount of times I have heard “I’m not a runner” or “I’m not built like a runner, therefore I can’t run” has really started to piss me off and honestly, whoever I walked by this weekend saying these things, thank you for the inspiration to prove you all wrong.

I’ll start by being completely candid, I am a bit biased to the whole physical activity hoorah. I grew up playing competitive soccer up until the day I left for college. I mean, yes, it’s a lot of running and disciplined conditioning, but I never had to run longer than 3-4 miles at a time in those 15 years of playing. I should also add that each of those miles had to be in 7 minutes or less (the struggle was totally real).

Once college started, all concepts of physical activity went out the window and I was now struggling to run 1 mile, on a Sunday, while trying not to gag over the smell of Captain Morgan and Fireball seeping through my pores. Cool.

Freshman year ended and those attractive 15 pounds needed to go (this isn’t where running saved my life, I just got cut off of my campus meal plan when I moved out of the dorms). Exercise became important again and I was back in shape but I still couldn’t run more than 2 agonizing miles, maybe 3 on a good day.

IMG_8584Come Junior year I accepted an offer for an internship in Seattle and decided I should find things to do that would let me see the city in a unique way. This is where running made my life great. I signed up for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Seattle, by myself. Turns out I wasn’t alone, a few of my friends had already signed up and planned on taking a road trip to run as well. Training became fun as we increased our distance by one mile each Sunday and spent the majority of our runs singing and talking in very breathy sentences. Come race day, 13.1 miles never seemed so doable.

To make a long story longer, I caught the running bug. Since my first half in Seattle, I have completed two more half marathons, improving my time each time.

The point of this was to show that anyone can lace up some shoes and hit the pavement. I can’t lie like some Pinterest post and say it’s as easy as that. Running is an investment in your time, your body, and your wallet. Ugly running shoes changed the way I felt about running. YOU MUST INVEST IN UGLY RUNNING SHOES. My GPS watch complimented my competitive drive by keeping my pace (so that I wasn’t trying to run 7 minute miles for 13.1 miles straight) and my running belt was crucial for holding my phone, keys and ID. Looking the part makes performing the part so much easier.

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 3.15.13 PMI’m not saying go sign up for five half marathons or to start out running 9 miles at a time. I challenge every one of you to start by going outside (weather is a horrible argument), plug in some pump-up tunes or grab a friend to distract you, and start off slow. If 1 mile is all you’ve got, then it’s one more mile than those sitting on the couch. Happy Running 🙂

*Serious about it? Comment below for more tips and help on joining a world wide community.

Free Cycles: Cycles of Change

 

A list of Upcoming Free Cycles Events/Happenings for the Community12494782_1779165165637115_5967138471003255753_n

About Cycles of Change:

“Twenty years of bicycle work and community building has sprouted a social movement in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Free Cycles Missoula now has an urgent need: we can either purchase our location and expand services or lose the property to new development.

This is a wonderful opportunity to grow a world-class community bicycle center in the heart of Missoula. Together we can do this!”

Read more at http://www.freecycles.org/cyclesofchange/

Support the Cause at https://www.crowdrise.com/supportthebike

 

Upcoming Events:

April 6th: Mountain Biking Workshop hosted by Mountain Bike Missoula

Location: Free Cycles            Time: 6:30

April 11th: Round about policy meeting,

Location: Basement of Missoula City Hall            Time: 1-2pm

April 11th: Riverfront Neighborhood general meeting hosted by Free Cycles. There will be a vote to make the Hip Strip a more livable street and free pizza

Location: Free Cycles            Time: 5:30-7 pm

April 13th: Flagship program of Franklin School will be donating their service hours at Free Cycles, anyone is able to come.

Location: Free Cycles             Time: Noon

April 14th: Sussex school Ecothon Challenge

Location: Sussex School            Time: All Day

April 15th: Circles of Care, Celebrating circles of community, followed by a performance by the Newlyweds band

Location: Free Cycles            Time: 6-8pm (meeting) 8-10pm (performance)

April 16th: Bike-A-Thon, ride for Free Cycles and for fun, learn more at https://www.crowdrise.com/bikathon-challenge.

Location: Free Cycles             Time: 10am

April 16th: Healthy Kids Fair

Location: YMCA            Time: 10 am- 3pm

April 20th: Women’s workshop, focusing on breaks, hosted by female mechanic and women bike Missoula. BYOB and Snacks

Location: Free Cycles             Time: 5:30pm-7:00pm

April 23rd: MUD Earth Day Celebration, Free Cycles will have a fix it booth.

Location: Cara’s park                        Time: 11am-5:00pm

April 23rd: Free Cycles will lead an overnight bike tour heading East of Missoula, all experience levels welcome.

Location: to be determined                        Time: Contact Mist@strans.org

April 28th, 29th, 30th: Pedal Fest: 12 Bands will be playing all through Missoula in Benefit of Free Cycles

April 29th: Bike Walk Summit, Free Cycles will be leading a tour of there facility

Location: Free Cycles             Time: 12:30pm

April 30th: The Last Revel, an Americano bluegrass band

Location: Free Cycles            Time: 6pm-10pm

May 4th: Give Local! Missoula, Free Cycles will be hosting a donor lounge. The first 24 donors will receive free patch kits for there bikes.

Location: Free Cycles            Time: 7am-7pm

May 6th: Shine Bright Mama party celebrating Mother’s, MudSlide Charley will be playing with an art auction. Mothers and daughters will serve tea.

Location: Free Cycles             Time: 5:00pm-10:00pm

 

If you are interested in forming a partnership with Free Cycles Click Here