Leaving home and volunteering with a ministry which focuses on traveling, I get pretty good at, or used to, saying goodbye to places and people. Goodbye room.


This trip was a banquet tour, which means that most of what we did was put on banquets instead of going into prisons. These banquets raise support and get the word out about what Gospel Echoes is doing. We were in Montana for the majority of the two and a half weeks. Big sky country.


Eating is one routine that traveling for weeks at a time really distorts. Travis takes it to a whole new level though. In the span of about an hour he subjected his just awakened stomach to canned oysters, raw carrots, doughnuts, and coffee. I only happened upon a really bad tornado and a free air guitar. (We didn’t even have to buy the pint.)

Our first stop was in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. We played at the church where Steve and Jan used to attend and an awesome guy named Ben took us up the hill and let us try out the camp’s rope swing. Pretty intense.

We did a banquet in Thompson Falls. The highlight was chucking around ‘tape balls’ with the Baker kids. A tape ball is made by wadding up all the black gaffer’s tape used to hold cords down during a service. Chaplain Bill Babb from Indiana joined us for a few days. He was the speaker at a couple of the banquets.

Eureka, Montana and doing laundry.

In Fairfield we got to park the bus and hang out at the home of Craig and Marita Swartzentruber. That was a highlight of the tour for me. They let us ride their horses and took us to see a Lewis and Clark Museum which is right by the Roe River, the nation’s shortest river. Joanna happened to be visiting Matt and Elaina, so I got to talk to her for a little bit.

call me Wayne, John Wayne.

Libby, Montana was a pretty cool stop. There’s a community there who’s people build pretty much all of their stuff out of logs. They have a mill where they prepare the logs. We got to go on a swinging bridge (they told us a young man drowned there a few days after we were there). I’m told that this is the section of the Kootenai River that Pat McManus wrote about in his story called ‘Whitewater Fever’ in the book ‘The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw’.

This is the church, which they call ‘the community building’, the general store, the construction operation, and the one guy’s house. The big valley where the church sits is said to have been cleared because a World War II B-52 landed there when he ran out of fuel. The field had to be lengthened to give him enough room to take off again.

In Kalispell we did a banquet with Sister Lynn as our speaker. She’s a really cool lady, and she explained to us the differences between sisters and nuns. The attendance was meager, in fact attendees outnumbered personnel by about twelve or fifteen. It was that night that we played Crowder’s song Come As You Are with Sister Lynn – that was really fun.

Plains, Montana is actually quite mountainous as it turns out. We sang at the Grange Hall, whatever that means. The Beiler’s kindly let us chill at their place afterwards.

Then we came home.


That was a lot of pictures. But I figured that if I took the time to take them, sift through them, and edit them, then someone else might as well see them too.

We’ll be heading out on summer tour June 15th. I’ll be taking my possessions with me on the bus and moving them into our new house sometime in July when we get to South Carolina and I get home.

I found the animated Tarzan movie at a Goodwill one day. After watching it the P.S. 1 game makes so much more sense. Phil Collins wrote some great songs for it, but this one in particular is just wonderful.

Lately I’ve been enjoying reading Lemony Snicket and the 50’s chapters of Isaiah. Today after work I went to the river and practiced casting. Luckily no fish broke my concentration. Tomorrow I’ll be working with the pastor, Kevin, doing construction. And the next day..who knows.



Published by javenbear

Javen Bear is 25 years old and lives with his beautiful wife Aleisha in Phoenix, Arizona. He's a graduate student in a mental health counseling program at Grand Canyon University where he also works as an admissions representative. Javen’s super-power, if he had one, would be the ability to press pause on the world and catch up on reading. He enjoys talking walks with his wife, playing guitar, and always uses Oxford commas.

7 thoughts on “Montana

  1. Javen, It was so nice to travel with you in pictures and hear about what you are doing and where you are. God bless you and you continue witness for Jesus. Aunt Reba Brunk

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoy following your travels in the beautiful north west. This one was especially interesting to me. The Gathering Place and swinging bridge over the Kootenai river are some of our favorite places. We have good memories of all the times we hosted the Gospel Echoes teams when we lived there. Blessings to you -Jan

    Liked by 1 person

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