Rodeo- Wednesday “Slack Day”

Slack Day is anything but slack. It is the overflow day for the rodeo. Today the barrel racers, calf ropers, roping teams, and bull doggers competed. Paul and I worked the stock pens. Ray, who looks like a bearded old cowpoke, but has a Ph.D and has taught at Montana State for 30 years, and Rob were in charge of the pens. The cattle would be separated into six pens and I ran two of them. You had to go in and write down the numbers branded in their flanks, or on their ear tag. When the steer was scheduled to run you had to separate them from the rest of the cattle. Some of them would go out the gate and down the chute on their own. Some weren’t about to go. They would pile in a corner, kick, or do anything to stay in the pen. I was one of the few who didn’t get kicked at least once.Walking into a herd of eight or nine steers and shoving them around or “influencing” their direction was definitely not boring.

Paul and I almost look like we know what we are doing, almost.

Paul and I almost look like we know what we are doing, almost.

Rob grew up in Livingston and is the epitome of a Montanan. Within the first twenty minutes Rob took a direct kick to his thigh. The kick staggered him, but he did not quit. The rest of the afternoon he had trouble walking. When his pants leg tightened on his thigh you could see the bulging knot. In the next three hours Rob was kicked four more times, that I saw. The last time I grabbed his shoulder to keep him up because he almost fell. One of the steers decided to rotate ninety degrees and kick  Rob instead of kicking me. Rob never complained, refused to ease up and just handle the gates, or act like anything was wrong. However, when he thought no one was looking he would grimace and reveal intense pain. What Rob did was “Cowboy Up.” There was no way that Rob was going to show weakness in front of all the other men. When life is tough, you cowboy up. When you get kicked, you cowboy up.

Cody & Ella at the barrel racing starting gate.

Cody & Ella at the barrel racing starting gate.

Paul and Cody are ministering in a culture that values self-reliance and toughness. They are making inroads with the community because they are earning the right to be heard. The mental toughness of western culture is a result of the settlers who tamed this land. It is a wonderful quality that gives the people here a character that I love. However, it is a tremendous spiritual barrier. It is hard for a person who has been self-reliant to come to a Savior that requires brokenness. Going through life without asking for help makes it tough to accept the gift of the cross. Livingston will be won to Christ through prayer and a witness that has earned the respect of the people. Cody and Paul are showing their neighbors that a man can be a Christian and still a man.

Sorting steers

Sorting steers

How cowboys watch the rodeo.

How cowboys watch the rodeo.

The work team from Virginia preparing to feed the cowboys and cowgirls.

The work team from Virginia preparing to feed the cowboys and cowgirls.

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