Christmas and New Year's Greetings from Snowy New Mexico

"You live in New Mexico. It must be so hot there." Since moving here over a year ago, we have heard these words on countless occasions. And while it is usually warm enough in the summer (although cooler than the town I grew up in, in the state of Oregon), at 7,100 ft. in elevation, it can get quite cold in Navajo, New Mexico. It is not uncommon to have temperatures below zero, and the record temperatures are as low as -30 to -50 degrees!

Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church Navajo New Mexico Christmas

On Christmas Day, we got five inches of snow. The photo above was actually shot in November, but we've been blessed with three snowstorms this winter and another is predicted for New Year's Day. Since Christmas, we have been hit with a cold snap with temperatures below zero or in the single digits at night.

Thankfully, God has provided. We were blessed with gifts of many coats from Faith Lutheran Church in Sequim, Washington (my parents' home), and scarves, hats, and gloves from Lorene Schuster, a member of Grace Lutheran Church in Caldwell, Idaho. Lorene was part of the LWML team that came this past summer, and she and the other team members have blessed us even after their departure.

Another way we've been preparing for the cold, but doing ministry at the same time, is taking groups of men from our church out "wood hauling." We've gone four times since the beginning of November. Because of the arid climate, we aren't allowed to chop down any live trees. But we try to get downed ones that aren't rotten, and thus provide warmth for our church members who don't have other sources of heat. It is a great way for our men to be of service, for us to grow closer and share in fellowship in God's beautiful creation.

On Christmas Eve, we had a great celebration with two new community members coming to hear the Good News of Great Joy for all people, that is the birth of Our Savior.

The challenging news to report is that we have had three break-ins in the last month. No one has been injured and the damage to the church hasn't been that heavy (three broken windows), but it is frustrating. One time, the person was caught and apologized. But for the other two times, they made a mess and went on their way. It is a difficult situation, but we're praying that the person responsible would repent and stop damaging our church.

In all, there has been a lot to be thankful for in 2014:

Thank you for your support in prayer through it all. We pray that your 2015 is blessed abundantly.

Tim Norton, Navajo, NM

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