A Sneak Peek into our new church and life in Wyoming
Where the deer and the antelope... and the bison and the Hannon Boys play...
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day... Did you know that Cheyenne often gets over 300 days of sunshine a year??!
The boys and Buz and I have been learning all kinds of fascinating things since arriving to our new home. We've discovered Wyoming is ranked number two in the top 10 happiest and healthiest states in the Union-- just after Hawaii! Who knew?! Perhaps that's because it's also the least populated state and boasts zero traffic.
Wyoming was also the first state to allow women to vote and is dubbed the Equality State. Visitors can see the world's largest steam locomotive housed here in Cheyenne where up to 100 freight trains still pass through the city every day. Also, the buffalo do still, in fact, roam on a ranch just outside our area. And apparently you shouldn't try to pet one. That's how the locals escape dangerous wildlife... they simply outrun the tourists. (*scratches off "hug a fluffy cow" from fun things to-do list) Duh. Only tourists would ever think of petting one of these majestic wild creatures. And that's not us. We're here to stay.
From the day we drove into town, we feel like this place and these people have overwhelmed us with the heartiest, warmest welcome. The staff at Element Church, our new community, put together three giant gift baskets, full of every local Wyoming treasure they could think of-- sweatshirts and sauces, coasters and cookies, jams and jellies, meat rubs, water bottles and gift cards! Not to mention a plethora of Star Wars treasures unique to each of our boys. I can hardly describe it all without tearing up. It was a lavish expression of love that layered upon the supreme joy that is our new home, a church body that was humming with excitement, a beautiful church building that was poised for new growth and a community that is simply SO NICE.
The people of Cheyenne have kindness coursing through their veins. Their collective heart beats with generosity. Their eyes twinkle with mirth and their watches stand still.
They ask meaningful questions, they take time to listen and they genuinely care about the answer. And I don't just mean the lovely, pious church-folk. I'm talking about grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, waiters and librarians. I'm talking about the construction workers, the neighbors you pass at the park and the cars that always wave for you to go ahead first. The people of Wyoming are this state's greatest commodity and they are pure gold. Their only flaw is how often they try to scare us about the blustery weather.
The locals have warned and warned us about the wind, but we are not deterred. The wind may be blowing, but so is the breath of the Spirit. We must be where His presence is moving.
When we opened our hearts to taking the next right step for the Lord, we knew it was never about a perfect location. It was always about finding the right people. Upon arriving here, there has only been greater and greater confirmation that we have found them. But the location isn't a burden to bear, either!
Cheyenne is peaceful and rural, replete with sprawling grassy knolls and big horse ranches, but it has enough of a city feel, too. Downtown shops like the Prairie House Home Goods, breweries and coffee shops like The Boardroom, delicious dining like The Railyard and giant painted murals-- just right for an evening out. The high schools have thriving sports programs with big rivalries and local support. The neighborhoods are well kept and have a warm camaraderie about them. And perhaps best of all, you're never far from the looming mountain range and a resplendent sunset.
The brilliance of the Wyoming sunset is rivaled only by the beauty of the Wyomingite smile.
To the person, we have met some of the kindest human beings that walk the planet. But kindness isn't Christ. We are impassioned to impact this amiable community with the love of Jesus. It isn't enough to just be a nice person. We are excited to help this rich tapestry of youths and ranchers, lawyers and service workers, moms, dads and military families move from kind to Kingdom.
Pastor Buz, a.k.a., the Weeping Buffalo, is perfectly suited to Cheyenne. Just like his wooly namesake, he is strong, gentle, steady, impervious to Winter weather, and endlessly sacrificial for the good of the herd.
I'm clearly biased, but I think Pastor Buz is the best shepherd out there. His love for people is as wide as the high plains sky and his breadth of study is just as vast. I can't wait to see him run as fast and as far as he can with the vision the Lord is leading him with. I am so honored to stand by his side and support him however he needs in this new chapter.
Our lives have been the most surreal tapestry, woven inextricably together by prayer, laughter, loss, a passel of children and an undying love of doing ministry together. God is so gracious to allow our marriage to shelter over this new church like a warm, Navajo blanket. We will do whatever we can to lead and protect and comfort the people of not just Element Church, but greater Cheyenne, Wyoming and the nations.
However He leads, we will follow. We will lift our arms up in surrender and offer shelter. We commit to a private life of prayer and to a public partnership. We are asking the Lord to make us a united front, a vanguard carrying the impenetrable banner of Christ to protect others from the relentless winds of the enemy, while yet allowing the Holy Spirit to blow freely through. Wind isn't all bad. It just depends on where you're standing and how thick your blanket is. Lord, help us to leverage the wind.
"This man is the vanguard of many outsiders who will soon be coming from all directions-- streaming in from the east, pouring in from the west, sitting down at God's kingdom banquet alongside Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."
Element Church is a vibrant community of about 1,000 people that exists to experience life to its fullest, guide people to connect in meaningful relationships, and help people make a lasting impact. It was established in 2007 by Pastor Jeff Maness and his family.
They created a rich culture of outreach and exceptional teaching. In 2015, the
'I Heart Wyoming" initiative was birthed with the vision to impact the entire unreached population of the state with the gospel message. The primary focus of the program is to partner with existing churches around the state of Wyoming, offering financial, relational and ministry resources to help them make a local impact for Jesus!! There is no idea that is too wild -- since its inception, they have done back to school bashes with supply giveaways, gas giveaways, painting and clean-up projects, single parent outreaches and cookouts for local civil servants.
The list is long and variegated and we look forward to furthering this outreach ministry for years to come! You can read more about this robust facet of our new church here.
We are so excited to help support the amazing first impressions team, the families ministry, the worshippers and production team, the hardworking staff and the loyal parishioners... we are so blessed to get to work with this thriving ministry! We are astounded at what a good fit we all are for each other! Wyoming looks good on us! We have been called and equipped for such a time as this!
And despite the distance from our previous homes, the Lord will keep us close. We have no idea all that He has in store for our California besties at 3Crosses Church, our Tulsa friends, our Wyoming community or our global family. Ultimately, we'll be together forever. Until then, we long to stay connected with you all! I invite you to sign up for my email list here, subscribe to my Youtube channel @ 'Tara Hannon' and Buz’s ministry website, too.
PRAYER POINTS FOR OUR WYOMING LIFE
Spiritual renewal for Cheyenne
Revival among the youth of our city
The return to church for those who have drifted
Strength and vigor for the Element Church staff
Rich creativity in our church programming and worship
Wisdom for Pastor Buz as he manages his time, leads the staff, prepares weekly impactful sermons and shepherds our boys
Discernment for me as I determine what the women of our community need
Protection for our marriage as we run this beautiful race together
Love you all!
Hugs and Besos,
Enjoy this beautiful anthem by Bethel Music about the power of the wind!
Oh, I can feel redemption on the wind Forgiveness like the tide rollin' in Taking up the space where shame has lived Receiving all that You died to give
Let the wind blow Let the tide roll Till the earth knows You're a God of love .....
Join me in prayer for marriages here! "You are altogether lovely, My Darling." Song of Solomon 4:7