I was a member of the Helena mission until I moved to Billings. They have typica services every Sunday, unless they go to the Serbian church in Butte. Isn't the priest from the Serbian church coming to Missoula to serve liturgies periodically? I know he's serving at the OCA mission in Helena and I believe he's serving a mission in Kalispell (though before I was told about it by a member of the Helena mission, I didn't even know there was a mission in Kalispell). As an aside, please keep Fr. Russell in your prayers. He has a wife and 4 children, and I imagine that serving his church and 3 missions in Western Montana is a huge strain on him and his family. This only goes to show you what the bishops of the different jurisdictions working together can accomplish. As many of you may know, the bishops of the Western dioceses are meeting together quite frequently, and were able to work this out. Right now, Fr. Russell is the only Orthodox priest in the western part of Montana. You are in my prayers, Orthodoxwannabe. It is very difficult, especially going through the fasting periods without receiving Communion (since priests are usually so busy during Lent, they don't even get to the missions). Are there typica (or reader's services) held at the church in Missoula on Sundays? Of course, it is not as good as a liturgy, but it does keep you in the cycles of the Church year, and it can help you get through a lot. Is there a chance that members of the church in Missoula could carpool and get to Butte once in awhile? It would probably have to be in the summer and autumn before the snow starts coming, but maybe you could all pitch in to help pay for gas and make a trip there. The church in Butte is beautiful and the people are wonderful. I moved to Billings two years ago, and now getting through Lent is much easier, since I can have Communion every week (on Sundays and the pre-sanctified liturgies). However, I spent my first 5 Lents in your situation. It was hard, but I also learned a lot, and it did make me stronger for having to do it. God will give you the strength that you need to get through it. As I said earlier, does your chuch have the typica services on Sundays? If you don't, talk to your bishop and get his permission to hold them and give you the materials you need to hold them (or tell you where you can find them). That way you are in church on Sundays and getting fed (even if you aren't receiving the Eucharist). I've noticed that people who will only attend liturgies and not typicas didn't usually come for liturgy even when we had a priest (however, the Vespers were on Friday nite and the liturgy on Sat morning so that the priest could get back to his parish by Sat nite for Vespers). I think that going to the services weekly is important, if your church has that choice.
For those of you who have never been to Montana, weather can be a huge challenge. I know we (the members of the Helena mission) went to Butte for Pentecost in 2001, as we were told to either go the Butte (60-70 miles away) or to Billings (238 miles away). I think you can guess which we chose to go to. It was raining in Helena, but in Butte it was snowing (this was in mid June). It started snowing just as we pulled off the Interstate and into Butte. The drive home was a nightmare. Since it was June, you couldn't have the studded snow tires on, and it was scary. The driver is a native Montanan and knows how to drive in that kind of weather, but his daughter and I were white-knuckled. In Helena, they had just had rain and no snow. The priest in Bozeman arrived a week or so later (he had just graduated from St. Vladimir's) to 8 inches of snow in Bozeman (and this was right in the middle of June). We got no snow in Helena.