Pine needles crunch and small twigs crack as Pamela Getman (8) races her best friend to their favorite lookout rock. Pam’s brother Kevin (11) follows close behind. The rock, sheer cliff on one side but easily climbed on the other, is one of the many boulders that pepper Kevin and Pam’s backyard.
Laughing, the children reach the top of the lookout as the Getman’s dog, Belle, lumbers up to join them. Together they gaze over the rocky slopes and brilliant flowers of South Dakota’s Black Hills.
The Getman family moved to Hill City, South Dakota, five years ago. Soon after their move, they began an enormous project—constructing their own home. The first step was clearing enough land on their forested lot. Kevin and Pamela worked with their mom, Billie, their dad, Gary, their older sister, Jessica (15), and their older brother, Michael (20), to cut down trees, chop them into firewood, and line up the logs in big stacks. When it came time to burn the unusable wood and brambles, Kevin became his dad’s best helper, watching the flames with garden hose in hand. If the fire got too big, Kevin doused it with water.
When the ground was finally cleared, the Getmans faced another challenge: giant rocks. Set at the top of a tiny mountain, the spot they had cleared for their home seemed to have just as many boulders as trees. There were too many rocks to move, so the Getmans decided to build right on top of the rocks. “Just like the wise man in the Primary song,”* Mom jokes.
After blasting a few of the boulders with dynamite, the Getmans used the rest to form a strong foundation for their home. One boulder pokes right through the wall into their house, a reminder that this home is built on granite. But that boulder is not the only rock in the Getman house. Both Pam and Kevin have rock collections, piles of sparkling stones in many colors and sizes. Laying each rock on a table, Pam admires its distinctive beauty. She knows that Jesus Christ created our world, and she feels reverence for each of His creations. In fact, she hopes one day to be a florist so she can share the beauty of nature by making gifts out of flowers.
Kevin echoes her respect for nature. Last year, a small tree began to grow near their driveway. All summer long and without being asked, he waters the tree so that it will grow tall and strong. He especially enjoys outdoor activities. He rides his bike on mountain trails, competes with his soccer team, and practices shooting his pellet gun at pop cans.
South Dakota is the perfect spot for outdoor adventures. Dad works for a state park, and Mom works at a campground and resort just up the road from their home. The Getman children and their friends visit the resort often to bike, swim, and play miniature golf. The Getmans also visit Mount Rushmore, a famous rocky ridge that has been carved with the faces of four presidents of the United States. Between helping at the resort and helping to build their new home, the whole family is learning to work together and rely on each other’s talents.
Kevin’s special talent is noticing other people’s needs. Once, when he and Mom were leaving the resort, he spotted an elderly lady struggling to carry all of her luggage. Even though he was eager to get home, Kevin hurried over to her and offered to help. The lady felt so grateful that for the rest of her stay, she talked to Mom about the wonderful young man who had carried her bags.
Not all of Kevin’s helpful plans turn out quite so well. Once, he made a birthday cake with two packages of cake mix. The cake overflowed its pan and cooked in a pile on the bottom of the oven. What a mess! Kevin and his family still chuckle over that mistake. “I haven’t made a cake since,” he admits. But he does volunteer to cook other things for the family—especially hot dogs and ravioli—and he feeds Belle twice a week.
Pamela likes to make pudding and lemonade, and she, too, cares about people. Her family says that she always smiles and that she likes to write letters to and draw pictures for her friends. Pam and her best friend, Heidi Heil (8), have “Heidi and Pam Day” every Tuesday during the summer. They play at Heidi’s house before going to a children’s reading program at the public library. The girls enjoy their toy dog, G. G., which was originally a birthday present from Pam to Heidi but which they now share.
Both Kevin and Pam like Primary. Their ward, Rapid City Second Ward, Rapid City South Dakota Stake, meets in a chapel that is almost an hour’s drive from home. When winter snow blankets the Black Hills, the Getmans can’t get the car safely down the driveway, much less over the twisting mountain highway to church. Instead, they read a scripture, sing a song, and then enjoy spending time as a family and shoveling snow.
Luckily there was no snow to shovel last March, the month of Pamela’s baptism. Because Dad is not a member of the Church, Michael baptized his little sister. Pam says she felt “worried she might drown,” but she was “excited to be baptized because that’s what Jesus did.” After the ordinance, she felt happy that she had followed the Savior’s example and joined His Church.
While the Getmans continue to build their home, they grow in love for each other. Like the strong rocks that hold their house on the top of the hill, each person’s work, faith, and caring form the foundation for their sturdy family. And, like the house of the wise man in Jesus Christ’s parable,† the Getman family stands firm.