This is the last of the personal posts to help you get to know me. This one answers the question, “How did a pastor leave the paradise of Central Oregon and end up in the North Dakota Oilfield?” Yes, longer than most.
“I hate this place.”
How many times of we thought those very words or said them out loud?
Our last year as Lead Pastor’s at Faith Christian Center in Bend, Oregon crept into February of 2014. My wife Tami and I had felt over the previous year that we were going to experience a change in location. When this fact became clearest to me, I went home to my wife and said it was time to go. She immediately concurred.
Two days after speaking with my wife I had a job offer in the Bakken Oilfield in Williston, North Dakota.
We heard, “Are you nuts?” more than a few times.
Two weeks later was my last Sunday preaching, in a church and community we loved. Ten days after that I was in a state I had never been to before, in a place filled with people from every state across our nation and a wide compliment of countries around the world. The oil boom was on and Williston was known by many as the new ‘wild west.’ Not only are minus temperatures normal for months on end during the winter, you didn’t go shopping after dark for fear you might run into someone who wanted to commit illegal acts against your property or person.
I was in an office at about my four month anniversary in the community and became involved in a conversation with two near-retirement aged staff who literally said in unison, “I hate this place.”
They were long-time residents.
You would completely understand their pain. Long-time residents of a quiet town of 12,500 sees their community explode to 35,000 in five years? Crime running rampant, semi-trucks everywhere, city services overtaxed, topless bars opening and thriving in a community and state that still has “blue laws” (no shopping until after 12 pm on Sundays). Certainly their world has been turned upside down.
Ever had your world rocked like that in such a short period of time? They were living it.
Tami and I understood that. But we also understood something else. We know that wherever we are, it is not an accident. Remarkably, in my short time here I’ve never had more “great talks” with people outside of the confines of my former church office as I’ve had in my position as a salesman. We’ve also grown in a greater appreciation for the struggles that people have because now WE are living outside of our former “Christian work bubble.”
So I shared with these great staff people whom I very much like, that Tami and I had learned to appreciate wherever we are. We had met many wonderful, amazing people. We attend a great church. We had good jobs. The prairie certainly lacks the beauty of the mountains we came from, but absolutely has a majesty all its own.
Okay, I’ll admit it; my eloquence only caused four eyeballs to roll…
Two years later the boom has gone bust and tens of thousands have left the Oilfield. Williston has become a better place to live as policing, roads and infrastructure have been radically improved, topless bars have closed and we now have double the restaurants, housing and shopping since then. We’re seeing more families, better school facilities and no feelings related to one’s mortality in going to the store after dark.
There was a guy named Paul who wrote about learning to be content with your life, regardless of where you are or what lane you’re in. He’s right. Imagine our lives if all you can think about is every bad thing about where you are. BTW – Did you know that Harley Davidson just opened here? Oh yes, Famous Dave’s BBQ and Buffalo Wild Wings predate our arrival, and Menards (think a midwest chain that’s a cross between Home Depot and Lowes) has opened here as well. We have GREAT golfing, the Medora Musical with the Pitchfork Fondue, the North and South units of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and AMAZING hunting. Why several times I’ve gotten my limit of pheasants by coming around a corner…in my F150…
Oh yes, game is EVERYWHERE.
I love this place.
Do you love where you are? What is great about where you are, right now? Focus on the lane that gives life…