Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Williston: The New California Gold Rush


   At the beginning of April, I rode up with a family from church to Williston, North Dakota. Some people have no idea where Williston is, nor do they know what is going to in this once small town. According to the 2000 population census, Williston was a relatively small town with 12,512 people. (1) Now the estimated population is from 25,000 to 33,000 in 2014 (2). Williston, Fargo, and some the surrounding areas are also ranked in the United States top 10 growing cities. In one year, from 2012 to 2013, Williston had a growth rate of 10.7%. (3) So this town is really growing. Ever since the large, vast quantities of oil was discovered there, the people have been flocking in in groups. The unemployment rate for the entire state of North Dakota is the lowest in the nation at 2.6% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (4) And to top this off, the state of North Dakota is putting out a call for help, as they are short 25,000 jobs. (5)
   Aside from all the numbers, this town is different. I was there about a year and a half ago and there wasn't much. We saw plenty of oil rigs and the like but as for places to eat, stores to do grocery shopping, and places to live, there wasn't much. Now there is a wide variety of these places, and more are being constructed daily. A year and a half ago, this was a man's town. Meaning there were hardly any ladies and next to no children. Trucks and semis dominated the roads, and there was a lot of empty ground. Now you can find almost any kind of vehicle, in any color, style, and size, and I think if you looked good enough, you would see plates from all 50 states. There are hotels, housing units, and man camps all over.
   Most of the hotels are advertised with weekly and monthly rates. There is every style of hotels up there, from the fancy looking ones to the plain simple ones. But the rooms rate high. For a basic room, you are looking at anywhere from $105/night upwards to the $250/night range.
   I went grocery shopping with my aunt while I was just recently up there... It was rather disappointing to me in a way. There were ladies with children all over, and hardly any men. It was like Williston all of a sudden became a civilized town with lots of places to eat, stores to shop in, and other people besides men.
   Aside from grocery stores, hotels and housing units, and places to eat, the rest of the town mostly consists of buildings and offices related to the oil fields. There are a few stores for auto parts and services and also for men's heavy duty work clothes and shoes, but other than that, any clothing or shoe shopping is limited and it's all in old town Williston.
   While I was in Williston, which was only from Wednesday afternoon to Saturday morning, I saw quite a few things. I took some pictures but I won't post them all because I think I would run out of room. They will give you a small, a VERY small, taste of Williston, ND.

New duplex housing units.


One of too many to count man camps.

Another picture of the man camp.
Good ol' Wal*Mart. This is kinda known to be a man's place.
A few pictures of what is left of the prairie life in Williston. 

   So here's the end of my trip. I hope to go up again some time, I'm just not sure when. But there will be more pictures to follow when I get back.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Footprints In The Sand

"One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
‘You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?’

The Lord replied,
‘The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand,
is when I carried you.’

-Mary Stevenson

   I have read the poem shown above many times in many different places. I like the theme of it, that God takes care of His children, but there was always something to me that just didn't sound or feel right. I don't talk much of my struggles or feelings to people but lately, I have been feeling lost.
   Tonight at church, a man got up after the preacher to say a few words before prayer. And what he said was so profound, so answering to me, that I cried. I can't write exactly how he said it but I can roughly paraphrase what he said, or at least what his words said to me.
   He brought the above poem up and said that the poem mentions two sets of footprints that sometimes became one set where the trials and sorrows and darkest points of the path were. The writer was curious of this and when she asked the Lord about it, the poem says that He replied, :The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand, is when I carried you." Yes, the man said tonight. Our Saviour does carry us. But He begins to carry us when we first seek and cry for Him, as lost and hurt lambs cry for their shepherd. And He never again lets us walk by ourselves until when He lays us in our grave.
   I was stunned at these words, the absolute truth in them. How indeed, He does carry us with Him all the days of our life, when we have called upon Him. He doesn't let us down as other humans may. He doesn't let us walk by ourselves to stumble and fall and harm ourselves and possibly be a stumbling block to others. No. Instead He carries us in His loving and protecting arms. He carries us sweating tears of blood that will wash away our sin stain. He carries us right to the grave, where He then tenderly lays us to rest until that Great Day, when He shall come for us, and where we can be with Him forever in a place where there is no sin or sorrow or doubt. Thank you Father!

Picture from