January 20, 2011
Thursday, 6:00 p.m.
Letter #164: Visited by Angels
Greetings! I know, I know … it’s been awhile since I last wrote, and it has become my sincere intention to write you once a week now. I need to let you know what’s going on so you can pray for me—my most valuable resource! Thank you for your prayers!
My parents’ visit was extra-special this past weekend, as they brought along two of my favorite people, Michaela and Madison, now nearly 6 and 4 years old. I get notes and artwork from them and I get to talk briefly on the phone to them every so often, but there’s simply nothing like a visit.
They’ve seen me a few times before, but this was the first time that they knew I was in prison. I’d been thinking to tell them about being in prison, when my twin let me know they’d just told the girls. I knew I’d be peppered with questions by their naturally inquisitive minds, so I readied myself. What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was the raw emotion their visit would invoke.
Not understanding my location meant blissful ignorance of the past: I’ve still received invitations to parties and special events along the way and feel horrible declining every one, as their other uncles are faithful to be there for them. This separation is the punishment. Now that they’ve been told I’m in prison and they generally understand the concept, I just couldn’t help but wonder what would change in the visit.
They were so well-behaved and grown up as they visited me for around four and a half hours each day. Near the beginning of the visit, Madison turned toward my mom and told her that I really looked “like Daddy.” It’s been 10 months since their last visit, and I think she hadn’t really remembered how similar we look, my twin bro and I. My hair was styled flat on top and spikey in front, so I quickly played with it to make it the standing ridge down the middle that is indicative of “faux-hawk” like Michael wears. The girls let out a big “Yippee!” and clapped their hands. I’ve always liked looking like twins, and his kids are a pretty good judge, I guess.
I told the girls about my living environment—my current cell, which is large for me, got a “that’s small!” response from the girls.
As they were making silly faces at me, the nice female officer in visiting stopped by my side of the glass and put down her walkie-talkie to make silly faces back at the girls.
Another highlight for me was having the chaplain stop by to meet the girls, as I’d requested of him. He was so sweet with them, and I was glad to have them meet my “pastor.”
Michaela sounds like her mommy when she sings—a beautiful voice and humble spirit to match. Michaela’s baptism is this Sunday, and she just led her sister to Christ. An evangelist at age 5!
The toughest part of their visit was saying goodbye on Day Two. Madison started up a fresh batch of tears with her face on the glass partition and hands holding her face then spread out on the glass, distraught. When I couldn’t make out what her little voice was trying to say, she told Grandma, “I’m sad I don’t get to see him very often.” I hadn’t cried up until that point, but quickly made up for it. Both girls were crying, saying they miss me. I told them how sorry I am that I did “something naughty” so that I have to be here instead of at their parties and taking them places. A tough, but special and fun visit.
I told a buddy of mine today that the visit was tough, but he really put it into perspective for me when he said he hasn’t received even one visit in all the five years he’s been in prison. He excused his parents, saying that they live too far away—in Los Angeles. So many other guys are in similar circumstances, not having heard from family or friends in years. I am so blessed to have all of you! I make more phone calls, have more visits, and receive more mail than anyone else here I know. I have been given much!
In the newsletter, Voice of the Martyrs, I read the story of Asia Bibi, a 30-year-old Christian woman in Pakistan, who was arrested in June 2009 for telling a group of Muslim women, “Our Christ is the true prophet of God, and yours is not true.” In November 2010, she was sentenced to DEATH for supposed blasphemy! (Her attorney is appealing.) This is CRAZY! Pakistan is so backwards. And, where is the world’s outrage? I’ve written to her to encourage her in Christ.
I’m starting up the Self-Confrontation class again, beginning this Tuesday. Already, many new guys have agreed to take the class, and I’m grateful the chaplain asked me to lead it again. I believe it can be a powerful tool for God to work in guys who never attend church or even profess to be a Christian. I pray some will come to Christ and others get closer to Him as they learn to examine themselves.
Thank you for your prayers!