194 | Roommate Roulette

October 6, 2011
Thursday, 8:00 p.m.
Letter #194: Roommate Roulette


Dear Family,

Thank you for praying for me! I’m excited about what God is doing here! This week, Mikey called me over and told me he’d been able to talk to both of his children—and that he’ll be able to speak with them every couple of weeks now, when they are at his aunt’s house for the day! I told him how thrilled I was for him, and that I’d been praying for that very thing. I reminded him that I’d just written to my family (the 120 or so of you who receive this letter)  🙂  and that you had prayed too. He was overwhelmed and said to thank you.

Not many people care about prisoners in the first place … to care about a guy you’ve never met is truly remarkable and nearly unheard of here. I was really glad to see Mikey at church these past two weeks. God is good!

In other great news (for me, anyway): I changed cells and have a new cellie! Now, for those of you who have been following this saga closely, you are waiting anxiously at this time for me to reveal who my new cellie is. For those of you who have forgotten, blissfully, the details about my recent-ish cellie situations, please allow me to briefly recap for you. For those of you who do not care about who I get to be locked in a bathroom with, let me start with you: it matters!

I’m sure you’ve met many people whom you would never want to invite to your house. Now, for the sake of this exercise, I want you to picture that unlovely person. Go ahead … I dare you. Pick some guy you saw on the street or that annoying self-absorbed person at your church.

Now give that person a criminal record, make that person the same gender as you, and think about spending time doing stinky things with that person in the room. Awesome, eh?

How about your best friend? Picture that person, now. Living in a bathroom with someone you enjoy doesn’t sound that much different, but trust me, it matters!

The recap: Andrew, an odd fellow who never used soap, left a month ago. Rudy, a budding tattoo artist, was moved in.

I’d been trying to move in with Phillip, my closest friend, since Andrew left, but the process just dragged on and on like this explanation. I filed official requests, talked to the right officials, and got the official runaround from three different people. I stayed patiently persistent, believing that it was really best for me to be Phillip’s cellie, since I’m always working to prepare him for parole.

When our counselor didn’t file the paperwork with our unit manager in time, I wrote an appeal letter to the unit manager, explaining to her the situation and all the reasons why it made sense for us to be cellies. (When I say “us,” I mean Phillip and me, not the unit manager and me, though she is a very nice person and wears no wedding band, though I did not intentionally notice, especially since she is six years older than me, which is not my ideal arrangement for a long-term relationship with a female, the fact notwithstanding that she would probably make for a lousy cellie since she doesn’t sing.) A week after putting in my appeal letter, I’d still heard nothing back.

Then I got indications that moving would be a possibility, and before I knew it (well, not literally before; it was actually something I was quite aware of, though it was only slightly prior to it happening), I got to move upstairs—spoiler alert, for those of you still wanting it to be a surprise, finding out who my cellie is—and into Phillip’s cell!

I’m really grateful to be here. We’re constantly studying, reading devotionals, memorizing Scripture, or singing. Today we were asked by the officer on duty in our pod to sing “Happy Birthday” to her sister. Obviously, this would take place by phone, so we went to the office and did it for her. Phillip and I came up with a slick little arrangement really quick that sounded impressive. The officer was thrilled, and her sister was shocked!

The last time I’ve had it this good was with my buddy, James, during my first year in prison at Salinas Valley. (We still write to each other.)  🙂

Thank you for praying for me. God blesses me in so many ways! Phillip will lead worship this Sunday in the main chapel service, and I’ll be including his testimony—in his words—in next week’s letter. I love you all and pray for you!