March 2, 2008
Sunday, 3:00 p.m.
Letter #2: Getting a Bible
God is good! I just got a Bible … an arduous journey, but God-led. Let me explain. So, I’ve been asking for a Bible since I got here. A couple guys, including the Correctional Officer, told me that a Bible should be simple to obtain. One guy told me to just request a chaplain and the chaplain could get me one.
Well, I’m not going to request a chaplain, since that got me such a mixed bag when I did a month of county jail time last summer. The main chaplain for the county jail system used profanity and made it his duty to tell me that I was in jail. Over and over again, he told me I was in jail. No Scripture quoting, no prayer, just a handshake.
So, I decided this time to take my chances and just see if someone here has an extra one. A trustee (inmate worker) who had recognized me told me he’d get me one. I had to remind him a couple times, but I thought for sure he’d come through for me.
I waited. I read my cellmate’s Spanish Bible with him, and together we made sense of Psalms and Proverbs. He’s hooked … he’s reading it right now, in fact. (More on Brandon later.)
So, dude in cell 24 who has traded peanuts, fruit, and dessert for paper was cleaning his toilet this morning. I told him thanks for trading paper for my lunch, and then I made ONE additional small-talk statement. Without looking at me, he says to his toilet: “Bro, I’m not trying to be [mean], but I don’t know you. I don’t like it here, so if I don’t talk to you, it’s nothing against you. Thanks.”
I took my cue that he’d just flushed our conversation and mumbled, “Yeah, you take care,” as I left.
An hour later, our lunches are dropped by. After my cell door shuts, the trustee drops a Bible outside. Cell 24 Dude sees it and asks whose Bible that is. The trustee tells him it’s mine.
As he is coming back from pill-call, I tell him to take it and return it to me at our next program time. Cell 24 looks at me through my cell door’s window and slowly picks up the Living Word of God (placed first by the Gideons and now the trustee).
He decides he kinda knows me now, so it’s okay to say something: “Thanks. I’ve been wanting one of these.”
“No problem,” I respond. “Better you have it than it sit on the floor.”
So, program time is over, and Cell 24 returned the Bible to me with a stamp … for my dinner, of course.
Brandon, my special roommate, was just describing in verbosely vague detail the intricacies of the end of the San Jose Light Rail Line with many hand motions, sound effects, and vulgar language. I finally answered one of his generic questions with “I’m still not sure … I didn’t ride public transportation much.”
“Well, one time,” I volunteered, “I rode it with my brothers while singing in downtown San Jose. They paid us to go into restaurants to sing.”
“Oh, I did that too!” Brandon said back to me.
Of course you did, Brandon. Of course you did. I’d take two Tylenol if I knew he’d go away. I’m kidding, of course. Brandon makes me grateful I never did drugs and especially not as many as he did.
I had leftover program time after phone calls this morning, so I thought I’d challenge a guy who had just made seven of ten free throws in basketball to a game of HORSE in our tiny indoor court. (Yes, I’d also just shot 7/10, and yes, of course, I beat him at HORSE … that’s not the point.)
I introduced myself, and he said his name is Edgar. He then repeated my name back to me: “Fishfur?” Ha! The very name my 3-year-old niece, Michaela, calls me. Awesome.
I’ve been praying for you all, especially Mommy, with Mark leaving for Coast Guard Boot Camp. God is incredibly upholding me through your prayers. Thank you, because I know God is preparing an incredible work He plans to do through me!
I just found out today that the state prisons have pianos, so thank you, Daddy, for making that your specific prayer. I may not leave this county jail for up to 14 days, which is fine with me! Though someone just told me he’d rather do two years in prison than one year in the cramped county jails, I’d rather be close to my family, so visits are easier. I love you all!