May 22, 2008
Thursday, 4:30 p.m.
Letter #25: Count Time
Greetings! Every day at this time (4:30 p.m.) we have “Afternoon Count.” Stanford, the C.O. in the tower, always drones into the P.A. System the same words every day: “It’s Count Time; stand up (versus ones in the middle of the night, all night long, where it’s normal to be prone). Count Time.”
It’s become my reminder every day to “Stand Up and Be Counted!” What have I done—TODAY—to be counted among the followers of Christ? If He came by my “house,” would I be embarrassed to have Him look inside? With the little He’s given me to do, would I be found faithful? Hopefully, I don’t need to draw out this little analogy for you, do I? 🙂 See, He has “made His light shine forth in our hearts”—how revealing this light is. Make each day count!
Just when all the drama began with me unknowingly passing death threats as a new porter, a guy who lives two doors down from me, Justin, handed me a folded-up note just as we were popped out for breakfast. “Read this later,” he said quietly.
My heart pounded in my chest. “Oh, great!” I thought. “I really don’t need the drama to spread to the upper tier!”
Everyone was telling me what to do/not to do, from how to mop to “take care of the ‘whites first’ “ nonsense. This may be a “Sensitive Needs Yard,” but racism is still alive and well in some people here! So, naturally, I dreaded getting yet another note from someone. I opened it back in my cell and was pleasantly surprised to find the enclosed: Bible verses to read and the words “Peace be with you!” God is Good!
I didn’t even know this guy is a Christian, and now—DAILY—I’ve received one of his little notes at breakfast. It’s grown to include the date, answer to the previous day’s “find a verse” game from the daily chapter of Proverbs, and something titled simply “Mine”—the passage he read that morning! It’s become accountability for the both of us, and we frequently share from what we’ve read. I’ve enclosed the first one (for my scrapbook) and a current one.
FUN NOTE: Justin’s daily notes now include a little saying too. Some of my favorites:
* Walk His path.
* Aloha! has more than one meaning.
* Live each day like it’s your last.
* You gotta crawl before you walk.
* Never date a woman with the first name as a city. 🙂
* Via con Dios!
Just night before last night, the guy who had prevented me from going to church (because he’d yelled at someone walking by on the yard, and the yard cop thought it was me) a month ago called me over to his cell door. Like everyone else’s door, I’d been by his dozens of times before, running errands. The night before last night was especially hectic, and this was right at the end of the evening. Raul motioned to me, then slipped me an all-too-familiar note.
“Where does it go?” I asked.
“It’s for you,” he replied. I opened it and read the following: “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust. Psalms 91:2 God bless you.”
Anthony had stepped up the pressure earlier in the evening, feeling that the C.O.s weren’t pleased with how quickly stuff was getting done. He’d come over to where I was busy mopping, grabbed the mop from me, and commenced furiously mopping. With only one mop, I now looked like the guy who wasn’t working.
All this weighed on me, plus the inmates were running me more than usual, since Anthony had decided not to serve them. When I received this last note, I was floored, my emotions caught off guard by God’s care and concern for ME! I stood facing the guy’s cell and bawled. I sucked it up really quick, dried my tears, and walked into C.O. Winters’ office. I confessed that I had knowledge of two whole bags of condiments (taco sauce one night, ketchup another) disappearing, and I apologized for not being able to stop the thefts and for not coming to him earlier. I told him he was welcome to fire me. He forgave me and told me he’s very easy-going and approachable and not to worry about the condiments.
I went to sleep blessed, only to be awakened in the middle of the night by slamming cell doors. Ten guys in our building were taken to a different facility entirely. They had about 5 minutes to shove everything of theirs into bags. Anthony is gone.
In the past couple days, I’ve received many letters of support from family and from friends who are practically family. I’m so BLESSED! Because of how easy it has suddenly become for me here, I believe God is preparing me for a whole new adventure of loneliness with JUST Him. I’m excited. It may be “the hole” or lack of communication with the outside world—I don’t know. Please pray for strength, and pray that I’ll be found faithful, worthy to bear His Name. I love you all!