June 1, 2008
Sunday, 11:30 a.m.*
Letter #29: Shipping Out!
Greetings! I’m so happy! I just got back from a special pre-birthday visit from my sweet mother! This is the culmination of an amazing weekend of blessings God has allowed me to experience. I’m so grateful.
Friday nights are the bearers of the highly anticipated “TransPack” List of inmates being shipped out to their permanent facilities. Since “times of stay” here vary greatly, hope dawns bright at the onset of Sanford’s announcement: “Well, gentlemen. It’s that time you’ve been waiting for … the TransPack List. Some of you will be leaving us, and some of you won’t.” Hope dies after several names have been read, followed by the low drawl from Sanford: “And the rest of you get the privilege of staying with me one more week!” Groans.
This Friday, he read off: “Christopher, 216 Up, Leaving Monday, June 2, for Salinas Valley.” RIGHT ON!
I yelled, “PRAISE GOD!”
I was sitting on the benches at the front of our dayroom with the other two porters. When Sanford finished, many inmates called out their congratulations, and as I finished up my duties that night, several other called me over to their doors to say how much they’ve appreciated me, and I was given gifts as well. I received a full King James Version of the Bible and a New King James Version too! I’ve been marking in the Bible Gypsy that my previous cellie gave me, which is a Good News Translation. A bit basic, I look forward to blessing someone else with it in the future.
Yesterday I woke up and began praying for my family as they traveled to see me. They were just approved to visit, so I figured they would, plus, I prayed they would, so I could tell them of my move.
God blessed me to see Michael and Katie for a whole hour! The nice officer who escorted me in said Michael could trade places with me for “up to 3 months” if we wanted. Nah. I couldn’t do that, because I’ve decided I’d never choose to come back here. J Besides that, prison isn’t very pleasant for happily married couples, so they say.
I had a sweet visit with Michael and Katie. What a special birthday gift from God—that was all I’d asked of Him: that I’d be able to at least talk to someone I love by the end of summer. He said YES!
As soon as I was called for a visit today, I said aloud, “My crazy mother.” No-one but my mom would, knowing I’m going to be 45 minutes away the very next day, drive 4½ hours one way to visit me. We had a fun visit.
All this increased blessing, and I’m still waiting for the tough period to start. I know God is preparing me for a dark time of loneliness, and I’m ready.
The only request God chose to answer “no” to was my request to have our first church service today at dayroom. It has been several weeks since they’ve taken us to church. No church today, and due to facility lockdown, no dayroom either. Well, Satan is not going to win this one. I’ve been collecting supplies for brand-new members to our group, and the other guys have just started to tithe as well: stamps, peanut butter, coffee. I’ve also collected condiments, which I’m giving to another Christian brother, Michael Guerra, to help make “Care Packages.” He’ll be leading the Bible Studies as soon as I leave.
Funny how God gave me the condiments idea through this verse: “Ye are the salt of the earth” in the Sermon on the Mount. He had me think of ways I could be His salt and light. On each of the salt packets, I wrote “God Bless You” on one side, and I wrote the name of our group, “Study HIM,” on the other.
Today was supposed to be our first church service—with communion too! Instead, I’ll go from door to door to the members of our group and offer communion—a packet of cherry Kool-Aid and a saltine cracker. I’m praying God will continue this small start.
Thank you for your prayers! It is humbling to hear of your ministry to me through your prayers. God is working mightily through you. When He prompts you to pray, PRAY! He is often working miraculous deeds because of your prayers! Some things I’ll tell you after I transfer, Lord willing.
I don’t want you to “feel sorry” for me or be concerned needlessly. By the time you read this, the drama at this facility will be over. Some things God wanted me to experience—some, endure—without empathy from my family, JUST PRAYER! Thank you. You are the most valuable facet of my ministry here: the power behind His hands at work. I love you.
*Prayin’ for you all while you’re at church!