74 | My Brother, James

February 16, 2009
Monday, 6:00 p.m.
Letter #74: My Brother, James


Dear Family,

Praise God! I’m doing so well right now! Thank you for your faithful prayers, letters, and support. God is working through you to bless me richly.

First, an update on my college classes: I’m ambitiously expecting to be fully back on track and on target soon. I spent time over the weekend charting out my assignments, and I put them into a daily task list, stretching to the end of March. So far, so good.

The first real test—how achievable are these goals?—came today, when I was able to complete far more than my daily goals and still had time to get my exercise time in, plus personal music practice too. The discouragement that I’d felt due to slipping behind in my studies is gone, praise God! I learned a lot about myself in the process, and I’m putting what works for me into practice. Please continue to pray that I use my free time wisely.

Next, an update on my buddy, James Soria, whom many of you have met while visiting me. As you may recall, he’d been attempting to transfer to my building for nearly two months. At first, his building wouldn’t allow him to leave because he is a “programmer,” someone who follows the rules and has a routine to keep himself busy.

Finally, they let him fill out a form requesting a move, and his main officers signed it. (No other building but B4 has this form.) When Kuzmicz tried to act on it, however, to bring James to B2, the officers from B4 changed their minds and prevented the move from happening. Additionally, they put a man who is HIV+ into James’s cell. James’s brother tried appealing to a lieutenant, to no avail.

I’d already introduced James to our floor cops, Kuzmicz and Moore, and our main tower cop in B2, Gomez. The main problem, they all told me, was that James was “too nice,” so his building wouldn’t release him to live anywhere else. Eventually, James’s request to change cells was partially granted: they moved him within the building last week, so at least he won’t have to deal with the HIV+ any more.

On Friday, as I was returning to my building, my tower cop, Gomez, slid open the outer tower window and talked to me: “Hey, I think I’ve got your buddy, Soria, to move over here for you,” he started, as my jaw dropped. “I talked to his building cops, and they’re fine with letting him move. I told our building clerk, so it should happen tomorrow, though I’m not sure, since I won’t be here, so don’t thank me yet. Oh, and I decided to put him with that 82-year-old guy in 143; HA! I can sure pick compatibility, can’t I?” I thanked Gomez profusely and once again left the outcome to the Lord. If He wanted it to happen, He was certainly able!

Well, praise God! James is not only in my building, but he’s also on the bottom tier with me, so we’ll be at dayroom times together, AND he’s only two doors down from me! Since the only cell between us is a Jewish guy in a wheelchair who doesn’t sit with us at chow (the wheelchairs/canes sit separately), I get to sit with James at breakfast and dinner every day!

Cell 144 is the Christian brother, Matthew, while my buddy John (and his cellie, the infamous Mario) are in 145. We have a fun group in the ’hood, now! The best part of the move is that we’ll be able to take time at dayroom to practice a cappella songs, which is nearly impossible on the yard. Additionally, due to the relaxed rules here in B2, James will enjoy more than only one phone call per month.

James has several periodical subscriptions that he’s blessing me with, including USA Today, Christianity Today, Men’s Fitness, and a few others. He also has a nice collection of Christian CDs.

James and I are going to work together at discipling John in the coming days, including requiring his presence on the yard during our daily Bible Studies from 11:30–12:45. Both James and I teach a day out there (James on Wednesdays, I’m on Thursdays), and I know the studies will be a blessing to John.

Thank you for faithfully lifting me up in prayer! It really is a big mission field here! Our all-Christian basketball team has played a few “pre-season” games and has shocked everyone by keeping the games closely competitive, even winning one! Our season begins this Friday, and we’re praying that our good attitudes and Christlike behavior continues to make a big impact, win or lose!

Please let me know how I can pray for you, as I’m updating my prayer list.