80 | Obi—Oh, boy!

April 13, 2009
Monday, 7:30 p.m.
Letter #80: Obi—Oh, boy!


Dear Family,

Greetings! Wow! I’ve had an incredibly full/fun weekend in the Bahamas here in beautiful Soledad, California. Details to follow:

Friday—Who would have guessed that our little rag-tag bunch of Christian guys who formed “The Christian Team” to play in the yard basketball tournament … would have won two of the last three games? We shocked everyone—including ourselves.

Our main stated objective is to demonstrate, in a practical way, Christlike attitudes. No matter what. We don’t have even a basketball-sized team: I’m considered “tall,” and we have a few players who had never played the sport before. We’re all thanking God for keeping our attitudes in check and for its obvious by-product: we’re having a blast!

Saturday—I received a fun visit from my dad, who is always faithful to help me call someone or to do special favors for me.  🙂

Sunday—Since I’ve just helped to “re-start” the choir (the separate Spanish and English choirs were told by the chaplain to combine, for unity reasons), I didn’t have high hopes for our Resurrection Day service. We hadn’t had any time to work on an Easter song, so I was settling for simple worship, where I’d accompany some hymns—though our small hymnals don’t even have any resurrection-themed classics. I’d acquired the music to “Holy City” (“Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Lift up your gates and sing!”), and I planned to sing it as a solo.

Then, everything changed! On Tuesday, a new arrival from another prison got off of his “orientation” status and was free to join us in normal activities. His knowledge of music is extensive—including a master’s degree—and he’s performed in Christian concerts worldwide. (He has two additional master’s degrees and a doctorate, was a professor at Azusa Pacific and Biola Christian universities for 19 years, has an odd sense of humor, and is one of five boys in his family. So, besides all the additional paperwork, he and I have a ton in common.)  🙂

I’ll write more on “Obi” later, but back to Sunday … I decided to test his singing skilz, and I threw together a quick quartet to do it with: James, Steve, and me, plus Obi. During dayroom on Thursday, I worked with Obi and James (Steve is not in my building).

Another Christian guy dropped in our practice, so we put him to work singing Steve’s part—the melody. The amazing thing we found out? Craig is a natural with music and never knew it! He not only learned the song (my arrangement of “Christ Arose” with “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”) but hung onto his part with three other parts going on—no small feat!

Craig got straight giddy when he heard the beautiful four-part harmony for the first time, and for Obi and me, it brought back memories of singing quartet music with our brothers. Good stuff!

Praise God, we had it ready for Sunday morning, and the packed house loved it. More to come!

The service was so packed, the pastor had to hold an additional service an hour-and-a-half later, to accommodate everyone! In the 15 minutes between services, Obi and I played piano duets, including two-piano stuff, utilizing the K. Kawai piano in the church, which is helplessly tuned exactly a half-step higher than it should be. (Thus, when he played it in the key of A, I played the keyboard in A flat, sounding perfect!)

He’s not nearly as gifted a pianist as is my usual duet partner, Michael, but he’ll have to do for now.  🙂  God is good! Thank you for praying for me—this additional blessing is truly awesome for me!