92 | Mixed Martial Arts Basketball

July 15, 2009
Wednesday, 2:00 p.m.
Letter #92: Mixed Martial Arts Basketball


Dear Family,

Greetings! I’m enjoying an afternoon with God, just Him and me up on my bunk. I just read the current issue of Christianity Today from James, and I’m encouraged and inspired. God gave me a special devotional time with Him this morning too.

I decided to go out to morning yard at 9:30, looking for an opportunity to speak with CO Kuzmicz about moving James upstairs—he’d said it would happen for sure, but nothing yet.
My current cellie, Jammer, is getting really antsy, since his move hasn’t happened, either. I try to be a stable friend, a listening ear, and a calming influence on him as he stresses over every little thing.

I stopped to talk with Mike Luhan, a sweet Christian brother who faithfully helps lead our yard Bible Study every day. He’s the guy who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident—we affectionately refer to him as “Kickstand.” I’ve been anticipating taking over the group, and Keith and I have discussed the particular needs of various members in the group. Mike is one who needs a buddy to listen to him, so I’ve made it a point to get to know him. God has given Mike a beautiful story of redemption from a corrupt life, and he’d like to write it for others to read, so I’ve been helping him through the process.

I’ve never seen Mike with his shirt off, though he’s heavily tattooed on his arms and neck. Today, he told me about his involvement in the notorious Mongols biker gang—he was head of a local chapter—and let me peek down the back of his shirt at the full Mongols logo. I’d just seen the logo featured on America’s Most Wanted last week (I watch AMW to pick out future cellies), since two leaders are on the run. The logo has just been declared illegal by the Federal government, a first for any emblem, as the feds have disbanded the gang. Mike’s passionate love for his Savior and his new “brothers” is a poignant testament to Christ’s ability to redeem.

I ventured over to the basketball court at 11:00 to watch Keith, who’s been picked up by one of the teams who made it to the finals. I wasn’t on the sidelines more than a minute, when one guy I played ball with yesterday got fouled while driving to the basket. He got up angrily and yelled, “Why’d you have to go and foul me for, man?” to the other player, who didn’t appreciate being questioned about his playing abilities in incorrect English.

I’ve missed most of the fights on the yard, witnessing only a few really decent scuffles. This one, however, I had a front-row seat to, being only 15 feet from it. I’ve lived a really sheltered life, so this was my first encounter—ever—with the sound of fist connecting with face. It’s not pretty. Both guys kept it going, long after the main tower cop called out on the microphone “YARD DOWN!” and the rest of us had dropped to the ground to finish watching the basketball-turned-hockey event.

However intent the mutual combatants were to finish the fight, they became a bit distracted by the orange-colored sticky pepper spray which soon covered their entire upper bodies, especially their faces. Now looking like the Great Pumpkin attacking Carrot Top, one guy wouldn’t stop pounding the other, until he got a baton to the buttocks. Ding ding ding. The match was over. And so were all activities for the day, even though we were supposed to get our first church service in over a month today at 1:00, according to the chaplain. Ahh, the joys of prison life. 🙂

As the two guys were handcuffed and taken away and everyone went back to their buildings, I picked up an ice-cold bottle of Pepsi that was left behind, unopened, grateful to get it before anyone else noticed it. I realized it must have belonged to one of the fighters, so I’ll keep it for him until he gets back from his 30 days in the hole. Hopefully, it will be an opportunity to show a bit of God’s love to him.

My floor cop told me today that no one will be allowed to move from cell to cell anymore, since they are planning to transfer everyone next door to the Soledad prison within the next two weeks. This is tough news, as I’d rather be in a cell with James, but good news regarding moving to Soledad, as that prison should be a better facility, with more privileges, than this one. Whatever God wants, I’m for!

Thank you for praying for me!