August 31, 2009
Monday, 6:30 p.m.
Letter #96: Crash Course in Mormonism
Greetings for the last time from this prison!! Tonight is my last night here before being transferred. As you may recall from my last correspondence, I planned to change buildings to Building 4, which happened last Thursday evening when I moved into cell 206 with the building clerk, Scott. Scott has been very actively involved in the church here for four years, and we’ve teamed up on many occasions to plan and lead worship services, he being responsible for Wednesday Bible Studies in the chapel.
I’m blessed to be with him, and Scott is beside himself—he was with a non-Christian cellie for four years, a guy his age (50ish) who used to be a fitness trainer—Scott says he and I have talked more in these four days than he and “Trainer” did in four years, and he’s serious. We’ve enjoyed each other’s company, and I’ve helped him enjoy being a Christian with someone to share the joy with: we’ve read the Bible out loud every day, prayed on our knees by the bottom bunk every night, listened to K-LOVE Christian radio together, and shared our testimonies with each other.
Scott was a US Customs officer based in San Diego and Winnipeg, Manitoba. He was a devout Mormon before coming to Christ seven years ago. One of the fun things I’ve done with Scott is go through the Book of Mormon, Doctrines and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price (he has them heavily marked, highlighted, and notated), and laughed incredulously at the blatant plagiarism, erroneous “historical records,” and straight-up WEIRD doctrine. For all the amazingly organized ways the Mormon church operates, it is surprisingly very simply misled. I guess that becoming your own god in charge of your own solar system someday is kinda tough to pass up, so they continue to believe.
Well, my time with Scott—which we thought may last between two to six weeks—will last exactly five days! I was notified on Friday to pack up all my stuff and take it to the gym to be packed into boxes by an officer—it’s OFFICIAL!! Praise God!! I’m going to the prison next door, Correctional Training Facility, Soledad! I’m so grateful for all your prayers! So many guys were, like me, told they’d be going to Soledad, only to be shipped several hours away, north or south of here. As you know, I don’t care what the living conditions are like; I just want to live near my sweet family! God is good to me!
I’ve been receiving special answers to prayers recently. I’m grateful that not even ONE item was taken away from me when I packed up all of my stuff. I’m so aware of God’s favor richly poured out on me in situations that normally are quite different for everyone else.
The biggest answer to prayer—besides the move to Soledad—was regarding the amount of books I’d accumulated. We are officially allowed only 10 at a time. I have the vicinity of 50, including choir books, hymnals, piano books, educational resource books, and Bibles. An empathetic staff member will deliver all of my books to me at Soledad! Since I use them to help train the other inmates through choir, church, and Bible Study activities, besides using them for my own university studies, they are making a special exception for me! My God is good and able. 🙂
I’ve been saying my goodbyes to guys I won’t see for a while, like James and Keith, and many other brothers. I’ve also enjoyed saying goodbye and giving a blessing to many of the correctional officers I’ve come to know while here. Some have told me to “take care of yourself.” When I thanked a couple of others, they said, “Are you serious? Because I’m usually never appreciated by the inmates.”
I was then able to share how I knew God had blessed me by their care and protection of me, and for protecting my family by making sure all of us stayed inside the walls here. 🙂 One officer gave me a fist bump goodbye, one gave me a handshake, and a few returned my “God bless you and your family” statement with, “You too!”
Please pray, as by the time you receive this, I’ll be with a new cellie at Soledad. I’d like to end up with Scott or Oscar, once we get settled over there, but most of all, I’m looking forward to getting busy doing what God wants me to do on that new yard.
Thank you for your prayers!
Blessings to You!