9 | The Shiny Black Yamaha

March 22, 200
Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
The Shiny Black Yamaha


Dear Family,

Hey from North Kern State Prison! Sounds pretty, anyway. 🙂

I’m praying for you all, as I know you must all have increased responsibilities or plans for tomorrow, being Easter Resurrection Sunday! Praise God for a God who lives and brings us into fellowship with Him and each other, even across the many miles that separate us. I love you all so much!

I think I’m finally getting used to my cell, the food, the programs, and the people here. Hopefully (please pray!) I won’t be here long, since I can’t have a lot of my freedoms while at this “receiving” facility, such as contact visits or phone calls. I don’t want you guys to try to visit me here, since you’d just have a short visit behind glass anyways. The eight-hour drive wouldn’t be worth it. I love you all, and it will be a lot easier on me, once I hear from you to know you’re doing okay.

The food is surprisingly good at times. Fried chicken, make-your-own burritos, pancakes, and hamburgers. I guess I can never claim “it’s nothing to write home about,” though, since I just did. I trade my packet of coffee every morning for an extra milk. Not bad. I’m certainly not starving here.

The programs are seldom, if ever. Supposedly we get “yard time” for an hour on Fridays and Mondays. It’s happened once so far. “Dayroom,” the equivalent of what I had three times a day at the county facilities (approximately one hour within our small room), happens four times a week here. Unless the C.O. doesn’t want it to. It has happened three total times (out of a possible five) since I’ve been here. That means, in the ten full days I’ve been here, I’ve been out of my cell for “recreation” one hour and sitting talking to guys other than my cellie for three hours: 240 hours to 4.

Obviously, I’ve had to get used to my cell.  🙂  My cellie, Gypsy (who sends his greetings to you all), is very neat—a fairly common trait of someone who’s done a fair amount of time. So, YES, there’s hope for me after all.  🙂  I made it a point to erase and redecorate some of the sayings written on the wall that weren’t so … uplifting. I put little reminders of those I love, including changing a Muslim phrase to read: “Jesus is Lord!”

I was RICHLY blessed yesterday and today to be allowed to attend church services at the prison chapel! I was so excited to be with a couple dozen other believers, beside my understandable euphoria of simply walking outside to go to the chapel! As soon as I walked through the doors, I spotted it: a shiny black Yamaha upright, sitting next to a full-size keyboard with a lock on it. I sat patiently, but my heart sank as I heard recorded music playing on a CD player behind the podium.

Again, I gave my music to God. It’s really His, anyway, to use however and if ever He wants. Well, so many of us were there that they ran out of the usual songbooks and had to use a sheet of paper “with no music” the pastor said. I slipped my hand up and got to serve by playing four songs, starting with “This Is the Day That the Lord Has Made.” Yes, it was! It felt so good to be in front of the keys again, and God gave me hope that I won’t have to wait fifteen years to serve Him with music.

The pastors gave us stirring testimonies yesterday and today. Both had dealt in drugs, and one of them made a deal with God while the DEA was searching his house for four hours. They didn’t find the 1-pound bag of heroin, worth $200,000, so he gave it back to his source, a family member; separated himself from his family for a year while he attended Bible studies; then returned to his family and one by one, led them Christ. Where else but in a prison chapel service could you hear the pastor say: “Now get with Christ as your Homie. He’s the only Homie who’s really got your back, because He’s a friend who sticks closer than a brotha.” Straight up, Yo. I’ll write more tomorrow. Love you all.  🙂