Monday, December 31, 2018 -
Yesterday evening was a mixed bag. “J” is really taking heat from the other men from his “bus” for helping out a “cracker.” He told me he’s fed up with them and wants nothing to do with them. He’d rather hang around in the cell with me. Problem is, I read a lot, and “J” struggles to read. I’ve told him I could help him with that by having him read with me aloud, but he says he’s never read before aloud and is very reticent. The book I just finished would be a good one to start with, so maybe I’ll try again tonight to persuade him.
The conversation led again to God and how He works everything out, and that our rewards for doing the right thing may not be here on Earth, but in eternity (Romans 8:28). We talked till midnight about what he could do when he gets out, his family, and even opportunities I could see him fitting into at home in Virginia. He seemingly has so many talents and gifts, from farming, poultry production, buying and selling automobiles, ATVs and motorbikes, to welding, carpentry, home remodeling, roofing and more. What I lack in common sense, he has. What he lacks in book sense, I have. He’s been in prison 4 ½ years and is wise to the fact that almost all of these inmates merely look out for themselves, and couldn’t care about anyone else unless they could get something in return.
“J” did tell me that three months after he got to the Ashland prison, where we are, he began to have visions that a cellmate would come who would help change his life, and make a difference for the future, which would be the beginning of a new, happy life. He sees my being here as a fulfillment of that vision. I actually think he’d be the perfect man to work for my friend from work, Johnny Branner, who could help him handle all of his rental properties and even remodel them when needed. We’ll see what God has in store. But at least God has confirmed one purpose for me here.
I also went to the special chapel service a local Baptists church conducted last night. I was shocked when I turned around and saw the foulest, loudest, most crude man in the whole unit sitting with another man who’s been friendly. He went to school at Fishburne Military School in my town and reminisces about living there for four years during his teens every time he’s around me. He’s probably in his late 50’s now.
Both of them walked back to the unit with me afterward, and I asked the loudmouth (he just has a huge, mammoth vocal bass voice) if he’d ever accepted Christ as his savior. Oh yes, he said, but he’d been backslidden. The other man really wants a good reference Bible, if anyone wants to send me one for him. Both want to come back regularly for chapel services.
The other great thing that happened was when I called home after the chapel service and Kathie told me they were leaving around 6 in the morning to come to see me and would be here between 11 and 11:30. I didn’t expect it and was absolutely thrilled. I felt like jumping around for joy!
But then this morning things turned very discouraging. I logged into my email and saw Kathie and William were on the way, but then saw an email from the warden saying he reviewed my case but does not think the “greatest severity” of my crime should be reversed. That was the first shot.
I then paced back and forth for an hour and a half waiting for the call-out for the visit, lugging my coat around the unit. When I finally got the call-out at about 12:30, I just saw William sitting there. I was very happy to see him but Kathie wasn’t around. I figured she was in the bathroom. It turns out they turned Kathie away twice (she was wearing the same thing she’d worn the previous weekend). We talked for two hours, ate food out of the vending machine, but Kathie never came back. About 30 minutes before visiting time was over, a guard came over and told us she was outside waiting to pick up William. To say I was devastated is an understatement. William kept telling me they’d probably stay the night and come back in the morning, but they decided to go on home – Kathie never could find anything to wear (she also had to find a non-underwire bra).
But I am very happy I got to spend two hours with my son, even though I never got to lay eyes on Kathie, let alone kiss her, and hold her hands for hours on end.