Posts Tagged ‘Strangers’

img_8514To the people of Calvary Church and Shelby,

My name is Michael and I’m currently housed in the Centre County Correctional Facility. I’ve been incarcerated since March of 2015. I was 18 years old then, now I’m 20 and approaching my release date. I’m currently sentenced to 23 months and 29 days. As I’ve spent time here I started my journey of recovery. My drugs of choice are heroin and bath salts.

Recently I have been introduced to the Bible, the book of God. I’ve been familiar with the 12 steps of NA and I was able to get a recovery Bible. I’m a new believer and I read my Bible and pray every day. My faith is a little rocky but as I continue my journey God seems to send signs of strength to me. I’ve spent 2 Christmas holidays in jail, the first was a hassle and I was not sure how to respond to an act of kindness from people I don’t know. Calvary Church sent Christmas bags and it was the first time I felt like I mattered. I’ve felt that I didn’t matter, that a convicted felon was forgotten even though I’m a person with a family and hopes and dreams.

I’m older now and I’ve grown and matured mentally, emotionally and physically. I’ve taught myself to appreciate the small things and remain grateful for all things. I would like to say I am grateful for Calvary Church. I’m grateful for the gifts they sent all of the inmates. I’m grateful for all the time, money, and effort that was put into making the Christmas bags possible. It means a lot to me that total strangers put together gifts for people who are often shunned and looked down upon by society. It hurts to say that but it’s the truth. I committed my crime as a minor and was charged as an adult. I made a mistake because I needed to support a habit. As a 17 year old kid I wasn’t able to worry about the consequences of my actions. I’m really grateful that God has put me through these tough times so I could grow. If it weren’t for God I would not be writing this letter of thanks and gratefulness. Thank you Calvary Church for all that you do for us inmates. I’ve already met one member (Shelby) and I’d like to meet more. 

Sincerely, Michael

*His name has been changed and spelling corrected, but otherwise this is just a copy of what I received. Since it was addressed to the whole church I thought this was the best way to get it out to the most people. Thanks to everyone who was a part of this…there are way too many people who gave that I cannot reach you all and am so very grateful.

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Today was beautiful.

There are so many reasons why. I’ll probably blog about lots of them individually, but I’ll give you the quick list now:

  • IMG_5883It started strong when soon after I woke up my phone reminded me to have a good attitude since I knew I’d need a reminder after getting very little sleep.
  • I got to talk to my Mama in Tanzania for a minute.
  • My phone didn’t break even though I dropped it down a flight of stairs and it bounced on every step.
  • We got to feed 50+ artists breakfast and they were so very happy about it.
  • I heard stories from people who live all over the nation.
  • We got to hand out hundreds of free water bottles to strangers on a hot day.
  • Several friends came to visit me and hang out.
  • My kitchen and bathroom are both clean.

I could go on…there are so many reasons today was beautiful! But the one that stood out above the rest was getting a small white flower from a sweet little girl. After we gave her a bottle of water, I complimented this (maybe 4 year old) little girl on a flower she was holding. She paused, looked at the flower, and then slowly raised it up to give it to me. From someone else, this might seem worthless, a frail flower they grabbed from the side of the road somewhere, but from this little girl, it was clear she gave me a treasure. And by doing so, she reminded me to be intentional about being aware of my perspective. Life is full of moments. I don’t always see the treasure in each one, but I want to. I hope your day was beautiful too.

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To the man traveling all the way from Alaska to visit your daughter. I’m sorry. Sorry for the multiple missed flights. Secretly it was nice to see the same face at multiple cancellations, but that was kind of selfish, so I’m sorry for you. I’m sorry that your time with her is going to be much shorter. I hope you guys make the most of it. Your calm acceptance of the situation reminded me of my own dad. I miss him, and wish I could go visit him, so it made me happy to know that one daughter/father combo would be together soon…maybe not as soon as we all hoped though. I thought about you while I sat in the airport.

To the woman going to India for your mother-in-law’s funeral. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that because of our delay you will miss the funeral. I’m sorry you didn’t make it back in time to say goodbye. I’m sorry you are alone. That you just said goodbye to your daughter and son-in-law and brand new grandbabies to make the trip home to India. I know you left early trying to make it before your mother-in-law, the woman you’ve lived with for the past 35 years died, but you didn’t make it. She died too quickly. And now, as we sit here waiting, you know that you will miss your connection. You know that you will miss her funeral. I am praying for you. You know this…I told you…but I hope you remember. I hope my one hug was enough to give you the strength you need to get back to India. I’m glad that she was a wonderful woman, and I wish I could hold your hand the whole way to India, but for now, I’m thankful to have met you. I’m thankful that you made eye contact with me and that when I asked why you were going to India you were honest. I’m glad you let me share your sorrow for a while on those uncomfortable airport chairs. I thought about you while I sat in the airport.

To the man going to visit your mom. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that the reason for your visit is that she isn’t doing well. I’m glad you weren’t on my flight that you were flying somewhere else and are able to make it there to see her as she struggles through the end of her life. I’m so thankful to know that your mom loves Jesus and you not only get to see her right now, but you have hope to see her again in heaven. Thank you for telling me that. It was encouraging to me. I thought about that hope while I sat in the airport.

To the ticket counter people. I’m sorry. I can only imagine how hard your job is and how many frustrated people you deal with…I got to see plenty of them as you explained again and again to all different groups why they would miss their connections or not get home on time. (Word of the wise though…maybe it’s worth hiring faster pilots.) Thanks though for your encouragement. Your apologies. Your sorrowful smiles. Your effort to keep trying to get me home. It was appreciated. I tried to make sure you knew how much I appreciated you, and that I didn’t hold this against you…I hope I was successful. Anyways, as I watched you stay calm with the frustrated people around me, it reminded me to stay calm. It reminded me that God has a plan that we just can’t always understand. I thought about your attitudes while I sat in the airport.

To my friends in jail who I promised I would visit today. I’m sorry. I’m sorry to stand you up when I’m one of the very few you’ve come to believe and count on. It broke my heart to not visit you today. I would’ve given anything for that jail food today. =) I’m sorry to the two of you who will likely be transferred to other prisons by the time I get to visit next week. I’m sorry I didn’t get to say goodbye. The past few months of talking with you, reading God’s word, and praying for you, your friends, your families has been life changing for me, and I hope it has been for you too. I don’t know if I’ll find you again, but know that I will search. I will try my best to, at the very least, send you a letter explaining why I didn’t get to say goodbye. I thought about you while I sat in the airport.

To my friends and family I’m not sorry. To you I am very thankful. Thanks for the phone calls, text messages, airport visits, rides, bed, food, encouragement, thoughts and prayers. Thanks for reminding me that God is in control…always. Thanks for loving me well. This adventure reminded me of just how wonderful all of you are! And I thought about you while I sat in the airport.