Saturday, June 20, 2009

Part 5: What I Learned In Prison ;)

Thursday was a new day and a new experience. Maggie and I got to go with two of the Galilean Home volunteers (and the driver) to take five of the babies to the prison to see their Mamas. In case I didn’t explain the ministry of The Angel House very well before, they take care of babies whose Mamas are in prison. Then, when the Moms get out, they get their babies back.

It was a 3 hour drive (both coming and going!). It makes for a long day. We left at 8:00 or after, got there for visiting hours (11:30-1:30) and got back at 4:00 or so. The prison policy was that we had to wear dresses and bring our IDs. Other than that, there didn’t seem to be a bunch of red tape (at least for Galilean Home visitors). The Galilean Home brings the babies EVERY Thursday to see their Mamas (the ones that are in that particular prison anyways).

Each of us carried a baby. I had been riding next to Mya, so I carried her in. Maggie had her buddy for the week, Abigail, and the other three had the twins (Nicolas and Maddlyn) and Lyric. We were escorted through the main building and came outside where we walked down a path to the chapel they had on the grounds. Lots of the inmates were outside watching us.

We got to the chapel and the Moms were waiting. We handed them their babies, and they went to the nursery area to feed and spend time with them. Maggie, the volunteers, and I, sat down at a table and I wondered what we were supposed to do for two hours. They had a little library, so some of us got some books to read. After browsing a bit, I picked up “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis. It looked like a short read, and I had always wanted to read some of his other works besides Narnia. I read two chapters of it before it was time to go (and I am looking forward to getting it and reading it all the way soon!). That book is amazing!!

Sometimes, the Moms talk to the volunteers. Though, it was my understanding that you had to be careful about how much information you share, and you weren’t allowed to ask them about “what they were in for” or things like that. They could share it voluntarily if THEY wanted to, though.

None of them talked to us much, aside from Lyric’s Mom. I told her how much I loved his name and that in the years to come, when I heard that name, I would know that that had to be her boy. I said that he was destined for greatness; both her and the baby smiled!! I told her I would be praying for her and him and that things would go well for her when she got out. She struck me as being very sincere, and that whatever she had done to get into prison was behind her. She was a pretty lady, and looked tender-hearted. She didn’t have as much pain and hardness in her eyes like some of the other women did. I have assurance that she will be fine once she gets released.

I’m not so sure about some of the other Moms, though. I think some of them had been in prison before. Some of them even had other children; older ones. Abigail didn’t even want to go to her Mom; she clung to Maggie. And the Mom of the twins seemed so unsure of how to care for them. She would rock them for a while, and they would be content. Then, she would get up and put them down, and then pick them up again when they started screaming their heads off. It just breaks your heart to think that some of these babies might not be so well off when their parents get out. Mya’s Mom was talking about how she was getting out soon and didn’t feel ready to be on her own. Whoa! Though, isn't that how it is some times? Whether literally or figuratively, sometimes we prefer the comfort of our own prison; even if we really hate it and want to be free.

That was one of the many things going through my mind. Whether or not we are literally in prison, all of us have something that we are/were enslaved to. What’s your prison? What holds you captive? I’m sure something comes to your mind the same as it does to mind. However, the good news is that Jesus came to set us free so that we wouldn’t be burdened by yokes of slavery (Galatians 5:1). Jesus bailed us out!! He paid the consequences of our sin so we wouldn’t have to! Through His blood, we are FREE! Praise God for that!

As we took the babies and said good-bye, I could only imagine how I would have felt if it were me. Maybe some of them learned how to be tough, but I don’t think I would ever have an easy time saying good-bye to my babies. At least they get to see them every week, but that’s hardly enough (especially when they are that young!). My heart breaks for them, and I pray that they will be free from both their literal and spiritual prisons soon! The feelings of being trapped, judged, and condemned are just as real outside of the real prison walls as they are within. Though, what is that compared with the prisons we make ourselves; and live in every day as supposed “free” men and women? It made me all the more grateful for Jesus; His forgiveness, healing, redemption, and restoration. No matter who you are or what you’ve done, He offers it to you. No one is exempt!

When we all got back to the Galilean Home, we had a little down time before dinner. Everyone was asking me, “so, how was prison?“ It just struck me so funny lol. “Yeah, I just got out!“ ;) Before I had left, a few people told ME to behave - imagine that! Did they think I wasn’t going to come back? C’mon!! Ha ha! Even funnier than that was that earlier in the week, I was asked by two different staffers at The Angel House if I was old enough to hold the babies (they have a rule that you have to be 18 or older). Ha ha! Well, that’s not the first time someone thought I looked like a young “kid”. At least I know I’m going to age gracefully, right? ;) Yeah, it doesn’t take long for some to start teasing and having fun with me (which is always a lot of fun!). As Linda, the supervisor, said: “You grew on me this week, Melissa”. I miss her! I miss everyone!

Well, when I wasn’t talking about the prison trip, I was talking to some of the other Galilean Home residents while waiting to go to The Bread of Life Café in town (which is also owned by the Galilean Home). I sat with Molly for a while; taking pictures as well as showing her some. George, Effie, James, Maggie, and a few others were there to chat with us here and there as well. I even asked George (who is always so much fun, and such a great team player) what the one thing was that he wanted me to tell the people back in Indiana about him. He said: “awar” lol. “Awar” is “award” without the “d”. ;) He had been talking about an award he was getting at school for something (I don’t think anyone ever even seen it, or knows what it’s for lol). Well, whatever it was, he was all pumped up about it!

We had a great time of fellowship as we dined at the Café that night. In fact, there were some funky hats and boas on one of the hat stands in the dining area. They were calling my name. I had to put them on! I had Maggie, Molly, and Kyla (one of the volunteers) try them on too. I was wanting to get a picture of Cindy in them too, but it didn’t happen (darn!). Even George wanted to try on the hat, but opted for his napkin over his head instead. LOL

Thursday was a great day! I even got the chance to finally explore that cute gazebo they had (and took a few pictures)! Everything about the Galilean Home is absolutely beautiful! I had become so comfortable there that I couldn’t believe that the week was nearly over; even though I had originally hoped and prayed that it would go fast (yeah, be careful what you pray for! Lol). Only one full day left; then, Saturday morning would come and we would be gone.

I tried to put off the thoughts of tearful good-byes as I went to sleep that night. I hoped and prayed that Friday would be a great day; and that it wouldn’t go by too fast. Though, I was missing my kids; especially after learning that Casey was sick with a fever. At least I could trust that he was being taken care of. And, I felt as though the Galilean Home had equipped me even more to take care of him (and Gianna) because I had learned so much! Mothering the babies reminded me of why I love being a Mom! I felt that the Melissa who was leaving was going to be a better Melissa than the one that arrived………….(to be continued).

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