i made my way to the jail, arrived early, watched the men play basketball for a little bit, then found myself seated on the white bench which has become all too familiar. i was in the waiting area since i came early – the chapel was still being cleaned. well, one of the inmates found me, and was like, “crystal! i need to introduce you to someone!” and so, i went and met one of the jail officers, who i spoke to, and found out, there may be other opportunities for me to also help out. it was awesome. as soon as they found out i was a teacher, and i’m capable, they were like, YES! LITERACY? i was like, sure! and values formation too! 🙂 so that was very exciting! we got to talking, and i was given a brief formal orientation, some words of advice, and a handshake to seal the deal that i would be coming possibly more than we had originally thought! baby steps.
turns out, there would be no choir practice because the chapel was being used for something else. BUT, such a blessing that was – because, if i had choir practice, i would have missed out on meeting that jail officer, and two other things:
1) i was sitting with the inmate and he was giving me the rundown of programs, and briefing me on different activities that i could attend with their community, and i saw one of the boys i worked with, in his yellow detainee shirt, in handcuffs. it was really sad, cause i had never seen him like that, but he was really happy to see me, and he gave me this huge smile. i said hi, and was legit happy to see him, and then that was it. well, later on, i saw him, yet again, in a new set of clothes, no handcuffs, and he said, “i’m leaving!” and i was like, what? his family member was there to pick him up! when he told me that, i think i felt my heart jump. i was so excited for him, and it was such a beautiful moment to witness. he was taken to the other police officer’s office, to tell them he was being released, and they were happy for him too. i’ve never seen anything like it. of course, it was difficult still though, cause i was sitting with an inmate, who wishes he were also leaving. but alas, different cases. // but, if they held choir practice, i would have missed that opportunity to say bye, and to tell him, be good, take care, and make good decisions, cause you don’t want to end up here. (in tagalog of course. haha!) so that was a happy moment.
2) second thing, as i was leaving, i saw one of the women i saw two days ago with my recent visit with sr. romy. it was a mother of an inmate. on wednesday, she told sr. romy and i, to please pray for her son that his case will be dismissed and that he can come home. she, herself, is a missionary, very involved with coordinating prayer groups and faith formation sessions, and it was good to see her upon leaving. sitting on the stoop right outside of the entrance, she informed me, that indeed her son was to be released and all will be well! she was very excited, and she told me “you know, serve the Lord, and the Lord will give you so much in return!” to see the hope, conviction, and faith that this woman had, was very inspiring. i was glad i got to see her and though i didn’t fully understand everything she shared with me, i was glad i was able to listen to her, feel her faith in God, and share in her profound joy. // but if they held choir practice, i would have missed that opportunity. 🙂
i also got to teach “here i am to worship” to one of the guys there. it was pretty fun. he started harmonizing with me, and it sounded great! haha, this is going to be very interesting!
i left the jail with such excitement and goodness all around me. some advice i received today was, “be careful….with your heart. i just need to warn you.” // “there are a lot of…handsome men here, so um, be careful.” apparently some volunteers in the past have left a mark of pursuing romantic relations with inmates, but alas, i assured the officers, my bf is JC (jesus christ) and the missionary sisters. haha. mark my words.