A Glimpse of Mi Vida...

It started with a missions trip to Camden, where my life and perspective were changed and where this blog began. Life has been a roller coaster filled with its ups and downs and I'm excited for the adventure and discovering what God has in store, even though I really dislike roller coasters... I am a Lady in Waiting...

Friday, November 8, 2013

Prison Break

So there wasn’t a prison break, but the title got your attention.

Yesterday I went to the prison for the first time. I had attempted to go last week but because there had been so much rain and we take public transit we couldn’t go.

Melonnie, who to launch both the brothel and prison ministries in Haiti, is in town and I got to go with her group and Caitlin and Magdala who normally go each week. I’ve been wanting to go for awhile now but just found the idea of talking to a bunch of Haitian men in a cell to be quite intimidating, especially with the language barrier.

The experience was overwhelming to say the least. We travelled via a hired tap-tap to the prison in Port de Paix. As we got to the prison we unloaded all the supplies that Melonnie and the team had brought in. The prison guards searched them… there were three boxes of Haitian/Creole bibles, hygeniene supplies, batteries, Christian radios, condiments and other snacks.

The prison holds about 420 prisoners roughly, that is nine men’s cells and 1 women’s cell. You do the math, that is a lot of prisoners per cell. We started visiting with a few of the men’s cells. As JT and Jim sorted through the supplies we first went to visit the women’s cell. They were so funny and so sweet, and some of the women were just so beautiful. Melonnie shared with them how she was doing and then she moved on to the men’s cells. Caitlin and I stayed awhile and talked with the women about life. They make these beautiful headbands from material we give them, I will definitely be sporting them once home. They asked if I was married or dating any one, they said I look like a wife. I will gladly take as a compliment as I hope to be one someday to a wonderful God-fearing man. I talked my little bit of Creole with them, which they were impressed and said I looked forward to seeing them next week. We then moved across the way to the men’s cells.

The smells were overwhelming- it was combination of man sweat, pee, mixed with the heat and humidity amongst other things. So much happen that I cannot even fully describe or remember what it was like, but I do remember that one of the cells of men had 56 people in it. They have to take turns sleeping in shifts, they have buckets in the corner, in which they pee in and quite possibly poop if they have to go. Can you imagine that? Fifty-five eyes on you as you’re doing your business. No thank you and I’m sure the smell alone as you move closer is awful. We gave a tattoo kit to one of the men, so they could give each other tattoos and we made sure to tell all of the other cells that the man wasn’t allowed to charge them for tattoos. I cannot even imagine once they run out of needles, how they will improvise or how they can possibly keep a tattoo sanitary, to say the least.

One cell is filled with primarily older gentlemen, which broke my heart to see their old wrinkly faces. To wonder how long they have been there or how much family life that they are missing out on. They are grandpas to someone. Another cell was full of young boys, twenty of them all under the age of eighteen. Most of them will probably be in there for a few years, and some of them for life if they ever get a court date. One cell men was filled with so much entitlement, as they wanted more than what we had brought them. That cell received two Creole Bibles and two Engligh, but for one man, that didn’t seem to be enough. He wanted his own Creole bible, they wanted more. It was crazy how, even within a cell they still wanted more because they assumed we could give it to them. Instead of being thankful that they were being given anything as they’re sitting in this cell, some of them wanted more. Others were excited and thankful. One cell asked for JT’s shoes, the shoes that he was currently wearing. What was he supposed to do, take off his shoes and go back barefoot? Some of their asks were just outrageous for what I would have expected from men in a prison.

My favorite was how many men asked about me and how many hit on me, it was very intimidating, yet sometimes funny. I think what made me feel safe was the bars in which they stood behind because being in an area with 400 Haitian men who smelled of prison musk and the fact that we had two men with us as well. A lot of men are just awaiting a court date, some of the men have not even committed a crime but just merely have owed money. I think it will be very interesting when I go next week with just Caitlin and Magdala, no men and no translator and with no gifts for them. I am looking forward to going to the prison next week (my final week in Haiti)- learning what I can learn and looking for moments of how I can see God’s redemption in some of these men and women. My favorite pick up line was as follows:

Man: Excuse me, can I ask you a favor?
Me: Yes.
Man: Will you remember my name?
Me: What is your name?
Man: {whispers name}. Will you remember in your heart? {winks}
Me: No, only Jezi (Jesus in Creole) is the only man in my heart.
Other prisoners laugh...

As we were getting ready to leave the prison, I was covered in bug bites… chiggers and sand fleas. I had to have at least thirty something bites from just the filth and dirt of the prison, covered in sweat, and unable to fully process everything I had just experience and saw. A full day later and I am still having a hard time. I cannot imagine how hard it is for some of them to live there, hard on them and hard on their families. At the end of the day, they are still children of God; merely awaiting judgment day like all of us.  

I think my devotional from the morning is so fitting:

“And if any… sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Chris the righteous.” -1 John 2:1

Jesus was tried and convicted, He served our sentence.

For us, we are accused daily by the enemy. Take the Lord as proof for our innocence. His blood covered our guilt and set our spirit free. His Word silences the enemy and reminds me that: He is my advocate, my go-between to the Father.

I am guilty but He has pardoned my record. My sins are forgiven and my future is secure.
My life cost Jesus, His.

I pray that I can share this good news with the prisoners, or that when I feel like I am in my on prison (held down by lies and accusations) that I remember that He advocated for me and I am innocent in the Father’s Court. 

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