Sunday, April 5, 2015

#68 - Inmate Prayers (Journal from March 29, 2014)

I met a new girl today.  Word travels fast around here and I heard she was receiving clergy visits from my friends from church.  That alone is so huge - these girls have received so much hope and direction from church leaders that they have also helped this new girl get visits.  It just goes to show that when something helps you, you want to share it.  It makes me just beam that clergy visits have gone on without me here and they are showing the new girls the ropes. 

It's kind of like when I teach my kids something and I hope they get it.  Then I see them in action and they are putting it into practice.  Teach a person where to go for help and you'll help that person.  But when you see that person also teach others, you know they've internalized it and there's no limit to their reach. 

The new girl was out to break with us today.  She was standing away from the other girls, all by herself, with her face so close to the chain length fence that keeps us in.  I knew that look.  If you get close enough to the fence that you can see it right through it, it almost feels like you're not stuck behind it.  Almost.  I had tried the trick many times.  I'm only here 7 days at a time and I feel it. 

I introduced myself to her, but didn't get much in return other than her name.  (I'll call her Cal for privacy reasons.)  I stood with her just quiet for a little bit.  Sometimes a person just needs to know they aren't alone.  I sensed that she didn't want to talk yet, but I didn't want her to feel lonely either.  Before long she said, "They said you were coming."  I smiled, not really understanding what that meant.  She went on, "The girls.  They told me about you."  I shrugged and told her that I hoped they were good things.  She opened up and told me how much she missed her kids - that her 16 year old was being difficult and wouldn't talk to her anymore.  I learned about her other kids and a little bit about their personalities.  She misses her kids terribly bad!  Too soon it was time to go back inside.  I walked away feeling a connection to Cal, even after just meeting her, and I'm so excited for a week to get to know her better. 


Each week I come, I have to feel out the connections between everyone.  The tensions seems a little high, but I don't know if that's just from all the privileges being taken away.  There are two girls in here that workout every morning and every night.  One used to be a personal trainer and she seems a little intimidating.  I want to workout with them, but I want to make sure I can keep up.  I've also heard some of the regulars bad mouthing the girls who workout because they are 'trying to be better than us.'  Why is that such a personal matter?  Anytime someone in here tries to better themselves, they get backlash.  Maybe it's jealousy?  Whatever it is, it leaves an awful feeling in here. 

The kitchen girls have brought in a bean dish twice now and barley, which is new in the previous 4 weeks I've been here.  Are they trying to be healthier?  There's also a big jug of ice cold water we can fill our mugs with so we don't have to drink the luke-warm water out of the sink that's attached to our toilet.  That's a plus.  :-) 


Tuck came to the door of mine and Robin's cell today.  She had her scriptures in her hand and asked if I would read with her.  Robin heard her from the bottom bunk and said, "What am I - chopped liver now?  I've been reading with you every day!"  Tuck apologized and said, "I love reading with you!  It's just that Krissi is a limited time edition, so I want to take advantage while she's here!"  I laughed at Tuck's quick wit. 

I grabbed my scriptures and we found a table to sit and read.  When else in my whole life would a girl like Tuck ever come knock on my door and ask to read scriptures?!  This just does not happen in real life.  It's such a blessing to be here with these girls - to read with them, to listen to them, to help them understand the big picture.  It's such an honor to be here with them.  (Wait, I am in jail, right?  For something I didn't do?!)  Oh it's all a matter of perspective.  Happy people will just be happy. 

Tuck is a character.  She's one of those that's happy no matter what.  I wish she knew how awesome she was, once she's on the outs.  She talked about her Dad today and how he wants to get her a set of her very own scriptures with her jail number engraved on them.  "So they always know who she is," he tells her.  She laughed about it, so I laughed along with her, but I still hope she doesn't define herself by a jail number.  I really don't like negative labels, and a jail number would definitely rank up there as a negative label. 


After reading and having such a good gospel discussion today, I teased Tuck about being Sister Tuck, like they call the girl missionaries from church.  Tonight she went to knock on Cal's door - kind of halfway kidding after I was calling her Sister Tuck.  She asked Cal if she wanted to pray with us before bed.  Tuck was so surprised that Cal said yes, that she ran over to my cell and (almost) yelled, "She said yes!  She said yes!  Now what do I do?!" 

I said, "Well, we should probably pray with her...  And we should probably ask any others if they want to pray with us too."  Robin had been reading on her bottom bunk through the whole conversation and was cracking up at all the excitement.  When Tuck left, I told Robin, "You don't want to miss out on all this praying, do ya?"  She agreed to come out and join. 

We were up to 4 of us sitting around one of the metal tables.  They were all looking at me, like I was supposed to know what to do to invite the rest of the girls.  Yell at them to join us?  That seemed a little irreverent to start a prayer.  So I got up from the table with them all watching me and I went to the first door and knocked on the door frame of the open door.  "We're going to say prayer out here if you want to join us."  I got a grunt.  Not promising, but it was my very first experience at knocking doors!   

I decided to walk up the stairs.  Maybe it was the eyes of the other 3 girls watching me that gave me confidence.  Rachel's cell was upstairs and I knew she'd at least talk to me, even if she didn't want to come down.  Anything is better than a grunt.  She agreed - and then she asked her Bunkie to come too!  Whoo Hoo!  The girls at the table were so excited to see 2 more join our group.  As I made my way to the last 3 cells, I got polite no's.  I told them I'd let them know again tomorrow night.  :-)

I'm pretty sure I skipped all the way down the stairs.  I was about to pray... to God... with 5 other inmates!  Real live, honest to goodness, jail inmates!  Talking to God!  Cloud 9, I tell ya!  I was so excited that I don't remember much of what I said in the prayer.  I prayed for our safety and for our families while we are in here.  I prayed for the girls in our cell block to get along, and that we would be good examples for each other.  They all said amen after me when I was done, which usually signifies that they agree.  We sat and talked for a while and I soaked up this renewed connection I felt to each of them.  Seriously, who gets to do this?!  Who gets to knock doors in jail and ask people to pray together?  Who gets to go to jail for 7 days out of the month, feeling renewed from a trip to the temple, buoyed up by family, and feel God's presence here.  I do!  I get to do this!  Amazing.  I'm not forcing religion on them, but only showing them where I have received my own strength.  I am so thankful for Tuck for initiating this process and the excitement of praying together! 

They came in with the med cart at the regularly scheduled 10 pm and everyone scattered back to their cells to take turns in the common area taking their pills. 

While Robin and I talked quietly in our cell while they handed out meds, Robin asked about challenges.  She has been trying to understand - really understand - about how God's will works and how it fits with doing our best.  I felt that maybe she somehow felt God was punishing her.  As I sat at the small table across from her on her bottom bunk, I asked her if she really knew how much God loved her.  This is a conversation I have never had with anyone on the outs before one-on-one, but it felt so natural to express it to Robin.  She looked down at her book, not making eye contact with me anymore.  I explained the huge amount of love that God has for her and how much confidence He has in her to get through this.  He doesn't set us up for failure.  That's not His plan.  He wants the very best for us, but that takes lining ourselves up with His will. 

As we were done, she wiped away her tears.  She said, "I just want to clone you and repopulate the earth with you.  It would be a lot happier place."  I shook my head, hoping she had gotten the message.  It's not me that made her emotional.  It's feeling the Holy Ghost testify of those truths to her - that God really does have a huge amount of love for her.  It's not me that needs to be cloned.  I feel blessed to come. 


In my prayers tonight I thanked Heavenly Father for this opportunity to be here in jail.  I thanked him for the girls that are here this week.  I thanked him for sending me to a family that would be supportive of me, as well as being married into the same, and asked that He watch over them each individually.  I tried not to cry as I pleaded with Him to keep my husband and kids safe - emotionally, physically, and spiritually - while I am away from them.  I didn't want Robin to hear me sniffling as I crouched on my top bunk asking God for his blessings this week.  Having a mom in jail is not a good situation, to say the least.  I am thankful that He has preserved their innocence and resiliency.  That in and of itself is a true miracle

I learned a while ago that if you can't change something, then give it gratitude.  It may not change the situation, but it will always change the person.  Being grateful - even in hard times - can make the difference between sinking or swimming... of flying, as I feel like doing tonight. 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. It's nice of you to have looked out for every new character that came in. I'm sure being in jail was the hardest place to expect to find any new friends, but I'm glad it didn't keep you from being someone's friend. I mean, who knows just how much they needed one, right? In any case, keep us posted on your journal updates, Krissi. Thanks for sharing that! I wish you all the best! :)

    Grant Robbins @ 1st Choice Bail Bonds

  3. This really is quite an amazing blog post. It really shows another side to those who are currently in jail. Not everyone is a monster that is behind bars, we are all human beings and have emotions that run deep. The letters give you a rare glimpse into the minds of those who have lost their freedoms that we take for granted each day.

    Eliseo Weinstein @ JR's Bail Bonds

    1. Thank you for reading so faithfully Eliseo! I appreciate your comments.