in the presence of mine enemies..."
I've spent the day watching my classroom snake play with its food. Several hours after putting a live mouse in the feeder cage, the snake and mouse are actually curled up and taking a nap together! It has reminded me throughout the day of the story of Daniel and the Lion's Den. Another verse that comes to mind is the one quoted above from Psalm 23. It's also a good analogy for how I felt as I traveled to Oklahoma to visit Nate a couple of weeks ago.
I had asked prayer support for 2 specific things for this trip: that the weather would cooperate and that I would stay well. This trip was proof that God answers prayer! All around me people were getting sick in the days prior to the trip. Not only did I not get the "bug" before the trip, I still feel perfectly well. I have also told several of my friends that I felt like I was traveling in a bubble. All around me flights were being cancelled and delayed due to weather problems. Some of the passengers on the San Jose/Las Vegas leg of my trip were even asked to get off the plane because their connecting flights were not going out. You should have heard the complaints - the majority of people would apparently rather be stuck in Vegas than in San Jose! But my flights were fine; the weather was ridiculously warm for December in Oklahoma (warmer than in California that week); the roads were clear; and I even had the best seat on the plane for the entire trip home. I was even able to meet up for dinner in Amarillo with a friend that I hadn't seen for several years.
Last summer's visit was extremely stressful because of the arbitrary interpretation of the dress code and visiting policies that were being enforced by the front desk officer. There was not a single problem this time for any of the visitors and the whole visit was as stress-free as this type of visit can be. I was able to visit with Nate all day Friday & Saturday, and for a couple of hours on Sunday. I told him that the first hug was from about a dozen people who had told me to make sure I gave him one from them. We talked until we ran out of things to say.
Nate still looks and sounds great. He's been moved recently to another building and has been assigned to a cognitive behavior class in preparation for his return to society. He thinks it's mostly a waste of time, but he gets paid for attending so he's not complaining too much. He's also recently been appointed as a barber for the other inmates. He's still waiting to get his grades from last semester's classes and also waiting for approval for this semester's classes. I need to double check his education plan, but he thinks he will get his AA this semester if he gets the class he needs (we'll petition if he doesn't get it the first time). He's also requested a statistics class which makes me nervous since he won't have access to any online help or tutorials, but during our visit he was able to talk briefly to one of the other inmates who was having a visit. It turns out that guy is a math whiz and works in the library, so Nate should be able to get help from him a couple of days a week. Don't you love how God works out even the smallest of details?
I had taken some work with me, and I planned to work on it in my hotel room after my Friday visit. However, when I got back I decided that I really didn't want to have to do anything that involved thinking. I found a show that some of my friends have been talking about - Duck Dynasty - and watched about 4 episodes in a row. I can't tell you how good it felt just to laugh like that! I did make the mistake of calling my husband and telling him he should watch it...I may have created a monster. We even decided to start a new Christmas tradition as we all sat around watching the Christmas episode on Christmas Day!
We had a quiet Christmas at home and things are back to normal. We're glad for the new year because it means we're one step closer to the end of this journey. Nate will have his annual review in March, which could determine how soon he gets moved back to California. There are definite pros and cons (better for us to visit, but harder for him in many ways) so we continue to trust that God's timing will be best. We know it will be before the end of next year when the contract with the prison ends.
Please continue to pray for Nate's physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Thank you for your ongoing support. I truly appreciated the gifts that covered my rental car and the food (vending machines) during the visit. Your friendship is even more important to us.
of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."