P.R. Representative

It happened twice, two days in a row. Both times I was forgotten. Time moved, but I didn’t. I was left alone, cuffed, in a stand-up-only cage.

I love business. I truly enjoy the art of growing a business and pivoting to keep up with demands and market trends. Business comes easily to me. I am intrigued by the working parts, especially sales and P.R. (Public Relations.) All businesses are based on sales, and to sell itself a business needs P.R.

The image of the business is carefully shaped by a good team. This team must always be ready to provide the image the company wishes to project. This is exactly what I’ve been practicing in Ad Seg (the Hole.)

I have made it part of my Business Plan to be a witness in all that I do. My testimony – my words and actions – speak volumes while I am here. I remind myself to say “please” and “thank you.” I obey all orders from the start, and try not to complain, even when I’m treated unfairly. The small things speak with loud voices. Through God’s kindness, I was twice shown that at least someone is listening to my quiet witness.

The first time, I was surprised early in the morning that I was going to be taken to have my picture taken. As I left my cell, cuffed and under escort, the officer in the lead was told to halt. I was then taken to the stand-up holding cages. These cages are a bit smaller than phone booths, and only meant to be used for short periods of time. I was left cuffed, with my hands behind me, with the assurance that I would not be there very long. Sounded okay to me, but it’s not like I had a choice.

If I pressed my face against the grill, looking left, I could see the clock on the wall. Ten minutes passed, with me thinking it was nine minutes too many. Thirty minutes after I was put in, an officer walked by the cage on his way somewhere else. As he walked past me, he stopped, looked at me, snapped his fingers and pointed at me. “Oh, yeah!” he said to himself, as if he had just remembered me. Then he left.

I didn’t say a word. I just stood there quietly.

Sixty minutes after I was put in, I could hear the breakfast plates being passed to each cell. The “clank” of each tray slot opening, then closing, echoed to where I stood captive. I wasn’t worried about missing breakfast, because I was certain my cellmate would request mine and would hold it for me. I stood quietly, giving silent thanks for the breakfast the Lord had provided that morning, knowing I would enjoy it later.

One hour and five minutes from the time I was put in, another officer walked by and was stunned to see an inmate, cuffed, in the cage. “Whose inmate is this?!” he yelled. Someone returned his question with a curse, then said, “He’s mine! He is going out for a picture!” The officer who asked looked at me, then continued to his intended destination. I didn’t say a word; I just stood quietly.

A full hour and 45 minutes after I was put in the cage the first officer came back. “Torres, we are going to take you back to your cell.” “’R&R’, (the department where the pictures are taken) canceled. We will reschedule it for tomorrow.”

“Great,” was my only reply.

An officer nearby came over and addressed his partner. “This inmate has been nothing but patient. He didn’t complain or kick the cage like most would have if left in there cuffed for this amount of time. I like this man’s attitude.” He then turned to me and said, “Did you eat yet, Torres?”

I shook my head. “Give him double,” he told his partner.

I interrupted in the most polite way I could, “Sir, I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure my cellmate is holding my plate.”

“Honest, too,” the officer told his partner. “For that give him an extra breakfast plate AND an extra lunch sack.”

I was then taken back to my cell. Once inside, the officer slipped in an extra lunch and tray. Within three minutes the officers were back. R&R had called for me again. I smiled, downed my milk, and happily went to get my picture taken.

The following day I had a scheduled doctor’s appointment. According to my notice, received the day before, my appointment wasn’t until 11:20 a.m. This gave me plenty of time to use the restroom, write a little, answer mail, and maybe fit in an early lunch. To my surprise, at 8:30 the escort officers came to pick me up. They took me to the same set of stand-up cages. I was told I needed to wait until the doctor made his way down his patient list.

I nodded my head, indicating I understood, and prepared myself for a long wait. It’s a good thing I did, because that is exactly what I did. Others in cages next to me kicked their cage doors in protest as the minutes ticked by. They complained in rude tones every time an officer passed by. I stood there quietly, smiling at everyone who happened to look my way.

At 11:35, fifteen minutes after my scheduled appointment, the doctor called my name. Once I was done with my appointment I was taken right back to the cage. I was told I needed to wait until everyone was done.

“Okay, sir,” I said, and smiled. The officer looked at me, then his wrist watch, and yelled to his partner, “I’m taking this one back to his cell.” Then he told me, “I like your attitude.”

Once in my cell I rejoiced at my P.R. opportunity to represent the One I served. My heart danced, knowing my quiet witness had been heard.

The world is getting worse, and many times it’s difficult to share your faith with words. Your job might not allow it. Your government might have laws against it. Maybe those who need to hear the Gospel are just plain hard to talk to. There is still hope.

Quiet witnessing, whether through actions or speech, is the perfect P.R. tool. We might think, because we are quiet, we are not being heard. In truth, our quiet witness may be louder than everything else.

So don’t lose faith. Shout your witness with quiet P.R., for the glory of God.

……..in the business of souls……..

Adrian G. Torres

This blog was authored by Adrian who is incarcerated.  Adrian sends the blogs via US Mail to Friends of Adrian volunteers who post the blog.
The website is owned and maintained by Friends of Adrian volunteers. Due to his incarceration, Adrian Torres has no access to the website and is unable to respond to any comments posted.
Comments are answered by Friends of Adrian volunteers.**
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Counting the Cost

“You have to read the Bible, Sis!” I heard the conviction in his tone. “I don’t care what those magazines say, we’ve been lied to. Just read the Bible; you’ll see what I mean.”

I was at visit, sitting inside the cage-booth that is dedicated for that purpose in Ad Seg (the Hole.) Five of us had visitors, each in our own booth. The other four were already talking to their visitors via phone; my visitor was late, so all I could do was sit there staring through the window at an empty chair.

I probably shouldn’t have eavesdropped, but it was nearly impossible not to hear the conversations the other four were having. I could only hear what was being said on my side of the glass. “How is your health?” I heard from the furthest person to my right. “So, the doctor says it’s curable? That’s good.” I then knew the person with whom he was visiting was sick, and the doctor had given him or her some hope. I listened some more, “How’s Dad? Is he going to be okay, too?” “Well, okay Mom, let me talk to my son for a few minutes.” So, the visitor was his Mom, and she had brought his son with her.

I took my ear off the first conversation and pointed it at the next. “Babe, you know I love you! No, I don’t care for her…no…you are my only one!” This was easier to guess. This man was having a visit from his wife, and she had been grilling him about infidelity. I quickly removed my focus from that conversation!

The third inmate must have been talking very quietly.  I could hear him “who-ing” and “yes-ing” but I could not hear much else, so I shifted my attention to the person on my left. He was certainly talking to someone he cared for deeply, and since he called her “Sis” repeatedly, I knew she was his sister.

His conversation was intriguing, so I listened as closely as I could. “I’ve been in the Hole for 18 months,” he said. (Wow, that’s a long time to spend in here, because CIM’s Hole is unlike others that are a bit more modern.) He continued, “I have had plenty of time to read the Bible, and I have learned – and I don’t know how, because I never finished school – that what we have been taught all our lives are lies.”

He paused, and must have been listening to his sister, then resumed. “You have to read the Bible, Sis.” He was trying with all his heart to convince her. The conviction in his tone was unwavering. “I don’t care what those magazines say, we’ve been lied to. Just read the Bible and you will see what I mean. Please!”

The conversation was getting good, as it was becoming evident that this man and his sister had been raised in some kind of cult. The time he had spent in the Hole had given him time to read the Word of God, that “pierces to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and reveals the thoughts and intents of the heart.” By doing this, he was able to see that the cult he grew up under had been lying to him, all his life.

Not only had the Word reached inside him and changed him from the inside out, making him a “new creature,” but he longed for the same for his sister. What he had discovered he could not keep to himself, even if it meant losing his sister’s visits. People who come to visit don’t come to hear a lecture; however, this man needed to share with his sister the “words of life,” even if it cost him her visits in the future.

Right when the conversation was getting better, my visitor parked herself at my window. My focus turned to her, and we had a wonderful time. At the end, when I blew kisses to my favorite niece, I took great care to see if I could see my neighbor’s sister.

I did see her. I could clearly see that as she left, her eyes were puffy and red from crying; from anger or joy, I had no way to tell.

Once back in my cell I lay on my bunk and prayed for this man, and especially his sister, who I didn’t know. As I prayed, I remembered his fire to witness to his loved one, and I wondered if I had that same desire. I think that today’s churches have lost much of their desire to share the truth of God with others, no matter the cost. I think we have become too afraid to be bold for Christ.  We don’t want to risk the hard stares of society that tell us that we must accept all beliefs, not challenging them with God’s Word. This has made us timid; ineffective.

I believe we can learn a lot from this man’s bold convictions. The risk of losing someone is a big deal, especially in the Hole, but leaving them to go to hell is far worse.

I’m examining my fire to witness; I hope you do too.*

……..waiting for a visit from you……….

Adrian G. Torres

*Update: The next week, on visiting day, his sister was back, this time with a sparkle in her eye!

This blog was authored by Adrian who is incarcerated.  Adrian sends the blogs via US Mail to Friends of Adrian volunteers who post the blog.
The website is owned and maintained by Friends of Adrian volunteers. Due to his incarceration, Adrian Torres has no access to the website and is unable to respond to any comments posted.
Comments are answered by Friends of Adrian volunteers.**

Roller Coaster

It’s just unreliable. There is absolutely no pattern to it. The day or the hour doesn’t determine when it’s hot, cold, or warm. To rely on such a system is nonsense. It’s too much work to keep up, so we just quit trying.

Ad Seg (the Hole) in Chino, California has about 100 cells. The building is old and its plumbing has many issues. Hot water is rare. I have no idea how big the Hole’s hot water heater is, but it’s not big enough.

Each of the 100 cells has its own sink. Each sink gets hot water from the building’s hot water heater. All the pipes are mingled and each affects another’s output. The world of pipes and plumbing determines the temperature of the water that comes into my sink.

The temperature of my sink water vacillates between hot, warm, and cold, all dictated by the plumbing. The temperature can switch from extremely hot to cold in a matter of seconds. One minute my cellmate and I grab our cups to have some hot coffee, and before we can get our milk cartons, add a spoonful of coffee, and make it back to the sink the water is lukewarm to cold. As you know, warm sink-water coffee is no Starbucks.

The ups and downs of our hot water system remind me of many Christians I know – I call them “Roller Coaster Christians.” These true believers are either up or down; happy, joyful, full of faith or sad, down, and struggling with their faith. One hour they are on fire for Christ, and the next they doubt God’s faithfulness. Their walk with Christ might be going great, then a tragedy strikes and they hit a roadblock.

These roller coaster believers’ relationships with God and others are determined by the world around them. If all is great in the world, they feel great themselves; but if a natural disaster strikes somewhere, or another sad event, their faith in the all-knowing and all-powerful One slips. Work can be great until they are passed up for a promotion – these Roller Coaster Christians beat themselves up mentally and lose all joy.

Roller Coaster Christians are so up and down that those around them lose confidence in them. They become unreliable and ineffective witnesses. They can’t be depended upon – and honestly, who likes a lukewarm Christian?

My sink has no option but to produce the temperature of water dictated to it by the pipes and plumbing.  But a true believer in Christ should never depend on the world and its crises. Sure, life does bring hurts, sadness, joys, and victories. But it’s what we do with those things that truly matter.

Our relationship with our Father should be steady and solid. Our emotions should be based only on Him. Our faith and trust must be rooted so deeply in our Creator that, no matter what happens around us, we stay true.

I was once a believer who would shrink because of the plumbing around me. My walk was based on what took place in my world. I would switch from hot to cold in moments, depending on how I felt I was treated. But that led to exhaustion, not only for me but for those around me.

It wasn’t until I was taught that my fire and hunger for my Father needed to be based on the relationship I had with Him, and not the world that I got it. It became my purpose to truly know my Creator so intimately that when life pitched me curve balls I would continue solidly in my faith.

This doesn’t mean I’m always perky, or dull. It means that when my human emotions take me up or down, I can give those emotions to the One Who knows me best. I can talk to Him through prayer, and He can communicate with me through His Word. Because my trust in Him is held by Him, I can be confident that He will sustain me through it all.

What do you draw from? The world’s pipes and plumbing, or from the Source Himself?

………craving hot coffee……..

Adrian G. Torres

This blog was authored by Adrian who is incarcerated.  Adrian sends the blogs via US Mail to Friends of Adrian volunteers who post the blog.
The website is owned and maintained by Friends of Adrian volunteers. Due to his incarceration, Adrian Torres has no access to the website and is unable to respond to any comments posted.
Comments are answered by Friends of Adrian volunteers.**

Floor Care

I don’t know what made me look, but once I did I was mesmerized. My brain was having a hard time processing what my eyes were seeing. How, after all these years, could this be happening?

When one goes to Ad Seg (the Hole), it is common practice to be bounced from cell to cell until those in charge are satisfied with the arrangement. This is exactly what happened to me. In less than 48 hours I was housed in three different cells. Since I expected this, I made the decision to only semi-clean my first cells. Originally I only had a towel and water with which to clean. Eventually I used a few suds from a small soap bar. After I had the opportunity to purchase a few items from the prison store, I graduated to using shampoo.

My cell floor received more attention than other areas.  When I arrived at my permanent cell, the corners held softball-sized balls of hair and lint, but after a thorough sweeping and cleaning it didn’t look too bad. Yes, this cell is old and the concrete floor is well worn. The cracks, small divots, and rough patches testify to the many years of use. But one thing I liked about this mature floor was the rich, dark color it had retained.

The floor was well worn, but the rich shade gave it a feeling of elegance. Every time I damp-cleaned it, up to four times a day, the wet areas would glisten – just a bit. The shiny areas were nice to look at.

This morning, however, as I looked down at my floor I didn’t see the beauty. I realized that since my cellmate arrived I had not taken the time to admire the floor. This bit of time was cut from my agenda.

I rubbed my eyes to make sure I was not seeing things, then I included my cellmate. “Hey, cellie! Is it me, or is the floor slowly losing its color?”

“Yup,” he replied. “It’s getting cleaner because we scrub it so often.”

His words hit me right between the eyes, like a “V-8 Juice” moment. The dark color on the floor was actually years and years of built-up sweat and I don’t want to think of what else. The more we cleaned, the more sludge came up. The floor was not losing its color; no, it was losing its unrighteousness.

I believe, and I know, that when we are washed with Christ’s blood at salvation our sins are 100% forgiven. Our debt is paid and our slate wiped clean. But, the life we once lived is still part of our story, cluttered with stacks of luggage that trip us up and hold us back as we try to live our new lives. Years of abuse perpetrated on others, and that we have received from others’ hands, puddle together and create a painful stain. We become experts at hiding these stains when we are around others; we look good as we live soberly, hold our Bibles, and go to church. Others praise us for our neat, tidy lives;  deep down, all that baggage keeps us from being who we should be.

There is only one solution; no, it’s not going to someone who calls himself a “counselor.” There is no need to “confess your sin” to a man when you have confessed it to the only One who can forgive. And He will, but the scars from years of sinful living remain.

Only by washing yourself in His Word will the baggage, stains, and scars heal. Slowly, but surely, His Word will carry off the stains that have darkened your soul and heal the abuse that has been a stumbling block to your walk with God.

We should renew our minds daily and deep clean our lives with God’s cleansing Word. The living Word is more than just daily Scripture reading; it’s also the purging agent God uses to remove our stains.

I encourage you to read the Word daily. I do, and I’ve discovered that my life continues to heal, from the inside out.

 

………praising the power of VO5 shampoo……….

Adrian G. Torres

This blog was authored by Adrian who is incarcerated.  Adrian sends the blogs via US Mail to Friends of Adrian volunteers who post the blog.
The website is owned and maintained by Friends of Adrian volunteers. Due to his incarceration, Adrian Torres has no access to the website and is unable to respond to any comments posted.
Comments are answered by Friends of Adrian volunteers.**

Useless Trash

“Wait!” I said, catching him by surprise. “Don’t throw that away yet. What can we use it for?” He picked it up and examined it.

Ad Seg (the Hole) deprives us of many basic tools; things we take for granted on a daily basis are noticeably absent in here. So we adjust and make do.

According to the law, prison is the just consequence for certain crimes. The court metes out the punishment; prison’s job is to keep the criminal away from society and rehabilitate him.  It is not the job of the prison or its staff to punish.

Because of this, prisons allow inmates to purchase basic needs, and at times more. This forces the inmate to learn responsibility, social interaction, and the skills to function in normal society. Basically, the prison world is a micro-culture that is structured to prepare an inmate for reentry into the outside world.

The Hole, however, is a world unto itself. It functions as the jail for the prison, so the luxuries an inmate may have enjoyed are taken away. The Hole is true punishment. “Needs” is redefined.

An inmate inside the Hole has two choices: sink or swim. Anything and everything that we are allowed to have must be carefully examined for a second use. What used to be trash becomes our treasure.

For example, a chip bag that has a silver liner is washed, stripped of its outside layers, then the liner is spread out and used as a mirror. A brown paper lunch bag becomes a storage organizer/sorter. Metered stamps from envelopes become scotch tape. Our breakfast half-pint milk cartons become our everyday cups, small item organizers, and soap dishes.

To most of you, these items are simple throwaways. Even in a regular prison – not the Hole – we take these products for granted. In the Hole, however, one must think twice before throwing anything away. A seemingly useless article can be a valuable asset.

We are given toothpowder in small envelopes. My cellmate and I had just finished combining both issues of toothpowder into one envelope. Without thinking he threw his now-empty, coin-sized envelope into the brown paper bag we call trash. “Wait!” I said.

He was surprised, and looked at me like he had done something wrong. “Don’t throw it away yet. What can we use it for?” We needed to find a secondary use for this perfectly good envelope. Picking the envelope up, he turned it in his fingers as we brainstormed together, eventually coming up with several uses for it.

I can’t help but see myself in these useless – trash! – items. Many see me as society’s trash. I am of no good to them or the world, providing nothing of value. I am a throwaway and belong in the trash bin of civilization – prison. However, God takes the useless and uses us for His good purpose, and for His glory. He sees beyond our inadequacy and sees a soul that in His hands is worthy. He changes trash to treasure.

Praise be to God, He has turned my useless self into someone whose little stories have impacted lives. Who knew that this untrained, broken soul would be of use to anyone at all?

Do you feel useless? Have others said you are trash to them? Has the fast-paced world placed you on the sidelines? Don’t be discouraged by this; don’t let your feelings slow you down. Your Creator will make you useful. Surrender to His plan for you.

……….the recycling king……….

Adrian G. Torres

 

This blog was authored by Adrian who is incarcerated.  Adrian sends the blogs via US Mail to Friends of Adrian volunteers who post the blog.
The website is owned and maintained by Friends of Adrian volunteers. Due to his incarceration, Adrian Torres has no access to the website and is unable to respond to any comments posted.
Comments are answered by Friends of Adrian volunteers.**

Versus

The shadowy figure stood there, its back to me. I pretended like I was sleeping, as I thought of a plan to trap it. This time it would not escape!

Ad Seg (the Hole) is not the tidiest place. In a regular building, inmates are assigned to clean, sweep, and mop several times a day, but there is no such luxury in the Hole. Since the task of cleaning falls on the officers, it’s rare that any gets done. Many families of rodents, roaches, spiders and who-knows-what-else are free to take up residence.

To combat any uninvited guests entering and staying in our cell, my cellmate and I clean constantly. We throw away our trash twice a day, and make sure any open food is tightly closed. We also neatly place any loose items inside brown paper lunch bags. It’s not only a good offense –  it’s also a good defense, because our strategy creates a great “versus” competition.

Once, a small but curious rodent made his way into our cell. As I lay on my bunk, struggling to sleep, I noticed a slow-moving clump squeeze himself under the cell door. I didn’t react too quickly, because I was certain there was nothing he could identify as food; I was hopeful he would report back to his fellow rodents that cell 334 was a waste of time. No food. So I just watched him.

Not two feet into the cell, the rodent accidently bumped into an already unbalanced bag of chips. The second he bumped it, the bag came crashing down right on top of him. Jumping back as if the bag was a predator, he leapt right into the wall. This second hit surprised him, because he staggered before regaining his balance and running from the cell.

Believe it or not, the rodent was never much of a worry. I am far more fearful of the roaches. They are stealthier than Ninjas; quicker than Superman; uglier than I ever was, even when I had hair.

Night after night a large dark roach crawled into our cell. Night after night I jumped off my bunk, trying to trap him. But every time, he scattered stage left before my feet hit the floor. His super-human roach senses always alerted him of my pursuit. The advantage was on his side. This “versus” match was one-sided.

On one particular night the roach was crawling in, but more slowly than usual. In my restless sleep I had been lying on my back with my eyes open. For the first time I saw the roach’s full attack; I was peeking into his war room. I realized I finally had the advantage, and I was not going to waste my chance to strike.

As I watched the bottom edge of the cell door, I saw the shadowy figure make a few offensive moves. He was definitely scoping the place out; finally he was convinced the aliens within were asleep. But one of them wasn’t.

At about his fourth pass he entered, then stood still for a few seconds. Like a cat burglar, he observed his surroundings. He still didn’t know that the guardian of the cell was awake, watching his every move. He made his way onto our shoe mat. Big mistake. He was now on a bright white surface. His second error was turning his big ugly roach butt toward me. The odds were certainly stacking in my favor, and I planned to use my advantage.

Not letting my joint pain delay me, I inched my body toward the edge of the bunk, a millimeter at a time. As I moved, I slowly took hold of my sandal. Armed and ready to pounce, I counted under my breath: ten…nine…eight…seven…

Every single muscle in my body was tensed, ready to spring. My breathing was shallow. I knew I was going to score big, and then sleep well. The trigger was cocked, ready to fire. Six…five…four…three…two…

I didn’t wait for “one.” I beat myself to the launch, jumping off my bunk like I was shot from a cannon. I threw the sandal, my body following. Everything was operating as planned.

But…the roach’s missile detection system was also fully armed; it turned around and jumped two feet, straight onto the wall, defying gravity. The sandal crash-landed, missing its target.

I was still moving toward the field of combat, undeterred. It was then I realized that roaches can’t jump. This intruder was a huge spider! Panicked, I reached for our shoe mat and brushed the wall and floor with a mighty sweep of my arm. I knocked the spider off the wall and he skittered under the cell door to safety. To make sure, I swept the wall and floor twice more. Satisfied with my work, I returned to my bunk.

The rest of the night was quiet. No more challenges presented themselves. This night, the residents of 334 had won.

Life brings all sorts of tests, some harder to deal with than others. This fallen world tries to force its views on us, challenging our beliefs. People and circumstances defy us every day, even when we think we don’t deserve them.

But we – those of us who are believers in Christ – are not of this world, and so we know to expect these challenges. The Bible tells us that many will confront us because of our belief in Him. We are only passing through a world that is not our home. These other inhabitants are intent on taking our joy from us. Be on the alert. Don’t be caught unprepared.

Keep reading the Word of God, every day. Don’t faint from prayer. And don’t ever get weary of seeking your Creator’s will.

……….working on my “spidy” senses……….

Adrian G. Torres

 

 

This blog was authored by Adrian who is incarcerated.  Adrian sends the blogs via US Mail to Friends of Adrian volunteers who post the blog.
The website is owned and maintained by Friends of Adrian volunteers. Due to his incarceration, Adrian Torres has no access to the website and is unable to respond to any comments posted.
Comments are answered by Friends of Adrian volunteers.**

What the Dog Left Behind

A knot formed in my stomach. I had nowhere to go, so I just turned around and faced the back of the cage. I knew he could see me, but I was too embarrassed to face him.

Ad Seg (the Hole) is where the worst of the worst are sent. About 98% of the men that are in the Hole are here because they did something very bad. The Hole is the jail inside the prison. It’s a true shame to be a resident of the Hole.

It’s a surprise to those who see me there, who know my character. Since the Hole is its own world, when prison staff and officers who work elsewhere, and pick up a few overtime hours here, see me, their reactions are always humbling. Just yesterday an officer who knew me at my old facility was passing out dinner plates, and he saw me through the window. “What are you doing here?” he asked, genuinely surprised. “I’ve seen it all now!”

He could not believe it. I shared my journey to Ad Seg, and he was dumbfounded. The rest of the night, every time he passed by, he nodded to me, sharing a little unspoken friendship.

This encounter was not unique. Over and over again officers and staff have been taken aback by my presence in such a dark place. Their experiences with me, and what they have heard about me, place me outside of Ad Seg. To them, I’m a square peg in a round hole. But there are also officers who take delight in finding someone like me in this place.

Unfortunately, not all officers appreciate inmates like me. These types of officers lean toward liking the inmate who “keeps it real.” To them, “real” means continuing the life of crime that brought them to prison in the first place. Called “the thug life” by many, it is what these officers like to see. Why? I don’t know.

These officers don’t like what I represent or how I help others change their thinking. To them, I represent softness and a need for a crutch, like the Bible. It’s difficult to be around officers who think like this, so normally I avoid them as much as possible. Those choices aren’t available to me in the Hole.

Every time an officer of this type sees me, not only does he laugh, but he tells me I’m a loser – how fake I am, and how he always knew it – how the Hole is the perfect place for me.  It’s rude and immature, but I hear it often.

Coming back from visit, I was being taken to the stand-up cage for transitional purposes. As I approached the cage I saw one of the officers from my old yard who was one of the worst offenders. I knew that if he saw me he would not hold back. He would pat me down in the most humiliating way he could. As I was placed in the cage a knot formed in my stomach. A wave of embarrassment came over me, and I didn’t know what to do. I had nowhere to go. I didn’t want to make eye contact, so I faced the rear of the cage.

“Lookie, lookie!” he said as he approached the cage. “The piece of …… (he described me as dog poop) has arrived.” He continued speaking, painting me as the lowest of the low, laughing as he spoke.

I felt humiliated. His words actually stung. His laughter was like rubbing salt in an open wound. I began to feel like that piece of dog poop. I had no response. All I did was stare at the rear of the cage, silent.

My time came to be taken back to my cell. The officer who took me was one of the regular officers assigned to the Hole. Obviously he had witnessed what had just taken place, but he also knew the type of resident I’ve been. Halfway up the stairs he stopped our forward movement and told me to face the wall. I didn’t know what was happening, but I obeyed.

“Torres,” he said. “You hear me?” I nodded my head. “I see who you are. You are not to be defined by this Hole, or this circumstance. You understand?”

“Yes, sir,” I said. He then brought me back to my cell. No more words were exchanged between us. He had made his point, and I clearly understood.

Once inside, and after I was calm, I thought back to what he said. He was right – the Hole and my current circumstances do not define who I am.  My life – my faith! – are not based on situations but rooted in a living, caring, and loving God. No matter what others may think, I am defined by the One Who saved me and adopted me as His son.

We, you and I, don’t belong to this world. We don’t belong to our past. Our current circumstances don’t own us either. We must not allow ourselves to be trapped by all these things. We are only defined by our Savior, Yeshua the Messiah.

The God Who claims us as His children is the only One we need to please. May I practice this each moment of my day, no matter where I am.

………not ashamed to be His……….

Adrian G. Torres

This blog was authored by Adrian who is incarcerated.  Adrian sends the blogs via US Mail to Friends of Adrian volunteers who post the blog.
The website is owned and maintained by Friends of Adrian volunteers. Due to his incarceration, Adrian Torres has no access to the website and is unable to respond to any comments posted.
Comments are answered by Friends of Adrian volunteers.**

A Cracker and Fruit Punch

It was all wrong. Some could even call it blasphemous; but to me, it felt right. And not only did it feel right, deep inside I knew I needed to do it.

That morning I had been taken down, by the Ad Seg (the Hole) officers, to the phlebotomist. My doctor had ordered blood tests, and three full tubes of blood were being demanded of me. My arms’ veins cooperated nicely; the process didn’t take long, and I put on a brave front. Thirty minutes later I found myself back in my cell, reading my Bible.

As I read, my focus was off. My mind was not retaining anything. I found myself reading and rereading the same lines over and over. I closed my eyes, thinking of the three tubes of blood and wondering if they had anything to do with it. I got up and drank some water, then I stretched and took a few good, deep breaths.

I returned to my bunk and opened my Bible. About ten minutes into my reading I realized I was not reading where I had left off. I was not only in a different chapter; I was in a different book. But like a magnet to iron, my eyes kept reading the same phrase over and over again, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood.” I was reading in I Corinthians 11 about the Lord’s Supper. I knew I was in the wrong spot – but was I?

Being in the hole has removed me from so much I enjoyed doing with my prison family. One of those things was coming together once a month, with the English and Spanish groups, to celebrate our Lord’s supper. Having the blessing of being the main translator, I was given the opportunity to stand up front with the pastor. The beautiful saints who sat on the pews always – always! – touched me, deep in my heart.

Not only were there multiple races sitting next to each other, but the whole service was given in two languages. The roomful of once hard-core criminals, scars, tattoos, and all, taking communion together had always been a moment I loved. I always recorded those moments in my heart.

As I read “This cup is the new covenant in My blood.” it brought a longing, deep inside, to take communion. I began to weep. I could not explain the desire that erupted within me. It was a craving. A deep thirst. “Lord, I want that,” I said between sobs. Not only was I missing communion with my church family, I was missing taking communion.

I sat there, now with the light off, just praying. I didn’t use words, I prayed without words. As I did, I began to feel a motivation to take communion…but communion alone. I didn’t have any of the proper elements, so I dug into my bag of saved goodies and found a pack of saltine crackers and a small pack of fruit punch drink mix.

I laid a piece of paper on my bed. Placing the cracker on the right, I mixed the fruit punch mix with water and placed it to the right. It looked all wrong, but I didn’t care. I was being pulled by Someone to do it. I prayed as I sat there.

I cannot, and will not, say a miracle took place, but an overwhelming presence filled every cell of my being. I no longer thought I was taking communion alone. I gave thanks and broke the cracker. I ate it, then took a sip of the drink. The peace I felt caused me to shout out loud, “Thank You Yeshua!”

I broke out in song and sang for about thirty minutes. I sang songs half in Spanish and half in English. I’m sure I chopped and mashed many songs together, but I didn’t care. I was so happy that I had just been able to take the Lord’s Supper.

My experience reminded me yet again that even in the Hole, I am not alone. My Father has never left me, and continually reminds me of His presence.

I don’t suggest you take communion the way I did – with all the wrong elements, and alone. I know it should be done when the church comes together. But I also know that our Creator will not strike us with lightning if we don’t always get it right. And if you find yourself physically unable to take communion with your church family, why not take it with just you and Father? I’m willing to say that it will be a memorable experience. It was for me.

………never alone……….

Adrian G. Torres

This blog was authored by Adrian who is incarcerated.  Adrian sends the blogs via US Mail to Friends of Adrian volunteers who post the blog.
The website is owned and maintained by Friends of Adrian volunteers. Due to his incarceration, Adrian Torres has no access to the website and is unable to respond to any comments posted.
Comments are answered by Friends of Adrian volunteers.**