i don't even know where to start. yesterday, saturday april 26 2008, the missions team with my church went to a prison for a program called day with day. prison has so many negative thoughts and feelings that flow with it and for good reason. it's prison, a place where law breakers go. i was so nervous cause i didn't know what to expect. the director over this prison ministry spent 18 years in prison himself and knows exactly how these men felt. there were i think 90 inmates who had families coming that day. when all their families did get there, there was like 500 people including about 30 volunteers in their chapel, which was a large auditorium. we got the families in there and talked to them a bit. when it came time for the inmates to come in the director told the kids that they had to run and claim their dads and he would claim any unclaimed dads.lol ending it with and i don't think he'll want me i eat too much. lol. when the dads came in we could hardly see them with the mass of kids that ran to them. they were so excited. after that everyone lined up and we began to serve them pizza, chips and cokes. it was a long lien let me tell ya. me and another friend were doing the ice. whew, are arms were aching. after this the families got to plat all kinds of board games and we even had a craft contest in which the kids gave the crafts to their fathers. it was such a wonderful thing to see. they didn't look like inmates to me though they were all wearing white jump suites, they all looked like dads enjoying their families. like something we see on family days at our churches or work picnics. i saw dad's wrestling with their kids. dads talking and laughing with their families, reading books to their kids, coloring with them. we even played some games like simon says and hot potato (for kids under 10. the older ones played bingo). but all this was done together as families.
these families don't get much time together. they get one day every 2-3 months. this particular facility won't get one til october because they have no AC in the chapel. that's a long time. but with days like this they get to be like 'normal' families, spending time together. our goal is to help these men form some kind of a bond with their kids so that when they get out, they'll have had a start. they are men who made mistakes, but men none the less.
when it came time for the families to say goodbye, my heart broke. i have no idea how it would feel to have to say goodbye to someone who i don't know when i'll get to see them again. the whole time we never once spoke about our Lord and Savior personally, but at the end the director gave the option for some to come and share a poem or thought and then we offered prayer. before and after the prayer line i had been watching the families. i saw one little girl just wrapped around her daddy just crying her little heart out. he was trying his hardest to try and calm her. i saw daughters leaning on their fathers with tears streaming down their faces. dads with arms wrapped around them. sons getting as close as they can without losing their cool. there were very few dry eyes. then all the dads were escorted to back to the main facility. it felt as though my heart was being ripped from my chest so great was my pain, and i realized it was nothing compared to what the families were enduring.
it was such an awesome experience and one i plan on repeating. i have a deep respect for women who's men are behind bars. these are some truly remarkable women. and the kids. i know their lives are rough and i can only imagine the grief they endure in their daily lives. i pray for strength for them all. the expense is great for these kinds of programs. i urged any and every lady on here that if you hear about such programs, please help with funds if you can. maybe donate a game or puzzle. please, do something. these families need these times together.