Letters, Prayers and the Urge
Letters seemed to get me through day by day.
They were like a small window to life outside the walls.
A form of sanity.
I was desperate to hear from family, recent friends, old friends or just anyone who would write. Especially my siblings. I wondered what they were doing or thinking about.
In late February, I received about 20 letters. It was like I hit the jackpot. I was going to need more stamps. I asked my parents to send some in their next letter.
I also needed some cash for the snack cart. This allowed me to have a break from the disgusting food I was being served every day. If we wanted cable on the television, we had to pay a fee for it.
What a racket!
I know the Army was funding our confinement, so I’m not sure how they were getting away with a cable charge to inmates?
One day a guard came and asked me what my sister’s name was. I told him Dana. Then he left. I wondered what that was all about.
Did something happen to her?
Was everything okay?
Come to find out, a friend from Houston came down to visit me and told them she was my sister. When the names didn’t match up, they told her to leave. That really sucked. It would have been nice to talk to a friend from the outside, face to face.
Writing and collect calls were fine but not the same. Missed opportunity.
About a week later letters stopped arriving. Each day in this place felt like a year so no letters for a couple days really slowed things to a halt.
I read a Bible verse in John about Jesus saying, “Whatever you ask for in my name, I will give to you.” So I prayed for just one letter to arrive on Monday to get me through.
On Monday morning, Mr. Reesey brought me nine letters!
I know now that this is not what this verse is all about but, I think God chose to bless me that day.
Maybe He didn’t want me to lose hope.
Maybe He wanted to encourage me.
Maybe He just wanted me to know that He heard me.
Not sure, but that was crazy! It got my attention.
I called Jane because I knew she had her sentencing trial. She told me that they gave her two years hard labor, suspended with three years of probation and a fine of $699.
Now that her trial was over, she was free to leave Louisiana and decided to move to Virginia with her mother and brother.
She would have to come back to testify in Captain Tessler’s trial, along with everyone involved.
March arrived and the trials were getting closer. This meant my time here was getting shorter. I could not wait to move on to Fort Leavenworth.
I mentioned to my parents that “I would be glad to get out of this rinky dink, hillbilly, hick jail!”
Eddie was starting to freak out because his girlfriend visited every Wednesday. He would not be able to see her anymore, once he was done testifying.
It was hard to keep him from getting depressed. I did the best that I could.
I might have been lying to myself at the time, but it seemed as if in almost every letter to my parents, I would state, “Don’t worry about me, I’m doing fine.”
By the end of the week, letters stopped again. So I prayed specifically for another Monday delivery.
On Monday, exactly nine more letters.
I would say I was in disbelief but actually, I was in belief!
Along with the letters I received the money my parents sent. It was great to be able to buy chocolate!
I started corresponding with a woman from Eddie’s hometown church in Georgia. Eddie told her about me and she said she wanted to write to me and pray for me. Knowing I could use all the help I could get, I said yes.
Each week she would send the church bulletin from the Sunday service. In the prayer request section I found Eddie’s name and right under his was mine.
She had the whole church praying for me. It was very humbling and I was so glad to know that people that I didn’t even know, cared enough to lift me up to God in prayer.
I’m not sure I could add up all the people that I knew were praying for me at this time in my life. Not to mention the people that I had no idea were praying as well.
It seems as if God was really sending his troops out for me.
Search and rescue mission in full force.
Every so often the Army would come get Eddie and me to do cleanup work back on Fort Polk. Mostly sweeping and mopping type jobs.
They never handcuffed us or restrained us in any way.
On one occasion, they put us in the back of a covered truck.
As we drove through the wooded country road I could feel the urge to run again.
What was stopping us from jumping out of the back of the truck and running into the woods?
I was a Scout by trade, I could navigate my way out of those woods back to some sort of transportation and then to freedom. I wanted to run and the urge was strong.
I sort of jokingly mentioned it to Eddie to see his reaction. He looked at me with kind of a confused face.
And then, I think he sensed that I might be serious. I told him it would be at least forty-five minutes before they noticed we were gone. They would have to figure out where we got out and then start searching.
We would be long gone.
Eddie looked out the back of the truck, and to the speed of the yellow lines passing beneath us.
He looked at me and then back outside.
With a sigh he said, “I can’t do it.”
I thought about it again and decided Eddie was right.