The Waiting Game

Mario and me

“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”  Hebrews 13:3

There are over 2.3 million people incarcerated in the United States; in fact, our country has more prisoners than any other nation. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 46% of these offenses are drug-related.

Norma, Mario and Mario’s nieces and nephews, Eli, Bella, and Jacob

In some way or another we are all connected to, or know someone who is or has been incarcerated. My nephew Mario is part this statistic. He did not take a life, but drugs played a part. The combination of drugs and violence is a passage to sin. When your mind no longer belongs to you, it is surrendered to Satan. There is nothing more pleasing to the devil than brains distorted with drug-induced rage.

Mario and his sister Leah and her three children, Bella, Jacob, and Eli

We have never given up on Mario. Saturday, Norma, his mother, and I went to visit him in Adelanto, CA. There are many strict rules to abide by when visiting a prisoner. No sandals, no blue, red, or khaki clothing; no sleeveless tops, no smart watches, etc. You are allowed $50 in one-dollar bills per person. Forget about bringing your handbag because you are only permitted to have your car keys and driver’s license. If you do not adhere to this rules you will not be allowed to visit; it does not matter if came from Timbuktu, you will be turned away.

When we first arrived, we were assigned Table 9, but I requested Table 8 because it was just steps away from the vending machines and microwave. There are four chairs, and one side of the square table is marked with red along the edge. This is reserved for Mario, as he must be facing the prison guards. As soon as we arrived,  we hit the vending machines and got Mario a breakfast burrito, $3.50 and a $1 Coke. We purchased other food for ourselves and we broke bread with lively conversation. We talked about other family members, we laughed about a lot of out of control things. Our laughter is not for the sake of keeping Mario entertained, but whenever my sister and I get together, it’s a combination of one mishap after another.  For example, when we arrived I misplaced my driver’s license twice; once it was Norma’s fault. We must pass through two high security gates that make a startling noise when slamming shut. We were greeted by two serious-looking young women with tightly wound-up hair. Norma was one of the and  first to get clearance, one of the guards checking us in slipped a pair of blue examining gloves. “Are you going to frisk me?” Norma asked. “Are you hiding something?” The guard answered.  I told Norma that the guard is not a doctor, and to hurry up so that I could get processed. The guard then kiddingly asked Norma  if she could take her pulse. Norma was so rattled by the question that I was laughing out of control. I noticed that Norma’s undershirt was really low cut in the back and made a remark about it. Norma was so nervous and so upset with me, that she was struggling to get her shoes on. Norma was not paying attention to fact that she had put her shirt on inside out. I tried to tell her but she told me to shut up. By this time both guards were laughing. Mario loves to hear these stories.

Mario has grown in understanding how to work with the system. He has taken advantage of the programs offered to further his education. With each collage course completed, 2 weeks are knocked off his sentence. I see the change in his heart, with peace radiating from his eyes.

Mario attends a regular Bible study classes, and has learned to get through difficult situations by praying and turning to the Word of God. Mario stands on the verse from: Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

According to Bible Believers Fellowship, Inc.:

4.8 Million people are on parole or probation

95% of  all these convicts will be released from prison or jails and return to society

2 out of 3 released inmates will commit crimes again

Only 40% of those who receive Christian training commits new offenses.

My sister Norma is Mario’s intercessor, and it is through her faith that she and Mario get through this ordeal.  We as his family continue to pray for his well being and protection, and for the Lord to prepare him to succeed in all of his endeavors.

“I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”  Matthew 25:36

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