Snow on the Green Grass

It is now without a doubt looking like winter and feeling like Christmas. Both of the local Christmas pageants have been cancelled because of bad weather and icy roads. And it just seems strange to me because the fields are still green, and I seen some of Debbie’s roses still hanging on all the way through November.

Every year Gospel Echoes embarks on the ‘Cookie Projects’. The idea is to get a package of cookies – (there is passionate debate among staff as to which kind is best..I’m leaning towards Chocolate Brownie or Oatmeal Raisin), a Christmas card, and a red address book to as many inmates as possible. The Christmas cards are each colored and inscribed with a short message of hope by someone – kids and adults from all over. The address book is a Gospel Echoes trademark; that’s often how they recognize who we are.

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There were twelve of us on this trip which lasted five days. This picture is from when some other volunteers were hanging out for lunch..but that’s the idea – lots of humanity side by side for many miles.

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We left on Friday evening and got into bad weather almost right away. We battled to keep chains on the bus wheels, once having to walk down the white interstate looking for where it might have fallen off. We did about 20 mph for a long time..and finally arrived at Walmart about 3 a.m. Good times.

We would usually drive to the city where we were scheduled to go into a prison, and then the next morning or afternoon we’d meet up with the volunteers from the area (or abroad) who were going in with us. After all the cookies and twenty or so of us got checked in, we’d form a sort of line where the inmates would file through to get the things we’d brought for them. The person at the front of the line would shake their hand and greet them, on down they were handed the cookies and such. Often we sang carols while this was happening. For a lot of these guys this is just about all the Christmas they’ll be getting from the outside –  not that Christmas is so much something you give and get as much as it is a celebration of something ancient and true. But still, I doubt if feels much like a celebration when you’re the missing place at the table. It’s a special thing to be able to go find someone and give them back a tiny part of what’s taken from them. They aren’t much different from ‘the rest of us’. In fact they are the rest of us. I read something in a book today I thought seemed apt:

Gatherers care for orphans because they want to earn a pardon, not because they’re decent. You think they make good teachers? Is that why you take your little treasures to them? You feel safe among thieves and bullies and liars, do you?”

She cocked her head. “Never met nobody who wasn’t a thief or a liar once in a while. The Gatherers are just the folks who got caught.”  – Jeffery Overstreet (Auralia’s Colors)

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We had so much fun inside the bus on the way to the next place. There was an excess of rubber bands and mountain dew along the way.

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Shoulders are pillows.

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There was one church service mixed in on Sunday. There was Sunday school (where they were discussing loneliness and how to help those ‘lonely people’ we know. I wished they all could have heard what Rich said about it..I’ll put it at the bottom if any of you care to), we played some songs, and then we hurried to a prison to meet our check in time. Later that night we came back to pack up the equipment.

Mike at his post – keeping her between the lines

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On the left is where we stopped to get water..much to the displeasure of certain lady. She approached Travis and me with a very menacing demeanor; we quickly decided this situation was above our pay grade and went to find Mike.

On the right Mike is using a heat gun to get something in the bowels unfrozen.

Snow.

Lo and behold we finally found a Panda Express to eat at. Ellie had been waiting for this since like Summer tour.

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We got back home on Tuesday night about 3:30 a.m. That is as near as I can tell about the deadest part of the night – kind of a cool time to be alive and aware of it. The next day began the dropping of the flies. Pretty much everyone except Debbie got sick, thankfully we were home. She made Travis and me some chicken soup which greatly lifted the morale of our spirits..or something. We also lost power for a while which is always exciting and gives you a chance to use those oil lamps that everyone seems to be saving for the occasion.

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One of the volunteers was Glen Showalter (I apologize if that’s not how it’s spelled) – a real nice guy with a real nice jacket. Turns out he is related to my Grandma and knows my uncle Serge.

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Tomorrow morning (Sunday) we’re taking off about 6:30 for another cookie handout. On Tuesday I’m getting on a plane. I’m coming home.

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If you think I just put these things down here in the bottom because I think they’re cool and  I want you to like them too – yeah that pretty much sums it up.

Christmas Bells – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

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Take care my friends,

Javen.

4 thoughts on “Snow on the Green Grass

  1. That’s a lot of people in the bus on that one picture!
    The cookie and card project seems like such a good one, I agree, they aren’t much different then the rest of us…. in fact much of the reason I’m not one of those in prison is because of decisions and life choices those before me made. Thank God for a goodly heritage!
    Can’t wait for you to be home again!

    Liked by 1 person

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