January, 2014

Christmas Feelings – December was an unusual month for me, because I had never experience such a feeling among the inmates. As Christmas Day loomed closer, I could feel the prisoners were increasingly emotional. Many asked God for a miracle to release them to spend the holidays with their families. I wish I could have helped them see their loved ones, but I was powerless. I couldn’t help myself but be emotional as well. When I came back from my Christmas vacation, all of the inmates were still there, except for a Brazilian named Romildo, who was released on December 24th. A miracle happened, at least for him. When I returned, my first group had already arranged the classroom for our study, which I interpreted as a sign they were welcoming me back.

 New Groups – Per PIM’s previous newsletter, I had spoken with Pastor Daniel Croce, the chaplain of the prison in Plymouth. I told him that I’d like to be more useful at the jail. He asked me to start two new bible study groups among the Spanish-speaking inmates: one for those on trial and another for prisoners already sentenced. As such, there has been a change in my schedule starting in January. Instead of Tuesdays, now I’m going to Plymouth every Thursday. Though no one came the first week, the group awaiting trial had 20 men in the following week and 22 in the third. Among the sentenced, the numbers were 11 and 8. Most of them are Puerto Ricans.

Those on trial form an enthusiastic group. Two inmates took action to lead the songs, and one even presented a song he wrote himself. As these groups meet at the chapel, I already informed them that we are going to celebrate the Eucharist once a month starting in February.

Because these new groups are more stable – due to their court status – I started bible studies in series with them. We are going to start with the book of I Samuel, to take advantage of the 30 books on I Samuel we received from a Spanish ministry as a gift. This ministry’s leader was a teacher at the former Leadership Center Training at the Presbyterian Church in Newton, MA. Each one of the inmates will have a book and will have homework to do during the week.

 Donations received since December 2013:

– Glenn & Nancy Ramsey

– First Presbyterian Church, New Haven – CT

– Igreja Presbiteriana de Boston

– Bethel Presbyterian Church – Marlboro, MA

– First Presbyterian Church, Fairfield – CT

– Henry Ruppenthal

– Roland Chase

– Patricia Wales

– Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana, Boston – MA

– John & Penny Webster

– Valley Presbyterian Church, Brookfield – CT

– First Presbyterian Church, Greenwich – CT

– First Presbyterian Church, Hartford – CT

– Providence Presbyterian Church, Providence – RI

– First Presbyterian Church, Stamford – CT

– Greenwood Community Church, Warwick – RI

– Synod of the Northeast (PCUSA)

– Joan W. Priest

– Linda Sanders

– Charles W. Forman

– Cynthia & Jacob Cykert

– Wayne & Carole Parrish

– IPI do Brasil

 Please send your donations by check or money order made out to: Presbytery of Southern New England – P.O. Box 388, Chester, CT 06412 – Important: write a note designating your offer to the Presbyterian Immigrant Ministry.

 January Attendance

Day

Prison (all units)

Attendance

08

Boston

18

09

Plymouth

15

10

Bristol

21

15

Boston

Locked down

16

Plymouth

55

17

Bristol

21

22

Boston

Winter Storm

23

Plymouth

44

24

Bristol

20

29

Boston

25

30

Plymouth

43

31

Bristol

23

 New Video – A new video will be presented at this coming Presbytery meeting on February 8, 2014. It’s an 8 minutes video with the testimony of Rodrigo, a Guatemalan man who was in prison for over a year.

 Ukrainian Bible – As was mentioned on our December newsletter, an inmate from Ukraine asked me for a Bible in his own language. First I tried to buy it online, but it was cost-prohibitive. Using a search engine, I found a Catholic Ukrainian Church in the Boston area. The church’s priest, Fr. Yaroslav, mailed me a bible at my request. However, it was a hard cover, which is not allowed in prison. I called him back to ask for a paperback, but he does not have any. He told me, “You can rip it. I’m sure God won’t be mad at us.” So, I did it, but I tried to produce a new cover by myself. This was almost perfect, except for the fact that I glued the new cover upside down. There was no way to fix this. After I gave the Bible to Oleg, it was all worth it when I saw his eyes full of tears and gratitude. Every week he is there, with his Bible, attending the Bible Study.

Kátia’s Report – The good Lord has been wonderful with us every day, being present in all situations of our lives.  I constantly prayed to the good Lord who allows each of the women to recognize the sovereignty of the Lord in their lives.  What has impacted me most is to see the joy in their faces, even incarcerated, being able to find strong reasons to glorify the good Lord.  A few weeks ago one of the women wept continuously during the study, and at the end she shared that she was very sad to be incarcerated and away from her family. But, she was glad that God had been answering her prayers.  She wants so much to know more about God and to go to a Bible study, but she never had time. Somehow despite her protests God provides her the way; she confessed that she never thought it would be this way. For some of us God needs to stretch us beyond our comfort zones, so we can experience more of him even right in the midst of troubles. November and December were difficult in the detention center, as many of the ICE inmates were transferred overnight.  It was really sad, but even then, we could see God working in a wonderful way. We had sisters that were being sent back to their original countries.  There were some that were released and just went back home. The sister that I mentioned before is one of them; God took her there in his own time.

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