Sunday, June 22, 2014
Spain was a very scary and surreal experience. After 16 hours of travel I checked into our hostel and then jump in a taxi to the women's prison. Somehow the paperwork was incorrect which caused a delay in our planned visit. I ended up having to sit in the waiting area for almost two hours while they straightened things out. I was so exhausted from my travels that I took the clothes I had brought for my mother and used them as a pillow to took a nap on the floor of the prison waiting room.
I'm generally pretty good with my Spanish, but I was exhausted from my travels, anxious, and extremely emotional which made understanding and/or communicate with the prison guards near impossible. Once I was finally cleared for the visit I was escorted through the prison to the visiting center. The walk seemed like miles, although it really was not that far. The men’s prison is only separated from the women’s prison by a block wall so as I anxiously walked to see my mom all I could hear where male prisoners yelling out demeaning comments and making cat calls, which only intensified my anxiety. After making it through several security check points I was brought into a small room with a plastic table, four plastic chairs, and prisoner art work displayed on the walls. I sat at the doorway anxiously waiting to see my mother for what felt like eternity, but then I was comforted by the sound of her voice. At that point excitement and my emotions took over. I could hear her speaking her broken Spanish as she was searched and then cleared through security. As she walked through the doors neither of us could speak, we ran into each other’s arms and sat in the hallway embracing each other while sharing tears for at least five minutes before either of us could get any words out.
Never in my life has a hug from my mother felt that good! I wasn't sure what she would look like. I had been imaging our visits for a couple of months and had anticipated several potential outcomes. What would my mother look like after spending 6 months in an international prison? had the cancer taken a toll on her, would she be consumed with sadness, or look very sickly? I was pleasantly surprised by her appearance, she looked much better than I had anticipated. She had lost tons of weight and for the first time in many years, she had a genuine smile on her face! She wasn't just okay she was great!
As our visits continued I realized how much God was working through what looked and felt like a tragedy in our lives. The truth be told, had my mom not gone to prison she would've probably never become the mother I needed her to be and had she not gotten cancer, I would've never been willing or able to forgive her and embrace the idea of a relationship between us.
For the first time since I had found out that my mother had landed herself in prison in Spain, I was able to see God in the midst of the entire situation. Prior to prison my mom was slowly killing herself and the stress of trying to make her aware of what she was doing to herself was taking a toll on our relationship and me.
Now that my mom is in prison everything she does is regulated. All the demons she had battled for decades were locked out by prison walls. She is no longer able to establish unhealthy relationships online, she no longer has access to foods that she was addicted that were slowly killing her, she is not able to isolate herself, and all the distractions like the computer and TV that have kept her from drawing closer to God are no longer a factor. All the things she used to cope with her lifetime of pain have been removed so that now the only thing she can rely on to fix her broken heart is Jesus.
The truth is never, in my life have I seen my mom so healthy, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. She has lost almost 50lbs, her blood sugar is not under control, and her perspective on life has drastically changed. The doctors think that the cancer had been there for at least several months. Had she been diagnosed with cancer in the states her treatment would've cost her thousands of dollars she didn't have. In addition to the financial aspect my mother was a no condition to survive cancer or surgery in her state of health. Ironically, in many ways been in prison-ed has saved my mom's life. Most likely my mom went to Spain with cancer that had not yet been diagnosed. Although she still is struggling with some medical issues she is 50 pounds lighter, has discovered her value, and found her drive to fight for life.
Not only has his experience changed my mother but it is also changed my own outlook. I know the word of God says that he who started a good work will be faithful to complete it, but I guess I had lost hope in my mother. God has once again proved that this is true, not just in my own life, but also for those that I love.
“ And I am sure of this, that he who began ha good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6. 6)
Sometimes I feel like life has crucified me time and time again. I have often questioned God on why I have personally experienced so much tragedy and trauma in my life. Most of it has been out of my control and those who know me intimately know how hard my life has been to endure and what a toll it has taken on me at times, but at the end of the day my life proves how real God is. It's hard to see what good could come from our Lord and Savior, a pure and innocent man, being subjected to such pain and torcher. But as the story unfolds you are able to understand that Jesus being crucified was what had to happen for this world to be saved! When I reflect back on my own life and the moments I felt like I was being “crucified” for no fault of my own, I realize that even Jesus (a sin free man) had to be crucified for our salvation. I am not trying to compare myself to Jesus, yet compare the idea that it is hard to gain an understanding of situations and/or circumstance that seem traumatic, unfair, and painful until the full story unfolds.
With God his crucifixion lasted one day, but the power of focus on his story is in his resurrection which will last for eternity! Every time my journey hits trial and tragedy God never fails to resurrect something new within me. This time he resurrected compassion and understanding for the one person I have struggle my whole life to relate to, my mother. He also resurrected an understanding from the core of my soul that he is the great I AM and with him I am able to find value in myself to know that as my story unfolds I will discover his purpose for me and the calling he has placed on my life. I have found faith within myself to know without any doubt that I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me!
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
I would like to extend my sincere appreciation for everyone who showed me
compassion and support through this extremely difficult time for our family. Just know that my mom is doing amazing, she's finally able to get healthy in every aspect of her life and I know that God will continue to do a great work in her. My mother has found great favor in the prison, everyone including the inmates take very good care of her, despite a few complications and all odds her surgery was a success, and she is on her way to a full recovery. She is also leading a Bible study in the prison and being used by God to bring women to Christ, and most importantly she has finally found the ability to love herself!
I guess this whole experience is just another one of God's beautiful disasters!
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Today I got information from the US Embassy. My mother was operated on Monday, June 9th. There was a bleeding complication, but shortly resolved. Today, she is doing very well after yesterday’s surgery. The Prison’s Medical Assistant Director believes she will most likely stay in the hospital until next Monday, June 16th.