Thursday, June 17, 2010

Angola Kairo #49 Part 3

I was finally able to take a little break after running to the dollar store for a request my husband made before he left for the prison that morning. I also picked up some snacks as it was too hot outside for me to eat heavy meals. I had a few letters to finish writing and since I'd gone in late the night before I wanted to take a nap but that was not possible. It felt better just to get off my feet for a bit, pray, rest and watch a little TV.

My table at Agape Central was a mess. It gets that way when things get really busy. I tried to straighten it out because when the guys came in from the prison, it was going to get hairy since the names would be arriving at the same time. I was not very comfortable with that because it is last-minute stuff. Cyndi had been up to the prison and back. It was too hot for her to stay up there with her legs bothering her and she needed to finish her letters, too.

Each team member writes forty-five letters to the resident candidates for the workshop. We're supposed to start writing about six weeks in advance and bring the same pen we started with. That way when we have the names of the candidates we can fill in their names with the same pen. We usually have forty-two participants but in case something happens we write forty-five as a cushion. One leader for an earlier team allowed forty-six inmates to participate. He didn't realize what that does when preparing food and agape. I asked that that not be allowed again. Besides that, it throws off the sponsor/sponsoree system and they table families. There's suposed to be seven table families made of about two or three of our volunteers and six inmate residents. I don't know how any extra will sit comfortably at a table meant for nine. I bring forty-three paper bags with handles for the agape bags and those who get Sunday school classes of kids to make sets of 42--well, it throws that off too. The local Fred's and Dollar General don't have the same kind of bags so I had to buy a shiny party bag that didn't match the rest. Since there were not enough volunteers, chairs and two tables were eliminated from this workshop rather than added. 

There were going to be only five tables instead of seven. That is easier to deal with, however, it is nice to be prepared for that at least a week before the weekend. The head cook orders the food in advance and she had too much food. She said if she'd known she would have called to restaurant supplies and asked them to cut back on some of her order. I was happy to see my mother and daughter come up to help fill the bags.

The ladies from the kitchen came in to set up the food while the leader and observing leader came in with a list of inmates names. It was a scratch list because they had to cut the participants. Then some alternates took the place of others. The names were not in alphabetical order. This was going to be a mess. To emphasize the mess, one of the men who had finished addressing his letters, came over to agape central to ask, "So can you tell me when you will have the names on the agape bags?" I wanted to kick someone or something really hard.

It was not easy using a label maker to print out the thirty-two names for the  name cards on each bag. It was a painfully slow process. The list was a scratch list so it was marked up and not in alphabetical order. There is a lot to be said for delegating jobs beforehand! My temp was rising. I had to get into prayer mode when I could rest and think about things past my headache and aching legs and feet. I'm certain I'd already said some things and had the facial expression I would not have had if I'd not been so tired.

But they got done and all the guys had their letters in the bags, including the one who asked me if I had his paper for him to write his letters that very evening AND if I had some envelopes for him. Ok, Kathy, breathe and do not explode. Jesus, stay with me and Satan get behind me!

I had one more set of bookmarks that the printer recognized but they would have to wait until morning. So the next morning, my husband was not waking me too early. He wanted me to get more sleep. Although he was not aware of everything I had to do, he  was not enjoying the organizational style. His PTSD is not comfortable with change nor what he perceives as disorganization.

I was happy to be able to sleep a bit later and had told Cyndi that I wasn't coming into the conference room until 9:00am. She was happy about that, too.  With two or three of us (we had been expecting Carolyn to come and help)  it wouldn't take more than an forty minutes to organize the bags by table families, seal them and put them in garbage bags by table families.

BUT at 8:30 the next morning Cyndi called and said Carol had gone up to the prison to go to the kitchen with the other ladies and she'd left her driver's license at the hotel. She'd called Cyndi to bring it to her. One cannot enter the prison without ID. It wouldn't make sense for Cyndi to take a twenty-mile trip just to turn around and come back to help me. It made more sense for her to go on into the kitchen early. That threw off my schedule for bagging up the agape bags if they were to be in the prison for 10:00am with just one person getting them together rather than three.

My head was pounding as I left the hotel for the prison with the bags in my car. I was about thirty minutes behind my usual schedule. By the time I got to the gate their was everyone and their mama at the check in station. Visitors were piled up in their. I waited in one line for a security officer to tell me that I didn't have to wait in the visitor's line since I was not riding the bus and going to join the Kairos ladies at the culinary school. That put me back about thirty more minutes. I got to the culinary school at the main prison complex by 11:00. I breathed a sigh when I saw that the runners' truck had not left. Matt, one of the runners put the bags on the back of the truck for me.

I all but collapsed into a chair in the eating area.

After I rested a bit, I stayed to have lunch with the ladies and the two inmates that serve in the culinary school kitchen. Then we played a couple of games of spoons. One of the ladies gave me a couple of Tylenol to help me make it back to the hotel where I could rest.

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