Inmates Listening to a Motivational Speaker
On June 13, we were invited to accompany the Humanitarian missionary couple (Elder and Sister Smith from Washington state) on an assignment for LDS Charities to the Women's Correctional Facility (Women's Prison) in Mandaluyong City. We contacted the Makati Stake President, who wanted to come, along with the Stake Relief Society President and the Stake Public Affairs Director. In the end, President Arzaga, was the only one able to come with us. He was very happy, because the prison lies within his stake boundaries. We were going to deliver wheel chairs and computer printers. It was a very erie feeling going through all of those steel gates. There were quite a number of smaller buildings all connected with courtyards. There were many trees and foilage......a prison in a tropical climate!! We were informed that the inmates in blue t-shirts were minimum security and those in orange clothing were maximum security. There were many women in this prison. They were all very polite to us......when they would see us approaching they jumped up from whatever they were doing and smiled and said, "Good Morning, po" (po shows respect) or they would say, "Good Morning, mam/sir, po". Some were young and some were old. It truly touched our hearts to be there with them. I wanted to sit down with each one and hear how they ended up in this place and give them hope. Many had their bibles out reading them. One inmate we met in the hospital was so sweet. She told me she was from Cebu and had been in prison since the year after her one and only child was born. He is 14 now and she has 2 more years to serve. That broke my heart. I thought of all the things she had missed. She said she just lives every moment for the day she will be able to be with her son and her husband again. While I was visiting with that inmate, Elder Bird was visiting with an older inmate being fit for a wheelchair. She wanted to know if he knew Larry Bird....he was her favorite pro-basketall player! I think he said they were distant relatives!! I visited with her also for some time. When it was time for us to leave, she just cried and cried and kept saying thank you for coming to visit her. I think she has very few visitors. I thought about the Savior's admonition, "I was in prison and you visited me". President Arzaga told us there are 4 sisters in there from his stake. We met one. She seemed so young......in her twenties and she is in prison for 20 years. We learned that when she was 17, she helped kidnap someone for ransom!!! I kept thinking....."aren't we all just a few bad choices from prison?!!!" As we were leaving the prison hospital, we met a group of ladies called the British Women's Organization. They were aware of a little 6 year old girl in an orphanage in need of a wheel chair. She had not been off of a bed since last October. Elder Smith said, "We just happen to have a wheel chair that size and it is in the storage area back at the office." They arranged to give it to them the next day. There are no coincidences......just sweet tender mercies going on all around us! There is a little shop where the inmates sell the things they make there. With the money they earn, they can buy school supplies for their children, hygiene supplies, and more craft supplies. Everyone wanted us to buy their particular home made items........I tried...., but was brought back to reality by my good husband! We were looking for the sister that was a member of the church, and soon all of those inmates in the store were saying they were Mormons also!! I thought, "hmm, they still may have a little problem with lying!!" We loved having this sweet experience. We hope to come back to visit again.