Hi, this is Gene Kent. I thought I’d tell you what a visit day with Jason is like. Often Carol and I try to get the last flight home from a speaking engagement on a Saturday night or the earliest one on Sunday morning so we can make it to Hardee Correctional on Sunday to see our son. Those late Saturday night flights are the killer. We have usually had a intense time of ministry all day sharing our story and hearing many of theirs. We throw the unsold books into boxes, toss them in the trunk with our suitcases and race to the airport with a volunteer driver from the event.
Carol and I love to discuss how the day went on the plane ride back to Tampa and talk about all the individual stories we’ve heard that day. We often pray together and then fall asleep for what minutes are left in the flight. I drive the 40 miles from Tampa back to Lakeland and we fall into bed.
Sunday morning, I groggily get up at 6:30 to gain the earliest possible entry and drive the 40 miles to Hardee. Standing in line for an hour with others that have become our friends energizes me and prepares me for the next few hours with Jason. Normally, I’m into the visitation area by 9 or 9:15 and Jason comes in 10 minutes later. I love to walk around the visiting room and talk with the people waiting for their loved ones: Holly, who’s waiting for her husband of 4 years, David; Debbie (we have kayaked with her), waiting to see her son; Sarah, for husband Rob; and others. These people mean so much to Carol and me. They have become family in a very real way. We are all sharing an undesired journey, but trying to make the best of our situation.
I always go over to the game table and get a deck of cards, a pencil, and some writing paper, and then I talk with the guys who are working this area. With smiles all around, we share the latest inside news and I try to let them know that others on the outside are praying for them. Christ is at work in so many lives and we have this one-on-one chance of sharing our lives with others who, often, have no one that comes to visit them. Leon, who runs the canteen where I get coffee and food, let’s me know what Bible verses he’s memorizing and we dream about his future. God is so mightily at work all around that room. Even the guards are men and women who need encouragement and, sometimes, give encouragement to us. I never know what those hours of visitation time will hold for me. God is at work in my heart too, and I can’t believe this journey that I’m on.
Carol comes in later, and we are together with Jason until 3 p.m. I’ll tell you some more in another blog.
I appreciate and love you all!