On Thanksgiving, after an impeccable meal that was full of all forms of carbohydrates, my mom and I drove to Alamosa to see my dad. Thankfully, he was allowed to have visitors and we stayed down there and chatted with him for three hours.
SIDE NOTE: The first time I came to Camp Alamosa I must admit that I was nervous. No one tells you what it is like to visit someone in any type of correctional facility. It's just not a conversation topic that comes up often. Let's face it, it's uncomfortable and awkward and scary and weird. But if you DO want to talk about it, I am your girl. I've got this weirdness covered.
While we were chatting, I met one of dad's new friends named David. David is probably in his late forties and has a mustache and beard and wears glasses. He was shy and had a very kind face. He and my dad had kitchen duty a few weeks ago and they struck up a conversation. And from this conversation, my dad learned that David has been in the system for 22 years. And not once in those 22 years has David had a visitor. Not once.
No one has ever come to see him.
No one has ever come to give him a hug.
No one has ever dropped by to give him an encouraging word.
And this made me so very sad.
How does this happen? How do you forget about someone? He is someone's son, brother, uncle, friend. He is a person made in God's image. He is a person who has made mistakes and is doing his best to pay for those mistakes. But he is someone who also needs to be loved. And the more I visit my dad, the more I see other men just like David.
My dad said that one of the most encouraging things these men can receive (other than you driving all the way to Alamosa to give them a hug. But you know, that may be awkward) is a card in the mail. I have been sending a card to my dad at least three times a week and he said that these cards mean the world to him. Sometimes I even slip in a joke or a picture or a crossword puzzle.
So, here is what I am proposing: A Camper Card-A-Thon! And there is no better time to kick this off than with Christmas just around the corner. Just buy one extra Christmas card and send it to Alamosa!
Here is the plan:
1. Buy a card and stamp
2. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for the name of a camper and the address
3. Write something funny, serious, thoughtful, kind or all of the above
4. Mail the card
That's it! And in return, I'll do my best to get any feedback I can when I visit my dad.
I have already seen how much this can make a difference. I have seen one of these men tear up because someone remembered him, someone who didn't even know him, sent him a card. It is a real, tangible way to show them love. And there is nothing more powerful than love.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love." ~ Galatians 5:13