I (Beth) have been working inside the women's prison, Buen Pastor, as a teacher for the past 18months.

Along with a couple other women, we teach Spanish classes and lead Celebrate Recovery, a Christian based 12 Step program.  Our students represent many countries- USA, Africa, Romania, Canada, Italy, England, Guana Island and Costa Rica.  Although our students come from different countries, they have a few things in common- they all speak English (but not all speak Spanish), they are in the same prison and all of them are facing hurts, habits and hang-ups. 

There is a long waiting list and everyone if protective of their times.  Us teachers, feel extremely blessed to have a classroom and a time to enter the prison each week.  Because of this, we take the advise of the warden.  This past year, he granted us more time, so we were able to extend our class and have one on one time with girl.  This has given us the opportunity to truly sponsor and coach the girls and help them to allow the Holy Spirit to work in their lives.

We never know what we will walk into and speak to as we enter the prison and our classroom.  On our drive there, we always say a prayer for our ladies, the guards, the warden and for easy admittance.  Our first encounter at the prison is with the guards, who depending on the day, decide how easy or difficult it will be to enter.  Most of the guards know us and send u son our way.  Occasionally, they re will be anew rule and we will not be allowed to take something in that was permitted with week before, and the following week.  Sometime the personal search is more lengthily and sometimes there is no search.  We arrive before our students, so before they come into the room we have to do a quick cleaning.  This includes wiping down the tables and chairs and most importantly, disguising the pee smell the critters leave behind.  Before Sometimes the girls are struggling with the lack of basic needs- toilet paper, soap, ect.  Some surprises this year have been helping the girls not only deal with issues and pains, but often we see depression, witchcraft, an attempted escape, drugs, our girls coming to class beaten up and self-induced physical abuse.  However, we also see joy and benefit in their lives when they work getting out of denial and give up trying to run their lives and allow God's will to come alive.  We have been able to share the excitement of the release from prison.  But the most joy comes from seeing teh radical change in their lives as they have accepted the love of hte Christ and have repenteed from their pasts.

There are so many times we see God actively working and present in prison.  Below are just a couple examples from this month.

A few weeks ago, one of the girls that will be extradited back to her home country told me that she was very nervous about going back.  She really wants to go, so she can be closer to family and have her daughter visit her.  However, her concern is what her mother will do when she sees her.  She is afraid that her mother will not recognize her.  She almost brought tears to my eyes, when she said that the reason her mother might not recognize her is because in her pre-prison, pre-Christ living in her life, she looked much harder.  She never smiled with happiness, she swore and was always ready to beat someone up.  And now, to look at her you would see a softer face, always smiling and ready to help others.  She wants to be baptized, but wants to wait until she back in her home country.

Yesterday was another huge God moment. It started off with us being two leaders down- that is a lot when there are only four of us. We start class with a devotion from one of the girls that has volunteered to lead. Yesterday, the girl that was suppose to lead in devotion wasn't there.  As I was making announcements, Nancy, one of our leaders opened her Bible and pulled out some half sheets that a devotion written on them. As she shared the devotion, my mouth dropped open.  I was shocked to hear that the devotion was a perfect lead into the lesson that I had prepared for the day. 

When Nancy and I discussed this after class, she admitted that she had no idea that a devotion was in her Bible.  She had just opened it and saw those papers.  Ironically, she had the exact amount of papers as there were girls in class that day.  I guess it was exactly what the girls needed that day.  They never knew that we hadn't discussed our lesson plan ahead of time. 




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