One, Two, Three, Four…….

counting

The lights flash. The televisions turn off. A moan of disappointment is heard among the inmates. Slowly but surely the inmates rise out of their chairs and make their way back to their cells. It’s 9pm. It’s Count Time!

Count Time is when every inmate on the entire compound is counted by the officers to make sure everyone is accounted for and have not escaped. It is done every day at 4pm, 9pm, 12am, 3am, and 5am. On weekends, an additional 10am count is done. Let me tell you….it gets old fast. But everyone gets used to it. The 10am, 4pm, and 9pm counts are called stand-up counts. When the two officers that count your unit pass your cell to count you, everyone must be awake and standing. They do the stand up count to make sure everyone is alive and ticking. Seriously.

My very first cellie in county jail told me that back in the 70’s he killed his cellie (welcome to being locked up, Craig!) because his cellie blew cigarette smoke in his face. (This was when cigarettes were allowed in cell prisons). He cleaned up the mess and made his dead cellie look like he was always sleeping during count time. Unfortunately, after a few days, the room started to smell and eventually his body basically exploded. He was forced to tell the officers what he did. That incident is one of the reasons for a stand up count. (and yes, it’s a true story)

Thankfully, during the 12am, 3am and 5am counts, they let you sleep. But they do shine a bright mag light on your face. Since I’m a light sleeper, I’m often aroused from my sleep. Yeah, I guess you can say I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in 47 months now.

It takes anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes to count the entire unit. Unfortunately, there are some very “special” counters here….. counting inmates can be a very difficult task for them. The numbers of the two officers that count each unit must match up before the count is cleared for the unit. In my opinion, counting the inmates should be easy for them. But when they add the top tier and the bottom tier together, it seems to be a little tricky. HA! My record for most recounts during one count time is four. It took nearly an hour for the count to be cleared. This one particular officer continues to work here. She has gotten better, though. On average these days, she usually only has to recount a couple of times a week. But we all groan when we have her as an officer in our building responsible for the count. I can’t imagine why!

Once the numbers are matched up in the unit and the entire compound is accounted for, the count is officially cleared and we can leave our cells and go back to our activities. When I’m finally free from this place, and I’m at home during the times of 10am, 4pm and 9pm, and I randomly stand up, don’t ask questions. You’ll know why!!!! (This was written so you have an idea of what a day is like in the life of an inmate.)

Taking the Plunge

luana-fallsAs I make my way up the rock face alongside the 20’ waterfall on the island of Oahu, I think to myself, “What am I doing?” I consider myself an adrenaline junkie, so doing this type of thing is what I live for. Yes, serious injury or even death is always a possibility. But I’m also the guy that says to take chances. When you’re feeling it, you’re feeling it. And today I’m feeling it!

As I reach the top of the waterfall and get to my feet, I turn around and look back at the mass of people gathered around the 20 ‘ x 20’ pool of water. This will be the last time I see these people again, as well as the pool of water, until I’m halfway down the 50 foot blind leap of faith along the Luana Falls. I wave, smile, and turn to follow the local Hawaiians through the dense forest as we skirt our way along cliffs and through the raging creek beds. Just getting to the top of the jump is an adventure in itself. But after twenty minutes, with sweat pouring down my face, we get to our destination.

A look of fear immediately comes across my face, as the locals all start to laugh. I peer over the edge. I see moist leaves and branches mostly, with glimpses of the water as the leaves rustle in the wind. I also hear the thunderous roar of the waterfall. That is why they call this the blind leap. Over the years, the vegetation has drastically grown thicker and more dense. And that is why the jump is so exhilarating, even to the locals, as the jumper comes shooting out among the trees into a dark blue pool of water.

As the locals start to jump one after the other, it’s almost my turn. My stomach starts to turn into knots with a queasy feeling inside me. The guy before me does a reverse swan dive leap through the leaves, I hear his splash, and then a cheer, and step to the edge. It’s my turn. I look to my left and gaze at the valley below….this cliff is way higher than I thought. But I’m not one to step away from something like this. It’ll all be over in seconds. With only one local left behind me to jump, he points and tells me to jump through a tiny opening in the leaves where it’s less dense and safer. I look down one last time and can just make out a few people waiting for my descent through the leaves. I take a deep breath and jump.

I hit the small opening dead on and shoot through the leaves in less than a second with forty feet to go. The crowd is screaming. I feel like I’m flying. The free fall is an incredible experience, feeling like I am in the air forever. But in just seconds my feet touch the water and the rest of my body plunges through the surface. I swim to the top, pop my head out of the water as the throng of people cheer.

It’s over! I did it! As I look from the water, back to the top of the cliff, I think to myself, “What was I thinking?” But I loved it!!

I’ve actually done this jump quite a few times since that day. It got easier with each jump. But the feeling in the air was always the same. I’ve had many experiences jumping off some pretty sweet cliffs in my lifetime. But this plunge is never to be forgotten!

How many of you have ever taken a plunge into a pool of water off a cliff? How many of you have ever taken a plunge into a swimming pool? Or how many of you daily take the plunge into God’s Word?

That’s the reason I’m writing this specific blog, to encourage you to daily commit your life to His Word. Whether it’s five minutes a day or thirty minutes a day, God wants you to get to know Him on a personal level. I know in my past with my busy and chaotic schedule outside of prison, I hardly ever plunged into the Word. It took a prison experience to daily commit my life to Him.

My alarm is set for 5:30am every morning before the mass of inmates start to stir. And for a half hour every morning, in the quietness of the unit, I plunge into His Word. I couldn’t ask for a better way to start the day. And I couldn’t ask for a better feeling. It doesn’t get much better than that