Sorry about the incorrect tag line above. Couldn't get the edit to work!;(
I spent from 9:00 this morning until almost 3:00 pm with Tom today, Sunday. When I arrived I was one of the first visitors and was able to sit in the open visitors area and wait for Tom. He was just getting cleaned up so I read for a few minutes. My mom had written me a note and included Psalm 36. These words jumped out at me today:
"Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths."
I've been asked about who brought this complaint and why they would do this many times. We know who the official complaintants are and we also suspect who is or are the one or ones pushing these complaintants to bring the charges. We don't believe the official ones named on the charges could ever have handled bringing charges to the American Embassy who then asked the NBI to step in and are now considering prosecuting a case against Tom, Toto, and Jake. Am I angry, mad, or feeling hateful towards any of these individuals? Well, it was hard not to be at first. But I can honestly say that I have chosen to focus on the innocence of these three men sitting in a stinking detention center rather than all the feelings I have for these individuals.
Tom and I have talked more than once trying to answer questions we have about what went so wrong in these relationships. But it is too painful. Here we are sitting on a plastic bench in an open visiting area with constant noise, people milling around, several small dogs and cats looking for food, guards signing you in and out and searching the food you are carrying in, smells from cooking stoves or small garbage fires, and constant cigarette smoke. It is so real but so not real.
There is such a strong feeling of injustice that wells up in my heart at times but I find it crowds out any peace I have been given by the only One who is true peace. The phrase in the verse above I am thinking about today is that God's justice is as deep as the ocean. Not even my great desire for justice could compete with that!
Tom is holding his own in a very tough situation. There are two large holding cells about the size of a living room and there are up to 40 men trying to sleep, eat, and entertain themselves all day. They are out in the more open visitors area during visiting hours or on other rare occasions. A set of bars separates these two large cells from the visitor area. A small area there (about as wide as a typical sidewalk) is where men sit and talk and smoke.
Today Tom told me more about his time there but I know he isn't telling me very much because he doesn't want me to worry or get upset. Tom, Toto, and Jake are looking out for each other and they have had some "resources" to help in building relationships. Visitors bring food and then Tom can trade the treats for something else he might need. They sell cookies in really big containers here and several have brought those in so they have something to share. You ask permission from the "mayor" to distribute these things and he helps make sure everyone gets something. But Tom said that once in a while someone gets missed and then that person may take it on himself to make it fair by taking something from you without permission. Last night a guy tried to take Tom's blanket that he uses for a bed cover or to prop his head up higher. Tom wouldn't let him take it and held his ground with Toto and Jake ready to jump in and help if need be. The guy backed off. Then this morning Tom gave him the blanket. Message? You can't take my things but I can choose to give them to you. Made me cry because this is one little story he felt like he could share with me.
We had lots of visitors today and it was wonderful to give and receive hugs from so many loved ones. We had Filipinos, Americans, and Australians all around our table today. Some we have known since 1979 when we moved here and others we have known for less time but they are all loved family to us. We cried some, tried to laugh some, and more than one story from the past was shared. Even in the quiet tears of these dear ones we sense such love and support. We feel well loved by God's family!
Here are a few specific prayer requests for now:
Pray that Tom's case would be dismissed. (We may know by Wednesday. We won't know about Toto and Jake's case until a few days later but be praying now!)
Pray for safety and that the guys would continue to stay alert and prepared.
Pray for Tom's health. (The air quality is terrible. They have been adding shelves to the walls to get some things off the floors and do the work in the center of the cell and the paint fumes are bad. Then I found out that they painted the bars today and the fumes are giving everyone headaches. Add all that to Manila pollution, smoke, body oder, etc. and you have a smelly mess.)
Pray for some rest for the guys. (It's always so noisy between people talking, gates opening and closing, radios and TV's, that sleep isn't good or easy to come by.
Pray for peace and that we would all let God's ocean of justice take care of things we cannot.
With love and gratefulness,