Letter from Nashua - March 14 Print

March 14, 2013

Hello Robert, friends, SOA Watch and supporters –

I have 179 days left. I’m in what’s called a pod that has 12 cells, two beds each. There are not too many folks in here, ten at the most now. Trying to stay focused to why I’m here. So many others are doing 15 years max. I’m going to start a small Bible gathering, just reading something from the Bible then talking a little about each other’s feelings and outside concerns. Not many books in here. It’s hard to get comfortable right now. Too many thoughts. At this moment, back at Americus, GA, the tutoring program is going on, I miss them already. Finding strength from within can only come from my God above. I know a lot are quite sad especially the ones that came from the Americus Mennonite Fellowship Church to the court room. I think my statement was too strange for what they’re used to hearing. Please send letters so that my church can heal as well.
The TV is on at 8am to 8 or 10pm every day. I find myself wanting to get up and get busy, but I know I have to prepare myself to restructure my thought. I think of all those folks in Latin America and Mexico having to deal with a lot of sadness every day. Now I have joined their ranks. I feel for their loss more than ever being here. No one knows that until you’re in this cell. My roommate is African American and he is returning home in 75 days. I can hear him sometimes talking to his daughter on the phone. I’m not trying to listen but his daughter is having a hard time without him.

I’m on a top bunk and the mattress has more wrinkles than me. Both bunks are steel and there are about 275 cinder blocks. A metal door with two small windows and two larger ones beside the door on top of each other. I guess it’s for watching TV.

March 15, 2013

The first day here, I didn’t write anything because I was just observing the officers booking in myself and other people (prisoners). I can tell some guards don’t care and just making fun of what they’re going to be charged with. It only takes some prisoners just a short while to realized they made a very, very big detour in their life. They have kids, some young as 4 or 5 years old and some older. It starts to dawn on them that they’re not going to see them for 15 years. They’re going to miss all that growing up, doing things with them or just watching them outside on the porch while drinking ice tea.

Right now, I see how much of the School of the Americas graduates and battalion soldiers have taken hundreds of thousands of human beings and they’re not going to see anyone ever again. In fact, some have been forgotten, “some” meaning all the ones forgotten. And the ones still on the crosses each year we honor, their families members still have them in their memories and pictures on the wall with candles lit from time to time to bring them to the light. The suffering continues inside these jail pods and in Mexico, Central and South America, and all around the world. Breakfast is at 3:30am in the morning. What each of us had was less than an egg size of powdered eggs, 8 oz of powdered grits, a hard biscuit on the outside and sometimes softer on the inside, with those little square jelly packages and water with all food. Maybe the same water that comes out of the tap is the same that comes out of the 5 gallon tanks they pour for us each meal.

I was sleeping on the top bunk for two nights and that required a very difficult climbing technique. The top bunk is 4.5 feet off the ground and if one was to roll off the bed because there’s not rail stopping you. The floor is concrete with a shiny wax floor. My roommate moved to another cement cinder block- and steel-cell. There’s nothing plastic about this room.

The next vigil, I’m hoping people will cross the line to experience the insides of these prisons. This will make you go deeper into the suffering that the crosses represent while we raise it up as say “presente”. The message will be stronger and our solidarity will be one even stronger.

March 16, 2013

The TV is on and my ear can’t hear the low volume. It’s about 8:30am. I don’t know the time, but other people that are here for the longest time get the routine and time by the TV because certain channels come on in different times, like the six o’clock news. Pill call is close to time zones. Shift change, meal time, and a lot of similar movements.

I remember there was this man in front of me in the court room, sitting in the front row where spectators sit. I was watching him. He had a white pad of lined paper. He wasn’t taking notes, but just listening and drawing dark rectangles that were in different shapes. I remember looking at him while I finished talking about my uncle who fought in World War II as an 82nd Airborne jumper. He felt very upset. I forgot to finish the story of my uncle. When his wife died, he was totally lost without her. Just by mistake, my parents visited him  that day and as he was not responding, they called the EMTs. These episodes happened more frequently. My uncle, the third time, was finally with his wife. They never had children because the war psychologically broke his will. He has seen too many children die in that war. He couldn’t be around a lot of people. If his wife was with him, he could tolerate them.

On Friday, which is today, a lot of lock downs. I don’t  know what is worse: being in the cell or sitting in front of the TV with the whole world out there. But fellowship in small talk helps. My teeth need Poli-grip so they don’t rattle in my mouth when I eat, it’s difficult. To me a little embarrassing but no one cares, or at least they don’t show it.

Last night, after praying with one man being ready to be sentenced, we prayed for each other. A friend of his is facing 15 t0 life, I thought I’d call him into the cell with the other man and we each pray for him. We al felt better about Christ’s love among us. It’s lock down and it’s so quiet right now.

Putting in a doctor or dentist request is a joke. I hear the dentist just pulls out teeth and the doctor…? Tonight at our last meal, I couldn’t eat with my teeth in my mouth, I have false teeth (just uppers). I had to take them out and put them in my pocket. Then began to eat lima beans, corn bread, spinach. It was humiliating. I felt lost in my mouth for the first time in years. At times I have to remind myself of all the people that are out there supporting me. And my family in Americus. And God that walks beside me. Right now, He is my closest friend. Just when I said my closest friend was Jesus, a call from the speak came and the guard told me to come to the door. And he had a bag of inner clothes, socks, t-shirts, boxers, and a pair of thermal underwear. My upper body feels warm and so do my feet. I’m so thankful! Thank you friends outside!
The color of my jumpsuit is yellow/goldish with the letters down my pants leg “LCDC”. On the back of my upper shirt, it says “Federal”

March 17, 2013

Breakfast at 3:30am in the morning, with grits (20 teaspoons of it), with two teaspoons of powdered eggs, with a hard baked roll 2.5” in diameter. 1.5” in height, along with a 8oz cup of water. I have to put everything in the grits to soften it so when I take out my top teeth I can eat it. Living simple!

It’s about 5pm, Saturday, some told me, plus it’s lock down again for count. Every day, each guard does his shift completely different. Like today, shutting off the TV during count, it’s hard either way to be still so much of the time. Trying to keep focused on why I’m here. I’ll probably repeat myself many times writing to so many people. I will try to write as many people as possible.

It’s hard to describe what it feels like in this room when you are stripped of everything from what you are used to in society. If this letter gets out, it’ll be great. I don’t know about “red flagging” in here. I hear it does exist – to which level I don’t know. I haven’t gotten any letters yet, but it might be too early for that at the time. Hoping for Monday! Please send copy to Americus Mennonite Fellowship Church. Same church we had the “Festival of Hope” the day before the trial.

People in the jail, in my section called “the Pod”, have given me some books to read, and a Good News Bible translation. I’m very thankful for these brothers that know Jesus Christ. The guard just passed by for count and looked in my door and said, “Robert, are you alright?” and I waved. Tonight we’ll try our first gathering for prayer. I’d like my Church to pray for Yancy and Scott for mercy at the court when they go. Yancy will go soon and Scott, August 15 of this year.  He’s facing a 15-to-life “storm” as he calls it. He has two small children, 6 and 4, and he’s 48 years old. He knows me messed up real bad. He does have a lot of people pulling for him. So it’s between him, God and the judge. The three of us prayed for the last three nights together. During the day, I try to find the right words to say to any of the people here. It's difficult. I try to tell a story of one of my journeys or just sit and be still with them and myself.

I remember at Koinonia, the guy in charge of the cattle has these great white dogs and how almost free they are in a 90-acre area on south Village road. Up from Koinonia, there’s this house and in the back of the house is a dog house that’s just as big as this cell I live in now. This dog was made to roam the 90 acres like the other two dogs next door to Koinonia. But it can’t because the owner just him to bark if someone comes into the yard; occasionally, he walks the dog with a leash. The dog is not made to run anymore. I’m not made to run. Psychological torture punishment, the guards play little games (mind games) like when you ask for a sheet for your bed, he will give you one, but it’ll be a dirty one that someone else used already. I’ve been without a towel for four days. So I just use by “made in Pakistan” 12”x12” face cloth to dry off. Slowly, I will get conditioned to accept all the abuse the guards play and this will be a natural life for me. Slowly squeezed into a small area, not made to run. Right now I’m thinking of all of you. When my thoughts see you, I think many beautiful journeys will be won. I say each of your names everyday to remember the love and friendship I shared with you all. This is my inside movie channel I turn to each day. It’s not hard to find throughout the day. When I need you guys, you’re there.

The toothpaste is called “Dawn Mist”: gel fluoride toothpaste, cavity-fighting formula, “mint flavor”. Dawn Mist is made in India ZC No. DDC05DOC52, manufactured for “Donovan Industries, INc, Tampa, FL 33626-3061, 1-800-334-4404, www.dawnmist.com. Inactive ingredients: Sorbilol, water, Silica Sodium, Lauryl Sulphate, PEG 1500 Flavor, Carboxyemthyl Cellulose, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Saccharin. Expiration Date: unknown. Rev No. 10/08/14, 204. Maybe that’s the expiration date?

Dawn Mist, Lightly scented, Deodorant Soap, Gentle Formula, French milled. No. ¾ Vegetable-based product. Active ingredient: Triclosan 0.2%. Ingredients: Soap chip, fragrance, water. Bar code: 7 57709004159 Rev No. 08/09/14 473. Recorded No ASP4159. Manufacture for Donovan Industries, Inc. Tampa, FL 33626, www.dawnmist.com

I write this so that you can research and buy some yourselves so you will know how I feel. Also, I forgot to mention my little tooth brush.

If you want to contact one of my lawyers, here’s the one that works with me while I’m in prison: Robert J Phares, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Front side of card:

Telmate “Simplfying Inmate Communications”
-    Dial 211# for your customer service
-    Dial 411! To buy prepaid minutes *not available at all facilities
Friends and family can add funds to your prepaid account by:
Phone – 866-516-0115
Web: www.telmate.com
On site: Telmate Cash Kiosk

Back Side of Card:
Free calls: For most approved numbers, Telmate allows a short free call. At the end of this call, the person you called can deposit money into your prepaid account.
Funding Phone Calls: Desposits to your prepaid account can be used for all future calls or restricted to one phone number based on the depositor’s request.
You will be receive confirmation of all deposits made to your account via voicemal.
Voicemail: Friends and family can leave you a voicemail by calling – 866-516-0115

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I picked this Good News Bible Translation GNT (American Bible Society) for tonight’s message: 2 Corinthians 4-16 thru 3, 6-13. Readhing the 6 and 6-13 will give comfort. Living by faith and friendship with God through Christ. This will be tonight’s discussion. I will continue writing, but keep me in your prayers.

Sincerely with Peace, Love and Joy,
Nashua

PS. My thought are with you all.