Mailing / Prison/ Helgi
Trip Start Dec 16, 2007
28Trip End Jan 11, 2008
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We're at the PO in minutes. At the franking office the Russian-speaking ladies recognize me from before when I did the mailing with Johnnie. Our name in Estonia is Head Sõnumid which means Good News. They are very kind and efficient and get the mailing cost figured out in 15 minutes. All is well. Then Bev and I went over to a few home stores to get a few things for the apartment. Bev has done cleaning and some organizing and hopes Johnnie won't mind when he comes here next in January.
We come back to the apartment and I get ready to go to the VANGLA, the prison on the edge of town to visit Valdur Vesingi.
This requires a taxi. I'll never find it by bus. It costs ten dollars to get there.
I get there in PLENTY of time...45 minutes early. I tell the lady guard who I want to see and she sighs. Not a "Hey, I'm glad you're here on this dismal day to bring cheer to one of our inmates!" sound. She shoves a form for me to fill out which is all in Estonian. I ask her to translate it into Russian for me and she warms a bit, but not much. Johnnie one time filled in his name where they asked for the prisoner.
I found that time I thought was to be there for the visit was for the first visitor processing stage. The Vangla prison is the second largest prison in Estonia with 1000 inmates. There is a larger one near Tallinn with 1300 prisoners.
From the first "welcome" center you are taken outside into another building. There you wait some more as they go through your passport. Then through turnstile doors, security check, body check. Then to the visit rooms.
I sit behnd glass waiting for Valdur to come. I recognize him immediately and hold our hands up to the glass as a greeting. Then we talk through a telephone. It's a good visit. He is incarcerated for 20 years for armed robbery.
His English is very good and he has translated two booklets for the United Church of God. One was "Who is God" and the other is "Why Does God Allow Suffering?" We talked about life, living with mistakes and private thoughts. My heart really goes out to him. Mistakes have destroyed his life and family. He has nothing, but he finds joy in changing his spirit to what is right.
Our visit ends and I go through the getting out of prison process. I see the same "welcoming" guard and ask how I can get a taxi and if she call one for me. She would not, saying it was not possible. But, she pointed me towards the street and told me where the bus could be found. It was cold out and in the shelter I found a man whom I asked about how to get the center of town. He said that it was not really possible with one bus. Anway I followed him until the bus change. At the bus change I must have waited about 15 minutes and caught a bus that would hopefully take me the Center. It seemed like we twisted through every possible neighborhood with many stops. The nice thing is that the bus ride cost only a little over a dollar. Once I noticed the McDonald's I knew I was close and I jumped off the bus and walked the last mile home.
At 5:30 Helgi Luts came by. She is woman suffering from cancer who has gone through several regimes of chemotherapy. She told us about her medical problems and we prayed for her. She is not yet baptized but said that she physically could not be baptized with all the things she has connected to her. We had a very wonderful visit and she talked a lot about her daughter who also lives in Tartu and keeps an eye out for her and her son who lives closer to Tallinn. She sees her grandchildren often and spoke lovingly of them.
We had dinner together and talked some more. She's the only one who could come tonight. Katrin is out of town. Toomas went to Lithuania for five days on business. Andrus was unreachable. Helga is not doing well, but we talked to her via Skype. She lives in Jõgeva that is about an hour and a half by bus from here. She's aging and has trouble with her legs. All of us had a pleasant conversation with her.
Helgi left before 8:00 PM She was not feeling well, but she did make the effort to meet and talk.
Afterwards Bev and I like to read the Bible together and Bev read aloud Proverbs 8 from which I hope to give a sermon next Sabbath in Sweden.