Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Convicted for Doing Nothing Wrong, Sentenced for No Reason, Yet Still Joyful with No Regrets -- The Remain Cal-Trans Days

I had shared that I finished four days of Cal-Trans going through the first two weeks of May.

I struggled with an incredible fatigue, one which I simply could not shake off.

It was very difficult waking up in the morning for another day of work in the Cal-Trans yard.

I only later learned that I was struggling with incredibly high blood pressure, and all the health problems which come with those pathologies.

I was supposed to go to court on June 10th to show more progress toward completing my Cal-Trans demands, but I had suffered a stroke and a transient ischemic attack a few days prior. My own employer urged me not to pose any further risks to my health and just stay home. I was taking a small risk.

Anything could have happened. If the judge did not see me in court as order, she would have had the right and the authority to issue a bench warrant for my arrest. A good friend of mine stepped in for me, went into court and stood in my place.

He provided for the judge all the proof of the work that I had completed toward my sentencing up to that point.

He even told me afterwards that the judge did not even call my name during the morning the calendar call! It was as though my name had been left out entirely! Only when my attorney showed up into the courtroom did the judge remember to look into my case. My friend, who stood in for me, provided her all the documents, and everything was all taken care of.

Thank you, Jesus! Let me tell all of you: as I was lying in emergency rooms over five days, worrying about my fate in court, I was really worried, even paid, pushed into so many tough situations. I could not believe that so many bad things were hitting me at once.

The legal problems, the health problems. the moral, emotion, and physical toil was proving so much for me.

I am so glad for the gift of righteousness, the one thing that kept me from losing my mind completely:

"For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:17)

It's one thing to know that God loves you, but we have to believe that He loves us, too, even when everything around us is failing or falling apart.

This though reminds me of the internal peace that Paul and his fellow evangelists maintained through all their hardships in their missionary journeys:

"8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

11 For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;" (2 Corinthians 4:8-13)

Paul then writes:

"17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;" (2 Corinthians 4:17)

After I had recovered and convalesced from my stroke and transient attack, I went back to work and back to the Cal-Trans yard.

It was amazing what began to happen little by little throughout the remaining days.

I connected with a number of the men and some of the women who were working in the field with me. They were really kind, and many of them, once they learned my story, agreed with me 100%. Even the Cal-Trans drivers who took me to one work site after another could see that this was all wrong, what had happened to me.

I shared with many of them about my work with MassResistance. They totally agreed with my stance for life and family and against the LGBT agenda. One of the younger the Cal-Trans volunteers (yes, that's what they called us) told me that he was sick of all the six-colored "rainbows" being shoved onto everybody during the month of June. 

I could not agree more.

Because I was overcoming the health condition of stabilizing my blood pressure while changing my diet and water intake, there were some potential dangerous times that came upon me.

During one work day, the heat was more pronounced. I was helping cut and load up the wins into one of the trucks to haul everything off. I began to feel really faint, a little dizzy. I saw white and some black spots come into my field of vision.

I was getting overheated, and I was not feeling well at all.

The van driver for me that day, Donna, told me to sit down right away. Another worker, a lady who had just begun Cal-Trans work, urged me to sit in the shade. She was really concerned for me. Another guy, Manuel, rushed over to me with dampened paper towels. He held them against my head.

I was so touched by how so many of the people I was working with came to my aid. A little later, another guy, Oscar, asked how I was doing. "Are you OK? Do you have any blood pressure issues?"

I was surprised at how prescient he was about my health condition.

I later learned that he worked in a very specific medical field. The next day, I began bringing a much larger bottle of water to sustain me throughout the remaining Cal-Trans work days. I told him that I had nearly blacked out because of the heat. "See, I told you that there was something wrong. We're criminals, but we care."

Oscar indeed cared, although after I left the yard after that day, I was really sad when he called himself a criminal. My first day at the Cal-Trans yard, I told one man not to call himself a criminal. He had merely made a mistake, nothing more. His situation was really nothing that bad. He had discharged a firearm in his home by accident!

When Oscar had finished his Cal-Trans assignment, I wished him well, said good-bye, but then I asked him: "Promise me one thing. Don't call yourself a criminal anymore."

He looked at me, smiled, and said: "OK, I promise."

That was a really cool day for me. To be honest, I am glad that I ended up at Cal-Trans. I got to connect with so many people who had the chance to show caring to me, a guy they hardly knew. For many people who will be reading this, I hope it blows away all the stereotypes you may have about people who get convicted or plea to committing crimes.

Many of these people are not diligently wicked people looking to cause trouble. They have failed, they broke the law, but in some cases they did not do anything wrong at all, but faced nothing but impossible demands on their time and resources to fight the charges against them.

Once in a while, there was a volunteer or two who had a bad attitude, who refused to accept the fact that they were working on the Cal-Trans yard. One young lady complained the whole time she was there. "I wish I were in jail," she said at the outset, when we were all signing in for our day in the yard. The van driver that day, Stacy, told her to look at the bright side, make the most of her time there. "Look, I get paid to be here, and I don't want to be here. You just have to make the most of it."

That young lady seemed more like a spoiled, pampered princess than anything. She refused to do any work, and she ended up leaving before the end of the work day. She just gave up, like that! The next to last day that I was working at the Cal-Trans yard, another guy arrived for his first day. He was routinely breaking state laws, smoking when he was out of site. He would take off his helmet while outside, when all volunteers are required to wear their helmets while on the job site. For that guy, the last straw was when he took out his marijuana pipe and started smoking! The van driver took us all back to the Cal-Trans yard, and he was terminated on the spot: sent home, could not come back to the Cal-Trans yard to finish the community service, and would have to face the judge--who would probably send him to jail since he refused to do the community service instead.

Other things worth sharing ...

The days got progressively easier and easier working the Cal-Trans yard. It became routine that we would all show up, get assigned to a van driver, and in turn we would receive our assignments for the day. The first two days, I just did trash pickup along the freeways. I did that stuff during the early weeks in June. This year, the weather was unusually cool. The normally hot weather didn't break out across the Southland until the middle of July. We had a pretty easy time of it. With trash pickers and large trash bags, we just cleaned up different highways.

I guess you could say that this was one way that I was Making California Great Again!

Other tasks included cutting down weeds or cleaning out homeless encampments along the state highways. It's pretty sad to see so many homeless people setting up dwellings alone different state highway corridors. They are not permitted to do that, however, since that property belongs to the state. They are essentially trespassing. During those days, two deputies from the California Highway Patrol would accompany us to make sure that if we approached an encampment. Sometimes, the homeless were there, and they would take away most of their goods, so there was little for us to clean up.

Most of the time, they were not there, and whatever stuff was on the property, we removed all of it and through into a truck trash compactor. At first, I was really not looking forward to cleaning out the homeless encampments. It sounded like a lot of work, and there were concerns about the dirt, the sickness, and the potential for disease.

I later learned, however, that we volunteers would get driven around a great deal, and on top of that the van drivers did the best they could to ensure that we got lots of breaks. The team of Cal -Trans workers that I worked with were really good people, too. They often asked me how many days I had left, because they were hopeful that I would be done with everything and go home soon.

As the days progress toward my finishing my Cal-Trans assignment, the work got steadily easier. Not only that, but the Cal-Trans drivers would go out of their way to make the days as easy for us as possible. If we were working really hard and got a lot of stuff done, they would give us extended breaks!

The last day of my Cal-Trans assignment, my 20th day, some of the drivers were willing to let one of our team mates order pizza for everybody. Yes, they threw a pizza party for us during lunch. It was a great final cap off for my last day at the Cal-Trans yard.

I remembered praying the day before for one of the drivers, because he allowed us to rest a lot and didn't work us too hard. I was kind of sad that I was not assigned him, but I got to shake his hand and told him "Thanks for making it easier for us"! "I try to make it work out for the best for all of you," he told me.

The driver I was assigned was really good. I had worked with him before, and he often pledged he would do the best he could so that the day would not be too hard for us. One time, he and other workers drove into a secluded section of one of the state properties and he allowed all of us to take a long rest for an extended period. It was brutally hot that day.

This was the same guy who was my last van driver. He allowed me to sit in the front seat of the van, too, which was normally frowned upon by the yard supervisors and the superintendent. That morning, however, one of the van supervisors walked right by the van while I was seated in the front, and he did not say anything!

It was the favor of God, something that I prayed for every day I went to the Cal-Trans yard, and He really came through for me every time. The last day, He especially showed how He answers our prayers beyond, beyond what we can ask or think! (Ephesians 3:20)

The supervisor and the van driver went out of their way to make our day go well. I got to sit in front, and I got to read my Bible at length throughout the time we went from one assignment to the next. At one point, we ended up waiting for an entire hour before the California Highway Patrol showed up to clear one of the areas. Why? They had to arrest a transient at a previous location, and processing an arrest can take hours.

And at the end of the day, we got pizza! One of the volunteers chipped in the money. I wanted to pay him a little something, but this guy refused to accept any money from me. Oh well!

So, let me return to the Far Side cartoon that I had posted above previous blog posts:

The more that the devil has tried to make things work for evil, God has made them work for my good. No matter how oppressive my enemies wanted my arrest and conviction to seem, to shame my publicly, the more that I was freed from that shame and rejoiced in all the good that Jesus was doing for me, in the midst of what many would have called abject loss and failure.

The more that I meditated on what God was doing for me in this time, the 20 days of Cal-Trans, the more that I learned to trust Him, that He is indeed working behind the scenes. Not once did I feel abandoned by God, although in the first two or three days of my Cal-Trans work, I kept praying that God would somehow, some way get me out of it.

Now, I look back on those days, and I have absolutely no regrets. The fifth day of my Cal-Trans assignment, after I had recovered from my stroke and transient ischemic attack, I asked God a bold prayer, in faith trusting Him, "What are you doing, showing me in this time of my life?"

I opened up my Bible, since I had begun bringing my Bible and notebook with me every day, and that day I opened to this passage in Genesis 41:

"37And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants.

38And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? 39And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: 40Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou." (Genesis 41: 37-40)

It all started making sense to me.

I am going through a little suffering now, but this is going to yield royal, divine dividends down the line. It does not all make sense now, but I can trust that God is making this work for good. Many times I have prayed that God would use me for His greater purposes.

Well, guess what? By being wrongly charged, convicted, and sentenced, He was doing exactly that! We go through a little suffering, and we complain "Why God?" But it's not about us only. There are many people whose lives, whose salvation is at stake, which matter to God. It's not all about me and my comfort at all! Today, I know and believe that He is working things for my good.

In the past, I did not believe that. I believed that I had to strive and scheme to make things work for my good. I did not believe that Jesus, my heavenly Boaz, was working tirelessly for me, behind the scenes, to make all things work for my good. 

I am confident of this now!


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