My 45th birthday birthday found me last week in federal prison. My sweet room mate Sonia surprised me and made tuna fish sushi rolls and a cake made with nutella. The women in prison have incredible ingenuity. It’s amazing that they accomplish so much with such limited resources. My entire substance here involves some form of tuna fish, granola bars, and nutella. Sonia knows me well and made the perfect meal for us. She also made a really nice birthday card, and wrapped up my favorite candy bars from commissary as a gift. I have been blessed with great room mates in prison. I love my room mate Alondra at Dublin, and Sonia is one of my favorite people at Waseca. I never hear her complain about anything. She is patient, and kind, and brings a spirit of love, and peace to our room. I think Sonia and I will always be friends! Chad sent me an email letting me know everyone that wished me happy birthday on Facebook. He said, “So many people are praying for you Portia, you are so loved! And please tell Sonia how grateful I am to her for being your angel at Waseca.” How I love that husband of mine! One of my co-workers gave me some thermal underwear for my birthday. She said, “If they don’t let you out soon I will throw you over the fence myself. I don’t think the cold weather will stop you from walking Portia, and I don’t want you getting sick so you better wear these.” I thanked her with a hug. She said, “I’m pretty sure you’ve walked yourself to Utah by now. It’s time for you to go honey; we love you here, but you need to get back to your family!”
I taught my first, “Explaining Your Conviction”, class at Waseca this week. I love teaching, It has become one of my greatest passions! I started the class by telling the women that I would be talking openly about my own conviction, and demonstrating to them why I believe words are so important. I said, “It is my hope that you will join me in recognizing our true value and potential as women, mothers, and leaders in our communities. I want to show you how important it is to use the right words, but understanding who you really are is the most important thing you can learn here today!” I told the women: “We have all been through some very difficult experiences, things that few can comprehend. I know that we can rise above our hardships because we are remarkable! We get up every day and keep going against unbeatable odds, there is great strength in us and we have much power to do good! If you are like me, you stood in a courtroom and had legal words thrown at you that you probably didn’t completely understand. Maybe you stood there with your loved ones wondering: Who are they talking about? I remember thinking: “Why are they saying those things about me, that’s not who I am? I’m a woman who loves her children, who loves her husband, and loves her community. I know I’ve made some mistakes but please consider everything when you are talking about something as serious as this!” A couple of the women on the front row had tears streaming down their cheeks as I shared my experience being sentenced. Afterword I asked for volunteers to come forward and roll play an interview with me; several of the women participated. It’s amazing when the women have these ah-ha moments; I can almost hear them saying: You mean I’m not a monster, I’m just a person that made a mistake? After the class an older woman came up to me and asked if she could talk to me privately. She said,” I know I need to talk about my conviction, but it’s really embarrassing for me. Would you be willing to help me?” The woman was very emotional! That conversation made me realize how important it is that we work through these issues. The class was a success; several of the women thanked me and asked if they could come back the next time I teach.
I heard my name called over the intercom this week and thought: “Oh no, here we go again!” Hearing my name over the intercom at Dublin was a constant occurrence. This time it was good news, I was told I would be able to meet with LDS visitors on Sunday and I can’t describe the emotion I had when the LDS couple walked into the prison. It has been almost 6 months since I’ve seen my family, or had any contact with a member of the Church. The couple walked in and I started to cry; I was just so grateful and overcome I couldn’t hold back the tears. We met for an hour and a half, and had a great visit. I was able to get a priesthood blessing, and the couple shared some powerful personal experiences with me that were very meaningful. It’s been almost 9 months since I filed a motion in Federal court outlining what I went though prior to my plea. I do my best to stay positive and keep going, but some of my days are hard. I get discouraged, and sometimes I just want to give up! I am so grateful that I was able to meet with members of the church today because it lifted my heart and gave me the strength to fight another day. Sunday is my hardest day in prison because I miss my family more because it’s our family day at home. I am so grateful for your prayers. I have felt your love and support over the last year and a half, and many times that has carried me through. I hope to get a resolution with my legal situation soon, of course I will keep you all posted as soon as I hear anything. Take care my sweet friends, you will hear from me again next week:)