The Beginning of a New Year for the Prison Ministry

0
Author: 
Bhakti-lata Dasi

Closing a year of ecstatic preaching and opening a new one is very exciting. More opportunities to serve the sweet lotus feet of Prabhupada and Krsna!
This year I am hoping for more volunteers to correspond with the many inmates reaching out for support and guidance. Below is some more nectar from the inmates as well as an overview of the activities of IPM in 2012.

New Inmate Letter Excerpts

How I came to Krsna
by Bhakta Ben
Allow me to share with you how I came to become a bhakta. I am sitting in a cell on the close custody level of the Fourth Avenue jail that is in Maricopa County, AZ. I am currently awaiting trial for a capital death penalty case. And in all honesty, I may very well spend the rest of my life on Death Row. But that does not hold the anxiety for me that it once did. Allow me to share with you what changed in my thinking.
To read the rest of Ben’s story, please go to: http://www.iskconprisonministry.us/node/392

I See Gradual Changes Inside Myself
by Bhakta Mark, Iowa Park, Texas
I can see gradual change inside myself. I respond to things with less anger (as evidenced by the last confrontation I had), and I feel less frustration over events that I obviously can’t control. I am learning to be still inside, and listen to the mantra that seems to be going on all the time in my head. I have repeated it so much that it seems to be going on without any effort on my part, as if it was a constant refrain running just on the other side of my conscious mind. As I stated before, this is a comfort and my only refuge at this time.
To read Mark’s whole letter, go to: http://www.iskconprisonministry.us/node/393

Honoring the memory of Mother Shyama Priya
by Bhakta Abner, Madras, Oregon
The prison has allowed us to donate to the “Relay For Life” program by the American Cancer Foundation in any one of the following ways: in honor of a cancer survivor, in memory of one who hasn’t survived it and in association with groups and/or care providers. A 4x5 inch placard or a 5 inch round circle placard is used and put up on the wall in the visiting room and includes the donor’s name and the person memorialized or honored. So, there’s a placard that reads: In memory of Mataji Shyama-Priya Devi Dasi and we just saw it tonight! It’s almost perfectly centered on the wall at about head height. I’m also going to donate $ 10 in association with the Gaudiya Vaisnava of New Raman Reti, who cared for Mataji Shyama Priya Devi Dasi, devotees of Sri Sri Radha Krsna, one and all.
Bhakta Abner, Madras, Oregon

____________________________________

There is some new artwork on the website, in all 5 categories; Srila Prabhupada, Lord Caitanya’s Pastimes, Krsna’s Pastimes, Incarnations, and Miscellaneous. Although not all of them are works of art, they are all works of devotion. Many inmates, although not having any artistic training or background, will spontaneously feel compelled to express their appreciation of Prabhupada and Krsna by drawing Them. Their heartfelt appreciation is why these drawings, even those not expertly accomplished materially, have great value and are worth seeing.

_______________________________________

IPM Volunteers: The Inside Story

The following two letters are from IPM volunteers.

A Sense of Contentement
by Bhakta Bruce Gatten
I have been serving the Prison Ministry for about 3 years and while this service can be overburdening at times, I find great joy in preaching to the bhakta inmates and I can always rely on the prisoners for lessons in devotion and humility. This brings me a sense of contentment which, despite all the burdens that this life entails, gives me a reason for joy and thankfulness to His Lordship Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
“Be Their Friend and Repeat the Words of Srila Prabhupada”
by Bhakta David Ehler
As a congregational member of the New Dwarka (Los Angeles) community, I wondered how I could help this noble cause. As I lived and worked outside the temple, I began collecting up books and sending financial donations to Shyama Priya. With great enthusiasm she would relate stories of how my contributions had helped bring Krishna Consciousness to the lives of countless individuals.
By 2008 I had met several other IPM devotees across the country like Hari Priya in Tucson, AZ and Bhakta Jerry in Chicago, IL. Chandrasekhara encouraged me to begin writing inmates myself. Although I was initially hesitant (due to lack of preaching experience), he asked me to simply “Be their friend, and repeat the words of Srila Prabhupada and Lord Sri Krishna”.
With these words, I became an active member of IPM. Over a year later, I have written to 119 different inmates in 29 states (9 states of which have no ISKCON temple and/ or rural farm community). By the mercy of Srila Prabhupada and Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, prison preaching has taken off in Los Angeles.
To read all of David’s article, please go to: http://iskconprisonministry.us/node/417

______________________________________

2012 Book Distribution Report

Below are the books and other material that were sent to inmates and prison libraries in the US, through the Alachua IPM office this year. These numbers don’t include the books distributed by volunteers and other devotees whose scores have not been compiled. If you are also sending books to inmates and would like them reported by IPM, please contact us.

2012:

Srila Prabhupada’s Books: 2,251

Books by Other Devotees: 583

(a total of 2,834 books)

BTGs: 1,911

BBT Calendars: 60

Audio Tapes: 40

Audio CDs: 152

DVDs: 26

Japa Beads: 48

Neck Beads: 31

_______________________________________

we need your help!

At the moment, we are very much looking for back issues of BTGs!

Most of us have many of those BTGs lying around the house, doing nothing. Why don’t you send them to the prison
ministry? We guarantee that the inmates will devour those like hot cakes! Not only that, but a single copy often gets passed around to dozens of inmates!

Here are a few other ways you can serve the prison ministry:
 become a transcendental pen-pal for one or more inmates
We always need more devotees to correspond with inmates. To be successful in this endeavor, you need to be motivated, to feel truly inspired by this service, and you need to like/love writing. Of course, you also need to practice Krsna consciousness yourself, so your words have potency.
 give a one-time or monthly donation (we provide tax-deductible receipts).
 donate new DVDs and music CDs (bhajans, kirtans).
 in the next few months we will need some extra japa and neck beads, along with bead bags and counter beads.

3 Donation Options

1) Send check or postal money order to:
ISKCON Prison Ministry
PO Box 2676
Alachua, FL 32616-2676
2) Donate through PayPal at: www.iskconprisonministry.org
3) For automatic, monthly donations, you can do so on our website (with the PayPal button), or through your bank “Automatic Bill Pay” option, which is free and easy.

We can send you a tax deductible receipt at the moment of the donation or at the end of the year, as you wish.

Questions? Inquiries? Please contact Mukunda Dasa or Bhakti-lata Dasi at:

ISKCON Prison Ministry
PO Box 2676, Alachua, FL 32616-2676
IskconPrisonMinistry@gmail.com
www.iskconprisonministry.org
352-575-0458