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A GOOD YEAR

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By Bhakti-lata Dasi

When farmers have a good harvest, they say it was a good year. That’s the feeling I have at the end of each and every year; “it was a good year.” For the prison ministry, it’s always a good year! The IPM harvest is always aplenty; this is confirmed by the inmates’ wonderful testimonials and the wonderful things that happen in their lives.

Yesterday I was sharing with two friends some anecdotes to illustrate why I love this service so much, what inspires me to keep going, despite the heavy load of responsibilities that come with being the director of this prison ministry. So many stories enliven me and keep my enthusiasm level way up, even after ten years plus.
Please allow me to share some anecdotes with you also.

 Inmate Gerald warns me to not send books to inmate Daniel anymore because Daniel doesn’t read the books; he is “selling” them to other inmates in exchange for cigarettes. [In prison cigarettes and stamps are called “prison bucks”; they are used to “buy” items from other inmates.] I write Gerald that I am delighted to hear that; Daniel is doing book distribution! If someone is willing to part with their precious cigarettes, it means they really want to read the book. Also, Daniel is finding people interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, people I wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise. Gerald’s understanding of Kṛṣṇa consciousness expands.

 Inmate Richard tells me that many inmates are wearing the Tulasi neck beads I sent to the prison chapel, even though they are not interested in practicing Kṛṣṇa consciousness; they just like how the neck beads look. Richard is wondering if he should forbid them to wear those neck beads. I explain to Richard that it is a wonderful thing to wear Tulasi neck beads and that anyone wearing them will benefit tremendously.

 One inmate tells me that he goes everywhere with the pocket Bhagavad-gita in his shirt pocket because when others approach him with questions he likes to answer directly from the Gita.

 Many bhaktas told me that guards and other inmates commented that they had changed; these bhaktas are no longer getting into fights, no longer responding with violence when provoked. That is the transformational results of chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa and reading Prabhupada’s books!

 Inmates tell me that they figured out things to cook in their cell; with items bought at the commissary and the very hot water available to them, they cook anything from Ramen noodles, to fudge, offer that to Kṛṣṇa, and engage in prasadam distribution in their cell block.

 Many bhaktas are greeted by other inmates with enthusiastic shouts of “Hare Kṛṣṇa!”

 Many Hare Kṛṣṇa programs are going on in the chapel libraries; sometimes newcomers pop up, by curiosity, and while there, they get swept away in a kirtan; singing and dancing with the bhaktas.

 An inmate in solitary confinement asks for books, saying that he needs them to keep his sanity. [in solitary one is alone 24 hours a day; 23 hours alone in a cell, with half hour to shower alone, and half hour to walk alone in the yard] After reading a few books, he writes back saying that he had a vison of Kṛṣṇa who asked him for his heart. He comes out of this vision, prostrate on the floor of his cell, tears running down his face. He is more interested than ever to read and learn about Kṛṣṇa.

 An inmate can’t find anyone to answer his questions about God. He is told to ask the “crazy guy”, the one who is always talking to himself. To his shock and surprise, this “crazy guy” answers all the questions he ever had in his life! The guy was not crazy or talking to himself; he happened to be a devotee chanting japa.

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IPM BOOK DISTRIBUTION SCORES FOR 2019!

Prabhupada’s Books, total: 5,063
Breakdown:
Booklets: 535
Small: 3,185
Medium: 626
Big: 140
Maha-Big: 577
Books by other devotee authors: 235

BTGs: 1,996

CDs: 207
MP3s: 1
DVDs: 29
Japa Mala sets: 37
Neck Beads: 21

GRAND TOTAL OF ALL BOOKS AND BTGs IN 2019: 7,294

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!!!

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NEEDED URGENTLY: A SPONSOR TO PRINT THE MONTHLY FREEDOM NEWSLETTER

Every month we print a newsletter specially for the inmates; the Freedom Newsletter. The inmates really look forward to receive it; for many, the only mail they receive is from IPM.

We now need a new sponsor to cover the cost of printing these 150 monthly newsletters.
The cost is $122 a month.

If you would like to be that sponsor, please contact Bhakti-latā at:
IskconPrisonMinistry@gmail.com
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NOTE:
This article is only a part of IPM NEWS, our bi-monthly electronic newsletter. To read whole issues, please go to: http://www.iskconprisonministry.org/
If you wish to receive it in your mailbox, simply email me at iskconprisonministry@gmail.com with "SUBSCRIBE" in the subject line.
More excerpts of inmate letters and also their artwork are available on our website at: www.iskconprisonministry.org
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WANT TO HELP?
3 Donation Options
1) Send check or postal money order to:
ISKCON Prison Ministry
PO Box 2676
Alachua, FL 32616
2) Donate through PayPal at: www.paypal.me/IPM
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.

ISKCON Prison Ministry
PO Box 2676
Alachua, FL 32616
IskconPrisonMinistry@gmail.com
www.IskconPrisonMinistry.org

Inspiring service

Thank you for sharing your enlivening service which might be compared, as could all sharing of our faith, to mining for the gems or gold, sifting through rock to find the most valuable commodities. Anything which helps us face great life reverses by putting us in a thoughtful state, through some type of restriction, whether it is the absence of freedom, or going through disease, old age, or facing imminent death, can create a favorable situation for spiritual inquiry. You are living the truth that "giving is the receiving," and though it is challenging, it is fulfilling also. I am still in Vrindavana trying to improve from cancer, and it is still in question. Hare Krishna.

Thank you!

Thank you Karnamrita prabhu, for your words of appreciation and encouragement. We are truly fortunate to have been given this inside knowledge of how the world works and how to get out of it! I pray for your full recovery and full Krsna consciousness. \0/
Your servant, Bhakti-lata Dasi