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New Covenant Baptist Church

 

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Kent & Jo Hovind - Missionaries behind bars

 

October 2009

 

Dear Praying Friends,

 

Thank you for caring, for encouraging, for writing, for praying!  My life has changed in the past weeks moving from prison to the Halfway Correctional Institution.  I'm still in custody, but at least I am closer to home, and I can work.  I am also allowed weekend visits by immediately family only, and am able to go to church once a week.  I will also get weekend passes to go home over the next few weeks and possibly home confinement.  My "out date" is December 3, at which time I will be on probation for three years.

 

What is it like at the Halfway facility?  Everything is still very "controlled" as is in prison, but with some privileges.  One of the biggest things that they emphasize is to find a job.  I fully expected to work at our ministry when I arrived here, but I was told that I would not be allowed to work in the ministry while at the Halfway facility.  This was a great disappointment and surprise to me.  Then I was offered job with a computer specialist, but because the ministry was one of his accounts, I was denied working there by the facility administration also.  I was told that they really preferred me working somewhere where no one even knew my family!  That is pretty hard when you have been on the front page of the paper several times!  Add the negatives of being "senior citizen stage," of having some physical limitations due to an accident ten years ago,  our horribly depressed economy, and the fact that you are a convicted felon, and it really slims down your list of employment opportunities! 

 

My faithful heavenly Daddy, God Almighty, again came to my rescue, providing me a job at a coffee shop called The Drowsy Poet.  What a blessing!  Of the forty-one inmates at the Halfway Facility, only about eleven of us have jobs.  I can honestly tell you that it is not because the others are not looking for jobs.  Many do not have transportation, and must ride a bicycle to even look for work.  Then there are many restrictions put on your job opportunities and upon your employer by the facility making it all even more difficult.  Since God has not allowed me to work in the ministry nor teach piano at this stage of "prison," I am so grateful to be a part of a work that sees daily answers to prayer!!  Pray that God will bless my boss and his business for hiring me!  And while you are at it, stop by and buy a cup of the best coffee you've ever had!

 

There are three rooms at the facility: the men's sleeping quarters and the woman's sleeping quarters joined by a "common room" that serves as everything else.  A monitor's station is in the center of the common room, where monitors are stationed twenty-four hours a day.  You ask permission to go outside to the "smoke bench", or to the recreation yard---a little dirt/grass area with a basketball goal.  There at the monitor's station, you also ask for your meals, cleaning supplies, and sign out to go to work, to doctor's appointments, or to church which is permitted once a week.

 

In the common area, there are several school room type lunch tables with attached benches, four pay phones, a vending machine, a sink and microwave, one television and a three-person couch.  Meals are brought in as bagged meals, and a hot meal on five evenings each week.  The bagged lunches are pre-packaged sandwiches and foods, such as you would find at a Sam's Club.  Menu items are not necessarily big on nutrition like a raw spinach salad with strawberries, almonds, and cheese, but I am truly grateful, and ask that God bless it to my body.  I believe that he can take a pre-packaged biscuit and turn it into vitamins if He so chooses, and that is what I am asking Him to do!

 

We were all a little concerned to learn that I was the only woman with forty male inmates, many having served between ten and twenty years in prison---how my heart breaks for them!  But God continues watching over me in every way.  My first night at the facility, I noticed the trash can was almost overflowing and started to take the full liner out of the large can.  Almost immediately three men jumped to their feet to take the garbage and one said, "Maim , you don't have to take the garbage out here.  The men will do that for you."  I wanted to give him a great big hug!  I told him that just twenty-four hours before I had heard, "Hovind!  Get over here and take this trash out!"  What a 180 degree turn around.  It was so wonderful to be treated like a lady again!

 

Then one of the men came over and said, "Did you say that your name is Hovind?"  At this point, you just don't know whether to duck or pucker when someone says that to you!  I answered affirmatively.  The man almost began to cry!  He excitedly said "Wait right here!  I've got something to show you.  Oh, my family is just not going to believe that I met Mrs. Hovind!" 

 

He went to his room to retrieve a letter that he had received eleven years ago from    Dr. Hovind.  This man said that he had written to Dr. Hovind from prison, and that   Dr. Hovind had written him back and sent him nearly three-hundred dollars worth of material for free!  This man got saved, started Bible college via correspondence school from prison, and will graduate this year.  He already has a job lined up when he finishes his Halfway time at a local Baptist church in the area!  Praise be to God!  What a wonderful "halfway-home homecoming!"

 

Because life is still VERY CONTOLLED, so much work has fallen on the hands of my three girls!  They have brought me meals almost every opportunity that they have had to do so; purchased needed supplies for me such a aloe tissues due to severe allergies, and many other items, and have been a constant source of encouragement to me.  All I have been to them the past few weeks is another burden!  How I long for that to change!

 

Kent's appeal to The Supreme Court is to be voted on this Friday, October 30, as to whether they will hear the case.  It is being done Pro Se,  which is Kent filing everything himself.  The Court ordered the government to file a response several weeks ago.  This means that they are actually looking at the case!  It will be a miracle if our case is accepted.  We continue to pray, trusting NOT in any court, nor any work of man, but putting ALL our hope in God alone.

 

The ministry property situation continues to be a huge burden.  Eric had originally been told that he had to raise the remaining $380,000 to satisfy forfeiture, and that would clear all the property titles for the ministry.  Then, the two IRS Agents on the case came back and said that each property would have to be sold for a fair market appraisal price, a price that the appraiser they hired would come up with.  This is NOT what he was originally told at all.  My limited understanding of everything at this time gives an approximate value of all the property to be about 1.3 million.  There is no way that the ministry could come up with that much money.  If the ministry does not buy the property outright, it will be auctioned.  At that juncture, the ministry would have opportunity to bid on the property.

 

Knowing these new facts, Eric had to make the difficult decision to move the ministry.  They found a place in a small shopping center that also had warehouse space for shipping.  The square footage is far smaller than they had previously used.  The ministry board has cut back in staff a little more, and the remaining staff are working "in close quarters."  They remain eager to serve God and have several new exciting products and opportunities.  If you have not checked out the new small group curriculum, "Beginnings", you just "gotta see it!"

 

Great effort was put forth by a few volunteers, the staff and our family to actually MOVE the ministry which is about 70% complete.  We still have hopes of buying the key properties for the ministry back, but we do not know what amount the government will demand, nor if they go to auction what they would sell for, nor how God will lead and provide.  Many unknowns, but currently, we await the government appraiser's numbers.  The Board of Directors can not really make any decisions until those are in hand.

 

For me personally, yes, this includes the place I have called home for the past eighteen years.  As anyone who has ever visited me knows, the ministry was always a part of our home.  Over the next few weeks, we will be emptying out "the house" part of the ministry.  I only have Saturday on my home pass to work on this right now.  There is a much smaller house where we will probably be moving some of the household goods.  Some things will go to charity and some to the dump!  Some will go to storage.

 

Sorting is always difficult, but more especially, when there are so many unknowns.  It all belongs to God, and I have told Him repeatedly that if someone else can bring Him more glory with the property or other resources, that I want them to have it.  God has never failed me---always providing for me above what I deserve.  Still, all the uncertainties make planning and sorting difficult.

 

Does God want me to continue at the Coffee Shop after my required two months of employment there?  Does He want me to work some at the ministry again?  Does He want me to teach piano again?  Will He miraculously provide 29 Cummings for me a place to live?  What about the upkeep on where I live if it is no longer the home of the ministry?  Does God require me to give up the unique gift of living literally next door to my children and grandchildren?  Will God miraculously grant an early release for Kent, or must he remain in prison for another five and a half years?  The answers to these questions would make the heart breaking task of packing, a somewhat easier task.

 

I truly rejoice at the many miracles and answers to prayer that I continue to witness.  Yet, I can not tell you that I relish this particular segment of my faith journey. Moving is difficult for us "nesting women" no matter what the circumstances.  I am overwhelmed with trying to make decisions with so much uncertainty as to what God wants me to do.  Added to that, the fact that I can not physically do so much of the work of moving things, hanging draperies, moving boxes, taking things apart and putting them back together---and Kent is not here to do that for me right now!  Then, I am a "neat freak!"  To have had things organized efficiently for teaching, cooking, and working in the ministry all in close proximity, and now so disrupted, spread out and uncertain, is, well...overwhelming.

 

My current Bible Study is "Believing God."  It focuses on honestly looking at the two extreme positions on miracles today.  Some believe that miracles have ceased with the New Testament complete.  Others rely on miracles for a "performance and a show."  Neither of these extremes are Biblical.  This study encourages us as Bible-believing Christians, to embrace God's promises to work miracles on our behalf as He promised in His Word, believing that He can perform them when they are in accordance to His will.  It further calls to our attention, that we may be seeing little miracles because we believe little.  We know that when God answers no, He has a greater purpose than we understand from our limited perspective.  The way we receive more "yeses" to our requests to move mountains, is for us to truly have the mind of Christ!  Then we will ask more according to God's will in the first place.

 

I choose to believe God for a miracle to restore the property better than before and to release Kent from prison.  If God does not grant a "yes" to this miracle, it is because He has a "better yes" just ahead.  I can honestly tell you, that I trust God's judgment more than my own.  I leave the choice to Him.  Thank you for believing God with me!

 

Overwhelmed, but still believing God!

 

Jo


September 2009

 Dear Praying Friends,

 This will be my last letter from this address so if you write to me here, you will probably not get an answer from here. But yes! I still LOVE to get mail! At the end of this part of my prison journey, I feel Satan fighting like never before to make me lose my temper, or overstep my boundaries so that I will lose my testimony at the very end. I have observed this happening before here. Those who profess the name of Christ get close to going away, and then there is a big blow-up, and lost inmates see it. The lose respect for the “Christian inmate” and do what human nature tells them to do---lose any respect they were gaining for God! Pray that I will be faithful to the end of this chapter of my life.

 Shall I bore you with just one example of this type of activity? A very dear lady who is sixty-seven years old has been sent here for two years. Like myself, she is entirely innocent, a victim of the injustice system. She is a wonderful Christian woman. She has many health problems. After being here only two months she has a heart attack here. I have expressed repeatedly, the horrible medical care of Federal prisoners, a fate the entire country awaits when all health care becomes the role of government. But even this poor medical provision here has said that she must have bypass surgery.

 In the kitchen, there are hobs that are more “light duty” as well as more physically demanding ones. I try to make sure that his dear lady is not called upon to do heavier jobs, such as mopping. Unfortunately, I have been assigned to the dish room most of this month, and cannot be out in the dining room to work with her. I came out of the dish room with a load of glasses, and saw her mopping---very cardiovascular! I asked another girl who is only 22 and in excellent health, but extremely lazy if she would please mop for my friend since I had to work in the dish room. Her reply, “Blank, blank, blank no I won’t mop for that old blank blank.” It is times like this that I almost lost it!! Trust me! Daily you battle situations like this over and over!        

 I think all of you are aware of the fierce battle that has continued over the ministry property. (If not, please go to the web-site www.drdino.com/legal to read the updates.) As I walked the track earlier this week praying and looking at the beautiful moon God made, I truly felt led to pray according to Hebrews 4:19. It was the first time in this battle I have been SO moved to pray in that fashion. Alone on the track, I BOLDLY cried out to the Lord. I drew a lint in the dirt with my foot. I prayed, God, I am asking you to “draw the line” in this battle. In spite of whatever battles are being fought, or lessons are being taught, at this point, it is CLEAR that Satan is trying to annihilate the ministry. Therefore, I come BOLDLY before you tonight reminding you that it is not Kent and Jo Hovind’s name that is at stake. It’s YOURS, LORD. It’s YOUR cause for which we fight. Souls are at stake for all eternity!

 I am currently doing the Psalms of Ascent Bible Study by Beth Moore. I continue to be amaze at how God gives me exactly the right Bible Study for the very day I study it! Yesterday and today are no exception! The two-day study (September 9 and 10) has been on Psalm 124, at the end of which you write your own Psalm---a loose transliteration for the Psalm that you are studying as it applies to your current situation. I fully realize that the battle is not over, at least not here on earth, but I truly believe that the battle has already been won in Heaven. Here is my Psalm 124. Verse one is the title and instruction given by a worship leader, and the remainder of the Psalm is the entire group of worshippers.

 Psalm 124 Transliteration

 1A pilgrim song of the Hovind Family, the CSE Staff, and it supporters entitled, “If GOD Had Not Been for Us.” All together with great gratitude and praise, let’s shout it out!

 2If the Lord had not been on our side when men attack us, 3then greedy men, those who do not want Your work here to continue, and Satan Himself, our very real and bitter enemy, would have annihilated us in their burning anger. 4We would have been engulfed by the flood of rage and misunderstanding of both fellow Christians and the enemies of God; we would have been swept away by the torrent of the conflict; 5We would have drowned at the proud hands of those in high places coming against us. 6 Praise the LORD by whose sovereignty has not given us as prey to them to be ripped apart by their teeth. 7 We have escaped as a bird from the hunter’s net, because the net is torn---by God Almighty Himself---we are delivered! 8Yes! Our help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth! 

---This is the very message that we proclaim---that God created the Heavens and the earth! No wonder our bitter enemy hates us so much! Praise be to the Creator alone, who has spared us!

 God has taken care of us for so long. Yet I am so guilty of not really believing down in the very marrow of my bones that my God is entirely, wholeheartedly, and unwavering on my side. Yikes! I absolutely believe that GOD can, but it is applying, truly believing that God is for me, that I find so much more difficult! Warring for God will always be hazardous, but I want total confidence in my God to be my goal. I have heard it preached that we should not worry about whether God is on our side, but whether we are on God’s side. I think I understand that, however, for myself, I have been guilty of both. God has reconfirmed to me that He is my Heavenly Daddy and that He absolutely if for me! How comforting!

 If you are not already on the CSE e-mailing list for updates, please call the office and request to be added to the list. Thank you for fighting the battle with us on your knees and with your support! It is ALL for HIM!

 Praising God with you for the victory he is securing,

 Jo Hovind

Psalm 124

 P.S. After October 1st, you can mail correspondence to the ministry. They will be able to see that I get my mail from there.


8/7/2009

Dear Friends & Family:

Marlissa here again -- sending another portion of an update from Mom! :)  Also, for those who may not be on our ministry mailing list, I would encourage you  to visit www.drdino.com/legal to read more of the legal updates that are going on with the ministry property (as well as several homes including Mom's house) right now!
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My primary Bible Study right now is The Tabernacle by Beth Moore.  How ironic that I am studying about a time in the history of Israel when God commanded them to “CAMP” on the four sides of the Tabernacle, and God has ordered me to CAMP at Federal Prison Camp Marianna!  God’s timing is impeccable!  Bezalel is one of God’s handpicked laborers who performed a mighty task in the building of the Tabernacle.  His name means “in the shadow of the Almighty.”  Although Bezalel was given a great task, he was not on a power trip or demanding special attention.  He was truly happy to be in the shadow of the Almighty and he considered it a privilege just to work on God’s team.  But Bezalel’s job was out of his league!  God purposely asked him to perform a task beyond his ability, so that God could fill him with His power.  It seems that anything of priority for the Kingdom is out of our league.  That way we will be at the absolute mercy of God, and all glory will have to go to Him!

I wrote “YIKES!” in my Bible next to these verses.  I feel “out of my league” so many times, and so much in the current camp in which I find myself.  I don’t know what God has for me, but I am asking Him to SHOW ME His will one day at a time.  I am just a “blue-collar-worker” for God and I continue to ask God to hide me behind the cross to accomplish His work and purpose.

It is so humbling to have to admit how much I still need your support in every way – mentally, emotionally, financially and spiritually.  I would much rather be the person giving than the person receiving.  Thank you each and everyone for your generosity in all of these things for my husband, my family, my staff, and for me personally.  I have asked God to reward you an hundred fold.

For those of you who do not know me personally, I am definitely “a priss” and I hate camping!  My idea of vacation is a nice hotel instead!  I would never have chosen prison camp, but I pray that God will help me pass this test with an “A” for His glory, for my good, and for souls in the Kingdom.

Thanking God for my deliverance that is already on the way, and HIS merciful provision during this wilderness part of my journey,

“Camper” – Jo Hovind

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Thank you all once again for your prayers and support during this time!  Just 5 1/2 weeks until Mom will be heading to the Half Way house.  Continue to pray for God to prepare the way for that as well!

In His Service,
Marlissa

 

8/7/2009

Dear Family & Friends:

This part of my Mom's letter is regarding her Half Way house option:

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As of now, the BOP has ordered that I will report to a Half Way House in Pensacola on October 1st, and will be there for two months.  You are required to find employment and work during your time at the Half Way House.  This correctional facility houses inmates of all levels of crimes and custody who are returning to society – both men and women.  You pay 25% of your income to rent your bed at the Half Way House.  The actual days that you spend there, however, are determined by your probation officer and the officers at the Half Way House.  Sometimes, if you have found employment, are paying your Half Way House rent, and your other court fees and restitution are paid, the officers may determine that you may go home early.  However, you must still pay 25% of your income to the Half Way House for the amount of time that you are slated to go there. 
 

I am praying for my probation officer, whoever he or she may be, that God will touch their heart, and that I will be allowed to leave the Half Way House early.  I am also praying for the other individuals who will be at the Half Way House at the same time as I am, that God will protect me and allow me to have a divine appointment with someone there.  During this time there are still many rules, but you are allowed to get passes to go to church and even weekend passes to go home from Friday night to Sunday night after a certain period of time.

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Please be praying that God will have His perfect will in this situation.

Thank you again for praying!

~ Marlissa (For Mom)

 

8/3/2009

Hello again family and Friends:

Once again, this is Marlissa writing on behalf of my Mother, Jo Hovind.  I'm taking parts of my Mom's July Update letter to send to you...
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Dear Praying Friends,

I remain praising God for who He is while I wait for His deliverance, and asking Him to SHOW ME what He wants to teach me.  God’s message to me at this time remains the same: “Love these women – even the unlovable ones.” I guess I thought that God would give me some dynamic message or Scripture to share with everyone, but instead, He continues to say, “Jo, love them and pray.”

It is part of the procedure for release to become eligible for a furlough depending upon your charges and other factors such as outstanding cases, fines, etc…  I don’t know what all goes into the decision making process regarding who is eligible.  I have seen several who were told that they were eligible for furlough, but just before the date arrives, told that for some reason it had been denied.  Sometimes, the inmates are not even told why at the time.  Therefore, when I was told I would receive a seven-day furlough, I didn’t really count on it until I pulled out of the parking lot on June 26th to go home for a week.

The week at home was an unbelievable blessing!  My family, staff, and friends worked so hard to make sure that I had a wonderful week!  I am sure that my presence interrupted everyone’s schedules, but everyone just acted like it was not sacrifice and they just lavished love on me!  I can’t begin to thank each of you for all that you did for me!  Thank you!  My family and staff and a few friends were standing out in the heat on the driveway for my arrival.  I just cried and a precious man of God led in prayer giving all praise to God for providing the week at home of reprieve.  Enjoying the physical love from them, worshiping at my home church, delicious food, my bed, my pillows, my bathtub, real coffee, hearing Kent’s voice for the first time in six months – these are all treasures from my week home.

Coming back on July 2nd was HARD! Eric and my Mom took the journey back with me.  We enjoyed wonderful fellowship in the way, and I talked to Kent one last time just before driving back into the parking lot.  My first order was to sit on a chair and wait.  You do that a lot in prison.  Two hours later, it was time to go for a strip search.  After completely undressing, it was time for drug testing (even though the judge had ordered that I would not be subject to drug tests).  I don’t know why it is so hard to go to the bathroom in front of someone else, but it just is.  I had to remain naked until I could perform this natural body function, and while the results developed.  Finally, clothed again, it was time for the breath-o-lizer test.  I’m happy to report that I was both drug-free and sober!  But yes, definitely back in prison.

For those of you who have never experience child birth, it is never fun.  However, the second time around, you at least know more of what to expect.  This would be my analogy of January 19th (my first entrance into the Federal prison) and July 2nd (my return to prison from furlough).  Neither days were fun, but at least I knew what to expect on July 2nd.  I just can’t wait to “hold the baby” of deliverance, whenever God chooses for that to happen.

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Thank you for continuing to pray for Mom!  For everyone who thinks that federal prison is just a "all-expense-paid vacation" - I hope this shows you what it's really like.   I'll send another portion of her letter next week. 

One other disappointment... someone stole all of the food out of her personal locker while she was at a church service this weekend.  Please continue to pray for God's peace for her!

Love to you all,
Marlissa
 

7/23/2009

Dear Praying friends and Family:

I know that it's been a while since I sent out an update on Mom, and I'm sorry for that.  I just got another letter from her... so I will be sending out sections of it over the next week.  Thank you again for faithfully praying for her and writing to her.

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I guess the economy crunch is everywhere. Here, we were told that we will not get to do our own laundry soon, and that it will be turned in to a central laundry. You turn in your clothes tied up in a bag and they are washed and dried that way and if you are lucky, you at least get all your clothes back even though they are not clean, wet in the middle and wrinkled. The irony of this is that I am 100% confident that it will NOT save money for the BOP Budget, but will actually cost more! However, it is part of their "Go Green" project. We are told that as the washers and dryers break down, they will not be repaired or replaced. So pray that the washers and dryers will keep working miraculously!

Also we were told we would get smaller food portions. For me, this is not a problem, as I take a smaller portion anyway. But for some of the ladies and definitely for the men in prisons, this will truly affect them.

Also, no more paper towels in the bathrooms. As it was, we only got about three a day per person, but we were told that we would not have any more at all. This is a big problem, as it is what we use to "clean up after the last person in the toilet." I don't know what we will do now. I don't mind having wet hands and letting them air dry, but what will we use to clean up someone else's mess, or our own problems in the bathroom? We are given no cleaning supplies for ourselves. This is a sanitary issue.

So pray that the brown disposable towels for the bathrooms will continue to be supplied!

Thank you for praying for many health issues here, as well as the great spiritual needs.
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I will send out another section of the letter next week.  Thank you again for supporting her during this very difficult time.

With gratefulness,
Marlissa Dublin (Jo's Daughter)


5/19/2009

Hello again friends and family,

Once again, this is Marlissa sending on an update from my Mom.  This is from an e-mail that she sent me on May 8th.  So, she played for this banquet on May 7th.
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I played two selections last night for the Volunteers Appreciation Banquet. I had been told I would only do one, and did not have any time to practice. Of course, I played my old favorite "How Great Thou Art" and that went really well. Then I played "His Eye is On the Sparrow" which did not go as well. Having not hardly played for five years really takes its toll on your skills. Also, the pedal on the little Cassio keyboard kept sliding away from my foot, and I had to keep dragging it back with my other foot. Then, the keyboard was sitting on a table which made it really high, so I was sitting on two hymnals stacked on top of each other to be higher, which were also sliding backwards off each other! I felt like I was trying to stay balanced on a tightrope with one foot while I tried to concentrate and play!

I am not sure what happened, but only about half of the volunteers were able to attend the banquet. Those who were here last year for it, said that there were many more people last year. The Warden and the Assistant Warden were also present. The Warden had to leave before I played. I hope they were pleased with the program.

Several of the Christian volunteers came to me and said what a blessing the piano music had been. One lady in particular, who had been coming for twenty years and is in her eighties, fell last year and broke her hip, then was diagnosed with cancer, so she has not been able to come with her health, but she came top the banquet! Those who already know her really love her, and I guess she is given a copy of the those that attend what would be her Bible Study but someone else is doing it for her in her absence. She just hugged and hugged me and said that God told her to tell me to keep playing...that it is a gift from Him to use me in that way! That was a big blessing!
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Once again, I thank each of you who have taken time to write to her.  You just can NOT know how much it means to her to get encouraging letters or things that make her laugh! :)  Thank you all! 

Trusting God one day at a time,
Marlissa (For Jo)

Tue 5/5/2009 6:36 PM

Dear Praying Friends,

In order to answer some more of the mail, please accept a “generic response” but know that it is from my heart.  Thank you so much for writing and much more for praying!

I wish that I could tell you that I am “rejoicing to be chosen to suffer.”  But a more honest verbiage would be, “I’m trusting God to help me survive suffering.”  I realize that I do not have it nearly as bad as the Apostle Paul and many, many more who have suffered terrible persecution.  But it is still hard for me here.  Some things that happen are probably best left unpublished at this time.  But prison – any prison – is hard.

I wish that I could tell you that I’m leading many women to Christ, but Federal Prison hasn’t been like that for me.  I’m surrounded by bitter, angry women, many of whom have been abused.  They have built huge walls around their hearts in order to survive the horrors and heartaches of prison.  The entire prison system is so unjust and so unfair.  I’m with many young mothers, some of whom have not seen their children for over two years!

But God is able to open women’s hearts to Himself.  There were six ladies that trusted Christ this week in church services!  Praise God!  I don’t feel that I am doing very much here to help.  All I can do is suffer with these women and pray.  God has to do the rest.

A great battle in my Christian life is warring against a “spirit of fear.”  Here in prison, this has intensified many times over.  There are fellow inmates who want to get others in trouble.  I don’t understand this!  I guess jealousy, anger, frustration, fear, heartache – all trick them into believing that hurting someone else will somehow help them.  Unfortunately, it only compounds the problems.

Then there are some authorities who seem to delight in getting others in trouble. How sad.  I am thankful that I do not have a work atmosphere like that at home!  But here, that attitude permeates every link in the authoritative chain, and goes both directions up and down the ladder: Administration worrying about their superior officers; Officers worrying about administration; Inmates worrying about everyone higher up the ladder.  It all creates a spirit of fear.

I am reading and trying to memorize Scriptures on this topic.  I admit however, that memorizing has always been difficult for me, and right now, it is even harder to focus.  Therefore, I do what I can.  I can read.  I can pray.  I am asking God to miraculously protect us. A phrase from Kent’s “Knee-Mails” that he has been writing is when God says to Kent, “I’ve got your back” at the close of most of the knee-mails. This phrase has taken on a much greater meaning for me here.  Yes God, please protect us from the many evils that surround us.  Yes God, please give me victory over a spirit of fear that permeates so much of my life right now.

Encouraging letters do mean so much, especially with all the negative that surrounds us.  But I simply can’t answer all the mail.  I hope that this is not interpreted as lack of gratitude.  Please continue to go to the throne for us asking God for a miracle – to overturn the case, to protect the ministry that is still winning souls to Christ, to protect the staff and our family, and to release Kent and I.  In the meantime, we will continue trusting God, clinging to Him, and praising Him for who He is, while we ask Him for a miracle.

I am doing a Bible Study in Esther by Beth Moore “with” my girls, Marlissa, Tanya & Danielle.  Several truths have jumped out at me anew.

1.      God was working behind the scenes, even when Esther did not know what the outcomes of any of her steps of faith would be, and all she could do was just trust!

2.      God did give the Jews victory, but they had to fight for it – something I have not wanted to do.  I wanted a “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” with no fighting for me or Esther!

3.      In Esther 9:22, God gave the Jews REST from their enemies.  This give me HOPE!

Choosing to Trust God Alone,

Jo Hovind

Fri 4/24/2009 2:31 PM

Dear Praying Family & Friends:

For some of you, this is the first e-mail you will receive from me, as I have added quite a few names to this "updates" list.  If you are one of those, allow me to explain that this is Marlissa Dublin, Jo Hovind's daughter, writing to you from her account.  My sister-in-law and I have done our best to keep up with the e-mails that have come into this account since her incarceration on January 20th.  I have been sending out updates about her every week to two weeks, as there has been news to share.

This particular update is from Mom regarding playing the piano...

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Playing the Piano

When I first arrived in prison, I was blessed to get to play the piano for two weeks of church services, and help a few others with piano instruction just for fun.  Several inmates encouraged me to apply for a job teaching piano here, as all inmates are required to work and possibly this could be my job here at the prison.

I made an appointment with the officer in charge of that and had a meeting with him discussing my ideas and goal if I were to receive this opportunity of teaching. One of the curriculum books that I wanted to use had CD’s in the back of the book, and I had been told that the inmates are not allowed to receive CD’s. Therefore, the book with CD’s would have to be sent directly to the officer superior to the officer with which I was meeting. He said to come back on Sunday afternoon to meet with his superior officer.

I was so grateful for this opportunity that might come to pass.  I called home and asked that the curriculum book I was hoping to use for teaching be sent directly to the superior officer. I was hoping that he would get it right away in case that made a difference in determining if I could teach.  I thought the curriculum choice might be necessary for making the decision.

On Sunday, the superior officer was unable to come to our location, so I again met with the officer I had already met with just briefly. I asked a few more questions, and turned in a rough draft of an eight week curriculum with objectives for each week, and a pre and post test. I also told him that I had had the curriculum book with the CD’s sent directly to the superior officer. He said, “WHAT?! You can’t do that!” I reminded him that he said the book with the CD’s had to go directly to the officer.  He said that yes, it had to go to the officer, but that I could not order it. He had to order it because inmates are not allowed to send things to officers. He said that the package would either be returned to sender or thrown away. He also said to write down the publisher information and that he would order it, as that was the proper procedure. I was disappointed, but wrote home about the misunderstanding, hoping that I would soon have an appointment with the superior officer.

Two days later, I was called into the administration office as they read e-mails and listen to phone calls and they were concerned about my requesting that something be sent to an officer. I explained what had happened, the misunderstanding, and that the officer said the package would be taken care of, as it would either be returned or thrown away. The administration was very clear about the misunderstanding, and I assured them that I understood and that it would not happen again.

Two more days later, the curriculum book package was not thrown away or sent back to sender, but instead sent to the administrator’s attention.  The administrator did not realize that this was the same package that had been discussed, and thought that I had tried to send a second package!! I was called into the office and abruptly told that I could not play, teach, or touch a piano at the prison. I tried to explain that I did not and would not order a second package and that I was trying to do everything exactly as I was told to do it.  But there was no explaining. I was told that the matter would be investigated.

Yes, I was privileged to play the piano for church and teach a few piano lessons for fun for the first two weeks in prison. But due to a misunderstanding and a false accusation I was told that I could not play the piano at all, nor teach at all.

I don’t know if God wants me to learn something, or if God is protecting me from something, or if this is a fiery dart from Satan to hinder the church music here at the prison. I am waiting, listening, and praying about the matter. I know the potential power of music. It can  be used for good or for evil in a mighty way. Certainly Satan knows this as well. I have witnessed God using music to break down the toughest heart. God’s thoughts are higher than my thoughts, so I give this matter to Him to let Him do in my life what is best for me and what will bring Him the most glory. Please pray with me about this important area of music.

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Thank you all for your love an support of both my Mom and Dad! Mom told me that getting letters of encouragement are what keeps her going every day.  At first, she was getting many letters each day... but as typically happens the longer you are in the prison, the letters have dropped off.  I would encourage each of you to write even a brief letter to her!  She loves to get anything that will make her smile or laugh!  Something that will give her a break from the reality she is currently in and allow her a few moments to pretend that she is at home. :)

For those who don't have it... her address:
Jo D Hovind #06453-017
FCI Marianna, Satellite Camp
Cherokee A
PO Box 7006
Marianna, FL 32447

If this is your first e-mail, and you would like to receive some of the past e-mails we have sent out (since January)... please write me back and let me know.  I do try to keep up with all of the e-mails that come to this box, but please be patient if it takes me a few days to get back with you.

Trusting Christ alone each day,

Marlissa Dublin
(For Jo Hovind)
 

Wed 4/8/2009 1:49 PM

Dear Friends:

This is another segment of an update from my Mom...
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Medical Needs:
The medical needs in prison are both heart-breaking and frightening.  The administration is so limited in what they can do.  They have a set list of medicines they are allowed to use, and I assume only a set amount of them.  The list must be very limited.  The medical staff is very short-handed...probably budget restraints.  I can't even write about the suffering, but it would break your heart.  All I can do is beg God for health in our camp and other prisons in America.

On my first day here, when I learned that only one of the seven things I had been taking would be on the approval list of medications, it was disheartening (to say the least).  The staff did what they could to substitute pain medicines for me.  In praying with another Christian lady here, I had prayed that God would miraculously make them let me have the medications and natural products that I had been taking at home.  When the dear Christian lady prayed after me she prayed, "God I pray that you will NOT answer that prayer of Jo's. I pray that you will heal her instead!"  WOW!  What a lesson!  Yes, I am joining her in asking for that miracle!

Already Limited Budgets for Prisons:
Just to give you an idea about all the limited resources, I will try to describe the Food Service Budget.  The prison is given $2.69 per day / per prisoner to provide their three meals per day.  The amount of money must cover everything involved with food service including the food!  It must cover all kitchen equipment and repairs;the plastic trays, cups and plastic silverware that is washed for each meal; the napkins and cleaning products, and the administration staff for the Food Service area.

Our meals are not seasoned much except for onion, but I can honestly say, that I don't know how they can even provide three meals a day for that amount of money.  Breakfast is always dry cereal, a sweet roll of some kind, and sometimes a hot cereal like oatmeal.  On Saturday, they have grits and eggs of some kind.  There is always a fruit at this meal, for which I am VERY grateful.  I eat the fruit everyday, and so far, have not given in to the temptation to eat the sweet breads.  I know that my health is at stake, and that fruit is good for me and sugar is bad for me.  But it is very tempting to get the cinnamon bread!

Like I said, I am very grateful for the food!  For me personally, I have never been able to eat onion without burping.  Just about everything here is full of onion.  It is basically eat onion and burp or starve.  I am choosing to burp a lot these days!  We are SO spoiled in America in general when it comes to food, and me especially with such a good cook for a Mom!  The blandness of institutional food makes it sometimes difficult to eat, but I know better than to make that choice.  I don't know how much nutrition is in the institutional canned vegetables, but I am eating what is provided and truly, truly, truly asking God to "bless it to my body."  I am specifically praying that God would take what nutrients there are and let my body absorb them.  Like I said, health care in the prisons is heart breaking, so I am trying to make the best food choices I can - knowing that the Food Administration is giving us the best choices that their budgets allow.  There are carbs, carbs, carbs!!!  I am told we have chef salad once every six weeks.  That is the only salad, and it is only iceburg lettuce... but at least it is fiber!
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Well, from my last update that I sent you... you know that she also got to eat a small salad with Romaine lettuce in the visitation room.  And this past Saturday, Paul and I went to see her and they again had some salads!  She ate two salads with NO onion and real Ranch dressing!  Praise the LORD!  She said they tasted wonderful! They even had tomatos, green and yellow peppers, and carrots on them!

There are many other prayer requests still on the list... some of which I can't share right now.  Just continue to lift them up in prayer if you would.  Also, continue to pray that we will get the money needed to fund both Mom and Dad's accounts each month.  Right now, Paul and I are trying to cover the difference each month.  We need about $300.00 for each of them every 5 weeks or so.  They are both trying to be careful with their spending, but things are so expensive!

Thank you for faithfully praying and encouraging them!

Trusting God alone,

Marlissa


Dear Friends & Family,

Some of you have asked for more information about Mom's new job.  Well, I got this letter from her over the weekend:

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I work from 10:30 to 5:30. I was in the dish room, but have been moved to the dining room, as the younger women try to look out for the older women in the kitchen! (Much different than some jobs here.) When they found out I was 53, they immediately went to the supervisor and ask to have me moved to the dining room because it is less dangerous. They also didn't think I could handle the pots and pans. I would probably have to have help with the missing bowls. They are HUGE! I can fit inside one of them!  But I could probably have done the rest. There is a dish machine that all the trays, silverware and glasses go through. They are not washed by hand. Probably the greatest danger is falling. The floors are SOOOO slippery. That is the other reason the ladies wanted me to not have to be in the dish room.

There is a big rush for dish room and dining room when I first get there until about 11:30. Then there is not really anything to do but wait until 3:00 for the next line of people to eat! Then it is quiet again for count from 3:30 - 4:30. then you work as fast as you can to "get done!" But really you are going to work until about 5:30. But I guess it is a BIG deal to get done at 5:15, so everybody is working as fast as they can to get done early!

I wipe down tables three different times, on one of the two sides (about 15 tables, I think). We sweep the floor three times, and mop twice. We fill sort and fill the silverware (plastic ware,
) all those times, fill the napkin holders all those times. Clean "The Line" like in a cafeteria. Clean the steam table. Fill the ice machine. Keep the dirty glasses going on the racks back through the window to the kitchen. That is the jest of it.

The first day, I had nothing to do for over four hours in the middle. That was terrible! I thought the time would never go by. But today, they were short in the kitchen a little, so they had me help there for a couple hours. Just right! A little time to sit down and rest in between, but busy the rest of the day. You will love this...I peeled 150 hard boiled eggs, then grated them for potato salad.  My days off are Friday and Saturday.
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Well, that's a better description of what she is doing now.  I know we would all rather see her teaching piano... but God has not allowed that yet.  We can keep praying that they will allow her to at least play the piano again soon!  Also, pray that she is able to take the computer class they are offering from 1:00 - 3:00 each afternoon.  She would be allowed to leave her job (since that is the slow time anyway) and go take the class.  They would be teaching how to use spreadsheets and PowerPoint!  She loves to work on computers - so that would be exciting to her.

Thank you again for your continued prayers!  Mom says that all the encouragement from the prayers, e-mails I've printed for her and letters she receives are what keeps her going each day!

Choosing to trust in Him alone!

~ Marlissa
PS.  Today is the 3rd anniversary of my dear Paul David Jewell's graduation into Glory.  I know where he is and would never wish him back here to this place of so much pain and suffering... but I miss him more than I know how to express.
 

03/22/2009

Dear Friends,

I write you tonight with a thankful heart!  Many of you have been praying with me that Mom (Jo) would be moved to a new job assignment.  She has been working 3rd shift in the power plant for several weeks now.  The job assignment of reading the gauges that she absolutely can not read continues to be very frustrating for her, her co-workers, and her supervisors. So, our specific prayer request has been that she would be moved to a day-time job and NOT into landscaping (where lots of heavy lifting is required).

Well, I was able to speak with my Mom briefly this evening and am thrilled to share with you that she has officially been moved to a day-time job in the kitchen!  Praise the Lord!  Now she can actually sleep at night (hopefully)! :)

We must celebrate the little praises that God gives to us in this situation... it is the only way to stay positive!

Thank you so much for praying and rejoicing with us!  I'll try to get another update out soon!

Thankful for each of you,
Marlissa

03/24/2009

Dear Friends:

I just wanted to pass this short prayer request on from Mom...

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One of the pieces of legislation [there are three that can potentially help Dad and I] was introduced to the Senate today...the "good time" bill. It would give federal prisoners more good time days off their sentence like the state prisoners get. If I understand it correctly, it would change from making federal prisoners to serve a minimum of 85% down to 65%. Yes, let's continue to pray it passes. There are two more pieces of legislation being introduced next week. God can still work this miracle for us and many others that it would effect!

Continuing to pray for a miracle!
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As I find out more information on this legislation, I will try to keep you informed.

Thank you for praying!
~ Marlissa
 

 

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