Texas, March 2017

First day in Texas again. Still the same state and city, but different because I am travelling with Karen. We rent a car and we try to get used to the very complicated screen of the GPS and the differences in driving over here. Smaller lights and traffic signs, overwhelming amount of advertising boards. We bump with our front wheel over a stone ledge (O jee) and circle until we find the beautiful house we are staying in, in one of the suburbs. Shopping in a big mall where people and buildings look like we are in poor Africa. We enter a Chinese restaurant over there and turn around immediately because of the penetrating smell of sewer. And we decide to eat burger and fries in a depressing fast-food-joint. This is America to, land of the great!
And Karin and me talk a lot. Basically about life and also the central theme in our work and visiting Texas: recovery! When I hit the sac I am awake for 36 hours………..

A wonderful seafood-Gumbo, a nice walk and a motor-bike-ride on a warm sunny day in March. The girl at Starbucks smiles when she hears my name and says:”my dads name is Frank”. I put my creditcard in the wrong opening of the parking meter: gone! We wait for more then an hour on the terrace of a Mexican hamburger-joint and then the owner of the parking parking-lot arrives, opens the meter and gives my card back. “This happens all the time: the instructions on the machine are not clear at all”. “So I am not that stupid after all”, I ask. “Not at all sir!” And do you you know how real love sounds? Going to a relationship-course just after your marriage because you do not want to do wrong, a lips-reading-course because your lady is almost deaf and a dancing-class. I am talking about my friend David Collingsworth and his bride Dee Dee! Saturday Weddingday
And today was a wonderful day.

Today I visited Death-row again. It was great to see Tee again. It is incredible to experience how smart, strong-minded and spiritual this man is. A real inspiring friend. We talked a lot about perpetrators, victims, prosecutors and helpers: A brother of Tee was killed by violence and his sister and her daughter shot to death in their houses. Tee performed beautiful poems and the four hours seem to disappear in two minutes.
This trip is a logistic challenge. I have at least two appointments a day, until the day we leave, and the distance between the locations is huge. We have to get up very early to make it possible to get to the wedding in time tomorrow and to be able to get to the airport on Monday. Karen drives to the prisons and Uber will cover the rest of the visits.
The light in my bedroom is broke so I sit in the dark. My creditcard did not work in the restaurant this afternoon. I will experience if that had something to do with their machine or that RABO-bank blocked it for security-reasons on this friday- night!
Now I am going to call Uber to bring me to the Prison Show. Really looking forward to co-host the show tonight!!!! 🙂

Sunday-morning. Early.

Every visit to Texas is totally different. Not only because I am half a year older then the last time, but also because I do different things with different people. Travelling with Karin is a special experience. We share a whole house together and have close and intense contact. She is in the middle of an intensive proces of exploring “unknown territory” . For her it is literally a matter of life and death in which she decided several years ago to bravely choose for “life”. The most impressing part for me is the way she deals with the theme of “love” in relationships with perpetrators and victims. In her personal life and history, her work. I can hardly think of a more controversial subject and I only know a few people who were heavily victimised in the past and openly explore and share this. My first reflection was: “How can a victim talk about love for her/his perpetrator, even when its a member of the family or especially when it is a family-member?”. Let me say this: Karin’s brave queeste inspires me and helps me to explore this very relevant dimension in the process of recovery and return for everybody involved.

And how great was it to attend the wedding of former incarcerated and recovered friend David with the love of his life Dee Dee. I cannot agree more with the minister who said: “this is a story of redemption”.
And my visit to my dear friend Nanon Mckewn Williams was inspiring and full of positive energy again. So many things to share, so much going on in both our lives. He has an irreversible life-sentence but I have a serious hope he will be released soon. I choose not to share all the things we shared. Nanon creates an amazing balance in a complex and literary dangerous situation. I do not want to disturb this unless I think it will help him.
We will leave for Ramsey again in an hour or so: looking forward to talk for 4 hours with my friend and also having a Vietnamese dinner with my wonderful friend Gloria Rubac tonight!

Monday-afternoon, airport George W. Bush

It was a wonderful 4.5 hours special visit yesterday with Nanon and I had a wonderful Vietnamese dinner with Gloria.

This morning at 5.30 we left for Death-row where I met my friend Tee. Lets put it this way: it was heartwarming and inspiring to meet people that I learned to love. We made a lot of plans about a lot of things which I will not share over here. It is all about passing positive energy through and trying to contribute to make things a bit better for everybody involved in the proces of Recovery and Return.
I found out that the things I write on the social media are read by people of the Texas prison department, including wardens, survivors and family of victims of the friends I meet. The contacts with all those people are positive until now and promising. But it is a delicate proces and there are a lot of opposite interests and views: I want to connect, not to separate. Respect people and not give them trouble.

And I will be back soon: there is a lot going on over here and a lot to contribute for me. I also learned a few things. In the first place: it was a fantastic opportunity to travel with Karin and be the live-spectator of her journey towards recovery. And I sometimes played my own role in it, together with others like Erick, T., Nanon, Ron and Isa. A transparant and very emotional proces.
And I learned that the next time I need to make my schedule less busy and prepare and organise things differently. For example: logistics and transport. In the end everything worked out fine, but I noticed that I am not 35 years old anymore and some of the aspects costed a lot of energy. I’ll spare you the details……