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Ismael Mejia F45989


The Amend Project July 2021.

I can’t say that I’ve spent all my time in prison doing the right thing and holding myself accountable for my past or present.

I came to prison living a destructive lifestyle, not caring about anyone, and sadly I’ve hurt many people from prison including the many people I hurt during my life crime. Which I had never accepted responsibility for, as I have since done. But who I am today thinks differently and feels differently for how I act and the things I do. It saddens my heart to except how blind I was choosing to be. And to all the harm I caused, to every community that I lived in, out there and in here. My heart was to harden and selfish to open my eyes and see the truth.


Over these last years I’ve come to great awakenings that have helped me changed my stance on how I view life. One of these being that, what I believe is not stronger than the truth. For many years I believe that my gang lifestyle was the only lifestyle to live. Now here’s what’s more most important THE TRUTH. The truth is that gangs hurt people, and gang members are cowards; as I once was. Forgive me for the strong words, but for me, that’s the truth. I have accepted all these truths about myself and have been able to change my life because the truth is: it’s never too late.


I’ve committed myself to change myself, internally which is the most important change. That’s a change that matters. I let go of my old moniker and stand firmly on the name my parents gave me. I make my life meaning-full. I do all self-help programs available. I attend spiritual services and most importantly, I have impressed on my heart that being at service is important.


Since the pandemic of COVID-19, I started running a self-help group at dayroom. Since all self-help groups have been canceled in prison due to COVID-19 restrictions. About 12 or 13 men graduated after a few months of work. The group material, provided by Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative, (JRJ I) "foot prints". It was helpful to the men here, as it was to myself seeing how hard all the world was being hit by Covid-19. I also facilitated for PREP, gang awareness and recovery and parenting.


I’ve learned to help people in here as much as I can. I want all of them to get the freedom I’ve gotten from growing spiritually and be free from gangs,crime, and drugs.


I also write, which some of my writings have been published in books and go to juvenile halls to help younger kids (not to mention, adult prisons as well). During COVID-19 many men have been working out of these books that my stories are published in "JRJI-Breaking Down the Word-Behind the Walls" www.jrji.org


This hasn’t been easy at all to get to this point. I hurt a lot of people, and with them in my heart, I will work daily to better myself and to help others get to this point as well; the few that I do, could never make up for what I put many families through in the community, but I won’t ever give up. This hurt in my heart won’t ever let me give up.


I also like to write poems, they have been healing to me and have helped me share my inner self. Here are a few of them that I enjoy. I also picked up painting, and that has been helpful to me as well. My healing is important to me because without it I cannot make amends to all the people I hurt. Healing my past has been hard but with the expression of poems, it is helped. I also do it to encourage other men to open up their hearts. Which I know is hard because for many years they have worked on making their hearts hard like I did. But there’s freedom when you are able to share something which might seem so simple to the average person as accepting a “fear“ or emotional hurt like feeling unloved. For me it’s made me feel alive like a human, not like an animal as I once viewed myself.


I want people to know that I am not alone on this road, there are hundreds of men in prison working on their change from inside. And for myself, it won’t stop here or today, but I plan on working on myself “always“. A word from my spiritual learning out of the book of Ephesians 5:8 "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light"

Ephesians 4:22-24 "22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds;24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”


I hope that all could take a moment of silent prayer for all the survivors of crime out there. For which I am most recent Morse for for in my past. And for which I work daily to show my repentance for .


Siempre,

Ishmael



The painting of the heart is a donation to The Amends Project. It’s a spiritual view of how I see God transforming my heart of stone, to a heart of flesh

Ezekiel 36:26 "26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."



Poem


On the third

Long ago I began

to bleed.

Sometimes my blood,

sometimes yours.

Unkind I’ve felt and

lost of hope.


To push and fight

That just brought blood

Blood that I at first began

To bleed

Blood that formed of

shame and guilt

Blood that formed a wall

And said that I was not

Loved


Unclean, I thought I was

Unclean, they said I was

Why?, If I was the one

That was bled and fed

With lies

First time they said your unclean

the second time I said I was unclean

by the third unclean I lived and chose to feed on lies.


I heard one say that

a man once said "the truth

shall set you free“

my truth, my truth is sad

and lonely for what I’ve done

Your truth my son is that

You’re loved, you’re clean

and also you have been

seen by me“


look up and see His love,

the love is yours to take,

His truth is yours.

His truth is that His blood was shed to make you clean.


And on the third

you said you lived unclean

well on the third day

I rose that you would be clean!




Poem


I slept in fear

covered by hate…


You got off the cross

washed me with your blood,

wrote "saved" on my chest.


The breath of love is life,

you gave to me

that is why today

I know, that one day

I’ll rise to be with you in heaven…


Dedicated to Emmanuel, who conquered the grave to write love on my heart…

By: a son of God, Ismael Mejia



Poem


Hosanna


One day I’ll rise

And be with you in

Heaven…

Today I know…


Not long ago, yet long ago

You chose to die on the cross for me…


Why?

Yesterday I covered my face

With hate and wrote it on my chest.

I danced with lust and slept with anger

my table was deceit…

Fear I also wrote on others with my fist.


Hate, anger, and fear

I traded for love and embrace…


Hate, anger, and fear

They found comfort in me, and I in them.

No longer was a lonely.


Don’t be deceived

Hate, anger, and fear can’t be love…

Love does not delight in evil,

but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trust,

always helps, always perseveres…


Love never fails.


Then came the day when another wrote

hate, anger, and fear on their fist…


“Deceived“

I thought you where are my friend?

Today you turned on me,

chain down by fear

I could not rise…

I looked up and ask for help.


Ismael Mejia


Poem


The word became flesh

for me, for you

for all who believe…


Today I stand

in faith with hope,

a future and a promise.


Today I stand with love,

Because yes, my father is love,

and he has come to seek,

and to save what was lost.


Yes, He has known you and me

before we were in our mother's womb.


He will forgive our wickedness

And remember our sins no more…


Don’t be ashamed or deceive

For Jesus said:

it is not the healthy who need a doctor,

but the sick.


So today let’s pick up our cross

and stand with Christ in Hope…


By Ishmael Mejia


Poem


Truth


Someone once told me

That I could be forgiven

That a man named Jesus

Died on the cross to save me…

He said I was loved

Even though all I felt was hate…

He said God is love

And that love conquers all.

Love I do not know, but

Hate I do …

Share with me, teach me,

About this word love…

Why would this man,

Who knows me not, die for me?

What is special about me?

Rich I am not, nor nice to no one,

All I keep is for me…

Selfish poor and broken,

Why me?

He also said he knew me

before I was born…

He has a future for me,

Hope???

I must be blind,

look at me,

what good can come from me?

I know a man who

Thought like you…

This man was me…

Every question, doubt,

that was me…

I believed that there was

no love for me…

That God was, for you

For you and not for me

Broken, beyond repair

God could not love me…

Then someone said “God”

has purpose for you,

for who? For me?

He shared a word with Me,

Jesus, love…

In the beginning was

The word, and the Word was God.


POEM


Acceptance


They used to call me "danger"

Well, I thought that I was the master creator of danger

You see, danger was a young kid 12 or 13

When he said “I’ll be Danger”

You see, I’ll be what I most fear-and no one will know, that deep inside I’m scared and all I want is to scream “danger”.

Danger was a boy once in his life, all he wanted was love.

He wanted to be looked in the eye and told that “life will be OK“

Untold, unfelt

This boy ran

Danger created a mess

He called this life

He bled for this life

And looked for a disguise

Was it violence, drugs or maybe both?

This mess spoke and said “You're Danger”

And nothing will change “it’ll be your life“.

That's more than this boy thought he had in his life.

Danger was proud, loved, and once or twice was told "I love you dog“

close enough to love I once thought


Someone once called me Ismael

I looked past them, and said “who is that?”

Ishmael, he’s a boy I wants knew,

he’s buried deep in a mess long forgotten

Just like he always felt

It’s hard to say

and hard to feel

Why a boy would run to a name like "Danger" and build a life in violence and drugs

Was this, this boys intention

I don’t believe so

He only wanted what we all want

Love

Only now I see that hurting others is not the way to love nor will it be found in that way.

Today I’ve gone back and dug through the mess, and yes, I found that boy who had been hurt whose name I now except. They now call me Ismael. Ismael has found love-not in gangs- but by giving love, and by no way through pain



Poem


Now you see


Have you ever heard

Of Tunnel vision?

I’ve heard it said

But I’ve never seen it

But I’ve seen the light

And felt the tug

Silence as all around you

Goes silent, only the

Light is seen

The heart it pulls you

Forward, as if the only

Thing that’s driving you

Is your heart

Is that tunnel vision

or the altar call of

salvation?

I’ll call it spirit-vision

Where your soul takes over

And move you forward

To life

And then you’ll see

That behind you, you’ve

Left tunnel vision

Where now you see

Life

We’re now the light of your eyes is Jesus





Who was I when I came to prison?


I was 18 and believe that I was the superman of all gang members, color superman in darkness and only the good superman did for the world, I did the opposite. Like superman had a purpose to help others, I had a purpose but didn’t help anyone.


You see, I had in my head this imagination that was unrealistic to all the harm that I was causing. At a very young age I decided that I wanted to be a gang member. Why does a little boy want to be a gang member? This boy was filled with fears, needed love, I needed to feel some type of acceptance. Seeing a group of gang members from a distance filled this boy's imagination. I saw fearlessness, acceptance, and a really cool handshake; which to me was even more than I got at home. You see in that group I saw a family, I saw a bond that seemed unbreakable. See I told you it was unrealistic.

As time moved on, I saw my older brothers being accepted by this group that I used to see from a distance. I saw the change in my brothers and everything they did was real cool to me. Behind their back so I started copying how they walked, how they talked, and even how they dressed. I remember getting beat up by my brothers many times for taking their clothes to school. I now saw fearlessness in my brothers and in my heart I was tired of living in fear. You might ask why a boy lives in fear? Sadly my father fell into addiction and that comes with a long story of neglect and abandonment. If you don’t know, drugs destroy lives, they destroy homes. I lived in constant fear for my father, I fear that he would go to jail, I figured that one day he would never make it back home.


Unable to express these fears and worries to anyone I held it all in. So to me the greatest thing I could be was "fearless", but to be fearless meant I would have to stop caring, and to be honest, caring only brought hurt. As I moved on to junior high school, I made that decision in my heart. I put on a blue shirt as I saw my brothers did in the past and made the choice of what gang to hangout with. I was willing to participate to change all of me to fit in with this group. I started placing in my heart new desires feeling my unrealistic imagination with all types of new ways to see life. My goals became to be careless, fearless, aggressive, and one day kill. If I died in the process, then I would be remembered by my homies forever. But then again, I did think that I was like superman, he never died. See, again unrealistic, I told you.


So, I pushed on in life to be a gang member, I let go of things that I enjoyed as a kid like plants horses and my wish to one day work at a zoo. I picked up a blue rag, belt, blue shirt, and one day picked up a gun. Well I can say that a gun was placed in my hand. Oh, I remember that night. Remember the fear I told you I had, well there it was again. Could I really kill someone? Oh if I didn’t, I would be rejected. There it is the fear all over. One time I kept telling myself that I would pull the trigger when the time came. Until then, I would put my hands up boxer style and fight all rival gang members or anyone who got in my way. I had a new family and nothing was going to get in our way.

Drugs and alcohol, they became good comforters. They filled me with warmth, relaxation, that would all that all would be good and courage to do it all, do all that I needed to be there for my gang. With drugs and alcohol everything became a lot easier: fighting, stealing, not caring. So with this help, I ran and kept pushing in my gang lifestyle, with nothing to stop me. Not that I didn’t care, but what I care for which was my gang and how they filled my needs, became more important than someone else’s.


"Keep digging in darkness and before you know it you will be in darkness"



In 2006 I was arrested with my older brother for attempted murder of a human being I justified who I justified as a rival gang member. I reached my goal sadly so again who was I when I came to prison? I was lost stuck in an unrealistic mindset that had hurt other simply because they were different color. I was at that point a selfish And calloused person. Willingly lost in a gang lifestyle that hurt all people including myself. Who I was that could not see the harm I had caused to that man his family the community my family and myself.

Who I am today has accepted responsibility for all bad choices in my life that led up to that day and for the many more people that I harms while in prison who I accept responsibility with repentance of lifestyle. I have surrendered my heart and life to God Jesus Christ. I work daily to better my days and to live a decent life that no longer hurts others.

By Ismael Mejia # F45989 on May17, 2021





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