Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Day of Gifts

Diane and I were a little worried about having enough help for the Berean day with Rhoda and Emily gone. On the walk we mentioned that to Joan and as a gift to us Joan brought down an amazing crew of helpers. Bill and Bethany were in town for the Meister Christmas and joined us along with Tim, Sarah, Hannah, Joan and Karin from out this way.
When we arrived at Meister's we had 2 children join in the fun, Crystal and Amanda both brought their children in to work and both were more than willing to help out.
Tim Martin called on Monday to give us the bad news that he was not going to be able to deliver the Bibles but the good news that they were all stuffed, wrapped and ready to go at the warehouse in Goodfield. Diane called Spark and he had his son Jacob pick them up. 
That was such a gift, then Eva Jean arrived with MORE gifts.  Sixteen HUNDRED jumbo papers clips! These had been donated to Berean by Angie. They were joined by the hundreds of clips Gail donated! I believe we now have enough paper clips to last us a few years! Diane R. donated more letter openers, while Eva Jean donated more pens. We thought it must be Christmas already.
We couldn't spend much time admiring our shiny clips, openers and pens, work awaited and work we did. Our volunteers started to arrive and Diane started to put everyone to work. In the picture below Tim has 2 helpers and they are getting the labels put on the Bibles. 

 People were piling in all ready for jobs! In the picture below Diane is taking a crew over to the conference room to start them on envelopes and studies while the sitters are already hard at work with letters.
 Lance, our copier repair man showed up. The copier is now running great.
 Lisa dropped off 2 of her boys and everyone worked hard until noon. We were able to finish almost everything by that time. The Bibles were loaded into Diane's van and off we drove to the post office.
 In the picture above Joan is keeping a big group busy and below the Bibles are getting moved from Diane's van up onto the loading dock at the post office.
 Once the van was emptied of boxes it could hold people. We drove to Denny's for a relaxing lunch. Such an amazing amount of work was accomplished by many many hands. A big thank you to everyone who donated time and supplies during this busy Christmas season.
We had a lot of nice letters come in, below was just a nice note written on the bottom of a Bible study.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

20,000 Instead of our usual 10,000

We had a good productive day working for Berean Prison Ministry. Ellen gave us enough stamps to get the 50 Bibles out from Tuesday when we ran out of stamps. Lisa dropped off Jarvis and Ezra to help Rachel prepare the studies,
Eva Jean worked on opening the lessons then processing them. Diane  kept the copier going and also read the letters, Rhoda finished stamping the Bibles, loading them in the van and then worked on anything we needed her to while I worked on the computer. Emily went home to Forest, IL. We were also able to get a box UPS'd to a Prison in Sherman Texas to a chaplain that wanted to see exactly what we were sending out. Philip had to come in and help with that, for some reason the UPS link on our computer won't print the first time we ask and then we end up with a double shipment and must void one so we don't get charged for both. By the time we were ready to leave we had caught up on a lot of the work we weren't able to finish on Tuesday.
I was going to pick up paper clips at Sam's but when we started shopping for food we forgot about the paper clips. I should have made a list.
Our business reply envelopes were running low, we were down to 2000 left so Wayne printing was called and this time I doubled our standing order of 10,000 to 20,000. Crazy how quickly we are running through them.

Running Low

We are AGAIN running low on paper clips. Eva Jean provided 1000 of the jumbo clips out of her own pocket and they haven't come back yet. We could easily use another 1000 if anyone else would like to donate any. Please consider giving this Christmas season. Maybe we are asking for too much when there is so much other need out in the world.
Today we will start at Meisters at 9:00 am and could really use help. We won't have any Bibles to get out we ran out of those Tuesday and the new ones won't be here until next Tuesday but we need help folding lessons. In the picture below we have a good crew busy folding them.
ANYONE can do this work. If you show up today then want to come in when you have a free hour this is something anyone can do without supervision. The joke was I told someone at church she should come down and volunteer for Berean, it doesn't take any brains. Was that an insult? She had a good laugh, started volunteering then told me later, "you were right, it really doesn't take any brains I can DO this job!"
If you have an abundance of brains come anyway. We are looking for someone willing to run the copier to reduce the noise on Tuesdays.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Food for the Belly?

Diane drove her van in, we were very thankful to have Rhoda and Emily come with us. We knew we were going to be overwhelmed today and we were right. Thankfully we had a lot of volunteers arrive to help lighten the load. It really is true that many hands make light work.
Below Kathy is busy writing a prisoner while Dave is reading the letters. Rhoda is working on the studies, Shirley and Eva Jean are opening the mail while Diane is working on one computer and Emily is working on the other entering the studies.
 We decided to train Emily on the program so when Diane and I are at Gulf Shores work won't come to a screeching halt.
 Shelby drove down with 2 of Lisa's boys. We are always glad for the strong arms and backs. Those boxes weigh 32 pounds each unless they are over filled and then they weigh about 50 pounds.

 Below Shelby, Wes and Terren are busy putting stamps and labels on the Bibles. Diane kept the copier going today and we almost got our boxes filled.
 In the picture below taken in the conference room, Diane is explaining to Jan the next job while Joyce is working on filling the next 4 lessons.
Below Rhoda is loading the studies to be mailed into Diane's van which is filled with 30 boxes of Bibles to take to the post office.
 Emily has the box of lessons that went to choir tonight and then will go to church tomorrow in hopes people will take them for grading.
We ran out of stamps again, we had over 300 requests come in and only 250 stamps. Ellen promised more stamps on Thursday so the rest of the Bibles will be sent out then.
David Obergfel opened the most entertaining letter of the day. This is what was on the letter exactly as written: Dear Berean Prison Ministry, I greet you in Jesus Name & I ask you to please send me the following items on the other side of this page by E-COMM.COM because I'm indigent & have nothing at this time Thanks & God Bless
1 Baby Powder 1 aloe vera cream 1 hot sauce 1 mountain dew soda 1 honey bun 40 envelopes 10 spicy vegetable soup 1 cinnamon cereal 1 powdered milk 1 bang chips 1 barbq chips 1 cheese puffs, 1 jalapeno chips 1 hot chocolate 1 ladys speed deodorant 1 primero se candy 1 pecan pie large 2 plantation coffee 10 garlic pickles 5 spams 2 chocolate chip cookies butterfinger cookies 5 duplex cookies 50 mint sticks 50 lemon sport drinks 50 orange sport drink 1 popcorn 1 graham crackers 10 hot peanut 1 sqeeze cheese 1 turkey swiss combo 1 sprite soda 1 snicker w/ almond 1 fireballs 2 hot fries 1 peach pie 1 chocolate cupcake 1 oatmeal cookie 2 more hot sauces 2 more chocolate cupcakes 4 cheese curls. 
Someone want to take care of all that for this prisoner? They didn't even ask for a Bible but after reading the list maybe we need to fill the stomach before feeding the soul.
We got a couple of nice letters, one prisoner wrote:  Dear Instructor, Thank you once again for you lesson.
I only brought one more home but it is too long to post and the day is already far spent.

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Few Letters

The letters below came in this week. There were well over 300 letters of which I just brought home a few for the blog. 
The letter below was too hard to read in a picture form so I copied it exactly as written: 
Dear Grader,

I feel this Bible study was suggested to me at one of the darkest times in my short life. While incarcerated I lost my wife and four sons to a drunk driver. I was ready to die.  I no longer had the will to live. No one should have to endure the passing of a child let alone a wife and four children. All my life I have gone to church tride to do the Christian good I was taught, but the taking of my family in the blink of an eye made me question why our God would let that happen.  When I ask him he still won’t answer and I don’t believe he will. I believe if any man or woman can see the love of Christ in me after so much heartache I can reach even the most lost soul and bring them back to the love of our Lord. I still have a son, and two daughters with my first wife when they ask why our God took their brothers it tears my heart apart. I can’t think of any reason for it. I know they are in the Lords presence. No more pain or suffering. I have a testimony that can touch the blackest heart. The lonely lost soul. I believe the best sermon is lived, not preached. I’m living proof.
In case you cannot read the letter above:
To the wonderful people at Berean, Thank you for all and every lesson.  I look forward to every lesson I receive because wither it refreshes what I already know, what I've forgotten, or something new to increase my knowledge. This is why I've been referring others to you so they will learn, blessed and have a closer walk with God.  Another reason for my letter is I have another person I'm referring to accept your lessons.  I will give you his information at the bottom of this letter.  I have completed the first fifty lessons.  I requested a Bible and have not received it as of yet. Would you checked to see if it was sent or maybe put to the side for a later date?  Thank you and may God bless each of you. Thank you for every prayer you pray for us and our loved ones. 
 The letter below is also printed out:
Dear: Berean Prison Ministry, It has in deed been a joy Sharing these Spiritual lesson with you. But my time has come to be released from the center Amen. 12-11-14 is the date so I thank God for the opportunity to be afreshed.  Now my Soul is "happy" if be possible please respond back before this out date Amen: From Bro.______________ May New Mercies of God keep Using us, keeping us, and pro-tecting us be our guide. Peace be with you all: 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Soon, Letters Coming Soon

I know I promised to post some of the letters today but we were swamped AGAIN. We were trying to get out the Bibles for the week and had over 320 request come in and that is just for this week. Unfortunately we didn't have that many of the Bible stamps, they cost $3.65 each and we only had 240 on hand.
 Thankfully Lisa dropped of a couple of her kids to help, Wes and Maddie. Spark came in to check on our work.
 Lisa came at noon to pick up Wes and Maddie and since we were not finished she agreed to stay and help get the Bibles ready for the mail.
 The rest will have to wait until Tuesday. Ellen was called and promised the stamps by then. We are bleeding red ink and don't know how to stop. Who decides how much a soul is worth?
I know I promised to post some of the letters but it is almost 10:30 and they need to be processed first. Tomorrow, I promise letters tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


After the walk today I headed in to Meisters to work on the Berean stuff we weren't able to finish yesterday. That was kind of discouraging. There is just so much work to do. We could sure use more volunteers. The first job was to stuff the envelopes with the new studies to go out.
 They were finally finished and above they are waiting to be sealed. Below I've finished sealing them with our special licker which had to be filled with water twice to be able to finish them all.
It is such a tedious job if anyone else would have shown up today this is one of the jobs they would have been doing. It takes no thought so the brain can be used for other things at the same time, like thinking, "how long is this going to take? What needs to be done at home? I wonder what the dogs are doing?" It actually is a good time to pray for each prisoner as their envelope with the next four studies are being sealed.
Sometimes we get surprises in with the studies from the prisoners. They send us their art work and we post it up on our walls. Below are a few of the hand drawn pictures from prisoners that came last week.

Fede showed up to pick up studies for the Lewistown jail where he and Ruth volunteer each week.
Next on my list to do was to start entering the Bible requests and this also took much longer than usual. By the time I finally finished and printed them off the line of labels stretched almost the length of the room. It was so impressive I had to get a couple pictures. These are all prisoners waiting for their Bible which will go out tomorrow.
 In the picture above I'm looking toward the computer from the back of the room and in the picture below it is looking toward the back of the room from the computer. What is amazing is these are just the requests that came in since Thursday.
We will be working tomorrow at Meisters. Lisa is going to bring some of her kids down to help with the processing and lifting. But there is just so much more that needs to be done. I was going to post some of the letters today but ran out of time. Check back tomorrow for those. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

No Time for Letters

Oh my did we have the mail this morning. The box was full to overflowing. Good thing we have a great Tuesday crew. Diane sat piles of mail on the tables and then watched as each volunteer arrives, sits down and without asking just starts opening the mail.

Dan came by today with Diesel his Great Dane puppy and had to take him out of the office pretty quickly. That boy has a lethal tail. Diesel was wagging his tail so fast it was hitting the copier and knocking things down. I'm wondering how big this boy is going to end up, he is still a puppy. For reference Dan is over 6 feet tall. 
Lisa didn't bring any kids down today so when Rhoda walked in we almost started cheering. We put her to work on stamping the return address on envelopes so we could finish processing the studies. 
By the time we were ready to break for lunch the office was a mess. The picture below shows a mail tub that WAS empty and now full of the discarded envelopes and finished stamp rolls. The picture below that shows the studies all processed and ready to take to church.

The letters were read but not processed and the studies were not stuffed or mailed. I'll have to go in tomorrow to try to catch up. Tomorrow I will post some of the very very interesting letters that came in today so check back in tomorrow if you like to read the letters. 
A BIG THANKYOU to all who donated letter openers. We appreciated having enough that each person working today had their own razor sharp letter opener and didn't have to share. I was asked today what our wish list is for this week and the answer is prayer. Berean needs the prayer support of God's children. In particular we need discernment on how to answer some of the letters and requests. If you are reading this blog, stop and ask God to bless our efforts of Berean Prison Ministry that in everything we do would be to Glorify HIM, Jesus our Savior our Creator.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Faith of Our Fathers

This was posted on the horse blog way back June 2012 but really belongs HERE. Read this just maybe this is why dad and Uncle Ed started the Berean Prison Ministry

Faith of Our Fathers

My grandfather, David Meister was thrown into prison for his faith. The Apostolic Christian faith believes all life is sacred, even the lives of our enemy and he would not agree to fight, carry a gun or shoot anyone. He was taken to the prison at Leavenworth Kansas. He was twice told he would be taken before the firing squad unless he agreed to carry a gun, and twice he stood in front of the firing squad, blindfolded, heard the guns cock, then heard the guns went off. He was amazed to find himself alive both times this happened. When they realized he would not give in and agree to fight, he was sentenced to life. Life in prison at that time was not easy, he was a young man and the sentence was hard labor for the rest of his life. He was marched to work at a dairy farm every morning early then marched back into the prison at night. His cell was filthy and every evening as he would lie on the cot and the lights went out bed bugs would drop like flies onto the bed and start biting. One of the things he confessed to us later was he that stole some soap powder from the dairy farm and tried to fill the cracks of his prison cell to stop the bed bugs. He always felt bad about that theft. His life was miserable but he told us it wasn’t as bad as what Jesus went through for him. When the war was over, they took him before the judge and told him his sentence was no longer life but he was now sentenced to 20 years of hard labor. He went back to Leavenworth euphoric, thinking someday he would actually be out of prison. It wasn’t long after that, the guards came and let him out. He was then considered a convicted felon and was never allowed to vote. Grandpa Meister grieved over this and for years some of his children and grand children tried to get the federal government to give him a full pardon but this never happened in his lifetime.
Tonight in church we sang Faith of our Fathers, every time we sing this song I remember Grandpa Meister and what he went through. Would we be willing to do the same? Is our faith as strong? How easy we have it today and how lightly sometimes we take our faith. As young children hearing his story when ever he would speak of the prison we would hear the word Leavenworth and cringe. Today we send Bibles and Bible studies to a prison to Leavenworth and each time I see the name on the address, my imagination comes alive, seeing my grandfather as a young man bravely standing for his faith in front of the firing squad.
All you Meister kids and grandkids, Remember what your great Grandfather did for his faith. Do NOT FORGET what a heritage you have. Will you treat your faith lightly, doing the least or will you walk the second mile? What kind of example will you be for YOUR CHILDREN and GRAND CHILDREN? Will you tell them about your ancestor or would you prefer NOT TO REMEMBER. Grandpa Meister was willing to die for his faith in his Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Christmas Wish

We had a very productive day at Berean. Eva Jean, Diane and I were the only workers until Lisa brought Jarvis and Cooper to help. Those boys were excellent help today. We had a light mail day only 36 request for Bible letters and about 50 returned studies. We also had a little over 50 new prisoners request to take the study. All of the requests were filled before lunch. We mailed out 197 Bibles this week. 
Diane wanted me to post about our Christmas wish list. We need more letter openers! Actually this is a pretty important need for us right now. 
The ones we were using were white, we don't care what brand we just need them! Diane bought a bunch of them a couple months ago but they disappear or break. We really use them hard with thousands of envelopes that need opening each month. 
Donations of any items can be mailed or dropped off at  Berean Prison Ministry % The Meister Companies  711 S. Kickapoo Creek Rd.  Peoria IL 61604

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Donation of TAPE

We had an extremely busy but productive day working for Berean Prison Ministry. We had a wonderful group of volunteers.
 We were given a wonderful donation of tape, lots of tape probably enough to get us by for a few months. Thank YOU Angie!
 Lisa's boys were kept busy stamping envelopes. We go through about a thousand a week and each one needs to have the return address stamped on the left hand corner. These boys were able to finish a couple boxes before they started on another job.
Rhoda was put to work preparing the Bibles for mailing.
 Diane went to TAG in the morning but then showed up here and worked while we went to lunch. When we arrived back she had most of the letters processed. Below are a few from today.

I'm not sure how many Bibles we got out today but her van was sure full. Mark helped load them.