This is part two of a three-part article detailing one young woman’s bewildering confinement in a “prayer room” at the Indianapolis Training Center. Part one can be read here
The Indianapolis Training Center (ITC) was gearing up for Thanksgiving and none of us in the training programs were allowed to leave. It was only a four-day weekend, after all. But this policy was causing serious morale issues. Especially since it wasn’t applied universally: the cosmetology instructor was one of those who was allowed to leave to share the holiday with her family out of state.
Even though I knew she wasn’t looking over my shoulder, I still stuck to the plan as much as I could. Everyone was required to help with extra cleaning and decorating, so I did. Apart from that, I studied every minute I could and didn’t leave my room. On “Black Friday,” a bus arrived to take us all to Wal-Mart, something that happened very rarely! I was in need of some things from the store and, since everyone in the entire building climbed on that bus, it never occurred to me that it was not “mandatory.” That was my first mistake.
Later that weekend, my roommate propped our door open and was chatting with friends, so I sat down a few feet from the door with my books and studied and chatted with friends until curfew. Mistake number two.
When my instructor got back, it took her a few days to confer with the spies she had enlisted to watch me and get a full report. Even my poor roommate, who had become one of my dearest friends, was interrogated. In the middle of the week, I was called into the office again. And this is where the story gets really weird!
I need to interject here that my parents really didn’t know much about this. During that week’s phone call, I had mentioned to my parents that I was confined to my room so I could get my homework done. They encouraged me to submit to my leaders there and learn from the situation. I felt like a child who was in time out. It was humiliating — but it was nothing compared to what was about to happen!
Just after lunch, I was called into the office. I sat down expecting to be asked to show the instructor the homework I had gotten done. I wasn’t completely caught up, but I had made a significant dent in the task. But that wasn’t what she wanted to say.
Line by line, she read the report she had compiled on my disobedient and rebellious behavior. I sat there open-mouthed. I couldn’t believe it! I wasn’t even given a chance to respond to the accusations against me. I was told to go to my room, take my pillow out of the case, put one change of clothes, toothbrush, toothpaste, my Bible, notebook, and pen into the pillowcase and wait in my room. I was told that I would be taken from there to the Prayer Room, where I would be confined indefinitely. But first, I must make a formal apology to my class. I was handed a 3×5 card containing specific instructions on what I was to say to them, point by point.
I was sobbing by the time the instructor finished. I was told to get myself together as quickly as possible and come to the classroom where the class would be assembled for my apology. I was mortified! I tried to swallow the sobs and headed down the hall in a fog. I stepped onto the stage and choked out the apology on the card, desperately trying to make it sound heartfelt. The class stared at me in horror. None of them had any idea what was going on or why.
Then I went to my room and waited. Within a few minutes, my instructor arrived with someone else from leadership and they walked me to the girls’ Prayer Room on the ninth floor. They took my watch from me and barked out a few crisp instructions. It seemed like they were trying to sound like prison guards. It was working! I felt like a criminal!
The room had a single bed, a round table, an arm chair and a long, low dresser along one wall. That was it. There was no pillow on the bed. I had been instructed to take mine out of the pillowcase I was holding, so I guessed that they must want me to sleep fitfully. It was all so strange!
About an hour later, my instructor arrived at my door again. Her arms were loaded down with books. Not my cosmetology books or homework assignments. No, all of these books were IBLP publications — Character Sketches, Basic and Advanced Seminar textbooks — I don’t even remember them all anymore.
On top of this enormous stack of books were a few pages of assignments. My instructor informed me that I was to complete every assignment before bedtime. And that I would be given more each day. She told me that it was not really possible to do everything on that list in one day but that I had to do so in order to be released at some point.
Silently, I took the stack from her and got to work.
(Click here for Part 3)