July 20, 2008
Jessica is the hearing sister of one of our Deaf Church members. Sometimes on Sunday evenings she joins a youth group at a nearby hearing church. Last Sunday they decided to “take church” to a family they thought needed some encouragement. So eighteen of them crowded into two cars and headed about 40 minutes south. They sang and prayed and had a Bible lesson there on the uneven dirt floor, under a leaky thatch roof, in the pouring rain, while chickens and two goats mingled with them in the candle and lantern light.
Jessie noticed that one of the women was using some body language to talk to a young girl. She asked about the child and found out that she was deaf.
When Jessie came to my house this morning for our regular math tutoring session she told me about the “new” deaf girl she had met Sunday night. I wanted to meet this little girl. So Jessie and I got in the car and made the trek back down the Belize-Corozal Rd. It was still raining and the ground was more flooded than the night before. So we took our shoes off and walked through the mud to the house. Jennifer was excited to see visitors who came to see HER. She’s 11 and bright with a big smile and eyes that squint when she doesn’t understand something. She had gone to school in El Salvador when the family lived there, so she knew some sign language but was puzzled that the language we were using with her was different. I tried to get her to show me the signs she used for some common household items like:
table, chair, Mom, baby, oven, scissors, hammock, dog, cat, chicken, corn. She knew a sign for some of the words, but for most of them she put several signs together to form a gesture. We stayed and talked for a while and eventually Jennifer warmed up. Her mom and grandma talked about wanting Jennifer to join my class at St. Peter’s. It would be wonderful if they could work it out.
I’m eager to see what will happen next. Like Sulmi, Evelin, Luis and Alejandro, who came to my class knowing only a few signs, it will be fun to see Jennifer transition from trying to remember signs and filling in the blanks with gestures and drama to becoming a confident non-stop chatterbox. I look forward to seeing her light up during her first few days in the class when she sees she is surrounded by peers that she may not yet understand but nonetheless immediately feels a bond with them just because they are deaf.
It’s interesting that Jessie happened to go to youth group the night that they happened to “take church” to this family. God is working out his kingdom. He leads people to other people who will tell still other people in the hope that the “lost” will be found. Godly coincidences.