Friday, April 30, 2010

Her Name Is Juana

It all started with the man who came to the mission house a few days ago, and “knew of some poor deaf people for us to help” …well, I knew there would be a twist in it somewhere.  This man is a Deaf beggar, running all over town begging for the “deaf association” that doesn’t exist. Anything at all he can do to tie himself to us will be used to further his cause and his band of opportunists. The problem is he had what we wanted, information on unreached deaf.

We ended up going into the village with him, receiving his information in bits and pieces as we went. When we approached our dirt road destination, our first house appeared at the end of a footpath. A lady, of middle age with two children and a yard that was well kept, greeted us. She gave us a tour as we interacted with her sons, and then she pointed us to the next deaf person just up the road.  As we opened the gate, the elderly father of the deaf girl in her early twenties greeted us.  As I sat on the porch with him, I watched my wife, along with Orland and Amanda relate with our new friend. We came to find out that she is married and well taken care of by her husband who was working in the fields. Her father let us know that her husband makes her carry a “heavy load” and is hard on her. We said goodbye and reminded her we would see her again soon. The next person, a young man riding his bike approaching his house at the same moment that we arrived, greeted us in his yard just inside the gate. We were both friendly and quickly understood that he simply wasn’t interested in our services. We said goodbye and headed to the next house. One at a time, the “beggar” played his next piece of information, all the while keeping us wondering if the next house would be the last one. The team arrived at the gate a few minutes ahead of me, and as I approached I saw the look on my wife, Robin’s, face. I have seen this before…”this is the one”…with a glance my way. I then spend the next 15 minutes talking with the neighbor who comes out and has lived in California. The English-speaking starved soul tells me about all of his rentals back in the states and how great it is to be here. I agree. As we get back in the truck, Robin begins to tell me all that I missed while distracted by the chatty guy who lived in the states. “She is the one!”…”She’s the real reason we came here today,” Robin said with glee!

Her name is Juana. As I drive the dirt road out, Robin explains. Juana’s aunt poured out her heart to my wife. “I know she has thoughts and feelings, she just has now way of getting them out of her head,” explained the aunt, “She isn’t able to communicate with anyone and she has no friends.” The entire time Juana’s aunt talked with Robin, she was elated to see Amanda “talk” with Juana. Amanda drew her out gently as she began to grasp at what level she would “gesturally” use her hands to “chat” with Juana.
Robin tells the aunt about Deaf Camp and that we want Juana to come, and that we will be back and begin to instruct her in language. The aunt is elated and grateful. “If only she had someone to talk to,” she begins to get emotional, “she could learn.”  Robin then chimed in, “Do you see Amanda?…she works for Signs of Love…that man next to her is Orland…they are married and he works for Signs of Love also…they will be teaching Juana…not long ago Amanda was just like Juana…look at her now…”  Juana’s aunt stares at the conversation between her niece and her new friends…she is somewhat bewildered as she thanks everyone as we leave.

…love can be heard by all.

“Lord when you show yourself big in small ways…what are you saying?”


History In The Making | 10 Year Celebration

 Anniversaries and birthdays are such wonderful times.  It causes us to pause in our busy lives and look back at cherished memories while inspiring us to dream about the future.  Signs of Love 10 year anniversary celebration was a beautiful example of both.  Sitting in the room watching the slide show chronicling the past 10 years and glancing around the room at the glowing faces of the mostly Deaf audience was an experience that defies description.  How many thousands of hours and buckets of sweat did it take to find these precious Deaf souls and give them a language and a sense of community and love?  Each smiling face represented a Herculean effort and caused me to consider once again that in God’s economy, one life, no matter how small and insignificant in the world’s eyes, is a priceless treasure. And while relishing the past is a beautiful thing, clearly Signs of Love is dreaming about the future.  Spending a few days with Robin and Jeff leaves no doubt that their passion to reach and empower even more Deaf around the world has not diminished in the least.  The twinkle I saw in Robin’s eyes back in 2001 when I first met her has intensified and is echoed in Jeff’s.  Signs of Love will continue to implement their phenomenally effective outreach and training programs for rural Deaf in ways that we cannot imagine.  There is no doubt that when Honduras begins writing their Deaf History books some day, Signs of Love will be there.  The only question remaining is will you be a part of this history-making organization? 

I hope the answer is a resounding YES!