Following are sentiments from Alissa Matiya, an educator of the Deaf from Florida. She has served several short-term mission trips with Signs of Love, and this summer she served some intensive weeks with us. Her words are filled with truth and love. Enjoy...
Four years ago I came to Honduras and I left crushed in heartache with little hope for change. I have come every year since always leaving with mixed emotions. However, this most recent trip has been radically different. While Honduras and the lives of those I love are riddled with death and injustice, there is so much joy and hope and love.
Firstly, you must meet Eduin. He is a young man who has been in the arms of Signs of Love for years. His smile consumes his face and if you catch a glance of it, you'll be smiling with him. His laugh you can hear a mile away and you wonder what is bringing him so much joy. If you happen to look as he walks to his bike or to get water, you’ll catch him dancing. Aside from the simple joy he will bring to anyone's life, he is humble, committed, and hardworking. You can find him any day at the office to work even though he's not a paid worker. He will happily serve by checking a laundry basket of markers, moving wood, or joining a drama. When asked if he wants to help in more of a leadership role, he will always put it back on you. What do you think? Should I? I'm willing. Eduin is the person who after years of serving in Honduras you will miss and remember most vividly. Eduin gives joy like an endless well and dreams of working for Signs of love someday. This brings such hope knowing he deeply loves the deaf and God in every capacity.
Another young and committed servant is Byron from Santa Barbara, Honduras. I met him as a teacher at a school that has 40 special needs children including 10 deaf. Byron learned the LESHO dictionary in one week. He used every moment to study and communicate with the deaf leaders. He was eager to jump in to any drama or serving role. He sees a gap in language and is willing to step into that gap by learning the language himself only to teach it and give it away. He is the first Honduran to tell me he worked with the deaf simply for the love of the children. He wasn’t working to make ends meet or to simply survive in a life of poverty. He has not been paid in the two years serving at the school and trusts in God’s provision. After spending 2 days with him I woke up in the morning to write. I had an image of a match lit on fire and started writing a letter of encouragement. Words I believe God wanted him to hear. Doubting many of the lines written, throughout the week God affirmed each and every word written. Well the match image was perfect considering he spent years in the mines and had heard a sermon about letting your light burn in a dark place. The response to the letter was one that had tears and a commitment to serve God. Byron and his family have met with the mayor of their city and are in the process of getting supported by the government. They are asking for land, a building, transportation, teachers, and teacher pay. By the grace of God, the mayor is in favor and in awe of the work they have been doing over the last two years.
One last shining light that brings more hope that I can express is the work that Signs of Love does. In the past I've seen one or two villages but now I have been to every village they serve. I have met the children. I have seen the process of egg hunting for deaf children in a new village and how it looks when a parent sees hope for their child or when a child sees a deaf person like them for the very first time. After seeing the villages, I have an inurnment amount of hope and joy that the deaf are being loved all over Honduras. I am encouraged that God is relentlessly pursing his children. I have seen the staff live the bible and teach the bible. They are serving as pastors and teachers of a church service, they are drivers to remote villages searching for deaf children, and they are educating and leading those in La Ceiba to become leaders. You cannot be anything but in awe of the amount of work they do. Work hours of 9-5 do not exist in their world. As you can image, that amount of work could not be done without people who will lay down their life for the Kingdom. The servants of Signs of Love are incredible. There is a culture within the Signs of Love staff I haven’t seen anywhere else. One cannot match their joy or ability to share. When someone does laundry, they are all up out of their chairs helping hang clothes on the line or taking it down before it rains. If one person is in the kitchen, they all are because they will help with dishes while one cooks or will help prepare food for whoever is cooking. There is not an ounce of selfishness or pride. I am humbled at their ability to endlessly share life.
Now I am in Washington DC serving the ASL discipleship training with Youth With a Mission. They are discipling and raising up leaders among the Deaf community to send them out. As I take a step back I see God reaching out and harvesting the souls of the Deaf. DOOR ministry is translating the Bible into sign languages all over the world, Signs of Love is serving Honduras, YWAM is raising leaders…and I am left with hope. I know this work will take generations to see restoration but I am no longer heartbroken believing that the Deaf are forgotten. They are not forgotten; they are seen, pursued, and loved.
I praise Jesus saying: His love is deep, His love is wide And it covers us His love is fierce, His love is strong It's furious His love is sweet, His love is wild And it's waking hearts to life!