Tag Archives: relationships

IF Gathering 2016: A Deaf Gal’s Point of View

As of 48 hours ago, I was in the middle of a battle in my head.

“Should I go? Sure, they said there would be interpreters telecasted with the program. But really? I got a scholarship. Yeah. I should go. But… ”

That “But” kept me from making a decision.

At our Mom Group, earlier that day, which I always went without an interpreter, I was asked by one of the leaders, “Are you coming to ‘IF’?” I leaned my head the side in indecision. I loved the idea of being around a bunch of women connecting on some awesome Godly level, but being the only Deaf woman there had left me feeling a little lonesome lately. I had heard from another friend, in her own excitment, there would be interpreters telecasted. I had my doubts, to be sure, and I responded, giving my excuses, “No, I can’t afford it right now.” She shook her head and said not to worry about it. “But I really struggle with reading lips on a video screen. I had heard there would be interpreters on the video…” I left it hanging, feeling like I couldn’t continue. The sweet woman scratched her chin and responded, “Let me look into that, and I’ll get back to you on that. I’ll email you, okay?” I nodded.

Now, I was feeling a small inkling of hope, but every part of me fought that hope.

I am Deaf. I am a minority. I am outnumbered.

My husband told me to wait before making the ultimate decision about the conference. The man is blind and hard of hearing! He’s an even bigger minority and he tells me to hold my horses! Okay… So I waited.

I waited in my bed with my laptop in front of me. Just as I was ready to resign and say I wasn’t going, I get an email saying I should register so they can get the telecast for the interpreter.  Hope fluttered, and I took that step and registered.

Believe me, the next morning I was so nervous and anxious, and when I showed up at my church at 2 pm, with my laptop in my backpack thinking I might need it for my own screen with an interpreter to watch, I was taken back to see an interpreter on the screen with the telecast.

I should have been overjoyed. I should have been excited. Instead, all the anxiety and lonliness that I had been feeling for such a long time just overpowered me. Little did I know, later on I would realize it to be my water jar that I needed to leave at Jesus’ feet.

It wasn’t until a good friend waved to me in line for dinner with a big smile on her face that I felt happy to be there. I read her lips saying, “I’m so glad you came!!! I saw the interpreter and thought of you!” I smiled back and signed as I said, “Thanks! I loved seeing the interpeter!”

I would be lying to say that the whole night was all amazing and awesome.

My disappointment did return when I saw some parts of the telecast not have an interpreter. I caught some of what was being said, but I felt so left out. Some were laughing in the room, and I missed the joke. I wanted to cry. I had enough of being disappointed. I picked up my backpack and proceeded to leave, but another amazing woman stopped me. “Don’t leave!” I told her I was tired of missing out on everything and being the only deaf person there. She encouraged me by saying they would help me and then threw me a surprise, “You’re teaching us so much. Stay.”

It was a good thing I stayed. The interpreter came back on for me to catch the message about Lazarus and Jesus waiting two days before coming and rising his best friend from the dead. I had a laugh, and then the message of the water jar hit me to the core. It was all about the story of the Samaratian woman and Jesus at the well, and how she left her precious water jar at Jesus’ feet as she ran into the city to tell them about Him. She trusted him with such an important thing. As I watched and “listened” to the message, I realized my hunger for social relationships, especially with those who “speak” my language and understand my struggles, was my water jar. I wasn’t finding it through Facebook, as I had left it thinking that would fix it. The one thing I needed to do  was to trust Him to provide me this need.

It also dawned on me I live in both worlds for a reason.  I’m in this body of Christ… JUST the way I am. HE will put people in my way to support me, but I have to trust Him to do that… Be it they are hearing or deaf.

Now, with my headphones blaring Chris Tomlin in my ears, I am going to settle to sleep. I have another day of IF tomorrow… And I’m trusting Him to give me the message I need.

 

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The Power of a Name

“Hey! You! Stop pushing your friend. That’s not very nice!” I would say when I first started out in the toddler room where I now work. When trying to take on the role of authority in a classroom, and not knowing the kid’s name, I quickly found to be a daunting task.  It was even harder when I, being a subsitute support staff at the preschool/daycare where I work, would be in four to five classrooms in any given day. The teachers expect the support staff to take over the care of managing the classroom, and I felt overwhelmed as I tried to gain control and respect from the children in the classrooms. Not only that, but I started to feel my head ache at the idea of having to know all the kid’s names in almost the whole school, as well as the teacher’s names. Memorizing names to faces in such a short amount of time was not my strength, I thought.

Getting to know the teacher’s names was easier, as they were my peers and soon became my friends. It also helped that I saw them every day I came into work. Each classroom had an average of 12 kids each, except the infant rooms, and I found that when I was in a classroom long enough, names and faces beecame easier. Sadly, the ones I got to know better were the ones who needed attention and instruction in their behaviors in the classroom. The good and quiet kids, I got to know their names eventually. Having to repeat their names over and over helped me remember them,and it also built a healthy respectful relationship between myself and the children. They soon saw that I was an authority figure when I got to know them and worked alongside with their teachers.

One of the challenges of the names is pronouncing them right. With my hearing loss, it hasn’t been easy with some of the tricky names some of these kids have – especially the foreign names! I learned that the name “Johann” is pronounced without an “N” sound at the end.  It’s more like “Jo- HA”. The unfortunate thing is that sometimes when kids say it, it is hard to figure out the phonetics just by lip-reading! It took me about five minutes with the kids, and finally an adult came in and saved me, explaining how it sounds using the phonetic break up of the word. The kids had quite a lesson on how sometimes a hearing loss, even with hearing aids, can be a struggle. There are even some names that, with my understanding of Spanish sounds, I think it’s supposed to be said one way, especially the double “L”, and only to find out that it isn’t pronounced that way, even though the name LOOKS Spanish.

I’ve been there since May, on and off, though more steadily since September, and I’ve found that it is getting easier to remember names and faces together. There are still a few moments when I get confused between two very similiar looking kids and their names. Fortunately, I haven’t encountered the challenge of identical twins or triplets yet. With knowing their names, I’ve developed several wonderful relationships with kids I see almost every day. I also don’t feel overwhelmed at the idea of adding more names and faces to my already growing list of them in my head. I do know that I may have days when I need to be patient with myself in getting to know kids names in a classroom, especially when its a whole new group. I will also have patience with the kids as well. They have to get to know me, and it’s then when they understand my role in their lives, they are able to respect me as their leader and teacher.