Quite the Character

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“Mowgli!” I blurted out suddenly, “She reminds me of Mowgli from the Jungle Book,” I said after we got in the van after meeting our newest deaf child. Kathryn replied, “I was thinking the same thing!” Her curls were disarranged in a pile over her head, while her silly smile was contagious. She walked with her chest out in great confidence, although not always gracefully.

After explaining who we were to the grandmother we invited “Mowgli” and her sister to the program. They quickly bathed in the pila in front of the house, brushed out every curl into a tight ponytail, and threw on a dress… backwards.

Sweet 8 year old *Annie has been reminding us of cartoon characters ever since!

I started talking to her sister who was just a couple years older on the way to that first program. She had many silly stories of messes they had gotten in to together, but one that stood out to me was of her sister’s great embarrassment in church each week. “During worship she copies what she sees everyone else doing,” she explained. Seeing I was confused why that was so embarrassing she continued, “she puts her hands in the air and scream at the top of her lungs while everyone else sings, and she won’t be quiet until everyone sits down.”

When we arrived at the program she began picking up trash, mostly old potato chip bags left in the soccer field. She would flatten them out, fold them up neatly, hike up her dress, and safely tuck her newly found potato chip bags on the side of her underwear, after all dresses don’t have pockets. Her sister embarrassingly chased after her telling her to put them back. When asked what she does with the bags, she said she collects them and makes things out of them!

Having never been in a setting like that before, needless to say she was a little restless if asked to sit still for more than a minute at a time. She would run to a small ledge near by, while slowly sticking one foot out over the ledge. Then, she would look back at us with her silly grin and step off the ledge falling off a cliff, just like Wile E Coyote.

A few months ago she appeared to have significant eye gunk, which we had noticed that she had in previous encounters as well. Kathryn asked her sister if that was normal for her, and her sister very seriously explained that it was because Angeli catches every frog she can find. Her purpose in catching these frogs is to kiss them, on the off-chance they happen to turn into a prince!

Yesterday her latest trash creation was a fairy wand made out of a stick and a plastic candy container. On the drive back to her house she practiced her princess wave out the window, with the cows serving as her loyal subjects.

I simply can’t stop smiling with this one!

Annie, little one, as you grow older and wiser I hope you remember a few things:

God loves your worship no matter how “silly” the world sees it.

There is always beauty to be found in what the world calls trash, keep looking for it, creating it.

Never stop being fearless of taking a big step into the unknown. God will bless your relentless trust in Him.

You truly are a princess and just keep holding out for your Prince Charming because God’s got a special one for you!

Christmas Wish Came True

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Wilson, like many boys, loves vehicles! “Bicycle”, “motorcycle”, and “car” were some of his first words to learn in sign language and he points all of them out on his ride to the program each month!

One year after we found him we gave him a toy dump-truck for his birthday. He was turning 8 years old and it was the first birthday present he had ever received! Needless to day he was ecstatic and had hours of fun moving the dirt in his yard from one side to the other in his new dump-truck.

While driving to take him back to his house after the Christmas program this year we passed a grader smoothing out the dirt roads. He excitedly signed “truck, truck, truck” as he craned his neck to get every last sight of the huge pice of machinery.

As we passed commented how fun it would be for him to get to sit on one! Then said, well…why not ask now! Orlan to pull the van over and hooped out to ask the man if he would take part in allowing Wilson a special Christmas wish. With a confused look on his face he obliged and we hoisted Wilson up to him. After a look of uncertainty left his face, a look of great joy covered his face as he admired the view he had from so high up and all the buttons and gears!

When he got down we asked him what he just got to do and with so much excitement he could hardly form the signs he said “drive drive drive!” and run off as fast as his little feet could cary him back to the van to tell everyone about his monster-truck sized adventure!

Austin Stone Awesomeness!

We are so encouraged by the many ways people from out sending church joined Signs of Love this year! From coming here to serve side by side with us, to using their time and talents right there in Austin, we loved seeing the Body of Christ through the Austin Stone reaching the Deaf!

Not to mention a new full-time team member, Kathryn!

Members of this church have been some of our longest prayer and financial supporters from the very beginning (you know who you are;))!

Thank you to each one of you!

Another way members of the Stone served us is by telling our story with the hopes that others would be inspired and challenged! Check it out below!

Come to the Table!

We hosted a women’s conference for the deaf women in our city!

Our theme verses were:

The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

and

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows. (Psalm 23:5)

Just a Moment

It takes just a moment…

It takes just a moment to change a life!

Oftentimes in my practical thinking I wonder why we sometimes travel to great lengths, investing time and money to go to remote places to see the deaf where we may never go again.

“Is a short time visiting this place really going to make a difference?” I ask myself, “How much can we really accomplish in just a few moments with that person? Should we be investing our time where it is more “practical” to follow up?”

And every time I think in this very carnal way, the Spirit reminds me, “It is so worth it! That one moment spent with that person could change their life!”

I have been reminded of this truth time and time again in Honduras. Whether it is spending six hours traveling to a village, to spend two hours with a handful of people, just once a month. “It is so worth it!”

Spending money to fly to a remote part of this country, getting in a dugout canoe for six hours and traveling around in the rain where we don’t even speak the language, and looking for deaf people only to get twenty minutes with them before moving on. “It is so worth it!”

Most recently I saw it play out in a rural village in Uganda. I was with Robin, Signs of Love’s founder, who had visited this village for the first time 3 years prior and hadn’t been back since. During her previous visit she did a survey of the deaf community where she met several deaf people and spent no more than a half an hour with them and their families. She was greatly anticipating revisiting these precious deaf for our visit. When we arrived at the first house, Malik’s mother come out the greet us. Through a translator she explained that they had told her we were coming this morning and they had sent someone to get him where we was working and he should be arriving soon. Right about that moment, we turned around to the sounds of boots running. It was Malik and he was running towards us in great excitement! He and Robin hugged like long lost family members with matching smiles plastered across their faces. Remember, Robin had only spent half an hour with this boy 3 years ago and it was clear that it changed his life! “It is so worth it!”

I am reminded of the hundreds of encounters that Jesus had in the Bible. Outside of his small group of followers, most people he only spent just a brief moment with, but it changed the course of their lives! The lepers, the Samaritan woman, the paralyzed man, the blind man, the woman caught in adultery, the thief on the cross, most of whom we don’t even know their names. Jesus knew their names, and through he spent just a moment with them, their lives were forever changed because of that one moment! That one encounter with Love.

I often times feel so much pressure to take advantage of the brief moments we are given with people! What do I bring to them that will really make in impact in that moment? How do I communicate all the hundreds of truths that I so desperately want to share in that brief moment when they don’t even know sign language? What can I do to show them I care, and more importantly Jesus cares!

I am reminded it is love that goes beyond the time limits.

It is love that goes beyond the communication barriers.

It is love that in just a moment can change a life!

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As we were leaving Malik’s mom gifted us each with a beautiful grass mat that she had handmade.

As you can see from the smiles on these faces, we are grateful for these two – Rob & Terri – long time supporters of Signs of Love who bless us with their visits, encouragement, wisdom, and LOVE. We’d love to share photos like this of all of you who support what we do. Come visit!14720432_10154300747088551_4571295354239148942_n