Today we finished our Christmas program in the village of Sonaguera and I was reminded more than ever how very much our presence means to the deaf!
We pulled up to Angeli’s house, a 13 year old girl, who has been part of our programs for just 6 months. At the first program she attended, her dad called 3 times to see if she was crying yet. After the 3rd call he finally explained that it is the first time she has gone anywhere with other children without crying from being teased about her deafness. So it was ironic when the first thing her mother told me this December day was that she had been crying the last hour because she thought we weren’t coming for her that day. You see we had left about 30 minutes late that morning! To Angeli, her time with Signs of Love was more than just a “get-together”, it was the first time in her life to be accepted by others her age or anyone outside her family for that matter.
Melkin, who has been part of SofL for years now, jumps up and down and fist pumps as she is handed a white piece of paper with black scribbles on it (the calendar that reminds the families when we will be back the following month). She attended school when she was younger, but like so many other deaf in the education system here, she was brushed aside, sat in the back and ignored until “graduation day” when she was handed a diploma with a name she was unable to read on it. Melkin now knows her name, and although she can’t read the calendar that is given to her every month it means the most important thing to her, the people from Signs of Love will be back again, to put her front and center in their attention, to be loved on and believed in!
Norbin, who has a very short attention span and little language, was brought to us by another deaf young lady that has been part of SofL since she was small. She knew the difference it made in her life the first time she was given language, the ability to communicate her basic needs and wants, her thoughts and dreams and she wanted Norbin to have this opportunity as well! After we prayed over the deaf in attendance today, we hugged each of them as we pilled in the car to take them home. Norbin insistently tapped me, pointed to his calendar, pointed to me, and then pointed to where we were standing and anxiously waited for a response. He wanted to know if we were coming back in the future. I nodded my head and a huge smile came across his face. He quickly found Nancy (a deaf missionary from here), insistently tapped her until he had her full attention for his important question. He pointed to her and to the spot they were standing. She nodded and he giddily skipped away to find Orlan. You can guess what he had to ask Orlan (another deaf Honduran)! He climbed in the van bouncing up and down, hardly able to contain his excitement that we would come back and that we would go to his house and that we would “listen” to all that he wanted to talk about. To Norbin, it was more than just a “get-together”, it was a time of being seen and of realizing dreams.
For so many of the deaf, their time with Signs of Love is the only time they are fully loved for who they are. It’s the only time that someone believes that they have skills and abilities. It’s the only time they are listened to. It’s the only time they have with other children like themselves. It’s the only time they get to see Jesus!