A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go on a retreat with the Deaf church here. We went to a town a couple hours away to a get away near the mountains. I was really excited about getting away and be with Deaf people only for a few days. While it was really good to spend more time with the Deaf people I have been getting to know, it was actually a really hard trip for me. I am still learning language, and I can have conversations with people, but most of the time when they are all talking to one another I struggle to understand anything. It was really hard to strain to understand things, but still feel left out of the loop with what was going on. It has been so long since I have struggled to understand what Deaf people were saying that it has given me a new understanding for students learning ASL. Other than language the trip was also full of cultural learning. The people here are so different than in America. At a retreat in America everything is planned out, every minute is accounted for and a schedule is given out. While I'm sure there was some what of a schedule, the only thing that was consistent time wise was when we ate. Everything seemed to be very laxidazical. SO much free time! The other thing that was hard was the hours they kept. Another struggle was the hours they slept. Every night people were up until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning! I couldn't stay up that late so I was always going to bed early. Going to bed early, and not being very out going because of my struggle to communicate lead me to being very self conscious about what they must think of me. I really didn't want them to think I didn't like being there or think that I didn't want to be there, but it was so hard because I felt so out of place. Looking back I can see how much I was under spiritual attack because those feelings of inadequacy and insecurity lasted a couple of weeks before I gave them to the Lord. While the thoughts still come up from time to time, I am on the watch to speak truth into the lies of the enemy. Please pray for me as I continue my journey here...that I would not listen to the lies that come.
Going back to the retreat, it really was a good time of making connections with more Deaf people. I think it was a moment that changed my relationship with some of the ladies at the church, and it I have seen the fruit of it since coming back. I did have fun as well :-) We bowled, played games, ate together, learned from the Word together and just fellowshipped for almost a full four days! Here is a video of some of the pictures from the trip. It was a winter wonderland for sure!
Brittany and Maya's Return
After being gone in the states for a long two months Brittany and Maya finally came back the second weekend of February! Maya's trache tube has been successfully taken out, and she is now breathing normally, PTL!! It was a long time for Brittany to be gone with Maya and be "on" with her all the time, and we missed them so much, so we were all ready for them to come back here. While they were in the states Brittany decided that the best plan for Maya right now in school is to homeschool her. The school that the other kids go to is good, but the other kids are just so far above Maya and she doesn't handle the distractions of a classroom well. So, now instead of being an interpreter/tutor for her in school, my role has changed to being a teacher. This again is a struggle with my insecurity issues because I really don't know what I am doing with teaching a Deaf child. Brittany has also shared her insecurities about working with Maya with me, but we are moving forward with this education journey.
The nice thing is though that we are still going to the other school for some classes like Art and PE. So far it has been good for her to have some time around the other kids her age during the week. Everyday I am working with Maya one on one teaching Bible, English/reading, and ASL, while Brittany is doing calendar, math and writing with her. Some of what we work on overlap, but the reinforcement is good. In this journey I would ask that you would pray for patience for both Brittany and I on the days where Maya is being stubborn, and creativity in how we approach our time teaching. Also please pray for Maya...she has been testing boundaries in her new freedom being trache free. I think the adjustment of being back has been challenging and she is resistant to getting into a routine of learning. It is all still very new though since we have only been doing homeschool for two weeks.
When I came here I expected not to be busy at all, and in the beginning I wasn't really busy...however now that Maya is back I am VERY busy! I'm teaching a lot even though I have scaled back on a lot of what I was doing. Right now I spend 16 hours a week with Maya teaching her, I teach a kindergarten ASL lesson as well as a Jr HS/HS ASL class once a week, 5th and 6th grade Bible lessons Mon-Thursday, one to two weekly ASL lessons with the family, and interpret for Maya at school for Art and P.E. On top of that I am also going to Deaf church Friday nights and doing sign language lessons on Tuesday afternoon. Not only all of those classes I'm teaching but it has been a struggle to plan for all of those lessons. I think I am starting to get my new routine under control, but I am still praying about if I need to let any of these things go. I really want to spend more time with the local Deaf people, but struggling to find balance in everything I'm currently doing. Pray of me in that too.
Scott and Brittany have invited me to come back next year and continue working with them and Maya. While I have been thinking for it for the last few weeks, having a formal invitation hasn't cleared up what my plans for next year should be. Part of me wants to come back home to pursue working in sign language Bible translation, but the other part of me wants to continue working with the family and have more time to invest in the local Deaf community. It's hard because I feel like both things would be good to do, and right now I don't feel a particular leaning either way. Both seem to be equally heavy on my heart. I have been asked to give an answer by the end of next week so they can start looking for someone else to come if necessary. I need to make a decision soon, and finding that really challenging to do so. Please pray for me that the Father would make it clear to me what my decision should be.
Last but not least I would ask that you pray for my funds. I am low on funding right now, and I will have to be traveling out of the country soon for a new visa for the remainder of my time here. Pray that God would continue to provide. Thank you to all of you who have prayed and have given...I am continually humbled by you gifts and messages of encouragement! Thank you for joining me in this journey :-)