WE DID IT!!!!! We finally got the land for the church!!! It has been a long and often frustrating process, but it's ours! This is the most exciting, most important day of my time here so far. I almost can't even believe it. I have to admit, this whole process has gone on so long that it sometimes felt like some far-off dream. But we also knew that if this was the land that God wanted for His church, that He would be faithful and deliver in His perfect time. And that He did. Soon, we will start construction. We have raised enough money to get started, but we will now be looking for more donations as well as mission teams who want to come down and help with the construction. If either of those requests touch your heart, you can e-mail me at email@example.com for more information.
martes, 13 de julio de 2021
lunes, 8 de febrero de 2021
Happy New Year, everyone! Well, here we are on the other side of 2020, tentatively hopeful. It has been a long year that has been interesting, sad, blessed, different, difficult, wonderful, infuriating, and maybe if we keep adding all of the adjectives we can come up with, we'll be able to describe it. I will try to summarize the important topics and events to catch you all up since I've been so undisciplined about writing.
The pandemic experience was quite different here than it was in the U.S. for many reasons, but let's not get political right off the bat hahaha. Things here never got as bad as they could have. The government acted quickly and decisively. There were maybe 100 identified active cases in the country when the government shut everything down: borders, businesses, schools, government institutions. Pretty much everything. The total shut down lasted a couple of months, and since then things have slowly gotten back to "normal". There are still many restrictions in place, including mandatory masks and a nightly curfew nation wide. There was a two week period during the first peak when the hospitals here in the capital and in Santiago were completely full, and it has been a problem again since the holidays as cases and deaths have risen dramatically.
I have been crazy busy this past year. Thankfully, most of my work was able to be transitioned to virtual. I even decided to set up a little studio in my room with a ring light, a white background, and a green background. We continued working on the Bible translation project. This year, we completed our translation of Luke chapters 1-5. We did everything but the actual recording virtually, which was a challenge because sign languages are visual and spacial languages. We were only able to get so much done this year because the pandemic had us all working from home, which allowed us more time to focus on the translation process.
lunes, 13 de enero de 2020
My main focus in November was helping the National Association for the Deaf (ANSORDO) plan and hold the first Deaf Expo. It was a crazy few weeks trying to get everything organized. We ran into so many problems like sponsors dropping out, trouble finding people/companies to sell food, the venue dramatically changing the hours we could hold the event, etc. The day of the event arrived and, to be completely honest, I was not expecting very many people to come. Wow, was I wrong! The final ticket count showed that over 700 people attended the event! It was a huge success! Sure, there are a lot of bugs and things we can improve for next time, but we were all very happy with the end result. Many organizations that work with the Deaf community put up informational booths, Deaf people sold homemade products, and we had presentations by both Deaf and hearing (dances, songs, dramas, zumba, games, sharing of experiences, etc.). I was so busy that I totally forgot to take pictures, but someone sent me one of me talking to the community about the importance of standardizing and raising the bar for the interpreter training in the country.
The Biblical Society, which is the organization that is in charge of the Bible translation project that I am a part of, also set up a booth for two reasons. First, to let the community know who we are and what we're doing. Second, to show our translation videos and get feedback from the Deaf community. Do they understand the specific signs used? Does the syntax and grammar match their use and understanding of Dominican Sign Language? Are the classifiers and the use of space done clearly and correctly? Does it match up to what the Bible says? We got overwhelmingly positive feedback. The people who watched it were excited about the idea of having the Bible in a format that they can easily understand, in their own language.
|This picture does not show even half of the room|
lunes, 11 de noviembre de 2019
The Bible translation is going well. The team will be traveling to Ecuador at the end of this month for more training and to present our pilot project (5 passages from Luke). There will be 13 (I think) other Bible translation teams from different Latin American countries at the conference. We still have a lot of work to do before then and are really praying that we can get it all done! We are now working with the Bible consultant. She told us that we are doing an incredible job with our translations, especially for a brand new team. She has been helping us with historical, conceptual, and language components that we missed or did not represent correctly. We are now ready to do the final filming and editing process!
I had the honor of interpreting a personal finance workshop that was put on by one of the most popular banks here, BanReservas. ANSORDO (the national association for the Deaf) saw that BanReservas was going to be holding the workshop and got in touch with them. They agreed that it would be great if some members of the Deaf community could attend. We were expecting maybe 30 Deaf people, but 60-70 showed up! There were more Deaf than hearing people in the audience! If I interpreted it well (which is in question because the workshop lasted over two hours and I was the only interpreter hahaha) the Deaf participants were able to learn a lot. BanReservas is really making an effort to be more accessible. They are constructing ramps in numerous offices, holding sign language classes for their employees, putting braille on their signs, and more stuff that I can't remember now. The country really is making some incredible strides.
I also am part of the team that is organizing the first Deaf Expo, which will be Saturday, November 23rd. We are hoping that this will be a huge event bringing visibility to the Deaf community, their culture, and their language. It will be an all-day event with presentations, dances, songs, etc. from various Deaf schools and organizations that work with the Deaf community. People will be given the opportunity to sell different products that they make, there will be games and competitions, and it will just be a really fun day. There is still A LOT of planning and preparation to do and very little time to do it!
Following the formal agreement made between the Scouts and Infoiles (Institute for the Formation of Sign Language Interpreters), a small group of Deaf young adults were invited to participate in a Scout camp this past weekend. I was asked to go as their interpreter, along with another woman. None of us were really sure what to expect. One of the Deaf participants thought we were going to a fancy hotel. She was in for a shock! We spent four days sleeping on the floor in a school and doing tons of activities from 5:30am-12am every day. It was one of the most exhausting experiences of my life, but it was also a huge success. The group of Deaf men and women were able to participate with the Scouts without a language barrier. The Scouts really went out of their way to include the Deaf participants in everything. We planted trees, picked up trash, built a concrete structure to support a coral reef, gave presentations to the community, went to the 27 charcos (see the caption under the picture), participated in an afternoon of workshops and also held one of the workshops ourselves, had a bonfire, went to the beach, and much more. The hearing Scouts were so excited to have us there and so eager to learn how to communicate with the group of Deaf participants so that they could better include them in everything. It was a fun and heartwarming experience.
|You can't really see it, but there are A LOT of bags full of garbage that we picked up in the area.|
|Giving a workshop about the Deaf community, sign language, and inclusion.|
|This is Clan 7, the group that took us under their wing for the weekend, signing the number 7.|
I am very hopeful that this alliance will be a success and that more Deaf children, teenagers, and young adults can become Scouts. They teach so many important values, the importance of serving others, what to do in emergency situations, and much more. All of this is information that most of the Deaf community misses out on because there are so few people who can teach it to them in their language. Learning these lessons and incorporating the values could make a huge change in the Deaf community.
Obviously, church isn't all about attendance. However, the more people who attend, the more people who are reached. Due to the consistent attendance, we are seeing significant positive attitude and behavior changes in some of our members, and many have expressed to me that they would like to be baptized. How are we managing to get consistent attendance out of a group that is generally pretty unreliable? A while back, I started taking attendance during our church services in a little book. It was mostly just for our records. That way, we would know how many people attend each week and who they were, if someone has missed a lot of weeks and needs special attention, etc. It also helped us pick out who gets to go to camp. Some of our attendees began to question the book method, saying that it is too easy for me to make mistakes and no one would know. My solution? A big poster board stuck to the wall in the church so that everyone can see. This has been a significant motivator...When they show up to church, the first thing they do is count the number of "checks" they have and compare it to others! They then make sure I give them their check for the day. People I have never met before are showing up to church asking me to put their name on the list. We started adding hearts if they help out in the kitchen and stars if they help with general clean up. It has been rather hilarious and very effective. We are considering making a separate attendance list for Bible studies hahaha!
With Christmas right around the corner, the time has come to start fundraising for the party. As many of you know, most of our church members are very poor and cannot afford a proper Christmas dinner with their families. During our party, we prepare and serve a traditional Christmas meal to all who attend and we also give out large food baskets that help them prepare their own Christmas dinners and also include snacks and other such food goods. Toys are also purchased and given out to the children, who often do not receive any other gifts.
Last year, over 150 people showed up to the party. For many of them, this is the only time during the year that they learn about Christ. Some of them come back, some don't. Nonetheless, it is an opportunity that we cannot miss! If you would like to donate, you can click the yellow "DONATE" button on the right hand side of this page or here is the link https://www.paypal.com/donate/?token=DdlkOZe6JJ8g1o77HTUboUeZRjdrIOB9vsATspcL5Rg4W09_r4gWidBjIXWfeiXi9R_TVW&country.x=US&locale.x=US. We would really appreciate it! If you would like more information, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, we haven't had much luck raising funds or finding a bigger place to move the church. Everything in God's perfect timing! Keep praying!