So, here's a cool story. One of those "God things". Back in October (I think it was), our mother church told us that a group of American missionaries was going to speak at their church one evening that week, the Deaf church was invited, and that they were going to give out water filters to those who attended. These water filters would allow the users to filter tap water, rain water, river water, or anywhere-they-can-find-it water into clean, drinkable water. One 5 gallon water jug costs about $1.40, so it can get very expensive to keep drinking water in the house, especially for larger families. The filters would be a huge financial relief for this impoverished community.
We passed along the information about the service, took a group of 36, I was able to interpret from English to sign instead of Spanish to sign for once (sooooo much easier on my brain!!!), and it was great! Except...there had been a miscommunication somewhere along the chain. The organization giving out the water filters wasn't ready to hand them out yet. So, we explained this to our group. There was some complaining, but we explained that I had written down the names of everyone who had gone that night and that we would hand them out when we received them.
In late November, we got the call that the filters were ready to be picked up and that Paulina (the pastor of our church) and I would attend a short workshop in order to learn how to assemble, use, and clean the filters so that we could teach the recipients. We arrive, learn, go to get our filters..."Here are your 13 filters." Uh oh...
We ashamedly asked if it would be possible to find a few more to give us, but did not specify how many. They said maybe. We looked at the list thinking, "well, obviously each household only gets one, so that will cut down on how many we have to give out!" Almost none of those who had attended shared a household. We still needed 33 or we were risking a small riot on our hands.
No word...nothing...waiting...on Christmas day (no joke) the pastor of the mother church called and said they had gotten 20 more filters for us! The EXACT number we needed! God is soooooooo good! And not only that, but a couple of the American missionaries and their daughters were able to come out to our church and personally teach the Deaf how to use and clean their filters. They also gave us a few extras that we can give to those who did not attend but really need them.
|These are not all of the filter recipients. This is the group that attended on the day we officially handed them out. I have been meeting up with those who didn't go that day as I can and giving them to each person, but haven't been taking pictures.|
I also attended a couple of awesome workshops in January. The first one was organized by Fundación Humanidad. There was a part for psychologists who work with Deaf clients and then there was a part for parents, family members, teachers, etc. of the Deaf. Fundación Humanidad (the organization that put on the international symposium that I wrote about a few posts back) invited a handful of experts from various countries who talked about the importance of an accessible home, the importance of sign language acquisition at an early age and for the hearing family, discussed the cochlear implant debate, and things of that nature. These events are so very important because access to information about Deaf studies, Deaf culture, sign language, Deaf role models, etc. is very limited here. It was a great day!
The second workshop was organized by the National Association for the Deaf in the Dominican Republic (ANSORDO), Discovering Deaf Worlds (DDW), and the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD). The two co-executive directors of DDW and the president of WFD spent a couple of weeks here in the Dominican working with ANSORDO to create this workshop and further the fight for Deaf rights in the country. The workshop was held in Santo Domingo and then in Santiago, and MANY Deaf men, women, and adolescents attended. We learned about the different organizations that fight for Deaf rights throughout the world, what human rights are, and why they are important. This, also, was a great workshop. These connections between organizations are so vital as this community becomes empowered and moves toward equality.
This past weekend, we held a one-day medical clinic for the Deaf community and their families. How we got connected to the medical team is also such a "God thing"! In 2008, a group from my home church (I didn't go) went on a medical mission with a couple of American missionaries living in the Dominican and their organization, Corazón del Siervo. One of those clinics was at a church which housed a Deaf school in its basement. Long story short, through that first encounter, camp Hands of Joy was born. Through my experiences at camp Hands of Joy, I received my calling to become a missionary here. So, chain of events, I'm really here because of that couple of doctors.
Well, through the missionaries giving out the water filters, I got the contact information for some missionary doctors who might be willing to do a medical clinic with our church. Turns out, SAME PEOPLE!! Everything came full circle. God is just so cool!!!
Each person went through triage, a consult with a doctor, some lab tests were done, and there was a pharmacy as well. Through donations we had collected, we were able to provide all of this free of charge. We served 120 people between the Deaf and the family members who came with them. The majority of the time Deaf people (even adults) go to the doctor, they go with a family member, act out what is wrong with their bodies or simply let their family members explain it for them, never understand what the doctor said or what their test results were, are given pills to take, and never even know what those pills are for. This was an opportunity (a first for some of them) for the Deaf to speak directly to a doctor (through an interpreter), understand what the doctor was saying, and know what their medications were for. Each person was given a pill to kill parasites, vitamins, and any other medications that they needed. Everyone seemed really happy with the experience.
In addition, throughout the day I had some of our church leaders give small sermons and sing worship songs. One Deaf man accepted Christ, and many others were exposed to the gospel for the first time. We are praying that we see some of them on Sundays in the future.
I had (have) a nasty cold and was not in good shape on Saturday, but God gave me the strength to make it through the day and, most of all, provided me with an incredible team of doctors, interpreters, and helpers who made it all possible. What an amazing day!
The most highly requested vocational class I have received in the past year and a half is a beauty salon class. However, the equipment to hold a class like that is rather expensive. If you are interested in donating to make this class possible, you can click on the "Donate" button in the right-hand column. Most of all, please continue to pray for this ministry! Every life we are able to touch makes a difference in this world.