lunes, 11 de noviembre de 2019

Stretched a Bit Too Thin, But I Always Wanted to Be Thin

Is it fall? I really can't tell. No pumpkin spice anything, no Halloween decorations, no colorful leaves, no cool fall breeze. But we sure are excited for Christmas! Christmas lights and decorations have already been up for over a month now! I also know it must be fall because it's time to start planning our annual church Christmas party! More on that later.

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!

For the past couple of months we have been offering financial planning and responsibility/basic business classes at the church. We have had a small but faithful group. The organization putting on the class is a cooperative called Coop Aspire. Cooperatives are basically banks, but each one specifically serves a particular type of person (teachers, lawyers, single mothers, vulnerable populations, etc.) They offer savings accounts and low interest loans. The ultimate goal of this class has been to teach the participants how to save and responsibly handle their money. We have also been working with them to develop small business ideas and are trying to get loans for the ones who have developed more concrete plans so that they can buy the equipment they need to get started. Some of the ideas have been to buy and sell cellphone accessories, a car wash, a barber shop, a hair salon, professional make up, and an empanada stand. I am really hoping that we can secure loans for at least a few of them and help them to get their own businesses started.

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.

Planting mangroves

You can't really see it, but there are A LOT of bags full of garbage that we picked up in the area.

Los 27 Charcos de Damajagua is a place for people who like adventure. You follow a river down the mountain. Parts of it you walk, but other parts have a platform that you have to jump off of (as seen in the picture above) or water slides that are naturally made in the rock. The highest jump is 25 feet! It was quite exhilarating!
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 We would really appreciate it! If you would like more information, you can e-mail me at

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!