New Threads...

Vicki and I have had enough life experience now that we can look back on our lives and see how God has sown various experiences into our lives like threads that He will sometimes pull together for his own purposes and glory.

Our twin girls are deaf and have cochlear implants. We are teaching them to speak but are teaching them sign language as well so that they have an alternative means of communication should there be issues with the implants in the future. This is also due to a concern that we now have that we did not have before for the deaf community. Our own children have made that concern acute.

After some of our recent work and experiences here in the DR I can’t help but think that perhaps part of the reason our girls were born with profound hearing loss was so that our eyes might really be opened to those living around our spheres of influence on the island of Hispaniola. Here are a few of those possible emerging threads…

The Clinic:

We had an exciting opportunity to help coordinate and facilitate G.O.’s first Audiology clinic. An Australian audiologist who teaches in the capital teamed up with an American audiologist from Fort Wayne, IN to join G.O. Ministries in reaching out to people and families who dealt with hearing losses from mild to profound. We had 130 some hearing aids to fit free of charge along with several months of batteries for each patient. Word of the clinic was given to all of our pastors and they canvassed their communities in order to bring help to those with such a special need. The audiology team saw about 30 patients a day for 3 days.

Hearing Aid Package

It was frustrating to receive patients who were 14 and 15 years old that had zero communication. These were kids from families with very few resources and were just doing the best they knew to do under their circumstances.

Vicki speaking to a parent at the clinic

It was also glorious to see adults and children really, really respond to their new hearing aids. For many patients it was clear that they could hear better with the amplification made possible by the aid. This is an instant increase in the quality of their lives and is immediately tangible. It was exciting to get to be a part of that.

A Boy being fitted for his hearing aid

This effort to serve allowed us the opportunity to share why we had come to offer this much needed clinic. We are compelled by Christ’s love to serve in his name and for the sake of all of those who need and desire him. Our faith is the reason for our service and it was a privilege to share that too with those who would receive it.

Fitting Complete!

We look forward to continued partnership with the audiologists we worked alongside of. It is hard not to imagine that there may be bigger things in our future together.

Magdelina, Deaf Woman in our Neighborhood:

Our ministry in the Dominican in based in a barrio called Hoya de Ciamito. Our friends and co-workers, Tim and Samira, have a friendly acquaintance who is deaf. They had often wrestled with understanding her at times when she needed some help. Her daughters signed and spoke and so interpreted for her. They attend our Christian school. We were introduced to Magdalena in our dormitory the day of the hearing clinic. We were surprised to discover that we knew many of the same signs and could communicate at least a little bit! She was using ASL. She came and had a hearing aid fitted for one of her ears that has very, very limited hearing. It was an honor to meet and help her in some way. Because we know some sign, we expect to see more of her and look forward to it. Again, we have no idea what God will do with this but recognize it as another potential thread.

Vicki and Magdelina signing a conversation

Deaf Boy in an Urban Slum:Yordi

I mentioned above that our eyes have been opened for the deaf in a way they were not before. Yordi (pronounced Jordy) is a young boy in our nutrition center in the Hole. He has been coming for years and we discovered early on that he was deaf. We had to ask the pastor his name because when we asked the children they just called him the “mute boy.” We hugged on him and played with him but never made a more concerted effort to communicate with him. Yesterday it was different. Vicki found flash cards that had words on them in Spanish, English and American Sign Language. She offered them to some families at the hearing clinic who appeared to be very supportive of their profoundly deaf children. She had a couple of packs left over and so we went with Pastor Felix to seek out Yordi’s mother.

A recent flash flood took out the main bridge over the sewage river and we had to scramble across a wooden crossing that served as a substitute for the one being rebuilt. The boy’s mother lived in a shack at the top of a steep hill across the river from us. Once we got over the river we made it up the hill we were warmly welcomed by the grandfather and mother. We discussed with them our own recent family history and discovered that Yordi was a twin born prematurely, as early as our own girls. Sadly, his brother did not make it. It is likely that his deafness is related to his prematurity but it is not certain. Soon we offered them the signing cards. At that point is began to rain heavily and everyone was forced inside. We now had time for a lesson and a few people for our class. Vicki showed them how to do all of the signs on the cards. When Vicki got to the end of the lesson the rain stopped. After the rain, the mother kindly lead us away from her home by a different route because the dirt path we climbed up was impassable when wet.

We have offered to gather more resources to help their family if they like. We are praying that they will be responsive for Yordi’s sake. He is 14 years old and has no language. His communication is limited to those who take the time to discern the meaning of his pantomiming. There are not many who take the time. We hope that one day he will come to understand the Gospel. We hope that in the future we will have more to tell you of Yordi.

So in one week we have participated in an audiology clinic, met a deaf woman in our neighborhood we did not know, and got more involved with a deaf boy and his family in the Hole and Sunday Vicki is visiting a Deaf church near our neighborhood with our dear friend Jennifer Goodenough.

God is up to something we think. We’ll have to see what develops over time. We’ve found that we’re to be faithful to the threads. He pulls them together when its time and when it is time, we will just kind of discover ourselves there in the middle of it.