This year, we have three students every morning. Two are doing High School work and we are thankful to have English and Math volunteers working with them. Our English tutor meets with the students two hours each week by Facetime while our Math tutor walks into the classroom when he has time free to do so. We are thankful for the ways God provides for morning assistance so that our principal, Betsy Hoke can work with our new 6 year-old student who is learning the alphabet, learning to sit in class, learning to ask before taking or doing things, learning to use his hands to communicate, learning so many life skills!
Pray for teachers as Diego (6) and the two older students all need full time teachers to be present in their learning times. We also have a little 18 month old girl who we would love to have full time – again the need of someone to be her guide and language model through the day is holding us back.
In our next blog entry, I will introduce you to our missionary staff for this school year. Busy busy busy days prevent me from getting the photos I want to post!
Next Friday, September 7 is Deaf Social Night – come if you are able and join in games and fun with us!
The semester is continuing on as all good semesters do. For science, we are learning about EXPERIMENTS. Many experiments FAIL – or do not produce the expected results. We packaged eggs and dropped them. 3 out of 4 resulted in scrambled eggs. Our winner, Juan (on the right above) succeeded in packaging his egg so that it was useful later.
In our Bible class, we are memorizing verses about WISDOM. Pray with us that our students will learn to depend on God and His wisdom above all other choices available to them. Pray with us that our students’ lives would not like scrambled eggs… but would be protected by God’s wisdom as they apply it to their lives.
Too often recently, I have heard a complaint that a governmental entity has not called for an interpreter for a Deaf person in need. Too often recently, I have seen video of such interactions. Too often recently, I have received a phone call from an agency asking WHY an interpreter was needed…
And so to have this at my fingertips, here is a PDF of a model letter for a Deaf person to give to an agency or office explaining the law and requesting an interpreter be called. I did not write this. It was given to me by someone who knows more about this than I do. Yet it is so needed. It is in Spanish.
While I know each school week is 5 days, some feel so FULL! Last week was a full week! We are doing more “silent” reading this year – trying to get in at least 15 minutes of independent reading daily and it’s fun to watch the students examine the bookshelves and find hidden treasures. Also sweet to watch the more able to read students introduce books and love of reading to the ones who are not able to read on their own yet. Pray that literacy will be a skill they love and each student will exercise a passion for WORDS and sharing God’s Word!
We were excited to see Nathan and Deborah visiting from Canada! This lovely Deaf couple stopped by with their three hearing daughters. We always love seeing them and enjoyed some games and relaxing time together.
This year, we are making cursive writing a priority. Every afternoon before we dive into our learning logs, we do some structured writing. Betsy, our only teacher this year, has developed this framework for teaching cursive – using the data projector to shine guidelines onto the white board and then writing on them. The students love showing off their skills too though they still do better on paper than on the board.
Thanks for praying along with us for the ministry of our school and chapel. We look forward to next week when we will be practicing conversational skills and learning how fractions work.
This year, we began with 5 students so rather than open the entire dining room for 7 diners (5 students and 2 staff), we are having lunch together in a staff apartment, family style.
The students are learning to serve themselves a reasonable portion of food, pass the serving bowls and platters and share in amiable conversation. After lunch, they take turns doing the dishes and clearing the table. So far, the students are enjoying the change of pace.
One day 13 of the school year, we added a new student to our student body when we welcomed Edgar back into our classroom. Edgar had been with us when he was 3 to 5 years old and has been away for 7 years. Returning at 12 years of age, he is sadly behind his former classmates even though he had been ahead of several. The system of education here is lacking in resources and though this boy has had an interpreter, his language skills are still not what they could be. He is also unable to write and read. So we are VERY excited to have him back with us. Please pray with us for this little boy’s attention span. Please pray for more teachers so that we are able to meet the needs of the students we have and also to accept others.
We look forward to a new student joining us in October as we have accepted an adult learner who is interested in studying English and his third language so that he is able to do more online learning and perhaps attend university in the States. Again, pray for the potential we see and for God’s wisdom in accepting or denying students.
On June 11, 2016, I was offered and accepted to be a CSCD representative for the annual World Mission to the Deaf conference in Toronto, Canada.
World Mission to the Deaf is a Canada-based charity encouraging people to support Christian missionary service among the Deaf. They are currently supporting the Deaf in the Philippines, Puerto Rico and El Salvador. Together, we share praise, prayer, reports and encouraging messages.
They have shared wonderful reports of God’s work in each mission field. I am going to write a short summary for each:
A farm project that is run by a missionary couple named Doug and Val Clutton. They own a few acres filled with fruit trees and farm animals. They have hired Deaf workers to work on their farm, selling vegetables, mangos, quail eggs and pork products to generate income for them. They also support the various ministries of its mother organization such as their Deaf church, dorm for Deaf school, child sponsorship, Deaf pastors/churches and a Bible college. Please pray for them to continue to keep the Deaf community, and encourage others to learn more about God. Pray for Doug and Val for their tireless work to serve God!
A group of teachers are starting a new outreach to Guatemala which is located above the country border. They set up a workshop for the teachers and workers on Deaf education, as well as also offering tutoring. Meanwhile in their current Deaf school in El Salvador, they are doing well and are still busy as usual! It was wonderful, and blessing to see them using their full energy in helping the Deaf students as well as continuing to keep in touch with other Deaf communities outside their country. Please pray for them to continue to serve and spread the gospel about Jesus.
Now it was my turn to present about our CSCD school. God graciously gave me an opportunity to live in Puerto Rico for a year and serve with the Deaf students. I shared my experience as a teacher and the success stories of each student. We were amazed to see how much each student had grown within a year! Let me tell you a bit about each student.
Maria & Yajaira
Maria and Yajaira are sisters, and are part of our outreach ministry. They were raised with low level of education and language. We brought them to school to teach them how to write, read, learn basic life skills and share about God’s Word. They started to develop their deepest desire to learn because there was just so much information they wanted to know, especially regarding ASL. Their ASL and vocabulary had improved tremendously over the course of their studies. I remember when I teaching Maria math multiplication, last February. She at first hated doing the speed drills, which took her about 10 minutes to complete. But just a few months later, she got was excited about managing to complete in her speed drill in just 2 minutes. Yay for Maria! At the same time, Maria and Yajaira started to grow their faith in God, and even asked if they can be baptized. It was a wonderful opportunity to witness this event. Please pray for them to continue to walk in faith with Jesus, sharing the good news with their Santos family in the mountains.
Juan had just turned 10, but already he started to grow to nearly the same height as me! In math, just like Maria, he at first hated the multiplication drills, but soon enough beat the time limits a few month later. When I started to teach him division, he understood so quickly that he could easily finish all the speed drills with no problem. He also started to develop his own curiosity and storytelling skills. He was especially enthusiastic when talking about the animals he loved, the oceans, fish, and all the discoveries he found around the island. Please pray for him to find his own interest and hobbies. Pray also for him to understand more about God and develop his desire to serve Him.
Mizael & Larimar
Mizael and Larimar are two of our students who have been in school for a long time. They are always engaged in good discussion about their own interests, Larimar about animals and dogs, and Mizael on secret agents and FBI. They always ask very good questions because of their desire to learn. They participated the Puerto Rico Deaf speech competition, which focuses on the topic of their vision to improve Puerto Rico. Mizael’s was about putting a stop to fighting and bringing peace. Larimar’s was about strong family values. Both of their speeches are very much connected to their personal lives, as they want to share their real experiences in Puerto Rico. Larimar ended up winning 1st and Mizael 3rd in their age group. It was such a great achievement, and we are so proud of them! Please continue to pray for their independent growth and to keep Jesus in their hearts for rest of their lives.
At the same time, there was much personal growth in our staff as well. We shared and learned more about God,and looked deep into our hearts to see who we truly are and how we need to change ourselves to become a better servant of God. No matter what our age, we always have room to grow! A Iittle thing I’ve realized is that even though missionary work can be exhausting, there is always so much joy to be serving the Lord. Yes, there were some struggles among us but God has always helped us to overcome these, allowing us to grow in Christ, walking in his footsteps. We hope that we, as staff, can continue in our mission to nurture and guide other in Christ walk of life. Please pray for a smooth transition into the next year, which God is preparing for all staff members, whether staying for another term, or leaving for home or other service opportunities. Pray for God to give them strength and wisdom in all their missionary work.
I have concluded my presentation with a video of the students signing the song “Oh Happy Day”. The audience gave a great applause for the student’s work.
In closing, the conference went really well. It was very encouraging to meet new people and share our experiences of serving God, all over the island of Puerto Rico. It was exciting and I thank God for all the things He has done for us. We pray that we will continue to grow in our Deaf community, schools, churches and missions.
Together in Christ,
For more information about WMD, visit their website: wmdcanada.org
Friday, June 3 was our monthly scheduled Social Night. We love having people over and sharing games, growing friendships and seeing some of our ‘once a month’ visitors.
This month, we celebrated two birthdays – Maria who is now 15 and Irma who is at an age we don’t advertise any longer – though if you look at the photo, you will see her age :-).
Irma was a student here between 1988- 1991 and is active in her local church. Her husband Valie volunteers with us daily helping by advising as well as in maintaining the property. Irma and Valie are cherished members of our ministry community and we were thankful to be able to celebrate her _0 birthday with her.
Maria is a present student in the school. Turning 15, celebrating her QUINCEANERA is a big deal. One of our staff drove to Orocovis to bring Maria and her sister and parents to the school for an overnight. We celebrated her birthday and another staff member drove them home the following morning.
The party times were sweet with cakes, games, friends, and conversation. We were super happy to see Chris Monahan, our CSCD Board President back with us after having been sidelined by a stroke in late April. He is doing well – improving with physical therapy and a patient family who help him.
Continue to pray for the summer activities around the school and throughout the ministry. We will be carrying out the basic office work that needs to happen, doing grounds work, and spending time in prayer and preparation for the school year that begins on August 8, 2016.
We are still praying for teachers who are familiar with the Deaf and who know ASL. In our planning meeting, we have discussed
a 9 days every two weeks school schedule, the 10th day to be kept for taking our students to visit Deaf people in remote areas of the island with the intention of befriending, evangelizing, assisting in any way that is needed. We have also discussed
further ministry with the Santos Family – what do the parents need and how can we encourage them spiritually, emotionally, and materially? We want to continue
the ASL Silent Workshop teaching and outreach to interpreters and workers in Deaf ministries.
Pray with us for these ministries and for hands to grow the ministries so that more Deaf can be reached for Christ.
For many years, the staff of our ministry has been praying about beginning Interpreter Development Workshops. We see the struggle of many interpreters in churches (and in paid positions) and want to come alongside them, encourage, develop their skills and see them communicate as effectively as possible with the Deaf people they meet.
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” Romans 10:14
This year, our principal found herself surrounded by people who had the time, energy, ideas and desire to help to launch this ministry. We had 12 people who attended all three days and several others who came for one or two days of the three day event.
It was fun to work together to develop the schedule for the workshops – to see how each person had a different angle on the classes and time frames – and then to see how God brought it all together from paper to action.
We were able to have lots of small group interactions to complement the group teaching sessions. Many of the participants attend churches where there are Deaf members and while they are not interpreting, they simply wanted to learn how to communicate better – both in understanding and in expressing themselves.
Our third day was all about the fluidity and artistry of signing. Various groups and several individuals prepared songs to show the things they had learned and could incorporate in their signing. It was great to see them incorporating new ASL skills into their songs and their conversations.
Larimar and Mizael joined Betsy this year at St Croix Deaf Camp. The three of them traveled to STX on July 6 (because their July 5th flight was canceled). They spent 4 wonderful days with the Deaf camp of STX making new friends and loving every minute of it.
Betsy praises God for the opportunity for the team of three to go. The CSCD students were able to share their faith in private conversations and in Wednesday morning devotional time before the camp day began.
The students loved the whole adventure – from billiards to jumping off the cruise ship pier to eating termites under the supervision of Discovery Grove nature trail staff. They are already asking if they can return next summer. Pray with us as we pray for the Deaf of St Croix – that maybe next summer at Deaf camp, we will see some Deaf adults and have more opportunities to share God’s amazing love.