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.
Our week started with students who wanted to “celebrate” Halloween. Well, I am not opposed to candy but I am opposed to many aspects of Halloween’s “religious” traditions. So we got around it by doing “Crazy Hair” and playing some games.
Thanks to our two stylists to their crazy input on the activity!
This year’s handbell choir did their first performance on November 1 with a surprisingly good repertoire. With three fairly young and new ringers, the director of the troupe was nervous but everyone came through with bells on!
We had some workers around this week – installing a new white board, installing a generator interface for power outages, and power washing everything it seemed.
How beautiful are the feet that bring good news! Isaiah 52:7 and Romans 10:15 both remind us that Good News comes by way of personal delivery. How eager we were to receive our guest workers and their news of jobs well-done! How eager we are to continue to teach the Good News to our students and plant the seeds of God’s Word in their hearts! Pray with us for their hearts to be fertile fields as we plant that precious seed. Pray for their minds to desire to obey Him always.
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
Lancaster Bible College has come to us with a work team again this March. These people KNOW how to work! In fact, they worked so much during the past five rainy days, they earned an extra half day of sight seeing. This morning, (Thursday 10 March) they are off to see El Yunque and then Old San Juan for the afternoon. Tomorrow, we are all going to the beach for some fun and playing together. Saturday evening they leave – so we are not sure of the Saturday plans. Probably a little more sleep and then some cleaning of their dorms.
It’s been a good week with them – seeing the Bible stories they have presented in clever and entertaining ways, learning more of those characters presented – Joseph, Ruth, Samuel – to name a few.
Several of the girls served as substitute teacher for Betsy who was out with a cold a few days. Most have been working on grounds work, painting, scraping, cleaning, and generally helping in a variety in places. We are excited to see God work in their lives and in our lives as we spend time together.
The student handbell choir performed EIGHT times in the past three weeks!
Our NEW Adult Deaf Handbell Choir also performed TWICE in the past week.
Our school Christmas party was lovely – the children signed songs, the bells rang, the parents cried at appropriate times, the food was massive in quantity and in flavor, no one hurried away and the cleanup happened.
We thank God for each of you and your prayers for our ministry to the Deaf here in Luquillo. Look forward to seeing you again in January 2016! Happy Holidays (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Epiphany/Kings’ Day) !!
Since school started in August, we have been busily studying and creating some poster projects for friends at the San Juan Community Library. We deliver the projects on Monday September 24, 2015.
The students have been learning WHERE in the world our island is located and how it was first settled by Native Tribes from North America. The Taino People who met Columbus in 1493 were originally from South America. After the Native People, Spaniards (Europe) arrived, then came slaves from Africa. Our little island is a crossroads for FOUR continents.
Some of the students are still mis-labelling the world map exercise we do in Social Studies as part of our regular review (name the 7 continents and Puerto Rico on this map) but they are beginning to have a more global knowledge.
We are studying the refugee emigration crisis in Europe and learning about some of the associated countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. As we learn about our place in the world, I am praying that the children will begin to understand that GOD LOVED THE WORLD SO MUCH THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON (John 3:16).
We are also working on NOUNS and VERBS and sentence structure; a wide variety of math concepts; how to understand what we are reading (WHO? WHAT DID –DO? WHERE did it happen?) and the time line of the Bible.
We estimate that the first Native People arrived from South America around the time that Abraham and Sarah lived. We estimate that the Tainos arrived around the time of Jesus’ birth. It has been a fun first month of school and I (a teacher) am excited to see what comes along in the next month!
Thanks for praying for us. PRINT THIS staff students 2015 09 if you want to know the names of those for whom you are praying.
We are ending the month of August 2015 and the students are still smiling 🙂 As you can see from the photos above, we have 5 students at this time. We are working on place value and trying to improve memory (hence the bottle of glue pouring into a brain cavity).
Five students – and days often feel overwhelming as each of these students could use a full-time tutor. Each has special needs in addition to requiring that their coursework be presented in visual means. So much out of the classroom time goes into preparing powerpoint and worksheets and captioning pictures and developing specific for THIS child activities to help them learn.
Christie Hoeksema just joined us last week. She is proving to be a valuable resource – (1) because she is fresh and new and has energy! and (2) because she can use technology to make worksheets, flashcards, and materials that are time consuming and (3) because she is Deaf herself and can offer insights when all of the Hearies are rather at a loss for WHAT? is being signed to us by our low language learners.
Thanks for praying along with us this school year.