Over the last few weeks I was given the opportunity to share my ministry, background, plans, and goals with Deaf ministries in Fredericksburg, VA, and Westminster, MD. All the Deaf were extremely attentive, watching every word, and asking lots of good questions afterwards. Of course I love sharing my ministry - in any language - as it reminds me how God has so incredibly lead me to this ministry. Additionally, however, speaking in Deaf churches/ministries constantly reminds me of the value of sign language. Think about it... where would most of these Deaf people have been without it? Where would anyone be without a means of communication? Where would you be?
Interestingly, our well-developed American Sign Language in the United States is hardly 200 years old, and was only recognized as a "fully formed human language" in the 1960s. While this is extremely recent in language years, it is multiple times the age of Honduran Sign Language. LESHO (LEngua de Señas HOndureño, "Honduran Sign Language") was only recognized as the national language of Deaf Hondurans in the mid-1980s, making it only slightly older than me! This means that many of the Deaf Hondurans who are older than 30 were likely not taught LESHO - or any sign language - as a child, and have minimal language understanding. Added to this is the fact that many Latino families are embarassed to admit they have a deaf family member - due to lingering tribal beliefs that a deaf child is due to a curse - making it difficult for would-be deaf educators/missionaries to locate Deaf children or adults.
(Here are 3 young Deaf ladies in Honduras. They go to a hearing school and use an interpreter.)
Thankfully things are slowly changing in Honduras, and a few Deaf schools do exist. This means, however, that the older vs younger Deaf hondurans have widely different vocabulary and language comprehension. How does one even begin to try and communicate with Deaf people that hardly even know their own national sign language?
...With lots of prayer and patience.
God has actually provided a means of learning a lot of LESHO while I'm still here in the US, but I covent your prayers. Please pray for wisdom as I learn this language. Pray that I will be able to keep LESHO and ASL separate in my mind, and that I will be clear in whichever language I am communicating in. Pray for patience with unfamiliar signs, and different grammar. Pray that I will spend balanced time on both LESHO and deputation appropriately.
Thank you for your prayers.