Saturday, April 09, 2016

Sister Act

On Wednesday nights, I sit with Shirley in Bible study. Her daughter is deaf and they speak with their hands. Shirley is her child's channel into the hearing world. The following, from January 1, 2009, is about one of my students who served in the same capacity for her family.

Several mornings ago, I dropped by a Starbucks near Dave's house to get my A.M. jolt. Again this Christmas, my students showered me with Starbucks' cards to facilitate a habit I rarely indulge with cash. After receiving my order, just a regular coffee, I moved to the little counter where they let you doctor your drink with sugar, sweetener, honey, chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, and about six different types of dairy products. To the left of me, two women were conversing in those comfortable chairs that make you want to hang around and visit. Neither said a word. The two were signing to each other and I made the logical assumption that one or both were deaf. Who knows what they spoke of. That world is a mystery to me and the billions who don't comprehend the language of gestures and subtle movements.

Her name was Wanda and she was in my one of my eighth grade classes in Tennessee. One day, Wanda informed me that she would be missing school in the future because her mother was pregnant and the due date was rapidly approaching. That in itself was not uncommon. What was out of the ordinary was the reason she would be present for the delivery. Both of Wanda's parents were deaf and it was going to be Wanda's responsibility to teach her baby sister to speak. The doctors wanted her to hold the infant as soon as she was born so there would be bonding. The baby came into the world as planned and Wanda bestowed on her little sister a gift her parents could not- the ability to communicate verbally with a hearing world.

Think what a responsibility Wanda had! The Scriptures are filled with admonitions to parents regarding the training of their little ones. Consider what pressure Wanda would have had on her thirteen year old shoulders. We mimic what we hear but the rest of us have a combination of voices that become the blend of our vocabularies and accents. The voice heard in that home by that small girl would belong exclusively to Wanda. As the child moved out into the world as she grew, other voices would demand her attention but the first voice makes the most lasting impression. In Psalm 34:11, David wrote, "Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD." Wanda had that opportunity with her sister. So do I with the kids I teach the Bible, many of whom hear it nowhere else but at school. As much as Wanda had her mission, I have mine and many of you have that same task. It won't be in International Sign Language but it will in the vernacular of Jesus and expressions of his love. And that can be universally understood.

Applicable quote of the day:
I have always thought it would be a blessing if each person could be blind and deaf for a few days during his early adult life. Darkness would make him appreciate sight; silence would teach him the joys of sound."
Helen Keller

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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