Leading the Bison Charge!

Sunday, July 29, 2012


So, I admit it, I HAVE A BIG MOUTH!!!  No doubt it has gotten me into trouble.  Ever promise something and then wonder how it slipped out?!  Let me break it down.

It was the 2nd Saturday in November and the deaf people who likely would have come to Ebz for church were all on the Alpha retreat.  Elissa Macias had interpreter duty.  But there were no deaf people there!  She had to interpret anyway cuz the interpreter is on the sermon video.  She told me I could sign the songs if I wanted.  I refused but said I would sign ONE song in the month of December.  Not sure how those words escaped my lips.  My theories are that either she has some mind control powers or that she spiked my drink.  I'm open to suggestions of other possibilities.

It's New Years Eve just past midnight, the last possible day to fulfill my commitment.  The service starts in just under 17 hours.  I am planning to do a duet with Kari to the Newsboys sont "I am Free".  I couldn't have picked an easier song.  I must thank Kurtis for his song selection!  I asked Kari to join me in a duet because it has a call and response thing goin.  It's NOT because I am too nervous to do it alone.  At least that's what I tell myself...  I will lead and she will follow.  It's also fitting that I do this with my teacher and my Deaf Mom.  She will join me as I take this next step.  Everyone has been supportive: Kari, Heather (yes Crazy Golfer Chick from my "Those Kind of People" post), Esther, Julie, Elissa, Karen, Laura etc...I have given Kari the opportunity to release me from this obligation but she refused.  I'm actually not nervous, but a bit excited and looking forward to the challenge...for now.  I know my "friends" will continue to challenge me and I am GRATEFUL for that.  (Don't tell em I said that.)  Let ya know how it goes.  If I'd only kept my big mouth shut...By the way, Elissa showed true class and professionalism as she interpreted with excellence.  Or maybe that was just her mind control power that made me think that...

PS Interestingly enough, we had no deaf people in service today and I did NOT commit to signing any songs.  Maybe, I AM actually learning to keep my big mouth shut.  DOUBT IT!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Failure to Communicate

Ok, so I've got this problem.  Actually, it's just one of many.  For the sake of this story, I will just focus on one.  Maybe I'll save the others for a well-qualified professional therapist.  Anyway, the problem is a language barrier.

See, I started learning ASL just over 2 years ago.  I became conversational pretty quickly.  I often think my friends only understand my sign cuz they have the spiritual gift of interpretation.  That being said, I can usually make my point...and sometimes even understand others.  But what about when my friend is hurting?  Will I let my broken ASL be an excuse not to be supportive?!?  I was in that exact situation.

I saw a friend (I'll call her Lisa for this story) crying in a situation that should have been happy and festive.  I was leaving and another friend (I'll call her Christina) who rode with me was coming to get her coat from the car when we noticed Lisa crying.  When I asked her what was wrong, I only understood enough to ascertain that it was about two of her relatives.  Christina gave her a hug.  After Christina retrieved her coat, she said she would stay and talk to her.  Then I left.

Why didn't I offer to help my friend?  Part of it is my broken ASL.  Part of it is that I'm not particularly comfortable with those situations.  I take pride in supporting my friends, usually through chauffeuring or my wacky sense of humor.  I want them to feel comfortable talking to me...as long as they don't cry.  I firmly believe that the true test of friendship is helping your friends when they are down.  When I texted her later that night to apologize, she said she saw the concern on my face.  Maybe I didn't disappoint her, but I disappointed myself cuz I didn't uphold my own standards!  Even though I left her to be comforted by someone who she knows a lot better, has much better ASL, and is better with those situations, I failed.  Actually, I just didn't try!!!  I have a hard head and usually don't learn quickly from my mistakes.  I hope I've learned this lesson though-not to let a simple language barrier stop me from being a friend!!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Those Kind of People

"Zims, what's wrong with your people?", I asked an unexpecting Heather Zimmerman a few days ago.  "My people, who are my people, Nita?", she responds.  "Hearing people", I reply.  I then recount the story which happened literally no more than a minute or 2 before I called her.

It was Saturday, March 31st and I had just finished volunteering with 3 friends at the 6th annual National Walk for Epilepsy which took place on the National Mall.  Michai is the one I know least well.  I have only actually met her a few times.  She is a big Louisville fan and was no doubt devastated when they lost to arch rival Kentucky that night in the NCAA Final Four.  She even got a cardinal painted on her face at the walk.  Next up is Heather Suhr or the Crazy Golfer Chick as I prefer to call her.  Her interests include: sharing the Gospel with primarily the underserved Deaf Community, Teddy time, and defending golf as a "sport".  She claims she doesn't talk trash, but has threatened me with her golf clubs on more than one occasion. (Check out her comment on my "Beginnings" post.)  Gotta say, I LOVE eliciting that response from her!  Last, but not least is Asia.  She is the Cool Crazy Chica or just Chica for short.  (Ok, so I've got a thing for nicknames.)  I can't believe I met this chick for the first time just over 3 weeks ago.  I find myself constantly using the word "AWESOME" in reference to her.  She's incredibly sensitive and a very talented artist.  She was heartbroken earlier that day when I told her not to worry about coming after she woke up late.  I thought it may not be worth it at that point and didn't want her to feel like she disappointed me.  She texted Zims who then called me saying Asia was really upset and wanted to come.  So, I texted her and told her to come on.  Good thing she texted Zims!!

So we had just turned left past Union Station near the taxi line when I saw a man I recognized on the other side of the street walking in the opposite direction.  He said, "I didn't know you deal with those kind of people."  I knew EXACTLY what he meant, but I asked, "What kind of people"?  He said, "deaf people".  (I guess this was the first time he saw me sign.)  I said, "They're my friends."  He said, "That's good, though."  I'm not sure if he was trying to save face or pat me on the back.  Maybe both.  Regardless of my ASL skills (or lack thereof) and my understanding of Deaf Culture (even less), it's only natural for me to hang out with signers.  Everyone I invited to volunteer that day is a signer.  Even more so than my passion to build bridges between hearing and Deaf people, I invited signers because they are my FRIENDS! This is the story I related to Zims minus the descriptions when I asked her what's  wrong with her people?

When this guy saw us signing and said he didn't know I "deal with those kind of people", it would be like telling a baller, "I didn't know you deal with athletes."  I don't "deal with" them for one.  They are my friends.  For two, they are not "those kind of people".  Yes, they are all deaf.  But I love them for who they are, not because or despite the fact that they are deaf!

Zims was, of course, taken back a bit by my asking her what's wrong with her people and saying her people are hearing people.  She said the only hearing person she knows is me.  I think she was taking a jab at me saying I was "culturally hearing" on the sly.  Anyway, my point, and yes I DO actually have one, is that what is usually meant as a compliment to me for my involvement with the Deaf Community (or really mostly just hangin with my friends) is usually a slap in the face to deaf people.  And worst of all, they may not even realize it at the time!!!