August 11, 2014
Three things in life are a given: death, taxes, and missionary transfers. Everything else is up in the air.
Transfer calls came in, and half of our zone is being transferred, including Sister Flake. Actually, only 3 companionships in Granada Hills are staying together. It’s going to be one long transfer meeting tomorrow. It helps that we had a few ideas of what would happen, since a ton of missionaries have been here for quite a while (Sister Flake and Elder Holdaway had been here for 6 months, or 4 transfers). I’m excited to get to know my new companion, and the missionaries I’ll be serving with for the next 6 weeks.
On Friday we had zone training, which kind of bombed itself. We were receiving a training on teaching simply, and the training itself wasn’t taught simply. I kept my commentary to myself. It’s a hard thing to do, so I understand. The highlight was ‘DMT’ or ‘Deaf Missionary Training’ that Sister Flake did for the zone (I just stood awkwardly beside her).
One thing that has been really challenging for Sister Flake and Sister Ingram is that most missionaries (I would say about 95% of the missionaries) don’t know what to do with deaf people they meet (including missionaries). We talked with President about it, and decided the best course of action would be to do a training for the zone. What we didn’t know was that he had the ASL sisters go up and train the zone leaders and sister training leaders on the exact thing we were doing so that they could pass along the training to all of the missionaries. Such a blessing!
It was cute to see all of the elders trying so hard to introduce themselves in sign and learn to spell their names. I looked over in the middle of the meeting to see about half a dozen elders painstakingly forming letters. Elder Magele was the best – this big huge Samoan trying so hard to get his hand to form the shapes to spell his name. Everyone was so proud of themselves by the end, and just wanted to show Sister Flake how good they were at what she had taught.
Having a companion who is deaf just felt natural to me – I didn’t realize that other people might need to make adjustments. We talked about how to get a deaf missionary’s attention without being awkward (elders struggle with the tapping on the shoulder thing since Sister Flake is a girl…), how to interact with a deaf person who has an interpreter, and a few other things. The biggest thing is the interpreter. A lot of times people would see that I was interpreting or signing with Sister Flake, look at me, and say “tell her…”, without even acknowledging that she was there. It’s heartbreaking for an interpreter, but it’s ten times worse for the person who is deaf. I’m thankful we had the opportunity to teach elders and sisters in our zone a little about deaf culture. It was really rewarding to see how many people just felt much more comfortable talking with Sister Flake afterwards. I just wish we had done this three months ago!
I really love Sister Flake, and have been so blessed to be her companion for three months. We’ve both grown a lot, and have become such good friends over the past two transfers. She’s an absolutely incredible person, she faces her challenges with determination and grace, which is such an example to someone who tends towards a hot temper and frustration. I’m so excited to see where she will go in the next few months of her mission, and in life itself. The Lord has some beautiful plans for her.
I’ve been so blessed to work with the missionaries that I do, but some have a really special place in my heart because I’ve been able to see them grow, and we’ve been able to grow together. Transfers are always hard because you come to love the people you serve with, and when they leave, you really miss them. There’s a reason that ‘district’ in ASL is signed in the same fashion is ‘family.’ It’s so true. We all work so hard in our individual areas, and we learn to rely on each other for moral/emotional and spiritual support. You make good friends, and everyone once in a while you get a brother or sister along the way.
There’s not a lot more to report this week. The work has been slow, with a lot of people out of town for vacation, but it has given us a lot of time to prepare for the coming months. Work like you won’t be transferred is my motto; honestly, that’s the only way thing get done, and are done well.
News on transfers next week!
Picture 1 – my study area, in case you were curious.
Picture 2 – I stole Elder Magele’s study journal and filled a few pages with quotes and scriptures for his birthday.
Picture 3 – my favorite photo of Sister Flake and I.