August 29 we had baptismal service in Engashura. In the class were 5 youth. Priscilla, Susan, George, Jesse and my brother Jeremy. It made the day extra special with Jeremy in the class.

Following the service, the youth had lunch together. The meal consisted of rice, beans, chicken stew and kachumbari (a delicious mixture of diced onion, tomatoes, cilantro and cayenne pepper). The guys cooked the meal and things got a little interesting when they forgot that rice doubles in size. But in the end the food turned out great and I think is my favorite Kenyan dish.

As usual, the servings were huge!

Washing dishes isn’t the easiest task around here. At least the native’s are used to this position because my back and knees wouldn’t put up with this very long.

It’s such a blessing to have native youth girls to interact with. I’ve learned so much from them and am sure they don’t realize how much they’ve blessed my life.

-cynthia

Some of you may remember me talking about Sammy, our gardener. His wife just recently had a baby. I took the opportunity to do somewhat of a photo shoot.

I think she’s one of the cutest babies I ever laid eyes on.

Yesterday I had the privilege of having Ruth, a deaf girl from our church, here for the afternoon.

I have been wanting to learn sign language so that I can better communicate with her. A few months ago, the school she attends offered free language classes. I jumped for the opportunity only to be disappointed. The Kenyan’s method of teaching is so vastly different from I’m used to, that it was difficult for me to retain anything I learned.

So, I decided I’m going to learn the language from the person that I want most to communicate with. And that person is Ruth.

Ruth is able to read and write English. If it weren’t for that, it would be almost impossible for her to teach me anything. She can also hear just a bit, and speak a few words.

The afternoon was absolutely fantastic and I learned so much. Combine that with the fact that we’re building a relationship and it more than doubles the enjoyment of it.

When I first met Ruth, I felt so sorry for her. She seemed very quiet and reserved. She was withdrawn and insecure around people. I rarely saw her smile, and even making eye contact was difficult for her. I wondered how I could reach her, because I knew deep inside there was a longing. A longing to be accepted, to be loved, to be needed. Sure, she had her parents, her siblings and her deaf friends at school…but that wasn’t enough. She needed church friends.

June is the first time I really interacted with her. We had her and her family at our house for lunch. It was then I saw her in a way I had never seen her before. I saw an outgoing personality, a girl with a deep desire to have a close friend and person full of potential. Of course this only increased my desire to be able to communicate with her in her language.

Well, yesterday that dream began to become reality. It always feels good to have a dream become reality, but the most enjoyable part was the interaction. Going to school to learn is fine. But there’s just something about learning from her just adds a whole new dimension. For once, she felt needed. She was the one opening someone’s world. She had a chance to give.

As always when one learns something new, the chances of forgetting are very high. So of course a number of the words she taught me, I forgot. And Ruth always knew when I forgot. I sat there with this clueless expression, staring at my hands trying to figure out how I’m supposed to sign. About then she’d start laughing. I couldn’t help but join her. Another thing she liked to do was point to a word she knew I didn’t know. She wanted to see if I could figure it out. Most times I came out pretty far off which brought another round of laughter.

When we see someone with a physical handicap, it’s so easy to look at them as being less. Someone who is just here, existing. We fail to see them as a person that God has made for a specific purpose. And the worst part is these people feel this attitude. Ruth asked a question that confirms this. She asked, ‘When we get to heaven, will the deaf be separate from the other people?’ I take this as a challenge. A challenge to make her feel as much a part of ‘normal people’ as possible. I want her to feel like she belongs and is needed. Not just someone who is merely existing.

Imagine if you were in her shoes. She’s locked in world of quietness. Unable to hear the sound of the birds, or the wind whistling through the trees. Her language barrier is so  great because very few know her language. When she wants to express her feelings to someone who doesn’t know what she saying, imagine the frustration. And then, if all this isn’t enough to leave her feeling left out and discouraged, other people look at her as less. Simply because she doesn’t have the gift of hearing. Trapped inside are feelings, emotions, thoughts and struggles…just the same as ‘normal’ people.

And here’s my challenge to each one of you. Find someone with a handicap, and make them feel loved, needed, and accepted. Someday you will be blessed for it!

-cynthia

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