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July 1, 2004

KUAM Personal Journeys: Hecita's Helping Hands, Part 3

From: KUAM-TV, Guam - Jul 1, 2004

by Fredalynn Mortera Hecita, KUAM News
Thursday, July 01, 2004

When we first started teaching the deaf we relied heavily on interpreted sermons and lessons. Many times after the services we would ask the deaf if they understood the sermons or to explain them back to us, the majority couldn't and those that tried were often confused with what was preached. Through study and observation we've learned important facts about the deaf and what adjustments we needed to do in order to properly teach them.

We've learned that due to lack of hearing, the deaf person does not acquire an understanding of language, as does the hearing person. Even the best lip-reader may not be able to read the lips of a preacher with only one word in four being read from the lips with any degree of accuracy. When it comes to the written language the deaf will write as they talk with their own rules of grammar, syntax and usage making it different from what you would see in books, the newspaper or even notes written from a hearing person.

Sermon after sermon, lesson after lesson, discussion after discussion we were convicted that the deaf need more than an interpreting service to help them understand God's word, their need for Christ and the Bible's teachings about salvation. You see, the Bible says in Mark 7:32 "And they bring unto him (Jesus) one that was deaf."

Robin and I knew if we truly wanted to follow God's word as leaders the most important factor when working with the deaf is to learn to think deaf. But it was going to take work and dedication on our part. We started to move the Deaf Ministry toward total ministry involving signed, visual sermons and lessons. After songs were sang and announcements were made we would separate from the hearing service to another room where robin would preach a lesson in sign along with pictures.

I would also prepare a Sunday School class that I would sign and teach myself along with visual aids and class participation. The deaf were excited to come and learn god's word. After so many years of interpreting services with the change to total ministry, Fred Castro who was born deaf, says with separate lessons prepared for the deaf they are on fire for the lord. "Robin and Fredalynn helped me to change my life. And become a teacher of the Word of God. They encouraged me to learn more about God. After I received Jesus Christ and was saved, today I am also a teacher for the deaf want and I want all the deaf on Guam to know about Jesus and that He is the only way to heaven. And I encourage all the deaf to come to our church to improve. The lessons are easy and clear to understand," he said.

It's not easy preparing for the lessons and sermons. We pray and ask God to give us wisdom. We study God's word and write out the lesson and prepare the outlines. But we take it a step further by preparing pictures and the main points for the deaf to see. Most of our pictures are drawn, I learned how to illustrate by buying a book on how to draw. After Robin prepares his sermon or a lesson is written out I would take the outline and begin making the appropriate visuals that would support the lesson.

I begin by drawing them out with a pencil, filling color in and outlining the graphics. Then we'd scan the pictures to a larger scale add the main points as bullets and cut them out. A simple lesson with maybe two or three pints would take anywhere from eight to twelve hours to prepare from start to finish.

But it's worth the time and the effort when you know the deaf are learning.

"It is very important for the deaf to understand that god loves us and wants us to be in Heaven with Him. Robin and Fredalynn are here giving their time and skills to teach the deaf to learn about Jesus and reason He died on the cross for us to wash away all our sins. I pray more deaf will come here and learn about Jesus," said Fred.

As a pastor for the deaf, Robin preaches God's word and as his help meet I support him with the skills God ahs given me along with our sons Zachary and Jeremiah. The average deaf person we've ministered to cannot read the Bible well enough to understand it. And even in the modern age many times the deaf remain overlooked and neglected. But for the deaf to learn, you must be willing to make the time and have the patience to teach them they know only what someone takes the time to tell them.

Since we began teaching the deaf we've learned it's essential to add pictures and write out the main points along with signing to reinforce their understanding because they cannot hear. Deaf depend heavily upon the use of their eyes. Because of this characteristic, visual aids are very, very important in teaching the deaf.

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