After 20 years of coming out to the Dominican Republic doing Deaf church planting with teams from the Spokane Deaf Church, God began to speak to my heart concerning the great need to educate the Deaf children. I had not worked with any Deaf children in the D.R. before that but had experience working with Deaf children in Special Education in the U.S. for ten years. I learned alot from some very good special education teachers and had it in my heart to one day be able to start a Deaf school in the D.R. I had more or less “shelved” the dream until 2008 when I once again traveled to the D.R. Traveling through the country we passed through Hato Mayor and I felt something from the Lord about this small town. Upon returning to the states God spoke to my heart to go back to Hato Mayor and begin the Deaf school that I had hoped to do one day. I was to learn later that a lady named Cati Santana (who was to become my first teacher and “right arm”.) had been praying for five years that God would send someone to work with the Deaf children. GOD ANSWERS PRAYER!!
With my husband, Jet’s complete support and help, I started the Deaf school in Hato Mayor in October of 2008. I began with 12 Deaf children that Cati had gathered together, rented a house with living quarters for myself and a first-time missionary from Canada, Vivian Spencer, who volunteered a few months out of the year for the first two years, and the Life and Hope in Christ School for the Deaf was born! The children had never been to school. Their only signs were “home-signs” and gestures, they had no idea what their names were, how old they were, their birthdays, parents, siblings names and on and on. The first year was just spent giving them sign language, vocabulary and a knowledge of who they were and who Jesus Christ is.
I am now in my fifth year. I had only committed to two years and ignorantly thought I could train teachers and leave it in the hands of the Nationals by then. One day that will be possible but for now we are still in the process of training. I now have four teachers who are absolutely “awesome”, 22 Deaf children ranging from ages 6 – 18. Just this last year I was able to move out of the classroom and do the job of Director/Administrator full time. It is difficult for me not to be teaching as that is my passion but I know this is the way it has to be. The children all continue to grow and learn. They write beautifully, are all doing math, science, reading, P.E. and gaining a good knowledge of Jesus Christ and the Bible. They have come from undisciplined, uneducated Deaf children who lived not only in a world of silence but of ignorance. They now realize that they are of value. God made them! He loves them! They are of the same worth as any hearing child and can do all that any child can do, except hear. They have a language now. Sign language, the natural language of the Deaf, has open a door to a whole new life for these precious children.
We continue to have hopes and dreams for our school. As we are still renting a house for the school, we hope to obtain land and build a school, church and vocational center. The children are growing up. Five of our boys will turn 13 this year. What will happen to them when they graduate? There is still much ignorance among the population concerning Deaf people and the mockery and put downs continue. They are not considered normal and will have much difficulty finding jobs or getting training for employment. We hope to be to change that by training them and giving them needed skills for their future lives.
With God’s help and provision, we will do that!
Our school, including myself, have gone through many changes. We are now in our third house as the school has continued to grow. There have been many tears, heartache, frustration and disappointment but…..much more smiles, rejoicing, encouragement, blessing and provision from our Great and Almighty God!! I am growing older. (72 years this summer) but God continues to renew my strength like the eagles. I can run (well almost) and not be weary and I can walk and not faint!
God has given us some precious people to “come along side” with finances and encouragement. We are looking forward to those who will come here to do the Vocational training in the near future and perhaps become missionaries to the Deaf of the D.R. themselves.
There still remains so many towns and communities here in the D.R. with beautiful Deaf children waiting for someone to come and open those “doors” of education and knowledge of Jesus Christ to them. The Bible says that “In that Day the DEAF shall “hear” the Words of The Book…..” Isaiah 29:18 God please send workers into Your Harvest Field!!
I recently went to a conference for Sign Language Interpreters here in the D.R. and saw a saying, referring to the Deaf, that said, “SPEAK TO ME IN MY OWN LANGUAGE” Romans 10:13 – 15 says, “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved, How shall they call on Him in who they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of who they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? How beautiful are the feet (HANDS) of those who preach the Gospel of peace who bring glad tidings of good things!” Let me change the saying above to SPEAK TO ME OF JESUS IN MY OWN LANGUAGE OF SIGNS!!
Pray for us and for God to send those needed workers to the Deaf who are waiting….waiting…..waiting!
God bless you!