Friday, February 19, 2010

The Ebb and Flow...of Water into the Baptismal Font

Well, this week have been nothing short of exciting. Last sunday, the ASL program scored not one, but TWO baptisms: A woman named Myrna and her son Anthony. The other ASL elders have been working with them over the past month and now Myrna and Anthony can now count themselves among God's children. Elder Lingam and I got to help participate by giving a "missionary moment" to the congregation while Elder Hadlock baptized Myrna and Elder Cordy baptized Anthony.

Remember last week I spoke about Evaristo Romero? Well, we just committed him to baptism and he wholeheartedly agreed! Evaristo is such a wonderful guy and will be a great asset to the deaf branch. We're planning to baptize him on February 28th, less than 2 weeks from now. At this rate, there will be many many baptisms in the near future. And there will!

How come? well, Elder Cordy and Elder Hadlock are teaching a pretty great guy named Luis Vergas. He has such a powerful testimony that he wants every one of his deaf friends to come join in with him. Luis gave us a list of correspondences as long as our arm! We've been praying for more people to teach, and Heavenly Father certainly delivered. Right now we're up to our eyebrows.

I want to share yet another experience. Last Thursday, we invited a recent convert, George Bartley, to come teach a lesson with us to a man named Charles Phillips, who is good friends with George. About halfway into the lesson, Charles seemed a bit complacent, but I felt strongly to encourage George to give his testimony. He reluctantly agreed, and gave his testimony.

Now, George is a recent convert. The very idea of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints wasn't among his frame of reference, not even 3 to 4 months ago, and he was baptized only last month. What happened in that moment was nothing short of amazing. George gave a marvelous testimony, stating simply that he *knows* without a doubt that Jesus Christ is his saviour, and knows that he is among those who are in the true church organized by Jesus Christ himself. Elder Lingam and I felt deeply moved, and maybe even Charles also. Long story short, Charles asked us to come back this week to teach him more.

We have many other people to teach within a reachable distance, but unfortunately, less than half of them lives on Long Beach, which lies outside the boundaries of the California Los Angeles Mission.

Mission rules dictate that all missionaries MUST stay within the boundaries, even if there are people to teach outside it. Violation of this rule could cause problems for the missionaries working in the another mission, and in the end, the penalty can mean a early release! Therefore we're being extremely careful to stay within the boundaries, since our mission area is very small. Fortunately, the mission president makes exceptions for ASL and Korean missionaries on a case-by-case basis.

Right now, we're feverently praying for our Mission President's approval to be able to cross the boundary to teach these people. In the short term, we hope to get a kind of "golden ticket" to be able to teach in Long Beach freely. In the long and hopefully more permanent term, we want to work with the Long Beach Mission to extend the ASL language into their mission, so they can accomodate to the specific needs of some of the deaf population there. That could mean more deaf/ASL missionaries to work with the people, and help the work progress more rapidly.

Did you know that out of approximately 55,000 missionaries serving, there are only about 50 to 60 in the ASL program all over the ENTIRE country and in parts of England? Hmph. We'll have to change that.

The field is indeed "white and ready to harvest", even in Southern California. And right now, we're the ones driving the tractor.


By the way, I have two pictures! Here you go. Enjoy.

-- Elder Tritsch and Elder Tritsch. Aren't we both awesome?
-- Baptism of Myrna and Anthony (from left to right: Elder Lingam, Elder Hadlock, Myrna (daughter below), friend Blanca Huante, Anthony, Elder Cordy, and me.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My Vision: A Gathering Place for Deaf Saints

My Vision: A Gathering Place for Deaf Saints

I’ve shared my feelings about my mission so far in several testimony meetings, but now I have been deeply impressed that I should share it along with you.
Before, only of the reasons that I wanted to go on a mission was to be able to meet a lot of deaf people and teach them the gospel. I have now found that priority to be in error. Instead, I have discovered an even bigger purpose for my being in the service of the Lord in Los Angeles.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing people are a unique people in themselves. Because of their situations in life, their lifestyle is what makes them special. Many deaf people grow up with considerable language barriers between themselves and the hearing world, mostly among their own families. (90% of deaf people are born to hearing parents). Perhaps because of that, deaf people tent to lead introverted lives, often not very sociable except with other deaf people – people like them. Some deaf people grew up learning orally (forced to lip read and speak). But even oral poses many challenges in itself. In general, some deaf people have a hard time accepting themselves or feel unsatisfied with their lives because of what makes them different from regular society.

On the other hand, deaf people who are faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather into ward and branches accustomed specifically for their needs. I’ve been to a few of them now and from my observations, I have noticed that the people there are more outgoing, very sociable and many of them have genuine smile son their faces. I’ve also notices that many deaf members have a special excitement for going to deaf wards and branches, because they can be taught by people like them, and those who understand their needs.

During my time in the MTC and here in Los Angeles, I’ve developed a special understanding and desire for all of the deaf people round me. How great would it be if all deaf people could unite in “so great a cause.” That they can have many good friends and in the grand scheme, be more satisfied with their lives because they have found a purpose for being here on earth.

I want to be able to give many more deaf people that blessing. More than that, I want them to recognize that Jesus Christ loves them not matter their situation or walk in life.

But above all, I think that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ would want that also. Perhaps that is the reason I am here on earth; to help others like me come together and to help them see the blessings that come through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Over the next two years, Elder Hadlock (the other deaf missionary) and I hope to see the deaf branch become a powerful ward, a real place that deaf people can come to be with others like themselves and to be able to put their isolated lives aside. That will be the fruit that yields from our continued hard work and full obedience to the Lord’s commandments. I testify of it and we intend to set a shining example for all missionaries to come after us.

And so, my family and friends, we have a lot of work to do.


Elder Tritsch

Silver Lining

Los Angeles has so many apartment complexes and houses with barred windows and doors that it seems that if you can afford to live in a decent looking neighborhood without bars on their houses, you're considered part of the upper class.


This week have been bittersweet for the most part. I'll just go ahead with the bitter and get it over with.

Despite our constant efforts to help Eddie Parker change his life and come back to church, he ultimately decided to apostasize from the church by declaring that he had been baptized into another church. For the last two weeks, after seeing considerable improvement into him, to go the opposite way behind our backs, made absolutely no sense to me. It puts a giant "What the flip?" above my head. (I would make it bigger but there's no font size option here on Afterwards, I got a little discouraged and prayed about it, then I was inspired to read page 170 of "Preach My Gospel"

I will quote:

"When people choose not to investigate the restored gospel, your work is not wasted. Your consistent efforts in serving and teaching as many people as you can is one way God prepares His children to eventually receive His servants. He often reaches out to His children through you. Even when people do not accept the opportunity to learn the gospel, your service and words are evidence of God’s love for them and may plant seeds that future missionaries and members of the Church will harvest.

When people do not accept the gospel, do not be discouraged. You have raised a warning voice. You have given them a clear choice. Disciples of Christ feel sorrow when people choose not to repent, but they maintain a vision of who they are and what they are doing. They continue to diligently move forward."

I understood more clearly now that in the grand scheme of things, those we teach will either or not count themselves among the Lord's Elect. What really matters right now is to just continue moving forward. Now is not the time for licking wounds. There are hundreds and even thousands of other people who seriously need the guidance of His gospel, especially in a world that is slipping further into apostasy from all that is good, moral, and sensible. We will try to visit Eddie again in a month or two and see how he is doing.

All bitterness aside, this week brought with it a string of promising investigators, especially a man who we've begun teaching named Evaristo Romero. He seemed to accept the teaching very well. We was able to go to church with him last sunday, and Evaristo desired to come to church again next week! He is a humble person and has kept all his committments to read the scriptures and pray. This week, we will teach him more lessons and maybe even discuss baptism. Although Evaristo doesn't have a car, he doesn't mind riding the bus since he lives near the Metro bus/train system.

We've received "intelligence reports" that there is a possible deaf community in the town of Carson, near a large LDS meetinghouse there. We are planning to *cough* tract *cough* this week, if the rumors proves true, we just might have a gold mine of possible investigators. How awesome will that be?

Last saturday, we all got to go to the temple with the deaf branch. They have a monthly temple excursion and we were invited to attend, with the mission president's approval. It was my first time seeing ASL versions of the temple ordinances being performed. Although I will not disclose for the sake of temple sacredness, it was a really interesting experience. Afterwards, all of us ASL missionaries went to dinner at a really delicious hawaiian-themed burger restaurant near the temple.

This Thursday will mark the start of my 4th month into the mission. In other words, 1/8 of my mission is over. Hmm. I could have sworn it didn't feel like that long. Yikes. There's just SO MUCH TO DO.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

No Culture is Entirely Righteous

No Culture is Entirely Righteous
By Zack Tritsch

As the world has known for millennia, every nation, people, and culture has a dark side to their way of life; terrorists, religious extremists, criminals, dictators, tyrants and oppressors that reign with blood and terror. Today, I learned that even deaf culture has its own demons.

In class (MTC), we were shown a video on the computer about two deaf parents who gave birth to a healthy son, but they were dismayed to learn that their son was hearing. The parents had hoped to have a deaf child and start a generation of deafness in the family. For four years, they were disgusted by the fact that their child could hear, and wished/prayed that one day their son’s hearing would degenerate and become deaf like his parents. Finally, one night, the father decided to sit down with his wife and talk about his feelings. To his surprise, she had the same feelings, and they both decided to do something about their son.

This is when it starts to get very very wrong.)

The man called the local doctors about deafening his son. Not surprisingly, such a procedure is strictly illegal in the United States and many places, but one doctor knew a contact in Brazil who could do the procedure well within the legal boundaries of their government. The man said, “fine, give me his number”.
Within a week, everything was set. The ecstatic parents informed their son that he would be deaf soon. However, the boy resisted the idea that he would lose his hearing.

“But Daddy, what about my music?”

“It will be all right. You will not hear music, but you will still feel it.”

“But Daddy, what about my favorite Saturday morning cartoons?”

“It will be all right. They will have closed captioning.”

“But Daddy, what about my friends?”

“You can make new friends, or your friends will have to learn to use sign language.”

Plaintiff pleading was to no avail. The parents would go ahead with the surgery anyway. They were informed that the operation would cost roughly $150,000. You’d think that would deter them from doing such an action, but stubbornness, selfishness and pride won out. They all flew to Brazil. The deed was done. The child had his hearing unwillingly taken away from him. Finally, perhaps as a insult to injury, the parents suggested that their son and they all go to a beach to celebrate.

If anything, this was deaf pride in its most extreme form. The deaf parents callously gave little regard to their son’s future and natural development. The only thing they cared about was that their son has become deaf like his parents. Then, perhaps the most disturbing of all, they earnestly believe that their son becoming deaf (and paying $150,000 to do so) was a God given miracle. Obviously their choices and actions, including the choice to tell the whole story on YouTube, inevitably brought public scrutiny and the attention of social workers across the country.

God gave all of the trials and challenges in this life; that we may learn to overcome the obstacles which He had placed for us, and be able to improve ourselves and those around us. By making their child become deaf, they defeated the purpose of God’s plan for all of us.

And then something hit me: limitations.

Because the parents took away their son’s hearing, they not only took an inherent ability away from him, they took away a lot of opportunities and possibilities that came with this natural development. For all intents and purposes, deafness is not something you give to someone, but rather what results from what you take away. A true parent should love their child no matter what and teach them to embrace all opportunities to their way of life, statures, and already existing limitations. Parents should adapt to their child instead of forcing the child to adapt to their parents. The deaf mother and father did jus the exact opposite, out of selfish concern for only themselves.

In the grand scheme of things, people like them will be held accountable before God for their actions (A Proclamation to the World). Please understand that I don’t hold this insight against all of deaf culture, but I believe it is wrong for us to forcibly assimilate people into our culture, especially when it concerns innocent children.

If I have hearing children in the near future, I would teach that child to embrace hearing culture. I would give my child music. I would encourage him/her to have all kinds of friends. I would help my child discover all the opportunities in life.
I would provide what’s best for my child.
I would ensure my child’s utmost happiness.
I would help my child succeed.
And most above all, I would do it with all the love in my heart – and do you know why?

Because it is the right thing to do.


Pictures of Elder Tritsch in Action

These were taken by members of the Torrance 4th Branch for the Deaf and posted on Facebook. COOL!

Deaf people are everywhere and nowhere at the same time

Hello all!

My week has been wonderful for the most part. Why? We found dozens of new people to teach, most of them actually coming from the street. Even better, ALL of them were interested into learning more about the gospel. I think I can safely say that the Lord knows that I choose to take my mission seriously and decided to help out by placing deaf people into our paths. Usually, I find deaf people in public only once in a blue moon.

Last Tuesday, one semi-active family brought their friend named Sim for us to teach. Nice lady; asked a lot of questions. Friday, we found a woman named Vicki, who is hard of hearing but can sign. On Saturday, we most certainly hit the jackpot. What is it? A car full of deaf/signing people! We were biking from appointment to appointment to save car miles and gas.

The cool thing about people like me is that I have 180* vision and eyes in the back of my head. (it's near impossible for people to sneak up on me. Ask my brother, he'll confirm that fact!) We were biking from appointment to appointment to save car miles and gas. As we were biking home, I caught one woman moving her hands out of the very corner of my eye. I shouted to my companion to stop, and we looked back. Sure enough, it was sign language. Two deaf women introduced us as April and Hope. I think there's more of them because a little boy who was with them signed also. We got their cell numbers and invited them to church so we'll see what happens.

Eddie Parker is continuing to improve and Branch President Sutton says he will be able to interview for entering the temple on March. Sadly, we found out that David Turner has a slight Word of Wisdom issue (drinking coffee), so we are continuing to work with him, and President Sutton has decided to delay his priesthood/temple interviews until March, if David can improve and put aside his coffee habits.

The branch is growing steadily, activity-wise. With two companions working on two different fronts of the Los Angeles area, it's going well. All of us hope to be able to add one more companionship to the lines so the work can progress more rapidly. After all, we want a bona-fide Deaf ward, don't we?

Oh! this week, we just committed a young man named Marcial Martinez to baptism. He want to be baptized more than ever. The missionaries has been working with him in the past and he has a testimony of the gospel, but he is still afraid his mother will object, since she is a devout catholic. She isn't against the church though, so we told Marcial to be brave and sit down with his mom and really share his feelings to his mom because I know she'll understand. Basically, something to the extent of "Suck it up.". We'll see what happens in the next few days.

We don't know what's up with Nancy though. She's been skipping church lately and it's been hard for us to contact her. We think she's just nervous so we're just being patient with her.

Anyway, that's pretty much the highlights of my week.


1. Ever since arriving in Los Angeles almost three weeks ago, I've lost 8 pounds. So far, that makes a grand total of zero pounds gained on my entire mission. Goodbye, MTC food, and never again! Hello, future six-pack abs!

2. While thinking randomly, I discovered that if you look at my last name like an anagram, TRITSCH becomes


cool huh?

3. In big cities, you tend to meet some of the strangest people you'll ever see in your entire life (in a good way, mind you all!). one time, we saw there was a man dressed in woman clothes on the bus, and another time, we saw there was a person that you ABSOLUTELY can't tell if is a man or a woman.

Also bald chicks.


Bye for now