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.