If you remember 3 weeks ago we wrote about Deaf we met on the streets and park of L’viv? In the group we met in the park there was a man who went home and told his 9 year-old daughter Alena about meeting Americans who signed and said they would come back to meet again. According to her grandmother, for the last 3 Sundays Alena has come to the park anticipating these Americans making good on their promise. Yesterday, her dream to meet Americans was competed! Not only meet Americans, but ones she could communicate with!
Back story: God has placed a desire in Krista Blessing’s heart to start a Deaf ministry in L’viv. While here, Daniel and I are reaching out as much as we can to help her get started! We stumbled upon Deaf in the park, unsure if it was an official weekly gathering we showed up yesterday on faith. Along with Krista, Daniel and myself we recruited Dima, a member of the church, to join us since he has shown interest. As well as one of Bria’s fans, Dima!
We show up to the spot we saw Deaf before when I noticed an older couple signing who sold small souvenirs. I began interacting with them, when the woman signed, “You’re the Americans!!!” With this she looked at over at little Alena and said, “Here they are!” At that moment a HUGE smile flooded her face and she ran up and hugged me! It was like we were gifts on Christmas day. She insisted on us all walking around the park together. Upon her grandmothers quick approval, she grabbed my hand and thus began our hour long Russian Sign Language lesson walk around the park; One hand signing, the other in my hand.
She is at least third generation Deaf in her family, so the brain on this girl was sharp! So much language, maturity and love! We would all point to things and she would show us the sign. Gave Krista, Dima and Dima some tests and really helped show them the correct way to sign things. One thing they have on Daniel and I is the ability to read fingerspelling because they speak Ukrainian. Since they learned the alphabet ahead of time, Alena could fingerspell words that we didn’t understand then one of the 3 Ukrainians would sound it out and know the word! It was SO helpful!!! She wanted pictures taken, rode Dima’s bike with Daniel’s help and roller bladed never letting go the grip of my hand.
While we were roller blading, the rest of the group sat with her grandmother and learned more. She was willing to teach like Alena. Asked many questions and had many opinions especially about Jehovah Witness’. From what we can understand, they have been trying to make their mark on the Deaf community and we have seen no positive attitudes about their attempts from any one we have met. We did not set out to do any evangelism yesterday, we are just trying to get to know the people, open doors and gain trust. Show them that Krista and others really are interested in their culture and language. Reach out to them and love on them. When we told them we weren’t Catholic and assured her we were not J.W. the only “sect” left is Evangelical. So, that is the category we are under! J She reassured us that we pray to the same God. “It may the same God but in a different way”, is what I thought.
After braiding Alena’s hair and promising her we would be back in 2 weeks, we headed home with full hearts. Krista, Dima and Dima were quite tired from all their learning. Their brains were worn out!! God has really blessed us by opening doors to the Deaf world and we cannot wait to see how he continues it even when we are gone.