You type it. You’re the blogger in the family.
No, you. It’s your story.
I can’t write it like you can.
Well…that goes without saying.
What? Fine! I’ll show you!
Hey, sorry about that! Despite what it says in the author slot above, this is Stacy, taking over blogging duties from my husband.
Welcome! Come on in, have a Diet Coke, and get a glimpse of what I am struggling with on the field. If you want coffee, go find Jeremy.
My husband and I are Deaf. Our three children are all hearing and use a variety of languages. Being with the IMB for almost 13 years, we have certainly faced a lot of challenges. However, we are now facing a dilemma that we never had to face on the field.
No, it’s not related to peanut butter. We’ve faced that one before.
Jeremy here….how hard is it for volunteers to follow instructions regarding which peanut butter to bring? Crunchy, people, C-R-U-N-C-H-Y. It’s not rocket science! And besides, who likes that creamy stuff? I’ll tell ya…the American church today….
Sorry. He gets so emotional.
The dilemma we are looking at is what to do with our children for church. I am sure you are thinking, “What? You’re making no sense, lady! You’re a church planter and church is a problem?” Yep…it is true. Let me explain it all to you.
We work with Deaf Ecuadorians who use a minority language: Ecuadorian Sign Language (the dominant language here is Spanish). When we were first appointed to South America, we made a decision before our plane landed: immerse our children in the Spanish language. Our reasoning was that they will be around native Spanish speakers daily through friends, neighbors, storekeepers, the guards, etc. We placed them in a Spanish school for 3 years, and they learned spoken Spanish quite well, well enough to mock our feeble attempts at oral communication. We did not require them to be fluent in the local sign language because we knew their interactions with our people group would be limited; very limited as compared to their interactions with Spanish speakers.
Don’t get me wrong, our kids hang out with our Deaf friends, but they primarily play with our Deaf friends’ children who are hearing and speak Spanish. Our children know enough Ecuadorian Sign Language to communicate the basics with local Deaf, but that is about it.
When we planted a Deaf church in Quito, we planted it within a hearing Ecuadorian church; sister churches, basically. It was a great set-up for our family. The Deaf congregation met in the basement for worship while our children attended S.S. and worship with the Spanish-speaking congregation. We were not in the same room, but we were in the same place at the same time. Our children were able to worship because they could understand the language…we were able to worship because we could understand the language. All was good.
Then we went on stateside or as the older..ahem…wiser missionaries call it, furlough. While on stateside, the Deaf church decided they wanted to leave and become a house church. We were excited. We thought it was awesome. That is, we thought it was great until we remembered our kids.
You had to “remember” the kids? “Mother Of The Year,” ladies and gentlemen!
Drink your coffee and leave me alone.
Scenarios ran through our minds:
We require the kids to come with us to the Deaf house church where they don’t know Ecuadorian Sign well enough to worship, learn, and grow. They aren’t around local Deaf enough to develop greater language skills, so every Sunday is a wasted experience. Yuck!
Dad goes on to the Deaf house church while Mom takes the kids to the Spanish church. Mom sits in the back of the auditorium at the Spanish church, bored, unable to understand what is going on. Mom misses out on worship with a body of believers while Dad is at the Deaf church. Yuck!
Mom and Dad drop the kids off at the Spanish church, go on to the Deaf house church, which is about an hour and half away from the Spanish church. The kids would be sitting on the sidewalk waiting for an hour or two after church for Mom and Dad to return. Yuck!
Of course, we teach our children God’s Word and pray together as a family, but we believe in worshipping with brothers and sisters in Christ in church. We want our kids to worship in a language they can understand so that they can grow, learn, and serve.
Sigh…our kids…left behind. This is not an option.
There is no “right” decision for me. Or rather, “right” decision is for all of us to be in the same room worshipping in a language we all understand, but the realities of living on the field and difficulties of our situation call for us to set aside that ideal.
I want to make a good decision, and to be honest, none of those decisions seems good to me. I know God will help us and guide us with His wisdom to a decision that is best for our family, for our children. In the meantime, I will drink Diet Coke and I will pray. Will you join me?
That wasn’t so hard, was it?