Here at IDEA we often have the opportunity to host visiting mission teams. On January 2, 2015, seven wide eyed visitors bounced down the runway at the Tagbilaran airport and right into our lives. This team of young adults is the first ASL (American Sign Language) team to be dispatched to the Philippines by YWAM (Youth With A Mission). Each of them being either deaf themselves and/or proficient at ASL, easily stepped right into helping our students at the Bohol Deaf Academy. They helped to lead the Values Classes, tutored students in Math, helped out with Vocational classes, taught dramas, and lead Bible Studies. They ministered at our Tip Tip Church for the deaf and visited the elementary schools and helped out in the classrooms there as well.
One of the things they requested when they arrived was to have the opportunity to go home with a student over a weekend to experience “real Filipino life”. The IDEA social work staff made needed preparation in insure the volunteer’s safety and then we sent them on their way for the experience of a lifetime. Following are reports of their trips:
Claudine Bastien with Mary Ann in Jagna
I did my home visit in Jagna. I had the opportunity to meet Mary Ann’s parents and her siblings. I felt so blessed to have met them. The family was very loving toward me and immediately welcomed me into their home. They always served me food and made sure I felt comfortable. I really liked to see Mary Ann’s siblings work together as a family such as cooking, cleaning, and preparing for all meals while the parents worked. Mary Ann’s parents have six children. There are three Deaf children, Mary Ann is the oldest. The Deaf children, including Mary Ann, were using Filipino Sign Language (FSL) to communicate with each other. However, I was not able to meet the oldest brother who is the 2nd Deaf child in the family because he works in Cebu (another island). I just met the youngest Deaf sibling whose name is Minerva. She goes to the Jagna Deaf Elementary School. Minerva is a beautiful and lovely little girl. She was always excited to join with Mary Ann and I on our adventures around town such as walking on the beach and exploring the markets. The three of us had a great time together. Mary Ann was a good guide as she showed me around her hometown. Our friendship grew stronger through understanding each other and each other’s culture. What impacted me the most was seeing Mary Ann’s parents loving their children and seeing how Mary Ann’s mother put a lot of effort into communicating with Mary Ann by using FSL. Mary Ann’s dad tried his best by communicating with her through gestures. The parents have so much patience. Their hearts were so caring for everyone in the house.
My perspective on family values changed after that home visit. I realize that quality time together daily is very important. Mary Ann’s family valued breakfast time and dinner time together. They also heavily emphasized helping each other out. Personally, I did not have that while growing up because my parents were always busy with their jobs. Now, seeing Mary Ann’s family show that value of family time really made me confirm that I want that for my own family in the future. I really thank Mary Ann for allowing me to stay in her home and introducing me to all of her family members who live in her area. It was an amazing experience for me and I learned the tough life that Mary Ann has. I am so glad that I had this opportunity.
Caleb Resch with Jonas in Candijay
Jonas has an awesome family. The family was friendly towards me and showed a lot of value to Jonas. For example, I was chatting with Jonas on our way to his house, I asked him what was his favorite food; he responded that he loves raw fish served on rice. When we arrived at his home, immediately, his parents brought out Jonas’ favorite food- raw fish on rice! I saw how excited his parents were to see Jonas when we arrived. There were a lot of children at Jonas’ house! I met about 7 kids. I asked the Lord for patience because when I was seated in his house, all of the 7 kids just continued to stare at me for hours! I know it is not common for them to see a white man enter their house so it was a new experience for them too. I saw how Jonas’ family really has a hard life, but they have so much love. They really won a lot of my respect because they do not have much yet they were filled with so much joy. The family knows what the difference between being rich and being poor, but they did not care. They had what they needed, food, family, and shelter. They value family and the love inside the family.
I was humbled by this experience. I realize that I have a nice house, amazing food, hot showers, and a nice comfortable bed back at home. This family did not have that yet they found the wonders of joy and love through so little. It was a great experience for me to appreciate things more now. I thank Jonas for inviting me into his home and allowing me to experience his life for the weekend.
Danni Fey with Cheryl in Mabini
I had the opportunity to go home with a student from the Bohol Deaf Academy for a weekend. Her name is Cheryl Wahig and her family lives in Mabini. From the moment we first arrived at her house, her family made sure I felt welcomed. I have never experienced hospitality like that before. Both of the parents knew a little bit of sign language and spoken English. We were able to communicate with basic words. Cheryl’s mother was always attentive to my needs. Cheryl’s mother always showed her concern about wanting me to like her food. I absolutely loved her cooking! I even stepped out of my comfort zone and tried eating her squid! Cheryl and her family shared with me some of the struggles they have had since the typhoon. Cheryl’s father is a fisherman, but has not been able to work because his net was destroyed. They are saving up for a new net, but it is not easy.
Overall, my time at Cheryl’s house was very relaxed. I really enjoyed meeting her family and the other neighbors within the village. It was good to get a taste of how other people live their everyday lives. I am really thankful for this experience and the new perspective it has given me. There is a lot in the USA that we simply take for granted.
Destiny Lopez with Lea in Mabini
I did my home visit with a student named Lea. This experience has changed my perspective and the way I view life. After my home visit with Lea, I realize I need to appreciate life and God more, no matter what happens and whoever I am with. This experience also helped me to see the bigger picture of how hard life can be, but we should never think that nothing can be fixed. Yes, there might be hard times in life, but we all need to work it through and not leave it broken.
Lea’s family lost their home from the typhoon, but they made it work by rebuilding their home again. Lea’s mother has six children to take care of and her father is always working hard. Lea’s mother is a stay home mom to take care of stuff at the house. It is challenging for Lea’s family, but they work it through without complaining or expressing frustration. I am really glad that I have had this opportunity to see Lea’s life for the weekend. I felt really encouraged by God through this family.
Jonathan Owens with Glen at Jagna
My home visit was with Glen. It was both a joy and a challenge. I really enjoyed the overwhelming hospitality that I received the moment I walked in the door. I am not a Deaf person, but Glen is Deaf. I always use sign language when I am around Deaf people. So, the challenge was when I was visiting at Glen’s house, I made sure that I did not speak so I could honor Glen as a Deaf person for communication accessibility. I got a small taste of what it would be like to be a Deaf person in a family who does not sign at all. Communication was so difficult and I felt some loneliness. It was real. I cannot imagine not being able to communicate my thoughts or feelings with my parents for my entire life!
I came out of that experience with a deeper “heart understanding” of what many Deaf children experience with families who do not sign. I am grateful for Glen allowing me to be part of his family for the weekend and for allowing me to see what he experienced all of his life. He showed me what it was like to be a “Deaf” person in the family. As for my adventure that weekend, Glen was awesome at showing me around his home town. We got to hike up a hill with an amazing view of Jagna. The whole weekend was captured with moments of beauty through nature and through a heart-to-heart connection with Glen.
Renca Dunn with Criezal in Talibon
Criezal is a 2nd year student at the Bohol Deaf Academy. I was assigned to go home with Criezal for the weekend. It was an enriching experience. First off, I want to thank Criezal and her family for opening up their home to me. I know that what I experienced over that weekend I will never get a similar one. Criezal is such a sweet young lady who cared a lot about how I felt throughout the weekend. I knew she wanted me to have the best. Criezal was very shy bringing me home with her because she was afraid that I might view her area as poor and not be comfortable around her family. I assured her that I would be just fine and I was very excited to meet her family. When I arrived at her house, her mother just immediately welcomed me in her home. The first thing she said to me was, “I know we do not have much and we live in a poor home, but we are very happy that you are here with us.” It just touched my heart with how little the family has, but it did not matter to them because they were just simply thrilled that they had a new friend (me) joining in with them for the weekend. I am a Deaf person myself and I had an easy time communicating with Criezal’s mother because she was able to sign. When she found out that Criezal was Deaf after giving birth to her, she immediately took up sign language seminars so she could communicate with her child. It inspired me to see the motivation that Criezal’s mother had. Criezal also has two younger sisters who were able to fingerspell a little bit. There was so much love and affection among the family. Criezal’s father is a hard working man and obviously loves his family. I could see that Criezal’s parents shared equal burdens with labor around the house. Criezal’s family grows their own fruits and vegetables. I was able to eat tons of vegetables for meal times and able to eat some fruit fresh off the trees. I thank Criezal’s father for climbing up the trees to get the fruits! I think the most challenging thing for me was the sleeping arrangements. I slept on a hard bamboo chair. It was the only available space that the family had for me. I gladly accepted.
The most inspiring thing for me was seeing Criezal’s mom communicate with her own daughter, Criezal, through using sign language. The most heart felt moment for me was after our dinner, the family just curled up together on the bamboo chair and rested on each other. I just loved seeing how they embraced family time. I am so thankful for open arms and open hearts from Criezal and her family. God was presented through everyone at her home. I will always cherish the time I had with her family. I feel so blessed.
Taylor Archer with Joice at Loon
My home visit was with Joice. It was an awesome experience for me. I loved going home with Joice and meeting her family. I was really happy to have a lot of time with her that weekend and to experience her home life even if it was for a short time. Her family was very wonderful and I saw so much love in them. It was beautiful to see how much they love and cherish Joice even if it was difficult for them to communicate with her and her with them. I really had a great time with Joice walking around on the beach, collecting shells, helping her mom sell fish at the market, and most of all, talking about Jesus. I definitely feel a deeper friendship with her now and hope she feels closer to Jesus as a result of our conversations. It was a great weekend.
Eyes were opened, hearts were filled, hospitality received and new friends made, all in all an amazing experience!