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Encourage
Glenn and Kim

 
Did You Know?
Kim and Glenn recently experienced incredible downpours that soak their patients completely.
They end up taking their clothes to dry them while they have surgery.
Click here to view a "Rains in Africa" song.

(thanks to Kelly Santy for the link!)

Benin!
benin


Flying Hands!
"...He even makes the deaf hear..." - Mark 7:37
Dear All,
  This verse talks about Jesus making someone be able to physically hear again, but I have witnessed another kind of 'hearing' that the Lord does.  He enables people to hear His word...even the deaf.
 
In 1976, I graduated from college with a degree in Deaf Education. A year later, I had my first child and chose to stay home and left teaching. Never, ever did I expect to have an opportunity to use my sign language skills 30 years later ---- in Africa!!

deaf class

Our Mercy Ministries Team found a government school for the deaf here in Cotonou, Benin.  60 deaf children receiving schooling in a 3 room cement block building, with no electricity and no running water.  They do have desks, uniforms, a nice blackboard, and a few supplies.  There were 3 teachers, 2 of whom are deaf, and one principal (also deaf).  The children are ages 6 to 16 years old with abilities ranging from mildly retarded to really smart.  A team from Mercy ships has been able to do a Bible lesson and craft with the children each week.  We didn't know if a government run school would allow this type of Christian activity, but to her sheer delight, they said yes!   I signed up to help much to the delight of the team leader who knows no sign language.
 
Now for those who are not aware....not all sign language is alike!  My first visit was thrilling as I once again saw the 'flying hands' all around me trying to get my attention to tell me something. Oh how I have miss those flying hands! Then, I realized that although they learned American Sign, they used French finger spelling and grammar!  So now I had to learn my French as well as their regional signs! 
Deaf Teacher & class
The teacher in this picture is hearing, but he only speaks French. Fortunately, we could still communicate.  The hearing teacher and I would generally teach in tandem.
 
Our first lesson was outside.  I taught about Jesus calming the storm. I had the children act it out with an outer ring of children being the waves and the storm.  Just as we got to the storm part and they were all madly waving their arms to represent a storm...a REAL storm suddenly came with wind. And just as we ran for cover...a real downpour came!  Ha!  God always does it better than I can!  We then taught how we can pray to God when we are frightened (a concept, to my surprise, they had never learned).
 
Our next lesson was Palm Sunday.  We chose children to act it out.  Africans are used to wearing colorful wraps of cloth around their waist, so we gave some of the girls wraps to wear. We gave the rest of the children palm branches.  One boy played Jesus and rode on the 'donkey' (another boy) toward the others who quickly threw their wraps in front of him and with the 'crowd' erupting into a cacophony of deaf sounds from excited children waving their palms with great joy.  What a sight! (and I wish you could hear what I heard!) The colors flying through the air and landing on the ground with the green waving overhead and the unmistakable sound of joy!  And all I could think was 'and even the rocks shall cry out!'  It was the best Palm Sunday yet!  Afterwards, the children had a lot of questions about Jesus and LOVED hearing about Jesus not staying dead!! They clapped for joy!
 
Our last lesson was on Creation.  The children were amazed at all that God did...and in only 6 days!!  They particularly marveled how he brought Adam and Eve to life.  The children would turn and blow on one another to demonstrate how God breathed His Breath into Adam.  (I laughed as I watched the other teacher explain the reason for God making Eve...he signed 'because Adam was bored with the animals, and that was not good!' - note: "bored" is signed with one finger up your nose! Ha!)  After the lesson, we passed out Playdoh for the project.  The teachers urgently tugged on my sleeve and asked if it was something for the children to eat!!  Now I know that for decades children have been eating playdoh, but I didn't want to start that here!  The children were told to open their playdoh and as soon as they got a whiff...up went hands asking "can we eat it?"  (Why do they make playdoh smell so good???)  Once we got that straight, we had the task of explaining what it WAS for.  I and the rest of the team began to quickly model examples to show them while telling them that they were to create something like God did out of dirt. Having never done anything like this before, it took a while for the light to dawn as they looked back and forth at each other as if to say, "do you know what to do?" But, soon we had a LOT of snakes....then, sun, moons and stars... then stick men...and finally, animals and even pottery!  Even the teacher got into it!

boy with playdoh

boy with playdoh 2

But, the best is being able to teach them about God and watching their faces go from puzzled to suddenly brightening up and whipping around to explain it to their friend because...they GOT IT!

The deaf CAN hear the word of God.  What a privilege to be able to do this.  What an amazing gift to be able to do it here!

"...and in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book..." Isaiah 29:18

In His hands,
KIM
boys