Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Most Beautiful Language: An Open Letter

A while back, I shared a picture I'd painted in honor of my little sister, who is deaf.

Chinese boy on airplane
Since then, my family has adopted a second deaf child, Nate. He's actually been a member of my family for only a week now, but we're all smitten with him. He's precious. He's totally awesome.

One day last week hewell, I could talk about him and his antics for hours, but I'm going to move on to the main point of this post...

Bryan and Pam Eubanks are a couple who, as young adults, never could have imagined the adventure their lives would become. But as they raised their deaf son, they also found a rich new culture in the Deaf Community. They began to actively serve in the deaf ministry at their church.

Eventually, Bryan took over as director of the Deaf Institute in Price Hill, Cincinnati, an organization which seeks to bring the Gospel to those who are deaf or hard of hearing. And it is those efforts which bring me to write this letter:


An Open Letter to the People Who First Taught My Family the Beauty of Sign Language:


Bryan and Pam Eubanks,

I can’t thank you enough for the work you’ve done and are doing in the deaf community.

the ASL sign for "Imagine"
When my family adopted my little sister six years ago, we had no idea what we were getting into. We thought Joanna would have surgery to open up her ear canals (she was born without any) and she’d live her life as a hearing person. When her surgery didn't improve her hearing as much as we’d hoped, we turned to a hearing aid. It’s true, my sister loves her hearing aid—the first day she had it, she sat through lunch tapping the ketchup bottle on the table just to hear the sound it made! But having a hearing aid does not make a deaf person un-deaf. And that, we’ve learned, is not a bad thing.

Years ago, when you found yourselves with a deaf son, you learned just how important it is to have a supportive community as early as possible. And the first week my sister was home from China, you were there at our door with a bag of toys, children’s books, and ASL movies.

You’ve willingly interpreted for my sister at multiple events, allowing her to learn and enjoy experiences that would otherwise have exhausted her, and bored her to tears. You sacrifice your time and energy so others can understand the words and songs which I take for granted as a hearing person.

From left: my sisters, Courtney, and Joanna, and me (2010)
Museums, parks, baseball games—wherever a deaf child might feel out of place or alone, you arrange outings for deaf children and families, allowing these kids to see and learn new things from the comfort of a group of friends who speak their same language.


You give equal attention to every man, woman, and child you encounter. No matter the race, age, sex, or degree of hearing, each person who interacts with you walks away feeling loved and special.

You are patient with beginning signers, but push and challenge those who are ready. You always meet people where they are, and never become impatient when you’re asked, for the hundredth time, how to sign something. You put up with teens when they ask about the inappropriate signs, you arrange our fingers when we just can't get the hang of a sign, and you show us that it's okay to mess up.

You work tirelessly to bring the gospel to the most unreached people group in the United States, reminding people that the mission field is right in our own town. The mission field is the man across the street who needs you to repeat every word you say. The mission field is the young woman who doesn't realize she dropped her keys until you tap her shoulder, even though you called after her. The mission field is the one-year-old who first heard his mother's voice in the office of an audiologist.

Alongside the expressive language and vivid storytelling of the deaf community, you found a deep need for the hope of God.

Most importantly, you’ve introduced my family, and countless others, to a community of people who understand that the words “I love you” don’t have to spoken—they just have to be shown. And you’ve mastered the art of showing it. 

Thank you. 
.......................................

Edited 7/16/18
Butterfly Girl prints, mugs, and other stuff are available for purchase now at Redbubble, where my entire share of the sale will be donated to the Deaf Institute. I absolutely love to see Silhouette Girl out in the wild, but best of all this is an effort to give back a little bit to these wonderful people who have walked alongside my family through our adoptions, and given us the support and resources we need to raise two deaf kids.

Butterfly Girl painting
Butterfly Girl. Acrylic and ink on cardboard.
Thanks to the love and support of the Eubanks and their ministry, my family has been able to join the beautiful and diverse Deaf community. My sister is able to attend a deaf school and communicate with her friends and teachers in her heart language. For the first time in his life, my new brother has the chance to learn, and eventually communicate through more than just a few simple gestures and facial expressions. Thanks to the Eubanks and their ministry, deaf children and families are finding hope and love in Christ. 

I've been able to do some small things for them over the years, by drawing different ASL signs for some of their events and publications. But now, for every Butterfly Girl product that sell, I will make a donation to the Deaf Institute.

If you want to learn more about the Deaf Institute, visit www.deafinstitute.org. If you're in the Cincinnati area, go to an event and learn a few signs! I promise, you won't regret it.

Get bubblin' and butterflyin', my friends!

-Cailey

3 comments:

  1. So many amazing things happening here!!!

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  2. Cailey, how very special to read your heart in the midst of your beautiful painting! You observe and understand sooo much of this culture within so many cultures. God knows how to express THE WORD in so many languages. I'm thankful we get to see it expressed in Sign Language, American as well as other countries! God is so multi-dimensional! Thanks for using your art to bless so many!!

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