Come check out my post at Light Refreshments Served today ( http://lightrefreshmentsserved.com/) . They asked me to write about my experience with the Deaf culture. Long before I was the lady who knew all about adoption, trans-racial families and Down Syndrome, I was the lady that knew sign language. Not just any signed language, I knew BRITISH Sign Language. A language that is TOTALLY different than American Sign Language and is pretty much useless if you don't live in the UK. I served a mission for my church in the UK learning and using British Sign Language. In our church you don't choose where you go, you just sign up (missions are optional; girls go when they are 21 and boys fo when they are 19). You often don't know much about where you are going beyond the fact that it will be an adventure and you are willing to do your best. For more information about what missions are, you can go to http://www.mormon.org/.
I shared a few mission experiences, but there were MANY more that I couldn't share in the short amount of space that I had over there. Here are some more things that I DIDN'T share:
--how the sign for "very" is quite similar to the sign equivalent of the "F" word. More than one missionary thought they were saying that they were "very, very" something or another and really were saying that they were "f*@&ing f*@*#ing" something. Poor missionaries, but unintentional swearing is almost ALWAYS funny.
--one time we thought that we had a really solid baptism. We had taught the lessons to a deaf gentleman (and it had taken him over a year to decide to get baptised). He was so happy on his baptism day, he bought us a statue of the Virgin Mary (not something that we worship in our dogma) and told us how happy he was to be a "Catholic Mormon". Something clearly hadn't quite sunk in somewhere along the way.
--the sign for "baptised" looks very similar to the sign for "bury". We usually got a quick "NO" when we asked people if they wanted to be baptised. They thought we were asking if they wanted to be buried on a certain date. Frankly, I would say no to that too. People must have thought we were c-r-a-z-y.
--On the same vein, when I lived in East London, we would knock doors and ask people if they knew anyone who was Deaf. More than once we were sent to a house where someone had recently died (and once during the actual wake!!!). Then we realized that the East London accent has folks usually drooping the "th" sound for an "f" or 'v" sound. So, they thought were asking for someone who was DEATH. Apparently in East London they don't bother much with grammar either (because that clearly makes no sense either). I am surprised we didn't get more than strange looks.
--I met my husband while we were both missionaries. We didn't date each other out there (missionaries don't date while serving..well, they aren't SUPPOSED to....). We got reacquainted when we got home, but now I have to forever tell people that is how we met and then explain that missionaries really don't date, but that we met later, etc, etc, etc.
--I still use BSL to this day (that us why at the beginning of this post I said it is ALMOST useless if you don't live in the UK). There is a family in Palo Alto that moved to the US from England and they are deaf. When I see them in Walmart (always in Walmart) they sign with me in BSL. I am getting rustier and rustier as time goes by, but if I want to brush up, I can just head for Walmart and at some point I will see them. Weird, but true.
--I never taught my kids sign. Even with all the baby sign craze ("It's Signing Time with Alex and Leah" anyone? anyone?), I just didn't do it. I guess I was too lazy. The irony? The whole family needs to learn sign now b/c we will use it with Gracie. Kids with Down Syndrome have a harder time learning to talk and often ASL is a good bridge for them. So it is a matter of getting the big kids (and husband) up to speed so we can talk with her as she learns to talk.
Writing that post got me thinking about mission stories. I have a few more I can pull out of my hat, but I am going to go clean out Lauren's room. It is time for the Last Resort again in our house...... dum, dum, dum.......