DAY 3 — 17 March 2013

Being assigned name signs by Christian and Hector.

Being assigned name signs by Christian and Hector.

Good day everyone! And what a beautiful day it is! For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Hayley (the only Asian kid on the trip) and I’m ecstatic to be on this trip! It’s only our second day here and we’ve accomplished so much!
Breakfast, we fended for ourselves by eating food purchased yesterday at the local grocery store. Around 10:30am, we came together as a group and left the hotel to pick up Hector. Hector, the sweetest deaf man you will ever meet, is our driver and local pastor for the deaf church nearby. We drove to the church named Iglesia Central Asamblea de Dia and climbed up the stairs to the third floor where the deaf community gathered for worship. The room is in a classroom, with rows of chairs and desks. A decent amount of people trickled in as time went by. Not including Hector and our group, there were a total of eleven people. Our group was the first to arrive, so we began by introducing ourselves to Hector and he gave the majority of us our name signs. Later on, other deaf people who arrived helped give us name signs, too. I’m not sure about the others in our group, but I have been waiting FOREVER for a name sign!! I was grinning from ear to ear the entire time when Hector began assigning name signs. Although it took some time, Hector and some others decided to give me the name sign that was associated with smiling, since I was smiling so much. It is the letter “H” that slides up the corner of the mouth slightly to indicate smiling.

Sydney practicing Hayley's new name sign.

Sydney getting ready to practice Hayley’s new name sign that looks like “smile” with the ‘h’ handshape.

Sydney’s name sign is “S” shaken down the side of her head to represent her hair.
Erin’s n name sign is “E” across the chest to represent her passion for acting.
Maria’s name sign is “M” above the eyebrow to represent…her eyebrows.
Justin’s name sign is “J” looped around the eye to represent how focused he was at the time.
Casey’s name sign is “C” looped down her hair to represent…her hair.
Emily’s name sign “E” tapped in the chin remains from her previous year’s visiting the Dominican Republic.
Tim’s name sign was “T” across the side of his forehead to represent his hairline. This was later changed to a “G” tapping the side of his mouth to represent his habit of chewing.
Joe’s name sign was “J (Transitioning to) K” by the forehead for an unknown reason. This was later changed to “J (Transitioning to R” down the arm.

After we were assigned names, the majority of the deaf people had arrived. We moved to the back and the local deaf people moved to the front. They all introduced themselves and we prayed. Then we signed six different songs which was a new experience for many. Two girls impressively lead the songs with grace and passion. We learned many different religious signs by following the lead signer.

Following the songs, all of the deaf people arrived so we formally did introductions again.

Introducing ourselves to the church body using our new name signs.

Introducing ourselves to the church body using our new name signs.

This time, we went up front and used our new sign names for the first time. They were all interested in what we were studying at college and where we were from. After introductions, we had a small sermon about sin and living life with God to avoid the devil and sin. Dr. Rust did a nice job interpreting for the group or else we would have been completely lost. After the sermon when we mingled with the deaf congregation and they were extremely patient during our miscommunication. After fifteen minutes, we were called  to leave, which I was sad to see happen.

We picked up Hector’s wife, Belkis, who was just as sweet, and went off to lunch! Lunch was on the house and we were all starving! When complementary bread went on the table, we inhaled it. A lot of food and drinks were ordered, and most was gone by the end of the meal. While we were waiting for food, we played The Telephone Game which is basically the signing version of whisper down the lane. The starting message was a long sentence about going and enjoying the beach. The ending thought was, “Beach Sex.” Funny how things get lost in translation—even simple one on one communication. At one point during the meal, Sydney didn’t understand something Hector was signing. He was indicating that she had no clue. Meanwhile Sydney thought he called her an unspeakable word … which didn’t sit well with her. Eventually the true meaning of Hector’s signs were understood and all was well.

After lunch, some of us headed to the Deaf club. I was surprised by the amount of people who came to the deaf club. Although there were few when we first arrived, an increased flow of people arrived later. In total, there were about forty people by the time we had to leave. There were people of all ages and everyone was very friendly and patient. Some believed we were deaf, which I felt was a huge complement for me. Even in the short hour that we were there, I felt that my signing improved. We drove back and I joined the others at the hotel pool.

Soon after, we were on the road again at 5:30pm. Juana, our translator, and her husband, Eric, invited us over to their new house for dinner. Getting there was a bit of a challenge because the address numbers were jumping all around. We almost bailed out and went to get our own dinner, but luckily Eric and his guests were spotted signing on the porch so we knew where to go. Their children were, Mark and John and their nephew Jorge, were friendly and funny. A joke they told us, “What’s the difference between a geek and a nerd?” “You.”

We were also joined by Yolanda and her husband Cesar who are deaf. It was tricky to balance English, Spanish, and signing. Everyone had their own way of communicating; some knew more than one way. Whatever the case, everyone was friendly, patient, and sweet. Bread and vegetable dip were served as appetizers and pasta was the main course. They offered fettuccine alfredo and pasta with turkey meatballs. Some chatted with the older family members while others played “Guestures” with the boys. Either way, we all enjoyed ourselves and had a blast. Great time, great hospitality, great Spanish and signing practice, and a great experience. We’re in the Dominican Republic, what’s not great?!? We’re off to an awesome start and each day gets better than the next! Tomorrow we get up bright and early to teach! The adventure continues.

Hayley

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