Ever wonder what it would be like to step into the shoes of a Deaf person? Have you ever wondered how Deaf people experience life and the challenges that they face on a day-to-day basis?
On this webpage, you can read personal naratives by Deaf people, allowing you to have a close up glimpse into their lives. These personal accounts will show some of the comical experiences in being Deaf, while others will demonstrate some very frustrating incidences. We will be updating this page every couple months, so be sure to visit this site again.
By Pastor David M. Trexler, Maryland
Speaker/Director of 3ADM
I would like to share with you of our unforgettable experience at a large Adventist church where there was an important presentation to be given by a well-known GC leader. We were all young from Gallaudet University in the late 1960's. Our hearing church leader whom we called "Bible Mother" who didn¹t sign well, but always made sure that we had the same access as the hearing in any Adventist events. She was to be our interpreter at that event. She asked us where would we like to sit in the church. Most of us preferred to sit in the front row for some of us were good lip readers. So, we sat down at the front row, and she went back to the foyer to chat with someone.
Then all of a sudden a pastor of the church came to us and told us to move to the back of the church. We were puzzled to his "demand" but we hesitantly complied with him. So, we moved to way back of the church. Then our Bible Mother came to the front and discovered we were not there. She looked around and found us waving at her. She came and demanded why did we move to here. We explained what the pastor did to us. Oh boy! You should have seen her fuming as if she was about to explode. Immediately, she commanded us to go back to where we were! At that point she went to see the pastor who "belittled" us. I turned my head to see what she was doing to him. The pastor was silent, listening to her educational scolding. From then on that pastor didn¹t dare to bother us.
By Late Lillian Davidson, California
It's a true story that had happened to me.
Way back in 1944, going to the deaf boarding school 350 miles away from where I lived, all deaf children traveled by trains from different places to Belleville, Ontario railroad station where the bus took us to the school (4 miles away). Anyway, when we reached Toronto union station, we were told to get our suitcases out of the train and walk to the basement to transfer to other trains & had to wait before there was available coach for us. The trains were very much needed to transport the soldiers to their destinations during the war.
While walking in a line, carrying our suitcases, a little boy (Billy) was walking beside me, I felt responsible for him. Walking quickly to catch up the line, I turned my head to read Billy's signing. Instead of walking straight, I sort of jaywalked right into the big "H" beam. My side of head hit it, bam!!! There were shooting & sparkling stars out of the injured ear. I had my hands full with suitcases, I just spoke "Excuse me" and turned to see who it was. Just a big "H" beam was in my way and it didn't say anything. A conductor, who had led the deaf students at the front, heard the loud noise, stopped and asked me if I was okay. Lipreading him, my head just nodded "yes" bravely, but I wasn't. As soon as the conductor turned around to walk, I dropped my suitcases to grab my aching ear for a few seconds, then picked my suitcases, catching up with the group quickly. Billy started to pat to let me know that he needed to talk with me, but my head just shook "NO" as I learned my lesson.
About three hours later at the school, my ear was really so black and blue. There were no mother that I can run to to comfort me. It was a good lesson for me, always look where you are going. "Feeling responsible for Billy" made me feel so proud but it wasn't wise to listen at the wrong time.
As told by Wanda Watson, Arkansas
Mother of Esther M. Doss
I attended a residential school for the deaf and in those days, we lived there through out the entire school year, only going home for Christmas and summer vacation. The summer I was fifteen, I still shadowed my older sister Anna. I was a very shy girl and felt comfortable around her. On the first Sunday back at church, I trailed Anna to the front pew. I was always very still in church, never moving my head. I liked sitting further back so I would have more to look at. When I was bored, I would study each person, their hairstyles, the hats, clothes, ill-behaved children, and such while never moving my head, just my eyes.
I saw the new preacher and studied him. We all stood up for the opening song. Anna pointed at which song we were singing in the hymnal. I looked at it and then looked up. The preacher was staring at me while he was singing. I was embarrassed and looked down at the hymnal. I had finished reading the whole song and looked up again. The preacher was still staring at me. I began to feel red.
Later, those who wanted to sing in the choir walked up to the pews for the choir which was on the left hand side of the platform. Anna loved to sing and she walked towards the pews. I didn't want to be left alone so I followed her. I couldn't talk nor sing, so it was silly for me to be there. But I felt safer with my sister. I looked at the hymnal while the choir and preacher were singing. I looked up and saw the preacher glaring at me. I quickly looked down. I didn't know what to do, but I knew everyone saw him glaring at me. I read the song through and looked up. He was still glaring at me. I realized he didn't know I was deaf and expected me to sing. But I couldn't even pretend. I looked up one more time and still he was glaring. I was sure I was beet red. Finally we escaped to the front pew after the song. But he kept an eye on me the whole sermon.
Week after week, this continued. I decided I didn't want to sit with Anna. I sat with my mother because she sat near the back. I could sit behind someone and the preacher couldn't see me. But he would still glare at me when he had the chance.
After some time, I decided I didn't want to go to church anymore. I timidly asked my parents if I could be excused from church one Sunday. I was shocked when my conservative parents said they understood and it would be okay. But I didn't feel right not going to church for God.
Then the church had a revival. Everyone came to that. Each night our little country church was full of people. I sat with my friend and we wrote notes back and forth. The pastor saw us writing and he stopped speaking and stared right at us. My friend looked up and turned red. I didn't know what had happened, but I noticed everyone was looking around trying to figure out what the preacher was staring at. He was furious and glared at me. Then he went on preaching. I wanted to runaway. I hated church. Why did he do this to me?
After services, the preacher stood by the door of the church and shaking people's hands as they left. My mother was busy talking with a couple of other ladies. I didn't want to see the preacher alone so I stayed with her. Finally we walked up to the preacher. He began speaking to me and I had no clue what he was saying. I turned and saw that my mother had stepped back a few steps to talk to others. I grabbed her arm and said, "Tell him I am deaf and can't hear him." My mother told him. The preacher was shocked and felt really bad. He had no idea that I couldn't hear.
Being at church during that time was a very bad experience for me. I was embarrassed, bored, scared, and frustrated. But I continued going to church because I loved Jesus.
By Late Lillian Davidson, California
My husband and I arrived at church, waiting for an interpreter to show up. Upon looking for the familiar face in the back, I spotted one who I had not seen for sometime. Naturally, I left my seat to greet her. I stopped one bench front of her since she was sitting in the center so I could hug her. My lips whispered "Hi." What I didn't know was that it was a loud whisper that every face turned to my attention. Boy, was I ever so embarrassed. My mother-in-law was sitting on the farther side of the same bench, frowned at me, telling me to keep quiet and don't talk too loud.
But my friend didn't pay any attention to that and hugged me anyway. I really never knew that a whisper can be heard sometimes, even tho I denied using my voice. Now to this day, I'm puzzled how in the world I was heard.
by Pam Joachim
I am deaf. I was raised most of my life in Howard, Wisconsin, neighbor of Green Bay. I moved to Iron River, Michigan three years ago because this is where my daughter and family lives.
How did I become SDA? Well, let me tell you a short story. In 1991 I went to have my breast exam. The doctor found some small tumors in my breast. I was scared. We set up the date to have surgery. I went home and cried my heart out. that day, I got down on my knees right by my bed and prayed. I asked God if he could take away the tumors and show me which church to go to. I really begged God to take care of me. Two days later, I went to the hospital to get ready for the biopsies. First they had to take X-ray to find the tumors to put the needles in. While I was waiting, the doctor came in and told me that they can't find any tumors. I knew right in my heart that God answered my prayer. I thanked the Lord for His healing. I went home so happy and knowing God is with me.
Few days later, I received a pamphlet in the mail to go to Prophecy Seminar. I never heard of it, but it looked interesting. But I decided to throw away the pamphlet. Next day, I received a door hanger about the seminar. I threw it away. Again, the next day, I received another door hanger but I threw it away. Then the next day, I got a third door hanger. this time, I looked at it and then looked at the sky. I told God that I heard Him and I would go.
All I can say is WOW, what a blessing the seminars of prophecy were to me. My daughter joined me, she was 10 years old. after the seminars was done, my daughter and I were baptized on October 12, 1991. but, in 1993 many things had happened to me. I fell away from God and the church.
But the good news is that on March, 2002, Green Bay SDA church had another prophecy seminar. I was rebaptized. Then I moved to Iron River, MI on August, 2003.
The first year in Iron River, I didn't go to church much. Part of the second and third year has been a great blessing to me. I am the only Deaf person at this church. It is a small church. I feel so close to every member at church and love them so much.
I go to prayer meeting on Wednesday night. The church also lets me do special music using ASL. They told me that they loved it. One couple would pick me up and bring me to church and events. They take good care of me and make me feel like I am their family.
One time, I told my special friend Betty that I don't like the Sabbath School lesson because it was so hard for me to understand. She went online to see if there were another different kind of lesson. She ordered the Easy Reading Sabbath School for me. Now I am able to enjoy studying the lesson with everyone.
Other members love talking to me and make sure that I don't miss out on the Sabbath School lesson. No one in church complains as everyone wants to make sure that I understood God's message.
Last July, the church members voted me to be part of the board. I make the bulletin, I am a deaconess, and women's ministries director. I have never done any of those things before in my life. Here, they don't care about me being Deaf. They believe in me being able to do these things. They gave me the chance and really made me a part of the church family. I also help with the Food Pantry and cleaning the church.
The best part of being SDA and going to church, I can really open my heart to Jesus and belong to Him. I can be His helper. Now you know why I love this church. I am in the family of God's house. I have a long way to learn, but I don't want to stop. I love Jesus. He has done so much for me.