ASL Here I Come! :-)

Ran into my mentor and friend, Bruce Christensen today at Costco. Since we filmed the “Campfire Song” segment for the Happy Hippy Hebrew Girl Show last summer he has had voice surgery. He pushed hard through vocal chord issues to record those songs with me last summer. I’m so grateful for him doing that for me. We have a standing date to do it again, but my voice is suffering pretty bad after being so sick this winter, so I was super curious how he was doing. I want to be all better and have a stronger voice when we come together to sing again and when I begin to teach and do ministry things again next year.

His voice is better than it ever has been! He looks great––lost 35 pounds! And thankfully, he chatted with me for an hour and gave me lots of great advice.

Bruce and I back in the early 90’s during my task force year as Assistant Youth Director

The first thing he suggested I do is give my vocal chord a COMPLETE rest. No talking at all. That is super hard for me –– when I even like to yell at the dogs on our walks, call to the girls from another room and chat myself up throughout the day. LOL!

Also, no coughing (oh my, I still have some junk like phlegm that I clear out with coughing etc) that is super hard on the vocal chords. And come to find out whispering is worse than talking. I was whispering for weeks after I lost my voice completely on my actual 50th birthday. Oh my! Who knew? I sure didn’t.

I’ll be talking with ASL for awhile! 🙂

So, from the moment I left Bruce today I stopped talking and decided to use sign language. Poor Hadassah who was with me in Costco. She barely knew what hit her! She was very disturbed that I wasn’t speaking, but then realized it might be fun.

Isaac and I did Face Time tonight. He is pretty good at reading sign.

Treated different when someone signs

Funny how people treat you once you start signing. I’ve had fun with this before (back in my 20’s) when I was fluent in sign. People treat you different when they think you are deaf. Mostly they get quiet. They assume that the person signing can’t hear either. But even if that was the case why don’t they just speak normal? It’s good to look at it from the deaf person’s perspective. But also most people don’t even try to understand you when you sign. It’s too much work on their end. They nod, brush you off and that’s about it.

I remember back when I was fluent in sign I was sitting in a Mall one day with a friend. I saw 2 girls signing at a distance. I could read what they were saying so I chimed in from a distance. They looked at me amazed. I walked over to them and we began to talk. I was much slower than them (fluent does not mean native) at reading sign so I asked them to slow down, help me and teach me what I wasn’t understanding. They LOVED it! They said it was so nice that a hearing person would stop and TRY to learn their language. I’ve never forgotten that.

Rachel with Signing Time. Her story encouraged me when I discovered Hadassah had DS
From Signing Time’s website. These are Rachel’s hands. 🙂

LOVE Signing Time!

When the girls were really little I invested in the Signing Time video series with Rachel. OMG! So awesome! This was their TV time when they were young for YEARS!

My History with ASL

My history with ASL sign language goes way back. I used to be an “interpreter for the deaf.” I say that lightly as I was never formally educated in the language like my friend Melissa D. Instead, I just had a lot of deaf friends and learned from them. Actually, that is a great way to learn, I think.

Thinking back, I fell in love with the language at Gladstone Campmeeting where I would sit (as a kid) in the big main adult pavilion. While other kids were socializing I would sit in front of the interpreter and just watch them speak. So, I was drawn to this artful language when I was very young.

Then in my mid-teens and early 20’s I worked at the pools in the Vancouver Parks and Recreation Center which was near the school for the deaf and blind. I had to learn the language in order to talk to the deaf swimmers who would ignore me very well. Often times I would have to jump in the water just to get a deaf teens “who-was-ignoring-me” attention. LOL! Because I knew sign at the pool I was selected to guard full overnight deaf camps where I realized they were louder than hearing people!

One of the lifeguards was deaf. I worked for a small stint at a deaf daycare. I dated an interpreter for a summer. I was around the deaf culture a little bit back then, but things didn’t take off for me and sign until I found myself working at MiVoden Summer Camp. Back in the golden years of summer camp they would host a week of deaf and blind camp. As far as I know they don’t do this anymore––which they are missing out on a lot by not having this program anymore.

Pictures from my Scrapbook Bible

At summer camp I fell in love with sign language! I was so immersed in the language during those summer weeks that I started to dream in sign. But it was 6 year old named TJ who changed my life.

A page of my Scrapbook Bible. This is the gang of deaf boys and girls who became life-long friends
I believe this was one of my cabins of deaf girls

TJ Changed my Life!

It was a beautiful Sunday morning during my first year at MiVoden. We were cleaning the camp getting ready for the new wave of kids coming that afternoon. It happened to be deaf camp. I had never experienced this before at Camp MiVoden. But was excited! That morning I was hanging around the office with Bruce and GP after our morning meeting when a mom drives up (Monica, who became a great friend) with her kid. She needed to go and couldn’t wait until registration time that afternoon. So, GP (the camp director) who was famous for his positivity, generosity and GREAT leadership skills (a totally other story) looks at me and looks at her and says, “No problem! Rebekah will take TJ for the day.”

And I did.

And it was love! 🙂

We spent that whole morning together. I had been released from camp chores to just watch over TJ. What happened the next day is one of the things that I will be remembered for most among the old camp staff . . .

This is my buddy TJ. Fell in love with this kid when he was 6 years old!

The Best Story of my Summer Camp Experience

All 80 staff came to Cottonwoods auditorium at 6:00 am for our daily staff meeting that Monday morning. I was sitting on the floor getting my hair played with by another staff member when all of a sudden everyone looks up at the road (you could see the main road between the dorms from the glass windows in Cottonwood). Here comes little TJ running down the road. We think something is wrong. But then we see all his cabin mates running behind him. Chasing him. They are smiling.

He busts into the meeting and promptly sits in my lap.

Everyone laughed and at that moment knew he was my kid that week.

He attended all the staff meetings that way during his first year at summer camp. We went everywhere together. He gave me my sign name––I hear that your sign name is not official until a deaf person names you. 🙂 He named me “Becky” using the sign for “beautiful.”

One of the other boys who came that year and the years after is Seji. And I’m so proud of Seji (in the group picture above). He went to Gallaudet University and became a teacher. He teaches in Seattle. Super proud of him. I’m sad to say that TJ has made some bad choices as an adult. His heart was crushed by a girl and he didn’t deal with it so well. He has a good mom. Monica fights for him.

Understanding Certain Concepts a Little Hard

The deaf world is a difficult one for explaining heavy-duty concepts. Especially dealing with love issues, pain, trauma or religious things. That’s one reason that I developed “Song Dramas” at Camp MiVoden. I wanted my deaf friends to understand the heart of YHVH towards them. I wanted them to understand the epic Story.

I had seen dramas done to music like this before, but I just took it to a new level. I choreographed, signed and directed over 18 song dramas for Camp MiVoden while I was there as Waterfront Director and Counselor. People would tell me that they traveled for hours to see one of my dramas. Bruce Christensen has a favorite: “The Touch of the Master’s Hand.”

After camp, every summer for 10 years I would return to camp to choreograph and direct 1-2 song dramas–-painting stage sets with a baby in my backpack. Then I would hand the production off to that year’s current program director for them to see through each week during that summer. I did this in trade for gift certificates that I could use to send a kid or 2 of my choice to camp that year. I also taught how to do this at churches across the USA. I did this for 10 years. To my heart, it was a bummer that I never kept any of the camp gift certificates for my own girls. I always gave them to kiddos in present need and by the time my girls were old enough to go to camp we were in need. By that time we were super poor and couldn’t afford to send them to camp. Broke my heart. But over the years Hadassah has saved her own money, others have helped her and so she has gotten to attend a different camp many times now. She loves it. She is a summer camp girl. I think we’ve discovered that Maggie isn’t a summer camp girl like me. So, I guess it all worked out in the wash. 🙂

I miss deaf camp. I miss my deaf friends. I miss my song dramas. So, for awhile I’ll refresh my signing skills. Yay! 🙂


The Better Life Challenge

On a totally different topic: I’ve ran the numbers and if I can get all the people who signed up with my link for the TheBetterLifeChallenge to actually do their daily challenge on time I can get into the final drawing for the car! Super fun! 🙂

I am loving this class I’m in and the book I’m reading. I’m eating the meat and throwing out the bones as I do with everything. 🙂

About Lady Rebekah

The Happy Hippy Hebrew Girl :-)
This entry was posted in My 50th Year, Voice and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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