Sunday, February 7, 2010

I Finally Met One!

A little while ago, I mentioned I'd never met a deaf person who grew up in oral education, was later introduced to and became part of Deaf Culture, who was still happy his parents raised him oral, and was still happy with the hearing world in general. But I finally met one! I finally met one!

I met a remarkable young man the other day. He is deaf, completely, utterly, profoundly deaf since birth. His parents, like most hearing parents, were frightened and didn't know what to do. So, like most hearing parents, they put him in an oral program and enrolled him in a regular school with NO INTERPRETER. They also brought him to church with no interpreter. Everyone--administrators, deaf counselors, deaf educators, teachers--everyone said it would be impossible for him to learn. But his parents made that choice anyway. They also made the choice to give him the cochlear implant at the age of 12, but he hated it--as most late-implanted Deaf do. As is typical--especially for someone who is profoundly deaf--he was incredibly isolated, he was never able to understand the teacher, and he never learned how to speak understandably. It wasn't until his teens that he was finally introduced to sign language and Deaf culture.

Now this is the story I hear a lot, with slight variations. But I've never heard one as extreme as this because this young man neither excelled with oral communication NOR had an interpreter throughout school. So it would be understandable if this kid then followed with the inevitable "I hate hearing people" and "my parents didn't really love me for who I am" response I've heard so many times.

But this young man is different. This young man took responsibility for his own life and his own feelings and gave the ones he couldn't handle to God.

He literally taught himself every subject in school by reading his text books. He excelled and graduated on time. He was extremely isolated and had a very hard time having friends, but he graduated.

He had a hard time at church because he had no idea what was going on, but saw everyone else feeling inspired by the Spirit. So in his 20's, he finally started to attend a Deaf Branch (a small congregation in our church). The drive to the church was THREE hours away, but he made the drive every Sunday so that he could understand what was being taught and--more particularly--so that he could feel the Spirit.

He read the scriptures. He learned, for himself, that the doctrine of our church was true. He learned to apply the grace of the Savior in his life. And when he did, years of loneliness began to melt away. This young man's heart began to heal.

It was then that he began to love the church and his Savior. It saved his life. He is one of the most peaceful, happy people I have ever met.

This young man is now paying his own way to serve a full-time volunteer mission in our Kansas City area. He teaches others of what the Savior can do for them and I am so happy to have met him.

Brynn, I hope with all my heart that you will choose turn to your Savior like this young Deaf man has done. You CAN overcome all the challenges of your deafness--including the challenges brought by the difficult choices your parents and other hearing people will have to make on your behalf. You may suffer prejudice, mocking, rejection, isolation, and even self-doubt; but with the Lord's help, you can overcome it all to have a wonderful, peaceful life. Your life can be full of love and understanding if you choose to accept His gift.

I Love You,


Heather said...

Natalie, I sat here in the computer lab in front of other people and just cried. This was so beautiful. And I pray for those same things for Brynn as well. That young man is an inspiration to us all. I am humbled.

Anonymous said...

To Matt and Nat..

Meeting him as the one doesn't mean it is the answer for Brynn, and he only wants to set his eye single to the glory of God. Of course, the spirit will melt it all away the harsh reality and all, the lonliness but once he is back to his everyday life, after serving 2 years of his mission, he will be part of the Deaf Community he found right before his mission. He will be back to be with them once again. He found deaf people like him before his mission, and met deaf people, and realized the truth, which helped him decide that he is going on a Mission after all. Before meeting his own people who were deaf like him, he was not planning to go on a Mission, and did not want to go until he attended the Deaf branch or Ward, which made him a Missionary, not his upbringing and his lonliness.. Think about it! You both are naive and blind! You love Brynn so much that you will.. I am not going there, cause you won't believe me about how worse off she will be.. She would not want the upbringing she will go through, if you are planning the wrong route, and yet you won't listen to a Deaf person who have seen it all?

Michael Bunjer