The bible characters are often valorized. They are stripped of their foibles, and deodorized of any taint of scandal. Take Joseph for example: His name meant "God gives more". And if his name was supposed to be an indicator of his life experience when he was a teenager then it was an unfortunate choice. He was born in his great-uncle's house in a foreign land according to his father, at his birth he already had ten half-brothers and one half-sister, he had four different ladies that called themselves his mother. The first time he met some of his cousins he believed they were coming to kill him and his family. His oldest brother slept with one of his father's wives and another brother slept with his own daughter-in-law. Two of his brothers were murderers before the age of 18. It's easy to study, talk and preach about Joseph, but imagine if Joseph walked into Volunteer Park Church as a young adult, and recounted his story to us. Would we have the capacity to take him in? Or what if Joseph came to visit us on parole after spending time incarcerated, with the scarlet letter of 'felon' dragging behind him?
Nohelani is a nationally certified Sign Language Interpreter at Sorenson Communications and freelancer. She's the Deaf Community Coordinator at VPC and has been attending the church for four years with her husband and three children. I asked her about her family and the one thing she wish hearing people knew about deaf people.
How did your interest in the deaf community and ASL begin?
I was eleven years old and was part of Girl Scouts (I did not grow up SDA). Our Girl Scout leader took us to a theatrical production in Coloma, CA. While the other girls were watching the play, I was fascinated by the sign language interpreter in the corner. My first thoughts were, "I had no idea people could talk with their hands!" I thought it was the most beautiful language ever.
November marks the beginning of the holidays (Thanksgiving!) and kicks off a galore of family gatherings. Most of us will be taking time this month to list the things we are thankful for, but it’s also a perfect time to think about F A M I L Y.Recently, while I was in downtown Redmond, thinking about these close-knit bonds, I saw a family member I’ve lost contact with. It’s been eight years since I saw her last, and instead of being excited, I was reluctant to say hello. Our relationship has always been extremely complicated and awkward, hinged on messy family dynamics that started before I was born.Eventually I did have a conversation with her (but only after a lot of encouragement from a friend who is arguably also a saint). Just before I walked towards my estranged family member, I thought, Here I am thinking about family—isn't this what it means?