08 Nov Meet Nohelani Jarnes
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.
So I went home and checked out books from the library to teach myself sign language. I met my first Deaf person about three years later. The first thing she asked me upon my introduction was “where did you learn sign language?” When I told her I learned from library books, she took me aside and started to teach me some of the signs that was signing incorrectly. God has wonderful ways that He leads us!
Later on, when I attended college to be an interpreter, I knew that was what God was calling me to. During my high school years, after I became SDA, we started to attend Sacramento Central SDA Church in Sacramento, CA. I became good friends (and still am!) with Doug Bachelor and his family. While in the middle of my Interpreter Training Program, Pastor Doug called me and wanted me to begin interpreting for his Evangelistic program. I was scared to death and reluctantly agreed. I did not know that, at the time, this was God’s timing and plan. That was one event that spring boarded me into Deaf Ministry. I did a horrible job of interpreting Doug’s program, but I met some of the SDA Deaf in the area who did attend the program. One gentleman, Jerry, became my mentor and close friend.
Years later, Jerry moved to Vancouver, WA and we were reunited when he visited VPC. His comment was, “I had no idea that when I mentored you, God was orchestrating the whole thing for you to be part of Deaf Ministry! What a blessing to be part of His plan!”
What is the most rewarding part of your job as a deaf interpreter?
As a professional interpreter in the community, the most rewarding thing for me is being the bridge between two worlds. I love it when I interpret something and it helps that Deaf person to have control over what is happening to them. More rewarding to me than this, however, is interpreting for sermons, GC Session, Revelation Speaks Peace, etc and knowing that the Deaf person in the audience is gaining a glimpse of God and wants to know more. There is nothing more exciting to me than knowing I played a part in God’s plan to bring another soul to the kingdom and a relationship with Christ.
What do you enjoy for recreation?
I LOVE backpacking, hiking, rock climbing, outdoor photography, spending lots of time with my family. One of our favorite places to go is Rainier National Park.
Tell me a little about your family.
Brian and I have been married for sixteen years this December. We have three children: our twin boys Brylie, Brennan and Ariana. All three are teenagers and love reminding us of that fact. They have been homeschooled for the majority of their schooling years. The boys love to pour over books about history, politics and religion. Ariana loves her music and playing guitar. As a family, we love to head outside when the weather is nice to hike or do other outdoor activities.
What aspects of VPC encourage you the most? What do you hope to see in the future?
As the local Deaf Ministry Coordinator it’s exciting to see a church that warmly welcomes the Deaf in the community. That is very encouraging. I always have the opportunity to use Volunteer Park Church as an example for various things when I attend the NAD Deaf Ministry Coordinators’ meetings. I hope to see more growth in our Deaf membership at VPC and also in the conference. It would also be nice to have more interpreters as well. Another hope I have for the future is to see more Deaf participating in the hearing church service.
What is your favorite Bible verse?
I have two: Jeremiah 29:11 where God says that He has a plan for my life. There was a time in my life when God had to audibly speak this to me when I needed to hear it the most. The other one is Isaiah chapter 40. I love how God describes everything like He is the mighty God and we have so little to worry about. What an amazing God we serve!
Is there one thing you wish hearing people knew about deaf people?
Deaf people have a beautiful language and a beautiful culture. The Deaf at VPC are eager to communicate with hearing people, even if you know very little sign language or none at all. Get to know our VPC Deaf!