The Penny

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

[Sunday, March 8, 2009]


It's funny how cyclical life can be. Sometimes you end up right where you started.

When Laynie and I moved to Maryland, we checked the Church website and found that our address was within the boundaries of the Eldersburg Ward. However, when we went to that Ward on Sunday (this was last May), the clerk checked and told us that we were actually in the Hampstead Ward. I hate to say it, but we were disappointed, because we loved the Eldersburg Ward immediately, and we were already sad to leave it after a single meeting.

We went to the Hampstead Ward for a few weeks and did not feel it was the right place for us. Probably part of that was being lost in an influx of Utah Mormons, who were there for the summer to sell pesticide or insurance or something. After some thought, we decided to try the Washington DC Branch (Deaf). We felt good there and had our records transferred from Hampstead to the Deaf Branch.

All summer, we had a great experience there. But it changed in the fall. Nothing happened. There was no event we could put our fingers on and say, "Look at this, we are in the wrong place." We thought maybe it was just us, that the distance was getting to us (the Deaf Branch is an hour away, while Eldersburg and Hampstead are both 20 minutes away). We should have prayed about it. I don't know about Laynie, but I thought that it would be "counseling the Lord," that we had already gotten the answer to attend the Deaf Branch, and that was it. Besides, Laynie had a calling in the Relief Society (women's organization) presidency.

Well, we struggled along through the winter, sometimes attending the Hampstead Ward when the weather was bad. We felt more and more like visitors in the Deaf Branch, though, like strangers. After going to Hampstead again in early February, we both came home feeling like we should transfer back there.

I should emphasize that the choice of ward is important and difficult, because Laynie is deaf. If we go to the Washington DC Branch, she can communicate freely (as can I, for the most part) and we can both learn from the talks and lessons firsthand. There are a few hearing people there, but most of the small group is deaf, and church is conducted in ASL. At the Hampstead Ward (or Eldersburg, for that matter), I have to interpret for Laynie. Interpreting three hours is tough on me, physically and mentally, and it's not as easy for Laynie to understand. There's a saying in deaf education that is true: "An interpreted education is not an education." Also, when I am interpreting, I cannot participate in the lessons, and Laynie really can't either, because there is lag time for me to process the language. By the time I get a question interpreted, it's already been answered. The communication barrier also limits the callings either of us can have. For example, if I get called to Primary (the children's organization), what will Laynie do during Sunday School and Relief Society? Even if I were teaching in a meeting where Laynie is, I would have to teach in English, not ASL. It's not possible to do both simultaneously. I'm sure there are more concerns with going to the hearing ward. And there certainly are more concerns about the deaf branch, which are not worth getting into.

So, three weeks ago, we prayed about it and decided to return to the Hampstead Ward. Today was our second Sunday back there, and it is definitely the right place, despite the challenges.

Bishop Briggs and Brother Hill (I think he might be the Executive Secretary) visited us this afternoon to see what's up with us. The bishop shared that Bishop Shepherd, from the Eldersburg Ward, contacted him last week (which was when we asked to have our records transferred back to Hampstead) to ask about us. A less active deaf sister has recently begun coming to church again, and, while there is one brother (Wheeler) who signs, he is only able to interpret Sacrament Meeting for her.

I suppose it's possible that she could come up to Hampstead for church, and I could interpret for both her and Laynie. It seems to make more sense for us to attend the Eldersburg Ward, so that Brother Wheeler and I can share the burden of interpreting, and so that this maybe-still-weak sister would not be asked to drive further for church. We'll see what happens. The two bishops will work it out and we'll do whatever.



Laynie | March 8, 2009 at 9:49 PM

Yeah, I'm curious the conclusion for both of us in the future. I would laugh if we go back to the beginning; however, it will be good results for all of us.

Post a Comment