Sunday, July 31, 2005

Deaf Ministry Getting Started!

A few days ago, I e-mailed the secretary about putting a message in our church bulletin and newsletter about the American Sign Language (ASL) class I'm going to be teaching starting this September. Fortunately, I contacted her in time to make it in the newsletter for August, which was in mailboxes at church today.

Again, if any of you are anywhere near Wichita on Wednesday evenings and are interested in learning ASL, you're welcome to join my class! If there's enough interest, I'll see about offering a second class on a different day of the week.

This is what I had in today's church bulletin:

DID YOU KNOW that more than 90 percent of the deaf population in the U.S. remains unchurched? In an effort to try to reach out to these and the hard-of-hearing community, Erica will be offering a beginning American Sign Language (ASL) class during Midweek starting this September. Included in the lessons will be religious sign laugage, which is not taught in public schools or universities. Those interested are asked to list their names on a sign-up sheet outside the office so Erica will know how many books to request...
In the message for the newsletter, most of the same information was given. I only added that those interested in the class don't necessarily have to be interested in serving in Deaf Ministry to join, and that I'm especially encouraging those who are hard-of-hearing, losing their hearing or know someone who is to join.

If you're not near enough to join my class, I would encourage you to find a class and learn sign language so you can communicate with the Deaf, as well. This is a very worthy ministry, and so very important. So many churches teach English as a Second Language (ESL) to those of the Spanish-speaking community, and forget that there are countless people out there who already know the English language but can't and never have heard the Word of God.

We need to spread the Word to the Deaf just as much as we do those in countries where the Word is kept from people. These people are here in our own country! In our own towns! We don't have to travel to find them! Help them to become part of God's family by sharing God's Word with them!

I know I'm getting a little preachy here, but can you blame me? This ministry means a lot to me. I can't exactly explain why, but maybe this is what I'm supposed to be doing with my life.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Yesterday was my Foot-aversary!

Can you believe it's been one year since this photo was taken? One year since the last of my two reconstructive foot surgeries? Well, it has.

Believe it or not, that splint on my foot weighed about 10 pounds. I told the nurse that's what it felt like, and she said that usually, splints like that weigh between 7 and 10 pounds, and mine was probably 10.

That was the last in a life-long series of surgeries to try to correct my feet. The last of 17 surgeries, but the second in 12 years.

Now, I can walk and stand just about as well as anyone else. In fact, I'm back to the point now that unless people knew about my surgeries, they don't know there was ever anything wrong with my feet.

I can stand for about 20 minutes or more, walk for even longer, but I still have to pace myself because my feet still tire more easily than other people's. Before the surgeries, I couldn't stand for three minutes without being in excruciating pain.

I had an appointment with my orthopaedic doctor Tuesday, and he said that I have really good movement in my ankles, and that I've gained back all of the bone mass I lost during and after the surgeries! He also said that unless I start having problems again, I don't need to go back to see him!

I've waited my whole life to hear those words.

If you click on the picture, you can see other photos I've posted on Flickr from the surgeries and the recovery. Warning: if you can't handle seeing stiches, staples and pins imbedded in skin with a little dried blood around them, you might not want to peek.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The good news is also the bad news

I guess July in the Celebrations department at work is the busiest time of the year. So many people celebrating anniversaries, engagements and weddings, along with those wishing people happy birthdays, that I've been bombarded with announcements, a.k.a. paperwork.

On the plus side, I'm getting lots of overtime. On the negative, I have no choice but to work the overtime. I'm responsible for getting the pages out, so I have to do whatever it takes to get the job done. For this two-week pay period, I'm submitting 15 1/2 hours of overtime, and there may be more, but I'll have to wait to report it until the next pay period because I have to turn in my time sheet before I actually work the hours.

I'm trying to appeal to my boss (about every other day) that I need someone to help me out with the paperwork a couple of times a week. So far, though, no response. In the meantime, I'm doing everything I can to not have to stay at work for 13 hours on Fridays, like I have two times before, last Friday included.

On the days I can get home at a decent time, I'm able to spend time with my wonderful hubby, and maybe Dan and his Elle, who is quite tolerable, by the way! We've already gone shopping together, and yesterday, Ron and I went out on a double-date with Dan and Elle at our favorite Lebanese restaurant, Byblos. The last time Ron and I were there, I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of gluten-free, dairy-free items on their menu, so I asked the owner to help me differentiate amongst all the yummy yummies. Grape leaves, kibbeh, kafta, some salads and others are foods that Elle, in all her intolerancies, can still eat! And she did, and loved it!

Next, Elle and I are planning to get together so I can give her a free facial. That's going to be fun!

In other news, Ron and I have our third anniversary coming up, and we're having pictures taken Sunday afternoon. My idea. We're supposed to get a CD free with our photos, so I'm going to try to post one on my blog for everyone to see! Anyone want a hard copy?

I'm also coming up on one year since the last of my two reconstructive foot surgeries. Can you believe it? My feet have never been better. That will be proven when I visit my orthopaedic doctor on the 19th of this month. I'll try to remember to bring my camera so I can take pics of the x-rays. You'll love it, and you know it.

There is yet another anniversary coming up: my 5th anniversary as a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant!

Three anniversaries! First, the foot anniversary, and next my Mary Kay and wedding anniversary on the same day: August 31! How awesome is that!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

American Sign Language Class Gets Church Council Approval

I was invited to present my position on beginning a Deaf Ministry program at our church during a council meeting this evening. Good news: everyone, and I mean everyone on the council, is in favor of it! They said that whatever materials I need to teach a class, and whatever books I need to help myself learn to interpret at church, including training that's offered by Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, they're willing to help with!

It seems I will be able to start teaching a beginning American Sign Language class during midweek this fall! I need to get in touch with the church secretary after it's decided when the classes will meet, so that she can put out a notice to the other LCMS churches in town about the class, and people at those churches who want to attend will have the opportunity to!

Once the interest in ASL has grown enough, hopefully by this time next year, at least one or two other people might be willing to go with me to the CITI training (Church Interpreter Training Institute) at Concordia Ft. Wayne to learn how to interpret church services. That way, I won't be the only one, and if I happen to be absent from church when an interpreter is needed, there will be someone there who can do it for me.

I know it's going to take a while. Ministries like this don't just spring up out of thin air and become instant successes. Please pray for me and for this beginning ministry here in Wichita. God will bless us, I know.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Murderers in Heaven???

Recently, I've come across an interesting question: If Dennis Rader (and other notorious murderers, for that matter) were to be truly repentant for all he's done before he dies, it is possible that he could end up in Heaven after he dies.

This is difficult to wrap my mind around, but if we as Lutherans believe that we are saved by God's grace, through faith, and not by our own works (as it's stated in Ephesians), then it really is possible that even the most grevious sins can be forgiven if the transgressor is truly and utterly repentant of all he or she has done. And remember, even though Rader was (or is) part of the Evangelical L*ther*n Church in America, and not the Missouri Synod, he was confirmed in the LCMS, apparently, and therefore must have learned that wonderful gem like the rest of us.

The question remains because we can never and will never know if he truly is repentant. It sure didn't look like it when he was confessing everything in front of the judge: it looked more like he was telling a tale about an insignificant event. But if he can repent of it before he dies, it is possible he'll go to Heaven.

I'm glad that God has the ability to truly know if someone is repentant and forgive them, no matter what, because I really don't think the families of his victims will ever be able to.