This July I had the incredible opportunity to serve as a short term missionary [STM] at a Joni and Friends family retreat for families with children with disabilities in Alabama, where I interpreted for volunteers and camper who are Deaf.
It was both the most awesome and terrifying thing I have ever done in my life (well, besides moving to the US).
While I knew it was going to be challenging (I have never interpreted before, I am only in my third year of learnin American Sign Language, and I had to drive by myself for 10 hours), however, never in my wildest dreams did I think it was going to be this humbling, intimidating, [heart] breaking, healing, and eye opening.
This week broke me. And by ‚broke me‘ I mean, ugly crying, realizing how vulnerable I am [and I am always trying to come across as a strong, flaw less woman], how broken this world is, how little interpreting is about me, how interpreting is about being a communication channel, and how much I need God to bring me through the day. And that other people need me more than I need to dwell on my own emotions.
I went into this camp thinking, if I did a well enough job, maybe I’d get the affirmation I needed, or if I did great and everyone loved me, maybe I’d prove everybody wrong, if I… very soon I realized, this was not about me. It was not about proving anyone anything, or getting the feedback/affirmation/reasurance I was seeking. It took me 30 seconds to be exact, to realize that I am here to serve people, to meet them and to serve as a communication tool.
As soon as I realized this, I felt a huge relief, as if a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulder. The time at camp was wonderful, yet heart breaking. I remember one morning taking a break from interpreting and one of the leaders asked me how I was doing, and my prepared response was „I am doing great everything is great“ to which he replied: „really?“. And then came the tears. I cried and cried and cried. My friend gave me a big hug and said, „It’s OK to be broken, if we weren’t broken, we wouldn’t need Jesus. This camp will bring out all the ugly, broken pieces of our life. And you know what? It’s OK.“
And to be honest, I never felt more exposed and vulnerable than I did while interpreting infront of a big group.
Did I mess up? Yes, I did. Did I want to give up? Yes, I did. Did I feel like a failure? Yes, I did. Did I give up? No, I didn’t.
I met wonderful people at camp, we prayed together, we worshipped together, we cried together.
And while I had moments where I just wanted to hide under my blanket (which I also did), it was such a sweet and rewarding time.
Shout out to everyone who prayed for me, who supported me, and to the amazing people I met at camp, especially me friend who are Deaf and were so incredible patient with me.
Here is a link to a video of the camp, but prepare to cry. I still do.
ARISE and SHINE; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. (Isaiha 60:1)