Bill and Becky Costas have been sponsors since 1996. Becky works as a sign language interpreter, and in honor of Deaf Awareness Day, we would like to share her reflections on being a sponsor and participating in awareness trips.
God had a plan when he gave me a heart for the deaf and the skills to work as a sign language interpreter.
We were waiting for a Mass to begin when I noticed movement to my right. When I turned, I saw a group of deaf students signing in American Sign Language.
They saw me looking at them and asked if I was deaf. I responded that I am a sign language interpreter. They asked us to sit with them, so Bill and I joined them.
Since many countries have their own sign languages, I was amazed that halfway around the world I was able to communicate with these students. They also were amazed that someone from the United States could communicate with them since so many people in their own country didn’t know sign language.
The next day we got the chance to visit their school. During lunch we asked the teacher, Angie, which of the children could benefit most from sponsorship.
Angie chose Jonathan, who was 10 years old. He had recently started attending school and was in kindergarten. His father was deceased and the family was in great need of support.
It was amazing how God had placed us where we could meet Jonathan and the other the children.
Over the years we have received wonderful letters from Jonathan telling us about his family, how he helps his mother and his love for playing basketball. When he was 13, he mentioned that he was able to play basketball with his hearing friends in the neighborhood, even though he was “hearing impaired.”
I encouraged him that he could do the same things as hearing children. Of course he can run, play, draw beautiful pictures, and with a teacher who communicates in sign language, he could also learn the same things hearing children do.
Since we had been sponsoring Jonathan for eight years and had corresponded regularly, we looked forward to visiting him this year on an awareness trip and getting to know him better. We were very excited to spend the day with him.
At first he was shy, but as the day went on he opened up and we had a wonderful time talking (signing) about his family, school and his goals for the future.
Since he’s deaf and no one in his family knew sign language, he didn’t have access to language until he was 8 years old. Because of this he struggles with some subjects, but he has continued to work hard in school and has advanced to the fifth grade.
Jonathan has aspirations of going to college and studying computers. We admire his perseverance, especially as he may be 30 years old before he completes his goals.
We thank God for putting Jonathan in our lives, and giving us the opportunity to learn from him as well as to encourage him in his schooling.
We pray he finds a career that he enjoys so he can have a productive, fulfilling life. His success can be an example to other deaf children that if you persevere, you can attain your goals despite deafness.
Give someone the encouragement they need to push past personal barriers. Sponsor today!