Back to the story!
March 25, 2010 was a rainy, grey, raw almost-spring Thursday in Kansas. I didn’t have class that day, I didn’t have anything to prepare for teaching, and I was bored out of my mind. At the time, I was a graduate student and I was studying medical sociology and Deaf history. Deaf history and culture had been my passion for years and my hands were itching to sign again. Having lived in Kansas for over a year and with no Deaf friends, my signing was weak at best. I decided to drive to Olathe, Kansas (wherever that was) to visit the Deaf Cultural Center to see if they needed volunteers for anything. Really, I wanted to be around Deaf people again. I just wanted to sign.
I met the director and she was so amazingly warm and welcoming. She said they were always looking for volunteers and would love for me to work on Tuesdays with the “Elders.” At the time, this meant absolutely nothing to me. Now, I can say with a firm conviction that this is exactly where our Heavenly Father wanted me to be.
When the director said I would be working with the Elders, I pictured two old Amish men or Hasidic Jewish rabbis. The director said that one was loud, a little obnoxious, talked a little too much, and hearing. The other was quiet, shy, Deaf, kept to himself, and hard working. Okay. I could certainly improve my sign language along side a Deaf Amish guy. Why not?
The following Tuesday, I showed up to the DCC to get my volunteer on. On my way in, I saw two young men in suits (not rabbis) with shovels doing yard work around the property. The director introduced me to these (handsome – well, one of them) men, “This is Elder C and Elder Z.” Well, hello!
Later that day, they introduced themselves as missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That’s when I slammed on the brakes of friendship, “Look, we can be friends, but you cannot talk to me about God. Hokay? Thanks.” They looked at each other with eyes that said “but… that’s kinda what we do.” They tried, of course. They tried very hard to ask even if I went to church. I wouldn’t let them. I was relentlessly hard hearted with the sole intention of making sure they never talked to me about religion.
Volunteering together every Tuesday, we became friends over the next few weeks and months. During that time, I learned that they had lives before their missions, they had first names, they had dreams for their lives after their missions, and were just exactly the kind of people I wanted in my life (even if they were a little strange – actually, maybe it was because these two were so peculiar that I wanted to know more, huh?)
A few weeks after we met, Elder Z invited me to come to their ASL class they taught at the church. My first thought was, “sneaky sneaky Elders. Good luck getting me to walk into a church. Not gonna happen. Good try.” My second thought was, “I’d like to see you guys more than once a week. See you there! BUT NO RELIGION TALK!”
Actually, that last part, I think I said out loud.
So much love,
The Lady Mo