I learned to sign at a very young age because I had a family member who used it to communicate. I learned from a video series alongside my siblings.
Early on in college, I decided to change my major to American Sign Language and Deaf Interpretive Services. I wanted to learn the language and learn more about deaf culture because of my family member. It helped me grow closer to this family member and build a stronger bond with them.
While in college, I met the head interpreters for an area church. They helped me get a sign language internship which allowed me to interpret for deaf members of the congregation during worship services. It was all God-orchestrated. He brought the right people into my life at the right time. I am thankful and grateful for these women that invested in my growth and development as an interpreter.
As interpreters, we prepare for services by creating written translations of the music beforehand and by studying the scripture passages. Other than that, we are trained to go at it cold. We are usually a couple of words, if not a whole sentence, behind the speaker so that we have a chance to process. Working as a team also helps. We try to always have two interpreters working together, so we can break up the workload. We become very in tune with each other’s signs of fatigue, so we can relieve each other. As interpreters, we sign everything that the hearing people hear: the corny jokes, the “Amen!” in the back of the church, and even that distracting baby crying. It would be a disservice to only do part of the service.
It’s a beautiful thing that everyone can come and worship God in their language. The kingdom of God is diverse. I am proud to be part of a church that incorporates sign language interpreting to its main hearing service.