“A Sign of Friendship,” Ensign, Dec. 2005, 29
I am deaf and the only member of the Church in my family. After my mission, I worried about returning to my hometown of Kamloops, British Columbia. I wondered if I would be able to find a place to worship where I could communicate with my brothers and sisters in the gospel.
I wrote to my stake president and within a few weeks received a reply telling me that a woman named Sharon Hara in the Kamloops Second Ward knew sign language. I wrote to her, and she seemed anxious to help me.
Soon after my arrival, Sister Hara began sign language classes in her home so other people could communicate with me. The class eventually became so well attended that we moved it to the ward meetinghouse. Then we had two separate classes, one for adults and one for children. Later, teaching a sign language class became part of my calling, and we extended the class to the whole community, not just the ward.
I enjoyed teaching the one-hour weekly classes and did so for almost five years. Several of the class members became proficient enough to serve as interpreters in Sunday School and Relief Society when Sister Hara wasn’t available due to other callings, so all of us involved with the class gained from the experience.
Teaching sign language was a challenge for me at times, and learning it, I’m sure, was a challenge for others. But being able to communicate with each other is a blessing that has helped us become good friends in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Melinda Riddle, Maple Ridge Ward, Abbotsford British Columbia Stake