Learning to Hear Him
August 2023

“Learning to Hear Him,” For the Strength of Youth, Aug. 2023.

Learning to Hear Him

Kavira’s journey with communication has been hard but rewarding.

young woman on a swing

Photographs by Christina Smith

As a young child, Kavira V. couldn’t communicate with anyone. But now she’s found ways to connect with others, including her Heavenly Father.

Sixteen-year-old Kavira V. from Florida, USA, knows the value of communication. Whether with family, with friends, or with God, Kavira is glad to be able to talk to them.

Part of the reason she values that connection so much is that she knows what it’s like not to have it.

Growing Up with a Language Barrier

Before moving to Florida, Kavira’s family originally lived in Uganda. Kavira is deaf and didn’t have access to sign language as a child, so she couldn’t really communicate with people around her.

That communication barrier affected many aspects of her life. Regarding school, she says, “Math was hard for me. I didn’t learn English, and I was bullied. There was a lot of discrimination.”

Church was hard too. At that time her family belonged to a different faith. “I didn’t have language access, so I didn’t understand what was going on,” Kavira says. She would sit through the services and go through the rituals without knowing what they meant. “There weren’t many opportunities for Deaf people,” she says.

The barrier also affected her connection to her family. “I’m the only Deaf person in my family, so sometimes I would feel unequal to them.”

When Kavira was around eight or nine years old, her family moved to Florida. Since she was young and couldn’t communicate with them, she didn’t know exactly why they chose to move. But it could have been to find better opportunities for her and the whole family.

Getting Education

When Kavira’s family moved to Florida, they found a deaf school she could attend. “Being able to have that education is amazing,” she says. “I’ve been able to learn things like math, communication, life skills like finding a job, and study skills.” She now uses American Sign Language (ASL).

young woman teaching in church in American Sign Language

She also enjoys extracurricular activities. “I like any kind of sports,” she says. “Growing up, I always played soccer, and I found out they have it here [in the U.S.] too.” She’s also learned volleyball, flag football, basketball, and swimming. “It’s been fun learning these new sports.”

young women studying

And since Kavira was little she’s always loved art. She hopes to improve and maybe even continue studying art in college. “I want to keep studying to learn more,” she says. “I really enjoy school and learning.”

young woman holding up paintings

Finding Family Connection

Kavira’s parents encourage her in her education. “They say to do what you can to learn everything,” she says. She’s very grateful that her family found a deaf school for her.

After learning more, Kavira doesn’t feel unequal in her family anymore, because she has realized she’s the same as them. She talks to her parents and siblings a lot. “I know sometimes as youth, we don’t really value our family—maybe sometimes we value our friends more than our family,” says Kavira. “But my family is what has made me strong. My parents have taught me the things I should value. They’ve helped me to be a good and kind person.”

family hugging

“My family is what has made me strong,” says Kavira.

Finding Jesus Christ and His Church

Soon after her family moved to Florida, someone invited them to attend The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Kavira’s sister had been learning some sign language, so she interpreted for her. Kavira says learning about Jesus Christ and His gospel “saved my life.” Before that, she felt like her life had a lot of problems. “I was kind of depressed, and I was cruel and mean to other people.”

But after learning more about God, “I wanted to be a good person,” she says. “I cared about my family. I didn’t want to be mean to people. I wanted to change my life. It wasn’t an easy choice to make, but as I learned more about God, I felt different. I want to be like Him.”

Communicating with God

Kavira has enjoyed learning more about how God speaks to her. “Being a Deaf person, you might think, ‘Does God speak?’ We don’t hear Him ‘speak,’ so how do we recognize Him?”

She attended a youth conference for Deaf youth, and in one of their workshops they talked about how they as Deaf people can communicate with God. “We talked specifically about how the Holy Ghost speaks to our hearts and our minds [see Doctrine and Covenants 8:2]. It’s not necessarily an auditory thing.”

Kavira has learned to recognize the Holy Ghost in her life, but she also says it’s “an ongoing process. We’ll always keep figuring out how God speaks to us.”

She also says we have to actively look for those opportunities to feel the Spirit. “We have to seek Him and be patient, listening to Him as we pray and study the scriptures, trusting that we’ll have those thoughts come to our hearts and minds.” She describes the feeling of the Spirit as “inspiration and joy.”

young woman signing

Kavira gives the sign for “I love you” in American Sign Language.

Being able to communicate with Heavenly Father is a priceless gift because it brings us closer to Him. Kavira doesn’t take this gift for granted—just like she values education and her connection to family. When we learn how God speaks to us, we come to know Him better. Kavira has experienced that, and you can too!