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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What If I Give Financially to Signs for Hope...Where Does the Money Go?

"Coordinating the Adoption of Deaf Orphans in the World"

Maybe you are wondering...

"What if I to give financially to Signs for Hope, where will the money go?"

No one at Signs for Hope (SFH) is paid or has been paid in the past. Everyone who does anything for Signs for Hope is a volunteer.  They volunteer their time, their talents and skills, and often their own money to do whatever God calls them to do through Signs for Hope.

Becky Lloyd, the founder and CEO, is the only "full-time" volunteer at Signs for Hope.  Signs for Hope is still a relatively new ministry, approved by the IRS as a "charitable organization" in October 2013 (501c3).  Yes, all donations to Signs for Hope are tax deductible.  You can read more about Becky and God's story for the beginnings of Signs for Hope on the Signs for Hope website here.  Archived prayerletters are also available on the website to give you even greater insight into the ministry God does through SFH.

Charles, her husband of 35+ years, handles the bookkeeping for the ministry.  Signs for Hope has a CPA that handles the tax returns each year for the ministry.  If you want a more detailed copy of this year's or any previous year's financial statement, just ask Charles for it
(chlfrvw@juno.com).


This is a partial list of what gifts donated to Signs for Hope have supported this past year, 2014:

Over $25,000 was donated to families to help with the costs related to the adoption of deaf children this year.


January 2014 & October 2014- Paid travel expenses, in January, for a qualified ASL interpreter to travel with the Collicotts, Doug and Linda are Deaf, to Bulgaria for the adoption of their deaf son, Brett. Paid half the travel expenses for a qualified ASL interpreter to travel with the Colvins, Kris and Barbi are Deaf, in October, to China for the adoption of their deaf daughter, Baylee.  Lifeline Children's Services paid the other half.  The ASL interpreters donate their time and their skills for these trips with Deaf families.




Brett & Doug Collicott, 2013, then 2014


Becky with the Colvin Family, December 2014

February 2014, Empowered to Connect (TBRI-based) in Birmingham, AL.  Signs for Hope attended the ETC conference with two board members and families who have adopted deaf children and those who are adopting deaf children.  Partial expenses were paid by donations to Signs for Hope to cover these expenses. 

Feb/March 2014, Liberia Mission Trip - Partial travel expenses paid for Signs for Hope board members (four) to visit and evaluate 5 Deaf schools across Liberia to know better how to partner with them to improve their education, over the next decade, of the more than 250 deaf children they serve. The team also met with the Liberian Ministry of Education to see how they can work in conjunction with their educators, as well, and with members of the Liberian National Association of the Deaf. We are patiently waiting the "all clear" to head back to Liberia in 2015 to begin implementing phases of training and support.  When the word "education" is used, that includes academic, vocational & life skills and biblical.  For a detailed report email SFH's Chairman of the Board, Steve Farmer farmer3222@comcast.net

ACFI Deaf School, Oscar & Viola Stewart
School for the Deaf, Liberia
Virginia School for the Deaf, Liberia

Oscar Romero School for the Deaf, Liberia

April 2014 - Stipend paid to ASL interpreters in St. Louis (shared this expense with Show Hope) for the ETC conference there.  Two Signs for Hope families attended. 

April 2014 NC Road Trip - Paid Becky's travel expenses on the back roads of NC, from the mountains of Asheville to the coast at Jacksonville, to visit with multiple deaf adoptive families and SFH prayer partners and supporters.  She was graciously hosted by families and stayed in their homes. 

May 2014 - Paid for Charles and Becky to travel to CAFO 2014 in Chicago.

                   $2,000 sent to Liberia to support the needs of the deaf children.


June 2014 - Paid for Becky to travel and attend the annual American Society for Deaf Children (ASDC) conference in Framingham, MA. 

September/October 2014 - Paid Becky's travel expenses for her additional education and training she received this fall through Texas Christian University (TBRI Training, the course itself was gifted to Becky, $3,000) and the National Center for Biblical Parenting (NCBP, Presenter Training in Los Angeles). SFH also paid for Jonathan Walterhouse (SFH board member) to attend the NCBP Presenter Training in Los Angeles, along with Becky (Oct).  Four (4) days in Austin , TX (Sept) were added to the TBRI Training trip, so Becky could visit with multiple families who have adopted deaf children there, as well.  


Signs for Hope Families in Austin, TX, September 2014

National Center for Biblical Parenting Training, October 2014
September 2014 - Paid for Becky's road trip to DC for the ETC conference.  Six (6) Signs for Hope families attended this conference.  Also visited and shared with Open Bible Deaf Church, a monthly supporter of Signs for Hope, in College Park, MD. 

Empowered to Connect - DC, September 2014


November 2014 - Paid for expenses related to the SFH Passport to Deafness event held in Asheville, NC.  Over $5,000 was received during this event. 
PASSPORT TO DEAFNESS, November 2014


As you can see, God multiplies your gifts to Signs for Hope as this work is impacting hundreds of people, hearing and deaf, around the globe.

This does not account for any of the time Becky and the SFH board members spend researching and developing resources for the families of the deaf children being adopted and for the deaf children in Liberia, who will probably never have the option of earthly adoption.  Nor does it represent Becky's, daily, one-on-one support for adopting families and Liberians involved with caring for deaf children.  Advocating for "Best Practices for the Adoption of Deaf Children" is another passion Becky works to improve. Her blog series entitled "So You Want to Adopt a Deaf Child?" has been cause for hundreds to flock to this blog this year.  Check them out for your self, there are 8 of them so far.  In addition, helping parents and caregiver's of deaf children learn better how to reach the heart's of these precious deaf children for Christ is an endeavor of Becky's that is never satisfied.  Becky believes by sharing Christ and all He teaches us with these deaf children and their families, God will call them to share the same with others. 

Did you know Deaf people locally and world-wide are among the top three unreached people groups in the world?  http://www.doorinternational.com/hearing/deaf-culture

We pray for God to touch the hearts of those He wants to support us prayerfully and financially.  It is amazing to watch how He does this. 

If God touches your heart to do either or both, pray for us on a regular basis and/or give to us financially, please contact us to let us know so we can continue to thank God for providing for all our needs, as He has promised to do so. 


May God richly bless you as you follow Him wholeheartedly!

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.~James 1:27

Subscribe to the SFH Prayerletter on our website

Use the DONATE button above to use PayPal for gifts of any amount or mail a check to:  Signs for Hope, PO Box 460, Fairview, NC  28730

Contact Becky directly:  beckyblloyd@gmail.com/828-691-2581 (voice, text, FaceTime)





Tuesday, December 23, 2014

HAPPY HOLIDAYS & MERRY XMAS!

I tend to be an observer.  I learn so much just by observing.  I don't plan to observe, that's just...what I do.  



I never will forget Brother Ed Kofi, in Liberia, telling me on more than one occasion, "Sis Becky, you don't talk much, but you observe.  I've watched you." He is an observer, too (wink!).  My good friend, Dawn Barnes, has "caught me" observing and commented, "You are ALWAYS thinking." Dawn is an observer, too (wink!)  When I am with Deaf and observing them, I catch/notice so many new signs.  Yes, even after 15 years!  If I am with my good friend who is hearing, Vandora, when I see something new I quickly ask her, "Did you see that sign for ...?"  

Definitions vary a bit for the word, observer.  Most say it is a person who watches and/or one who notices things.  

Some would say I observe too much or too long, before I act.  I am guilty, as charged, I am sure.  I wish I could say I pray as much as I observe, but that is simply not true.  My observations are most often followed by much pondering and thinking and sometimes filtered with prayer.  

When I read/study God's word my observer mode comes out, often.  Sometimes, I pause long enough to ask God's Spirit to help me "see" or "notice" what it is He wants me to glean from His Word.  Many times, He shows me what He wants me to learn even when I do not ask Him to do so.  His Word is ALIVE (LIVING), so it will accomplish it's intent.  

I tend to be a stickler for what His Word says and what it does not say.  There is so much you and I can learn when we, ourselves, devote time to reading and studying God's Word for ourselves.  Yes, it is also important to receive wise counsel from others who do the same, but there is nothing that can take the place of you and me sitting in the presence of Yahweh, alone, one-on-one.




I hate assumptions, but I am guilty of them all to often.  Assumptions get us into so much trouble in our earthly relationships, one can only imagine what our assumptions relating to God can do.  The assumptions about our God are so destructive for so many.  It isn't the nonbeliever's assumptions that concern me the most, but more so the believer's assumptions that are so damaging and debilitating for themselves and others and often for an entire lifetime.  

Please do not assume you know what God's Word has to say about something, check it out for yourself.  Become an observer of His Word.  Notice things, that maybe others have never brought to your attention.  You may be surprised to find something very different from what you "thought" or "assumed" was true. All to often, we tend to develop thinking patterns based on assumptions instead of His Word.  Be aware, God will always be revealing more and new truths to you as you mature in your walk with Him, as well.  What I know and believe about the scriptures, today (age 55), are somewhat different from what I knew as a new follower of Christ at the age of 14 and even so as His follower at the age of 41.  

You and I will never know all there is to know about God, He is simply...too BIG!

An "assumption" that was revealed to me this year, by a dear friend's Facebook post, surrounds the phrase "Happy Holidays".  A few years ago, when the media and many in the retail industry decided they would no longer wish others "Merry Christmas", this time of year, but instead they would say "Happy Holidays", many of us became indignant.  And we were all to proud to boldly proclaim Merry Christmas back to those who wished us Happy Holidays...those heathens.  Turns out our pride may have been a little over zealous.  The word holiday means first and foremost "holy day", according to Merriam-Webster, so wishing someone Happy Holidays is not far from wishing them a Merry Christmas, now is it?  Jesus is holy and these days are 'set-apart' to celebrate His 'holy' birth.  The same holds true for Xmas.  I remember many years ago, that became a popular way to write Merry Christmas, Merry Xmas.  How dare they take the "Christ" out of Christmas!  Once again, when someone took the time to search a little deeper, turns out the use of the X dates back to the early 1500's and it is the first letter in the Greek word for Christ. 

When God looks down on us, I wonder how often He shakes His head in disbelief at the insignificant things we become so zealous over and the vital things we overlook? 



Will you join me in celebrating the birth of the holy child, who lived a holy life, so He could die a holy death, for you and me to be holy?




Thursday, December 11, 2014

EDYN GRACE!


S4H's Wheels for the Walterhouse Family
(shared by Becky Lloyd, December 11, 2014)
Jonathan Walterhouse is a S4H Board Member
and his wife, Michelle, is a S4H Advisory Board Member

All donations are tax deductible!



All for God's glory!

Shared by Jonathan and Michelle Walterhouse...

Edyn Grace is our 6 year old "princess" who has had a challenging life. She was abandoned at the hospital in Peru when her birth mother realized she was not able to take care of another child. Edyn was born premature with multiple health issues, most of which were not discovered until she was a few years old. She is Deaf, and was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Thankfully she was taken to an Orphanage in Peru run by Christian missionaries to the Deaf. She spent the first 5 years of her life there in an environment where she was cared for and nurtured to the fullest extent possible.

God called our family to adopt in November, 2010. It was a providential meeting between several families in which God connected us to the Orphanage where Edyn was living. Three years later and after God had provided over $36,000 for adoption and travel costs, our family was able to travel to Lima, Peru to complete the adoption. We flew back home on December 20th, 2013. God be praised!




Edyn Grace's Gotcha Day, December 5, 2013!

Read more about His story for Edyn Grace on our blog MorefortheHouse.


Since returning to the US, last December, multiple tests have been performed in working with more than 6 doctors to determine whether or not the diagnosis Edyn was given in Peru was an accurate one. In short, we found that she does not have Cerebral Palsy. Rather, she has been diagnosed with a rapidly progressive Ataxia (muscle weakness and lack of muscle coordination) of unknown etiology. Essentially, she has, over the last 3-4 months, lost a significant amount of her mobility. She has much trouble controlling her core muscles and as a result began to fall repeatedly. There are many different variations of Ataxia, and we are still awaiting a recent test to ascertain which kind she has.This of course has changed our family's everyday life, quite drastically. Edyn now uses a wheelchair for mobility. She currently has a pediatric manual wheelchair while we await insurance approval on a powered chair. Currently, with her manual chair, we wheel her up next to our van, help her stand and take a few steps towards her seat, then hoist her into her seat as we cannot brace her wheelchair in our current van. Once Edyn's power chair arrives, we will not be able to transport her in our current van and will need to obtain a wheelchair-accessible van.

These vans are expensive! Even a used, 2011 van (wheelchair-accessible) with 54,000 miles has a price tag of $35,000. We are seeking approval for a low interest loan through our State's Rehabilitation service office, but even at that--with the traditional 7 year loan--our monthly payment will be substantially higher than any vehicle payment we have ever had.

We have had many people ask how they can help, and to be truthful- the things we need most are prayer for God's wisdom and funds towards the purchase of an "Edyn Grace Van".

Would you consider helping us in this endeavor? 

Click on this link or on the DONATE button above to go to the Signs for Hope website to donate now!

Or mail a check to Signs for Hope, PO Box 460, Fairview, NC  28730 


James 1:5
- "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."






Saturday, December 6, 2014

So You Want to Adopt a Deaf Child? Part 8 of...


What is BEST for the Deaf Child and Beyond?



The blog post below was originally shared in September of 2013 under the title, "What is BEST for the Deaf Child?".  I have decided to include it, in its updated form, to become Part 8 in the series, "So You Want to Adopt a Deaf Child?"



In an effort to inform and equip adoption agencies, especially faith-based ones, as they seek to provide the best possible family environment for the raising of deaf children and to expand their understanding of the Biblical Worldview concerning the Deaf Peoples around the world, I have decided to write this post. 


 
Having numerous dDeaf family members (d meaning a form of deafness and D meaning a member of the Deaf Community) I often thought my husband, Charles, and I would end up giving birth to and being given the responsibility of raising a deaf child.  However, Rachel and Joseph are both hearing and we never had to face that all-encompassing question, "What is best for our deaf child?"   
 
Thirteen years ago when God led me to return to school in the fall of 2000 at the age of 41--2 yr. Interpreter Training Program degree and then 4-yr. degree in ASL Studies,--the answer to the question, "What is best for the deaf child?" became a personal quest of mine. At that time, I did not understand why I was so obsessed with wanting to know the answer to that question, but I do now, at least in part. 

I researched and researched and researched some more...I still do.  I talked to numerous educational interpreters, they are on the front lines and see what deaf children are faced with day in and day out...I still do.  I have also listened to many dDeaf people share their stories of frustration and pain with hearing family members who never learned sign language...and I still do.  
And I listen to the stories of those who experience deafness, but do not know sign language or were not exposed to it until much later in life and do not feel accepted by hearing people or by Deaf people, to this day.  They do not really "fit" anywhere! 

 
Sometimes, I feel embarrassed to admit that it took me several years to come to my conclusion. However, that uncertainty forced me to develop a strong and sure foundation for why I can boldly say, today, without reservation or hesitation, that providing the deaf child a sign language rich environment, as their strong foundation, is by far...BEST!


In addition, over the past 14 years, I have become heavily involved with the Deaf Community.  I have learned they are among one of the top three unreached people groups locally and around the world.  An unreached people group is an ethnic or ethnolinguistic people in which less than 2% of their population know of and follow Christ.
 
Often, Deaf people remind me of this story in the Old Testament, Exodus chapters 3 & 4, where the LORD (Yahweh) is speaking to Moses from the burning bush and Moses is making excuses as to why he should not be the one to do what God has called him to do.


"Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.
The Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? (Exodus 4:11, NASB)

Many Deaf people who do follow Christ, believe it is no accident God has allowed them to be deaf and that He clearly has a plan for each of their lives within their deafness.

This additional knowledge has led me to see more clearly, another reason, possibly even a stronger and more important one for granting the deaf child the right to be allowed to learn ASL and that is for the purpose of impacting those who are dDeaf with the gospel of Jesus Christ.


We know, from much research, the ability to share the hope of Christ by others within their own people group is much more successful than when those from outside their group try to do the same.  If ASL-fluent and Deaf Culture-immersed families adopt deaf children and then provide them with a sign language rich environment there will be many more opportunities for God to lead some of those children to share their beliefs with other Deaf people as they become adults.   I already know stories of adopted deaf children who feel called to return to their home lands to share the gospel with the Deaf people there.  Their sign language fluent hearing adoptive family members will also have influence on the Deaf Community and vice versa.  However, if families never give their deaf children the opportunity to learn sign language or interact with other Deaf people, the possibility of them ever influencing the lives of Deaf people for Christ is minimal to none, at best. 

Maybe more of us hearing people should follow Paul's example, learn sign language and become immersed in the Deaf Community:

"Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings." ~1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Some challenging questions for us to ponder:


For the sake of the gospel, should Christian hearing parents of deaf children learn ASL?  To date, in the US, 90+% of hearing biological parents never learn to sign with their deaf children. 

For the sake of the gospel, should Christian adoptive parents provide a sign-language rich environment for their deaf children? 

And, finally, should any and all hearing people learn ASL and be immersed in Deaf Culture, to possibly 'win the Deaf' and some how 'save some'?

Before I am misunderstood, let me go ahead and say clearly, I believe the BEST for the deaf child is knowing and embracing both ASL and English, as best they can. In addition, I also believe they should be given every opportunity to embrace both the hearing and Deaf cultures, as well. 

Ideally, I also believe it is also BEST for all hearing people and all dDeaf people to do the same. 

God has purposefully given us family members who experience deafness.  This is no accident nor is it only a result of the fall of mankind or sin which we should simply accept as a part of this life.  Why else would He continue allowing 95+% of deaf children to be born to and/or raised by hearing parents?  And why else would He be allowing as many as 70% of our aging population of hearing family members experience debilitating deafness in their final years? 

We are long overdue for asking God, specifically, what His will is concerning the dDeaf in our midst.  Over the years, we, hearing and Deaf people alike, have constantly been separating these two groups of people, but God is constantly trying to ensure that the vast majority of deaf people (old and young) always have hearing family members.  The family is a part of God's design from the very beginning.  When will we stop separating what God Himself has put together?  What are we missing when we separate ourselves from each other?

If you are an agency or a family not focused on adoption being, solely, His work and ultimately to spread His gospel, I urge you to do some soul searching and ask God to reaffirm to you why it is you are involved with adoption and more specifically the adoption of children who experience deafness.






James 1:5

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.


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So You Want to Adopt a Deaf Child? Ongoing Blogpost Series


Part 1, Overview

Part 2, What is the Best & Quickest Way to Learn American Sign Language?

Part 3, No One Told Me

Part 4, Deaf Children are Anything, But Quiet

Part 5, Why is The Deaf Child So Far Behind the Hearing Child

Part 6, The Adopted Deaf Child and the Cochlear Implant

Part 7, The Adopted Deaf Child and Your Church