Closing the Gap
by audra polstra, sign language interpreter
By Audra Polstra
My experience working at Grace as the America Sign Language (ASL)/ English Interpreter, group leader and volunteer has been amazing! I've seen the spiritual growth in so many individuals who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Hearing, Bi-lingual, etc. I feel so blessed to see those who feel disconnected and separated from their church family because of a language barrier between them finally begin to feel connected with them and with God on a deeper level. It's amazing to see that "Ah ha" moment in their eyes when they finally realize what the sermon that Dave Rodriguez or Barry Rodriguez is teaching to their congregation. I love watching them joining me signing the songs in ASL knowing that they are able to praise to God in their own language, granted they would do that without me anyway...It's just nice to see them praising and worshiping God like I do, in song and in their primary way of communicating.
Ironically, I don't feel gratification from singing with them, the "good job," or "I find watching you sign just beautiful" from the Hearing Community of Grace. I feel such a profound gratification when I know that God gave me this purpose in life and on HIS Earth to bridge the gaps between these two worlds. It's amazing to see them form a stronger bond within Grace and with God as a result of me being a diligent daughter of God in this blessed way.
Sometimes, I'm dumbfounded when I see and hear Hearing individuals who are willing and eager to learn about the cultural differences and willing to make the necessary changes to give those who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing equal access to God by modifying their surroundings, such as giving the interpreter a spot light during service, dimming the bright lights to a more comfortable level...the list goes on! The more I come to Grace the more I feel that God has more for me to do in the His world than just be there. I'm a part of it as well! That's the best part about being an interpreter. You get to be a part of those intimate moments in people's lives and see the spiritual awakenings, births, deaths...the list is endless of the multiple scenarios that we get to be a part of!
I thank God for every experience both good and bad as an interpreter, group leader and volunteer because without all these experiences in my life, I would never have seen the deeper routed bonds within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community and with Grace’s community. Also, I would not have formed a deeper connection with God as a result of this experience as well. Thank you to all of those who have accepted me and work with me at Grace.