Uniting deaf and hearing members during lockdown

deaf man on video call

I would like to share my story with other deaf members in the UK and Ireland.

I live in Northern Ireland, and since the Coronavirus outbreak early in 2020, my life has changed.  I realised for the first time that I can make things happen. 

At the beginning of October 2020, I was texting a ‘hearing’ Church member, Elaine Crawley, about the Come Follow Me – Book of Mormon videos, produced by Brigham Young University Professors Taylor Halverson and Tyler Griffin.   (I was told about them by my brother-in-law, Brian Peacock.)  I asked Elaine about how she occupied her time.  She told me of three regular virtual firesides that I didn’t know about, provided by Solihull Ward, Sunderland Stake, and Lichfield Stake. 

My initial thought was, ‘Fantastic!’  This could be the start of a connection between Church members, and me and my family in lockdown.  I began to worry if there would be access to interpreters, or subtitles for deaf members like myself. 

To my surprise, Bishop Hesekaia Fakatou from the Solihull Ward made it possible for me to have an interpreter on Sunday 11th October 2020 for the virtual fireside, with guest speaker Brother Tyler Griffin, with less than 3 hours’ notice, which is very unusual.  In a work environment I would normally have to book an interpreter at least two to four weeks in advance. That was my first miracle. 

My second miracle was to watch an interpreter, Sandra Pratt, on the same screen as the guest speaker on YouTube.  That had never happened before for me.  I was amazed and asked how it happened.  I found out that Bishop Fakatou used StreamYard (a live streaming facility used in web browsers).  I immediately told my youngest deaf sister, Heather, who is married to our Stake President – I wanted to make it happen in Belfast Stake, Northern Ireland. 

My third miracle was listening to Brother Griffin talking about the Tree of Life, The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin and The Prodigal Son. 

The Lost Coin parable stood out for me because I realised for the first time that the lost coin was lost because of neglect.  I began to think about people in general and wondered how often we neglect others in our lives to the point that they don’t feel part of society. Then I remembered a verse that my Deaf Mission President, Derrick Siswick, quoted to his missionaries at a Zone conference: “And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of the darkness.” Isaiah 29:18

From that moment on, I felt that deaf members and investigators can ‘hear’ the gospel in their language. How grateful I am that Bishop Fakatou agreed to have an interpreter for Solihull Ward’s weekly virtual fireside each Sunday evening. 

This is one way of uniting both deaf and hearing members during this lockdown. I plead with everyone to share what they know with deaf members. Tell them of virtual firesides or videos that can uplift. Remember, I relied on hearing members for information, which led me to my story, which I wanted to share with you all. I need you, and you need me. Together we can move forward and build Zion. 

My fourth and last miracle was to make it possible for an interpreter and a guest speaker to be present in my weekly ward Zoom meetings for Sunday School, Relief Society and Sacrament. That was ‘live’ for the first time on Sunday, 24th January 2021, with David & Jess Templeton’s support. 

We can make things happen with the Lord’s help. In Luke 1:37, it says, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” I know this is true, and I am very grateful for my uplifting experiences during my lockdown. I know that Heavenly Father is mindful of what we are going through. This is a beautiful opportunity to use modern technology to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone. 

President Nelson has spoken to us of his great desire to help hasten the Lord’s work in the latter-days. Hasten means to cause something to happen more quickly. Using modern technology will hasten the Lord’s work and help us work together to make things happen for everyone. However, it is vital to understand that hastening is not just about acceleration and speed. It is also about strengthening.