- Liz Ortiz
Start with One
Everyone was at my house, celebrating the end of the summer sign language class, with a potluck lunch of Togolese and American dishes. Jonas sat across the table from me and made a face as he took a sip of soda. He signed, “I’m thirsty. I don’t like this drink.” I signed back to him asking, “Would you like water instead?” He nodded, I got him the water, and the party went on.
It was fun seeing Jonas’ reaction to some of the American dishes. My favorite was when he tried Kraft Mac & Cheese (a childhood favorite of mine). He wasn’t too sure of it at first, but once he tried it, he loved it! When I asked if he wanted more of the Togolese dish, he signed no that he wanted more of the mac and cheese!
As we were cleaning up after the party, Christy said to me, “I’m always impressed by the small conversations you have with Jonas.” I turned to her, “You mean when I asked if he wanted water?” I hadn’t thought about it, as it was such a small, normal conversation. “Yes! It's amazing to see the progress he's making.” She was right. That conversation was not possible a year ago. Sometimes, when we see the long road ahead, we forget how far we've come. Jonas has come a long way this year. I’m thankful for our many small conversations.
August is VBS month in Togo. There were 3 weeks of VBS, each week in a different village. One of the weeks was in Jonas’ village. I was excited be a part this ministry. My parents led the VBS ministry at my church the whole time I was growing up, so VBS is in my blood.
I have many fond VBS memories from childhood, and it was exciting to be part of Togo-style VBS. You feel the same joy as you dance and sing praises at the top of your lungs. The same joy as you share God’s love while playing games with the kids. The same joy as you pray each morning with the leaders. The same joy in sharing the Gospel.
The last day of VBS in Jonas’ village we had over 700 kids! You can believe there was a great joy as all those kids heard and celebrated the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Over the course of all 3 weeks of VBS, almost 2,000 kids heard the Gospel! What a great ministry! Praise God for VBS!
Although days with 700 kids are exciting, days with fewer kids are just as important. I’m so happy with the progress Jonas has made this year, and I’m thankful for the small group of missionary kids who have gotten into sign language with the summer school class. It's been encouraging to see the MKs learn and play with Jonas. At various times, they will come up to me and practice their sign, and I love these interactions as well. The few are just as important as the many.
I shared in my last newsletter my desire to extend my year in Togo. One reason is to continue working with Jonas until a fellow missionary who signs returns from furlough. A larger reason is to help further deaf ministry in Togo. Right now, the deaf are unreached for the gospel.
I learned of a deaf Christian school in the neighboring country of Benin where they have over 100 deaf students, and I would love to see a Christian school for the deaf started in Togo. We are planning a trip to the Benin school October 1-4 to research it. Would you pray about this trip?
I am still in need of financial assistance to extend my stay. Would you pray about this too? Extending my stay would give me opportunity to share Christ with hundreds of deaf children!
I also ask if you could pray that I can sleep. I had to move over a week ago, and I haven't had a good night since. I keep waking up throughout the night and I don’t know why. I believe it's spiritual warfare. The enemy is not happy about the deaf being reached for God’s kingdom. With the Benin trip coming up, along with other important meetings for development of deaf ministry, it's hard to function with lack of sleep. Thankfully, we serve an all powerful God who is much bigger than the enemy! Christ wins!
Start with one,
Praise God for the developing deaf ministry!
Praise God for the summer school sign language class!
Praise God for the progress Jonas and his family are making in learning sign language!
Praise God for learning about the deaf ministry in Benin!
Pray for the trip to Benin Christian school for the deaf – Oct 1st - 4th
Pray for wisdom about deaf ministry in Togo
Pray for an ASL interpreter – big opportunity for one!
Pray for God’s direction as I consider full time missions
Pray for wisdom about the next school year for Jonas
Pray for wisdom about extending my stay by 6 weeks
Pray for financial provision for another 6 weeks