Just South of the Mainland
God has provided me with many opportunities to travel both near and far. He even has allowed me to work with several mission groups. However, it was my recent trip “just south of the mainland” that afforded an experience I hope to never forget.
Working with my friend and colleague, Dr. Diane Robinette, we were invited to assist in training both lay persons and college students in providing early intervention services for children ages birth to seven with hearing impairments. As a reader, you might say “what is so special about that? It is the norm in the United States. All children with disabilities are provided with early intervention services”. But wait… “Just south of the mainland”, in Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States, things can be different. Children with hearing impairments are provided services once they enter the public school system. However, they may or may not be provided with routine early intervention services. Therefore, these same children can develop significant language delays by the time they enter school.
Because of this potential gap in services, there are many Christians in Puerto Rico who are willing to become early intervention service providers for these precious children. However, they must be trained. So, we provided training sessions in two areas of Puerto Rico-Catalina and Caguas. During the week, we taught college students who were studying to become teachers of children with hearing impairments; and on the weekends, we trained adult volunteers.
The volunteer spirit of these individuals gave me a glimpse into how God uses each of us to accomplish His will. Students who took courses all day then were willing to take additional courses just to learn how to provide services to very young children. There were adults who gave willingly of their entire weekends to learn how to provide the same services. Some of these individuals drove many miles over two-lane crooked narrow mountainous roads during the rainy season to learn these skills. All sacrificed because they love children and want to help them.
In addition to the volunteer spirit of the individuals with whom we were working, there were others who gave of themselves, their time and their homes. Auria, a lovely grandmother with a deep heart for serving our Lord, allowed us to live in her home and eat delicious Puerto Rican food from her table. Also, she gave up her bed for us- choosing instead to sleep in a much smaller room. There were the college administrators who allowed us to live on campus and eat from the cafeteria all at no cost to us. These were just a few of the individuals who cared for us during our trip.
At the end of our time together in Puerto Rico, there was an opportunity for reflection upon our experiences and how God used many individuals to accomplish His will of providing early intervention services for some of His most precious gifts- young children with hearing impairments.
What truths from God did I learn from this experience?
Many, but here are just a few:
· Not every area of the United States follows every law the exact same way. Some children may not receive early intervention services.
· Our God is a gracious loving kind caring Father who is in control. He provided for all of our needs and is providing individuals to work with the young children with hearing impairments.
· God plants people in specific places at specific times so that their gifts and talents can be used to meet the needs of all of His children.
· God can use our availability and resources to help others. We were willing to go to Puerto Rico and train others just as those others are willing to serve children with hearing impairments.
· Each of us needs to be willing to serve; God will handle the details. God provided for our food and shelter.
© 2012 Elizabeth B. Loveday All Rights Reserved