PRAYERLETTER.                          AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017


Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21

Our team of 4 (me, Vandora, Eric & Grayce) was truly blessed beyond measure, by our recent trip to Honduras, our first.  The opportunities God gave us among the Deaf there was beyond what I could ask or think.  Our only planned purpose was to support and love on the Robinson family and Ellie Cecil (our first SFH short-term missionary) in their recent move to Honduras, which we did, however they were a greater blessing to us. 

In addition, in Santa Rosa de Copan, the Lord allowed us to celebrate with 9 Deaf about to complete their first year of school. Yes, these are all adult Deaf Hondurans and they have finally been able to attend school and “graduate” from 1st grade. There was no school for the Deaf when they were growing up.  They were also learning sign language as they were attending school. 

This is because of an outreach of the Church of Christ (Mission UpReach) and a 20 yr-old American young woman, named Abbie Wilson, whose grandparents are/were Deaf. We were blessed by being with them four times during our 11 days in Honduras. The Deaf translation team joined us on Friday to share info about the Bible being translated into LESHO (Honduran Sign Language).  The Deaf were excited to learn of a Bible in sign language instead of written language. Their ability to understand His signed Word will truly be life-changing!

The Robinson family and Ellie began attending this church as soon as they found out they had a Deaf Ministry, once they moved to Santa Rosa after completing language school.  Dean and Tamara wanted Wyatt, their adopted Deaf son, to benefit from socializing and worshiping with them. The entire family is benefiting from and enjoying this group and this hearing church has embraced the Deaf fully.  Even the hearing leaders in the church are learning sign language and use it with their Deaf members.  One Deaf woman was baptized while we were there and others have already become followers of Christ. Learning sign language opens the door for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who have not heard/seen before.  ONLY GOD!  

Two months before our visit, I talked with Tamara about searching for the deaf children in Gracias, Honduras, before and during our visit.  Moving, again, to the town of Gracias (an hour’s drive from Santa Rosa) was not a part of their plan, but it was a part of God’s   Initially, Ellie went door-to-door in the quaint, colonial town of Gracias, population 12,000, sharing about the event to be held on Sept 2nd, and posting flyers.  Bringing together those in the area who were Deaf and/or had Deaf family members was the goal and to hopefully identify the young deaf children for the purpose of starting a pre-school for them in Gracias.  There is no outreach among the Deaf in Gracias.    

The Lord decided sharing this info face-to-face and posting flyers was not enough, so He provided a live TV/radio interview opportunity to be broadcast live from Gracias, while we were there. Once we found out about this, I asked if Eric and Grayce could be included in that interview and sure enough God opened the way. Ellie began receiving phone calls from Hondurans about the event and one family showed up a week early.  They were so eager to learn there was an opportunity for their Deaf son, which they had been searching for, for many years, but to no avail.  Yes, they did come back on the right Saturday.  

On July 26, a month before our departure to Honduras, Michelle Walterhouse (SFH board member) made sure I was connected to Christy Owen.  Christy and her daughter, Lili, were in the states at the time, sharing all God is doing among the Deaf in the capital city of Honduras, Tegucigalpa. Not only was I connected with Christy that day, but she and Lili would be passing through Asheville two days later and we made plans to meet.  I so enjoyed our time together and quickly felt I had known Christy all my life.  She mentioned the possibility of the translation team visiting the area we would be in while our team was there.  They had not yet been to Lempira Department (where Gracias is located) to share with the Deaf Community about the translating of the Bible into LESHO (Honduran Sign Language).  They came and were with us from Thursday evening through Sunday morning!  Such a blessing! 

The translation team, Manuel and Christian, along with Grayce, Eric, Ellie and Olivia Robinson shared a gospel drama with the Deaf in Santa Rosa de Copan and at the Deaf awareness event in Gracias.

I remember finding Christy’s story, in my Internet searches for Deaf ministries, in the early 2000’s.  While attending Gardner-Webb University between 2003 and 2010, the ASL students spent their spring break in Honduras at least once, ministering at Happy Hands School for the Deaf. 

Christy moved to Honduras as a full-time missionary to the Deaf Community in 1999. 
She started a small Deaf Bible study which grew into a Deaf church and she started a small school for Deaf children, called Happy Hands, which has grown into the only accredited school for the Deaf, pre-K – 9th grade, in all of Honduras.  Not only that, the translation of the Bible into LESHO (Honduran Sign Language) and its videotaping is being done by those who have graduated from that school and/or have been impacted by the Deaf Church associated with the school.  ONLY GOD!

I had never contacted Christy or felt led to do so.  In those early years, for the most part, I was solely focused on Deaf children needing to be adopted and there were no orphans in the Happy Hands School for the Deaf.  Christy had an adopted Honduran daughter, Lili, but she was not deaf. But God…now, has made it clear to me Happy Hands should be included in the Deaf Child Hope monthly sponsorship program and we will begin that process of application with them as soon as possible. 


I met Julissa, a Honduran young woman, the second night we hiked up the outdoor stairway to our hotel rooms, after a full day.  The open-air restaurant was on the level below our rooms and she is a server there. This was a good place to catch my breath before taking those last stairs to the top.  She came out to say hello and introduce herself.  She was curious why we were in her country and she quickly told me in beautiful English she had just graduated from the Christian bi-lingual school there in Gracias.  What?! There is a Christian bi-lingual school here???  

I asked Julissa about her relationship with Jesus Christ and while she is a follower of Christ she does not currently attend church.  We had several evening chats as I walked up those stairs over the next week and she came to the Deaf awareness event on Saturday afternoon in Gracias.

Saturday, September 2nd finally arrived!  The event to bring together the Deaf in the greater Gracias area had been shared over the airwaves, face-to-face (even in the market), and prayed for by many. Lunch, snacks and crafts were ready and the drama had been practiced. The park had been reserved, weeks before for the event, but Ellie was told someone needed to be there at 9am to make sure the shelter would still be “ours” by the time the event start time, 1:00.  We all decided to make a day of it and planned to meet there for fellowship with each other at 9. It took several trips to get the Robinson family to the park; Dean had to make an airport run that day (it’s an all-day commitment and sometimes includes an overnight stay) for a team coming in, so there was only one vehicle for transporting the children. Within minutes of arriving families with Deaf children (young and old) began showing up.  They were so eager!!  Most all waited around until the advertised 1:00 start time for the event.  Others shared their contact information, before leaving with the promise there would be follow-up. 

At 1:00, it was hot!  Those who had come were encouraged to sit on the concrete bleachers.  The Deaf Honduran team (Manuel and Christian) took the lead.  They welcomed the folks, taught signs and shared the history of the ongoing bible translations into LESHO (Honduran Sign Language). After the drama, portions of the printed LESHO Bible signs were distributed to each of the Deaf attendees.  Game time was next, but others wanted to learn more signs.  Julissa did some interpreting for me while speaking with a hearing mom about her 17-year-old Deaf daughter with no education and no language.  They had walked 2 hours and then ridden a bus one hour to attend.  Mom said missionaries had given her daughter books to learn sign language years ago, but they had been stolen before she could begin to use them.  They were both thankful to make connections with others. 

Ellie created a video of the day’s activities and you can watch it here.

Pray for Julissa!  Her heart was touched as she saw Believers from America coming to share with her Honduran Deaf the opportunity to learn sign language, which will grant them the ability to learn about Jesus and His Word.   We are now Facebook friends and I am praying an ongoing relationship with the Robinson family and Ellie can be forged with her, for several reasons.

ONLY GOD knows what will happen next and we are praying and seeking His desire and leading for all those who came to join us that Saturday, September 2nd.  The needs are great, but our God knows each one and which ones He desires for each of us to meet and when and how.  

By God’s design, our team was also blessed to join with Dean, Tamara and Ellie to visit a mountain community (hour and a half drive from Gracias) where twin deaf brothers, age 6, had recently started attending the local hearing school.  Russell Sowers at Foundation for Missions had met Ellie a few weeks prior and he knew of the twins because of their ongoing partnership with that community in the mountains. 

Read the blog post “And so it happens…” on the Sower’s website connecting the dots just a few weeks before our arrival for this God-connection. 

Words cannot describe my emotions when we entered that school building and for what God allowed my eyes to see.  Ellie taught the entire group some signs, Eric shared his beloved Caterpillar/Butterfly ASL Story which mesmerized both children and adults, followed by his story of growing up deaf in a hearing family.  Tamara could identify with the twins' mother because of Wyatt and we left that day knowing Ellie would begin a weekly trek back up that mountain once a week when she returns from her two-week time back in the states.  Please pray for Ellie to have wisdom and discernment how to begin to teach all of these children, hearing and deaf, and their hearing teachers and family members sign language and love and respect for each other.  The greatest desire for this community is to fully embrace these two boys and for them to know and love Jesus. 

One more thing, then I will close on Honduras, for now. 

There were several connections made with American individuals who God has placed strategically, in the middle of no-where, where deaf adults and children with no language or education are living with family.  They heard the radio and saw the TV spots advertising this event and they came.  Some brought the Deaf from their communities with them. A few of these Americans had no experience with the Deaf Community and did not even know sign language of any kind, prior to moving to Honduras. Desiring to give these folks language of some kind, they have started “schools” for them.  Some learning sign language from the Internet or a book and then teaching that to their Deaf “students”. Their greatest desire is to share Jesus with each of them once they have the foundation of language to understand.   Now, with the Bible being translated into Honduran Sign Language, the door to do that is being flung open. And deaf children and adults will have access to the Bible in their heart-language as soon as they learn it.

Christy Owen felt strongly the need to bring these young women together for a variety of reasons and she has invited me to join that initial time of meeting, November 16 – 18 in Gracias. Please pray God will spread His Spirit of unity among this group and for a bond to develop between these young women doing Deaf ministry, for which He alone will receive the glory.

I will be in Honduras the 11th - the 22nd. On the front end, I will spend time in Gracias with the Robinson family and Ellie, attend the Honduras Deaf Ministry meeting, then travel back to Tegucigalpa with Christy the 18th, Saturday.  Initially, we thought I would be arriving after the last school events for Happy Hands for this year...but God…He knew the official dates for the last day of school and the teacher’s appreciation day and “they just happen to be” the 20th and 21st.  Christy let me know that this past Sunday night.  ONLY GOD! 

Tamara and Dean just shared their newsletter.  Click here to find out how God is working and moving in their lives in Honduras (not at all what they expected) and how our God-connection continues and all for His glory!


Vandora shares…

Becky’s note:  When asked, “How did you and Becky meet?”, Vandora answers,  “Well, I think it was in the early 2000’s.  Becky and I were teaching children about Jesus in a local community outreach ministry.  She taught some signs to some of the children and when she mentioned she would be teaching ASL at her church, I decided to enroll.  When a few of us completed the two levels she taught she encouraged us to enroll at Blue Ridge Community College to continue our learning.  I did.  I was teaching full-time and attending classes, at night.  I began attending Becky’s church to be involved in the Deaf Ministry there. I graduated from the interpreter training program and became a member of Asheville Deaf Church when Phillip Easterling came as our full-time Deaf pastor.  When God called Becky to Signs for Hope, it was only natural for me to follow.”  

Once while Vandora and I were in Liberia, Brother Ed Kofi introduced Vandora as my armor bearer. She faithfully prays for me and those we minister to and she faithfully travels with me on MANY trips, here in the US and overseas.  She is quiet, yes, but Jesus is mighty in her!

Honduras, Where Do I Begin?
by Vandora Henderson

Thanks so much for your prayers.  God is still answering them as I write.  

I retired from teaching in February of this year.  I am often asked, how is retirement?  My answer is, "I am busier now than I was before I retired."  I am beginning to realize that retirement is really just a ministry focus change.  You never really retire.  You just dedicate more of your time to another ministry.  You continue ministering to that first ministry just in different ways.

Doing life with each other--that’s what we are designed to do.  Encouraging each other, supporting each other, stretching each other, being vulnerable and transparent with each other, stepping outside our comfort zone… allowing God to use every part of us.  And that is just what we did on this trip—life! 

Signs for Hope Adventure Team (Becky, Grayce, Eric, Vandora), the Robinson family, Ellie, and Christy and Lili and the Bible Translation Team. “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same function.  So we being many are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Romans 12:4-5 

Doing life with the Robinsons

What a special family!   What a joy it was meeting the Robinsons again.  Loading their vehicle brought back so many memories of our trips to Liberia.  Vehicle piled high, stopping at check points, long rides to and from points of destination… I don’t know if I missed this before or if it just took more times to sink in, but that long trip to and from the airport is such a God thing. Oh, the fellowship and relationship building that occurs during that time cannot be explained.  There’s a special kind of fellowship that occurs when you sit down to a meal or a cup of coffee with another person. I feel that there is also a  special kind of bonding and relationship building that occurs when you are riding with others in a vehicle.  That is definitely not wasted time. 

God is always at work and his timing is so perfect.  There were many occasions in which He just wanted to see what our response would be before He answered. One instance is when Tamara informed us that her washing machine was not working.  We volunteered to wash clothes, but couldn’t seem to get it on the schedule because God had other plans.

Christy arrived and heard about the washing machine situation, she and Becky talked with the hotel staff and arranged for the clothes to be washed.  Now that I think about it, maybe that was His way of involving more and impacting many.  We can only imagine.  “While we look not at the things which are see, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18       

I must admit, thinking back now, watching the interaction of the Robinson children did cause me to miss teaching a little.  Seeing learning taking place through play, children signing with each other from the youngest to the oldest, reading stories, playing housekeeping, building with Legos, helping with homework, …  As a new school year gears up teachers often tell their students  the classroom is like a family, a community where you help and respect each other.  That’s exactly what I saw in the Robinson family.  

Ellie, Tamara and Dean transported us around the city exposing us to as much culture as we could pack into our visit.  Whether we were dining at the Robinsons home or out in the city we got a great taste of Honduras.  They were so helpful translating for us as our Spanish was very limited.

Here is a link to a video of Eric and two of the Robinson kiddos…doing life…together in the Robinson home. 

Doing life with Ellie and the Bible Translation Team

Before we arrived, Ellie had spread the word about the Deaf event in Gracias.  What an event! Ellie, Grayce, Eric and Christy and the Bible translation team presented the gospel in sign language using skits.   Small groups were set up for more intimate interaction, teaching time and relationships building.  I am so thankful God allowed me to see the planting of these seeds.  I am so excited!!  During this time, many heard the scriptures for the first time in their language.   It was amazing the effort these people put forth to attend this event-- (hearing and deaf) traveling miles and hours using multiple means of transportation and having to arrive hours before the event, taking a chance of it raining and having to walk and possibly not get home because of impassable roads, arriving early (1-2 hours) and delighted to stay and wait, sitting in the hot sun and not complaining.  I can’t help but think of the little inconveniences that I complain about every day.   May my prayer be Psalm 119:37 “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things and give me life in Your ways.”  

Is this all? Of course not! So much more but hard to put into words.  Maybe one day.

I am grateful and humbled that God allowed me this opportunity to join Him in His work.  I am so thankful that He orchestrated/orchestrates it all. 

What a Mighty God we serve!

From my heart to yours…

Plans for next year’s SFH ASL-Immersion family retreat are ongoing.  We hope to make a decision for who will be hosting it in the next few days.  There are two options at this time and amazingly they are during summer break from school.

I am, once again, reminded of how blessed we are by Bonclarken Conference Center staff, even though dates there are never available in the summer; their price for us and their flexible financial contract with us, cannot be matched. And it is done with a servant heart that blesses us beyond measure. 

It has been interesting to see others who desire greatly to serve our families and our volunteers, but at the same time their price, their financial contract deadlines and requirements and their flexibility to meet our needs just cannot compete with Bonclarken. We are already on Bonclarken’s calendar for 2019 and 2020, however those dates remain during most school year’s, late May or early June. Please pray for God’s wisdom as we continue to seek where and with whom we contract for 2018!

Signs for Hope! 

What does that really mean?  The name was chosen when Signs of Hope was already taken for a website domain name back in late 2008.  I remember sharing the name with the Deaf, through the years.  One Deaf man quickly mentioned the ASL sign for “HOPE” is not a strong sign.  Instead it tends to be a “crossing your fingers” kind of hope or “wishing” something to be so.  I never let that thought go.

Webster’s definition:  Hope is an optimistic attitude of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one's life or the world at large.  As a verb, its definitions include: "expect with confidence" and "to cherish a desire with anticipation".

The hope you and I have in Jesus Christ is that kind of “hope”.

As time went on, I would play with other signs that could be used to represent such a strong word…HOPE!  Eventually, God made it clear how we are to sign our name, Signs for Hope and His meaning behind it. 

The sign “TRUST” would be used in place of “HOPE”.  It is often used to clarify the strong meaning of “HOPE” in ASL, in religious settings, in relation to our “HOPE” in Christ.  And it would be signed high to communicate “Trust in God/Jesus”.  Therefore, Signs for Hope teaches or supports the teaching of sign language for the express purpose of trusting in Jesus Christ.  This conveys the conceptually accurate meaning of all that Signs for Hope is about. 

Here is a video to help you learn how we sign, Signs for Hope.  

More and more God is making it clear that teaching sign language to adults and children, both hearing and Deaf, who do not know it is the most foundational purpose of Signs for Hope.  Teaching Deaf children and Deaf adults, as well as hearing family members and others impacted by the adoption of Deaf children.  Sign language learning opens the door for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, especially with those Deaf children and adults God connects us to. Deaf children (adopted and biological) and Deaf adults become Believer’s and they impact the greater Deaf Community around them by sharing life and the gospel in the heart language of the Deaf.  Helping to eradicate that truth that less than 2% of all Deaf people around the world know about or follow Jesus Christ.  Instead of “unreached”, becoming “reached”!  And not only reaching the Deaf like them, but hearing folks their lives impact, as well; family members, friends, co-workers, classmates, etc. 

Fulfilling His call, "to coordinate the adoption--His adoption--of Deaf orphans in the world."

Jesus said, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
John 14:18


You know I love you, but you also know He loves you so much more!


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