If you have not read part one please stop where you are and go and read that piece first.
My mom remarried when I was in 6th grade. She married a God-fearing man that wasn’t apart of the catholic church like we were. He grew up catholic, but was no longer apart of that realm. Instead he was a Christian. To me I didn’t know the difference. I had grown accustom to going to church on a weekly basis, so when he took us to Lakewood for the first time I was in a culture shock. I don’t remember to much about my first visit, but I do know that over time I grew to love it. The culture between the Catholic church and Lakewood was massive. It took mom and I some time to get use to it, but soon we were going every week, and in junior high I began volunteering there. In addition to volunteering, I was also going to their KidZone during big service to have the Word taught to me at my grade level. Lakewood emphasized my love for Jesus in a unique way. However, it wasn’t till my stepdad turned his dads old bar into a church that knowing God began to take on a whole new meaning for me.
We stopped going to Lakewood after a year so we could solely focus on our church, but the only problematic issue was that I no longer had a youth group to be apart of. At the church we built, The Lords Kitchen, I was the only child there. It soon became my parents mission to find me a youth group to be apart of. During the summer before 8th grade I went to various bible schools and summer camps, and it was by doing so that I found my first real youth group. I was invited to join a church that became my first ever church family, and where I met not only one of my best friends, but also Jesus for the first time. Templo Gethsemani (TG) began to teach me about Jesus in a deeper way than from what I grew up with. They taught me about the realness of God, and that we have to give our heart to God for him to really work in our lives. It was at TG that I was first introduced to the term “alter call”. It was there during my 8th grade year that I gave my life to Christ. It was then that I knew I needed father God when my own father wasn’t around, who at the time mentioned that he would be moving away from Houston. God became a little bit more real to me, but not fully.
As I mentioned before, I stopped wearing my hearing aid. I didn’t wear it from 6th grade till 10th grade. It was in 10th grade that God really became real to me. 10th grade year was a turning point for me in many ways. God turned so many areas in my life around that I can only look back on that year with a smile. As a sophomore at Terry High School I began my year off as any other year, focusing on theater, basketball, academics and when I could, my youth group. My 9th and 10th grade years kept me so busy that I found it hard to attend youth group anymore. If I attended it was a rarity. I was so busy with everything at school that I left little time for God. However, when a teammate invited me to church one day after practice I accepted. She went to Church of Living Waters (COLW) which was literally across the street from my house and the school I attended so it sounded feasible to go. That September night began my journey at COLW. Soon enough I was enveloped in a new kind of love. I had new youth pastors, and a new crew to get aquatinted with. I really dived in head on with this youth group, yes I still missed, but I made it work.
In addition to going to a new church, I began my second year of American Sign Language with a new ASL teacher. Ms. Laura Soto didn’t fool around when it came to her class. It was her first year at Terry, but she was a tough cookie when it came to us. She was learning and we were learning right along with her. I’m going to pause here for a second because my ASL story entwines with COLW.
Lastly, during 10th grade I was still being bullied. I was facing a lot of ridicule in basketball mostly. I didn’t measure up to the older girls and they made sure I knew it. Their ridicule was one of the many reasons I didn’t do to hot my sophomore year of basketball. During this time my friend David came up to me one day in the hallway and asked me a very shocking question (or to me at least it was). He said, “Hey, so I am looking at starting an anti-bullying club here at the school with the counselors, would you like to join me in helping run it? The counselors would be sponsoring us.” It took me a minute to realize what he had just asked, but I said yes yes I would. Thus United Students Against Bullying was born, or USAB for short. That year USAB began as a small group about bringing awareness to the school about the bullying that many students were facing within our school.
So USAB got started, and ASL drove onward, and my new church family loved on me the best they could. All three of these things God had his hand on. All three of these groups played a significant role in God reminding me that my uniqueness is okay. That I didn’t have to hide who I was. USAB helped me gain a confidence in myself that I didn’t have before, Ms. Soto taught me the laws that protected me as a deaf/HOH person, and COLW showed me God’s love in profound ways. It was because of this mix that I was able to walked up to Ms. Soto during our technology unit and tell her first that I was Hard of Hearing (HOH). I offered to bring my HA to school that way she would have an actual tangible example. Not only was she shocked, but also grateful to have the technology to be shown. It didn’t happen right away, but I slowly began telling those around me about my HA. I started with my best friend and then told my hearing story to each of the ASL classed that year. I then put my hearing aid back in the last two weeks of school and wore my hair up so that way I could show a piece of me that I had been hiding. Was it hard? Yes, yes it was. I was scared. So scared that people would mock or make fun of me, but in reality they actually understood me better. The reason my friends could only walk on one side of me and talk suddenly became so clear to them. The only thing was my hearing in my right ear wasn’t the same, and I didn’t realize that till I went to the audiologist that summer.