Last weekend we went to the Sign Language District Convention. Elena and I really had no idea what to expect. We weren’t sure what to bring. In the states you throw everything in your car. If you cant decide what to wear, you bring a few choices. We weren’t sure what kind of accommodations would be provided, if they would feed us at night, or what we would do for lunches. We packed up a big duffel that we have, and headed to the bus station to meet all the friends Thursday night. The bus runs all night to Guayaquil, its about 7hrs. The bus left at 10PM and we got to the terminal in Guayaquil about 5AM. Even though the bus was very comfortable, it was not easy to sleep. We hung out in the terminal food court after we got there, I wasn’t sure why, turns out we were waiting for the food places to open up. We didn’t end up going to where we would be staying first as I had thought might be the case. That meant dragging around that huge duffel. We had also brought my small pack, so Elena carried that. I was embarrassed as I saw all the brothers packed extremely light. They all got quite a laugh out of us dragging all our stuff, as they breezed by with their micro-bags. We had to take another bus to the assembly hall that took almost an hr. Everyone took a shower and changed at the assembly hall, another thing we were not expecting. Its hard to know what is going to happen when you cant communicate well with everyone. But alas, we found our seats and settled in. About 5 minutes after we got there, a brother grabbed me to be an attendant. Another interesting experience, as we they were all hearing, and spoke Spanish. But my Spanish is getting better because of experiences like this.
At the assembly many approached us I think simply because we were gringos. A very different atmosphere then the English assembly. It was pretty funny. We felt like celebrities or something as friends we never met asked to have there picture taken with us. But it was a great opportunity to meet new people. We met a lot of great friends, and we look forward to seeing faces we recognize at the next sign assembly.
We stayed with a nice family in Guayaquil, they had a small unoccupied apartment. I suspect we got the nice place because of being americans. I heard different stories from others about the accommodations. Guayaquil has some very poor brothers and sisters, but they are not short on hospitality. We were put with a small old sister that had lost her hearing when she was 25 or so. She had traveled with us from Loja, but we had never met her, as she is in a small hearing congregation an hr or so away from Loja. We were nervous at first, as her signing is limited, and we were hoping to be with someone that could communicate with the family we were staying with, but It turned out to be a joy to share the apartment with her. The family we stayed with had a grown son that spoke a little english, so we communicated with him through his poor English, and our poor Spanish. The deaf sister could speak because of going deaf so late in life, but we couldn’t understand her, and she couldn’t understand them. We had conversations in three languages. It was pretty crazy.
The program was great, it was nice to see all the seasoned speakers, but I was thankful to have an assignment that kept me busy, as this is our third District Convention this year. We ate lunches with our congregation. We had I think 11 Deaf from Loja come with us! That was quite a highlight. There was near 1000 in attendance Sunday, which was a first for this District. Many, many deaf. One young (hearing) sister from our hall got baptized. It was nice, as I had the privilege of going over the questions with her beforehand.
We loaded up and left Sunday after the program. I felt like an idiot as I dragged along my giant duffle, and when i got home, my back hurt. We spent a few hours at the bus terminal Sunday evening, as our bus for Loja left around 9pm. We spent more time with the friends from our hall in the terminal, and on the bus. This time with our congregation was the highlight of the trip, and the real reason we put forth the effort to go to a third convention. It was a blessing from Jehovah.