27 NOV 2020
Svoboda Family Furlough Update
Both Jamaica and America are struggling with rapidly increasing cases of Co-Vid and deaths related to it. When the virus hit Jamaica, most of the ministries Andy was working on stopped abruptly.
God has blessed our family by allowing us this time of furlough in America to not only help Andrew (now 18 years old!) transition permanently back to America, but also to gain some much needed rest and growth as a family.
After 8 years straight of serving the Deaf in Jamaica, the CDM board recommended our family return to Ohio for our first, 1-year furlough. We appreciate their insight, love and support for our family.
How Would God Have Us Use This Time?
We are purposefully taking the time to pray, study and seek God. We are asking Him for wisdom for:
- What Andrew and Curtis need during this season of each of their lives.
- How financing Caribbean Deaf Ministries is best done.
- What ministry should look like in the future.
Focus on Family
Anyone with teenagers knows how fun and not-so-fun this season can be (for the teen and the parent)! Now throw into that recipe a cup of culture shock, a tablespoon of transition and 22 pounds of Co-Vid . . . you get the idea! Sometimes it's not easy to admit that your family needs help, but it's true . . . and . . . you're not alone.
We are grateful that part of the definition of ministry with CDM includes stepping back to focus on the health of our marriage and of our family.
How Can You Help?
Thank you for continuing your financial support during our furlough. It allows CDM to continue the work we established in Jamaica and covers our family's financial needs. Unfortunately, given the season our world is in, we will not be able to hold a fund raiser in 2020. This yearly fund raiser has been an important part of CDM's income historically.
Our family will be attending a program from November 30th through December 18th for missionaries and pastors and their families called AlongSide. The program lasts three weeks and is intended to help our family unpack the good and bad experiences of living and working in Jamaica as well as help with the reverse culture shock of moving back to America.
If you can help offset this $8,500 cost, you can press the DONATE button to give through our non-profit organization, Caribbean Deaf Ministries.
There are many people and unfinished ministries that we had to leave in God's capable hands when we started our furlough back in July of this year. We are thankful that God allowed us to establish the interpreting ministry at The University of Technology.
Caribbean Deaf Ministries is serving two students currently with more in the wings. Andy is able to schedule and pay interpreters remotely thanks to your generous giving. He is also staying in touch with the students to encourage them through this crazy season.
Picture From the Past Few Months
What's Happening in Kingston, Jamaica?
God is using our family to minister to others through the field of education. Andy is working at the high school and university levels to battle the marginalization of the Jamaica Deaf Community. The schedule this past semester was very busy with interpreting at UTech and teaching math at two different Deaf high schools.
I was recently asked, "Why are you so focused on education? Didn't you go to Jamaica to preach about Jesus?" It was a good question. The short answer is two-fold. One, God opened all the doors that we are currently walking through. We asked God to make us trust Him more. Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into, but there is no denying that God was the one who guided us here. Two, we firmly believe that the best way to "preach" to someone is to be the hands and feet of Christ to the people He has brought across our path.
What's Up at the University?
We are so grateful and excited about the relationship God has built with the University of Technology in Kingston. UTech is excited too about working together to offer university training to the Deaf Community and to improve the quality of Deaf education in Jamaica. We currently have two, full-time, Deafstudents attending. Both students are working hard and doing well in their courses.
Andy is spending a majority of his time either interpreting or hiring interpreters at UTech. The interpreting of university courses is just one way UTech is helping to remove educational barriers.
Andy is excited about the potential for working with UTech to create a Jamaican Sign Language dictionary. Why is a dictionary important? There is no authoritative "standard" for JSL. Without it, it is very hard to move ahead with pushing the Jamaican government to officially recognize JSL as a language. With a formally recognized language, we could push the Ministry of Education to allow JSL to be accepted in hearing high schools as a student's foreign language requirement. We could start to design stronger Deaf Education programs and maybe even start proper interpreter training programs.
Online Distance Learning
Andy was also asked by the Office of Distance Learning at UTech to work on making all their online learning materials "Deaf friendly." Having this material would be a great help to future, Deaf university students to learn the material at their own pace and in their own language.
How Can You Help?
While we are working with UTech to find funding to hire the interpreters their students need, Caribbean Deaf Ministries is currently covering the costs of hiring interpreters. (Andy can't interpret himself for all the classes for two full-time students.) Would you please consider giving a special gift to help offset the approximately $800US per month needed to provide interpreting for these students?
- Pray for the UTech students taking their finals this week.
- Pray for the high school students taking their CXC (high school exit) exams next month. They need good grades in these exams in order to move on to further training.
- Pray for wisdom for our family as we begin discussing with Andrew his plans following high school.
- Please pray for the process of renewing our visas. We have experienced something of a hiccup and are asking God to show us how to proceed.
A group of ladies Michelle has been able to connect with.
Thank God for the fellowship!
What a blessing to have Michelle's dad and step mom visit in April! It was great to have the fellowship and encouragement.