Cuernavaca, Morelos Mexico
JULY30-AUGUST 9, 2019: we were able to get wonderful accommodations and meeting/prayer space at the Fiesta Americana Cuernavaca Hotel. (More on this later.) The DCYIA Team (hearing/Deaf, Mexico/USA) arrived on July 30th. We gathered at the hotel, though some people did not arrive until after midnight! However, all those on the team made it!
WED-THURS, JULY 31-AUG. 1: the team went to work. For these two days, the team did several different tasks:
1) As a group, we updated ourselves on the policies and practices of our organization. In a special way, we focused on issues re: personal behavior; how we "model" Gospel values to one another and to our participants; the issues of sexual abuse and our own awareness of the issues involved in this.
2) We went through the schedules for every day of the program. Who had responsibility for what? What materials, resources were needed? The hardest part was assigning interpreters for each session. The presentations involved spoken Spanish, ASL (American Sign Language) and LSM (Mexican Sign Language).
3) The people working with interpreters had their own meetings, while those who would be working with the pastoral workers had theirs.
4) We gathered each day to pray, and then later to celebrate Mass.
FRIDAY, AUG. 2: participants began arriving. Some new faces; many familiar ones, alumni from previous Encuentros. We ended up with twelve sign-language students and fifteen pastoral workers (all Deaf; 2 from Chile and one form Trinidad and Tobago, the rest from different parts of Mexico). We had some get together sessions; introduction of the Board and team; "rules" for how we are to be "Church" for one another this week; basic scheduling. Later, our first Mass together and a wonderful dinner to start us off. We explained that some sessions during the week would be together, but others separate.
each morning, breakfast as at 8am, followed by Morning Prayer at 9am. SR. BONNIE from New Jersey, USA coordinated and organized prayer each day. From the beginning, she got people involved and gave them the responsibility of leading prayer. Then, the day's work began. For the interpreters; RAFA, GERARDO, ALVARO, VIRI went to work with the interpreters. At the same time, DEACON PAT, SR. BONNIE, LAUREEN and BRENDA began with the pastoral workers. They emphasized that people needed to share their "life stories". How we get our "identity" as people, as God's children, is found in those stories. Sessions for each group would go 2-3 hours at a time.
That evening, a certain group of pastoral workers and another group of interpreters had to prepare for Mass: readers, theme, Prayers of the faithful, rituals in the Mass, who voiced/who interpreted/ what signs were to be used. . Mass was at 8 pm. Dinner at 9pm. Staff meeting at 10pm
MELISSA DRAGANAC-HAWK started her workshop on "Self-Advocacy" with both groups. Melissa is Deaf, the daughter of Deaf parents, and presently the President of the Board for the NAD (National Association of the Deaf, Washington, DC). She began using a huge bag of M & M candies. (Fr. Joe wanted to grab a handful, but was told to sit down!). Her workshop was terrific. She explained that "Advocacy" is not a matter of getting angry, blaming others for problems. Learning to advocate with knowing who you are, recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, and developing good strategies. She did a great job.
Our last evening FR. MARTIN celebrates our last Mass together. He does an amazing job bringing together so many of the experiences of the week into the Liturgy and Prayer of the Mass. Then, a party. The hotel provides us with a fabulous last meal; we see the video that PAULA IBAÑEZ has put together (www.dcyia.net). We share presents, lots of hugs, laughter, pictures and tears.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 9: most of the team is in the lobby, saying "adios" to this wonderful group of interpreters and pastoral workers. More hugs, last selfies, and a promise to stay in touch. Then, the TEAM for CITI 2 & PWTI1I begin our evaluation. We take seriously our responsibility for the past week: what happened, what did WE learn, where do we improve, what happens after this. This process, a very honest process, took over 6 hours that day. One last time, we celebrated Mass, shared our prayers, and had a last dinner. The BOARD then held its own meeting after all this.
SOME FINAL NOTES:
1) What was hard to describe in all these notes was the incredible work of the sign-language interpreters. The whole week involved spoken Spanish, sometimes spoken English, ASL, LSM, some Chilean sign language; sometimes signing for people; sometimes voicing for people. Interpreters were often on the move, going from one group to another. In between, they often had individual interpreting responsibilities for people who needed help or questions answered. Just the physical work they did was impressive. The quality of the interpreting was absolutely the best!
2) The staff at the Hotel Fiesta Americana Cuernavaca was beyond description. An entire group of them learned some basic signs, and throughout the week kept asking us to teach them more signs. They were people who answered every request for assistance that we asked and never once complained. This is a beautiful hotel with beautiful people.
3) There are many "behind the scenes": people who make a week like this work; ALFREDO “CHOCHOS” & BELEN, our paramedics (we kept them busy!); ALE & PAULA in the office; people always volunteering to run errands for us.
4) MASS: throughout the week, we asked pastoral workers and interpreter students to plan the Masses, volunteer for readings, etc.; figure out how to sign readings, prayers, and who would interpret. This was an important part of what we were teaching throughout the week.
5) When DCYIA began, we placed our trust in the Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Certainly, for this week, we were constantly aware of her presence and love for us. Nothing we do is possible without her, our dear and holy Mother!