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Wess Speaks (Part IX)

Read all the posts in the Wess Speaks series. [3]

Wow … how do you even know that that’s one of the languages that I learned?

I learned sign language in San Angelo, TX. It was right after I had come out of the Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, CA, where I had been learning Czech to be a spy with the US Army. I saw sign language for the first time in a little Baptist church and I thought What a beautiful language.

I went up to the lady and said, “What are you doing?”

She said, “This is sign language.”

And I said, “Really?”

And she showed me [the signs for] Jesus and love and save – the gestures are so powerful. And this dear lady said to me, “You want to learn this?”

And I said, “I’m only here in San Angelo for three months.”

She said, “Every Sunday afternoon if you come to my house I will teach you this language.”

I fell in love with the language, and I got to the point where I could sign the hymns as we were singing, but I couldn’t ever get good enough to keep up with the preacher. The tragedy is that I haven’t done anything with it. I do now sit in church behind the sign language section because I just love to watch it. It is so expressive.

The beauty of sign language is that you can’t ignore the person you’re talking to when you’re doing sign language. You have to be eye to eye – personally engaged – because the gestures all matter. It is one of the most beautiful languages on earth.

I’m so chagrined that I fell in love with it, learned everything so quickly, and then haven’t had a chance to do anything with it.

If you’re new here, these are transcribed answers from a conversation we recorded with our CEO, Wess Stafford.