I attended the 9:00 am - 11:45 am service at New Life Deaf Fellowship Church. While attending the service, I held conversations with three different people who were Deaf. During my first conversation, I was introduced to a congregation member and their spouse. The person I was signing with asked, “Why are you here?”, “Where are you from?”, and “Who are you with?”. I responded with, “I am a student from Tarrant County College, I am fulfilling a 99papers review, and I am attending with my Fiancé”. As the conversation progressed, I noticed that I needed time to adjust to the way that this person signed. I noticed that they signed slightly more English rather than the deep ASL that I have become accustomed to. I was grateful that the person I was signing with was patient enough to repeat what they were signing the few times that asked.
After a while, I found 99 papers review to understand and communicate effectively. The second person I signed with asked me about my recent engagement to my Fiancé. I needed to adjust my register for this person, their vocabulary and ASL skills were very well developed. I felt very confident in the way that I portrayed the story of the way I was proposed to. I was clear, concise, and utilized the space around me to create a picture rather than explaining a narrative. I could see that I was easily understood by the reactions I was receiving from the other person. During the service, the pastor used the ASL bible. Up to this point, I had never seen the ASL bible be used. I was intrigued by the way that the different signers became the role they were portraying. Admittedly, I struggled to keep up with the pace of the sermon and videos. When the service had concluded, I began reflecting on what I could do to be more prepared for returning to similar situations. The first thing I did was I download the ASL Deaf Bible on my phone so that I could become more acquainted with the register of signs pertaining to that version on the bible. While taking time to reflect on the New Life Deaf Fellowship Church experience, I began thinking about the strong sense of community there.
The elders of the church began the service with acknowledging the newcomers, people in need of prayer, and successes in the small groups. This strong sense of community I found particularly intriguing. I appreciated the way that everyone would rejoice in the victories of everyone in the church. The third conversation I had was while we were dismissing. The person I was speaking with was telling me how they recently finished the New Member class and became an official member of the church. They were telling me how exciting it was to be a part of a big church family. I was awed at the amount of love and support that this church expressed to its congregation members. Overall, during my experience at New Life Deaf Fellowship Church, I was exposed to a variety of people and the different registers they used, a different version of signing that I hadn’t seen before, and I got to see the Deaf community and how supportive it can feel with my own eyes.