The pastor had finished his sermon with a "Let's pray." I bowed my head and just as he started to pray, someone grabbed my knee. Not going to lie, I jumped a little. I looked up to see Queen Emily beckoning me towards her. She, Amber, and I had to leave church early, and the service was running long than we anticipated. Instead of staying for our arranged exit time, we snuck out during the prayer. A spontaneous change in plan that I was not informed of.
Not an hour later, Queen Emily, Amber, and were in our second church service for the day. We double-dipped on church because our sign choir had been asked to perform at the second service. Neal said, "Let's pray," I bowed my head, and Amber grabbed my knee. No praying allowed in church apparently. Instead, we had to progress on stage like an army preparing for battle.
The performance went better than expected. Not flawless but quite well considering the extremely limited amount of time we had to prepare. After the service, I was mingling and everyone seemed very impressed.
"You were my favorite one up there." You're biased.
"We always love it when you guys perform." Thanks, we love it, too.
It was Jennifer's words that stuck with me the most.
"You know, some people just sign with their hands. But you sign with your whole body. It's like you're telling a story." I like to tell stories.
When I joined this choir, I had no knowledge of American Sign Language. None. During practice, I would feverishly scribble what the signs looked like to me. For example, next to Queen Emily's "WHO" I wrote "inhaler." That's where I got my first sign name, a "K" on the chin, to remind everyone of my silly "WHO = inhaler" moment. When I started, the signs were just motions to me.
Now, almost four years later, I am conversant in ASL. The signs have moved on from being motions to being worship. It means I get to worship with all that I am. My hands, my body, my face, my heart, my mind, and sometimes even my voice. I use all that I am to praise God and tell His story.
It's worth all of those hours freshman year trying and trying to figure out what was going on. Every "WHO = inhaler" moment and the laughter that followed. Every trip to practice in the icy rain. Every sore shoulder/wrist from overuse and abuse. Every moved table and chair to create ample practice space. It's even worth every interrupted prayer to use all of my being to worship God as I tell His story.