Every language has its beauty with unique tones, inflections, and accents even when no sound is used at all.
Trinity’s congregation hears and sees these aspects of language in spoken English, and American Sign Language (ASL) during the second service on Sunday morning. Christine Hysell, a junior at Arrowhead Christian Academy, Redlands, has been interpreting second service for almost a year. She was introduced to this ministry when Drew Cunningham trained her to take his place last summer. Drew began the ministry by signing during the Kaleo high school service, and when the group joined the “big church,” interpreting the sermon into ASL continued. She recalls Drew saying that using sign language was an opportunity to minister and he felt called to it. When school requirements lead him in a new direction, Drew trained Christine to take his place.
Translating during the actual time the service is taking place took some getting used to for Christine as she began her journey towards sharpening her ASL skills. “When I first started interpreting, it was all in real-time, which was rough. The first time I signed by myself was a baby dedication, which involved a lot of fingerspelling of names. It was a difficult place to begin, but a valuable experience.” Now Christine receives sermon notes ahead of time and is able to research word signs and concepts instead of fingerspelling them. If you asked Christine to fingerspell the word “paleoseismology” she would show off her nimble fingers
like a pro!
Christine tries to avoid being a distraction when she signs, but her many facial expressions are noticeable when she interprets. Facial expressions are the equivalent to vocal inflections, which adds meaning to the message being conveyed. “I love how visual ASL is,” Christine explains. “It’s like when someone has really nice speaking tones. In ASL I can see those tones in how people sign, and it becomes an artistic expression.”
Christine and her family have been attending Trinity Church for thirteen years, and she began her walk with Christ at a young age. “My faith in the Lord is a really big part of my life. It guides my decisions, my actions, how I relate to people, and how I think about the future.” Waiting patiently to hear what God has in store for her, Christine is unsure of what part ASL will play in her future, but she does expect to continue taking classes during college. The ASL ministry is a budding mission that is continuing to grow, as noted by the worship pastor, Bill Born.
Indeed, Christine is in an exciting time of life! Wherever God places her in the future, she will have sign language, and the church, to serve others and bring glory to God.
By Alexandra Trefrey