Growing Up CODA: Transition to Adulthood
Brother Ronnie David: How do you tell your mom and dad you’re not going to be with them anymore? We both moved up closer to the chapel in Atlanta, but now, it’s not a two hour drive. It’s a 20 hour flight now, if you want to see us.
Aliw Pablo: It’s part 2 of our episode with Brother Ronnie and Rowel David, who are CODA, or also known as Child of Deaf Adults. In this episode, we’ll be talking about growing up CODA and how that prepared them to be later called into the holy ministry. We’ll find out how they came to the difficult decision of leaving their parents, who are both deaf, behind.
Brother Ronnie David: I was shaking. What I said was, you know, we’re going to be leaving, because we’re gonna go study in the ministry now. And I braced myself because, you know, I know this was a shock for her. We never talked to her about it. She didn’t even talk to us about it. It was never discussed it, we’re going to do this.
Aliw Pablo: You’re listening to Making Changes, a show about the changes we go through and the life lessons we learn along the way, but always with God by your side. I’m your host, Aliw Garcia Pablo. Today’s episode is perhaps one of the biggest life changes we’ve ever talked about.
Brother Ronnie David: Her words will be etched in my mind forever, I will never forget. Right, Rowell?
Aliw Pablo: Two young men who have been their parents interpreters all their lives—at the bank, in school, in the workplace, at Church. Brother Ronnie and Brother Rowel have been their parents’ advocates and liaison to the world. But despite their deep love for their parents, they decided to answer God’s call to enter the holy ministry. The stories they will share may shock us but certainly inspire us, on what happens when we have a change in perspective. What happens when we put our fears away, when we replace fear with confidence and trust in God instead, so that we can make room in our lives for His plans? Let’s listen in.
Aliw Pablo: When would you say that you both started to feel the calling into the ministry?
Brother Ronnie David: There was one worship service I do remember. And the minister did say one thing that really stuck out to me, which was, “Even if you’re thinking about it, that’s already a sign.” And I remember after the worship service saying, “I’m thinking about it right now. But does that mean it’s a sign, like, should I join now? There [were] three other brothers in the local [congregation] who are talking about it. And our resident minister announced it after the worship service: “If there are any brothers who would like to join, please meet us in the sanctuary this afternoon at three o’clock,” something like that.
But I do remember that three o’clock though. All I remember is when I entered that door, I saw my brother on the other side. And you know what? At that point, I wasn’t surprised he wanted to join. But there’s a reason why when the minister mentioned years before, that if you’re thinking about the ministry, it’s a sign already, until now, until that point, why I didn’t join right away, it was because I was kind of worried about my parents.
I mean, they are good and faithful, but like we mentioned earlier, they didn’t have the best kind of jobs, I’ll admit. It was very labor intensive. They spent a lot of hours just to be able to make ends meet. We didn’t have the best life. I’m not going to sugarcoat that; it was really rough. There were hard times. In my mind, I was like, “Okay, me and my brother, this is where we[‘ve] got to have the comeback story. We’re going to get great jobs, you’re going to provide them a great life, and, and we’re all going to have big houses. And we’re going to tell them, “Mom and dad, we did this for you. We love you, you know.”
But that Sunday at 3 p.m., that was kind of a different idea at that point. “Okay, now who’s going to take care of mom and dad?” I remember looking at my brother. We didn’t say anything, though. We joined. The minister had us sign a form, or we all prayed after. And I just remember, me and my brother already discussing, “We’re not going to tell Mom and Dad yet.” I don’t know. Why didn’t you want to tell them, Rowell?
Brother Rowel David: I think for me, personally, I think it was because who knows if this is even going to go through. And who knows if we would even get approved? You know, this is just a pre-application. And so because, just like what he said, we were worried [about] who’s going to take care of mom and dad. I’m sure you know, in a regular person’s (way of) thinking they would—as parents who are deaf, who depend on their children, they would probably think the same thing. And so for us, it’s like, why would I want to put them through the worry? this may not even go through. So it’s like, you know, I guess it was one of those times where it’s like, we’ll cross that bridge when it comes.
Aliw Pablo: But you both hadn’t talked to each other at all about the ministry until you saw each other at the chapel that day?
Brother Ronnie David: Oh, yeah, no way. We never spoke about it at all.
Aliw Pablo: So, tell us about how your parents found out that you’re both joining the ministry.
Brother Ronnie David: Because they announced it after the worship service one day. They said, “Okay, through the guidance of the Church Administration, these brothers were accepted to join the holy ministry.” And they mentioned all the names. And you know what, for a local of less, a little less than 100 people at that time, a little less than 100 brethren, to send five brothers at one time. I was pretty…it was a lot. You could look around, their parents crying, you know, aunties, uncles, friends, cousins. It was super emotional. The only ones who didn’t feel it were probably my parents.
Because they’re looking around wondering, why is everybody crying? Did something bad happen? I remember telling, like, the others, please do not say anything to our parents. Because it was still in my mind, who was going to take care of them? I don’t want to… I didn’t even want to think about what we’re going to say to them. They eventually (found) out. I remember we were in the car, and my mother did bring it up. She said, “Is it true what I heard guys? Is it true you both went to join the ministry?” And, honestly, I think we were both speechless. We didn’t know what to say.
Brother Rowel David: If you remember I turned around, I looked at you and I said, “Did you tell her?” And then you turned around, you looked at me, and you said, “No. Did you tell her?” You know, and I don’t know for me, because (she’s) deaf, of course, she didn’t hear us say that. But we were trying to have a conversation, we’re trying to get our stories straight so that we can figure out how we can tell her.
Brother Ronnie David: Then there was a mom on the side, “I know you guys are talking to each other. I see you.”
Aliw: I see you talking about me.
Brother Ronnie David: But I’ll tell you what though, it was just kind of… it was quiet. Because how do you tell your mom and dad you’re not going to be with them anymore? How do you do that? Especially when we’re young, I mean, I think I was still young. I was like, 21, my brother was 19.
And I do remember, like, I was shaking. I did tell her. I said, “Mom, Dad, so…” I didn’t apologize, what I said was, “You know, we’re going to be leaving, because we’re gonna go study in the ministry now.” And I braced myself because, you know, I know this was a shock for her. We didn’t…we never talked to her about it. She never even talked to us about it. It was never discussed that we were going to do this. But her words will be etched in my mind forever. I will never forget, right, Rowell? She said, “You know, I always prayed for this. I always hoped you guys would join.”
Brother Rowel David: I think at that point, it really, I’m sure I can say this on behalf of both of us that—that was the moment for us where it’s like, “If this is what they want, what’s going to stop us?” You know, what… there should be nothing that would stop us, you know. I remember we had a conversarsation. We were sitting there in the sanctuary and we were talking to ourselves and we were saying, you know, “Why did we even think that we could take care of them better than God?” Like, we were so worried about who would take care of mom and dad, you know. We’re trying to go to the ministry, and we forgot what they have been teaching us our entire life, which is that God is always watching you, and God will always take care of you. And so if they were taking care of them, if God was taking care of them, before we even came into the picture, what makes us think that they won’t be able to do it without us?
Brother Ronniel David: You have to keep in mind, because the situation at the time was, we were both working not only to take care of ourselves, but we’re also still taking care of our parents. I mean, I even quit school, because I couldn’t afford going to school and taking care of the family, as well. So I took off time from school just to focus on working and saving a little bit more money. And at that age, too, you can only imagine how it’s unfortunate, but I (didn’t) remember this simple thing that our parents have been teaching us all our lives, which is that God is there, and God will take care of you, and trust in God.
Brother Rowel David: And that and that was always our answer. That was always our answer when people would say that, you know, who’s going to take care of your parents when you guys leave? We would always say, “God will. God will take care of them.” Because that’s what they taught us. That’s what they taught us and it’s the truth. It’s the truth. We’re not going to let anything stop us.
Aliw Pablo: Getting to the Philippines and studying in the ministry was one thing, but their trials and challenges have just begun.
Brother Ronnie David: If I could just put it in perspective, when I came back from my first year in the Philippines, coming back, I did lose a good bit of weight. I did. Me and my brother both did. And you know, a parent’s intuition. They know what’s wrong. And they would ask us after that first year, okay. After that first year, we came back and they saw how we looked. People asked us, “What do you guys do? Do you exercise?” We’re like, “Yes! Diet, exercise—it’s amazing.” My mother would ask us, “What happened? Why did you guys lose so much weight? Why did you get so skinny now?” And she looked at me and I told her, “We’re running a lot, Mom. You know, basketball.” And she said, “No, really. What happened?”
Aliw Pablo: The truth is, it wasn’t too much basketball that caused both brothers to lose so much weight. With very limited allowance with money they had saved while working prior to joining, they lived off of 5 pieces of bread everyday—which was about 30 pesos a day, equivalent to a little more than 50 cents in US currency.
They never told their parents the kind of diet they were on, but a mother’s intuition is always right. They were surprised that one day, they began to get an allowance from their mom and dad. Remember, their parents had very humble jobs. Their mom did the laundry at the local hospital and their dad was a furniture mover. So, being able to send their sons extra money was definitely a surprise.
Brother Ronnie David: We did so much better. Eating wasn’t a problem. And then we get our tickets to go home, and we get to the airport. And we’re on our way home. I’m so excited to see my bedroom, you know, to see my old stuff. And we’re driving, we’re driving, and then we miss the exit. And I wonder, “Mom, Dad, where are we going? You missed the exit, home is this way. And my mom said, “oh no, no, we’re going to go to your Tita’s first. We’re going to your Aunty’s.” I said, “Alright.” So we get to our Aunty’s house, and I see my mom’s stuff there. And I said, “Mom and Dad, why (are) your stuff here? Why is our stuff here?” And it was then when my mom told me, she said, “We want you guys to succeed in the Ministry. We sold the house. We sold the house so you guys can succeed. You’ll be ministers one day.”
Aliw Pablo: To the brothers’ shock, their parents sold their home—gave up the only thing they owned, all for the sake of their sons’ being able to finish studying in the ministry.
Brother Ronnie David: And right there I was thinking, “Mom, dad, what about your life?” And you know my mom, she’s like a broken record. She wouldn’t stop saying it, “You know, we trust in God, right? We trust in God.” I told her, “Mom, it’s only our first year in the ministry. There are 3 or 4 more years left, mom. What are you doing? Why would you guys sell your home for us? You moved in with our Tita, you don’t have our own home, anymore. Why would you do that?” And they said, “Because it’s more important that you guys finish your studies and become ministers. Because maybe in the future, you can help (other) deaf people, too.
Aliw Pablo: Their parents Ramon and Raquel David had sold their house to live with relatives to support their sons in the ministry. But their sacrifices didn’t stop there. Brother Ronnie and Brother Rowel found out later that there were months that their parents skipped out on paying some bills just so that they would have something to send to their sons.
Brother Rowel David: When it came to us trying to finish the ministry, that’s all the more, they did everything we could just so that we would be able to finish.
Aliw Pablo: So, in the end, they took care of you, more than you being worried about taking care of them.
With God’s help, their parents’ prayers were answered. Brother Ronnie and Brother Rowel David were both ordained in the holy ministry at the same time in Rome, Italy in July 2019. All their parents’ sacrifices paid off. Both their sons are now ministers of the gospel. As of this recording, Brother Ronnie is the resident minister in the local congregation of Bellmore, New York and Brother Rowel is the resident minister in Newport News, Virginia.
Aliw Pablo: When you look at your childhood, when you look at your mom’s reminders, ‘God’s eyes are big,’ when you look at everything you’ve been through, how was it a preparation for what God already had in store for you today?
Brother Ronnie David: I think, number one is, only God could plan out something like that. Like, I’m 30 years old right now. And I look back every year, like, only God could have planned out something from so early on. Because like me and my brother had been saying, the values we learned as children, not even understanding the worship service lessons, like, that young, until now have been the same. It’s always been the same. We haven’t changed.
My parents, I could count on my hand, how many times they actually gave us life lessons, verbally or through sign language. They never really talked about it like that, or spoke about it that much. It was just they showed us the way they lived. And then that’s how we followed.
Brother Rowel David: I think even, even outside of that, you know, with even just dealing with life, with everything that we went through. You know, we saw the finances of our parents growing up, we knew how to budget here and there, even when it came to that aspect….
Aliw Pablo: It’s important that this is the first time these two brothers had ever sat down like this to tell their life story of growing up CODA and growing up with very little. When they look back at their life and what it took for them to get to where they are today, making sacrifices was all they knew. As they reminisce, more and more stories pop up in their minds. They took us back to the time when they moved out of their home to find better jobs. Remember, they grew up in a small town in Milledgeville, Georgia, about 2 hours from the local congregation of South Atlanta. There weren’t much job opportunities there for them in their small town, so they moved closer to the city to be able to help their parents out financially.
Brother Rowel David: When we moved out after you know after my brother graduated, we were both on our own. Well, you know, after I graduated there were times when we would guard the chapel for five, six nights out of the week.
Brother Ronnie David: We never mentioned that to our parents, we had nowhere to go. We never mentioned when we got our apartment. Yeah, we got our apartment months later.
Aliw Pablo: Wow! So you lived out of your cars, and just on people’s couches, and guarding?
Brother Rowel David: We did. And then we were given a job. With every blessing we got, we always changed our prayer to, “I’m going to do more.” So, for example, in the beginning, we were guarding the chapel because it only felt right. And then we feel—and then God blessed us with the job. Because of that, you know, we had a job, we had more money, we were able to do more. So we would dedicate more time to God. We would, you know, take up more offices in the Church.
Brother Ronnie David: I thought we were living our best life. Going to Church all the time, going to activities, to choir practice, I loved it.
Brother Rowel David: And we would have conversations and we’re like, you know, it’s crazy how we’re able to do so much for the Church now. You know, that’s because growing up, our parents taught us so much, that that’s where we should be, we have to do everything for God.
Brother Ronnie David: I knew God was always watching us. Always. At 21 years old, still. God is always watching.
Aliw Pablo: That’s exactly what I was going to say, you know. A lot of people would have been like, “I’m finally out of the house.” You know, “I don’t have the responsibility to,” you know, “take care of my parents, because I’m not in the same house with them anymore. I’m free, I have freedom. Let me just go live my life for once.”
Because really, even though by the time you both moved out, you were adults, you were playing the role of an adult even as early as seven or eight. So, a lot of people would have been like, it’s time for me, especially you’re two young men, you know. But what was it? What was it?
Brother Rowel David: God gave us a lot of experiences throughout our life to where we learned from them. And I know that you mentioned, you know, our entire life, we were always giving, giving, giving. Because that’s what we, you know, that’s what we had to do. But I feel like it’s because of some of those experiences, that we had to experience firsthand. It only felt right, you know. A personal experience that I had…and I remember I was getting ready for school. And my mother, she called me, she goes, “Hey, I’m going to go get some gas. Do you want to come with me?” And you know, we pump gas, we go and try to go pay. And I see her, she’s up the counter. She’s counting these Jolly Rancher pieces. She goes 1,2,3…10. And I said, “Mom, you shouldn’t be eating that. That’s bad for your teeth.” And she goes, “No, this is what I’m going to eat today.” And I said, “Why? Why?” And she goes, “We don’t have any money. And so I’d rather buy 10 of these for $1.00 and eat one every hour, so that I could be okay, rather than just buying one thing with $1 and only eating that once, and then be hungry a few hours later.”
For me that left me speechless. I go to school, I get free lunch, I eat. She even makes sure I eat before I go to school. When I get home, there’s something there that I can eat. And then she’s eating that all day.
I remember (when) I got home, I just cried my eyes out. Because I’m thinking, I’m like, you know, they’re doing so much just to take care of us. But again, those experiences like that really taught us and really humbled us to where even if I’m 18 and I’m leaving the house to go get a job, this still is not about me. It’s not about me, it’s about them. Those experiences really, really molded us to have that mindset.
Aliw Pablo: At any point in your childhood, especially, I would think in your teenage years, did you ever think, “Gosh, why? How did I end up with this card?” You know, like, “How did I end up with so many challenges? Why couldn’t I just have had “normal parents”? Why couldn’t I just have had a life where we didn’t struggle so much.” “Why me, God? Why us, God?”
Brother Ronnie David: All the time.
Brother Rowel David: Many times. Yeah.
Brother Ronnie David: You know what? I’m not not even going to sugarcoat it. There were times I would tell my mother that. “Why us, mom? Why do you have to work at a job like this and only make this much? Why does dad have to work at this place and only make this much, and we only have this much. And this is all we have?” You know, it’s really sad because, I mean, being the older one, I had no one to look up to.
Because number one, I didn’t know anyone else who had deaf parents. I didn’t know how to handle the situation. Number two, I didn’t know how to react when there were times when I saw how some of our friends were living. They have things, they have certain… or they can do certain things with their families. And we never did that. And I remember explicitly, you know, telling my parents, you know, “Mom, Dad, I’m not going to be like you guys, when I grow up. I wouldn’t have a real job.” I’d say stuff like that. “I’m going to have a good job, I’m going to be able to do things. And not like what you guys are doing.” And you know what? I will never…Until now, I still feel horrible about that. Because my mom would always just say, “You know, we’re just trying. We’re still trying to take care of you guys.”
Aliw Pablo: So the show is called Making Changes. What do you think was the biggest change in perspective that you had to make, that your situation basically inspired you to make? To go from, “Why us to why not us?”
Brother Rowel David: Looking back, I think one of the main things that I learned was, and our Executive Minister says it all the time, “Everything happens for a reason. God has a plan. Everything happens for a reason. You just have to trust that plan.”
And so growing up, again, after the fact of going through everything, you realize, I had to go through that. You know, something hard comes through, something difficult. And the first thing you’re going to think of is, “Okay, what’s God wanting me to learn here?” Because that is just a stepping stone or a stepping block towards the next you that you can be, or the next you that you will be, that God wants you to be. And so, you know, me realizing that after the fact that that was the change from me. Understanding, you know, even though coming from a silent family, wherein your parents don’t talk, you know, coming from that situation, having to learn, you know, and understand how it is to be someone who is hearing, and understand how it is to be someone who’s not hearing. And then even applying that to everything else that happened in our life. It really does, it makes everything so much clearer when you’re able to know and understand that, “Hey, this is just something that I have to go through.”
It’s like what the Bible says that the problem you’re going through is a problem that everyone else is going through as well. And no one is, just to put it very bluntly, no one’s special here. Everyone has cards that they’re dealt, and you just have to find a way through it. And honestly, the way that you get through it is by trusting in God, because He’s the only way that we can get through. And I feel like that was the biggest thing that I took growing up.
Aliw Pablo: Brother Ronnie?
Brother Ronnie David: But, honestly, one thing I would say is just do your best to understand what’s happening. You know, we live in a time now where even 30 second YouTube clips are too long. Sometimes people have to scroll over, right? They can’t even wait for it to finish. We live in a time now where everything’s moving. Especially, it’s so crazy for me to think that I’m not part of the younger generation anymore. I’m getting up there now.
And I look at some of the younger ones, I’m like, “Wow, man. Your focus is on so many things at one time. But is your focus on Church still there? Is that still a big focus for them? And I think after all these years, I really came to an understanding that we have to understand or we have to not take for granted what we have right here. Give it that 30 seconds, give it that minute, give it that whole lifetime, give all your time to it. And then we’ll get it. Because, like for us, when you’re going through each phase of what was happening at that time, each phase of hardships at school, hardships at work, hardships of being away from the family and even going to the Philippines and some struggles there. At the time, you don’t understand it. But you just got to… just keep going, just keep going through it. And in return, for my parents, to connect there, we may not understand what they’re telling us at the moment. Because I would have never known that my parents are teaching us: prepare early for worship service. I would have never known my parents are teaching me, to focus on the worship service. I would have never understood that my parents are teaching me: Church first. Sacrifice. I would have never understood that my parents are teaching me– do what you can for God, especially, when they made a huge sacrifice in their lives for us.
Listen whenever our Executive Minister’s teaching, and thinking, it’s not the same thing. There’s always a purpose to what’s being taught to us right here. Then, the understanding comes, and then you realize, wow, I almost wasted that. So, if there’s one thing I could say is just really try to understand everything that’s happening now, because God wants it to happen for you. And God isn’t a God of confusion, he’s a God of peace. He’s really trying to get us there. We know where our true peace is.
Aliw Pablo: How have your struggles and your challenges helped you to become the kind of minister you are today…when you speak to families, when you speak to parents, to kids who are having challenges with their parents?
Brother Rowel David: I would say going through all of that helps us relate to them even more. You know, for example, we may have brethren that live an hour and a half, two hours away from the chapel. And they tell me that they’re like, you know, it’s hard. It’s tough. And because I went through that, I’m able to say, I understand what you’re going through, and I understand the struggle. But it’s just like what the Bible says, those weak moments of ours, those are the times wherein God’s power can be shown to us and so, you know, the fact that we were able to have those experiences in our life and we were able to, they feel those things…
Brother Ronniel David: It was a couple years ago, I had a sister approach me say, she really opened up about her parents. And she was like, “Brother, it’s like, my parents aren’t listening to me.”
And I said, you don’t say. I’m glad we’re talking right now, sister. She told me, she feels like her parents have a disconnect. I was telling her, you know, you need to really give it some time, give it some time. Your parents lived an entire life before you came into the picture. I’m sure they’ve got something good to say. I’m sure they have some kind of life experience to give you, just give it some time. And I think that’s what it was with our parents too. God’s plan does work out.
Aliw Pablo: Now that you…when you..you know, Brother Ronnie, you talked about that one time you’re in high school and there was a guest, and you couldn’t sign well enough for them to be able to understand. And now that you are a minister, and you know how to sign and what does it feel like now when you do preach? Or do you share the gospel, preach the gospel, with those who are deaf and are just now being introduced to the Church?
Brother Ronnie David: When my brother and I first got into the school for ministry. Back then it’s called the College of Evangelical Ministry. Through God’s grace, we were blessed to be able to receive assignments in the worship service to be able to interpret for the deaf in the different local congregations within the district at the time. As we said, it was Filipino sign language that we mostly knew that was our home sign language. So in America, that didn’t fly. But when we were in the Philippines, we were the most fluent when it came to sign language.
Praise be to God, we were able to baptize a few, we’re able to get the community. Again, praise be to God, honestly. Because at that point, I’m wondering why are we able to work at something so fast and so efficiently? It’s only because of our upbringing,
Brother Rowel David: I remember specific moments, there would be times when, you know, we would have Bible studies with the deaf. And then they would go through certain problems. And this is how great our mother is. Is that for me personally, when I couldn’t figure out what to say, honestly, I would text my mom and I would say, “Hey mom, can you describe real quick?” I know my brother would agree if my mother could speak, she would say a lot.
Brother Ronnie David: She did that at a deaf school. I won’t forget it. And we try to talk to the teacher. She had a classroom full of students who were like, “Yeah, we’re having this evangelical mission, this Bible study, study of God’s words. We’re going to be interpreting. Could we invite you all?” And they’d be like “Ahh, we’ll see, we’ll see.” And so I looked at my brother, my brother looked at me. Alright, let’s call mom.
She did her thing.
Brother Rowel David: And the whole class ended up going.
Aliw Pablo: Wow, this is in the Philippines?
Brother Rowel David: Yes.
Aliw Pablo: She was part of your missionary work on the other side of the world.
Brother Rowel David: Always. Always.
Aliw Pablo: It must just thrill your parents, that when they see that from video streams, that sign language is a staple. Like it just from waiting for 18 years and 95th anniversary. That to see now that you know, when the Executive Minister speaks, he makes sure that they can understand as well.
Brother Ronnie David: You know, they could easily be like, thank God, they’re not, they could easily be that person that says, “Oh, we should have already had this. Why didn’t they do this earlier?” But all they say is, “Thank God. We’re so thankful that the Church Administration is thinking about us. We’re so thankful that God’s blessing us with this.”
They never complained. Even back then right, Row? They never complained that there was no sign language, never complained. There wasn’t an interpreter when we were kids, up until when it became more prominent. They never complained.
Brother Rowel David: Actually, to go along with that, there were deaf people that our parents met and they will try to bring them in. Those deaf people would say how come your church doesn’t have interpreters? How come your church doesn’t have translators?” You know, “How come?” You know, “What about us?” And what our parents would always say is, “It’ll happen, just not right now.” You know, “It’s not yet time for it.”
Aliw: So they would bring guests, deaf guests, to evangelical missions, to Bible studies, knowing full well there was no translator. But they just wanted the guests to experience it.
Brother Ronnie David: You know, it’s funny, they brought hearing people too. My mother brought hearing people too to our chapel two hours away from home. That’s something else. I just remember that. You remember that, Row.
Brother Rowel David: Until now, until now, she’ll message me from time to time. And she’ll say you write to me a note, I’m trying to invite my co-worker to our Bible study, tell her that I could easily go to her house, or she could come to my house and, and I’ll just connect on our laptop to their TV, and it’ll be WebEx and then tell them that I’ll feed them to dinner. And, and you know, and so, of course, you know, I’m going to type out the text message so that she can copy it on paper, and then give it to her co-worker. So yeah, it’s not they, they don’t allow that disability to stop them at all.
Brother Ronnie David: There have been times when we were younger, back in high school, people come to the door. “Hello, we’d like to introduce you to our Church,” right. And would show videos, would show a magazine. My mom would say, “That’s so nice. Wait, have you seen this (God’s Message)?”
Aliw Pablo: She’s always ready.
Brother Rowel David: Yes. They would even come in. And she’s trying, you know, me and my brother were young. We’re shy. You know, we were not yet that strong to talk about that. And, but she wouldn’t stop. She would get to the point where they’re trying to leave. And she wouldn’t let them, she’s like, No, no, no, let me feed you first so you can finish reading this. But you know.
Aliw Pablo: Wow. Your mom is a firecracker. I would love to meet her. I mean, that is the talk about no excuses to anything, anything in life. What advice would you give to families who may have someone who is deaf, and are struggling right now and probably aren’t able to see the light at the end of the tunnel for now? What would be your advice to them?
Brother Ronnie David: Number one is, above all, is–pray, pray, and pray with them. Make sure that they’re with you. Because from experience you already know. I didn’t understand why my mother was trying to pray for us. I didn’t understand why they felt so much about it, why it was such a big deal for them. But number one, I’d say pray. Honestly, you don’t, you don’t even have to understand at the moment. This as long as that starts up and begins. When God starts working, He starts working.
Brother Rowel David: Really lead by example, and take advantage of all of the things that the Church Administration is giving us. You know, not just, you know, of course, when it comes to the different tools that we have for sign language, and whatnot, but even just the simple as the activities that are being done. You know, for example, if the children are deaf, parents, you know, bring them to those activities, show them because, as a young child, you know, they may not be able to do like what my parents did, and sit in a worship service for an hour in complete silence, not exactly the point. But to be able to show them that the chapel or the place of worship is a fun place to be, and that there are people there who are willing to take care of you, even though they’re not your family, that plays a huge part, and will be a huge impact in the life of a child, especially for one that’s deaf, because being deaf, you feel you already feel so, so much on the outside of everyone.
That’s what the families need. And that’s why the Church Administration has all of those activities in the Christian family organization. It’s to keep the brethren and the children, you know, always remembering that this is where they need to be.
Aliw Pablo: Through their experiences, Bro Ronnie and Brother Rowel are actively involved with the Christian Society for the Deaf or CSD – a group that the Church Administration established to help the deaf community. There’s even an app that can be downloaded for anyone who wants to learn how to sign.
Brother Ronnie David: Everybody can learn sign language, everybody can learn this language. And it’s not a waste of your time, you’re learning it, cause it’s definitely going to help someone down the road. It’s definitely going to help someone. You want an example, our parents, you know, when me and my brother left them, that was two less people they could actually talk to in this life. But that’s not an issue anymore.
There’s so many brethren in the Church that can talk to you now, because there’s so many brethren wanting to learn sign language and learn the culture of it and get more involved. And if more people are more involved, that means more opportunity for those who are deaf, who maybe don’t have the same upbringing or the same kind of situation my brother and I had, they would be more involved with Church too.
Aliw Pablo: We know that you’re busy and thank you so much for taking this time to be able to just sit down and tell us your story. I have to say, this is one of the best stories I’ve ever heard. So thank God for allowing our paths to cross and praise God for giving you such a beautiful life script, right? To be able to share it now years later with so many families, and so many kids and parents, and also tribute to your parents for being able to instill the kind of faith that they were that they did to you. And now you’re helping the Church in such a big way. So thank you so much, brothers.
David Brothers: Thank you, Sister Aliw. Thank you so much.
Aliw Pablo: What a story…what a life, huh? Special thanks to Brother Ronnie and Brother Rowel David for sharing their stories, their life lessons and essentially everything they learned from their parents with us. If there’s one thing that really stuck out to me in hearing all of their stories – it’s this. Sometimes, it’s not always the words that we tell our kids, it really is our actions. It’s the consistent behavior and habits they see growing up that will have the biggest impact.
If you’d like to see photos of the David family and the full video interview of this episode, log on to incmedia.org/making-changes. Special thanks to Rose Guillermo for the ASL interpretation for this episode.
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