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Friday, July 06, 2007

Final Stretch

Todd Clark after he just finished preaching at the NACC
Pastor Tim, myself, and Sir Dallas (my son)
Today is the last day of the North American Christian Convention in Kansas City. We have 20 staff people here, and we all missed the fireworks display back home. But today, Lord willing, we will all be returning to L.A. Last night, Todd Clark preached and did a marvelous job. As a church planter, he challenged the convention attendees to be even more aggressive in planting churches...

I also spent some time with Pastor Tim, who is going to be taking a few weeks off in the near future... He has been such a loyal, faithful friend. He is such a blessing to our church, and he often carries a lot of the pressure of our church on his shoulders. I have always stated that if Tim ever left, I'd have to hire three people to take his place. Tim, I will be praying for you as you get away for a while and recharge your batteries.

There are many more things to share, but I need to get BUSY...... the main session begins in a few minutes....

In love,


1 comment:

mikel said...

Recently, I had the opportunity to experience the events at Fourth of July Spectacular at Shepherd of the Hills in Porter Ranch. I am sometimes a bit reluctant to attend large events of this type, as I am quite hard of hearing and have trouble understanding speakers during performance, and also I have a neurologic disability that requires me to use a wheelchair for mobility. Although provision for disabled access to public events is provided for under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), without the availability of sign language interpreters and accessible venues, an event of this type can be frustrating for me, at best. However, as I was aware that Shepherd of the Hills has a thriving Deaf Ministry and an awareness of deaf needs, I decided to attend.
As a whole, I am so glad that I did attend! From beginning to end, the welcoming energy exhibited by the volunteers and officials present at the event was noticeable. Everyone’s desire to help to make my experience a positive one was very apparent. For example, although parking was at a premium for this event, my husband was able to enter the main event area to unload me and my wheelchair before leaving to park at some distance away. As I waited in my wheelchair for his return, I was approached several times asking if I needed help entering the event. Another example of this concern was exhibited when I attended the “Extreme Kidz” performance. I was repeatedly offered assistance with finding a place to park my wheelchair in the crowded room. Additionally, I was also excited and pleased to discover that sign language interpretation would be available for the performance venues, both inside and outside. This concern for my access and the availability of interpreter support allowed me to more fully experience the events that I attended, and I was grateful for their provision.
Although I was quite pleased with my experience at the event as a whole, as with any experience, I did notice that there were just a few issues that could have been easily improved in order to create truly equitable access to the event, and I would like to suggest some solutions to these issues for consideration at future events. The first problem that I encountered was the overall lack of information and/or signage available. I was a first time visitor to Shepherd of the Hills, and although a map was given when we entered, there was no indication as to which areas of the venue would be accessible or that would have interpreters available. A simple solution would have been to have included a symbol on the map indicating where access was available. Specific signage with that information located within the venue itself would have also helped to alleviate that confusion. Another concern that I encountered was that, although the interpretation was available, there was a decided lack of appropriate seating available for its use. When I attended the “Broadway” show, the access provided to the interpreter was located in the front of the venue (which was great) but it was unfortunately off to one side, which created great difficulty by visually limiting the observation of both the interpreter as well as the action in the show itself. Even the side screens that were provided were of no help, as they were artistically focused only on events occurring on the sides of the stage, and not the central action. Deaf and hard of hearing people experience language visually, so central seating where we are able to see all of the events occurring on stage as well as the interpreter is vitally important to be able to experience the event in the same manner as a hearing person would. Seating for people who are deaf and hard of hearing that is available in the center section front row would have immensely improved my experience of the show. In the same way, once I made my way back outside to the stage, I was dismayed to discover that there had been no provisions made what-so-ever for either wheelchair or deaf and hard of hearing access to the stage performances. Again, it is vitally important that deaf people are able to see the interpreter. This cannot be done in the second or third section back away from the stage, so available seating in front is absolutely necessary. In fact, I was actively discouraged from trying to find a place near the front, and I was told directly, “sorry, first come, first served” and made to move several times before some kind people in the front section understood what was happening and thankfully made room for me near them.
Other than those concerns, I am glad that I ventured from my home to the “land of the free, and the home of the brave” as the song states in order to attend this event. I was delighted with physical accessibility of the venues and the interpreters that were provided at the venues were magnificent, providing a masterful interpretation of the action occurring on stage. Of all the wonderful experiences that I had, my most favorite memories of the day’s events were the fantastic two-interpreter action that occurred during the “Star and Stripes Forever” song performance by the Shepherd of the Hills Choir on the outdoor stage that allowed me to experience both the words of the soloist and the opposing words of the chorus directly at the same time, and, of course, the totally awesome fireworks at the end of the evening, whose “bombs bursting in air” visually delighted me, but gave me a reason to be happy to be hard of hearing after all. I was happy to be a part of this year’s Fourth of July Spectacular, and look forward to attending next year’s event.