Sunday, June 28, 2009

Meet the Team - Jennifer Parmley

My name is Jennifer Parmley, and (much to the consternation of the rest of the team) I’m the last to share about myself on our blog – and I’m the blog captain! Part of the reason I haven’t posted yet is because there are a lot of changes going on in my life right now.

For the past 6 years I have been teaching high school math and science (and a number of other various classes) at Jean Massieu Academy, a charter school for the Deaf. However I have taken a new position as the ASL teacher at Richland High School beginning in the fall. I’m excited and a little terrified about the prospect, but I look forward to the challenge.

When I was 18 I left California to go to TCU. That first semester, my mom encouraged me to take a “fun, easy A” class so I wouldn’t get too overwhelmed. “You’ve always been interested in sign language, why not try that?” That class has changed the whole course of my life. I eventually graduated from TCU with a degree in Deaf Education and a deep passion for ASL and Deaf culture. I’ll turn 36 while we’re in Jamaica, so that means I’ve been signing for half of my life! I used to worry about the day when signing became mundane and dull, but the more I learn, the more it fascinates me.

Today at lunch after church I was talking to Laura’s daughter Lexi and she told me she has 2 birthdays – her biological birthday and her spiritual birthday. I don’t recall the date I accepted Jesus into my heart, and I was so embarrassed that I was 8 years old and had just then really figured it out that I didn’t tell my mom, but I remember the moment clearly. I realized that without confession and atonement for my sins, even the minor little sins of a well-behaved 8-year-old, God had no reason to listen to my prayers. I asked Jesus to forgive me and to make me worthy of God’s attention, because I couldn’t survive life (or at point, even piano lessons) without His help.

And now, as we plan to go to Jamaica, I am painfully aware of how much I still need God’s help. I’m going to share information on customizing instruction to the needs of students, or writing Individual Education Plans (IEPs). The students that come to CCCD usually arrive with little or no language. Some are 12 years old before they are sent to school, and some have other developmental delays. At its core, “special education” means identifying where a student is right now developmentally, figuring out where he needs to be, planning the steps for how to get him there, and measuring success. My goal is to help teachers through this process.

Please pray that my presentation will be interesting to listen to, easy to implement and effective to use. May I be sensitive to God’s guidance, both now as I plan and next week when I’m there interacting with the teachers. As we learned on your trip to CCCD last summer, the most important word to remember in Jamaica is “flexible.” I’m sure we’ll need some divine intervention on that front, so pray for willing hearts and open minds!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Left to Right -
Maureen Denner (back), Jennifer Parmley, Janice Holsteen, Laura Hill, Quita Farley (back), Sammie Sheppard

Monday, June 15, 2009

Meet Our Team - Sammie Sheppard

Hello there!

My name is Sammie Sheppard, and I am so excited to be returning to Jamaica this summer to work with CCCD. Along with my teammates, I will be going to work with the teachers of the CCCD campuses during their in-service time. I cannot tell you how very blessed I feel to be going on this trip to work with the amazing folks at CCCD again, both those I know and those I will get to meet for the first time, and with the great ladies I will be serving with.

Just a little about my background. I am wife to a wonderful man named Fred Sheppard and mom to three great kids; Kaity who will be a senior this year, Hanah, who will be a sophomore, and Ben who will be in 8th grade. Our entire family went to Jamaica last year to work with the Knockpatrick campus, and all are very enthusiastic about the work of CCCD.

I have been saved since the summer before my 8th grade year when I asked Christ to live in my heart and be the center of my life. And although I have stumbled on the journey at times, I know that God has always been there with me to guide my steps. When I was in college at Stephen F. Austin State University, I know without a doubt that God called me to missions one afternoon in my dorm room. During that time He used a verse from Isaiaih "...whom shall We send, and who will go for Us? And I answered, "Here am I Lord, send me." From that day forward, I knew that I wanted to serve the Lord with some type of missions. In 1984, I began working with the Deaf and interpreting, and after Fred and I moved to Fort Worth, I went back to school at Tarrant County College and got a second degree in Interpreting for the Deaf. Since that time I have earned interpeting certifications in Texas and with the National RID. I began teaching as an adjunct at TCC in August of 1992, and in 2003 began teaching ASL as a foriegn langauge to high school students. One of the greatest experiences I have had teaching is working with Deaf students from other countries who have not had any form of language previously. Working in conjunction with another teacher, we were able not only to be a tool to give them the gift of language, but this year I had the priviledge of watching them graduate from high school, fully intergrated into society. What a blessing for God to let me be part of that process. I have also been involved in Deaf minsitry for 2o years.

To that end, I have a passion and love for teaching Deaf students language so that they can communicate effectively and show that "Deaf people can do anything except hear". I will be working with Laura as we lay the foundation in teaching language and tying that directly into reading.

CCCD has been in my heart for 13 years. It began when I was helping prep the orginial team that went from our church, but could not go myself due to pregnancy. For 12 years I have prayed to be able to go to Jamaica and work with CCCD, and last year God granted that opportunity. And as a true bonus blessing, our whole family was able to meet and get to know the student we have been sponsoring for the last several years! We have been so blessed by everyone we have met at CCCD. I am completely energized about returning to Jamaica and meeting with the wonderful teachers who are giving their all for these precious children. I pray to truly be used by God to meet any needs they haave.

Please pray for us as we prepare for our trip, for strong relationships with those in Jamaica, and for unity among our team. Thank you for partnering with us! We couldn't do it without you! :)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Meet Our Team - Maureen Denner

Hi there! My name is Maureen. I am humbled at the privilege of going to the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf (CCCD) in Montego Bay with a team of amazing educators this July. This will be my third mission trip to CCCD. I am the only "non-teacher" on the team, bringing my experience and training in the vocational community with me. I will be presenting a workshop focusing on Vocational Training for the upper grade teachers at CCCD.

I became involved in the Deaf community in 1992 when I graduated from the Interpreter Training Program at Tarrant County Community College (now Tarrant County College). Following graduation and certification, I went to work with Texas Rehabilitation Commission as a Vocational Communication Specialist, assisting Deaf clients with job search and retention, as well as post secondary educational interpreting. After graduating with a Bachelor of Social Work degree, I transitioned my work in the Deaf community to that of Case Worker at a local Deaf Services agency.

It was during my time at Texas Rehab Commission that God found me, picked me up from my filth, cleaned me up and called me His! I grew up going to church, and always knew God was out there somewhere, but it took being at my lowest to look up and realize He was pursuing me my whole life. His plans were so much better than I could ever imagine. When I asked Jesus to be Lord of my life, He made amazing changes in me. It did not happen over night, and there are still things with which I struggle. My saving grace now is knowing I am not alone.

God has presented a wonderful opportunity for us to come along side the teachers at CCCD and share the gifts God has given us, so they can share those gifts with their students. My prayer is that my business background and experience within the Deaf community will be useful to the teachers at CCCD to empower their students to be successful members of the employment community of Jamaica.

Please pray for our team as we finalize our workshops and prepare to leave. Pray for our families that will be staying here in the U.S. Please pray for the teachers at CCCD that their hearts and minds would be open to what we bring. Pray for our team to maintain servants' hearts. Most importantly, please join us in praying that God will be glorified through us.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Meet Our Team - Laura Loeb Hill

Hi! I am Laura and I am the only Deaf team member that will be traveling to Jamaica to work at Carribean Christian Centre for the Deaf with 5 other team members. I will be presenting workshops on teaching Reading to the Deaf.

I grew up in a Christian home and attended Silent Friends Chapel, First Baptist Church of Dallas all my life. I met my husband at Texas Baptist Conference of the Deaf in 1995. It was love at first sight, we were united in marriage in 1997 and will be celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary on June 21st. We have two precious children - Dakota (9) is hearing and Lexi (7) is deaf. We are currently members of First Baptist Church of Euless and have been there since November 2006. Dirk and I currently serve as team leaders in our Connections Class. We oversee 6 different couples and minister to them on a weekly basis. Dirk is also an ordained Pastor and he has been preaching for Bethel Deaf Fellowship in Fayetteville, Arkansas since April of 2009 by sending his sermons on a weekly basis on our website. We are excited to see what God has in store for us in this ministry.

I graduated from Texas Woman's University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders. I also have a Master of Science degree in Deaf Education from Texas Woman's University as well. I am a teacher at Birdville High School in the Birdville Independent School District. I just completed my 3rd year teaching American Sign Language to hearing students. I have 16 years of teaching experience and have taught Deaf students for 12 of those 16 years.

I am excited about being a part of this mission trip. I previously served as a short-term missionary for three weeks in Czech Republic and learned so much about working with the Deaf in Eastern Europe. I am excited to see what God has planned for me as I go to Jamaica and work with the teachers there. Not only will we be teaching workshops, we will be providing discipleship training and it will be amazing to see what God allows us to do while we are in Jamaica.

We are still raising financial support for this trip. We also covet your prayers for us as we prepare for this trip. I am honored to be a part of this team and am excited to see the outcome. May God bless each one of you!