I just have a lot to say.

Archive for the ‘CORAN’ Category

December 11th, 2014 by

Coran’s Ears, Chapter 2

Chapter One

Chapter Two

“Oh, Celeste, it was a wonderful day. I am so glad I could be a part of it!”

Viney hired a friend to drive Coran, his mommy Nicole, and herself to the Jamaican Christian School for the Deaf that morning. They left Hamilton Mountain at 6 am. They drove down the mountain to Ocho Rios, around the island to Montego Bay, and back up the mountain to the school. Coran tested for implants and passed the test administered by the audiologists.

He returned home with one hearing aid. (I don’t know why only one.) His mommy received instructions on how to care for it and how to help him differentiate sounds.

I asked Viney if it was obvious that he heard something with it on. She said, “Oh, yes!!” She said he was “adaptable.” She said he did everything asked of him with his ever-present smile.

Plans were made for him to return in July for grade placement at the school and to begin the fall term in September.

Viney: There is a fee for the school. It is about $6,000 per term.
Me: (gulping, eyes bulging) Is a term one year?
Viney: No, a term is four months.
Me: (panting) So, there are 2 terms in a year?
Viney: No, three. (Listen with a Jamaican accent, and you’ll hear her say “tree” instead of “three.”)
Me: (calculating, blinking uncontrollably, struggling to breathe, trying to think of something coherent to say) . . .
Viney: . . . Jamaican dollars.
Me: SIXTY American dollars?!?! Two hundred dollars a year?!?! WE CAN DO THAT!!!!

I posted this information on my Facebook page. My friends responded with “Who do I make the check out to?” and “Where do I send the money?”

Of course, more than $200 was needed initially. It turned out tuition and fees were closer to $200 for the first term and $100 for the other terms. Viney had to hire a driver to take him on the 3-hour mountainous trip, and she would have to hire him a few times a year. School supplies and uniforms and tennis shoes and undies and sheets and towels and a suitcase needed to be purchased and shipped to Jamaica.

school supplies

Fifty dollar checks and $100 checks were mailed to my house or sneaked into my hand at church.

Enough money came in to have leftover to open an account for him. I asked my friend Vicki to co-sign the account with me and be treasurer of his money. She is a CPA, so she is better at counting pennies. Mostly, I wanted to keep my hands off the money to avoid any appearance of wrongdoing.

But that is detail.

Fourteen-year-old Coran began 1st grade at Jamaican School for the Deaf on September 2, 2014.

I asked Viney if he cried when his mommy left him. She said, “NO! He smiled and showed her his bed!”


I emailed the principal and asked for an update when she had a minute.


Hello Celeste,

Good to hear from you.  Coran has settled in really well and he has already found a best friend. He is learning to sign and using it too…..that is a great step.  I am sure that he will soak this up and his communication will improve rapidly.

Feel free to email us anytime to get an update.

Here are a few pictures.



Coran at school 2


Coran at school 1



Hi Celeste,

Great to hear from you. Coran did pretty well this term. He went home today for the holidays. He was happy to go home, he missed home. He still has his beautiful smile and he has a group of friends, they are so brotherly. They hugged when he was leaving today, it was so sweet to see.

He did exams last week but reports won’t be ready until next year when he returns to school. I will send you a copy of his progress report.

I will let you know if he is need of anything. Yes, his fee is about $60, also he has to pay approximately $28 for boarding for the term. Viney keeps up to date and I spoke with her recently.

Thank you for spearheading his right to an education, he will learn and we will prepare him as best as we can so he can become an upstanding independent and productive individual.

Take care and blessings for the holiday,


I wanted to shower him in Christmas gifts, but he has three younger siblings and lots of new friends. Somehow, that didn’t seem appropriate, especially not knowing Jamaican Christmas customs. (I need to find out his birthday!)

He will return on January 7, 2015 for his second term.

Coran can stay at JCSD until he is 18 or 19. His American friends will do their part to keep him there. Hopefully, he will one day need a passport for a trip to Vanderbilt for cochlear implants.

More to come . . . .



June 5th, 2014 by

Coran’s Ears

This story is not about Celeste. It has words in it like I, me, and my, but only because it is told from my perspective. (See, there’s one of those words again!) The story is about a little deaf boy and a mighty God. Please, just hear that.

Sister Betty placed the children in two straight lines out the door and down the steps in the front of Hamilton Mountain Baptist Church in St. Mary Parish, Jamaica. The older girls helped organize. They put the littlest ones first. The older boys slunk to the back like they were too cool to be there. But they were there.


At Sister Viney’s direction, the children marched two by two into the church singing, “We are ma-arching in the light of God. We are marching in the light of God.” They pledged allegiance to the Jamaican flag, the Christian flag, and the Bible. They sang the Jamaican national anthem. By the end of the week, the American kids knew every word: Jamaica! (boom!) Jamaica! (boom!) Jamaica, land we love!

It was 2010. My twin daughters were 16 years old and had just finished the 10th grade. We went with our church youth group to Ocho Rios, Jamaica, to lead Vacation Bible School at a couple of local churches. (I know. American students are lazy . . .


. . . and only use Vacation Bible School as a way to get to Jamaica . . .


. . . but just for the “vacation” part . . .


. . . I know . . .


. . . I’ve heard.)


On Monday, we had about 50 children show up. By Friday, as word spread among the Jamaican children, there were over 200. Cory was there on the first day.  I don’t remember the first time I saw him. I don’t remember when I realized that he couldn’t hear or speak or sign. Most likely, he could not read either. But he could dance. And had a smile that lit up the church. He was flanked by two friends. They looked after him and spoke for him. The three of them came every day.


Cory is on the left.

My girls and I left Jamaica thinking of ways we could have sneaked him out of the country. For two years, my girls talked about him and prayed for him.  Had he been born in the USA, he would have had access to top-of-the-line medical care as a baby and extra assistance in school. In Jamaica, he no longer attended school. The teachers did not know how to help him. What kind of future could he have? What kind of job could he ever hold?

We put his picture up as our screen saver.

In 2012, our youth group returned to Jamaica. Abby, Emma, and I returned to Hamilton Mountain Baptist Church. Would he come to VBS? Would we ever see him again? We couldn’t wait to get to church on Monday morning.

“Mama! He’s here!!!”

He was again flanked by his friends, who insisted that his name was Coran. Evidently, he was now much too mature for a nickname.


Coran is on the right.

I spoke to Viney about him. I said basically, “I’m not anybody. I don’t know a thing about hearing impairment, but I know we serve an awesome God, and we live in friendly countries with helpful people. I am just a plain ole mama, but I would like to try to get help for him. What do you think? Would you help me?”


She agreed, but neither of us knew what that looked like. I imagine we both thought that was the end of that.

Fast forward to spring 2013. I was googling late one Friday night. I was not thinking about Coran. I was thinking about summer opportunities for my girls, when I stumbled upon a missions organization that supports a deaf school in Montego Bay, Jamaica!! They send teams there to play with the kids and do construction. THEY SEND MEDICAL TEAMS FROM VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY TO TEST FOR COCHLEAR IMPLANTS!!!

I emailed the website that night and heard back from the director first thing the following Monday morning. He said they could test Coran, if he could get to the school, about 3 hours from his home. I contacted Viney and asked her if she could get in touch with his mother. She did, and Coran’s mom got excited.

For various reasons, the trip kept getting postponed. I emailed back and forth all year with two new friends, Kim (from Vanderbilt) and Jaime (whose non-profit organization is funding the testing). I was so fretful. I was fearful of letting his mama down. How dare I interfere and give her hope and then crash it?! Who do I think I am, messing in people’s lives and emotions?

Finally, it appeared the kinks had been worked out, the wrinkles had been smoothed, the way had been prepared.

I emailed the parents of the kids in my church youth group, whom I had accompanied to Jamaica on the two trips. I asked for prayer and donations. I told them I wanted to wire money to Viney to pay for any expenses she would incur getting Coran to the school. That afternoon, I held a check 10 times larger than I anticipated any one person to give.

Our communication is comical. I cannot call Jamaica from my cell phone, but I can text there. Viney’s calling plan allows her to call the States, but her internet connection is unreliable. So, I email Kim, Jaime, and Dian (the principal at the Jamaican Christian School for the Deaf, which is run solely on contributions). I text Viney with the info that they give me, then she calls me and Coran’s mom to update the other. Sometimes, Viney gets so excited and talks so fast that I thinks she lapses into patios (a blended version of several languages that the Jamaicans use to speak to each other). Occasionally, I have no idea what she is saying. She will ask, “You know?” And I say, “Yes.”


On next Thursday, June 12, 2014, Viney, Coran, and his mom are going to the deaf school, so the 13-year-old boy can meet with the audiologists from Nashville, Tennessee, TO TEST FOR COCHLEAR IMPLANTS!!

Isn’t that crazy?

I have lived on the verge of tears for a week.

I am telling you all of this, just because. Because it’s a good story, and I like to tell good stories. Because you might want to pray. Because I want you to be encouraged. Because I get so downhearted sometimes because life is so stinking hard and scary and and then God answers a prayer that I didn’t even believe when I prayed it. Because I struggle to believe and the cute little deaf boy whom I met 4 years ago at VBS in a foreign country is getting tested for cochlear implants next week.


After that, I’m back to not knowing. What does it mean if he’s a candidate? What does it mean if he’s not? Would he come to the United States for implants? Could he attend the deaf school? What difference will all this make in his life?

I don’t know.

But I believe.

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Isaiah 35:5