Signing the Way

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2008

WILLOW WOOD — Laura Holderby may not hear the world as others do, but there’s a song that nature sings she understands well.

And to portray that understanding, she picks up a pencil or crayon and draws. At first, it was just for herself as she drew the animals she saw around her.

“The first thing she drew was a cow,” her mother Sandra said. “Because she is deaf, her vision plays more prominently. She started when she was small and it developed. She really loves animals. That is what she really likes to draw.”

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After she graduated from high school in the Green School District, she took more art studies in Ironton.

Sandra’s appreciation of her daughter’s talent is not simply a mother’s pride. One particular creation Laura came up with caught the attention of the Silent Word Ministries in Trenton, Ga.

Silent Word started in 1966 as a missionary-evangelistic outreach to the hearing impaired, their families and churches that serve that communities.

A missionary from Silent Word was at the Holderby’s church for a conference and saw some sketches of Laura.

“He said, ‘Why don’t you let us print those?’ “ Sandra said.

They sent Laura sign language videos of the particular signs they wanted and she took the character she created and turned it into an illustration for each sign.

Now Loxy the Fox shows those wanting to learn sign the basics for each hand sign.

“It’s for any age, anybody learning sign language,” Sandra said.

“We are just thrilled that she is being used, that the talent God has given her that she is able to use it and has touched many lives.”

Laura even received a letter from an inmate in a California prison wanting to teach himself sign.

Now she is expanding her work to help a ministry organization based in Venezuela with another sign book. This assignment has a particular challenge as the signs, as well as the language, are different in Spanish from what they are in English.

Also a second challenge is that this publisher has requested a human character instead of an animal

“She drew three or four different figures,” Sandra said.

Now Laura is waiting for a decision from the publisher on which character he wants for this book.

“The Lord has given her a very good personality,” her mother says. “Just to see lives change because of the talent she can use. She knows God gave her this gift.”