This Father-and-Son Duo Found a New Level of Joy and Belonging at Family Retreat

By |Published On: October 11, 2023|Categories: Family Retreats|
Jim, Ian and Ian's Joni and Friends buddy standing around and chatting. Jim and Ian are wearing matching Ninja Turtle pajama pants.

Jim and his adult son Ian have been part of the world of disability and part of the deaf community for many years. From the time Ian was young, he has faced barriers because of his disabilities—including the language barrier that comes with hearing impairment.

While Jim knows that Ian may never be able to live on his own, he hopes to equip him with life skills to allow him as much independence as possible. Jim also wants his son to know that his life is something he can be proud of.

“Our children’s lives have value. They should be proud of their lives,” says Jim.

Finding a Place at Family Retreat

The father-and-son duo recently came to the Joni and Friends Family Retreat in New Mexico for the first time. Among the Joni and Friends community, they discovered a new level of joy and belonging.

An extrovert by nature, Ian loves interacting with others. And although his Family Retreat volunteer didn’t know sign language, Jim could see that Ian had found a fast friend in his buddy Chris.

“God provided a person who was sensitive, gentle, and compatible with Ian,” says Jim.

Ian loved being able to see and connect with other people living with disabilities at Family Retreat. There he found a space of belonging where he was unequivocally accepted by others. And the “icing on the cake” was seeing Ian, Chris, and Jim at the talent show! The three of them had a conversation in American Sign Language, and Ian was able to tell everyone about his favorite activities, foods, and his beloved dog!

Family Retreat gave Jim time to do some of the things that he enjoyed, too—like going down the waterslide or having conversations with the other fathers. Above all, Family Retreat bonded Jim and Ian even closer together.

Lasting Impact

On the way home from Family Retreat, Jim noticed a change in Ian—he was opening up in a new way. They made Family Retreat just one stop on a longer father-son trip, within New Mexico and beyond. The two of them want to continue spending quality time together, taking more trips, and returning to Family Retreat!

 “I hope to be able to do it again next year!” says Jim.

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