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An Amazing Encounter

Assistant editor Daniel Kessel shares how a deaf seven-year-old got an unexpected message from his favorite baseball mascot.

Hunter enthusiastically high fives Heater, the Dragons mascot

Today’s guest blogger is Mysterious Ways assistant editor Daniel Kessel.

According to the story of the Tower of Babel, we all once spoke a common language; the gaps of understanding among people of different cultures didn’t exist. Today it’s not so easy, but sometimes we get a little help communicating in Mysterious Ways.

Did you have a favorite fictional character when you were growing up? For Hunter Samworth, a 7-year-old deaf boy from Ohio, that honor likely goes to Heater, team mascot for the Dayton Dragons baseball team. So when his family got tickets to a Dragons game one Saturday in May, he couldn’t wait.

As soon as the Samworths walked into the stadium and saw Heater–a cartoonish green dragon in a baseball uniform–Hunter signed to his parents that he wanted to say hello. “Go and tell Heater it’s nice to meet him,” his mom signed back. The mascot never spoke, which was a good thing, as far as she was concerned. Strangers rarely understood her son when he tried communicating using sign language. She worried their confusion made Hunter self-conscious about his condition.

Hunter bravely walked up to the dragon mascot and signed his message. What happened next caught the Samworths by surprise.

Heater replied to the boy’s signs with fluent sign language of his own. He asked the little boy if he liked baseball. Hunter was elated. His charming response? That Heater “was baseball.”

How was the mascot able to communicate with Hunter in sign? The actor playing Heater, though not deaf himself, is currently training to be an ASL interpreter, Today.com reports–just the guy to reply to Hunter’s greeting in a language the boy could understand.

“To have someone who was finally able to communicate back to him at his level… it was just amazing,” said Matt Samworth, Hunter’s dad. He posted the video of the encounter, and it’s since gone viral with nearly 200,000 views.

Many of our readers have had similar experiences, crossing paths with someone who spoke their language at just the right time. Like Toshie Nagamori of Torrance, California, who thought she’d lost her precious journal (written in Portuguese) forever, until a stranger who spoke her native tongue got in touch. And there’s the odd case of Rosemary Jackson from Santa Fe, New Mexico, who discovered a special way to communicate with the Spanish-speaking homeless who sought aid at the soup kitchen where she volunteered.

How about you–has a language barrier ever been unexpectedly broken in your life? Send in your story for a chance to be published in Mysterious Ways!

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