Communication without Words “There are hundreds of languages in the world, but a smile speaks them all. ” -Anonymous (pg. 2) The fear of going on my mission trip to Honduras was building up inside of me. I had spent the past three months brushing up on my Spanish so that when we arrived in Honduras, I would feel confident when I was speaking to the Natives. However, that confidence was now destroyed as my Pastor dropped the bomb that we were changing destinations to a NON-Spanish speaking country. Political Turmoil
The situation taking place in Honduras was referred to as a coup d’etat, which is defined as ‘a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics; especially: the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group,’ according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The specific events taking place at this time, were that the military of the country had not only overthrown the leader of the government but had also exiled him to another country. Taking these things into consideration, we were still going to proceed with our trip because the people obviously needed help now more than ever.
Unfortunately, a huge event had taken place that morning that the mission team was not aware of. A bomb had gone off across the street from the airport, which meant the airport had closed. With six days until our departure, we were now changing destinations to a small village in Guatemala that spoke Keechi. All that hard work relearning Spanish, and now it was of no use to me because we were going to be working with people that spoke a language I’d never heard of! How was I supposed to communicate the message of Christ to people that couldn’t understand what I was saying?
In a Panic The day finally came to leave for Guatemala, and as I sat in that airplane seat, I kept trying to brainstorm ways I could share the story of Christ to the teachers, families, and children that inhabited the village we would be visiting. If I wanted to speak to the people of the village I would have to speak, in small fragments, to the first translator who would translate my words to Spanish for the second translator who would translate the first translator’s words to Keechi for the village people.
Not only was it a time consuming process but, according to Creel and Hamilton’s definition; syntactic rules suggest that after the process of translating my original words twice, they might be arranged in a new way, according to varying language rules, that conveyed a different message than I had intended. No Need for Words Alas, when we had arrived to the village, the time had come to figure out how to communicate the love of Christ to these people. When we first entered the school, the kid’s faces lit up and they began shouting things.
As soon as I heard their language I began to feel uncomfortable and out of my element because, I didn’t understand and couldn’t respond. However, when the activities for the first day of Bible School began, the problem was quickly resolved. We had not known it, but the Keechi translator had already prepared a message for the kids telling them about our God, but what we also didn’t know was that the majority of the kids were already believers in Christ. Then, when it was our turn to interact with the children, there were no need for words. Unspoken Languages “Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body. ” -Martha Graham (pg. ) The Bible School began with the larger group gathering to worship by singing songs and dancing. We sang these songs in Spanish, which meant the majority of us didn’t understand what we were saying, but it didn’t matter. The kids didn’t need to know what we were saying to understand that singing foreign words and dancing silly was a universal way of praising the God we believed in, and they were happy to participate. One of the songs we sang and danced to was nothing but singing “la la la” and the message was still crystal clear! Then we moved on to class rooms, separated by age groups, where we finger painted.
I was incredibly amazed at how much can be communicated through art. It was all free style, and we got to see some of the kid’s families, some of their favorite colors, and animals, as well as what emotions or problems they might be having just from a finger painting. One child painted a rainbow and a cross, and regardless if they thought of those with our words or with ‘cruz’ and ‘arco iris’, the meaning and symbolism that they held was known in any language; Keechi, Spanish, or English. The last activity that was held at Bible School was playtime in the courtyard, where we also handed out snacks.
This is where I found the most universal way of communicating; laugher. We were jumping rope and getting all tangled up and giggling. We also tried teaching each other games with out words and laughing when we had misinterpreted the instructions. It was amazing to see how much you can learn about people, with out words, just by laughing or smiling or holding a little girl or boy in your arms. The embrace you give those kids can say so much to someone that doesn’t often get that kind of attention or affection. Learning without Words I continued to learn more about the people of Guatemala as the trip proceeded.
I learned from pictures that were painted that a lot of the children there do not have fathers in their lives because they often leave the mothers to care for them alone. I learned without asking penetrating questions or saying any words at all, that the children were hurting and desperate for love as I held several of them crying in my arms. I learned that no matter how terrible the poverty might be that those kids live in, they still have hopes and dreams and colorful imaginations. And I learned that in these children’s lives, they have a more steady relationship with Christ than I do, because a lot of times, He’s all they’ve got.
I also had the privilege of communicating a very meaningful message to a teacher and her class room. I had painted a portrait of my family just like the kids and when I showed it, the kids were shocked. Our pictures had something in common, because there was me, the child, along with only one parent. The difference between their portraits and mine was that instead of my father missing, my mother was. In their country it was unheard of for the mother to leave a family. Immediately, the teacher stood and walked over to me where she held my hands and began to cry.
She talked for what seemed like half an hour, and although I couldn’t understand what she was saying, I cried along with her because I knew she was sharing the hurt with me and sorry for my situation. Her tears and facial expressions said it all to me. She even once placed her hand upon my chest, over my heart and then stroked my cheek; which I knew to be telling me I have a beautiful heart no matter what. I knew that at that moment the Guatemalan people in that room felt more connected to me than ever, because they now knew that we weren’t just well-off American people coming to visit.
We were all human beings that share a number of problems and emotions, no matter where we come from. Most all of my communication used during the week was non-verbal, which I would have thought at the beginning of the trip to be a road block in sharing Christ with these children. But our connection we had from our beliefs was indescribable, and therefore made our communicating easier. Later in the trip I realized that there are so many other interactions that can be used to speak to someone. You can speak to anyone in the world through music, dancing, art, games, laughter, and love.
The truth is, words can’t say everything; there is a limit to what can be conveyed through speech. A hug, a smile, a giggle, and even a tear can speak words that don’t even exist, in any language. [pic] The kids at a smaller village that we visited, they loved making a tent out of my poncho when it started to rain! [pic] The teacher that talked to me in Keechi for a half hour while we both cried, and her little girl. [pic] Three little girls at Bible School, they were fascinated by my digital camera’s ability to capture a moment and then show it to them on a little screen! pic] Lois, my English – Spanish translator. He accepted Christ that week! Works Cited Think Exist: Language Quotes. n. a. , n. d. Web. 21 Sept. 2010. “coup d’etat. ” Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2010. Web. 20 Sept. 2010 Hamilton, Cheryl, and Bonnie Creel. Communicating for Success. Pearson Education Inc. , 2011. Print (Chp. 4, pg. 99) About: Women’s History “Martha Graham Quotes” . Jone Johnson Lewis. http://womenshistory. about. com/cs/quotes/qu_graham_m. htm n. a. , n. d. Web. 21 Sept. 2010