Smiles know no language  

Posted by Rachel

(Pretend I wrote this on Tuesday - we were having internet issues)

For those who don´t know this, I am in Guatemala right now. I am here with a team from work. I´ve been here since Saturday, though some of our group got detained in Miami and didn´t arrive until Sunday. We finally made it together in Antigua on Sunday and have been going non-stop since. Yesterday we visited the Light and Life school and today is the Scripture Dedication of the Ixil New Testatment. Various people within Wycliffe Bible Translators have been working on this translation since the 50´s. We´ll be heading to the celebration shortly.

Sunday consisted mostly of a drive from Antigua to Nebaj. Roads here are not exactly like we are used to but if you can imagine bad roads on the worst curves you´ve driven, you might have a picture. We are lucky when the roads are paved. At any rate, a 6-7 hour drive on these roads in a crowded mini-bus was clearly a highlight. (sense the sarcasm?)

We made a stop in Chichicastenango where we walked around a little market for a while. It was there that I saw this sweet little girl. Now, there are lots of cute little kids and beautiful people here, but this one 6 or 7 year old really captivated me. Hair back in a ponytail, black sweatshirt on, wide-eyes, and a ready smile and she was staring unabashedly, at me (Ok, I know my hair and skin might make me stand out a little bit). We shared multiple smiles and in some odd way, those smiles spoke words that she and I would not have been able to. And yet, a smile wasn´t enough with her. I couldn´t stand expressing myself to her simply through a smile. Physically, I needed to touch her – to communicate with her through touch. And so, as I was leaving, I gently touched her head, and I smiled. Because smiles know no language.

I have found that I may not always understand what is being said or how I should respond. Maybe you are trying to tell me you like my shirt, or sell me a necklace. Perhaps you are trying to tell me to look up because a cement block is about to fall on my head. I don´t understand you, but I can smile and you will smile back (unless it really was a cement block). That we can understand.

As I was thinking back on my encounter with this young girl, I began to tear up, thinking of the reason that we are here – to facilitate these people having the Bible. Most of the people I have seen, including this girl, are lost and without Jesus. It´s so easy to walk through life with blinders on. I observe the people around me, especially in foreign places, and somehow I am able to separate that observation from that of their souls. Often, I don´t feel for their loss and for what they are missing. My smile doesn´t really do too much in the grand scheme of things, but it is sometimes the best I can do. I want to do so much more for these people. I want them to know about what I have that they don´t. I want them to smile as I do – to smile because they know and love Jesus Cristo.

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 14, 2008 at Thursday, August 14, 2008 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


I love this story, and I know the frustration that can come from not being able to communicate, but you are so right. Smiles are fantastic.

Also thought it was incredible that this language had taken over 50 years to work on! That just blows me away thinking about how many hands were in the process of this. Hope you can return soon.

August 25, 2008 at 1:02 PM

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