A group of Canadian teens just spent a week working and playing with a group of Mayan Pokomchí in the Guatemalan village of Santa Cruz de Quetzal.
I just finished reading the book, The Five Languages of Love, by Gary Chapman.
I never left home. The Pokomchí never left home, But the Canadian teens sure did!
They drove 3 hours to the airport and then took 2 planes to arrive in Guatemala City – a journey spanning two and a half countries, for goodness sakes! Yet they had not arrived. The next day they traveled 5 hours by bus on a paved highway and then 1more hour on a graded dirt road in the back of pickup trucks. Not there yet! Then they traveled one more hour on a steep winding four-wheel-drive road steadily climbing up, up into the mountains to finally arrive at the home of their new “neighbors”.
What on earth motivated these teens to go to these extremes?
In the words of 16-year-old Jeralee, “I wanted to serve the Pokomchí families, to help them. The best part of my experience was that I helped build two rainwater collection tanks. This made me very happy.” Matthew, one of the team leaders said this: “God spoke into my life through the change that took place in the teens – they became filled with love for their neighbor.”
I believe the teens were motivated by love and wanted to put that love into action.
Now, Gary Chapman states in his book that each of us speaks one of five love languages and when others around us learn our language and use it to demonstrate their love for us, we feel fulfilled and content. The five languages according to Mr. Chapman are (1) Words of Affirmation, (2) Quality Time, (3) Receiving Gifts, (4) Acts of Service, and (5) Physical Touch.
Which of these love languages do you think the teens used to communicate to the Pokomchí? Was it a language that left the Pokomchí feeling fulfilled and content? Let’s take a look and see:
1. Words of Affirmation – Nope! They didn’t speak the same language.
2. Receiving Gifts – Not likely as this is discouraged. Unless you consider a Big Smile, lots of Big Smiles, a gift. I personally feel Smiles are valuable and precious gifts.
3. Physical Touch – Due to the desire not to unknowingly cause offense in this cross cultural experience, physical touch is not encouraged.
That leaves us with Acts of Service – a resounding “YES!”. The teens’ hard, physical work hauling and sifting sand, mixing cement with shovels and bent backs, lifting and stacking cement cinder blocks into place spoke loudly to the Pokomchí of their love. “I saw the joy and happiness of the families after we had built the water tanks with them”, said Shane, the youth pastor who led the teens. “I was touched by the Pokomchí woman who prayed for us,” said Matthew.
The teens spoke one other love language to their Pokomchí “neighbors” – Quality Time. The teens spent half a day sharing with the Pokomchí
in their daily tasks – chopping and carrying wood, making tortillas, carrying water on their heads, making rope from the fiber of the maguey plant. And besides work, they spent a lot of time playing with the kids – bubbles, ball, and games. Here are more comments from team members: “Having the kids call us by our individual names was very special!” “God spoke to me more than anything else through the happiness of the children.” “The children were a clear example to me of God’s love.”
It seems to me that both the Canadian teens and the Guatemalan Pokomchí came away from their time together fulfilled and content. That’s love at its best!
And this challenges me and hopefully, you as well. In my own family, my own neighborhood, my own town, do I consciously reach out to those around me with a love language that makes them fulfilled and content?