Actions speak louder than language barriers

Posted on April 18, 2011 by VMMissions Staff

“Good morning.” “Buenos dias.” “Alli punsha.” In the small Ecuadorian jungle community of Arajuno, these three languages, English, Spanish and Kichwa, flowed together harmoniously as a group of 10 men from Nebraska, three Colombians and I worked alongside the local indigenous people to help them construct a new church building.

During a week of hard work defined by new experiences, further cultural understanding and ultimately a cross-cultural unity, we managed to make impressive progress in the construction that we had set out to accomplish. Nevertheless, as we cleaned up the last of our tools, gathered together to say our goodbyes and made our way out of the jungle on a winding gravel road, I couldn’t help but think that the construction that we had completed was just the tip of the iceberg.

In reality, we had done much more than simply help provide a place for Iglesia Esperanza Viva to have their Sunday morning services and Wednesday evening Bible studies. We had shared meals together, sweated under the hot jungle sun side by side, played soccer together, laughed together despite language barriers, attempted to learn phrases from each others’ respective languages (which contributed to more laughter), and learned about each others’ families and ways of life. We had demonstrated and received love and solidarity that transcends physical structures.

In my short 23 years of life, there are few things that I have experienced that make me feel as satisfied and fulfilled as sharing and receiving love through actions. On a human level, it unifies and purifies us and on a spiritual level, we grow closer to God who is the source of life and love. May we continue to seek unity and understanding in a world full of separation and brokenness.



David Shenk works alongside local indigenous people, Americans and Colombians in Arajuno. Courtesy of author.

Filed in: All posts


Sign up for an email newsletter with VMMissions updates, news and events or see a list of our other email newsletters.