It’s 5:30 in the morning. The seemingly ever-present Guatemalan traffic is napping now, which was a blessing as we took our team to the airport to catch their flights home.  Courtney and I now sit in silence, caught in that strange place between longing-to-stay and longing-to-be-home.

This country feels so familiar – if I was a brave girl, I believe I could even drive from one place to another and not get lost (bravery being the key word, since driving here requires a lot of skill and an ability to shape-shift to accommodate the traffic and crazy switchbacks, mudslides, ravines, and occasional body of water that may or may not be between you and your destination).  Yet every visit is full of brand-new. Every day is full of broken, poured out, and filled up. Every room is full of stories.

The language of the stories varies. Sometimes it’s a language of words and phrases. Sometimes it’s a language of song. It could be a language of touch, or tears, or laughter. But I have found one universal language that translates instantly to “let’s be friends.”

The language of iPhone.

At the airport.

At the airport waiting for our team to arrive, iPhone introduced me to a Mayan family. The vocabulary doesn’t have to be large when photos are involved.

Geraldo and Alfredo.

At Hogar Solidario, iPhone told the story of Alfredo.  And it sang the soundtrack as I met my new friend Maria (who proved to be a great photographer’s assistant as well).


At Cerecaif, Onilia kept asking to see her friend’s photo on iPhone. And she was excited to add her own to the gallery.

Onilia. Top row. Far right.

In Santiago, iPhone made a man in flowered gaucho pants feel like a supermodel.

Gaucho pants.

Children living in the poor village of Cerro de Oro found new smiles when iPhone captured tin-walled, mud-floored worship at a tiny mission church.

Curious about the music in the little church.

Pictures of family – and cakes – broke the ice at a lunch celebrating six young ladies living in a transition home. Then iPhone worked her magic again when those same young ladies learned to bake cookies, make fondant, and design “stained glass” images with tissue paper.

Sweet Nancy decorating with fondant.

She even helped some withered, feeble folks feel beautiful again – and want to dance one more time.

Patrick and his dance partner.

And last night in a gas station parking lot, iPhone reminded me of the borderless power of God-crafted family when friends from Maryland, Florida, Texas, and Guatemala reunited to laugh and hug one last time.

Gas station party.

I know – maybe I give iPhone too much credit. It’s really all about the language of pictures and music.  My words fall incredibly short in this country- like when I say “cacahuate” rather than “mani” for peanut or call a hand (mano) a monkey (mono). But a a smiling face or a beautiful sunrise over a volcano or a lovely song says so much. I think about our relationship with God, and believe He gives us pictures and music to bridge the gap as we learn His language too.  We stumble and fumble with the right words to say to capture His glory – so He paints the language in the vastness of the night sky and the laughter of a baby. He gives us pictures and music to let us know we’re greatly loved, we’re family.  His iPhone is far more amazing than anything Apple could ever create.

Lord, thank you for the language of iPhone.


P.S. GuateTeam, I miss you already.

My team. Doing what they love.
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About Ronne Rock

LIFE. LOVE. LEADERSHIP. AND A LITTLE #KITCHENTHERAPY. Ronne Rock’s heart finds its strongest beat where beauty and pain collide – because hope always finds us in the shattered places. There’s more than 30 years of marketing and communications experience in her bones, and she finds great joy in sharing leadership wisdom as a regular contributor to Orange Leaders and QARA. But more often than not these days, she's with the vulnerable in difficult places around the world, gathering stories that change stories. Find Ronne's words in "For You, Love" the prayer journal that invites you to respond, and in Everbloom, a collection of stories from the Redbud Writers Guild. She is currently writing, "Building Eden: Principles of a Grace-Filled Leadership that Restores and Redeems." 

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