September 12, 2018

In Chile, Adventist Students and Teachers Reach Out to Remote Easter Island

Kenny Rivas, South American Division, and Adventist Review

True to their motto, “To the ends of the earth,” students and teachers of Porvenir Adventist School in Santiago, Chile, traveled to remote Easter Island in the South Pacific Ocean to support church members and residents, from August 29 to September 4, 2018. The group of 16 joined 12 local church members for a health fair, a beach-cleaning initiative, and other outreach activities.

Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, is a Chilean territory located some 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometers) west of South America, roughly halfway between Chile and French Polynesia. The 63-square-mile (163-square-kilometer) territory has a population of less than 8,000, and about 20 of them are Seventh-day Adventists.

School leaders said the mission trip was part of the centennial celebrations of Porvenir, a primary and secondary Adventist institution in the Chilean capital. “The trip focused on instilling in students the value of selfless service to others,” they said.

The aim of the mission trip was to support the only Seventh-day Adventist congregation on the island; pay a visit to the island authorities; organize a health expo and fair in the central square; and assist in a beach-cleaning initiative.

Porvenir Adventist School chaplain Patricio Hernández shared that one of the trip’s main goals was to make an impact on the community, which the group achieved. The only TV channel on the island covered the event.

The intensive week of service began with a Communion service for the young missionaries and concluded with the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the event.

“I felt it a privilege to come to this remote island as part of the missionary team,” student Mariela Cifuentes said. “Helping the locals to share God’s message was also significant.”

Cifuentes explained that residents of the island hold a variety of beliefs about the notion of a deity. “The Moai, for instance, are very sacred to many locals,” she explained in reference to the monolithic human figures carved by the Rapa Nui people, it is believed, between 1250 and 1500 AD.

Hernández, on the other hand, emphasized how important it was for the team to work to strengthen the local Adventist congregation. “Due to obvious geographical reasons, those twenty Adventist church members are completely isolated from the rest of Adventist congregations,” he said.

In addition to the local TV channel coverage, the Adventist TV network Nuevo Tiempo Chile is planning a special broadcast that will feature photographs and videos recorded during the outreach initiative.