March 28, 2024

Students from University in Argentina Serve Communities along the Amazon

A multidisciplinary team lived on a mission boat for 10 days to reach remote villages.

Oscar Gonzalez, South American Division, and Adventist Review
Students from River Plate Adventist University in Argentina who recently participated in a mission trip along the Amazon River in northern Brazil. [Photo: River Plate Adventist University]

From February 26 to March 7, students pursuing degrees at River Plate Adventist University in Argentina traveled to northern Brazil to reach out and serve isolated communities in the Amazon region. The 28-person team (26 students and two faculty members) included students pursuing degrees in medicine, nursing, dentistry, physical education, early education, and communication.

The missionary team traveled in and lived on a boat as they sought to serve the native population of six communities on the banks of Rio Negro, a major tributary of the Amazon River. Throughout the duration of their trip, students shared meals on the boat and slept in hammocks on the deck as they sailed from one riverside community to another, organizers explained.

Werner Arnolds, a physician and director of Academic Healthcare Services at River Plate, served as a mentor and supervisor of the students providing primary health care.

“Students visited the communities to provide primary health care under professional supervision, developed presentations, offered activities for native children, and supported home improvement initiatives such as house painting,” organizers reported at the end of the project. “In addition, they held an evangelism meeting every evening, where they shared a message of hope with those whom they had visited and served earlier in the day.”

Lucas Muñoz, coordinator of the university’s Adventist Volunteer Service, shared that each community was made up of 20 to 30 families. He explained that students visited each community family in pairs. As part of their visits, they offered to pray for people and invited residents to participate in evangelism in the evenings, with special messages prepared for children and adults, Muñoz said.

Although days were long and fast-paced, each of the participants agreed that serving in this region of Brazil was a blessing. “It was a unique and challenging experience,” Johan Mairena, a senior communication student, said. “I enjoyed learning about other cultures, getting to know a different reality, and, in turn, assisting these populations with community outreach. It developed a new life vision in me.”

When asked about experiences that stood out during the mission stint, Mairena said he appreciated assisting shoulder to shoulder with advanced medicine students. “These activities, which I am not used to, helped me grow as I learned about other people and learned to appreciate their customs. Seeing how we were able to meet people’s needs was a rewarding experience. I feel a deep gratitude to God,” Mairena said.

“The Amazon Lifeguard project is an initiative of the Northwest Missions Institute of the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” Muñoz explained. “They helped with the logistics and support for the mission trip.”

The mission institute’s partnership with River Plate Adventist University aims to motivate students to be part of the world of selfless service, Muñoz said. “We thank God for the excellent opportunity to learn more about the people we served and the privilege to serve them.”

River Plate Adventist University, located in Libertador San Martin, Entre Rios, Argentina, offers its students a comprehensive educational experience that is inspired by the values and principles that the institution’s worldview supports, namely, that of excellence and service.

The original version of this story was posted on the South American Division Spanish-language news site.