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The Greatest Treasure

For one month, we lived the same life that they lived. We learned the value of a simple roll of toilet paper, taking a warm bath, and also that people are the greatest treasure in this world.

It was our first week serving as volunteers. We cannot disclose the name of the country in case we endanger the future of the work there. The opportunity that we had to work as volunteer missionaries with ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency), came about almost unexpectedly, and there we were. The school was one of many distinct places where a group of physicians worked for ADRA. The program included a visit to different poor villages in the city. The team, composed of two physicians, a nurse and a driver was sufficient to bring relief to the basic necessities of the people.

The atmosphere was festive, in spite of the cold and the fact that we understood absolutely nothing of the local language. The people treated us as though we were old friends.

Lunch was a causal time with laughing and joy. We communicated in English, Russian (due to the Soviet post-war domination, many of the people knew Russian), and mime and all the non-verbal resources that came to mind.

The table was set; they had their “lunch kit” and cooked in a very rustic invention that was half wood stove, half fireplace and served also to heat the area. As was their custom, there was a lot of round bread, yogurt, cooked potatoes, canned cabbage and purple and yellow carrots. There was nothing of rules and etiquette, nor even silverware for everyone. Each one served and ate the food, with their hands, or in whatever manner that seemed the most interesting.

The waiting line began to grow. It was now time to begin working again. Each physician was at a table with the nurse distributing medication. I think that few times have I ever felt so satisfied to be helping in something.

I had always wanted to work in some missionary project, but I confess that I never expected that the opportunity would take place so early. I am 19 years old, a Brazilian and currently a medical student at River Plate Adventist University (see sidebar), and *Lisa is 20, a student at the same University. She is a great friend and classmate, and fellow missionary on this adventure.

I remember the various occasions when, with wide eyes, together we followed the stories of the missionaries who were in Africa and in other countries; stories that made our minds travel. Just the word “missionary” by itself, made a great impact on me.

When Lisa’s parents were called to work in this country several years ago, I could not wait for the day that I would have the opportunity to visit them. But what was interesting was the way things took place. In the middle of vacation, when we were there with Lisa’s parents, we contacted the ADRA Director and made the necessary arrangements and agreed to go immediately as volunteer missionaries.

Of course, not everything is so easy. Our parents also had to invest a little money to pay the airline ticket and part of our expenses for our food, but it was certainly a worthwhile experience.

We remained in that country for one month, living in a Muslim home; eating with them and living exactly the same life that they lived, without luxury and few commodities. We learned the value of a simple roll of toilet paper, taking a warm bath, and also that people are the greatest treasure in this world.

We worked with a group of physicians in a large unprecedented project in the area of education that ADRA was developing in the region. They have a vocational school for approximately 1,000 students among refugees and the local population. There are classes in English, computers, administration, and electronics and even in hairdressing.

ADRA helps people in this location reach their dreams, which without their help would be impossible. People are able to perceive that there is something different that motivates us as Seventh-day Adventists.

I would like to close leaving not only my personal testimony, but also encouragement for the many Seventh-day Adventist friends and youth who, like me, dream of being missionaries. Do not stop dreaming.

The person who has great dreams is stronger that the person who possesses all the facts. Do not be passive while you wait. Prepare yourself to be what you want to be. Study, learn another language, go after opportunities, and become informed. God guides everything and many times, He is going to surprise you. He knows you like no one else and He knows when the time is right.

*Not her real name.

River Plate Adventist University

Since the year 2004, River Plate Adventist University (RPAU) has had an Adventist Volunteer Service Center on their campus. It works in conjunction with the Centro de Estudiantes Voluntarios Adventistas Misioneros (CEVAM) – Adventist Volunteer Missionary Center, which is dedicated to presenting youth from the Seventh-day Adventist Church with a different alternative.

The main objective of these two organizations is to train and recruit youth so that they are capable of sharing the eternal gospel with all people, giving others a chance to accept Jesus as their personal Savior. These organizations provide youth with the tools necessary to offer more efficient service wherever they may serve.

In this manner, youth are given the opportunity of an experience abroad including all that this implies. On the other hand, the philosophy of the University is emphasized as youth are prepared for service. The potential of the RPAU students is capitalized and in this way our University is collaborating in the various areas of need in the world mission field.

As a general rule, the Adventist Volunteer Service on the RPAU campus attempts to send student volunteers to fields where they can put the skills they have acquired at RPAU into practice and in this manner while they are serving others, they are also gaining valuable experience for their future.

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