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A Publication of Maranatha Volunteers International

Saving Our Schools

The need for new classrooms around the world INSIDE THIS ISSUE:


U R U G U AY P 8


Santa Cruz, Bolivia This is the 26 de Septiembre (September 26) Seventh-day Adventist Church, named after the date that the little community was formed. This congregation started as a church plant with just 15 people. They built this small structure as a meeting place. But when the group grew to 45, they could no longer squeeze into the church. So they constructed the patio as an expansion, and now they mostly meet outside. They need a new church, as do so many of the 115,000 Adventists in the country. Recently, Maranatha met with Adventist leadership in Bolivia and committed to build churches and school classrooms in the country, starting in late 2017.

Photo by Kyle Fiess


Every Project is a Miracle


hen i first met john freeman, maranatha

founder, in 1982, he told me, “You need to understand that every Maranatha project is a miracle.” Then he handed me a colorful brochure about Maranatha, and one of the key phrases printed was “Every project is a miracle.” After listening to John as he shared some of the wonderful and amazing stories from the early years of Maranatha, I became a believer in the truth of that adage. Every project is a miracle!

Today, after witnessing the direct involvement of God in the thousands of Maranatha projects around the world, I am more convinced than ever that only miracles can account for the positive and eternal impact of Maranatha on so many lives and in so many places. The complexity of working in multiple countries with both skilled and unskilled volunteers has made it clear that only God could orchestrate the positive results in terms of people’s lives, protection, logistics, and donations. Only He could coordinate the thousands of lives impacted at the locations of schools, churches, wells, and many other miscellaneous projects. It is certainly a great joy and blessing to be led and guided by the God of miracles. Many of you have probably experienced miracles in your own lives or through someone you know. You may have been changed by watching the God of miracles answer prayers on a Maranatha project. There is nothing better or more inspiring than knowing you are doing what God wants you to do in the place He has led you. Often, that is on a Maranatha project. As I look back on nearly 35 years of involvement with Maranatha, I am constantly amazed at how God works out the details to accomplish what He knows is important. You can use whatever term you like, but I think John Freeman was right when he said, “Every project is a miracle.” N

Don Noble, president

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Classrooms for

Graceland By Julie Z. Lee

the classroom is noisy. A cacophony of chatter has overtaken the space, but the teacher just watches and listens from up front.

In the remote hills of northeast India, a school asked for help and Maranatha answered Photo by Leonel Macias

His students, dressed in blue uniforms, are bent over their wide-open books. They are reading out loud, each at their own pace. The noise is not idle jabber; the kids are serious about school, and they are here for an education. But today school is about to be interrupted by even more noise. It begins to rain. Not a light drizzle but a hard downpour. It pounds on the corroded roof, sending trickles of water into the classroom. Wind screams through the hillside campus, flapping the corners of the metal roof that have long lost its grip on the beams. It is loud. Deafening. Suddenly, class is dismissed and an ocean of children spill out of the classrooms and into the streets toward home. Teaching under such conditions is impossible, and school is cancelled for the rest of the day. This is a scene from the Graceland Seventh-day Adventist School in Mizoram, India. Unfortunately, cutting class short is a frequent occurrence, especially during rainy season. The existing facilities simply cannot handle the weather. “The buildings, the floors—all this have become rotten. And you can see holes all over it, in the walls and in the floors. It is no longer safe for the students,” says Biakthansanga Renthlei, president of the Adventist Church in Mizoram. Decades of heavy rain, wind, and termites have eaten away at the structures. Graceland has managed to expand part of its campus and provide new classrooms for half the school. But the primary students are still meeting in the original buildings—or rather what’s left of them, and there are no funds to repair the structures. “The most urgent need we have now is a building,” says Renthlei. “Classrooms. Good classrooms, safe classrooms for our students, where they can learn in peace and get their





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education to the maximum.” More than 300 students attend Graceland. The majority of them are not part of the Adventist faith, and school has been an important part of sharing the Adventist message with new families. Renthlei is worried that the crumbling facilities will eventually shrink enrollment and its positive influence in the community. So Renthlei and his team prayed for a solution. Then they contacted Maranatha Volunteers International. Less than a year later, help was on the way in the form of 17 volunteers. •

DISCOVER MORE Go beyond the story at www.maranatha.org • Watch an episode of Maranatha Mission Stories featuring Graceland at www.maranatha.org/graceland • Go to our Facebook page to see more photos from this misison trip at www.maranatha.org/facebook



Photos by Rebekah Shephard

1 Students wave from their new classrooms. The desks were constructed by a local carpenter whose child attends the school. 2 Children cram into classrooms for Vacation Bible School, a program taught by the volunteers. 3 Jeanmary Maldonado stretches to paint the eaves of the newly built structures. Jeanmary says the project was “a blessing. India will be in my heart forever.” 4 Lorin Rubbert (far left), construction leader, and his nephew Logan Rubbert cut the ribbon to one of the new classrooms during the dedication ceremony. 5 The small but mighty volunteer team on the India Project. 6 An aerial view of the near-completed classrooms. One of the teachers, Hriatz Hp Chhakchhuak, says, “Thank you again to all the Maranatha volunteers. It’s a great blessing for us and a dream come true.”


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The Fight to Save a School and the Gospel in Uruguay By Julie Z. Lee

Photo by Hilary Macias

STUDENT HELPERS: Volunteers give the students of Barros Blancos Primary School a demonstration on how to lay block. The new eight-classroom building will provide space for more than 300 students.


staff felt when they heard the news. “When we felt we were going to lose the school, we realized how much we loved this place. The teachers looked at their students and said, ‘What’s going to happen to the children?” says Urtazu. “We’ve watched over this place. It has had so many challenges. How can we improve it? What is the future here?” No doubt, Barros Blancos needed help; they were meeting in deteriorating classrooms, and there was little to no money to pay the teachers. The situation was dire—not only for

lizabeth urtazu was ready for

a fight. She had just received news that the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Uruguay had voted to close several schools in the country. Poor facilities, financial difficulties, and other challenges were making it impossible to operate the campuses, and it was time to shut the doors. Barros Blancos Adventist Primary School, where Urtazu is the director, was on the list of closures. She remembers the desperation she and her


the school but also for the Adventist Church. Uruguay is the most secularized nation in South America and the sixth least religious country in the world. Uruguay is a tough place to grow the Gospel. “Religion doesn’t factor into daily life,” says Jose Sanchez, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Uruguay. “This, of course, makes evangelism more difficult.” Indeed. The Adventist Church was established in Uruguay more than 100 years ago. But there are only about 9,000

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“The school has become a way of drawing them closer and teaching and showing them what the love of Christ is about.” members in the country—a relatively small number compared to other South American countries. But there has been one effective approach to reaching people with the Gospel—a way around the culture of secularism: Education. Adventist schools have been successful in attracting children from diverse backgrounds—most of whom are not part of the Adventist church. Their parents may not be Christian, but they are interested in providing their children with a values-based education, and families are finding it in Adventist schools. Closing Barros Blancos would have greater consequences than losing an educational program. It would mean having one less center of Christian influence in the country. “That’s why we are determined to improve the work of education—the educational role here in Uruguay,” says Sanchez. Yet it hasn’t been easy to strengthen the education program, mostly because the lack of decent infrastructure. “All of our schools are in poor condition. I don’t want to use the word ‘deplorable,’ but it’s almost there,” says Sanchez. “Moreover, we lack the resources to improve the situation. And what’s worst of all—we don’t even have room to grow.” So closing a handful of schools seemed to be the only option.

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But Urtazu and her staff were determined save Barros Blancos. They weren’t going down without a fight. “Brethren and teachers, led by their director sister Elizabeth Urtazu, decided to save the school,” says Sanchez. “They said, ‘Give us a chance.’ And obviously, the church gave them a chance, although there had already been a vote for permanently closing the school. However, where there’s a will, there isn’t a vote that can stop growth or a school for that matter… When God’s power is united with human effort, miracles happen.” The first step was to find more students. The team began recruiting for the upcoming school year, connecting

PRAYER WARRIOR: After years of praying for God to save her school, Elizabeth Urtazu, director of Barros Blancos school, is ecstatic to see the new campus being built. She says that without Maranatha, the new school would have been “an impossible mission. This has been a miracle in Uruguay.”

Photo by Maranatha field staff

Photo by Hilary Macias

FIRST DAY: The faculty introduce themselves to students and family on the first day of school at Barros Blancos. This small team of teachers are committed to Christian education; they sacrificed their own wages to help keep the doors of the school open.


Photo by Maranatha field staff

CHURCH SCHOOL: The Seventh‑day Adventist Church in Barros Blancos, where the students have been meeting. Classes took place in Sabbath School rooms and converted shipping containers.

Photo by Maranatha volunteer

MODEL PUPILS: Students pose for a photo with Maranatha’s volunteer projects assistant Hilary Macias next to the model of the education and evangelism center that Maranatha is building. Teachers made the tiny structure and put it on display to build excitement for the Maranatha construction project.

with the community and sending up plenty of prayers. When it came time for school registration, a miracle began to unfold. “Registration was open, and parents were enrolling their kids. At the same time, we were being told to warn the staff that the school was going to close,” says Urtazu. “On one hand, we had the Union on the phone, telling us to notify the staff. On the other hand, parents were in front of us, wanting to register their kids and buy school uniforms— all this at the same time! We had to pray a lot and to decide, and try and understand what God wanted, to search for God’s will.”


The answer came in the form of record enrollments at the school. Parents lined up at the school office to register their children. Soon Barros Blancos had more children than they could accommodate. But Urtazu couldn’t afford to turn any child away; without the additional students, the operating fund would be insufficient, and the school would still have to close. MAKING SACRIFICES

But the teachers weren’t ready to give up. “Now something great happened. Both the director and the teachers decided to take a 50% cut in their

salary,” says Sanchez. “God’s blessings and this action, taken by these teachers and headed by Elizabeth, was so great that it spurred on the effort to save the school.” Barros Blancos stayed open. Attendance flourished. They converted shipping containers into additional classrooms. They sacrificed teacher salaries for years to come. The school continued to grow in numbers, maxing out at 140 students. And in the meantime, Urtazu began talking to Maranatha Volunteers International about building a new school. “The possibility of having a new school will allow us to have more students. The Word of God will reach a greater number of people. There are people who had never heard the Word of God before coming to our school. They knew nothing of God and never read the Bible. The school has become a way of drawing them closer and teaching and showing them what the love of Christ is about,” says Nazareth Silvera, a teacher at Barros Blancos.

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In 2015, Barros Blancos finally received permission to build, and Maranatha committed to providing the new school. After months of preparation, volunteers began streaming into the country in 2017. This year, Maranatha will mobilize nearly 150 volunteers into Uruguay to build an eight-classroom building, complete with bathrooms, offices, and an auditorium. The structure will have room for 320 students—more than twice the present capacity. Says Sanchez about the project, “Dear brothers of Maranatha, you have become the greatest blessing that the church in Uruguay has received in recent years. We are deeply thankful to the Lord and to you for having decided to come and help us here in Uruguay.” It will be several months before the new school is ready to be occupied, but already the construction site is drawing much attention. The structure is located on a large property in a busy residential neighborhood, and there is a steady stream of foot traffic that passes the new campus daily. It is an ideal location for attracting new students to the school— and to Christ. On the Uruguay Project in February, the sight of 47 foreigners laying block

was quite an event. Parents and their children regularly visited the site to wave at the volunteers. The Vacation Bible School program, organized by volunteers, also drew many children, teaching current and prospective students about God. “I’ve been told that only 10 percent of the current student body is Adventist, which means that the other 90 percent represents families from different walks of faith or no faith at all,” says Hilary Macias, volunteer projects assistant at Maranatha and a volunteer on the project. “The Barros Blancos school is perfectly situated to be a place for parents to enroll their kids—their most

valuable treasure—to be educated in knowledge as well as Christ’s love.” Thanks to the dedication and spirit of Urtazu and her fellow teachers, Barros Blancos was saved. Now, Barros Blancos will continue its work of saving through the Gospel. •

DISCOVER MORE Go beyond the story at www.maranatha.org • Watch a Maranatha Mission Stories version of this story at www.maranatha.org/barrosblancos

THE BUILDERS: Longtime volunteer Phil Becker (left) and first-time volunteer Patricia Hopkins partner together to build the walls of the Barros Blancos School. They were both participants on the Uruguay Project, which took place in February. A total of five teams and 149 volunteers helped build this school.

TIGHT SQUEEZE: A crowded classroom at the old school. The new space will have more classrooms, offices, bathrooms, and a central auditorium for meetings and play.

Photo by Maranatha field staff

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Photo by Hilary Macias


Barrio La Union, Dominican Republic Volunteers from Madison Academy, a Seventh-day Adventist high school in Tennessee, worked on multiple Maranatha projects in the Dominican Republic (March 2-13), including building the walls of the Voz de Salvacion II Church Sabbath School building, painting the Voz de Salvacion II and Mensajero de Sion churches, and coordinating Vacation Bible School in the local community. In one of the churches, students created special artwork on the wall of the platform, giving a personal and artistic touch to the project.

Photos provided by Maranatha volunteers


600 Serve in March

In the month of March, Maranatha mobilized 600 volunteers to nine countries, including Uruguay, Costa Rica, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. One of the project locations was Egypt, marking Maranatha’s first project in the country. Twenty-five volunteers worked on various jobs at Nile Union Academy. March was also the first time volunteers served in Guyana, which will be a major effort for Maranatha in 2017. A team from Placerville Seventh‑day Adventist Church in California kicked off a project to build the Georgetown Adventist School. Four more teams will work on the large‑scale school project this year, while other groups will build churches in Georgetown. March is traditionally a popular month for projects because it coincides with spring break vacation at most schools in the United States.

School Starts in Bhalki, India Faculty, staff, and students at Bhalki Seventh-day Adventist School celebrated the opening of 12 Maranatha classrooms on campus, in early January. Immediately following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, students moved into the new space.

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Volunteers constructed the structures last November, and local Maranatha crews have been finishing up the final details. The new rooms replace old buildings that were falling apart, due to regular wear and tear. The Bhalki school was established in 1983 with just 20 kindergarten students. Today, the school has more than 800 students enrolled, and the campus has been unable to properly accommodate them. Each classroom packed in 60 students, and those on the waiting list were denied. The classrooms have been a blessing for Bhalki and not only provides a much-improved learning space, they also create opportunities for new students to receive a Christian education. Bhalki is a town in the Bidar district of Karnataka, a state located in the southwestern part of India.

plywood to create four learning spaces. The new campus will allow the school to more than double their capacity. The school is located in the northwestern part of the country, near the Mozambique border. It is the only Adventist school in the area.


You can donate your low interest rate CD to Maranatha and receive a higher rate of return for life, while receiving a charitable deduction.

New Campus for Munga River In March, 52 volunteers traveled to Nyanga, Zimbabwe, to work on the Munga River Seventh-day Adventist School campus. While there, the team built 12 One-Day School structures, which will serve as classrooms, administrative offices, a multi-purpose room, and bathrooms. Previously, 137 students were meeting in two dirt-floor classrooms that had been divided in half with

You can donate your home to Maranatha, take a charitable deduction, and live in it for the rest of your life. You can donate stocks and other securities to Maranatha, not pay tax on the capital gains, take a charitable deduction and receive more income for life than you currently receive in dividends. You can easily make a donation to Maranatha from your estate by just naming Maranatha as beneficiary on your retirement assets or life insurance policies. Call us at (916) 774-7700 for more information on these or other planned giving ideas!

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES You can serve on a mission trip with Maranatha! From construction to cooking to outreach, there are many ways to help, and no experience is necessary. Simply look through the opportunities listed below or visit our Volunteer Opportunities page at www.maranatha.org. For more information, email us at volunteer@maranatha.org or call (916) 774-7700. Redwood Area Camp Project CALIFORNIA, USA Leadership: Ostap Dzyndra June 4 - 11, 2017

Sacramento Adventist Academy Project

Seaside Adventist Church Project OREGON, USA Leadership: Ed Jensen, Leroy Kelm August 27 - September 8, 2017

Big Lake Youth Camp Project

CALIFORNIA, USA Leadership: Adam Piersanti, Luther Findley June 4 - 18, 2017

OREGON, USA Leadership: Cathie Clark, Kelly Rogers September 3 - 17, 2017

Rio Lindo Adventist Academy Project

Truro Adventist Church Project

CALIFORNIA, USA Leadership: Jeanie Tweedy, Kelly Rogers June 11 - 29, 2017

NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA Leadership: Nellie Ferguson September 11 - 24, 2017

Guyana Family Project

JAMESTOWN, GUYANA Leadership: George Carpenter, Jon Harvey October 11 - 23, 2017

GEORGETOWN, GUYANA Leadership: Steve Case, Danny Poljak June 14 - 25, 2017

Kenya Project KISII, KENYA Leadership: Susan Bushnell, Karen Godfrey, Jon Harvey June 28 - July 12, 2017

Young Adult Project GEORGETOWN, GUYANA Leadership: Angela Boothby July 19 - 30, 2017

Ultimate Workout 27 DAVID, PANAMA Leadership: Rebekah Shephard, David Lopez July 19 - 30, 2017

Living Hope Adventist Church Project

Guyana Project

India Project TAMIL NADU, INDIA Leadership: Sheena Smith October 18 - 29, 2017

Kenya Project MERU, KENYA Leadership: Merrill Zackary, George Alder November 2017

If you are interested in taking a team on a mission trip, let Maranatha guide you through the process! We’ll help you set a budget, find a site and accommodations, organize your team, and provide in-country support from our staff. For groups ranging from 5-105, call for a consult and we’ll help every step of the way. For more information, call (916) 774-7700 or email leaders@maranatha.org

Thanks for Serving! The following Group Project Teams are serving during the months of April/May/June:

KENYA Brazil Team — Brazil Newport Adventist Church — Washington Fox Valley Adventist Church — Wisconsin

USA Pine Hills Academy Senior Class — California ZIMBABWE Bowie Adventist Church — Texas

Christmas Family Project DAVID, PANAMA Leadership: Claudio & Elizabeth Japas Dec. 20, 2017 - Jan. 1, 2018

Ultimate Workout Alumni Project

IDAHO, USA Leadership: Gerald Anderson July 23 - August 6, 2017

SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Leadership: Dan Skau Dec. 26, 2017 - Jan. 7, 2018

Mills Spring Ranch Project

Kenya Project

WYOMING, USA Leadership: Betty Beattie, David Schwinn July 24 - August 8, 2017

KENYA Leadership: David Lopez, David Wright, Merrill Zachary January 31 - February 14, 2018


Create a Project!

*Volunteer opportunities open to the general public will now be listed as “Projects” instead of “Open Teams.” Please note the naming change has not yet been made to all projects listed on the website.

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MARANATHA REPORT CARD A look back at 2016 and how YOU’VE made a difference! Thank you for serving, giving and praying for the mission of Maranatha.



481 volunteers









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DID YOU KNOW In , Maranatha completed a total of structures



657 volunteers

582 volunteers







First-time volunteers





Using mostly local crews, we built the most structures in Brazil with One-Day Churches in .

200 2016



projects in the We had United States, helping to build and renovate churches, schools, and retreat centers. THE VOLUNTEER SPRING 2017 | 15

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About Maranatha Maranatha spreads the Gospel throughout the world as it builds people through the construction of urgently needed buildings.

Our annual convention event

All notices of change of address should be sent to the Maranatha Volunteers International United States address. United States Headquarters:

SEPTEMBER 22-23, 2017 Trinity Life Center

5225 Hillsdale Blvd Sacramento, CA

Maranatha Volunteers International 990 Reserve Drive Suite 100 Roseville, CA 95678 Phone: (916) 774-7700 Fax: (916) 774-7701 Website: www.maranatha.org Email: info@maranatha.org In Canada: Maranatha Volunteers International Association c/o V06494C PO Box 6494, Station Terminal Vancouver, BC V6B 6R3 CANADA

More information at maranatha.org/missionmaranatha ON THE COVER: The camera peeks through the crumbling wall of one classroom into another at Graceland Adventist School in Saitual, India. Photo by Leonel Macias.

Julie Z. Lee, Editor Carrie Purkeypile, Managing Editor Heather Bergren, Designer

Profile for Maranatha Volunteers International

The Volunteer Spring 2017  

The Volunteer is the official publication of Maranatha Volunteers International.

The Volunteer Spring 2017  

The Volunteer is the official publication of Maranatha Volunteers International.