Reflections on our Amazing Trip to Easter Island

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The day we flew away from Easter Island, I wrote the following journey entry:

“As the Easter Island Guide Book warned me: ‘You will leave Easter Island with more questions than answers.’ This is so true! Due to the small population & size of island, the history of the Rapa Nui has often been seen as a microcosm of all humanity. Today I read 2 Chronicles 33, and I noticed several similarities between the Rapa Nui people & the Israelites: their downfall & rebirth as a nation.

  • Both the Israelites & Rapa Nui were one of the smallest nations in the world.
  • Both nearly became extinct due to their idol worship.
  • Both were rescued from their near demise.

Looking over the island, here are two reflections:

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1. Thoughts on Idolatry

Most contribute the downfall of the Rapa Nui culture to their worship of the stone statutes (called Moai). One guide said it took 2 years and a crew of 20 people to carve only one of these huge stone statues (the biggest is 70 feet high and 270 tons!). And they have counted 887 Moai all around the island – that is a lot of man hours!

ahu-akahangaSince the Rapa Nui lived 1,000 years in isolation, and they believed that all other “islands” of the world had sunken, they thought they were the last survivors on earth. They also believed a divine king would one day return to the island to save them, but to gain his attention, they needed to make bigger and taller Moai. The problem was that the island’s resources could not support the construction of more Moai. They had to cut down more trees to make more Moai, but over time they deforested the entire island. And once the trees were gone, civilization fell into chaos. No wood for fires, fishing boats, farming, or housing. Civil war broke out among the tribes. All the Moai were toppled face down (that’s why most are not standing upright today). Soon after they resorted to cannibalism in order to survive.

Both history & Scripture teaches an important lesson about idolatry: it always leads to destruction. Paul says that behind every idolatrous practice is a demon (1 Cor. 10:20-21), and the end game of the demons is death (John 8:44). In short, idolatry is dangerous for a people’s existence. Where are the Canaanites today? Where are the northern tribes of Israel? We have “Jews” that trace their linage back to Judah, but the idol worshippers of northern Israel were sent into permeant exile. Where are the Mochians or the Chimus? If you come visit me in Trujillo, Peru, I can show your their temples in ruin.

EasterIslandSantiagoVacation-194There is a parallel between Manasseh’s son, Amon, and the children of the Rapa Nui. Amon brought out his daddy’s idols for worship; which led to his quick downfall (2 Chron. 33:21-25). It is no secret; the idols of Rapa Nui’s past are the main reason why tourists come to the island today. And tourism is the main industry of the Rapa Nui. So the BIG QUESTION for the Rapa Nui is: Will they bring out the Moai as idols and worship them like Amon worshipped his father’s idols? If so, God might just let capitalistic consumerism over take their little island. Can Easter Island support the exploitive power of international hotel chains, tons of tourists and major industry turning their island into a remote Disney Land? Although the very Moai were crafted to provide protection & prosperity from the outside forces (thus most of them face inland), will these stone statues once again be their demise? Or will the 5,700 remanent of Rapa Nui survive like the faithful Jews, and turned to God and worshipped Him alone? These are the questions the Rapa Nui youth face today.

2. Thoughts on Grace

I am moved by how God is so gracious. The Chronicler adds material that is not recorded in Book of Kings: Manasseh repents in exile. The Assyrians literally took him into exile with hooks; he was brought very low. Perhaps when the Rapa Nui dwindled from 10,000 to 111, a chief repented of his ways, was converted by hearing the gospel from a Christian missionary, God was greatly moved (as with Manasseh), and restored a people from a near destruction. I have no clue if this ever happened, but I would not be surprised something like this is true. How else did the three crosses get placed on one of the main hills that overlooks the village of Hanga Roa, the very place where they were exiled on their own island for about 70 years (from the annexing of Chile in 1888 to their release in 1966).

The main point is that God is more moved by repentance than by rebellion. Yes, God punishes the wicked, even Judean kings who burned their children on a flaming altar or people who eat each other; however He als restores anyone who repents of their ways and turns to Him for forgiveness. Destruction is for the rebellious, but relief is for those who repent. We know that Manasseh truly repented because he issued many reforms; and he was the worst of the kings, even worse than wicked Ahab! Yet God loves to forgive. He even brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem from exile and restored him as king. What amazing grace! Perhaps that is why we see the Rapa Nui resurge today.”

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Easter Island: One of Our Best Vacations Ever

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With 4 years of saved up airline miles, the income of lots of photography jobs, and some awesome friends to babysit our 4 daughters, we were off to discover the world’s most remote inhabited island.

Our first day on Easter Island we rented a little jeep, bought a guide book, and were off! Once out of the Hanga Roa village, we were completely alone on the island 90% of the time. We kept asking ourselves, “Where are all the people?” We explored everyday, all day until the sun set at 9:10 pm – allowing us to squeeze as much of the island into one day as possible.

There are certain trips you take that you build so much in your mind that once you arrive, you’re like, “Ah, this is not that big a deal.” Easter Island was not like that at all – it definitely did not disappoint! We went to see the Moai stone statutes, but we discovered that there was so much more: beauty of untouched landscape, three volcanoes, 3,000 wild horses running loose, white sandy beaches, intimidating cliffs, surfing and diving, and beautiful polynesian people speaking their native Rapa Nui language. Since the island is 2,200 miles from civilization, it forced us to unplug from all internet, social media, and TV. It felt like what a vacation should feel like.

Easter Island is one of the those places where it was hard to take a bad picture. Here are some of our favorite pictures from our trip.

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The volcanic quarry at sunrise: the birthplace of the Moai.

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Overlooking one of the volcanic craters.

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Can you see the Moai statues through the imported palm trees?

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Running wild and free!

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Exploring the caves where many Rapa Nui lives in the 1960s

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One of our best vacations ever!

Stay tuned for some reflections about what we experienced on this mysterious island.

IPC Memphis Senior High!

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After a week of manual labor working construction on one of our churches, the team came over for pizza and a dance party fusion. We invited a Peruvian couple from one of our churches to demonstrate and teach some classic Latin American dances and the team demonstrated some of their “American” dance moves:-).  A fun end to a great week!

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Pray for this team as they travel back to Memphis through the night tonight!

The Baker Song

This week we sadly said goodbye to the Baker family as they left Peru to spend a year and a half in the U.S. on Home Missionary Assignment.  They are some of our closest friends, so it was hard to see them go.  As a way to say goodbye our family wrote/sang a 2nd rendition  of “The Baker Song”.

 

 

Freezing Time

2:45p.m. Had a blast yesterday taking pictures of the Ellison family.  A beautiful and interesting family in their beautiful and interesting beach community, Huanchaco, Peru.

                                        I love how they are “living on misson”, or living out the Gospel, right where God chose to place their home. 

Pray for Allen as he travels

Allen left today to go the U.S. for a couple of weeks.  He will be attending a pastor’s conference, preaching, visiting some friends and supporting churches and speaking at his sending Presbytery.  I would appreciate your prayers as he travels across several states and that he would have a fruitful and refreshing time.  You could pray for me as well as I hold down the fort here in Trujillo.  I will have a busy schedule with several photography projects, school events, hosting our missional cell group and a short term team, a tennis tournament banquet and keeping up with 4 busy girls!  I will sure miss my best friend and the girls will miss their Daddy!!

Meet Anastasia Kharchenko

Most know that I am a player and fan of tennis, always have been.  When we moved to Peru, I thought that would be one of the sacrifices I would have to make to live here and follow God’s call.  To my surprise, the house and neighborhood God provided for our family almost 7  years ago was across the street from a club with 10 beautiful clay tennis courts and a group of ladies just waiting to befriend me on the courts.  I am still amazed at how God knew me so well and provided in a way that only he could.  God didn’t have to do that, but He did, in His good plan.

My tennis club has recently began opening it’s doors to  professional tournaments, bringing in players from all over the world.  This past week, they held their second ITF professional women’s tournament and I enjoyed joining my tennis friends watching some great matches.  The winner of the last tournament was back to defend her title this time, a Ukrainian girl named Anastasia Kharchenko.  She stood out to me in the last tournament because she was so controlled, calm and focused as she made winning the tournament look so easy.  This past Monday, our paths crossed at the club and she mentioned that she was staying in a hotel across town, alone, no coach or teammates  and she spoke very little Spanish.  My heart went out to her and I quickly forgot that we were tired after having 5 weeks straight of house guest.  She eagerly accepted my offer to reside in our guest room.  And that’s where our friendship began.

Anastasia’s first night in our home, she told us her life story, her Christian testimony and how God has rescued her in so many ways.

“Coming from a poor financial background in Ukraine, Ana rose to the top of Ukraine’s junior tennis scene reaching #1 G18s.  She also reach #5 in Europe in G16s.  Then the sponsorship money ended… actually it was stolen.  She put her rackets in the closet and was ready to on with her young life.  Then a talent scout from the USA found her and brought her to a newly formed tennis academy.  The situation was pretty bad, though.  Ana slept on a bare hardwood floor. There was little food.  One by one all the players left as the academy went bankrupt. Ana was invited to train at another local tennis academy.  She accepted, but the situation went from bad to worse as different abuses were heaped on Ana by two coaches. The ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team journeyed to Juarez, Mexico, where they saw Anastasia in a very difficult circumstance.  Ana then escaped her abusive situation as ICTA flew her to Florida and offered her help.  A short month later, during ICTA Discipleship Training,  Ana became a Christian.  She believes God came to find her in Juarez, Mexico.  Her testimony has inspired thousands….Ask Ana what her goal in life is and she will tell you two things… #1. Reach top 100 WTA (she is currently 488 in the world), and #2 tell people about Jesus. She knows the better she becomes as a pro player the larger her platform to share her faith will be”. (taken from her coaches,Scott Paschal,  blog)
 

We were certainly blessed and inspired with her stay in our home and we hope we cross paths again.  Our prayers go with Anastasia as she continues her journey around the world on the pro tennis circuit.  May her gifts and talents help bring many lost souls to Jesus Christ!

(The girls trying to impress Ana with their Wii tennis skills. . .)

I love how God providential crossed our paths, a North American family living in South America and a Ukrainian girl traveling the world, only God could do this.  Missionaries helping and inspiring other missionaries.

*photo credit for the first 2 action pictures: Jose Salcedo Z