The first Adventist Volunteer Service (AVS) Meeting of the South American Division was held in Goiás, Brazil. The event, themed "UNLOCKING," emphasized "further increasing the quality of the preparation and sending of volunteers, giving them emotional support and preparing them for their return home," according to Pastor Dieter Bruns, AVS director for the South American Division.
In attendance were 16 executive secretaries and 15 AVS coordinators from the 16 South American unions, as well as 8 special guests. Altogether, they created spaces for conversation, seminars, cross-cultural immersion dynamics that will improve the volunteers’ preparation, and emotional support during and after the service.
For this event, Pastor Elbert Kuhn, associate secretary of the General Conference, spoke about unlocking the power of the church to send volunteers and urged attendees to improve and bring new ideas for the preparation and reception of the volunteers.
Lucas Muñoz, director of AVS at the Adventist University of La Plata, emphasized that "this event was of great importance because it not only united us as a team, as a family, but also linked us with the purposes we have, not only at the institutional level, union or division, but of the world church.”
Muñoz added, “Being able to share the methods and tools with which different coordinators implement in different realities allows us to work, also adding the experience of others, in that way, creating a network that seeks not only the sending of volunteers around the world but also the increasingly professional preparation and sending in an organized way, attending to the global needs that the church faces at this time."
This first meeting was focused primarily for the AVS coordinators, as they are directly involved in the preparation, sending, and receiving of volunteers in and out of South America. "The objective of a meeting like this is to strengthen the work we do with the preparation of volunteers. We dream that this first meeting can mark a new stage in the organization, focus, and development of this important area for the AVS," said Pastor Edward Heidinger, executive secretary of the South American Division and one of the speakers during the event.
Pastor Bruno Raso, vice president of the division, participated in Mission Refocus, emphasizing how Adventist Volunteer Service can contribute to the development of the different projects within this initiative.
"For me, this first meeting was extremely important, as I left very motivated, and I hope we will have many more. It was very useful to see what the other camps are doing and to be able to exchange ideas with other coordinators; that is really very inspiring. I want to thank [them] for all the investment and performance that was made for this event," said Gabriela Rodrigues, AVS coordinator for the Northwest Brazil Union.