REMOTE, BUT GOD IS THERE, TOO!
When I was a travel agent in the mid-70s, a colleague of mine was president of the Travel Agents Association in Iowa. During his term, he arranged a trip through the national airline of Chile, Lan Chile, for travel agents to visit Chile and Easter Island. I had always wanted to go to Easter Island, and so I went!
The country of Chile had been under the communist dictator, Salvador Allende. A coup by the Chilean army had overthrown him the year before we made the trip. The military led by General Augusto Pinochet took over, and he established an anti-communist military dictatorship. It was in this setting that our group visited Chile.
In the capital city, Santiago, we stayed at the Sheraton Hotel located just a block from the palace where the coup had occurred. After touring other areas of Chile, we then flew nearly 2,300 miles west to Easter Island. Easter Island got its name because it was discovered on Easter Sunday by Dutch explorers in 1722.
Easter Island is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It is about half-way between the country of Chile on the South American continent and the islands of Tahiti. It is very remote, and at that the time of our visit there were only four flights per week to Easter Island from Santiago. If the winds prevented a plane from landing on the island, the flight was forced to fly on another 2,500 miles to Tahiti.
We spent an extremely interesting few days on Easter Island, which was then governed by the country of Chile. It is the only place I have ever traveled where both bartering and/or cash were accepted by the locals for purchases!
One of my hobbies is to collect trinkets wherever I travel, and on Easter Island a wooden carving with hieroglyphics (like pictographs) called a Rongorongo board fascinated me. The carved images are shaped like humans, animals, plants, and geometric forms, each about one centimeter high. There have been numerous attempts to decipher their meaning since their discovery in the late 19th century, but to no avail. The locals have replicas for sale. The first quote I received was $45, and I thought that was too much. After some bargaining I ended up trading my $2 used flight bag for it! The souvenir of the Rongorongo board is among my most treasured travel trinkets.
Under the communists inflation in Chile had been extremely high. It was still running several 100% per year, so we travelers cashed only about $10 in the morning and another $10 in the afternoon!
Previously to this time, the Catholic church had required Mass to be done in Latin. However, a few years before I made this trip, Catholics began to allow Mass in the local language. Easter Island was so remote that It took several more years before the decision allowing Mass in the local language reached Easter Island. The Sunday we were there, the local church gave its first service in the local language! In one of GOD’S OTHER WAYS©. He brought His Word to the people of remote Easter Island in the language the inhabitants could readily understand.
One more event occurred during the trip that is forever indelibly carved into my memory. One night I walked about 100 yards away from the our hotel. It was pitch black - nearly as dark as it would be if you went in a closet and closed the door. It was so dark, I could not see my own feet!
But, when I looked up into the night sky, I could see a “cloud of stars” - so many stars that I could not see a single star - only what can be best described as a “cloud of stars”! The beauty of God’s creation reminded me once again that I serve a BIG GOD.
A few years later my son and I made a father-son trip to New Mexico. One night on that trip I again viewed the brilliance of the stars in the heavens (above the equator we see different stars). Too many to count. But, I will never forget that cloud of stars above the remoteness of Easter Island. In the remotest of nowhere, God is everywhere!
Am I a God who is only close at hand?” says the Lord. “No, I am far away at the same time. Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the Lord. Jeremiah 23:23-24