Pathfinders from the Maranatha Adventist dig deep to plant a coconut tree on the shores of Tortola island in the Caribbean, on May 27, 2019. The initiative saw the youngsters and church members planting dozens trees donated by the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board officials in efforts to beautify the beaches after Hurricane Irma struck in 2017. Photo courtesy of Maranatha Adventist Church

June 26, 2019 | St. Croix, US Virgin Islands | NCC Staff/IAD News Staff

Members of the Maranatha Seventh-day Adventist Church on the Caribbean Island of Tortola recently planted dozens of coconut trees along the shores in an efforts to beautify their island after Hurricane Irma hit hard in 2017. Pathfinders, leaders and the church’s community services plant 69 trees on the Trellis Bay, Beff Island and Josiah Bay in British Virgin islands late last month.

Khoy Smith, pathfinder counselor and deputy community services leader at the Maranatha Adventist Church, said he shared a vision with the pathfinder club and membership to embark on a project to replenish the shorelines with coconut trees a few months ago.  Pathfinders and members of the church began collecting coconut trees.

Shortly after, the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board’s officials announced that they would be receiving coconut trees and were seeking community partners to plant the trees along the beaches. “This announcement seemed like divine intervention as it was just what we needed and the time was just right,” said Smith.

Pathfinders worked together wearing their pathfinder shirts during the coconut planting initiative in Tortola. Photo courtesy of Maranatha Adventist Church

The 21 pathfinders and volunteer members have been monitoring and watering the trees regularly each week in coordination with several business that have agreed to assist, said Sheriece Creque, Pathfinder director for the Maranatha Adventist Church.

“Our community partners were excited about the idea of restoring vegetation along the shoreline and enjoyed the sense of pride that was expressed by the youth as they worked,” said Creque. “Many expressed gratitude for the effort of the group as the trees immediately uplifted the atmosphere and provided a renewed sense of hope.

“Even though it was hard work, it was fun work,” said Pathfinder Drae Smith.

Group from the Maranatha Adventist Church in Tortola hold coconut trees to plant during first day of planting on May 27, 2019. Photo courtesy of Maranatha Adventist Church

“We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to our environment and community in such a meaningful way,” said 14-year-old Pathfinder Shaundre Smith. “We will continue to seek opportunities to give back to our community to be a positive witness as Christian Adventist youth.”

“This project taught our youth about being community minded, giving back in a way that will have a lasting impact, about sharing their faith with others by explaining the activity and a growing opportunity to partner with government agency and several other community members,” explained Creque.  “Most importantly, [pathfinders] were able to step out in faith with this project and the Heavenly Father provided more trees than we had imagined or would be able to collect on our own.”

Shaundre Smith contributed to this report.

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