A group of 18 Olivet students were part of a landmark mission trip to the island country of Cuba in the Caribbean, March 2 to 10, 2013. Rev. Robert Prescott, missionary to Cuba for the Church of the Nazarene, escorted the team throughout their visit and served as the logistical coordinator and interpreter. Nancy (Jividen) Dodd ’11 of Olivet’s Office of Spiritual Development and Rev. Randy Dodd, senior pastor of Chicago Heights Church of the Nazarene, served as team leaders.
Endorsed by the Church of the Nazarene, this missionary team of students and leaders visited and ministered at the following churches: Alquizar, Catalina de Guines, La Catalina, Parcelacion Moderna, Mantilla, el Seminario, El Jaguey, La Ceiba and Cayo la Rosa.
This team funded a project at the Alquizar church and volunteered physical labor to help launch the work. Team members also conducted two Bible school events, which impacted approximately 200 children in the communities. They led English as a second language (ESL) classes at the Nazarene Seminary, the Bible schools and the church in Pinar del Rio.
During their time in Cuba, team members experienced an unprecedented opportunity. They were granted permission to visit three wards of critically ill patients at a government children’s hospital. They received clearance to give gifts to the children and even pray with them. At the conclusion of the visit, they also received permission to pray with five of the doctors on staff.
On a walking tour of old Havana, they briefly studied the culture and history of this communist nation. Stops included a visit to the cavernous, 265-year-old Catedral de San Cristobal in the heart of the city, where they paused to sing the “Doxology” together.
Many worship events shared with the local youth, in cooperation with Nazarene Youth International under the leadership of NYI President Pérez Salazar Loysbel, were a significant highlight of the trip. In a symphony of intermingled Spanish and English, praise and the sharing of testimonies resonated from these gatherings of young people. In a true Cuban version of Latin culture, the worship events included reverberating drums, brilliant brass, stringed instruments and lively movement.
Student members of the team included:
Kellee Cousins (senior, Saint Charles, Ill.)
Nate Ferris (junior, Bourbonnais, Ill.)
Robby Gaines (junior, Olathe, Kan.)
Libby Ganz-Sarto (sophomore, Dayton, Ohio)
Tyler Gill (sophomore, Plainfield, Ill.)
Mary Hall (junior, Maryland Heights, Mo.)
Jordan Hansen (senior, Shorewood, Ill.)
Jordan Hedge (senior, Champaign, Ill.)
Alyssa Keuther (sophomore, Marshfield, Mass.)
Rachel Lenger (senior, Byron Center, Mich.)
Seth Major (senior, Hoffman Estates, Ill.)
Kristin Nichols (junior, Wood Dale, Ill.)
Kimberly Powers (senior, Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Kyle Reopelle (sophomore, Elgin, Ill.)
Kyle Shelton (junior, Anderson, Ind.)
Lamica Simmons (sophomore, Vicksburg, Mich.)
Molly Stephens (junior, Urbandale, Iowa)
Thelma Torres (sophomore, Elmwood Park, Ill.).