Olivet students use gifts and skills to serve in Haiti

This team of eight Olivet engineering, nursing and education majors had only one week to make a difference in the lives of native Haitians and the missionaries who serve them.

March 28, 2018 Uncategorized

Imagine worshiping in the dark. Or pumping your water by hand. Or having a school with no light switches or power outlets. Or feeling your jaw lock because of tetanus. The Missions In Action (M.I.A.) team of Olivet Nazarene University students encountered all that — and more — when they served in Gwo Cheval, Haiti, during spring break 2018.

This team of eight engineering, nursing and education majors had only one week to make a difference in the lives of native Haitians and the missionaries who serve them. Led by Professor Allen Young of the Walker School of Engineering and Mary Schweigert ’14 F.N.P., family nurse practitioner in the David L. Elwood Center for Student Success, they did hands-on work while sharing the gospel with great love.

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First project: Solar power to replace a gas-powered generator being used to provide electricity for a church, school and kitchen buildings. 

Jesse and Kristen (Roberts) ’11 B.S.N. Lancour are the lead missionaries for Cornerstone Church Haiti in Gwo Cheval. They welcomed the knowledge, skills and energy of Professor Young; Brad Fitzgerald, a senior engineering major with a concentration in electrical engineering; Drew Davis, a junior engineering major with a concentration in architectural engineering; and Ray Marquez, a junior engineering major with a concentration in electrical engineering. 

Jesse had already designed the solar power system and ordered all the parts. Working together, he and the team mounted nine solar panels on the buildings’ roofs. 

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They installed a control panel to convert solar energy to 120 AC power; ran the necessary conduit and wiring; and installed outlets, switches and lights inside the buildings.

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“Now, the people can gather at night with the lights on,” Brad says. “Before, they would meet in the dark or with only one light. The children, ages two to six, and their teachers have electricity in their classrooms.”

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“Sometimes the people didn’t have gas to power the generator,” Ray says. “Now, they have electricity whenever they need it.”

“People go to a community basin to collect rainwater for use in their homes,” Mary adds. “Now, there’s an electric pump there, the only one in the entire community. They don’t have to pump their water by hand anymore.”

Second project: Assisting missionaries at a medical clinic. 

“We traveled 25 minutes by motorcycle on a dirt road to reach the clinic,” says Eunice Perez, a junior nursing major. “When we arrived, people were already waiting in line to be seen and helped. Some had walked an hour and a half to get there.”

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Working together, Eunice, Mary and senior nursing major Amanda Doherty took vital signs and administered pregnancy tests.

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While there, they encountered a three-year-old girl suffering from tetanus due to a machete injury on her head and a man with a fractured skull due to a fall from his horse. The girl was airlifted by helicopter to receive care in the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

“This was a huge learning opportunity for us,” Eunice says. “We met people and saw conditions we would probably never encounter in the U.S. But the spiritual poverty is an even greater challenge than the physical poverty.” 

“You hear about conditions in other countries all the time, but it’s very different to go and experience life there,” Brad says. “The people kept talking about the sacrifices we made to come and help them. They were so grateful.”

“Investing your time to go there and represent God is what God wants us to do,” Ray says. “God wants us to build community.”

Eunice adds: “I learned that you can make a lasting impact in a week.”

Students serving on this M.I.A. team were: Eunice; Amanda; Brad; Ray; Drew; Courtney Speaks, a sophomore education major; Julia Fitzgerald, a junior education major; and Celeste Hannay, a freshman youth ministry major.

To learn more about Missions In Action and other service opportunities for Olivet students, contact the Office of Admissions at admissions@olivet.edu or 800-648-1463.


Photos submitted by Missions In Action team

Published: 3/28/2018

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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