Each summer Olivet students, faculty and staff travel the world through different academic- and mission-based programs. Exploring varied cultures and connecting with new people not only enriches participants’ Olivet experience but enhances their view of the Kingdom.
Chloe Nagi, Papua New Guinea
From shadowing and working alongside missionary doctors at the Kudjip Nazarene Hospital to assisting in surgeries and procedures and from visiting local off-station churches and clinics to worshiping and fellowshipping with people in the community, this trip provided a unique and memorable experience for graduating seniors Maggie Esparza, Andrew Wolfe, McKenna Snyder, Carsten Slaby, Kevin Williams and Chloe Nagi.
Led by Dr. Mike Pyle and his wife, Nancy Pyle, both retired professors; Dr. Nicole Vander Schaaf, assistant professor of biological sciences; and June Kalemkarian, a friend of the university, the trip gave these young alumni opportunities to serve and connect with the people of Papua New Guinea while learning and getting a glimpse of medical mission work.
“I had never witnessed a doctor pray before interacting with patients here in the U.S.,” Chloe says. “This trip has influenced the way I will practice as a future physician assistant. I had never considered that God might put certain patients in my life so that I can reflect Jesus’ compassion and wisdom to them as I treat and care for them.”
Grace Beatty, Alaska
Summer vacation started out a little bit on the chilly side for this Olivet group as they headed to Alaska to study different ecosystems. From hiking to boating, and visiting national parks and conservation centers, this trip proved to be a memorable hands-on experience for all.
“This trip really taught me about God’s faithfulness. He had his hand on the entire trip and it was so obvious in the way he showed up in creation and taught us more about the natural world,” says Grace Beatty, a junior at Olivet. “It was amazing to watch my friends get really excited about an insect, bird, or mammal and join in on their love for nature!”
Grace joined with Dr. David Hoekman, associate professor in biological sciences, Dr. Derek Rosenberger, associate professor of biological sciences, and his wife Ashely Rosenberger who is also a faculty professor, Laura Geissinger, Jared Brewer, Yolanda Dorado Cooremans, Austin Duwve, Ryan Feyen, Devin Hart, Sarah Johnson, Karly Kiogima, Haley Llyod, Henry Lopez, Daniel Love, Lexi Marshall, Marcail McBride, Meghan Peterson, Anthony Riportella, Anna Shoup, and Joel Witzig.
Dharmik Owen, Tanzania
This particular mission trip was unlike anything sophomore Dharmik Owen had ever experienced before. Dr. Leon Blanchette, professor and director of the Center for Faith & Family, and his wife, Teri, who works in the University’s Office of Student Development, served as trip leaders for the team, which included Dharmik, Braden Sackett, Elizabeth Stebbins, John Elleson, Juliana Hallbreiter and Roman Schwartz.
Simply put, the team served as the hands and feet of Jesus in Africa, joining the work that was already being done there. They focused on pastoral, youth and children’s ministry training. They sang songs, played games and even got to witness the baptisms of over 30 people during a Sunday service.
“The one thing throughout this trip that stands out to me is the power of Godly community,” Dharmik explains. “By coming together, pooling our resources and supporting one another, we were able to make a meaningful impact in the lives of others, and they in turn left an impact on us. Reflecting on this continues to inspire me to be a more compassionate and active participant in bringing the Kingdom here on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
Maori Brown, Paraguay
Technology can connect people across the world through photos, videos and storytelling. It can also be a powerful tool for sharing the Gospel. Led by Brian Utter ’81, Shine.FM station manager, and Shine.FM graduate assistant, Sarah Roberts ’22, a team of Olivet students and young alumni including Maori Brown, Reed Schroeder, Caislyn Hummel, Katie DeVries and Abby Bennet ’23 had the opportunity to teach students in Paraguay how to create media content as a way to tell others about Jesus.
“The experience was beyond what I ever could have imagined,” senior Maori Brown says. “I enjoyed seeing the students at the media camp practice what they learned after each class. I also really enjoyed playing fútbol and sharing meals with everyone, because it brought us closer and gave us time to learn each other’s language and showed that we really care to learn from and help each other.”
Dr. Charles Carrigan, Hawaiian Islands
Dr. Charles Carrigan ’96, associate professor of chemistry and geoscience, loves a good excuse to give his students memorable learning experiences off campus. What better way to explore God’s creation and the formation, modification and destruction of ocean island volcanoes than to spend some time touring the Hawaiian Islands? For Dr. Carrigan and his students, Bre Gifford ’21, Sam Turner, Ryan Feyen, Michael Yerge ’23, Jacob Baker ’23, Brooke DuFresne and Alexander Blair, this trip was an immersive, handson experience in which the group was able to observe different geological processes across different volcanoes and see different environments surrounding each one.
“Surrounded by these majestic sights, you can’t help but see how everything is connected, from stone to star to sand and sea,” Dr. Carrigan says. “Moving progressively from the youngest to older and older volcanoes, you can’t help but realize how time plays an important role in shaping the Earth’s surface.
“I think students feel what they are learning in ways that don’t occur in a traditional classroom. There’s a whole pedagogy surrounding learning in the field that shows how our minds open when taking it all in: people from all over the world working, playing, living and learning how to live together in harmony with each other and with God’s created order. Students won’t miss seeing themselves in new ways after visiting this place.”
From Olivet The Magazine, The Parent Guide – Summer 2023. Read the full issue HERE.