Land across the sea

By: Mary Virginia Stabler


It doesn’t take long to figure out what Olivia Cushing is passionate about. If you miss the

decorative T-shirts, you might notice the artwork that fills her room, or the pictures that flood her social media. And if all of that gets past you, simply ask her about her necklace.

Her delicate, silver Africa-shaped pendant catches the light as well as the interest of

others, sparking conversation that Cushing uses to convey her excitement about Africa. Sophomore Loren Leath claims that it is one of the first things she noticed about Cushing.


“Her Africa necklace got us talking about her passion for mission work, which was one

of the things that brought us together,” Leath said.


Cushing’s heart for Africa began at a young age as her mother traveled to Africa for

multiple mission trips.


“Throughout my middle school years, my mom took many trips to Senegal with small

groups from my church, and through her experiences and stories, I began to fall in love with the

land across the sea,” Cushing said.


However, when it was her turn to go to Africa, her parents weren’t on board. Her parents said no due to the money it would take to go overseas and the risk that she would have as a young girl. Her parents were hesitate because Cushing would be among the first church group with students under the age of 18.


Through persistence and prayer, Cushing eventually made the trip anyway.


“Through months of prayer and listening to God, my parents came to the decision that if I felt that God was leading me to go to Senegal, it was not their place to stand in my way,” Cushing said. “The following months were filled with fundraising and reaching out to friends and

family for help through both finances and prayers.”


One trip wasn’t enough, however, and it was on her second trip to Senegal that Cushing

bought her Africa-shaped necklace. When she and her teammates wandered around a market, Cushing knew she couldn’t leave without the pendant, which she now claims gives her a piece of Senegal wherever she goes.