NEWS & EVENTS
Dordt College News
Dordt College students spent spring break doing mission work
March 26, 2012
Over 130 students from Dordt College spent their spring break serving others throughout the U.S. and Canada by participating in PLIA (Putting Love Into Action). Groups of eight to 10 students traveled to one of 15 locations including Argentine, Kansas; Carmel, New York; Inez, Kentucky; Cincinnati, Ohio; Denver, Colorado; Atlanta, Georgia; Neon, Kentucky; New Orleans, Louisiana; Cary, Mississippi; Bozeman, Montana; Las Vegas, Nevada; Camden, New Jersey; Shiprock, New Mexico; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Toronto, Canada.
The goal of PLIA is to share Christ’s love with people in diverse communities; to challenge participants to adopt a more service-oriented lifestyle; and to assist and encourage the growth of ministry centers with which they work.
The Argentine team fixed up the house where they were staying, cleaned up an abandoned community center, and hosted a free garage sale. In addition to the work, the group was able to explore Monkey Mountain and an old abandoned miner’s cave.
“This was my third time on PLIA, and if I wasn’t graduating, I would totally go again because it is an awesome way to spend spring break, growing in faith, meeting new people, serving God, and traveling to different places,” said senior Rachel Endicott of Pequot Lakes, Minnesota. “This trip was different than the others I had been on. It gave me a great chance to interact with a community and gave me a new perspective on those living in the city.”
Ten students spent the break in Atlanta working primarily at a school by assisting teachers with whatever projects they needed help with. They also worked at a camp called God’s Farm doing more manual labor.
For many students, volunteering on PLIA is more than a week-long service project; it is a spark that ignites a passion for life-long service. This was true for sophomore Jesse Anderson of Fremont, Nebraska, who “learned how valuable it is to make an effort to give back in your own community. I plan to make an effort to volunteer a lot more of my time to others now.”
Amid the breathtaking mountainous landscape of Bozeman, nine volunteers participated in Love Inc., painting their newly renovated church building, delivering furniture to those in need, and working in the office and warehouse.
Working so closely with a church inspired the team to see that churches have a role to play in making social change. The PLIA experience “opened my eyes to the different needs in a community and what amazing things churches can do to meet those needs if they work together,” said junior Chelsea Gross of Gilbert, Arizona.
Camden, New Jersey
The volunteers who went to Camden worked with large group of inner city kids in a week-long Olympics camp. They also spent time at a Catholic AIDS relief shelter called Francis House where they cleaned, organized, weeded, and shared the love of God with people with HIV and/or AIDS.
“The Francis House strives to educate as many people as possible about the lies and inaccurate judgments people have about AIDS,” said senior Kristen Janssen.
“PLIA taught me that as a Christian, putting love into action isn’t something we need to do only on spring break trips. As Christians, putting love into action should be an occurrence that happens everywhere all the time because God showed us how to love first by loving us enough to sacrifice his own Son’s life for us. Putting love into action means striving to demonstrate and share as great a love as God has for us with all people.”
Carmel, New York
The Carmel group worked in the Bronx, feeding the homeless and playing music in churches. They also led a kid’s club where children came for music, story time, and a puppet show.
For senior Laura Schrotenboer, of Sunnyside, Wisconsin, this was her fourth and final PLIA experience, and her third time leading a team. Handing out pamphlets and talking about Jesus with people walking by was a new experience, but one that left a profound impact. “While some people were receptive, we also encountered anger, were spit at, cursed at, mocked, or ignored. Yet those few that wanted to hear what we had to say, asked questions, or asked for prayer made the whole experience worth it,” she said. “We saw people come to Christ for the first time, gave children their first Bibles, prayed with families, individuals, and kids.”
Nine students who went to Cary, Mississippi, did construction, remodeled the inside of a home, accompanied a social worker on a house visit, and helped lead a prenatal class on health and nutrition.
Junior Jon Luetchens of Murdock, Nebraska, said of his experience, “The Bible says that even the gifts we are given are useless unless love is involved. Therefore, not only did the trip remind me of the power of love, but I was also delighted to spread the love to others who, sadly, may not have experienced much of it before.”
The Cincinnati team grouted floors, worked in the community garden, screened t-shirts. “It was so fulfilling to see tasks being accomplished,” said sophomore Rachel Mulder of Blaine, Minnesota. “Our team worked really well together, and we got along so well.”
Members of the Denver group painted houses and worked with Denver Rescue Mission where they served lunch to homeless people and those working at the mission.
“I was challenged to love actively and to remain ‘on mission’ even after PLIA ended,” said freshman Lauren Opp of Garner, Iowa. “I am focusing on serving God and others here at Dordt and on not letting PLIA be one of those spiritual-high experiences that fades away once everyday life starts up again. I want to love in action and in truth even when school seems tedious and activities pile up.”
Las Vegas, Nevada
“In ‘Sin City’ it was easy to see the brokenness and hurting, but we looked deeper and found hope,” said sophomore Kelli Longman of Lennox, South Dakota, of her group’s trip to Las Vegas. The group of eight partnered with the Las Vegas Rescue Mission where they worked in the kitchen, served meals to residents and the homeless, and led church activities for children ages four to 10.
For Longman, the trip was a mission project that also helped solidify a calling. “The PLIA trip really made me realize that even in the darkest places God’s light shines. It was solidified for me that God is calling me to work in an inner city.”
New Orleans, Louisiana
The New Orleans team saw instantly that the city is full of life. “The city definitely had its own unique personality, and you could feel it in the air, hear it in the music, and taste it in the coffee and beignets,” said freshman Kelsey Sederstrom of Mesa, Arizona.
The team worked with the Touch Global organization that sent them on daily prayer walks where they went to different neighborhoods and prayed with homeless people and others they met along the way. They also deconstructed a house that rotted in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
For freshman Courtney Bjorklund of Buffalo, Minnesota, the hard work of PLIA was worth it. “It was my first time going on PLIA, and I cannot wait to do it again! I had an amazing time, and it was definitely my best spring break so far.”
Shiprock, New Mexico
Economic conditions on the Navajo Indian Reservation of Shiprock are extremely difficult, with 50 percent of the residents unemployed and 40 percent of the homes without running water.
The PLIA team of nine installed trailer skirting around a mobile home, cleaned the church, pruned trees, rebuilt a chicken coop, and helped with the Cadet pinewood derby races.
As a graduating senior, this was New Sharon, Iowa, native Kurt Franje’s fourth and final PLIA trip. “This PLIA trip provided another opportunity to see the brokenness in our world. At the same time, we were able to be channels of God’s love by putting love into action. When the hurt of the world and God’s love meet his faithfulness shines through.”
“This was my first PLIA experience, and I can’t believe I waited until my senior year to go on PLIA. I never knew what I was missing out on!” said senior Kelly Smies from Oostburg, Wisconsin, of her trip with a group of 10 to Toronto. The group worked with a church and helped run a Vacation Bible School for five and six-year-olds and shared the love of God with several homeless people.
The experience reminded freshman Tanner Brasser from Buena Vista, Colorado, of the power of love. “I was reminded how important it is to love all those you come in contact with. The language of love is one of the most universal languages and is fairly difficult to misinterpret. To put others first is a Christian principle that can easily be overlooked in a fast-paced, busy environment,” he said.
Because of its commitment to service, Dordt College has been named an honor roll member by the President’s Higher Education community Service Honor Roll. Learn more about service projects that Dordt College is involved in at www.dordt.edu/campus_life/service_projects.