Zachary Sanford–Staff Writer
Putting Love Into Action—or PLIA, as it’s better known—is a spring break mission trip for Dordt students to various locations across North America. Dordt organizes eight to ten trips, with around eight students in each team. This year, they travelled to sites including Mississippi, Georgia, Arizona, Texas and more.
“It was completely different from what I expected,” junior Micah Kooiman said. “We listened to people’s testimonies in this broken community. We were there to work, but the city also wanted us to learn about racism, that it still exists.”
Kooiman and his group of eight traveled to Mendenhall, Miss. His group worked on painting houses, refurnishing furniture and cleaning up around the town. In the evenings, they exchanged testimonies and listened to the people of the town.
Mendenhall, is a community where racism is still a problem. A railroad track splits the mixed community in half. People from the town are very aware of the situation and are taking steps to change the way the town used to be.
“On the last night, one person’s testimony really summed up the whole trip,” Kooiman said. “She said ‘When Jesus died on the cross His blood was red, not black, not white’, and that really stood out to me. It was really eye opening for me to see this as they said: ‘a heart problem,’ not a society problem.”
Another place PLIA sent students was Georgia. The first part of the trip took place in the inner city of Atlanta. The group of eight students spent the day hanging out with kids at school and in the park.
“We helped lead the class and do homework,” junior Ben Tiemersma said. “We went to a park and talked to the kids. This was unique because many of these kids come from rough homes. We got to connect with them on a personal level.”
The team spent most of their time at a God’s Farm, a summer camp. It lies an hour out of Atlanta in Temple, where the students prepared a farm-ish experience. God’s Farm is a farm geared to spread the basics of the gospel to kids while letting them experiencing farm life. The goal of the non-profit organization is to provide simple work and analogies from the Bible.
“It was the simple things that connected with these kids,” Tiemersma said. “We used the simple comparisons like fishers-of-men when we went fishing and other stories. These kids don’t have good family lives and it has to be something that we can talk about. Many of them don’t come from Christian backgrounds.”
Sophomore Kylie Shea, said it was cool to be with a small group of people. “This allowed for our small knit group to really grow together and build strong relationships,” Shea said. “We have already had dinner together twice since the trip and got back three nights ago. It was incredible to hear members in our team share their testimony. They were vulnerable with us and we got to speak truth and pray over each person after they shared their story.”
The team helped Larry, the man who started the camp, in preparation for the summer. The Grand Cabin, a building at the camp, is a place for the kids to meet when it is too hot or chilly for outdoor activities. The PLIA team trimmed, painted, cleaned, etched and painted floors and worked on the roof of the Grand Cabin. Part of the team even helped to build a ropes course.
PLIA also sent students to Colorado City, Ariz., a community with a large Mormon population.
“The whole town is a cult,” freshman Brandon Lesondak said. “We stayed in a bed and breakfast and didn’t see anybody the first day. The people in the town are really in their own world.” Polygamy is part of their religion as well as anything their prophet Warren Jeffs says.”
“[Our host] Brody is the first missionary who ever moved into the town,” he said. “We didn’t have a lot of chances to talk to the locals. We did some yard work, built a deck and unloaded some furniture for the local church.