Sydney Brummel – Staff Writer
While most students continue in their studies and look forward to Thanksgiving break in less than three weeks, one group of students is working hard in preparation for another, more distant break.
Putting Love Into Action (PLIA) is an annual service trip in which students travel in groups to fourteen or more sites across the United States during spring break. On this trip, students have an opportunity to serve for a week, whether it be in the form of yard work, caring for children, or sharing the gospel.
Junior Janaya Hirsch summed up the trip by saying, “This is not on our own strength; it is on [God’s]. Putting Love Into Action is putting Christ’s love into action.”
Hirsch is the junior co-chair of the PLIA committee. She, her fellow co-chairs, and the rest of the committee have been spending a great amount of time making plans for this year’s PLIA trips.
“We have a meeting every month where we plan things for the next month and things that we need to get done,” Sarah Holmberg, sophomore co-chair, said. “We already have to plan a lot of stuff…making a theme, doing devotions, and making the T-shirt ideas.”
The PLIA committee has also been considering matters such as funding and the locations of the sites.
“For over five years, we’ve been going to some of these sites,” Hirsch said, “so we’re building that relationship and keeping that connection, praying for them.”
All this planning promises to make a memorable PLIA experience for many students.
Senior Micah Kooiman has gone on PLIA two times, first to Mendenhall, MS and second to Panama City, FL. While he described his experiences as completely different, he shared that they were both very positive in their own ways.
“The first time we went, it was really cool to build relationships with people in that community,” Kooiman said. “The organization we worked with was really welcoming.”
On his first trip, Kooiman and his team focused on helping an educational organization with renovating a building and prepping for the upcoming school year. On his second trip to Panama City, Kooiman and his team served others by providing rides and engaging in conversation with people who were on spring break.
“It’s basically an opportunity to share Jesus with people every day,” Kooiman said. “We got to see people come to Christ and be able to connect them to a local church as well as other believers in that area.”
The experiences that Kooiman shared and the work that he engaged in are a sample of what a student might enjoy on their own PLIA trip. Each site has its own story along with its unique needs and goals.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s probably one of the most rewarding things, to be able to go on PLIA,” Hirsch said. “Lives are changed when you go on these things.”
Apart from the promised social and spiritual growth, a PLIA trip is surprisingly inexpensive. Applying by first deadline costs students only $75 while the final deadline fee is $95.
If students are looking for a productive, fulfilling, and affordable way to spend spring break of 2020, they are encouraged by not only the PLIA committee, but also past team members to consider signing up for the trip.
“Since we’re on Dordt’s campus, you spend a lot of time in community with one another, but we don’t necessarily get to serve outside of our own community,” Holmberg said. “It’s another good way to just take a week apart from yourself and serve.”
“There’s not a lot of ways that you can spend spring break that will be as much fun as PLIA and as great of an opportunity to see God working in a different part of the country,” Kooiman said. “You get to build relationships with people from Dordt…[and] show other people love in a very tangible way. And God moves during that time.”
Opportunities for students to learn more about PLIA are quickly approaching. Any student interested in leading a team is encouraged to attend the Leaders’ Meeting, which will be held in SB 1606 on November 20 at 9 p.m. Or, if a student is simply interested in going on the trip as a participant, they are welcome to attend the Mass Meeting on December 4, 9 p.m., in SB 1606.
“Get excited. Pray about it,” Hirsch said. “See what the Lord has in store for you if that is PLIA…We’re expectant, and we’re ready.”