Like more than 300 of her Hope College peers, sophomore Kristen Borst of Jenison will be spending spring break on a mission.

          Borst will spend the vacation participating in a
  mission trip to Queens, N.Y., one of more than 20 spring
  break service trips that together involve more than 10
  percent of the Hope student body.  Her decision to take part
  this year follows her positive experience during last year's
  mission trip to Honduras.
          "Last year was probably one of the best
  experiences of my life," she said.  "I learned more from the
  people of Honduras than I ever expected."  It is testimonies
  like this that keep the number of trips rising each year.
          "I've always wanted to go on a mission trip," said
  freshman Heather Verbeke, of Yale, who will be heading west
  to Apache, Okla.  "When visiting Hope last year, I was told
  about the mission trip program, and I have been counting on
  doing a trip for a long time.  When the opportunity came up,
  there was no doubt in my mind."
          The trips are a decades-long tradition at Hope,
  but it is in recent years that participation has exploded.
  According to Lori Fair, who is director of student outreach
  at Hope, the number of trips organized by the college's
  Campus Ministries Office has climbed from two trips six
  years ago to 19 involving approximately 275 students this
          In addition, 24 students will be traveling with
  associate professor of kinesiology Dr. Steven Smith to
  Jamaica, and approximately 10 students will be going to
  South Carolina with the college's chapter of Habitat for
          The trips will occur during the college's spring
  break, which runs Friday, March 17, through Sunday, March
          The Campus Ministries office organizes student-led
  trips to various locations in the United States and Latin
          Five of the Campus Ministries trips will involve
  urban ministry.  The Center for Student Missions in
  Washington, D.C., will be the home for Hope students as they
  work in soup kitchens, serve in shelters and interact with
  local residents.  In Nashville, Tenn., student opportunities
  include working with kids, the elderly and the homeless, and
  at a food bank.  Those going to Newark, N.J., will be
  involved with serving the urban poor by leading Bible clubs,
  tutoring children, renovation projects and assisting with
  retail training.  Traveling across the country to Hawaiian
  Gardens, Calif., students will be working with "The Way Out
  Ministries" distributing flyers, working with youth,
  performing street dramas and running after-school programs.
  Queens, N.Y., will be home to students as they experience
  many facets of urban ministry, including evangelism, social
  justice and physical labor.
          Another five of the trips will focus on ministry
  in a rural area, all through the Coalition for Appalachian
  Ministry.  Gap Mills, W.Va., home of the Psalm 23 Camp, will
  allow participants to perform maintenance and repair work on
  the camp property as well as low-income and elderly homes in
  the community.  Working with houses and children will be a
  focus for the students going to Harlan, Ky.  In Dungannon,
  Va., students will work with community members to work on
  home repair and maintenance.  For those going to Walker,
  Ky., a mid-wife and farm project operation awaits.  A farm
  that provides shelter and rehabilitation for the recovering
  addicted, abused and homeless will become home for Hope
  students participating in the trip to Loysville, Pa.
          A third type of domestic trip enables students to
  interact with those of a different culture.  In Apache,
  Okla., participants will interact with Native Americans of
  every age and interact using drama, music, construction,
  crafts and group dynamics.  Refugees to the United States
  make their home at Jubilee Partners in Comer, Ga., and
  students traveling there will paint, garden, teach English
  and learn about the refugees.  Students going to Dulac, La.,
  will find maintenance and construction projects in the
  predominantly Native American community, and may also lead a
  Bible school.  The Spencer Perkins Center in Jackson, Miss.,
  trains urban leaders to love and express God's love to young
          Five groups of Hope students will head to Latin
  America this year.  The group traveling to Honduras will
  interact with residents in the capital city of Tegucigalpa,
  and spend time on school construction through Worldwide
  Christian Schools.  Students will be working with Mexico
  Caravan Ministries in Tijuana, Mexico, assisting and
  interacting with the urban poor.  The cultural experience of
  Chiapas, Mexico, will absorb Hope students into the lives of
  the indigenous people, while also allowing for hands-on
  projects.  Hope students who are members of the Young Life
  ministry in Holland will spend time with the Young Life
  family in the Dominican Republic, assisting with projects
  and working with children and young adults.  And in a first-
  time trip for the college, there will be a medical
  missionary trip to Sigsig, Ecuador, where students pursuing
  the medical field will be assisting physicians with basic
  patient needs.
          About 10 students involved in Hope's chapter of
  Habitat for Humanity will travel to Sumter, S.C., to engage
  in home construction and interact with those whose homes
  they will help build.  The chapter has participated in
  several trips since its founding in 1993.
          For the fourth straight year, a group of Hope
  students and Dr. Smith will be working on buildings on the
  campus of the Caribbean Christian Center for the Deaf in
  Montego Bay, Jamaica.
          The mission for the students participating in the
  spring break service trips is clear:  to serve those in
  need.  But at the same time, the trips are recognized as a
  chance for those going to grow and experience life in a new
  and unique setting.
          "First of all, I hope to be a servant for the
  people of Apache," Verbeke said.  "I hope to bring them some
  of the love and joy that I've experienced.  Second, I hope
  that all of us on the trip will be changed and come back a
  stronger person in Christ."