Next Step Ministries Summer Update

By: Emily Krueger

Summer 2017 in one word was a blessing. This blessing began to reveal itself during training week for the Next Step Ministries (NSM) Summer staff in Oconomowoc. The 6 American staff (Lucas Verran- Emcee, Luke Chamberlain- Construction Manager, Olivia Bunz-VBS/Community Coordinator, Karina Silva- Worship Leader, Charlie Goss- Worship Team, Emily Krueger- Team Leader) began to share their hearts and their “whys” for serving in Fond Blanc this summer and immediately were able to form deep relationships with each other. These relationships then furthered to partner with Laguerre and Swenson, the Haitian NSM staff, and together these young leaders came together to lead for 10 weeks in a beautiful way. The friendship among these co-workers was one of the biggest blessings and answered prayers of the summer, as it allowed everything else to come together so naturally and with coordination from many minds.

The projects that were most notable throughout the summer happened in three waves. The first big project to tackle was rebuilding the road in the nearby village of Cazale. Weeks 1 through 4 consisted of the collection and passing of rock to get ready to rebuild the washed out dirt road with more rock baskets, similar to work done last summer. As roadblock after roadblock (no pun intended) came to further delay starting the baskets, the staff was becoming discouraged and was unsure if we should continue our work there. Some of the roadblocks included: tractors not showing up, tractors showing up but then turning around and leaving, a replacement tractor asking $1500, and last but not least, the government coming to tell us they would like to take over the project. The government coming, as odd as it may sound, was a huge, huge blessing. Although a surprise, them telling us to stop our work at the road allowed us to open the door to beginning our construction in Fond Blanc.

The construction in Fond Blanc was focused on getting a roof poured for the “Rec Room/Library”, as the walls were built last summer and it sat roofless for the last year. As the form work and rebar came together, and we got ready to do the biggest concrete pour of the summer (18 straight hours), we took a look at our construction budget and were discouraged as we had so many small projects we wanted to continue, but the Rec Room had dried up the budget. Enter Week 6’s group from Ontario, Canada, and they happened to have raised enough extra money with their church that they blessed us with roughly the exact amount of money needed to rebuild the school classrooms and principal’s office! YAY GOD. The school “facelift” as we called it, began with the principal’s office being built in just one week, and then the classrooms were to follow. The school went from a makeshift building of sheet metal, plywood, and tarps, to cinderblock that actually allows students to not hear what’s happening in the neighboring classrooms. We were so amazed that each time one of our projects seemed to fall through, God’s plan was able to shine as we quickly found an alternative.

Pictured above: Concrete framework and newly poured roof for the rec room/library

Pictured above: New cinderblock walls for classrooms & office

Through all of this construction, the goal is to make relationships with community members. For five summers now, people have been able to make relationships with the kids of Fond Blanc and watch them grow and develop. These relationships are so meaningful and we are so thankful for them. One amazing relationship we want to share about actually was able to develop in Cazale, the neighboring village, where we worked on the road. During Week 2, a woman named Cindy was able to come from Colorado. Her son, age 17, had just passed away less than a year ago, and he had been wheelchair-bound. She heard from returning missionaries, of a boy, Steeve, in Cazale who had Cerebral Palsy and could really use a nice wheelchair. When the staff heard of her desire to give Steeve this wheelchair, we went to his mom to see if they would like the gift. The mom teared up telling us that Steeve’s wheelchair had just broken the week before and they didn’t have the money or resources to find a new one. When Cindy came, as we worked at the road, she sat with Steeve all day! They would sing songs, read stories, and he would sit on her lap. Steeve is non-verbal, but would light up when he saw her coming. On Thursday, when he got his new chair, he couldn’t contain his excitement. Cindy shared with him that her son was with Jesus now, but since she knew how much Jesus loved Steeve she knew he should have the chair. And as God would have it, Cindy laughed as she shared her husband was also named Steve.

Pictured above: Steeve receiving his new wheelchair

This is one of many beautiful relationships that was able to unfold throughout the summer, and is the foundation of why we do what we do. Being able to share God’s love, through actions, through words, or through smiles, is the goal of each summer and we feel so blessed that we feel that was done for 10 whole weeks in the Fond Blanc community.

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