Summer is Here, God is Present!

alison

By Alison Praisewater

Summer is here in Haiti.  In addition to temperatures rising to extreme heights, so have the number of missionary visitors.  This summer just about 300 high school and college students will spend a
week here in Fond Blanc with Next Step Ministries.

After a week of training in Madison, WI the Next Step Summer Staff arrived in Haiti last month ready to serve.  They will lead these 300 students in 9 weeks of mission trips this summer, guiding them through
building projects, vacation bible school, and nightly Christ-centered worship.

The main focus of the trips is to create an opportunity for students to experience Christ in a new way and to deepen their faith.  But students can’t help but come away with a new perspective on life and a shift in priorities.

 

“The first time I came here the children had a bigger impact on me than I had on them.  And in America we don’t appreciate what we have. But they do here, and I learned a lot about that.”  

                    – Chloe, age 17, from Parker, CO and now in her 3rd year serving in Fond Blanc.

 

The students never cease to amaze me as they jump in to the construction projects often doing the brute work while the locals carry on with the intricacies of laying block and pouring cement forms.  Students form assembly lines and pass buckets of rock and sand to be mixed into concrete.  They carry boulders and rocks from the river bed to the orphanage to build a sturdy church foundation.  And they sing and dance and create crafts for the children every afternoon in VBS.  During the summer, they quite literally represent the hands and feet of Christ.

By now, with our third summer with Next Step underway, the children are no strangers to the missionary experience. They have learned to develop friendships, speak a little English, and play and learn from our new friends.  Sometimes the effects of the summer can have an exhausting impact on the children. Imagine having 30 house guests in your home for 9 weeks straight!  Bedtimes get overlooked, bath times become a chore, and tantrums happen more frequently from exhausted and spoiled children.
But when surveying the work of the students we cannot help but thank God for the love they bring into the lives of the children and the numerous ways they have impact the children long after their one-week
visit.

The biggest encouragement is the comments received from returning visitors.  They mention how much healthier the children look.  They notice how much more well behaved they are.  They even notice the way
they have grown and how their interaction with missionary visitors has changed in good and healthy ways.

Every Tuesday evening our Next Step Team Leader teaches about suffering and God’s plan within that.  This message always hits hard here in Haiti as students really question why God would allow a whole
country to suffer for so long.  But every Tuesday he also tells the story of the children who live here.  And it isn’t hard to see that God is present throughout their suffering and that through this suffering some of the most beautiful things have come to be.

A nation’s suffering brought a wave of aid to Haiti, including Next Step, and now the Fond Blanc Foundation as well.  And it is in this place that we see such beautiful things happen.  Students receiving a needed reality check, a perspective change, a lesson in true humility.  And as a community witnesses these things in our students, they too cannot help but catch a glimpse of God. This is what leads them to pick up a shovel, carry a bucket, try out their English, and spend the weeks working alongside us.

If you have served with us this summer or in summers past, thank you. And if you are heading out here in the weeks to come, thank you.  Remember that the biggest impact that you can have is to come and serve; to simply live alongside these children for a week, and to laugh and play and love just like Jesus would.

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