Brian Schulenburg and Darrin Geier, pastors at Woodbury Community Church, visited Haiti the week after Thanksgiving.
“I went to Haiti looking for ways our church could help and I was overwhelmed by what I saw and learned,” Schulenburg said.
Since their return, the pair has been working to share their experiences with people, encourage them to give or go, and planning how to involve their congregation in helping build a brighter tomorrow for the Haitian people.
Schulenburg and Geier were joined in Haiti by six other pastors from across the country as part of a Senior Pastor’s trip hosted by World Wide Village (WWV) of St. Paul. They visited a number of Haitian pastors as well as schools in Luly and Williamson. They also went to a children’s home that one of their church members has been working with and where two congregation members are adopting sons from.
The group also toured Port-au-Prince to get a first-hand view of the efforts to rebuild the country after a deadly earthquake struck the country three years ago in January. Everywhere they went they met Haitian children, teachers, workers and citizens willing to talk about the challenges they face everyday as well as sharing what they believe the country needs in order to continue its recovery.
“Randy Mortensen, President of World Wide Village, really struck a cord with me,” Geier said. “He related how a local pastor had told him ‘America was built by Americans, Haiti needs to be rebuilt by Haitians, but we need you to share your knowledge, skills and resources with Haitians so we gain the skills needed to do the work ourselves.”
Said Mortensen: “Going to Haiti at this time of the year gives visitors a new perspective on Christmas.”
World Wide Village (WWV) has been working in Haiti since 2001. Originally founded to foster economic development in Haiti, today the organization focuses on education, building permanent housing, and bringing groups to help them learn about the country, transfer their knowledge and skills to the Haitian people, and to inspire them to tell others about what they learned.
“We encourage people to go to Haiti not to do, but to learn,” Mortensen said.
People can learn more about WWV, or make donations, at its website.