Hello and welcome to the blog for the upcoming Service and Learning: Reforestation in Haiti trip!
I am so glad that you have taken an interest in our travels to Haiti.
I thought I’d start off by telling you a little about myself, and then I will give you an overview of our group and what we will be doing.
(Andrew at Fort Jacques, Haiti)
A little about me: my name is Andrew Rienstra-Ehlers and I will be serving as Team Leader for this opportunity. I was born in Costa Rica where I was adopted by my parents, who at the time were serving there as missionaries with Christian Reformed World Missions. When I was ten years old we left the mission field and moved to Grand Rapids Michigan, where I eventually studied at Calvin College, receiving a degree in Sociology.
(My two homes!)
Because of my love for exploring, building community, helping people, and learning from others, it was a no-brainer that I would end up working at World Renew, specifically in the Global Volunteer Program (GVP).
(GVP Canada and US staff: From left to right Ryan, Iona, Mary, Andrew)
This will be my second time serving as Team Leader, leading a team to Haiti. Last year I led a team of five people from World Renew GVP US and Canada. We traveled to the Leogane region of Haiti to work side-by-side with the community on a water project.
(Volunteer Tara and one of the community members have different styles but they share happy smiles)
(Volunteers and community members bring rocks to where the reservoir wall is being built)
Haiti has fascinated me for quite some time and I am very excited to continue to learn more about its culture and history, to meet its people, and to learn more about World Renew’s work.
(Andrew "helping" cook dinner)
(An artist shows off his work)
This year our team will be traveling to the Pignon region of Haiti, where we will work side-by-side with the community and World Renew’s local partner on a reforestation project.
Deforestation is a serious problem in Haiti, and as World Renew empowers communities to combat this difficulty our team will have an opportunity to learn more about the history and causes of deforestation, how to prevent it, and will have an opportunity to interact and work with the community.
(You can see in this photo the lack of trees on the hills and mountainsides of Leogane)
In preparation for our trip, our team (Bernice, Neal, Linda, Emily, Taylor, Quintina and I) have been meeting since January by telephone to try to get to know each other and prepare by going through World Renew’s Pre-Trip Study Guide. This guide focuses on the Seven Dimensions of Transformation. These include: Shared Vision, Sense of Community, Ownership, Leadership, Assets Knowledge and Skills, Ongoing Learning, and Shalom.
During our weekly phone calls we have discussed one dimension each meeting, and from our discussions we have created a team covenant. When our meetings are done we will be posting that covenant, and as we are on our trip we will reflect on it and be guided by it.
(World Renew’s Pre Field Study Guide)
We are so excited that you will be following along with our travels! Please keep us in your prayers as we prepare in the last few weeks before our trip.
(Climb aboard--let’s Serve and Learn together!)