Geneseo man in Haiti during quake

Lisa Depies
Brian Berry

Geneseo’s Brian Berry arrived in Haiti the day before a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck near the nation’s capital of Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12.

Berry traveled to Haiti on behalf of his church, Grace United?Methodist in Geneseo. The congregation is in the process of building a second church in Haiti.

As of Jan. 13, the Rev. Lou Zuck of Grace United Methodist had not heard from Berry, however, the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission, which the church works with, said on its Web site that all mission “facilities, travelers and employees in the northwest zone are safe.”

“We don’t know much yet,” said Zuck. Berry left from Moline on Jan. 10 and was expected to arrive in Haiti Jan. 11. He was to remain in Haiti until Jan. 29.

“He’s suppose to be there three weeks, but who knows what the airports are like,” said Janet VanDerSchaaf of Grace?United?Methodist.

 VanDerSchaaf has traveled to Haiti on multiple mission trips.

“I can’t even imagine what it’s like. On a good day, it’s hard there. Their buildings are so crumbly they could fall down in the wind. If you get an earthquake ...” she said.

“It’s not going to be like Hurricane Katrina where the displaced people can go to Houston. There’s no place for these people to live. There will be hundreds of thousands of people displaced, and they will live in the streets for years,” she said. “I was awake almost all night just thinking about the

suffering occurring there. I?can’t get it out of my head.”

The congregation of Grace Church, with the assistance of the First Lutheran Church congregation, raised $15,000 in 2006 to build a church in the village of Augustine in western Haiti.

“I?haven’t heard if there’s been any damage to that church,” said Zuck.

At church services in early December, Berry announced to Grace’s congregation plans to build a second church in Haiti.

In an attempt to “take the message to the wilderness” Berry said the second church would be constructed in a remote area of Haiti where voodoo is still practiced heavily.

“I’m not sure if these towns are even on maps,” said VanDerSchaaf. “You’re driving on paths. They’re really out in the wilderness.”

The Northwest Haiti Christian Mission is based in Saint-Louis du Nord, roughly 100 miles from?Port-au-Prince with additional mission sites beyond that.

For information on the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission, visit its Web site at