Never a dull moment in the life of a missionary in Haiti

Karen Pasquariello continues sharing her journey of her life as a CWO missionary in Haiti in the early 1980’s. 

It’s been a busy summer.  The ministry of CWO reaches throughout the entire country of Haiti.

We had our youth camp and leadership training in Montrouis at a primitive camp on the ocean.  After the camp I will continue working with the leadership and disciple the 6 women from various Haitian churches.

In Croix Des Bouquets, CWO had a medical team work at a village clinic in the isolated countryside.

In Cazeau we sent a CWO team to paint and put a roof on a mission house.

We opened our beautiful office in Port Au Prince where we can hold leadership meetings, rallies, educational seminars, develop youth programs and follow up on the literacy program.

I had the opportunity to visit a friend’s wedding on the Isla of Gonaive.  The 2 hour boat trip over the deep blue ocean on a rickety, local sail boat was a bit exciting. I visited a hospital in Bonne Fin and observed major surgery.

We worked at an orphanage in Carrefour.

The eye of hurricane Allen reached 180 mph winds and it passed 70 miles south from where I lived.  We did hurricane relief work in the mountains of Fermathe and transported a very sick Haitian woman to the hospital.

I was attacked by the only monkey on the entire island.  So far, no problems, just a bite on my leg and some bruises.

Never a dull moment in the life of a missionary in Haiti.

              

What are you waiting for?

 

The Geremia family traveled to LaVictoire, Haiti in July to help with VBS at the local CWO church. Here Laura Geremia shares her thoughts about the trip that changed her family’s lives forever. 

LaVictoire, Haiti: Summer 2017

What are you waiting for?  Upon our return this past July from LaVictoire Haiti, that is the question I asked myself.   One of my lifelong dreams came true this summer through Christian World Outreach as my husband and three teenage boys left from Orlando, Florida for LaVictoire, Haiti.  A team of 5, plus a man name Greg Yoder, and his daughter Sarah, both of whom we had never met were embarking on a mission to lead and teach Vacation Bible School and feed over 500 children every day for a week.  What would you guess was the theme for the week?  FAITH!  But, of course!  In fact, Greg almost cancelled the trip a couple of times due to our inexperience and the size of our team.  Aren’t we glad Jesus didn’t question HIS “team” of little size and little experience that he commissioned to preach the Gospel to the entire world. Thankfully, Greg exercised his Faith in his Heavenly Father to accomplish this feat with us.

I can still hear all of the children singing to the top of their lungs the “Hallelujah – Praise Ye the Lord” song as well as “The Lord’s Army”.  Each day there was a memory verse that all 500 kids would memorize before we broke out into classrooms for the lesson on faith.  Simply amazing was their love and appreciation for the scriptures!  As the children rushed and crammed into the small, dirty little rooms, we wiped the sweat from our brow and began teaching the scriptures to kids who were like sponges soaking it all in and cherishing every word as if it were the disciples speaking to the crowds 2,000 years ago.

Feeding the children after the Bible lesson was both an invaluable and humbling experience for our family.  As my sons served the plates of food and grabbed the little hands of those that were too small to carry their own; I held back the tears as my children were learning lessons on compassion, servanthood and love that are priceless.  For most of the children, that was their only meal for the day.  Did we leave the afternoon feeling defeated and sad?  Absolutely not!  Now, who was teaching who about faith?  What is faith?  Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  I thought I had faith.  I thought I was going to teach the Haitian children what faith was and how to have it.  They taught me.  You see, as American Christians, we always want to be saved from trials, tribulations and turmoil and we treat our Heavenly Father like a cosmic fairy godfather waiting for HIM to wave his wand to get us out of trouble. The people of Haiti, who don’t even know what they are “missing out on” are not waiting to be saved FROM something but are confidently and patiently waiting to be saved TO someone!  LaVictoire is a small, poor, forgotten mountain village full of hope, faith and confidence in what is YET TO COME!

Our lives are forever changed because of this trip over an ocean and into the mountains with a young pilot and a prop plane landing in a grass field to see eyes full of FAITH and HOPE.

So, I’ll ask again:  What are you waiting for?  Are you waiting to be saved from your life that isn’t what you want it to be or thought you deserved or are you waiting to be saved to Jesus?

                

“Miss Karen, I’ve been saved!” – Part 1

CWO’s first missionary, Karen Pasquariello, shares more about her time serving in Haiti in this two-part blog post. 

It is March 14, 1980 and I shout out praises for what is happening in Haiti. On the top of my list is the response we had at Quisqueya School chapel service this past week.  Seven teens accepted Christ as their Savior and 8 made a commitment to live out their decision to follow Christ on a daily basis.  It was so precious when Rosemary came to my Phys Ed class and exclaimed, “Miss Karen, I’ve been saved!”

I started a study for teen girls who are Christians to learn what the Bible teaches regarding their roles as women. How encouraging it is to see these young women desire to follow Christ. I have been blessed to be surrounded by other women who also are serving as missionaries.  It is encouraging to share our struggles, problems, praises and thanksgivings.  And most importantly to support each other in prayer.

A month ago, I was with friends for some R&R. We were skipping rocks over the water and one flew up and hit me in the face. Ouch!  My sunglasses shattered in my eye and the pain was excruciating.  I couldn’t see.  I remember my roommate, Donalda, reciting scripture to me for comfort.  It is amazing the power of those words. Fortunately, there was a clinic nearby with a nurse to clean out my eye. A month later I went to another doctor to find that there was glass imbedded under my eye.  The doctor had to cut the glass out and stitch me up – no shots, no numbing.  When you are in a foreign country, doctors do an amazing job with the limited supplies they have.

 

                   

Short Term Teams – the Good & the Bad

Part 1 (the sending organizations responsibility)

Greg Yoder participated in the first Christian World Outreach (CWO) work team that served in Johnstown, Pennsylvania after the flood of 1977.  He then served on the first team to Haiti in 1978 that held a youth camp.  After graduating from college he served in Haiti from 1980 to 1988. He taught at Quisqueya Christian School and prepared for short-term teams to come to Haiti in the summers for 3 ½ years and then worked full time as the CWO administrator.  After moving back to the States he connected with CWO by serving on the board and leading teams. In 2003 he began working part-time leading CWO teams and then began working in the US headquarters in 2005 where he now serves as CWO’s president.

There continues to be a debate about whether short-term mission trips do much good.  You have probably seen posts on Facebook or received an email with a website link about all the negative things associated with short-term mission trips. You have also probably read stories or talked to a friend about how a short-term team has had a positive effect.  I must admit I have been a part of teams that fall under both extremes and hopefully have learned something from those experiences.

It is healthy for every organization that participates in sending short-term missions to struggle with this question for each team that goes out to serve.  After all, the buck stops with the organization that offers short-term trips because they are the link between those receiving a team and those going.  It is their responsibility to make sure they are making a trip meaningful and useful to those receiving a team.  It is also their responsibility to make it a positive learning and growing experience for the team members going to serve.

The sending organization should first know those who are receiving a team.  They should have a good enough working relationship so that they get an honest answer to the usefulness of teams.  They should know the culture well enough to know if they are being told “yes bring teams” just because those asked are being polite or if they really want / need a team to come.  The sending organization should also make sure that they include those receiving a team in the planning, the fundraising, and that they participate in the project.

I have asked our in-country staff if it is beneficial to have teams come and the response has always been yes.  They have said that it is an “encouragement” to have teams take time to come and serve alongside them, and they know that it helps those who support the ministry in prayer and financially to see firsthand what they support.

Usually any negative reaction to short-term missions is partly because the American comes in as the “expert” in everything, works alone on the project and believes they are the only ones who can get the project done.  Because of this we can create a group of people who sit back and watch the Americans work without saying a word.  They will not tell the “guest” that the project is not something wanted or needed and so the time and money spent on this trip is wasted.

I have seen some unused playgrounds that teams have felt were needed when the real need was for desks and other classroom needs.  I have seen a room full of discarded toys left over after picking out the useful donated items like pencils, pens, rulers, notebooks, etc.  I know of a building built that goes unused because it was built American style.  I know of equipment that has been installed but never used because those receiving it do not know how to use it or the replacement parts are not available locally.  I have also seen teams viewed as just a way to receive the funds to complete a project.

The solution is to start with the sending organization building a long-term relationship with those they serve and then for them to understand the real need of those receiving a team.  This relationship would be one built on trust and promote open and honest discussions about teams.  It is best that those receiving a team are part of the planning so they have ownership and the project is accepted as theirs.  One other way to help them take ownership is to have those receiving a team invest something in the project by raising funds or bringing supplies.  Because this is not typically asked of those receiving a team it may seem odd but it is acceptable.

It goes without saying, or maybe not, that the receivers and the team members work side-by-side on the project.  This brings both sides together and helps build relationships that can last longer than any building or other project that a short-term mission team could participate in.

CWO has been a part of short-term mission trips for almost 40 years.  We have made mistakes along the way and have learned from those mistakes.  Our goal is to make short-term mission trips a part of the ministry to encourage both those receiving a team and those going and to be a part of the existing ministries.

More about short-term mission teams and the team member’s responsibilities and preparation on the next blog post.

Reaching out in rural Haiti – Part 3

It is November 1979. Living in a foreign country can be lonely, especially when special holidays are approaching. It is so encouraging when I have visitors.  My sister, Sharon and two friends, Melaina and Laura came to visit.  It was so fun to show them this country and her beautiful people.

Learning a different language is not easy. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever learn it.  I spend countless hours studying, memorizing and practicing. I wasn’t expecting this learning process to be so frustrating.

An unexpected ministry opened up, teaching phys ed to the female students at Quisqueya Christian School. Some of the students are missionary kids, some are children of the elite class.  CWO realizes the need to minister to all classes, the poor and the wealthy.  I am excited to develop a relationship with these young women.

I continue visiting the youth from our camps, traveling through cities to the winding roads up the mountains. It is humbling to visit our youth in their homes, huts with thatched roofs and shacks with tin roofs. They are excited that I would spend time with them. It is always a blessed experience for me.  I long to learn their language, Creole, so I can really communicate.

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Team CWO Scored Big at this Year’s Banquet!

This year’s banquet was filled with team spirit and excitement around ministry!  Guests enjoyed popcorn, lemonade and a fun game informing them about the four countries where CWO works. As has become our tradition, Haitian vanilla was available for purchase. Brand new CWO shirts were available for sale, all featuring the new CWO logo. (Go to our Current Campaigns page to shop for your CWO team shirt!)  A tasty tailgate-like buffet meal gave guests an opportunity to visit over dinner. Donated sports items, like a Broncos jacket and Rockies tickets, were given out during a drawing from guests who participated in the CWO game during the social hour. Following an invocation by Torrey House from Creekside Church, an introduction to the ministry in Burkina Faso kicked off the program. Alassane and Dina Compaore spoke about how both the Village of Opportunity and Mobile Clinic are growing and how grateful they are for Team CWO. Greg Yoder, CWO President, gave an update on ministries in Haiti, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The highlight of the evening was when Jerry Schemmel gave a powerful, mission-focused testimonial to end the evening. CWO is grateful for the approximate $60,000 in donations and pledges we received at the banquet.

Whether all-stars or game-changing rookies, everyone is a member of God’s team and a vital part of Team CWO!

As we enter into 2017 we look forward to more opportunities to win over others for God’s team and working together in ministry. Thank you for supporting CWO through prayer, volunteering, advocating and financially supporting our work. We look forward to making 2017 a championship year!

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