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.

              

Lessons from the Lord

CWO’s first missionary, Karen Pasquariello, continues with this post from her journal writings from July 1980.

This month marks my first year in Haiti.  When I reflect on this last year, I realize two of the major lessons I have learned are reliance on God and the importance of having a positive attitude.

During the last few months I have experienced physical tiredness as never before.  Living in a rather primitive culture, it is impossible to accomplish much by phone or letter as in the states, therefore, my days are often spent going from place to place and person to person. Going alone may mean several hours a day in the Jeep, driving on rugged roads or hiking over the mountains to visit our Haitian youth in their primitive homes.

I have experienced the truth of Isaiah 40:31 “yet, they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.  They will mount up with wings of Eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” I am thankful to the Lord for His strength.

Living in a culture that is surrounded by disease, poverty, despair, it is easy to feel hopeless and to sink into a complaining trap.  Then one day I realized the more I complained, the easier it was to find more to complain about, which led to a negative attitude. Luke 7:45b says, “whatever is in the heart overflows into speech.”  That truth helped me to tackle one problem, one day at a time, changing my attitude.

I am grateful to the Lord for the life lessons He teaches me.

      

“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.

 

                   

A Family of Big & Little Nephews

Read Part 2 of the Hoover’s blog post about the Big and Little Nephews in Zambia that they care for with open hearts!

We described how we met the “call boys” or our “nephews” (ages 25-35 years old) in the last blog post. People often wonder how we then came to have our large group of “Little Nephews” (ages 8-24 years old).

In 2005, after two years of working with the “nephews,” we expressed to them our desire to increase the number of the guys in attendance. They were adamant that we not invite other bus station call boys, but announced that they would bring us other boys. We said, “Ok, please bring them in two weeks.”

Bring they did. The nephews marched many dozen young boys into outreach and stoically stood behind the young boys to say, “You need to hear this. Listen to what they are teaching.” They themselves were silent. They wouldn’t share their hearts or lives openly in front of younger boys.

A decision had to be made. We told them that the outreach wasn’t working if they were not a part of the activities and conversations. We called for a vote to see if everyone was in favor of splitting them into “Big Nephews” on Fridays and “Little Nephews” on Wednesdays. They were evenly divided in their decision, but one of the CWO staff broke the tie in favor of them splitting.

Thus, the “Little Nephews” were formed. While speaking with them we learned that they were not in school and they idolized the “Big Nephews” because they didn’t go to school, didn’t answer to anyone and were totally independent. We counseled them and soon a wave of peer pressure swept through the group to the point all of them wanted to return to school.

Over the past 12 years we have seen the blessing of meeting these “Little Nephews” at a young age. The Lord allowed us to meet them before it was too late for them to return to school, as it was for the “Big Nephews.” The school fee assistance brought about the need for tutoring and then we expanded into discipleship on Mondays, English classes on Tuesdays, Outreach on Wednesday, Bible study on Thursdays and activity days on Fridays. Soon health care assistance, dental assistance, nutritional assistance and the ability to bathe and wash clothing were clear needs in their lives. We now touch every aspect of the boy’s lives: physical, emotional, nutritional, and spiritual.

These “Nephews”, Big and Little, are our beloved family who allow us into their lives in very real ways. We are grateful to be a part of their lives and to have them be such a big part of ours!

“When are we doing this again?!”

Bill & Marci Hoover have lived in Zambia as CWO missionaries since 2002. We are honored to publish their two-part blog post about their family of Big & Little Nephews and how God is working through them. Watch for part two in July!

We had no doubt we were called to Zambia in 2002. God could not have been more clear. We arrived with the intention of teaching HIV education and prevention, but the Lord had another plan too.

We rented a flat that had a mini-bus station right in front of it. As we’d go out to catch the bus, we got acquainted with the young men who are called “call boys” because they take it upon themselves to “call” people to the buses. These men are typically drunk and don’t hesitate to fight each other for any tips thrown out by the bus conductors. Their goal is to obtain the equivalent of $1 each day so they can have one meal.

It seemed to us that these men wished to share their hearts with us, but not in front of each other. We decided to invite all of them to our CWO office for a barbeque so they would know where to find us if they wished to talk. We asked for all of their names so invites could be printed up and they were very excited! They asked about their invite daily until they were received! No invite, no admission was our policy.

The day arrived and all 25 young men walked through the gate freshly bathed with invite in hand…outside of one. We had a joyous time together playing games, eating, and watching the Jesus Film in their local language. At 4 p.m., when their bus station was busiest, we thanked them for coming and said, “Now you know where to find us! You are welcome here anytime!” The guys didn’t budge.

We asked our translator why they weren’t leaving and she didn’t know. Marci felt compelled to ask them, “If CWO could do anything for you, what would it be?” The translator was very hesitant to ask the question believing they would ask for money. Marci felt even more compelled and insisted the question be asked.

It turns out that each bus station is its own gang. You don’t mix the guys of different stations together. The leader of this station was Big George at that time. Big George stood up and said, “Ok, #1. We don’t know how to read so we don’t know what the Bible says. We know that the way we are living isn’t pleasing to God, but if you could teach us what the Bible says, we’d be grateful.” Marci said, “We can do that.” He continued, “#2, our families and society talk down to us and criticize us all the time. If you could encourage us, we’d be grateful for that.” Marci again said, “We can do that too.” Lastly he stated, “#3, if you could get us a new job, we’d be very grateful. Our jobs are so demeaning that we get drunk just to do the job. If you could get us new jobs, we’d be grateful. BUT, please don’t give us the job first. Teach us the Word of God, encourage us to change, and then when you’ve seen us change, give us a new job. If you give us the job first, our alcoholism will ruin it.” Then Big George sat down. We committed to helping with those three things in their lives.

Before leaving, one of them yelled, “When are we doing this again?!” We quickly calculated the cost of the lunch and activities – having thought this was a one-time thing – and suggested they come in two weeks. They agreed with cheers as they ran out the door.

That was in January of 2003. We have met with the same group of men (minus the 15 we have buried) every other Friday since then. We have added some men through the years and some have shifted to other towns, but we are still a tight knit family who loves each other through the sorrows, the challenges, and the joys of life. Most importantly, they have experienced (and tested!) the unconditional love of Christ at CWO and found freedom in His love. We call these men our “nephews” because we are called their “Auntie and Uncle”. It only seems appropriate…and makes it clear we are a family.

We cannot think of a more rewarding “job” to be given than this. Each day we get to love those who feel unlovable, and in the process, help their eyes be opened to the truth and love of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Short-Term Teams – What’s Next?

As I travel back home from a trip to Zimbabwe I cannot help but think about short-term team members returning home from mission trips.  The question that should be on the minds of all short-term team members is, “What’s next?”  How have I changed?  Where do I go from here?  What do I do with this experience?

I mentioned in blog #2 that the CWO team application asks the question, “How do you plan to use this experience when you return home?”  I am not sure most team members really know how to answer this question, but hopefully it makes each person begin thinking about the next step after returning home even before they leave on their trip.

To me the most important part of team training is about returning home.  Not that preparing is less important, but I think we all expect to have some culture shock when going to another country because in some way we know it will be different than our daily lives at home.  We go prepared to experience different foods, language, lifestyles and to see that not everyone has everything they want or need.

I do not think we expect to have culture shock when we return home.  We do not think about the change that has happened to us.  We do not think about our world view being changed and how that will affect our return home.  We do not always realize that we have changed during our short-term trip, but we have.  We expect to go back to something familiar but that is the time when we come to the realization that we have changed through our experience.

Preparing for our return home by understanding we have changed and thinking about what we will do with this experience will make the transition back home much easier.  It will help in setting our expectations for ourselves and for others as we return to our homes, our work or school, and our family and friends as a changed person.

We try to help CWO team members by setting their expectations of what it will be like to return home.  Returning team members should expect to deal with some level of adjustment and they should give themselves some time to process all they have experienced.  Each team member needs to remember that they are the one who had this experience so they should not expect others to understand the change or get frustrated when people no longer want to hear about their trip or look at all the pictures they took.

What you need to do is be honest in how you feel but have patience with others as you try to explain the change in you.  It is always helpful to stay in contact with other team members because they will understand what you have experienced and will know how to pray for you during this adjustment.

What’s next?  It will be different for each of us as we process the experience we have had serving on a short-term team.  Some will take this experience and be better stewards of what God has given them.  Some will use this experience to advocate for those who are in need.  Some will serve as volunteers or become staff members for the organization they served with during their trip.  And just maybe some will become long-term missionaries.

So, as you consider being a part of a short-term team, begin preparing now.  Go to God first, check your motivation, research organizations, set your expectations, and get ready for God to change your life.

If you are interested in joining a CWO short-term trip or have a group that is interested in serving. Contact us at information@cwomissions.org. We’re here to help!

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.

The Gospel Breaks those Chains of Evil – Part 5

It is Valentine’s Day, 1980.

I am so happy to have my own little apt in Petionville, Haiti.  There is no A/C and it is hot, but I can open the windows.  Sometimes I have running water, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I have electricity, sometimes I don’t. The chameleons get inside, so do the cockroaches.  That’s life in Haiti.

CWO now has a beautiful office.  It took 6 months to get this office.  Things move slowly in Haiti.

LeRoy Dick arrived to start CWOs literacy program.  Five young, Haitian adults were trained in teaching literacy, now that Leroy has returned to the states, I will follow up.

How do I describe what it is like to watch a 14 young old girl with a baby, no home, no education, no job – learn to read and write?  She starts to put the sounds together, then those sounds become words, and then she associates those words with the things of life.  Wow! One of our literacy students passed a piece of paper to me, on it was written Mathude Usma.  It was the first time she had written her name.  I will never forget that name, nor the pride on her face. This will abundantly improve their lives.  She can get a job. Her children will learn to read and write. She will be able to read her Bible. I love this!

In Phys Ed class, one of my students, Kathleen, told me the following story:  Her father died a year ago and they attribute his death to a voodoo curse. He was visiting in the states and someone from Haiti mailed him a voodoo symbol.  A week later he died.  I was able to share with her that through Christ there is power over Satan.  She wanted to know what it meant to be a Christian and I had the opportunity to share with her.

Haiti is saturated with the evil and power of voodoo, it permeates the culture.  There is Mardi Gras, a voodoo emblem hanging from a tree to scare away evil from a garden, the fear of death, the sounds of the voodoo drums… But the power of the Gospel breaks those chains of evil.

     

Love is a Bridge – Part 4

I have been here for six months (May 1980). It hasn’t been easy. There have been several times when God and I have had a conversation where I have said, “it is a good thing I know You sent me here or I would leave.”  Of course, God didn’t say it would be easy, but He promised He would be with me as I go through my daily life here.

I wonder if friends and family know how encouraging it is when I receive mail. Do my financial and prayer supporters know how much I appreciate them? I travel back to the US for Christmas. I am so excited to visit family and friends. The last 6 months have changed me. How do I explain what it is like?

The precious faces of the children, I will miss seeing them.

 

It is Jan 6 and tomorrow I fly back to Haiti. It has been wonderful to be home in PA.  When my sister, Sharon visited me in Haiti, she wrote a poem, I would like to share it with you.

Love is a Bridge
by Sharon Pasquariello

Staring black faces
That question our presence.
Where did we come from?
Why are we here?
They stop in their footsteps
And intensely look on
Hoping to find out
Just what’s going on.
Their sparkling eyes
That continuously ask why
See an answer forthcoming
In a person’s soft smile.
Their faces start forming
A hesitant smile
That’s pleading for love
And a heart that will care.
Language is a barrier
That’s hard to cross over
But love is a bridge
That can overcome all.

Staring black faces
Lining the streets
With heavy loads mounted
On top of their heads.
Their bodies move gracefully
Flowing along
Over mountains of feelings
Through rivers of needs
Across deserts of heartaches
And valleys of fears.
And over the barrier of language
That’s hard to cross over.
Yes, love is a bridge
That can overcome all,
The questions, the heartaches,
The staring black faces
Will understand love
God’s language of all.

     

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.

nov-1979-photo-2    nov-1979-photo-1