Updated: Oct 17
pa pi mal — adj., literal translation: “not too bad” in Creole, the heart and home language of Haitians. It can carry the meaning of “okay or pretty good, considering the circumstances.” This phrase is often spoken in Haiti as a response to the question, “How are you?”
Despite what you may have heard, Haiti is a beautiful nation! Anthony and I went to Haiti with Overcomers TV in March 2021, and we are now on board to fly back to the island within the hour!
Our mission on each trip to Haiti is to produce miniature documentaries on Christian ministries for the television show, “Answering the Call,” hosted by Pastor Chuck Reich.
KNOWN FOR PROBLEMS
For the past century, Haiti has been known as one of the world’s poorest nations, despite existing next door on the same island with the prosperous Dominican Republic.
Haiti has been in the news on and off for years due to natural disasters. A few months ago, it appeared briefly in the news when the country’s president was assassinated shortly after refusing vaccines because Haiti has very, very few covid cases. When we were there, we only saw masks when we were at trade day on the Dominican border; the majority of the nation sees covid as either a spiritual curse or the white man’s disease. In general, the nation of Haiti does not struggle with covid.
Right after the president was assassinated (within the same month as four other African nation presidents that refused vaccines), U.S. Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced that a shipment of vaccines was ready to be delivered to Haiti.
Having things forced upon Haiti isn’t new for the nation. After Haiti gained independence from France in the Haitian revolution of 1804, the French returned in 1825 and demanded the impoverished nation pay France the modern equivalent of 21 billion USD for the property and land they had turned into sugar and coffee plantations. This debt kept Haiti enslaved to France until 1947.
Now, thousands of Haitians are crossing the open border to the U.S., as seen in footage scattered across social media.
Now that Haiti is on the world stage and we are preparing to return, I present to you this blog post about our travels to “the most African country outside of Africa.”
OH SO AFRICAN
Craig Bogard, CEO of Aslan Youth Ministries, told me while we rode in a tap-tap (basically a Haitian truck filled with passengers, similar to an Indian rikshaw), that Haiti has retained 100 percent of its African culture. This cultural phenomenon is clear from the African-style music and dancing in the churches, to the way women carry containers of water and other items on their heads, to the cooking styles, and — as is common in non-American countries — the prevalence of soccer among youth who are simply spending time outside.
HEADING TO HAITI
When Chuck Reich, founder of Overcomers TV, invited us on our first trip to Haiti, I was thrilled to travel with Overcomers TV, a powerful media ministry led by an anointed leader who is a mature disciple of Christ. I also was thrilled to travel with my husband, who I am totally crazy about. As we sang to each other at our wedding reception, wherever one of us goes, the other wants to go too.
Also, I was specifically thrilled for the Miami part of the trip. Anthony had been talking about wanting to take me to Miami, and we had received a prophetic word about a “honeymoon in Miami” and divine appointments in the coastal metropolis.
Haiti, however, came out of nowhere.
Most of the few things I’d heard about the country were negative — that it was a place of poverty, that the Clintons lied about doing good things there, and that it was dedicated to Satan and ridden with voodoo.
But with God, there is nothing to fear, and there are plenty of good surprises that come when we roll out that carpet of faith and let God work His wonders. Haiti actually has plenty of beautiful parts that you don’t see on the news, we were abundantly well cared-for, and we saw God move powerfully. The enemy has been defeated, and though the nation had been dedicated to Satan in 1791 and again in 1991, Christian ministries are taking it back for Jesus one soul at a time.
That quote stood out to me and helped encompass the entire trip, from an almost kidnapping of an American on the day of our arrival to Port-Au-Prince, to our team riding in a small six-seater airplane just above the rugged mountains of the Haitian countryside toward the end of our trip.
Though our travels were bookended with exits from our comfort zones, there was plenty of joy and beauty in between and along the way.
At Aslan Youth Ministries, where we stayed in a small building next to the airstrip, we faced minor “first world problems,” such as the lights flickering due to generators going in and out; super-slow and spotty WiFi; showers without warm water; and mosquitoes.
However, as long as our mosquito netting stayed in place, we were free from bites. And speaking of bites, we got our first taste of pickliz, which turned out to be one of my favorite Haitian foods!
It was a short drive from that building to the main ministry site in the rural town of Ouanaminthe, where there was a lovely wooden open-air church and a much-needed water well and medical clinic. It was safe and nice in the rural countryside. In addition to getting to film for Overcomers TV, we got to lead kids worship at the church!
To get to our next ministry site, we had to go through Port-au-Prince. That city was unsafe and not pretty. Most people who travel to Haiti, especially if they are meeting with the embassy or doing political work, only get to see this city, which is unfortunate because it is the worst part of Haiti.
It is common in Port-au-Prince for Americans to be kidnapped for high ransoms. In fact, the day we arrived in the city, an American from the embassy was traveling in an SUV when their vehicle was surrounded by a guerrilla gang of 40 motorcycles, armed with weapons. By God’s grace, the person was able to escape back to the embassy. But it wasn’t the most welcoming news on the day of our arrival!
But on the edge of that dirty city, there is a secret paradise. Hidden behind a tall wall with armed guards is a spiritual and physical oasis. When that huge sliding door opened for us, it was like a door had opened to Narnia.
At the gate to New Life for Kids:
Inside the campus of New Life for Kids:
New Life for Kids Founder Miriam Frederick, a prayer warrior often described as “a cross between Mother Theresa and Indiana Jones” told me (paraphrase), “You thought you came here just to film, but really God brought you here because He wants to touch you in a special way.”
He truly did touch me powerfully at one of their church services on that campus.
Miriam also told me that I was there not only to work on the production crew but also to minister, and that came true as well. Anthony and I led worship for children at her ministry’s school and for teens at the rescue home, where Anthony and Chuck also preached to the teens. Chuck told us that God told him something like, “These cameras are going to get you into places, but really, you’re there to minister.”
Also, Miriam gave Anthony a word about the powerful hand of God upon his life from his grandfather, the original (late) Tony Salerno, who was miraculously healed and transformed after a violent past in the Mafia and a heart condition that gave him only months to live. The man went on to live about 40 more years and lead thousands to the Lord in Italy and the U.S.
Miriam said Anthony carries a powerful mantle upon his life to carry on his grandfather’s ministry.
To listen to the original (late) Tony Salerno share his testimony, click the graphic.