On a mission

A professional missionary for 12 years, David Pezzoli has traveled to countries from Mexico to Cuba to Haiti


photo by David Pezzoli

Filming a scene in Haiti where a missionary arrives to share the Gospel via mobile phone. Pezzoli was filming a movie to help raise money for future mission trips.

The tremors began late in the afternoon. The ground shook, windows shattered, buildings quivered. On January 12, 2010, at 4:53 p.m., a massive earthquake registering 7.0 on the Richter scale struck Haiti. 

Nine months later, sophomore Alena Pezzoli’s father, David, arrived in Haiti as a missionary serving under the Christian nonprofit organization Mission of Hope. 

“I remember going into the city and there’s dead people. We went to a mass grave and you just get a sense of the profoundness of life, the sacredness of it and the sheer loss of it,” Pezzoli said.

At the time, Pezzoli had been working as a professional missionary for 12 years, traveling the world to spread the Gospel while helping better the community. Whether through medical aid, social justice missions or church building, Pezzoli has traveled to countries from Italy to Cuba to Panama. However, his trip to Haiti stands out most. In a visit to a Haitian orphanage, Pezzoli was struck by how much something as simple as human touch is taken for granted. 

“The crazy thing about when you interact with orphans, what the kids do is they walk up and they just want to touch you,” Pezzoli said. “They just want to hold your hand because they never get to do that. They didn’t even say anything. There’s nothing to say. They just want to be held.”

Pezzoli’s missionary journey started at age 2, when the pastor of his church asked for somebody to share a message from the Lord. 

“I’m under my mom’s chair with Matchbox cars and I peeked my head out and just kind of ran up on the stage,” Pezzoli said. “The pastor gave me the microphone and I quoted Romans 8:1 from memory. I think my parents kind of knew, at that moment, that I was destined to do something in mission work.”

In fact, 11 years later, 13-year-old Pezzoli traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico on his first mission trip with his youth group to build a Sunday school in a church that was situated in the town’s poorest area. 

“I’m in the middle of this place, crawling over trash and coming into this area where you see kids drinking beer at the age of 10 walking around drunk and kids sifting through the trash trying to find things they can use or to eat. It’s pretty heavy duty exposure to poverty.”

Despite having gone on more than ten mission trips, Pezzoli continues to learn more about the world and himself each time. 

“You come home from the trip and you end up just processing [the memories from the trip]. Because you’re sitting in your air conditioned room with your refrigerator. You can say, what do I want to eat tonight? Maybe I’ll have some ice cream. And you realize, ‘I have all these choices that other people don’t have.’”

Now 45, Pezzoli shares his experiences with his children. For his daughter Alena, his stories motivated her dream of working in the medical field. 

“My parents inspired me with the love of helping others. Their stories gave me my interest in the health field. I have always wanted to go on a mission trip, and I would definitely not have that dream without my parents,” Alena said. 

The next Pezzoli vacation may look different than most. The family plans to go to Haiti once the country is more peaceful and stable. 

“A lot of people go to places, but they actually miss the most interesting and important part: the people,” Pezzoli said. “You go see the Colosseum in Rome or the statues in Florence, and you take pictures, whatever. But we had a chance to meet the people who own the restaurants and get to know them and hang out with them late at night and be in their homes and meet their families. That’s where God is. He’s among people.”