Missouri Photo Workshop: Pawel Janusz’s Homecoming by Stanton Sharpe

In August of 2022, more than 40 photojournalists from around the world came to Excelsior Springs as part of the 74th annual Missouri Photo Workshop (MPW). The photojournalists chose individuals throughout the community to document throughout their week-long stay. The Excelsior Citizen has partnered with many of the photojournalists to share the work they produced with our community. This week’s story is:

Pawel Janusz’s Homecoming

By Stanton Sharpe



Pawel Janusz is a Polish man who immigrated to America from Poland at the age of 25 for a dream of living like a cowboy in the Wild West. Now, in his mid-50s, Pawel has decided to leave America to return to Poland.

As Pawel prepares for his return to Poland, he must deal with the responsibilities that remain in his immediate present, specifically, his 12-year-old son Zane and his wife Carrie. He must also sell everything he owns that made him feel American — his hundreds of guns, his hand-built home and all his cowboy paraphernalia — thus shedding his American identity for his Polish roots and past life.

Pawel Janusz works on restoring a revolver for a customer in his home shop in Excelsior Springs, Mo. Gunsmithing is one of Pawel’s main sources of income and he takes a lot of pride in his understanding of classic American guns and the history they represent.

Pawel Janusz assists his wife, Carrie, who recently underwent foot surgery, to their car to go to the hospital for her doctor’s appointment in Excelsior Springs. Carrie’s surgery has left her with a long recovery process in which she must rely on Pawel for his help every day.

Pawel Janusz and Carrie Pyzer sit in the waiting room at the hospital together in Kansas City.

A photo of Pawel and Carrie’s son, Zane, rests on the windowsill in their kitchen in Excelsior Springs.

Pawel Janusz and Carrie Pyzer pick Zane up from football practice.

Pawel Janusz and Carrie Pyzer argue over Carrie, who is recovering from surgery, having to bring the groceries in on her own while Pawel was out shooting guns.

Pawel Janusz shoots his guns at his second property, a ten-acre piece of land about a mile away from his first home where he plans to build a house and resell the property. Pawel hopes that he can use the profit he makes from this property to finance his move to Poland.

Carrie Pyzer, sits on her porch, attempting to get to her friend’s car in her front driveway in Excelsior Springs. Carrie complains that Pawel is always “in his own world” and is never paying attention to her needs.

Pawel Janusz video chats in his Winnebago RV that is parked in his backyard.

Pawel Janusz prays at his local Catholic church, St. Ann Parish.

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