I Don’t Know

Two months ago, I wrote on this blog about refocusing and an upcoming trip that I was preparing for. The country I was headed to was known as one of the least developed countries in the world, ranking 146 out of the 177 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index (2006) and about 80% of the population were estimated to be living in poverty (source).

On January 12th, everything changed. I knew that being a part of a service trip to Haiti was going to be difficult. Now, it seems almost impossible.

I have received a few e-mails and tweets wondering if I am still planning on going. Honestly, I’m not sure.

As a team, the group I am traveling with is still proceeding with our plans. The site we are planning to go to sustained only mild damage.

Our fundraising efforts for our travel costs have changed into fundraising to send to the orphanage where we will hopefully be working. One of the primary ways in which we are raising money is by offering t-shirts in exchange for a donation. Honestly, I don’t care if you donate to the organization I am working with, through the Red Cross, through the International Diabetes Foundation, or the Yele Haiti foundation (among many, many other organizations). The country needs so much help that I don’t think a single dollar can be wasted at this point. If you would like to learn more about the t-shirts you can e-mail me at sara@diabetesdaily.com and I will send you more information.

As I mentioned, as of today, my group still planning to head to Haiti in a little over 40 days. We have heard word that the State Department might issue a warning restricting travel to the country which would effectively not allow us to go.

As you have also likely heard all over the news, food and water and other basic necessities are even more limited in the country now than they were 8 days ago when 80% of the country already lived below the poverty line. I am extremely cautious to go to a place as take food out of the mouths of people who are already starving.

Another large hesitation that is running through my head regarding this trip over the last week honestly feels very selfish. Before the earthquake, I thought I would just buy a Frio wallet to put my insulin in and be just fine. I am only going to be gone for 10 days so I was not too worried. Now I am wondering if I am taking risks with my health that I should not taking at this point.

I don’t know exactly how it will happen and if it will look like I planned two months ago, but my heart still hurts for Haiti and I still desperately want to help and desperately want to be there.


Update: Please read my comment under this post. I take all of your opinions and advice very seriously. I have found out that a lot of people going on the other trips that are planned (not just to Haiti) are also feeling uneasy. I am always cautious about over spiritualizing things but I wonder if it is Satan trying to get a foothold in the amazing work that is going to be done around the world.


  • Sara – for those of us who have actually met you, I think we can all share the same feelings in that we know you care and feel for others tremendously. I personally think that your own health should come before the disasters that happen. If you do not feel safe in this endeavor, I don’t think it is worth the risk. There are other ways to help without putting your own self at risk.

  • I agree with Chris. It id very close to the passage about “Taking the log from your own eye, before trying to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Our health is a huge factor now, and I think, for now at least, you should wait a bit for things to get settled before going there.

    The fact you mean to help won’t stop some renegade with a gun. They’re so desperate, they’re shooting at helicopters who are trying to bring food and aid to them (To try to make them come down among the civilians instead of designated aid stations. I guess to control the stuff their own people will get)

    Consider staying here for a while where you can do more in fundraising and leave this time of unsettlement to others.

  • How safe it is for you personally is a definite consideration. Regarding the overall, the CEO of a major cruise ship line came under fire for his ships porting (at a dock the line owns and operates) in a relatively-undamaged area of Haiti for the usual cruiseline entertainment. His response was that the 500 residents the line employs needed the money now more than ever, and that continuing to cruise there allowed them to use their cargo space to bring relief supplies into the area.

    In the end, if going will help the people there more than staying and will not interfere with other relief efforts, then go. If not, then stay. And if you’re not comfortable with going yourself right now, then stay put and use the travel money to contribute to the relief effort.

  • Sara,

    Your personal health and safety are paramount. That being said, another consideration is effectiveness. Given the collapse of the county’s infrastructure how effective can an outside group be? (not a judgement an honest question) What about donating what you would have spent to go there? I think it will take years (at least 10 according to some reports) and there will be plenty of time to physically go there when things are more stable.

    I appreciate your anguish over this it is a great reminder to the rest of us.

    Thank you

  • I would weigh risks to you versus how effective your help would be.

    For example, I rarely go out on lost dog hunts for my friends. I’m very overweight, and going out in the heat would be determental to me ( we always seem to lose dogs in the middle of summer), and I can’t cover enough ground to be effective.

    However, there are things I can do to help, and have. I can make flyers. I can take water and food to the searchers, and I can drive around, post flyers and ask in the neighborhood.

    Sometimes being in a support role rather than a front line role is the best thing for the whole group.

  • I think you should spend some serious time praying about this and seeing what God puts on your heart.

    You may be able to go down there and be a huge blessing to those people.

    You could stay here and do something to help from the safety of your home.

    Either way, Haiti is in your heart which I believe God did for a reason. The question is what is the best way to respond.

    Pray. Listen. Then decide.

  • Thanks for the advice everyone.

    I think I was freaking out last night about what a big task I have in front of me. I am still definitely praying about it, but my heart is still there and I can’t really explain it but I feel like I need to go!

    I had a meeting today about it, and found out we are bringing a lot of our own food supplies which made me feel a lot better about that aspect of it.

    I also found out that I have received quite a bit of money in donations towards my trip. I feel like those people believe in me and I don’t want to let them down.

  • I don’t think it is selfish to be concerned about how your health might impact the trip. It seems like the possibility of you getting stuck there longer than planned is pretty real. For most people, that wouldn’t be a huge problem, but if you wind up without enough insulin,etc. it could be for you. Aside from all that, it doesn’t sound like your trip is going to be directly involved in the relief efforts, and that seems like what needs to take priority right now and others may need to wait to step back in with the less critical help. There will continue to be needs in Haiti for many years to come. Keep praying through it, asking God to help you sort out His will vs. yours, or any feelings that you have to stick with what the group decides, etc., and I have no doubt he will direct your next step.

  • Sara, someone once told me that fear is the tool of the devil. Now I am not a Fire and Brimstone kind of guy but there is truth in the fact that being scared can stop us from doing what we want or need to do.

    That being said, if your heart says go and it seems safe then you should go. If you are scared, that is okay. Go scared. You can be scared and still do it. Heck, it would be silly not to be scared but it doesn’t mean you have to cancel your trip.

    Granted, being foolish another thing. For you to hop on a plane right now, with no help or direction and just go down there would be dumb and I would say NO WAY! But with a group, who has thought about all the stuff you have (except for the D stuff), you will probably be okay.

    Just a couple more cents that came to me. 🙂

  • Sara,

    Whatever you decide will be the right choice for you. You are a great person and I think it’s fantastic that you took upon yourself an opportunity like this. However, I completely understand your feelings and they are valid. Keep us posted!



  • I don’t claim to be a spiritual person, but I seem to remember something about God hath not given us a spirit of fear. I’ve always been a big believer that if God wants us to do something, he’ll help us calm down and overcome the spirit of fear.

  • I really, really like George’s comment:

    Pray. Listen. Then decide.

    Your supporters will support you in your decision, whatever it is. The donations are wonderful but should not be part of your decision.

    You’ll make the right choice and we will support you with our prayers and thoughts.

  • I don’t know what I’d do in your shoes. Such a difficult decision, I almost immediately thought of you and your upcoming trip as soon as I heard just how bad this disaster was becoming.

    I hope you find peace with whatever choice you make, but do not for one minute think of the donations. I am positive that all of those who donated would understand your decision under the circumstances.

  • Sara-

    I read your post early today. I had to come back to comment. I would say Pray about it. You have to do what’s right for you and your health. I’m not sure what I would do. I’ve known you for almost a year, you are a very passionate person. I know it’s going to be difficult. We wouldn’t like you any less if you decided not to go. Keep us posted.

  • I have been thinking about you and your trip since the earthquake. Whatever decision you make, I know that everyone will support it. I can’t say that I’d know what to do if I was in your shoes. That’s why prayer is so important 🙂 Good luck!

  • Sara, whether you go on this trip or not, never doubt that we believe in you and won’t be let down. I’m not sure what I would do, either. There will always be opportunities to bring help and aid to those in need. It is possible that this just isn’t the right path for you now. I know it sounds silly but DO follow your heart.

  • Sara, one story bout prayer (like you need it). Our church supports an orphanage in Haiti, and two families from the church were in the process of adopting when the earthquake happened. Last Sunday we had a message that prayers were needed because the orphanage had collapsed taking much of the important legal paperwork with it. Then Wednesday we got another prayer request, paperwork had been found and hope was that the adoption might proceed in 2-3 weeks. Except…He stepped in. Both of those families flew down to Haiti on Friday, met their children and had them back in Massachusetts in time for church yesterday. In one week He turned a disaster into relief for two families and two boys. We’re continuing to pray for the other 37 children in that orphanage.

    I’ll pray for you, and that God will guide you. I think whatever you do good will come from it.

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