Wednesday, November 23, 2011

This One's for the Discouraged

Sunday morning I heard the news that some Indiana missionaries in Haiti were ambushed in the compound where they were residing. Armed robbers broke in, shot four of the missionaries and grazed another with a flyaway bullet. Yet another was injured jumping out of a second story window as he ran to get help.

The men survived, and the mission was not at all like the work camp I'll be a part of, but...still. You can imagine that my morning was...shaky. This had never even occurred to me as something that could happen to me while I'm working in Haiti. I spent a long time with my stomach in a hard ball, wondering WTF am I doing? Because, quite frankly, I feel so ill equipped to handle this sort of thing. I'm not a fighter, people. Confrontations of any kind turn me into pudding. I am that person that when given the wrong food order, I rarely send it back. The first time I had to go through one of those body scans at the airport, I was so shaken I could barely walk away, but did I say a word? Weak, people. I'm weak.

But strangely enough, I never considered not going to Haiti.

Haiti is one of the poorest nations in the world, still suffering from the aftereffects of the earthquake and poverty that seems to have no end. Haiti is not in a position where it can fully help itself right now, and I have been given an opportunity to do something for them. So, just as I would never turn my back on a someone I thought was being abused or neglected, I cannot turn my back on Haiti. Some things are worth the risk.

Am I afraid? Hell yeah. But if I allow myself to be frightened away from something I am meant to do--something beautiful and rewarding--because of some selfish (violent) jackholes, I will never forgive myself. And something remarkable will be lost.

But we do this all the time, don't we? I know I have, allowing myself to be scared off from something important because someone was cruel or because things got too tough. Seriously, all the time growing up. And even in my adult life I find myself doing this sometimes, backing down when really I should be all up in your grill. There have been times in my writing life, too, when someone has done/said something to discourage me, sometimes on purpose, sometimes not. It doesn't take much, though, to shake a writer's confidence. We're fragile creatures, naturally, our sense of identity so often tied to our writing.

How many of us have considered closing down our blogs because we feel so discouraged? How many of us have thought about abandoning social media altogether because, while it can bring us a little closer to the world, can also make us feel so vulnerable and exposed? How many of us have thought about hanging up our laptops because of endless and/or nasty rejections? Or because of something some other writer said/did? Or because we have never ever felt good enough? Perhaps we are cruelest to ourselves.

I'm not a strong person, not really. Not for myself. I know when it comes to my own children, I could probably rip out an assailant's throat in order to defend them (yeah, I know, thanks for the visual, Carol), but for me? Not so much.

But I'm tired of running. A friend of mine recently told me that I needed to work on self-love. It was a profound moment for me, and strangely ironic, because I love like mad. Passionately, with every ounce of my being. But loving I think, maybe, if I did, fully, I would fight for myself. I would tell the server to please remake my order (hold the spit); and I would never again think that my writing wasn't and could never be good enough. Most of us wouldn't blink twice at the thought of going to battle for our children, our pets, our parents or friends or even a stranger in need of help. But how many of us would fight for ourselves?

You owe it to yourself to hang on to the things that mean the most.* Don't let some jackhole (even if it's you) scare you away from what you're meant to do. While making others a priority is important, it's okay to love yourself enough. To love yourself a lot. It's okay--and necessary--to fight for yourself (read: your dreams).

NOTE: We will take all precautions necessary and will not take any unnecessary risks when traveling to Haiti. Though there hasn't been any discussion of cancelling our work camp, we will take seriously any warnings from the US Department of State of an increased threat in Haiti. The incident described above was an attempted robbery, a freak incident that could have just as easily occurred in the US or anywhere.

*By this I do not mean hoarding. Or stalking. Or resentments. Or hostages. Or your grandma's fruit cake. Or Garbage Pail Kids.


  1. Oh I am so sorry for those poor missionaries who were attacked. Oh dear.

    I hope hope hope the organisation and the people you are going with to Haiti are able to assess the dangers to all of you properly and to take every precaution necessary to protect their volunteers and workers. Even big charity organisations like Oxfam (very experienced in dealing with high-risk dangerous areas) pull out of places when they are unable to provide sufficient and adequate protection for their workers and volunteers. I appreciate all the good such organisations do and all the vital help they provide and how necessary they are but please please your lives and security are important too.

    p.s. yes, love yourself!!! :-)

    Take care

  2. Amen, sister. Amen!

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving! :)

  3. That's scary what happened to the missionaries. Hope the organization you are going with will keep you safe. I would not be courageous in that situation either.

    And I do get discouraged and consider quitting blogging and mostly writing all the time. Thanks for the inspiration to not follow those negative thoughts. Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. I'm not sure if I'm shocked about what happened to the missionaries. When you're dealing with countries like Haiti, there are huge risks involved. But then again, no place is safe. Just look at all the shootings taking place in developed countries lately (e.g Canada, Finland, Norway, the US).

    You've brought up a valid point. I would definitely fight to save my kids. No question there. But I think I would also fight to save myself so I can go back to my kids. And I'm sure if it ever came down to it, you would too Carol. You're not a quitter. :D

  5. Take care of yourself and have a wonderful time. I give you so much respect for going to Haiti to help make the world a better place, I don't think I could do it.

    And, consider this a big virtual hug from me. You're one of the best--don't be discouraged!

  6. You're probably going to have to face some terrifying things while you're there, one way or another, but that's kind of the point.

    Let's just hope you don't have to suffer anything like this.

    (and you can get up in my grill anytime, sometimes we need it)

  7. Oh no! How scary and tragic. I pray your trip is eventful in all the right ways and none of the wrong. You're doing the right thing by going. You're my hero.

    And when you figure out the recipe for self-love, please e-mail me. XOXO

  8. At least you're aware of the possibility of danger, and you'll be on your guard. I think this is something you have to do, no matter what frightening or terrible things you see or hear about there. That's why it's a life-changing experience.

    And, God-willing, you'll come back home safe, having changed the lives of others.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Carol, and know our hearts are with you.



  9. I will be praying for a hedge of protection around you while you are there.
    The experience will change you!

  10. Oh dear, dear, dear. I'm so sorry for those folks and I hope your group is cautious and protected as much as possible. I can't begin to say how awed I am that you are doing this. You may change lives, which is priceless. I wish you Godspeed and a safe, productive, illuminating journey.

  11. Oh wow. I'm so sorry for those affected and please be careful and safe. Can I just say, I really admire what you're doing. Even though I'm too young to be going to Haiti now, I am raising money and I hope to be someone like you in the future.

    Thanks so much for this inspiring post!

    Reading is my cup of tea

  12. It's amazing what you are doing, be safe!

  13. you are going to have a wonderful, life-changing time in haiti. I know it.
    Also, i rarely send food back, and i love the crap out of me. But that's usually cuz i'm lazy, don't like confrontation, and don't want to bother the wait staff. *shrugs*

  14. You didn't consider not going because as I said before, we go where we're led. You are needed there and will make a difference. As for the fighting for myself, I'm not good at that either. I let too many things get to me and take me down. I get back up, but I want to get better at it. To pop back up faster, or maybe even not let myself get knocked down in the first place. We are all just a wip... Much love, my dear, always.

  15. I think you will find strength if and when you need it. The wrong food order doesn't meet the criteria.

  16. hi miss carolina! one of my older brothers went at haiti after that earthquake and helped lots. he said they could need lots of help for a long time so im just way happy youre going and its sooo nice that you could wanna help. if i was more old for sure id go help. thats what loves all about. i think youre real strong. i got you in my prayers.
    ...hugs from lenny

  17. This is such a timely and impactful post, Carol, and I'm definitely taking it to heart. I think of you as incredibly strong and brave and selfless, and I am in awe of you and your impending trip to Haiti. I look at you as inspiration to be a better, more giving person. In other words, you rock! :)

  18. So very very profound (and so courageous of you--spiritually too)!!!!

  19. I'm not going to lie, that freaks me out more than a little. But I have complete faith that you can do this. Though I must admit, I'd feel at least a little better if you took a women's self-defense class before you go...

  20. That was a good point you made at the end--things like this happen any and everywhere. It could just as easily have happened in the US as in Haiti. We can't hide because we're afraid. I'm definitely in the same boat as you, though, where I would never send my food back if a waiter brought me the wrong order. I don't stand up for myself in that way, either. I even hate making returns at a store! But there's something different about this situation, because you're putting yourself out there for the good of other people, and that's commendable. It shows an inner strength that's different from just getting what you want for your own life. You're taking a risk for others. Good job! :) I know you'll have a life changing experience in Haiti!

  21. I love the honesty of this post. Sometimes I feel weak and vulnerable, but I go ahead and follow my heart and my dreams, otherwise my fears will cripple me.

    I wish you the best for your trip to Haiti.

  22. I'm very sorry to hear what happened but I, I don't know if I should say this, oh well I'll say it, maybe they panicked? I mean when you come from a secure country like the US or Canada and you travel south, wouldn't you be all on edge? I say this because I live in a third world country, in a city where people are advised by their embassies NOT to come, and when people do come they are SCARED. Very. I've seen it in their faces.

    And I'm not saying there's not reasons to be scared because there are plenty of but you will be fine, you will be brave thinking about the ones you're helping and once you're there you won't even remember why you have doubts in the first place.

    Stay strong, Carolina! (:

  23. Yay! What a fantastic post, Carol! I was just thinking about you yesterday b/c the newsletter from our old church focused on a couple who are working w/earthquake survivors in Haiti. They found a girl who had been living in a tent for a year. A tent. :p

    You're going to do such good work. Don't be discouraged! And you're right. Don't let anything stop you from doing what you're passionate about. Yay! :o) <3

  24. That was an amazing post. My heart goes out to the people in Haiti, to you. I am so proud of you for doing this. And stay strong. I know I have a lot of periods where I get discouraged, want to shut down the blog, give up on heart-felt work - fortunately I have friends who won't let me do that. And I just can't run away. Good for you for not running away either.

    Thanks for this.

  25. So well said! Our church does a lot of mission work in Haiti, and I've never heard one negative comment or scary situation - hopefully those are rare!

  26. You are strong AND brave to stick to your purpose and to admit your vulnerabilities. This is a very inspiring post. Thank you for sharing it! I wish you the best on your trip.

  27. I love this post, Carol. Thank you for your willingness to be vulnerable and honest by sharing this post with your readers. *hugs* I love you.

    I'm so sorry to hear about the ambushed missionaries. It would only be natural for you to be afraid. Fear CAN be instinctive warning to keep us alive.
    But, you are also correct in that fear can hold us back. And I am so proud of you, inspired by you, for facing your fears and sharing them with us.

    On that note, I've read some of your writing and I PROMISE you, your writing is not only 'good enough', but indeed, excellent, strong, thoughtful, funny, tension-filled, unique.
    And, as a person, well, you are one of the kindest, most thoughtful people on the planet. (your willingness to leave your family to help in Haiti is proof, but certainly not the only proof.)

    We ALL have moments of doubt, of lack, of feeling discouraged, not good enough, not worthy.
    Sometimes being brutally honest with ourselves about what isn't up to snuff within ourselves is the catalyst people need to grow and improve, better ourselves. :)
    At the same time, I believe we can always find good within ourselves.

    Carol, you are lovely, very worthy and marvelously lovable. My wish for you this holiday is for you to see your own outer and inner beauty, talents and strength and to truly love yourself...they way the rest of us see you and love you.

    Actually, that's my wish for ALL of humanity.


  28. You are very brave! Rock on and kick butt in Haiti!

  29. Carolina, you are braver, stronger and better than you think you are. Truly. Haiti has never been a safe place. I went on a two-week mission trip to the Dominican Republic when I was in high school and I remember all our parents being freaked out because it was on the same island as Haiti and all manner of dangers awaited us. Twenty years later, things aren't much better over there. They need you. And I think by going, you'll surprise yourself in more ways than one. ((Hugs))

  30. You are brave and strong and you have the biggest heart, Carol! And you will be in my prayers for safe travels!!

  31. Oh, Carol. How scary that must have been to hear. I will say a prayer for all involved.

    I agree with Kelly, you do have the BIGGEST heart. The fact that this news didn't cause you to back down is brave, and knowing you, I'm not surprised.

    I truly wish you could see yourself like we see you. You would see an amazing, thoughtful, kind, unselfish, beautiful soul. I will be thinking of you, dear. Love you <3<3


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