Thursday, December 09, 2010

More Bad News from Haiti

As I'm following the news on Haiti I have been reflecting on the difference between a step in faith and a step in foolishness.  Sometimes they are the same thing, but does that necessarily mean that a risk is always what God wants?  For me it comes down to trying to discern what God trying to say to me... and I'm inclined to worry that my own wants or fears are influencing my discernment.  When I decided to go to Haiti I worried that my sense of "call" was really my desire to do something adventurous, but then things fell into place so easily and it just felt right.  Now, when things are looking much worse in Haiti I am eager to make sure that my discernment is not weighed down by fear.  

But while I am a worrier, but I'm not a fearful traveler.  In the past few weeks I had been reading about the spread of cholera, and a few riots against the U.N. that were sparked by beliefs that the epidemic was started by peacekeeping troops (which, as it turns out may be true).  This made me a little nervous, but I was undeterred. After all, cholera is preventable, and if the violence was serious somebody important (the State Department, Volunteers in Mission, the General Board of Global Ministries, etc) would probably tell us not to go.  Right?  But following the news in Haiti this week has been a different story.  Last month Haiti held a presidential election that was expected to result in a run-off election between two of the candidates.  Earlier in the week, as Haiti waited for the election results, there was some violence in reaction to reported "irregularities" in the voting process.  But someone would tell me if I shouldn't go.  Right?  Right?  ....right?  

Then the results broke yesterday and a popular candidate was eliminated, and as a result, violence has increased and a few people have (perhaps prematurely) thrown out term "civil war" as a possible outcome. American Airlines cancelled flights in and out of Haiti, because employees were unable to get to the airport.  We might be able to fly down on Saturday, but I'm not sure that will happen (or if it should happen).  Today the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince is closed and recommends that Americans in Haiti stay home until the situation stabilizes.  Violence has spread to other cities, including the one where I would be staying.  And while I want to be faithful, and I believe in the power of God to protect me, I am also aware that I am the kind of missionary (inexperienced, short-term) that could prove to be more of a burden than a help in a situation like this.  Not to mention the articles and blogs I saw yesterday about relief workers who flew down there this week only to be stuck inside unable to do anything.  I want to do the right thing... so I'm listening and watching for confirmation.  

While I am disappointed about my plans being thwarted, I am also encouraged by this exercise in discernment.  I am grateful for all of the support I've received and all of the people who have been praying for me.  And to be honest, my disappointment and concern is almost entirely eclipsed by my sorrow for the people in Haiti who have been through a major earthquake, a tropical storm, a cholera outbreak and now political riots and tear gas drifting into tent communities - and all of this after decades of poverty.  My desire to help Haiti is strengthened even if my ability to go is not looking promising.

UPDATE:  I decided not to go to Haiti, because the situation is just too unstable.  I'm praying for a chance to go some other time.   


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