People hear where I am going next week, and because all we know of Haiti is what we have seen on the news, their eyes widen at me, and we end up nodding at each other like, yeah, shit’s about to get real, man.

I received 9 immunizations this week, and I discovered that I am a big whiny baby. Typhoid, check. Hepatitis A and B, check. Cholera meds, check. Malaria pills, check. MMR, check. On and on. I came home, arms aching, and I drank water from the kitchen tap, richness. I’m borrowing a backpack from my pastors.

And one week from today – seriously, 7 days – I’ll be in Haiti.

This morning, I drove down Sumas Mountain, the mist was resting in the green valley, and this is the beauty I know well, the pine trees, the mountains in the early morning sunshine, the cold breath of autumn.  I’m ready for new beauty, new tastes, new friends. I’m ready for Haiti. I think.

I watched an interview with JK Rowling the other night. She has a new book coming out, and it’s about class and poverty and prejudice in Britain. She said something in passing that stood out to me, it was something along the lines of this: we stop seeing Individual People when they are poor. No, we just see a class, we see a homogenous group.

We still think of the poor as a mass, so we may speak piously about The Poor, and yet we do not see them as real people. And in this way, they are easier to ignore.

Aren’t you tired of ignoring The Poor? I am. JK Rowling was right: I have been afraid of the poor because they were The Poor, they were not people to me, they were a cause or an issue or a problem at which to throw money and resources, something for The Professionals. Likewise, I have been able to ignore the orphan crisis because it is a big massive problem, too much for little me.

I’m ready to look into faces, eye to eye, I’m ready to hear voices, and I’m ready to be wrong, and I’m ready to have my stereotypes shattered, and I’m ready to repent, and I’m ready to be born again, I am ready to learn.

We’re going together, you and me, I think, at least that is what I feel. I feel like you are coming with me, and we are about to witness something good and holy and hard and real and personal.

And have you been praying for me? If so, thank you, because I am no longer afraid. Not really. I feel the fear shrinking in the face of what is to come.

You can follow along with the trip here (and download some support images for your own blog or Facebook page) or live through Twitter with the hashtag search of #Help1Haiti.

In which {love looks like} the room to change
In which the stories that aren't told are the sweetest to me
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  • Shane Claiborn frequently says that we simply don’t know enough poor people personally. I think that could apply to a whole range of issues from politics to world religions.

    • Totally agree, Ed.

      • Emily Wierenga

        i agree too. personally is the key. everything changes when we know someone by name.

    • agree, agree, agree. living this out long-term is the key here.

  • I’ve been to Haiti twice. At times you feel like you’re on a different planet. I’m looking forward to hearing how this experience affects you, Sarah!

  • Christina

    This is so good: “I’m ready to look into faces, eye to eye, I’m ready to hear voices, and I’m ready to be wrong, and I’m ready to have my stereotypes shattered, and I’m ready to repent, and I’m ready to be born again, I am ready to learn.”
    I volunteered abroad with a Mennonite organization a couple years ago, and they made us read an article that said the most important thing we could possibly do in the developing world was to stay for tea. Then you sit down and look people in the eye and see that the people in front of you are people with dreams and goals, not people with problems. And only then can real change begin.
    Hope that you have lots of chances to stay for tea.

  • So excited. You know you’re speaking my language. Can’t wait!

  • I have been praying for you, Sarah, and I will continue to. Thank you for your willingness to journey, to be real, and to strip yourself naked and stand in front of us and our God. That’s called restoring Eden, darlin’, and it’s the kind of strip party I’m willing to be a part of. You are an inspiration.

  • Sarah… dude… you are one of the people that I’m most excited to experience this trip with! I can’t wait to see what God does in and through you on this one. And I have a front-row seat! Thank you for saying ‘yes’.

  • Megan Cobb

    Praying, Sarah. I remember your telling me you were afraid. It’s good to hear that’s fading. Do epic shit, friend.

  • Yes, yes, I’m going with you, am already there in a way as my dear friend just moved there to love on and live with Haitian orphans. Looking forward,as always, to what you have to share.

  • I pray it’s life-changing for you, Sarah. I went to Kenya for an 8-wk. missions trip (pre-marriage, pre-babies) & was rocked to the core. I thought I knew poverty b/c I grew up in poverty in Detroit. No, no, no, I grew up in AMERICAN poverty not 3rd world poverty and it was like the scales falling off my eyes for the first time. I was also only 19, so I had so much to learn and so much to experience. I have always said that growing up around a lot of poor people is the absolute best thing my childhood ever gave me b/c it birthed in me a enormous sense of both empathy & personal responsibility for the poor of the world. And even now, I mourn that I dont’ have more day-to-day interaction with the poor…it’s easy to lose that desire over time and going to a 3rd world country often jolts me back. All that to say, I hope and pray this trip will well up something in your heart that will give birth to a new sense of heartbreak.

  • staceyhaiti

    My husband, “tinies” and I have lived in Haiti for five years now and are so blessed, STILL, to be constantly being shattered…living in a state of shatter. It’s a beautiful place to be before our Healer and our Answer, that is for sure.

    As my blond firstborn headed off for her first day of Haitian school today, despite the fact that we tend to think she is the most special kiddo in the world, I was reminded that in a sense, she is not. She is 3, like her classmates, with crazy-huge bows in hair like her classmates, learning and laughing and nervous, like her classmates, and the fact that we were able to pay the $16 annual tuition without blinking while her classmates families have (quite literally) starved and skimped and saved for it doesn’t change that our ti-moun (little person/child) is HIS ti-moun and so is Gerthlande, and Lovely, and Emanie, and Lesley.

    The world is not for her. It’s not to be her stepping stone, as one of the few living on more than $2 a day, but is instead, waiting for her, waiting for Christ in her. We’ve been sent for others… Haiti is a great place to remember that, her people quick to live it out.

    Enjoy, and as always, I’ll be looking forward to hearing your perspective!

  • Kelly

    Oh my. I just started reading your blog a couple months ago and have found such a kindred spirit in you. Bawled yesterday reading your post on marriage. Now this post. This past May I traveled to Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines to see firsthand what’s being done to combat child sex trafficking. I had so many of the same thoughts as you- fear of being so far from my babies- not knowing what to expect experiencing such darkness- but just knowing I would be forever changed. Oh- and I had a big hole in my leg from a surfing accident a month and a half before that refused to heal. Yeah- that made things particularly interesting. It was such a life-defining trip. While I was there and since coming home the one thing that I’ve had to tell myself over and over again is, “God is here. God is in this. God is so fully present in suffering.” When I want to shout out to God for his callousness in not stopping such horrible things, he reminds me that his power is made perfect in weakness. He suffered. He knew pain. He could have set up his kingdom by domination, but he chose to show us another way. And someday he will set all things right. When I want to give up because I feel alone in all of this, he reminds me that for now, we are his hands and feet. We are what he uses to reconcile a world to him. He makes his appeal through us. All stuff you know- but my heart is so fully with you right now as you go!

  • Sarah Silvester

    Can’t wait to read about your experiences and feel it with you, even if just vicariously. You’re one brave lady, and I hope it’s an amazing week – will be praying your family are okay without you xxx

  • I will be praying for you friend and know without a doubt, He will meet you there…and fill you with compassion and words, or not, to meet the people you meet in Haiti.

  • Hey Sarah, great thoughts here. I am on the board with Help One Now and am looking forward to meeting you next week on our Haiti trip. On a trip last year Lamar Stockton (also with Help & GS4O) made a comment that in meeting some of the kids he realized that ‘poverty has a name’. The thought of it struck me beautifully and I’ve used it ever since. Earlier this year after spending a few days living on the streets with some of our homeless friends I came off the street (stinky and nasty) and preached a sermon called ‘Poverty Has a Name’. It was a great morning for us as a church community and Jesus was gracious. I am a barely above average preacher, but if anyone reading wants to take a listen they can here:

    Looking forward to meeting Sarah. With you for Jesus,
    – Jacob Vanhorn

  • Perfect love kicks fear out the door of the plane. I’m praying God gives you so much love for Him, for your fellow travelers, and for the people in Haiti that fear flees for its life. (And doesn’t make it.)
    You’re awesome, and loved, and you’re going to tell these people that they are. This totally rocks.

  • Totally agree – relationship is the key. Once a story becomes personal to us, once we put names to stories then it becomes more than simply an ‘issue’ and labels disappear. It becomes about real people, in real circumstances, who we know and care about. When this happens, our desire to serve, to take action increases – and maybe becomes what it should always have been. This is the power of relationship, the power of a name. Thanks for sharing this, and will be praying for you.

  • This is absolutely true.
    I’m so looking forward to traveling along on your trip via the internet.

  • Emily Wierenga

    you are covered in perfect love, friend. and when you look into the eyes of those sweet babies you’ll know, there was nothing to fear but fear itself. love you so much, and praying my little heart out.

  • Sharon O

    We support two five year olds from Haiti through compassion. My husband has been in Haiti and he said ‘If we are going to help then I want to go to that country’. They are adorable little girls.

  • Oh, Sarah! You already “get” it. I didn’t “get” poverty until I saw it up close working arm-in-arm with Haitian refugees in the DR. Poverty up close has a name, and her name is Bella and Theresa and …

    I invite you to read the unbelievable gift they gave me —

    I pray the image of Christ within you meets the image of Christ in them.

  • Handsfull

    I’m not going to Haiti… but God is opening my eyes to the needs in my own little community. To the poor, the disadvantaged, the ones who are part of all the bad statistics… their children are in my children’s classes at school, they live just round the corner from me, and yet somehow until a month ago I wasn’t really aware of them as people.
    But now I am. And I am praying for these women, and their precious babies, and doing what I can to help meet their right-now needs. I have no idea what, if anything, will develop from all this, but it feels like my eyes have been opened, and I can’t go back to the ignorance that I lived in before.
    Bless you as you go to Haiti – I’ll be praying for you.