A matter of three things

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If you've spent any amount of time reading this website several things will be very clear to you:
- I am completely neurotic
- I am a cynic
- I am (some would say irrationally) scared of flying

All of this came to a head the other day when I received an email from an organization inviting me to fly to India, all expenses, to write about this charitable organization's work and hopefully bring attention to the children who so desperately need sponsors. I am not going to lie: not four days before receiving this email did I tell Chris, upon watching a travel program together, that India is the last place on earth I would ever want to visit - unless for the sole purpose of finding and beating that outsourced Dell tech who smarted off to me last year when he said that my computer problems may be due to "the women and their silly typing with their long nails." That's when God up in the sky rubbed His big God hands together and laughed like a vaudeville villain and remarked "I'LL SHOW YOU" in a James Earl Jones voice.

I immediately came up with a mental list of reasons I cannot go:
- all of the bullet points listed above
- I hate curry
- I'm a germophobe
- Securing sponsorship or funds for Chris to accompany me
- terrorists
- being separated from my family
- possibly crashing into the sea which would really suck
- going with a group of total strangers
- the flight is over 30 hours

Chris says that it's a wonderful opportunity but that there is no way on earth he feels at ease with putting my 5'5" frame on a giant metal aircraft and launching me over two oceans to face the journey alone.

"No one can protect you like I can protect you," he said quietly, and when I rolled my eyes he was all "So they can say that crap in Twilight and you women swoon but when real actual men say it you roll your eyes? Good grief!"

So now we're feeling out some sponsorships for him to go because he insists on taking the bullets should we be ambushed by a group of terrorists while helping the children who are living in abject poverty. And also he would like to ride an elephant.

I told my mother, who is very much like Kath from "Kath and Kim," how long the flight was and she immediately launched into some story about how if you sit with your legs up for a period of time you will get blood clots in your legs and die! And the terrorists! And also the water! They don't have Imodium in India!

When I broached the topic with my children and pointed out where we would be on the globe and how they would stay with their grandparents Liam was all "SEE YA LATER!" and Ewan asked for me to bring him back a monkey. "With cymbals, mama."

The other night I spoke with the guy organizing the trip and I attempted to astound him with my neurosis. He answered all of my questions with a smile in his voice and I could tell that my concerns are ones voiced by others who've gone on previous excursions. I related my concern about terrorists and of falling out of the sky.

"I've practiced free-fall moves in my living room floor, I said.

"If you wear baggy clothes you'll fall slower" he replied.

He didn't make fun of me. Score a point towards going.

So the three biggest obstacles in my way are my anxiety, the cost factor of Chris accompanying me as his presence is sort of a make or break, and my concerns for the boys.

I'm being funny about all of this but if you looked at my soul it has the face of Shelley Duvall right as Jack Nicholson is breaking through the bathroom door in the last action sequence of "The Shining." In non-dramatic layman's terms: I am scared.

Mother Theresa once said that if there is a hell on earth, Calcutta is it. I would be going to a hell on earth to observe and document the divine and hope even when it seems least likely to be present. I'd be going to write about the help that the sponsoring organization does for these children and hopefully encourage more people to sponsor children in third-world areas. The vast disparity in cultures does not intimidate me; the knowledge that I will have my heart wrenched from my chest and wrung out does not give me pause. Leaving the protection of my country's borders during a very weird time, leaving my young children (which pains me to even write it), and breaking out of my own head all give me concern. I'm a prayerful person; it's something about which I will have to pray more. It's the opportunity of a lifetime, yet, so is raising my family, should my biggest fears manifest.

I don't know what I am going to choose but I have to give an answer by Wednesday. If I decide in the affirmative I'll give the rest of the details then. 

I don't know why I'm presenting this to you ... for comfort? For some magic comment that will erase my anxieties? To ask what you would do? All of these and yet none of these, but I want to hear it anyway. Please don't judge me for having honest concerns.
(And please also say a prayer for us.)

65 Comments

Um, yeah, go. Seriously. I'd shiv a bitch for that opportunity. None of the reasons you presented even come close to outweighing the reasons you should go.

People live there, lots of them, every day. People fly. Every day. The kids will be fine. Not trying to trivialize your concerns, but...dude. Free trip to India. FREE.

I would go. I would go in a heartbeat. I have ALWAYS wanted to go.

When my mom lost her job to outsourcing overseas she was fortunate enough to receive one of four NEW positions. Positions that would quality control check the work of Indians doing her old job. Weird huh? Well, while we cried, worried, and freaked out (Hello, this woman in her 50s is losing her job! Who is going to hire her?) we embraced it. I told her we'd get through it no matter what! She was lucky to get a job, but it would not be easy.

In that time, teams of people from the Indian company came to the United States. My mom spent six weeks in Dallas during one phase. When they finally came to St. Louis I was DEFINITELY going to take advantage of this opportunity. They were a wealth of information. I could ask them anything about their culture, beliefs, feelings about our country and government, and they were open books. It all sounded so fascinating to me.

They taught me so much. I broke out my camera and they were so excited to let me take their pictures. They have sent me gifts and my mother gifts (including the most beautiful silk sari I've ever seen). And, while they are probably THE MOST difficult people my mother ever has to deal with (imagine those Dell support calls on a daily basis x 100) the fact is I felt blessed. I cuss every time I get off any support phone call from over there still to this day!

So, I vowed I would go when I could afford immunizations and funds for travel. I can also tell you that my mother speaks to them daily and you should remember that India is a huge country. Just like we hear about riots and crime in one part of our country, our own backyard may not be experiencing that. It's a lifetime opportunity. I'm not telling you that you should go or not go. I'm just saying, I would. Don't know if that comforts you. I'm sure my rambling has kept you from even reading this far.

My final thought - JEALOUS if you do! :)

When I was thirteen, my parents let me go alone to Haiti to visit an orphanage. Not alone exactly, we were traveling in a group, but I was without them. The following summer I spent four months in Brazil visiting an orphanage again and the summer after that, I was back in Haiti. It broke my parents heart every time to watch me go, knowing the situations in those places were dangerous and I may or may not walk back through the door.

But the motto of my family has always been that you are safer in the center of God's will than anywhere else. They knew and I knew that I had been called to have those experiences and travel to places that made them uncomfortable. By obeying God's call, I was far safer being in Haiti than being in my own bedroom at home. Obedience is rarely easy but it always opens our hearts to blessings we can't imagine.

I hope in all your praying and fretting, you come to a conclusion that is in obedience to what God wants from you. I'm sorry for how preachy this comment sounds - that's actually not my style at all!

Do it. Honestly, there are many beautiful places in India. It's not a giant wasteland — it's a big country. The whole trip sounds like a great opportunity.

I'm scared to fly, too, but I always remind myself that planes are exponentially safer than cars, in which I have no problem with traveling. Also, Xanax is your friend.

Completely taking your qualms into consideration, I think you'd be crazy not to go. If for no other reason than to have the experience.

I've been to india a couple of times before and I had many of the same qualms you did (except terrorists and curry) and truly enjoyed the experience.

I would go on and on about the pros/cons etc; But that's not necessary, I vote go. If you have a bake sale to raise fundage for Chris let us all know.

Go! But fly first or business class; 747, if possible. Take frequent walks about the plane. Drink plenty of water, limit alcohol and get plenty of rest.

I visited orphanages in the Republic of Vietnam and have pictures and experiences that are unmatched.

I think your concerns are valid. It sounds great to take a free trip around the world but that area isn't exactly stable over there, there was the Mumbai attack just this past November. I can also understand about not wanting to leave your children. I'm not so sure that I agree with the idea of a young mother leaving her family to go help in another country because it could put her in harm's way as well as negatively impact her family. Just my two cents.

People don't regret opportunities such as this. Sure, they may miss Starbucks, fight off a few terrorists, get dysentery, and eat fire-hot curry, but in the end do you think anyone would regret helping dozens, hundreds thousands of children? Nope.

I've done the whole randomly-go-to-an-oddball-country thing, and even though I experienced a terrorist attack, visits from police, a lack of Starbucks, dehydration, extreme sunburn, and the 5am call to prayer that made me want to break a specific commandment (come to find out the guy wasn't even in the tower half the time, but was replaced by a RECORDING....something about the way he hit that vibrato every time), I wouldn't trade that experience for the world.

Well, if someone actually offered me the world, we'd have a deal. But you get my drift.

Oh, and while you're there, you can visit my Compassion International child! I'm so envious.

Don't feel guilty. Those concerns are what parents voice at international adoption meetings before going to pick up the child they've been longing for for three years. I said the same things before picking up my little girl in CHina.

I was scared as hell to go to China. There was a time I thought I'd have to go alone an was begging friends to go with me. Then Matt was able to go and I was able to relax a bit. You wouldn't believe the stuff we brought for just in case situations. One suitcase was all OTC medications. Turns out we didn't need them and had the most amazing two weeks of our lives. Yeah some moments were uncomfortable. The 30 hours of travel (total with all plane switches) SUCKS. And we did that coming up with an 8 month old baby who only knew us for one week! Just as you fall asleep you hit turbulence. Jet lag is REAL and it takes a few weeks to recover from. But I would do it again in two seconds if offered. I came up with a new understanding of the world and feeling like I could do anything. China was the reason I started my online show and look what has happened since! Yeah, my life has changed!!

I can't wait to find out what happens next! Thanks for keeping us updated.

Of course your concerns are valid. But I think the benefits outweigh the costs. Your perspective will lend itself well to observing events in India, and the advantage of a broad audience means your observations can reach and impact many.

I don't know if you saw her posts, but the Pioneer Woman's family went to the Dominican Republic for a similar purpose, albeit more relief efforts than documentation. Regardless, her views on the experience may be useful in helping you make a decision.

http://thepioneerwoman.com/category/dominican_republic

One more thing- I can give you hints on coping with being separated from the boys. I cried about 5 hours out of our 17 hour flight to Hong Kong from missing my girls so much. I actually stared at their pictures and SOBBED loudly on the plane. A chinese woman came over to comfort me, I was such a mess.

I called home constantly. I worried myself sick. The girls were FINE! They had a great time with Grandma.

Make sure your will is updated and everything is in place. Sounds scary, but totally necessary for ALL parents, travel or no travel.

So excited for you.

Seriously, I think you should go. I believe that you will have the trip of a lifetime, and come home with memories and experiences that you'll never forget. I hate flying, too. Flying from Japan to the US can be anywhere from 8 hrs to 14 hrs, and I've experienced both flight times. UGH. I'm okay at first, but after a while, I start getting edgy and nervous. I usually bring a book, music, whatever I need to distract me. I find that I get claustrophobic when I'm trapped in a sea of seats, so I always ask to be in an aisle seat. However, if you decide to go, I would recommend asking for the exit row seating. There is hella leg room right there, and maybe sitting close enough to the emergency exit will calm your fears because you know you'll have access to it, just in case. I really hope you'll go, Dana. I think you'll be glad you did. And, as one person has said, when all else fails, Xanax is your friend ;o)

I am in the minority, but I would be leaning toward not going (if it were me). I have two kids, 4 and 2. My worst fear is that something happens to me and they grow up without a mommy. I feel obligated to do everything I can to make sure I am here for them always. I do like to have adventures and experiences, but I am just cautious about which ones I choose. A free trip to Canada, England, Spain - sign me up. A trip to India? From everything I have ever read or seen, that place is a sewer. A nightmare. Terrorists, diseases, kidnappers...it would be too much for me to handle.

As far as the hubby going...I would certainly not want to go anywhere like that without my husband. BUT that would mean if something did happen to us, my babies would be completely alone. Missing two parents, instead of one.

I don't know, dude. Check out the US State Department's website. They list all current warnings and dangers about international travel. Listen as closely as you can to that Little Voice. Doubt could mean Don't.

Please go. This is one of those, "I wonder..." propositions. As in, if you don't go, you'll always wonder if you should have, if you made a grave mistake by not going. I don't know about you, but I plan to have as few of those moments as possible when I leave this world.

You have a distinct voice, and one that could do a lot of good for a lot of people. You are being offered this opportunity because this organization believes you can bring the greatest amount of benefit to the table and that has to be an amazing feeling. Both good reasons to go.

I don't know you well, we've only met a few times in passing and I read your blog. But I would say that neuroses and fear are two different things. You're a thinker, but I have never seen you as the type to let your fears rule you, as so many others do.

I'll get off my soapbox and say that any decision you make will be the right one for you. Let us know how everything turns out. And... *cough* if you don't feel you can go, hey- I would love a free trip to India. It's on the top of my list!

Wow, I can so relate to your fears. I am terrified of flying (although, after rolling down a foothill last month in my car, it is starting to look like a more viable option again).

I would really struggle too, but I can't get past the thought that this would really be an amazing, once in a lifetime experience for you (and, by extension, your kids--the stories you would have to tell them!). It would be a heart-wrenching experience. Especially since India is one of those areas where the bone-crushing poverty and complete lack of respect for women leads to very young people in very horrible forms of slavery.

I think that I would have a hard time passing up the opportunity.

It would just have to involve a lot of Valium to get me there.

You should go. Jesus said what you do for the least on earth you do for Him. If you go and serve the poor, marginalized and unrepresented in society you will have something to show for your life's work when you get to heaven. (Not that what you already do for your children isn't something to show.) Go love on those poor kids and hope that your writing can do something to help.

Dana, first off, I just want to say, Wow, that is awesome. My thoughts are unsure as to whether you should go or not. On the one hand, I don't believe in coincidences and I think that this is happening to you for a reason. But on the other hand, I am also worried that if you do go over there, that you would be in danger due to all the violence against Christians by Hindus, Muslims, and the government crackdown on churches over there. Christians are being killed and tortured over there big time. Also, I want to remind you of the time when Former President Clinton (pretty sure it was Clinton) was in office and Pakistan and India basically came within a hair's breadth of launching nuclear missiles at each other. It is still definitely within the range of possibility that something like this could happen, in my opinion. And it is only getting more volatile as the years go by. But I think that if you do decide on going, it will absolutely be a life altering experience. You will never be the same. You probably already know this, but in India, there is a caste system and at the bottom rung of that system are the "Untouchables". These people, for all intents and purposes, are born on the sidewalk, live on the sidewalk, and die on the sidewalk. They are treated lower than animals as people are not supposed to talk to them or interact with them in any way. You most likely, will see poverty that is pretty much unprecedented, no doubt. I understand your scared, Dana and there is nothing wrong with that. Bravery isn't the absence of fear, it is acting and persevering in spite of the shaking in your boots. And Dana, just the fact that you are even considering going tells me you are a brave person. But you most likely will not get another opportunity to go there as I'm confident things will get really dodgy there sooner or later. And yes, pray absolutely. I will pray for you also. Godspeed, Comrade.

I will be praying for you..... No matter which choice you make, it will be the right choice for YOU!!!!

The evangelical Christian in me says that I should affirm you in going, but my honest, gut level instinct is to talk you out of it for many of the reasons you listed. The best I can suggest is that you continue to pray and listen for God's leading. (How typically un-useful is that?!) Were I to be offered the same opportunity, I would decline it...... Read Morebut then I'm not wired for overseas missionary work. Or, maybe that’s just a cop out. So, now that my feedback has deteriorated into useless drivel, I'll simply wish you good luck. As for judging you and your concerns, I wouldn't dare! I respect you for even considering it. :)

I would love to travel over seas expenses paid. Would be a nice vacation for me.

Your kids will be fine, the flight will be fine, the trip will be fine. I think you'll enjoy it more if your husband comes along. I tend to think I'd go, but I've also learned to justify passing on things with fear. That's probably not helpful at all.

I'm a mom and can completely relate to your fear of leaving your children while you do this work, and nothing we say will make it completely go away. But from what I have read, you are not a person who lives her life in fear. And I know you don't want your children to do the same. Imagine what a lesson you are teaching your boys if you confront your fears and conquer them. And hello--ready made homeschooling tie-ins all over the place, right?

We are often called to do something that is hard and pushes us way beyond our comfort zones only to find ourselves on the other side with a clarity that could not have been achieved any other way. Are you afraid of getting there, or are you afraid of who might come back?

I would go.

You should totally do it!! I think you'll really come to regret not taking this oppportunity if you don't.

Sure...the idea of flying that far and leaving the kids is scary...but they will be with Chris or grandma (and you know they all LUURRVE that!!), so the kids will be totally fine! And millions of people fly every day...just make sure to get up and walk a little bit so your mom won't be freaked out about blood clots. =)

It will be the experience of a lifetime, and I will bet that you will meet people who will be a part of your life for years. It's an experience you just can pass up!

I'll cross my fingers you're able to arrange it for Chris to come with you! Having him by your side will make the experience even more fantastic!

Go. I can't add anything that hasn't already been said.

i too have pretty much the same neurosis as you do... and i think i would be having the same struggle were the opportunity mine. that being said, i'm pretty sure i'd suck it up and go. because, WOW, what an opportunity.

I think both trains of thought are valid. You can go to India and something bad may happen, but you could also stay home and something bad could happen... I wouldn't rely upon that line of thinking in this situation. These trips aren't something new or different for the groups that run them. I guarantee that they take far more into account than you or I would for these trips because of the possible PR fallout were something to happen. That said, I would evaluate my motives in going: Can you help? Is there a life lesson to be learned? If you think so, then yes, I think I would go. I think you would offer a valuable perspective and the experience would give you deep insight into your own beliefs and decisions. Know that our thoughts and prayers are with you regardless of your decision.
Hope that helps Dana

And there's more than curry in India ;-)

Please go. I've never been to India, but my boyfriend and I both have friends from there. It is a quickly modernizing country. It's true that there are large disparities between the rich and the poor, between the cities and the rural areas. But it is by no means "a sewer." that's horrible.

I realize the Mumbai attacks have been in the news, but you have to understand that people were shocked by those attacks. It was not business as usual, not something expected, because Mumbai is a cosmopolitan city in a thriving country. Remember, we've experienced terrorist attacks as well here in the US. I go to London regularly despite the terrorist threats. Please don't let the very remote threat of terrorist violence deter you from this once in a lifetime opportunity.

I can't really relate to the fear of flying, because I fly internationally pretty frequently. I can just say that flying is really very safe, safer than driving, etc. etc. I know that probably doesn't help. But it is safe, really! And you'll be fine on the long flight. If you're concerned about the whole deep vein thrombosis thing- there are actually exercises you can do to reduce the chances of that. They're available online and they're also printed in the airline magazine in the seatback pocket. But it is so not a big deal. And you can pack snacks to deal with a long flight. Which, bonus, saves you from eating the airline food.

I also can't really relate to the concern for your children, because I am not a mother. I do understand them. I think that, in life, there are always bad things that could happen and if you spend too much time worrying about them you will miss out on a lot of great stuff. And as far as just being separated for the duration of the trip- your boys will be fine with their grandparents, I promise. FINE.

I understand your concerns, for sure. But I also know that the chances of something bad happening are very remote, and the chances of this being an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to touch a lot of lives and experience an incredible, vibrant country are 100%.

You seem to have a strong church community and an avid online following. I'm sure, with those two things combined, you can find a way to secure financing for your husband to accompany you. Let us know what we can do to help.

When's the next time you'll have a chance to get out of your comfort zone and see that which you imagine and are told exists but have never witnessed for yourself? How much more powerful will everything you have to say about so many subjects be because you have firsthand experience? Consider the book deals and the blogging.

I've been volunteering in places I've had no right to be in since I was a kid and they always tell you - you will take away more than you will give, and that's okay. But it is also an opportunity that will offer you a very rare chance to then in fact give back BECAUSE you will have seen what many never see but only complain about and tell others what to do about.

Read Three Cups of Tea.

One more thing, Dana, if you decide on going. You might also already know this, but in case you don't. DON'T EAT WITH YOUR LEFT HAND OR SHAKE HAND WITH YOUR LEFT! : ) It is considered to be very disgusting, rude, and incredibly offensive over there. I would tell you why, but you'll probably find out sooner or later if you don't already know. But don't do it! It might help you in your quest of not looking like an American gringo, and probably spare you several uncomfortable confrontations. Just saying...

I completely understand all your fears and hesitations, and I think they are all legit. But you should go, anyway. As some people have already said, the things that you will get from this experience will be life-changing. You may never get a chance like this again, and I think you should take it. I think the regret you could experience from NOT going will far outweigh any relief you might have from not risking all the possible problems.

We need to talk! I've been there three times, and if possible will go this year again.

I would be 100% behind you going! There are basic precautions to take that you would take for traveling to most countries, but in general it is a safe and friendly place!

And yes, it will be a life changing experience...in a good way.

I think a lot depends on what this organization is. If they are large enough to fly you out, assume that they will try to keep you comfortable, knowing that you are not used to such extreme poverty. Then I would definitely go.

If you would need to rough it, and you don't feel you are up to it -- then I would lean the other way.

But I would assume that everything will run smoothly and this will be an amazing experience.

GO!
Get your shots, get the doc to script you for a presciption immodium-ish product, don't drink the water, don't brush your teeth with the water and stay away from raw fruits and veggies.
Otherwise - have an awesome time enjoying beautiful culture.

Also...hint...bring granola/nutragrain bars with you. You can eat them for breakfast - plus you can hand them out in the streets when you're asked for money by children!

I don't think you should go, not right now. I think you should go in the future, with two or three fellow top bloggers, when you feel you ladies can band together and really get the message out, and continue to run an organization that provides aid.

Going to Calcutta will break your heart and change you in a very challenging way. If the timing was better, and you had the time and resources to follow up your trip with true change, it would be different. But the priorities you listed above are more important right now.

Here is my experience with Calcutta...I went to a conference in NY, and heard the story of someone who's been there, who came back with a list of needs, and a clear picture of how nuns are running orphanages with zero resources, other than prayer. I was totally inspired to give what I could.

I packed two boxes full of sheets, which is their primary need, and tons of kiddish homeschooling supplies that would stimulate the children's minds and give them something colorful and challenging to look at, and believe something good about the future with. The boxes cost almost $200 each to ship, which at the time I couldn't afford, so I didn't send them.

They can't accept money, because it doesn't go to the orphanages, it goes to the churches that are running the orphanages. It left me knowing that we really do have to band together to help the orphans of Calcutta, but it has to be done right or it won't succeed.

I wouldn't sacrifice my life with children depending on you right now. If there's even a small risk, you are too precious to too many people to walk into something that isn't 100% guaranteed to be safe.

Gotta run, but if you want to email me for some more un-moral support, please do...

jeskiley at yahoo dot com

This isn't about world travel right now, it's about making a choice that produces the best outcome. Pray for more patience, you're on the right track, and the right opportunity will come.

I didn't even read your whole post. If it were me, I would go with no hesitation. So my inclination is to say, GO TO INDIA. I have a few friends who have been there and said it was a marvelous, marvelous place. You will be changed forever by the beauty and the ugliness you see there. It seems to me that if divine providence puts something like this in your lap, you better have a REALLY darn good reason not to go. A billion people have to live there - surely you can just visit. And should you happen to die over there (which is very very unlikely) well then I believe that was the way you were meant to die, unfathomable and horrible as it may be. You would be going in the service of the least of these, and therefore in the service of the Lord. So don't be ruled by fear.

Having said all that, it is YOUR decision, and my only real assvice is that you should pray pray pray about it, listen to your heart and listen to your husband, and then decide. And whatever you decide will be fine, don't sweat it too much.

As a Christian I will say that it does offer an opportunity to minister to those less fortunate. However, your hesitation may be the Lord's way of saying this is not the way for you to do this.

I would decline if given the offer. I have three young children that are my number one priority and would not want to travel to the other side of the world, especially if my husband was with me. Both of us on a trip like that would be a huge no, immediately. Plus I'm terrified of flying. Just reading your post made my hands sweat and my tummy rumble.

There is a lot you can do for kids in the US as well as across the globe without actually going there and putting yourself in harms way. Just saying :) But I will pray that you make a decision that is God's will for you and you alone.

Sometimes the World invites people to excel at humanity. You don't have to be the person to accept, and it says nothing about you if you refuse. But if you go...you prove the World right about human beings. That we can be better, even if we can't ALWAYS be better. But you owe the World nothing.

That's awesome that they offered it to you but I would be just as scared. It's an awful long ways away but you have listed out all the pros and cons and I think travel is the ultimate way of learning and seeing new things first hand. I hope you say yes and just take the immodium with you. I would.

So yesterday I read one of my other favorite blogs, www.audreycaroline.blogspot.com, and Angie is going on that very same trip! And my first thought was, man, I think Dana would be great for this too. I think you should go. What an amazing opportunity, not just for you but also for your kids. They'll get to see their mom (and maybe dad) reach out in a way that is beyond selfless to kids across the globe who have nothing. Think of the things you can teach them after an experience like that.

When I was 5 months pregnant with my oldest, I decided to go overseas for a month to do research on a project. While there, the war in Iraq broke out and so did the SARS virus. It was crazy and insane and maybe I shouldn't have gone, but I treasure those memories so very much and am so grateful that God provided me the opportunity. My faith was increased as I visibly saw Him protecting me. He will do the same for you and for your boys. You would be a great asset on a team like that, Dana. You really, really would.

Dana:

Please read another blog that I love (in addition to yours) at http://rocksinmydryer.typepad/com/

Choose Compassion International in the categories and read Shannon's stories of her trip, including all of her fears and apprehensions. Especially moving are her entries once returning to the States.

I think you'll kick yourself later if you don't jump at this opportunity. Think of what an example you'd be and what you could teach your boys from this!


Mary Craig

This reminds me of when I had the opportunity to go on a trip with 15 other people that I didn't know. It was for college, it was a nature/adventure thing, and TOTALLY un-like me in every single way. I had a million and one reasons not to do it but I signed up anyway. The night before as I was packing I was white as a sheet. My mom looked at me and said, "If you really don't want to go you don't have to." And she meant it. I replied: "I know. And I don't want to go. But if I don't I absolutly know that I will regret if for the rest of my life." And I meant it.

I went and it changed my life.

I think you should go. You could do so much good there. How long would you be gone?

A friend recently passed on this insightful nugget: "People who enjoy new experiences should travel ... those who don't should stay home." I say this not discourage you but to say that if you are open to a totally, completely new experience, this trip could be it. I believe your concerns are either manageable or completely out of your control in which case you can either roll with it ... or not, and stay home.

I understand your fears, and yes, they are real. You didn't even mention travel in the third world which can be scary dangerous. It can also be just fine ... like everything else, take only as much risk and you're comfortable with.

You might discover new foods, new music or a reinvigorated outlook on the world and your life in it. If you have trusted arrangements for the boys, then trust them and go! Your writing can make a difference in the lives of children who have no voice.

All of your concerns are perfectly reasonable, rational, and normal, but here are a few things to think about:

When you are sitting with your grandchildren, watching TV and they see India and say, "Wow, that place looks cool/strange/fun!" Do you want to answer them, "Yes, I had an opportunity to go there one time." or "Yes, it is, let me tell you about my trip I took there."

As far as the anxiety/fear... you cannot let fear drive your decisions. Statistically speaking, you are more likely to be hurt/maimed/killed in your car next week than on a plane going to India. So don't make your last thought as you are hit by a bus crossing the street to be, "Dang! I should have flown to India today!" And you never want to answer the question, "Why didn't you go on that trip?" to be, "I was afraid."

As for money... its a means, not an end, if it costs a little to take a trip that most people would never ever have the opportunity to take: spend it! You can say "We had to tighten our belts because the economy sucks" like everyone else, or "We had to tighten our belts because we took this amazing opportunity to go to India and do some good! Let me tell you about this girl I met.... "

Last, but never ever least, your children. How proud your children will be saying "My mommy is in India doing good for people." How much will they learn! First, the lesson that sometimes we all make sacrifices to help others. Mommy is putting aside her fears, we are tightening our belts to pay for it, and the family will be temporarily separated, but its all for this good cause and this great opportunity and sometimes that is what has to happen. And think of the educational opportunity! I know you take pride in educating your children. How many children are stuck learning about different cultures from a textbook or documentary? Yours will be able to hear it firsthand from their teacher's mouth when you return!

Sorry for the long comment (I hope it all fits) but the biggest problem I see in people is missed opportunities and the sadness in their eyes when they talk about them.

Okay, I hate to travel. Don't tell all my friends who are totally addicted to international travel; but I'm a homebody. Don't worry about the boys, they'll be fine. Srsly. I don't think I could do a trip like that without someone I knew, so I'd definitely say take Chris. It'll be good for the two of you to be able to get away and have this experience together. If you're like me, experiencing something like that is way more fun with a loved one. It's why I took my last breakup so hard, we had such great trip memories. As for your fear of flying - I can't relate. I love to fly. So you'll just have to decide if you can get over that or not.

Even if it turns out to be a horrible trip, it'll still make for great stories later. Especially for your kids. As they get older, they'll be so proud that you did this when you could.

I was terrified of Africa. TERRIFIED. Terrified of the flight, terrified of being on a trip with people I didn't know, terrified that I'd get over there and not be able to string two sentences together in any sort of coherent fashion. Terrified that I'd look at all that poverty and not feel a thing.

But you know what? I'd go back again this afternoon if I could. It messed me up for sure - but in all the best ways. Those sweet children changed my life in ways I cannot even articulate. They continue to change my life every single day.

Praying that you'll have peace about your decision - whatever it may be.

Talk about cynical... but how about this: Can you be sure that the opportunity is 100% legit? I just worry about such situation where you get propositioned out of nowhere.

I have never been to India, but I'm sure it's not as safe as some other vacation destinations. So the concern is totally legitimate. I think the trip could be a lifechanger, though - the things you'll see...

Finally, we need to talk about this aversion to curry.

If you have 100% assurance in your HEART (NOT referring to what your head is telling you) that this trip is what the Lord wants you to do as a way to serve Him, then you will likely not feel at peace by declining. And if you know deep down that you are supposed to go, it will be a crazy-rewarding experience :)

If the direction from the Lord is to go, then I know who doesn't want you to go. There is someone who is influencing negative thoughts and who would be very pleased if you disobeyed: Satan, the enemy.

I look forward to learning what you decide to do.

GO. I have been to India. I am a white, young female. I was a little scared. IT CHANGED MY LIFE. You have to go. It is a country of complete contradiction- beauty next to filth. Bright colors next to dark sidewalks. Poverty next sitting right next to wealth. Overall, it is just an experience of a lifetime. It will make you think and feel things you have never imagined. Because of my travels to India, I am forver changed and forever thankful.

I would absolutely be right where you are. I wish you the best in your decision making.

A friend of ours has been doing some world traveling on his own dime (camping, hostels, etc.) and I know India was one of his stops. His travel blog is here http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/Lucky-Charms/ , but gird your loins because spelling and grammar is not his gift.

Also, I think India is one of the locations on the around-the-world trip Nicholas Sparks and his brother take in his book Three Weeks With My Brother.

Why can't you help a few kids, see the country AND find and beat that Dell technical support guy? I see no conflict there.

This is a challenge, no doubt. You are being challenged to face and overcome your biggest fears to serve God and do good work. Not that you don't do these things every day, but the every day is, overall, pretty easy, isn't it? Comparatively speaking, of course, and from one who does not have children, much less homeschool them when not hosting her own radio show. Damn you're cool, by the way.

This is hard for you, scary for you, and yes, there is an element of very real danger for you. It would not be a challenge if it was easy. But if you came out on the other side having done good work for children who desperately need it, having served as a witness to the hell on earth that is true poverty, I think it would be worth it. For the organization who sponsors you, for the children that are ultimately served by your efforts, and for you. I think it would make you stronger in your spirit and faith in God and in yourself.

I understand your concerns, but if you can work out a way for Chris to go with you, you should jump on the plane with a purse full of dramamine and go for it. If not, you might always regret turning this trip down. And if you go it sounds like it might be one of the most amazing experiences to have. :)

The question you need to ask yourself is this: Who are you to deprive your husband of his chance to ride an elephant? :) Seriously, it sounds like a good cause, you shouldn't let fear hold you back.

I just had a conversation about going to India with a friend of mine (strangely enough, the conversation was held right outside of Russ Carnahan's office) and I was ready to hop on a plane today to go. So yeah, you should go and you should bring me back something awesome and if I see Russ, I'll tell him you said, "What up!"

Go.
Go.
Go.
It will all work out in the end.

I don't mean to be a stick in the mud, but I must say that I don't think it's wise for a person to listen to their heart in these types of matters. It is subjective in nature, and therefore shouldn't be used as a litmus test to determine whether something is from God or not. After all, God himself stated in Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" I don't think you will find the answer by searching inside of yourself and trusting your heart. Search the Scriptures and ask God for guidance. He will give it to you. My final one cents : )

Why fly to Calcutta? Just because it's a free trip to an exotic locale? There are plenty of children in impoverished, drug-infested neighborhoods of St. Louis who are in desperate of sponsorship, too. Stay home and help them.

GO!!!!
Or if you can't, tell them that *I* should go!

I think it'll be amaaazing. SUCH an experience.

Oh, and also, so true about the whole twilight thing. I dated a guy who always used romantic lines, and I could never manage to hold a straight face when he used them.

Poor men.

Before I had children I'd say GO GO GO! I too hate to fly (loathe. loathe.) but love to travel so there was always that tension. My husband would get sent to foreign lands on business trips and I'd tag along: a vacation for half price, basically. or less.

Anyhow, that having been said, I wouldn't be as *go go go* now that I've got a child. Mostly because it would be so hard to leave him for very long. Your children are older, though, and would probably do okay (what do you think? what does your gut say?).

As for the blood clot thing? It's the truth, so drink lots of water and walk up and down the aisles! My mom died (otherwise perfectly healthy) at 52 from a pulmonary embolus. So your mom is right!!

I think with a decision like this you just have to sit down and listen to that still small voice. not the voices of a ton of bloggers and blog readers. just that quiet voice. then do what it says, whatever that is!

wow. i have no advice because after reading your post i am on the fence too. it does sound like an amazing opportunity for action and yet, it is a very long way away. oh, the blood clot thing. just get up and walk every hour and do lots of ankle pumps...might help quell some of the butterflies too.

Dana,

This is your friendly taxpayer employed DoD employee writting. Seriously think about this trip, and what you want to get out of it, and what this charity wants to get out of you. Nothing in this world is free. What do you know of this charity? Really, what do you know of this charity? India is a facisinating place, but now is not really the best time to go. Where in fact are you going in India? How will you travel in India? I'm glad that you'd bring your husband, but shrapnel really isn't stopped too often by warm pudgies (people) throwing themselves on top of you.

I recommend you read the State Department's website in India?

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1139.html

SAFETY AND SECURITY: There is a high threat from terrorism throughout India and terror attacks are a serious and growing threat to U.S. citizens traveling and resident there. U.S. citizens are urged to always practice good security, including maintaining a heightened situational awareness and a low profile. Coordinated terror attacks in Mumbai in late November 2008 targeting areas frequented by Westerners have raised the risk of Americans becoming intended or unintended victims of terrorism in India. Because the locations of the attacks have included luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas, it is becoming more difficult to modify one’s behavior to lessen the growing risk. The media attention of and public reaction to the Mumbai attack could prompt other terrorist incidents. Future attacks may also target public places frequented by Westerners, including in large cities and tourist areas such as Goa.

If you do go, please ensure you have a really good will written, and consider speaking to an attorney about a trust for your children.

Think and pray about this trip, and good luck!

hi dana. first of all, i don't envy your situation... this is a tough one and you are weighing all possible scenarios, which is really good. regardless of what you decide, you are a great mother to your boys, and a great wife to your husband.
i guess the way i would look at this is in kind of a "which would i regret more?" type of way... if you didn't go, would you regret not going over time and always wonder "what if?" and the reverse of that, if you did go, would you regret the time not spent with the boys?
whichever "regret" weighs heavier on your heart, go with that.
shit, i dunno man. it's hard. and you have til wednesday, which makes me wonder if that's a good or bad thing... thinking about it for the next 5 days, or THINKING about it for the next 5 days.

my thoughts are with you.

Having two young children of my own, I would be apprehensive too. However, I think God is giving you this opportunity because you reach such a big audience. I have personally been very touched over the last year reading about the Compassion trips. Part of our kids Christmas this year was a sponsored child. I will be praying for you and the right decision for your family.

I've been two times and am gearing up for a potential third trip (with my baby in tow). My husband is Indian and my in-laws run a ministry (they're Christian) over there. I agree with what a lot of the previous posters said. Get your shots, don't drink non-bottled water or eat raw fruits/veggies. Pack those granola bars or even a jar of peanut butter (wait, use nutella or something with the PB scare now). Get a calling card (they're about 11 hours ahead of us time wise) to call the boys. Have fun.
If you want to know more or have questions, please contact me.

I don't know what to tell you girl... I know how you get with flying. And I guess the big questions I have for you is, do you think you can stand 30 hours of that feeling? (Is that 30 hours just to GET there or round trip?) IF you can, go for it. (Just get your shots and all that stuff.) I can't wait to hear what you decide.

By the way, I would totally swoon if my husband said something like, "I'd want to go with you protect you" or something. (He wouldn't.)

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