So, right after I wrote the last post about Chikungunya, I (Matt) actually got Chikungunya. It taught me a lesson not to write about something unless I was prepared to go through it. It was actually pretty painful for a couple of days. I couldn’t really walk, my elbows hurt, my knees hurt. When I laid down, it was hard to get up because all of my joints hurt. I had a fever for about 2 days, and then I got the rash that accompanies it and it itched a lot for about 3 days. It took me a little less than a week to get completely over it. It was actually not as bad as you have probably heard. I would much rather have that again than the flu, and what I learned is that the name Chikungunya makes it sound a lot worse than it really is.
The funny thing is that every Haitian I told immediately started laughing. If they saw me trying to walk, they called me “Gran Moun” which means old person. In general, they were all kind of impressed that I had “La Fev” and it kind of made me fit in a little better here. It was kind of like if I could make it through Chikungunya, then I was really becoming Haitian (not to mention it gave pretty much all Haitians a chance to make fun of me).
It made me realize something kind of funny…that a lot of time small things really help you become part of the people that you are trying to become part of. Let me explain that a little better. It was a small thing to get “La Fev,” but for some reason it helped me to fit in. It was a small thing to start playing soccer at the Reserve (the area outside of Christianville where a lot of local people live) but it helped me to fit in a lot better. It was a small thing for Jess to invite some people over to our house for dinner, but it helped us to begin to fit in. It is a really small thing to try to learn Haitian Creole, but every time we try to talk to people here in their native tongue, they greatly appreciate it.
Anyway, here is my point for this blog…I keep having this mindset that we need to do great, huge things to let people know that we care about them, but that is not true. The small, everyday things are how we truly show people we care about them. This same thing is true for us wherever we are. With our spouses, the big romantic gestures are great, but the everyday sacrifice of putting their needs over ours is so much more important. At our churches, the big conferences and youth camps are awesome, but the everyday service when a church lives for its community is so much greater. As we move to Haiti, the big things like feeding programs and VBS are great, but the everyday living our lives with the other people in our community is what will help our ministry be genuine and true to the people that we live around.