A Thank You to Ktadb

Ktadb, one of the hundreds of tent cities in Port au Prince,
is at once the poorest place I’ve been, as well as the richest. It’s an ugly,
sad place filled with beauty and joy. This community of 3,500 should be
drowning in despair, but instead, there is faith.

When my AIM team arrived, four and a half months had passed
since the January 12th earthquake. As far as we knew, no one had
been to Ktadb
to distribute supplies during that time. There were almost 600 shelters there,
but not a single tent or any tarps in sight. All of the shelters were built
with sticks lashed together and covered with whatever cloth was available:
sheets, tablecloths, even old pants or skirts stitched together. Lucky families
got to sleep on piles of broken cinderblocks. Those less fortunate slept on
cardboard or right on the dirt that quickly turns to mud during the rainy

After spending a week in Ktadb, getting to know the
residents, I found there was much more to discover beyond the harsh realities
of daily life.

There is joy. It’s pure and overflows from the people,
particularly the children. One of the first kids I met was a young boy,
probably 8 or 9 years old, named Aiti. He and his friends (Dennison and Kobe
Jean) were working, carrying a bucket of empty bottles when I stopped them to
say hi, introducing myself in halting Creole and asking their names. From then
on, every time I was in the camp, Aiti ran up and grabbed my hand. His face lit
up when I recognized him-just a kid, overjoyed to have a new friend.

Time and again, I experienced touching displays of
hospitality. Women pulled weeds from in front of their shelters or brushed away
loose dirt from the ground when we visited. Chairs and stools materialized from
thin air for us visitors to rest on while we talked. One student, Yvelise-a
community leader who’s studying to become a gynecologist-invited us into her
home, which was still standing, and shared two coconuts with us. There were
only four left hanging from the tree.

We met an older man-his name escapes me now-who lost a son
in the earthquake. His family, like so many others, was still grieving the
loss. But through everything, he told us he thanks God every day for life. At a
different point, we asked a woman if we could pray for her, and she told us,
“Prayer is my food.” She probably hadn’t eaten in days. Both of these people
exhibited intense faith even an earthquake couldn’t shake.

Twice during the week, impromptu worship services started up
in the middle of the camp. Dozens gathered to clap, dance, and sing. The AIM
team sang in English, the Haitians sang in Creole, and together we worshipped
the same God. When I read in the Bible about giving praise in all
circumstances, I never thought I’d be singing in a place like Ktadb.

When my friend Doug and I packed
up to go to Haiti
, we filled bins with over 300 pounds of supplies (thanks
to the generosity of our church, friends, and family). We flew down loaded with
tarps, tools, and school supplies. As we checked all the gear at the airport, I
couldn’t help but feel like I was part of the solution. I was going to spend my
week helping Haiti. I was there to help the people of Ktadb.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The people of Ktadb helped me.

They helped me see what joy really is-and that it doesn’t
matter what your house or clothes look like. Through them, I learned about
faith that goes far deeper than the surface level I’m used to living on in the
States. That’s what comes when you have to trust God for everything, literally
everything, you have.

 Throughout the week, I found myself constantly thanking the
people in Ktadb for the privilege of knowing them, praying with them, and
helping them rather than the other way around. With each interaction, the debt
I felt grew. I couldn’t thank these beautiful people enough.

In writing this post, I’m saying thank you once more. But
it’s still not enough. Even though we delivered 200 tarps, dropped
thousands of dollars worth of food
, passed out boxes of school supplies,
and gave away all kinds of sporting goods and toys, I don’t feel like we’re
even. If I said thank you to Ktadb a million times in a million ways, it still
wouldn’t cover the debt I owe. I brought supplies, but they showed me Jesus
right there in middle of that dirty field and meager shelters. They gave His
love to me, and I’ll never forget that.

you’d like to donate to the relief efforts for Ktadb, click here
and write “For Ktadb” in the memo line. Just $30 will purchase a high-quality
tarp to create a better home for a family in need.)