Rob Kivlan, a Diakon staff member, shares his thoughts about a recent mission trip to Haiti

Fulfilling the mission and caring for others

Between Dec. 28 and Jan. 4, several of us from the Diakon Flight Program, including students, took part in another trip to Haiti to assist with orphanages there. Here are some of my reflections upon returning from our trip.

Over the years I have traveled often to Haiti and have always returned in awe of how resilient and humble the people of Haiti are. They have always taught me much about what really matters in life—our faith and one another. Though they may lack the possessions or stability that we spend much of our lives in America seeking, their faith and communal care and concern for one another is greater and more genuine than anything I have ever experienced in the developed world.

Though we bring aid and supplies in hopes of having a positive impact—which we certainly have—I can’t help but always return with the realization that the greater impact is the one they have on us.

Warm embraces upon meeting and teary-eyed goodbyes …

While hoping to minister to those in need, we find it is often they who minister to us. Hoping to bring comfort and improvements to them, we find they often teach us that relationships and dependence on God are far more powerful. In the end, I always receive more from my friends in Haiti than I could ever hope to give.

Matt Haiti

Flight Program Manager, Matt Reichard, playing with children at a Haitian orphanage

However, this last experience left another impact on me, one I had hoped and dreamed about for years: For the first time ever, participants and graduates of the Flight Program were able to experience this realization themselves. To watch young men who had had to overcome their own obstacles and challenges in life now be able to reach out and care for other children in need was an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life. Witnessing a Flight graduate tenderly holding and rocking a crying toddler to sleep, or lying on the floor for hours coloring pictures with six or seven orphaned children huddled around … or simply passing a soccer ball back and forth under the hot Haitian sun just to bring a smile to a child’s face … are the moments I cherish and continue to reflect upon. Warm embraces upon meeting and teary-eyed goodbyes when they had to finally part from one another will never be forgotten.

In those moments especially, our young men of Flight embodied the mission of the program. Then and now, they reflect Flight’s core values more fully than we might ever have imagined when launching the program five years ago. They have become great men, living honorable lives and helping others in need.

The impact that Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries had on these young men is reflected in how they now care for others … bringing that dream of five years ago to life.

By Rob Kivlan
Giving Officer
Diakon Youth Services


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