I’m an Iowa retired farmer, 90 years old. I live alone. I lost my wife two years ago. I have seven children, fifteen grandchildren and twenty-one great grandchildren.
I first heard about Heifer Project in the 70’s when a Heifer Volunteer came to our church. He
gave a talk and showed some slides of his help delivering some cattle to a project in Guatemala. I was impressed and decided that I would like to do that someday.
I did some reading about Heifer and became convinced that this was something I wanted to do. A little while later, I got a call from our district superintendent of the United Methodist church. He asked me if I would be the Heifer representative for the Cedar Rapids district. He said Bud Lent of Mt. Vernon had been doing it and he was going to move to Florida. I was hesitant but told him I would try to do it. I got together with Bud Lent and he mentored me on what I needed to do. This is how I got involved with Heifer. This was one of the best
decisions I have ever made. I love helping people who are poor and hungry and less fortunate than me. There are many scripture verses in the old testament and new testament to tell us that God and Jesus want us to do this. The next thing my wife Louise and I did was to visit the ranch in Perryville, Arkansas and we
loved it! We were hooked. We helped deliver livestock and supplies to the ranch after In­
Gathering and stayed six days. We did chores-painting and maintenance while there and got
acquainted with the staff. We did this for several years and enjoyed it. When we drove into the ranch, we felt like we were home. One summer we chaperoned 22 teens at the ranch while they experienced the Global Village. My grandson was one of the teens and he loved it. Louise and I worked in the cook shack to feed the group. Howard and Wilma Lord were there too and we developed a great friendship with them.
One time while at the ranch, Rex Enoch, one of the teachers at the ranch told Louise and I that we would make good candidates to take a study tour. We asked him where we should go on our first tour. He recommended Honduras, so we signed up and went in 1992 for 10 days. We helped build a goat barn. We stayed in a dormitory, men on one side and women in another. We were told to be careful what we ate because the water wasn’t pure. Our cook fed us lettuce and we were afraid to eat it, but she said she washed the lettuce in Clorox. We ate it and it tasted like Clorox.
We were talking to a goat owner, Hector with an interpreter and asked him, how many children he had. He said three, two lived with God and one with he and his wife since Heifer Project gave them a goat. We asked him how he came to have a goat. He told us that his wife got pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy but she was malnourished so she didn’t have enough mother’s milk and the baby died. They were sad and depressed. Then Hector said he heard about a goat project in a nearby village and he applied and was accepted. They trained him to care for the goat and build a goat barn. About a year later, they received a goat. His wife drank goat’s milk and became healthier. Then she got pregnant and had a boy. She had enough mother’s milk and also fed him goat’s milk and he was healthy. Where there was sorrow now there was joy because of Heifer.
While in Honduras I took many slides and Louise took notes and we gave many slide presentations after our tour. During our presentations we explained one of the great things about Heifer is the “Pass on the Gift”, where the recipient promised to pass on the first female offspring to another family in need picked by Heifer. After that, the animal they received would continue to help their family and they get the honor of helping some one else as they were helped.
In 1996 the United Methodist Men of Iowa got together eight cattle to go to a beef project in Uniontown, Alabama. I had a pickup and livestock trailer so I volunteered. The United Methodist’s Men’s leader and I picked up the eight bred heifers in Montezuma, Iowa and headed for Alabama. We drove all night and got there the next morning. The project consisted of descendants of slaves who received a few acres of land after the civil war. There were 16 families in the project so eight got the heifers and the other eight would get the pass ons. The land that they had was kind of swampy and not good for crops like soybeans or cotton. It was only suitable for pasture. They treated us to a steak dinner in a nearby town and also told us to visit a project that was two years old. One of the project men said he was doing well and his daughter was in college with the extra income from the Heifer Project cow. The project manager then called me after I got home to see if we arrived safely. We also gat a Christmas card from him.
In 1997, Louise and I took a sturdy tour to India for three weeks. Our tour guide was Wendy Peskin and she was wonderful. Every day we had a school on the culture of the people and the country and what projects we were going to see. We saw goat, chicken, rabbits, water buffalo, and camel projects. The camels are used for hauling bricks in carts to the cities where the buildings were being built. The people working in the brick yards earned about a dollar a day and with the gift of a camel they cleared about three dollars a day. We also got to see the Taj Mahal and a ceremony of flowers and candles on the sacred river, the Ganges. We attended a Pass On of goats. We rode an elephant to the Red Fort, and another elephant ride in the Corbet National Park and Preserve to see wildlife.
In 1998 we took a three-week study tour of China. We visited the Ming tomb and walked on the Great Wall of China. We visited the Heifer Headquarters in Chendu. The head man Dr. Pu and I have stayed in touch by email. The Communist Party in China wanted to help the poor and they liked the way we worked, so they invited the Heifer tour group to the Communist Headquarters, fed us dinner, and talked with us about how Heifer operates. That was an honor and made me feel humble. We saw many projects and learned that the money for Heifer was raised in China. We helped educate the office but we don’t send any money for projects.
One of the highlights of our tour was a visit to a yak project in Tibet. The people live in yurts and move to have enough pasture and hay for winter. The group we visited had children but they did not attend school. They learned from their parents if the parents could read and write. We ended our tour with a cruise on the Yangtze River.
In 2000 Louise and I took a tour to Cameroon, Africa for twelve days and to Ireland for three days. A group in Bothar, Ireland gives dairy cows to Africa every year so the Africans have milk. In 2003 I lost my wife Louise to cancer after being married 49 ½ years. I decided to do more tours so I signed up Peru in 2004. Some of Peru is modern but the Inca Indians are poor and Heifer is helping with sheep, goats, chickens, and alpacas. I attended an alpaca “pass on” where they passed on fifty five alpacas. I was honored there. They asked me to raise the Peruvian flag to start the ceremony. I asked a recipient how far he had come. He said he and his wife walked 2 ½ hours to get there. He said it would be a lot of work to get the alpaca home because they are kind of one-person animals and so they would have to pull and push it for a long way. We got to visit Machu Pichu while there. Every time I get home from a tour I am all fired up and ready to help raise money for Heifer.
My daughter, Melody, belongs to Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Cedar Rapids and they have a companion church in Tanzania, Africa. It is in the village of Marindi near Same. After I gave a presentation about Heifer, Gloria Dei raised enough money to purchase 10 cows for the village of Marindi through Heifer Project. Several Gloria Dei members took a trip to Tanzania to visit their companion congregation. I got in touch with Heifer in Same by email and set up several Heifer Project visits. I joined my daughter and son-in-law on the trip to Tanzania. We visited fish, cattle, and camel projects. We stayed with the villagers while there and they treated us like kings and queens. My daughter says that the village now has quite a few cattle and are
doing well. While there we went on safari to Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater and saw many African animals. What a tour.
At home in Iowa I have set up displays and manned them at the United Methodist yearly
convention for 15 years with about 1000 attending. I also took on setting up a display booth at the Iowa State Fair when the former person had a health problem. I did that for 15 years. I enjoy talking to people about Heifer and handing out literature. The fair has attendance of over one million in the 11 days. One lady came by and said that she had stopped by the year before and had never heard of Heifer. She said I told her about Heifer and gave her some literature. She read the literature and decided she wanted to get an ark. She tried and did
fundraising but came up a little short only raising $3800. I told her that she was successful for only knowing about it for a year. Stories like that make me try harder.
In the fall the United Methodist Church of Iowa has an In-Gathering where we give to missions. We have five sites and I try to get a Heifer representative to every site, because we get a lot of money for Heifer. I’ve been to all the sites and like to help. I’ve given over 100 speeches and presentations and I am ready to do some more if asked.
I never got to meet Dan West the founder of Heifer, but I know a lot about him because his daughter Jan Schrock was on the India tour and we heard her talk about her father. He was a miracle worker!