How it All Began

In May, 2009, Lonny forwarded me an email he had received from a relative who had just accepted a position with Morrell International, a logistics company that, among other things, produced bottled water for the U.S. troops in Iraq & Kuwait. Out of curiosity, I googled the company, looking for possible work opportunities. What I found was

The only job opportunities were positions for water bottling plant managers in the middle east, which scared me a bit, and weren't in Lonny's field, so I brushed past them, writing off this company in my head. But then, I noticed a link to "Morrell Family Charities" , which sounded interesting, so I clicked on it. That click would change our lives forever.

What I found there was an amazing list of projects going on throughout the world, helping the poverty-stricken people of many countries. The link that caught my attention first was about a dry farming project in Ethiopia. I started to watch one of the videos, then paused it and called Lonny in to watch with me. As we sat there watching together, the strongest feeling came over me. "This is the kind of thing you need to be doing," I finally said, "You need to call this guy." Lonny nodded in his quiet way, and I could see the wheels beginning to turn in his mind.

We weren't sure how Lonny's skills would fit into the picture. He's spent most of his career in the Dairy Industry, although he also has a master's degree in Molecular Biology and an MBA, as well as many years in management. But dry farming wasn't exactly his specialty. After thinking and praying about it for a few days, Lonny sent off a resume to Morrell International with a note about how impressed he was with the work they've been doing in Ethiopia. Within a day or two, Lonny received an email from Paul Morrell, asking him if he could meet to talk about a project in Ethiopia. We weren't sure what the meeting would lead to, but we felt good about it and looked forward to more information as the day for the meeting approached.

In the meantime, I watched those videos again, I showed them to my kids, showed them to anyone who would watch. I looked at the pictures of these people in Ethiopia and their plight and I saw the success going on with these projects. I felt so drawn to those people, to the whole idea of teaching principles that are common agricultural concepts in the Western United States, such as dry farming, and completely changing the lives of the people in an Ethiopian community. These basic principles are what America was founded on: industry, economics, science, agriculture & hard work. It is what many of the people of Ethiopia are missing. Knowledge. Hard Work. Hope. Progress. Could it be that just a few of us could make a difference? Only time would tell.

In the meantime, I came across an Ethiopian newspaper article about the dry farming project. The very last sentence jumped out at me: "[In] the next five years [Mr. Morrell] plans to add vegetable dry farming and dairy operations." I froze, then shouted as I repeated that line to my son, Joseph, who was in the room. "That's what he wants to talk to Dad about!" I shouted excitedly. I ran outside to where Lonny was working and called out to him, "They are planning to build a dairy in Ethiopia! That's what your meeting is about! I'm sure of it!"

The rest is history. Lonny was hired by Paul Morrell to build a dairy and processing facility in Kokosa, Ethiopia. He travels there a few times per year to consult with the team on their progress, and has worked with them to learn advanced techniques such as embryo transfer. It is an ambitious project that he is a part of, at at times the odds of success in this endeavor may seem impossible, but we have to try. There are little children starving in Ethiopia who could be saved by the milk & cheese from this dairy. 

And it feels like perhaps we are getting a little help from above.