Monday, August 31, 2009

Elder Holland's Visit to Ethiopia

In a previous blog post , Lonny spoke of how they had been able to attend a fireside with a visiting LDS General Authority, Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve. This blog entry has several articles detailing some of the comments and experiences of Elder Holland's visit to Africa. (click here to see previous blog post about the event.)

From an article:
(click here to read the full article)

"During a historic 16-day tour of Africa on Aug. 16-31, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve dedicated Cameroon and Rwanda for the preaching of the gospel.

"In so doing, he became the first known apostle to ever set foot in either nation. 'These two [country dedications] were particularly spiritual. Maybe it was because it was Africa. Maybe it was because of 'the last shall be first and the first shall be last,' with some who are getting the gospel later in our dispensation responding with such acceptance and delight. Maybe this is all part of 'an African moment.' "

His trip took him to seven countries in all, with the other stops on his itinerary being Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Elder Paul E. Koelliker of the Seventy and Africa Southeast Area president accompanied Elder Holland during his travels.

The African journey began when Elder Holland left Utah Aug. 16 and landed in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, on Aug. 18. While in Ethiopia, he spoke to missionaries, held a large fireside, and visited the home of Brother and Sister Yonas Haile. Their son, Fikodu, a 17-year-old priest, humbly showed Elder Holland his signed and completed Duty to God booklet. Fikodu is the first young man in Ethiopia to earn the award.

"I want the Saints to know that Africa is one of the bright, beautiful emerging frontiers of the Church," he said. "It sounds ominous sometimes just to hear the word 'Africa' because we think of dangers. Like any other place there can be dangers, but for the Church and the members it is one highlight after another, one bright spot after another.

"These people are so given to faith. I've often thought that perhaps the Lord in His justice, mercy and outreach made up for what they don't have in material blessings by giving them an extra measure of spiritual blessing and insight."

Elder Holland referred to some literary references of Africa being "the dark continent." He said he doesn't agree with that description. What is his description of Africa? "With the gospel of Jesus Christ it's a beautiful bright light to the world."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Breeds of Cattle in Ethiopia

The predominant breed of cattle in the south-central area of Ethiopia where we were working is the Arsi cattle. These cattle are very small-framed compared to cattle in the United States. Almost to the point that you would call them "miniature cattle" or "dwarf cattle". Heifers from our farm in Kokosa are in the picture to the left. They are about 3 feet tall (from the ground to the top of their backs).

Their size is probably due to a combination of lower nutrition and poor genetic selection over thousands of years. Typically, the male animals are not castrated, and the cattle are allowed to congregate together from different herds, so there's little or no control on the breeding of the animals. Due to their small size, we were not able to use these at all for embryo recipients and just ended up breeding them with Jersey semen.

The other common breed of cattle in the area is the Boran cattle, that are a larger-framed cattle, very similar to the Brahman cattle in the United States. When these animals are fed properly, they are about the same size as mature cattle in the United States.

In our program, we are working with the Boran cattle at the Adami Tulu Research Institution. Some of our boran heifers are pictured at the right. They are about 4 feet tall now, and will grow to 5 feet tall as adults. Unfortunately, due to a drought in Southern Ethiopia, many of those were not fed properly before they came to the Research Institution. Consequently, we were not able to put embryos in many of the animals that were acquired for that purpose.

We are hopeful that, with good feeding, these animals will be healthy enough to be used as embryo recipients on our next visit.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Tale of Too Many Flights. . .

Lonny left Ethiopia with his coworkers Saturday, Aug. 22 at 1pm MST
(which was 10pm in Ethiopia),
They first flew 8 hours from Addis Ababa to Rome, Italy.
Then after a short break, they flew 16 hours across the ocean from Rome to Washington, D.C.

Then, they had to go through U.S. customs, which took awhile,
After which, the airport regulations required them to go through security again, since they came in on an international flight.

But then, because of the long lines in security and customs, their baggage made their flight to Chicago, but the guys didn't (they missed it by abt 20 minutes).

So -- they were re-scheduled on a flight to San Francisco, CA,
(Which is crazy since they were trying to get to Utah!)
But all of them couldn't get on standby for the earlier flight,
So the others guys let Lonny go ahead since he had been gone the longest from home.

So -- he flew 6 hours to San Francisco,
Where he tried to catch a flight to Salt Lake City at 4pm PST,
But -- there were only 7 open seats and he was #8 on the list,
So he didn't make it onto that one.

He was ticketed for 6:30pm PST flight from San Francisco to Salt Lake City,
Which was delayed an hour,
Making his arrival to Salt Lake City at 10:00pm MST,
Where his adoring wife will pick him up at the airport. ;)

Then -- we'll drive an hour home, arriving after midnight on Monday, August 24th, TWO calendar days after he left Ethiopia!!

POOR MAN! This is all not to mention the fact that his body doesn't know what is day or night, so he's EXTREMELY exhausted...
Oh, and the kids have to get up early to catch the bus to school,
And I'm sure they will be very enthusiastic about seeing him right away, So you know he won't be sleeping in.

Just thought I'd let you appreciate your comfy bed tonight, LOL!


ps- Lonny's Email upon arrival at the Salt Lake Airport (where he had to wait for me for 40 minutes, due to a time miscommunication! ooops!)--

To all:

We left the Addis airport about 40 minutes late and it proved to be our undoing. By the time we arrived in DC we only had a little over an hour to get through customs and security then to our gate. We missed the flight by about 20 minutes. Ironically, my luggage made the original flight. United was great and already had us rerouted on an afternoon flight through San Francisco free of charge. They also put us on standby for an earlier flight. There was one seat available for standby. Evan and Brent both passed up their chance to go so that I could go. (Thank you Gentlemen) The first connecting flight to SLC was full but I made the second one which got me home by midnight. It is good to be home! It has been a long day(s).

Lonny J. Ward
Morrell Agro Industries PLC
"Sowing Hope and Prosperity"

Friday, August 21, 2009

We met with Dr. Solomon Assefa, Director General of the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (photo left) and his assistant, Seyoum Bediye. It was a very successful visit. After visiting Debre Zeyit and Holeta I had hoped that we could use the animals there as recipients for our embryos. Dr. Solomon was hoping that we would be willing to do just that. They have also requested that we train them in the embryo recovery part of embryo transfer. They are so excited with our projects and our willingness to help.

We met this afternoon with Dr. Abera Deressa, the State Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development for Ethiopia, (photo right). He is very interested in all the work of MAI and anxious to visit with Paul next week. Dr. Abera, Dr. Solomon, and Seyoum invited us to go to the Habesha restaurant for dinner and Ethiopian entertainment. We had a fun evening which ended by them giving each of us a cultural gift as a token of their appreciation for our work. They are great men and will make a huge difference in this country.

Lonny J. Ward
Morrell Agro Industries PLC
"Sowing Hope and Prosperity"

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Visit to Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research

This morning, Teddy picked us up to head to Holeta, and we picked up Worknesh on our way. We went to the Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research (EIAR) at their Holeta Research Center. Seyoum Bedlye, the director of the facility, arranged a special meeting for us and representatives of a Brazilian company that are here in Addis. BrazAfric specializes in importing farm equipment and machinery so they will be a good resource for us.

Seyoum gave a couple of presentations about the research that is being done and their vision for the future. He shared some very good information for our projects. I was very interested to hear his presentation and learn more about Ethiopia and agriculture production here. What I have seen in the dairy industry in general is that they could benefit from using newer & more efficient techniques and equipment. When he finished his second presentation, Seyoum announced a coffee break which would be followed by presentations from the Brazilian company and from us. I was caught by surprise. I had just realized that they were planning on us doing a presentation! So, while everyone else went for coffee or hot milk, I threw together a quick PowerPoint presentation of what we were doing. Fortunately, I had taken a lot of pictures and had my laptop with me. I thought that it went well, considering the time that I had to prepare. Worknesh leaned over and said that I had done a very good job and had covered all of the main points of our company. I am sure that I had some help from above.

After the presentations, we toured the facility. They are using Boran and Holstein animals to get a crossbred animal to milk. For Ethiopian standards, they get very good production from their cows, up to 33 liters (70 lbs) a day. It appears that the farmers prefer the benefits of crossbreeds rather than using straight Holstein cows. From what I have seen, under poor to moderate conditions, this crossbreed may be the best choice, but I would like to see how Holsteins would do here if given ideal feeding and care. I will have to research this further.

The animals at this facility are in very good condition that the typical animals I have seen in Ethiopia, because they feed them much better. Their staff would love for us to use some of their cows as embryo recipients in exchange for training. We will have to work out the details to see if it will work. It would be nice to have good calves from these embryos and I would love to spend time training them. I will have to consider this further when I work on our project timeline back home.

This afternoon we met with Dr. Amsalu, the crop research director for Oromia. It was great to see him again. I gave him the Book of Mormon that I had prepared with our family picture in it. He invited us for coffee so we went and had fruit drinks together. I really enjoy sprise, a combination of all the fruits in one glass. He reported that some of the seed that he received from us was planted in a very arid area of the region and did reasonably well (17 Q/ha) considering the weather conditions. He has also been to see some irrigation projects that are going on now. He is one one the men who came out to Utah to tour facilities there. He has been great to work with and shares our passion and vision for this country.

This evening, Abera and I mapped out the work on the Kokosa property. We have traveled about 3200km (1900miles) this last month, and about half of that has been on rough roads. Abera is looking forward to getting back to work in Kokosa. We have a long way to go to get where we want to be,but we are excited about the journey.

It was hard to say goodbye to Teddy. He has been my driver, my guide, and my friend for the last month. I gave him my last Book of Mormon and I consider his companionship to be another one of those “tender mercies” from the Lord.

I am going to have to work and plan very carefully to balance this responsibility and my responsibility to my family. I know that the Lord wants me to be involved with this project, and that he also wants me to be an effective father and supportive husband. Somehow He will help me to accomplish this task that He has laid before me. I just have to stay humble and rely upon Him for guidance and direction.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Meetings and Plans

I started the day with a long hot bath, something that I haven’t been able to do for almost a month. It felt so good just to soak in the water especially my sore shoulder. Bath tubs are an extreme luxury here in Ethiopia so you will only find them in the nicest hotels and homes.

We had a wonderful buffet breakfast here at the hotel before heading out today. It reminded me of the breakfast that I had in the hotels in Europe. There was a mix of traditional breakfast items from the U. S. and local breakfast choices also.

We had a meeting to review the project in Adami Tulu and to discuss future cooperation at that site. We are pleased with the cooperation that we have received as we worked with them and they are happy with the training that we gave them. They are anxious to have further training. We discussed steps that we can take to improve our results in the future. We also discussed our work at Kokosa and received some good insights and recommendations.

We also met in Debre Zeyit to review embryo transfer work that had been done previously at the research center. A Cuban professor had come and tried to help them get an embryo transfer program going, but it did not work out as expected. We discussed their procedures and results and identified the areas where we would do things differently. The staff at this site has the equipment and the theoretical knowledge to be successful, they just need some technical training and practice, practice, practice.

This evening we met with the Director of the Livestock Research. He is taking us to Holeta tomorrow to visit the Federal Research Center. We reviewed our project with him and discussed their plans for the new center. I am looking forward to this tour, as it should be very nice. The key will be to get the proper training to properly utilize the facilities that they have. We have been able to make some great contacts that will help us a lot as we go forward with our dairy project. I am impressed with the caliber of people here that are working at the research institutions. If they are given the encouragement and the support they will be able to carry Ethiopia forward in a amazing way.

Lonny J. Ward
Morrell Agro Industries PLC
"Sowing Hope and Prosperity"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Flour Mill Production & A Special Visit

We started today by checking for pregnancy in the cows owned by a new staff member in Kersa Illala. I was interested to see his cows, because he gets better production from them than any dairy that I have been to in Ethiopia. I found his secret. He has a flour mill and the cows get all of the floor sweepings after the flour is made.

We drove up to Adami Tulu and dropped off some supplies and embryos for them. We did a little more training and a lot of encouraging. We arrived in Addis just in time to change and go to the chapel for a fireside by Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In the picture below, Elder Holland is right in the middle, seated on the stand, but you have to look hard to see him. It was hard to get a good picture, but it was an awesome experience! More details to come later...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Trials and Blessings

We drove up to Kokosa again today. Teddy tried to get us a 4wd vehicle to drive, but he wasn’t able to get one. His friend that has one just leased it out for a month. But he is getting good at driving on slick muddy roads, so we made it all the way up there without getting stuck at all. Unfortunately, as we were driving across the pasture, Teddy found a narrow deep ditch and the van dropped into it. It took us an hour to jack it up and dig it out. I mentioned to Chris that I had the impression to have Teddy stop so that I could walk out in front of him and check the ground, but did not do anything about it. He said that the same thought had crossed his mind. It doesn’t do us any good to pray for guidance if we don’t follow it.
On the positive side, the country in Kokosa is breathtaking, the first half of the day was beautiful with fluffy clouds floating across the sky, and the sun was out, making it the perfect temperature. Kokosa is just so lush and green and naturally beautiful. It is like paradise up there. I wish it were only an hour’s drive from Genola. The drive up didn’t seem as long this time. I talked with Chris on the way up about our families and our work. He is a good man and I’m very grateful that he is here to help with this project. We spent much of the drive back discussing our options for the Kokosa farm. I have had to change my whole thought process to try and decide how to build this dairy. Many of the rules that would apply in America don’t apply here.

We were very disappointed with the response of the heifers to the synchronization protocol. Of the ten Boran heifers, only one of them qualified to be an embryo recipient. This was most likely due to the fact that they were thin when we bought them three weeks ago, so they are not cycling reproductively. We had a similar problem at Adamitulu although not as severe, probably because those animals had been on good feed at the center for almost two months.

We only inseminated 22 of the 90 Arsi heifers. Dr Kolste and I palpated the majority of the heifers and found many of them not cycling. These heifers have been on good grass and are supposed to be three to five years old. I am not sure why they would not be cycling and respond to our hormone treatment. Dr. Kolste and I will be doing some research to understand the Arsi cattle better so that we can decide how to proceed from here.

At about 3:00pm, the thunder started rumbling in the distance and black rain clouds came rolling in. I prayed that we would be passed over. It rained on us a little bit but for the most part it just rained around us. I think that God had mercy on us after our last experience working in the rain all day. :) But the roads were slick going out. Between the road improvements by Abera’s crew, and Teddy’s skilled driving, we made it out after only getting stuck once. The villagers are really good to help us get out. We will be prepared for the next time. Paul has ordered a 4wd vehicle for up there and Abera will have more time to work on the road.

As we were driving home, we stopped in a town to buy fuel. The power had been off in Shashamene that morning, so Teddy had not been able to top off his tank and he was worried that we might not have enough gasoline to get back. There was no gas station to speak of. He just parked on the main road and told us he & Abera would be back in five minutes. While they went to get fuel, Chris and I sat in the van and quickly attracted a crowd. The children gathered around the van while the adults stared at us from a distance. The few words that we knew in Oromo didn’t last long, and only two of them spoke any English at all.

It didn’t take long for several of them to start begging for money. “Give me money” is a common command that you hear. It really saddens me how they are so accustomed to begging to get something for nothing. I told Chris that this was exactly the opposite of the attitude of the early settlers in America that would, in some cases, prefer to starve than to accept charity. That is why America became so great. People took charge of their own lives, and their own destiny, and were passionate about being self sufficient. Over and over again, I see problems in the society here that could easily be solved if someone would just take charge and do it. It will be interesting to see how the light of the gospel shines on this country. I am very grateful that I was raised in a home where I was taught that I had the ability to do anything that I wanted to do.

After what seemed like a lot longer than five minutes, Teddy & Abera came back carrying a five liter jug of fuel. We cut up a water bottle to use as a funnel, poured in the fuel, and were on our way again. I was very glad to pull in safe to the Lilly of the Valley hotel. I suggested that we have a prayer to thank the Lord for our safe trip. Abera offered the prayer in Oromo. It was really cool.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Primary & Spanish Tortillas

Today we took the children from the Village of Hope to church with us. They had been begging me to go, and I was happy to take them. The Branch President was sick today so Fitzum, his 17 year old son, conducted the meetings, blessed the sacrament, and gave one of the talks. He had a busy day so after sacrament meeting I asked him if he would like me to teach primary. He readily accepted.

Most of the kids can speak some English, but I used a translator so the kids could understand everything better. We had a really cool primary class. I had some pass-along cards with the Salt Lake Temple on them, so I taught them about temples. It was really cool, and the spirit was strong when we talked about the possibility of a temple being built in Ethiopia someday. I also taught them a few primary songs and had them teach me some songs that they knew. I need to brush up on the words to the primary songs. I stumbled through several of them.

After church I went back to Village of Hope with them and cooked Spanish tortillas (like a potato omelet cooked in olive oil) for them. Each of the older children has a turn to cook. The cooks for today were thrilled to have me there. They helped me cut up about 50 small potatoes and three onions. We spent almost two hours cooking on their little gas stove. The gas cylinder ran out so we had to change to the new one right in the middle of cooking.

There was no electricity, so it was dark inside the building and the water line broke, so we were out of water for about an hour while we were trying to cook. One of the young girls cracked open an egg and a partially developed chick fell out onto the table. I quickly flipped it out the door to the dog. I guess they don’t candle their eggs here in Ethiopia. (Candling is when you pass them over a bright light to sort out bad eggs.) The girl handled it really well.

They played games and had a good time with Wes and Chris. I have a lot of good pictures. I pulled out my laptop and showed them a lot of the pictures that I have taken. Fortunately I have a few of my family to show them. It was really fun to have the children crowded around me. The children are so well behaved and happy. It is a joy to be around them. It kind of helps me not miss my own children as much. I will be very glad to see my family next week.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gardening, Dining & Shopping

We drove to Village of Hope today to work on the bridge there. They were plowing the field and planting corn, so we all went and had our picture taken with the plow. Chris broke out some red licorice and made friends with all of the children. I had them show me their gardens and I ate quite a few plants. Some of the plants were good, others weren’t, the children had fun handing me stuff to try. I tried lots of plants from their gardens and I ‘m sure some of them were weeds, especially the way they were laughing at me. The children’s gardens are a great idea. They asked me to bring some seeds the next time I come.

We left the Village of Hope and went to see Teddy’s home in Arsi Negelle. I met his grandmother and mother a couple of weeks ago. She is the sweetest lady. This time his grandfather was there also. He is 85 years old and still in very good shape. They have been married for 62 years.

We decided to go to the Sabana Resort for lunch and to see if it would work for us as a stopping place. Teddy’s sisters and a friend accompanied us. The one sister had been there before. I could tell that they were really excited to go and pamper themselves a little. It wasn’t a big deal for me to pay $15 for my meal, but for them, that is a huge splurge, almost 2 weeks wages for a typical Ethiopian laborer. The resort is expensive for Ethiopian standards but the rooms are similar to U.S. standards from $50 to $80/night. We may use that as a stopping place in the future. For lunch I had breaded Talapia, which came fresh from the lake.

They also had some terrific ice cream that I think was homemade. After lunch, we walked down to the beach and tested the water. Except for the brown colored water it looked like an awesome place to play along the beach. (*Note from the Sabana Resort Website about the water supply from the lake: "The water's light brown colour is due to its iron contents and not, as many are prone to think, by mud content. The water is actually known to be healthy for your skin and even helps heal wounds.")

I volunteered to cook for the children at Village of Hope on Sunday, so we drove to Shashamene to shop for the ingredients. We bought a sack of potatoes along the highway. As we were about to leave, the girl who sold us the potatoes almost walked right in front of a big transport truck. I think she was a little awestruck with us Frenge ("fer-eng-gee" -- Ethiopian term for foreigner) and didn’t think where she was going.

We drove on into Shashamene and got bananas from one vendor, eggs from another, onions from a third and olive oil from a fourth. All the while, we were wading through people and taxis. The shop keeper where we bought the olive oil said that he didn’t have olive oil. Fortunately for him, Teddy saw some on the shelf behind him. It cost 90 Birr for half a liter which is about $8. I decided it was worth it for the children to have the real deal. Afterwards I was thinking about it, and realized that the cost of the olive oil is a week’s worth of wages for a laborer there.

Brent suggested that we drive through the market to see what it was like. I had thought that the streets were crowded when we were shopping, but they were twice as crowded in the market. We could barely even drive through on the road. I tried to video it so we will see how it turns out.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rain, Mud & Fleas. . .

Today we implanted an embryo in the heifer and worked with the bull at the Village of Hope. It was fun to see all of the children again. They are so happy and healthy all the time. They begged me to let them go to church with us again this week so I told them that they could come. Mambrat, the village “mother”, made us some fresh hot milk with sugar. I have really enjoyed drinking fresh hot milk here. Due to disease issues, the Ethiopians always boil their milk before serving it. It is impossible to get a glass of cold milk here. During our work at Adami Tulu we often had a glass of hot milk after working or during breaks.

We went back to Shashamene to purchase supplies for Kokossa. We swam through the people and taxis to get to a couple of hardware shops where we purchased wire and metal banding to fix the bridge. Then we began the three hour bouncy drive to Kokossa, which is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. Chris was excited by all the new sights of the Ethiopian highlands. They are so beautiful, and the villages are so fascinating. We stopped at one point on the road and took pictures of us with some of the locals that were on their way to market. It is amazing how fast a crowd of people can gather when we stop along the road.

It was raining hard when we reached Kokossa. Some of the worst parts of the road have been fixed, but with all the extra rain we found several more bad spots, and it was still a challenge getting to the dairy site. We got stuck once, but were able to drive ourselves out. Brent and Chris were good at teaching Teddy how to drive in the mud, which helped a lot, and the villagers helped push us out of the places where we got stuck. One bump caught me just as I was coming down from another and catapulted me into the ceiling. My head and neck are still sore today from that one. We need to do some more road work and get a four wheel drive.

As we unloaded in the rain, Chris asked what we were going to do now. I told him if we were smart we would turn around and get out of here right now! But instead we went to work. I prayed silently for some help with the weather. The rain let up some and only came down hard a couple of times the rest of the afternoon. It was a long, tiring day. We need to do some more road work and get a four wheel drive.

Brent and I gathered a crowd of villagers and had them help us work on the bridge for which will make it safer for them to cross the river. The banding didn’t work like we thought that it would, so we cut up young trees and nailed treads onto the bridge. It's still not ideal, but at least it is more stable. Brent was soaked from head to toe and I was glad that I had my rain gear with me and that my boots were mostly waterproof.

In the meantime, Chris & Abera took a crew and began processing the 100 heifers. Brent and I helped them finish when we were done working on the bridge. We pulled the CIDRs, put in eartags, vaccinated and put on heat detect patches. It rained on us most of the time that we were up there, and the little corral became very mucky as the rain continued. I was pulling out one of the CIDRs when a heifer kicked me from behind in the back of the leg and knocked me right on my rear end in the mud. I quickly scrambled to get up so that I didn’t get kicked again. My record book and passport fell out of my pocket and were covered in muck. The rain pants that I had on protected me fairly well, and a couple of the workers helped me clean off the rest of the way.

The villagers love to crowd around as we are working, this can be dangerous. A few of them were in the way of the needles that we were giving shots with. We need to figure out a way to let them observe and learn without being in danger of getting hurt.

Several days ago I noticed some red, itchy insect bites on my arm and legs. They felt a little like mosquito bites. Over the next couple of days I got more and more of them. I ask the hotel owner about them because I had no idea what was causing them. She said that they were probably fleas! She recommended that I go heavy on the insect repellent. I counted over 30 bites on my legs from my knees down plus a few on my arms. The last couple of days I have soaked myself with Off and it has taken care of the problem. I have also used some army issue foot powder that has anti-itch and bug repellant properties. Now my children can sing “My dad has fleas” when they tune their instruments. :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Embryo Transfer Day

Today was the day for completing the main part of our project for this trip, which was to transfer the holstein embryos from the USA into the Boran cow recipients. I was so excited when I found out that the embryos were finally out of customs. Had they not gotten through in time, the short window of time that we had for implantation at the right time in the cows' cycles would have come and gone, which would have been devastating to our project's timing. We were told by many people that there was no way that a package like that was going to clear customs in the time we had left, but thanks to our great team, who worked tirelessly to get the embryos to us, and thanks to God above, we got them just in time for our work today.

We started transferring the embryos at about 10:30 and broke for lunch at 12:30. The morning progress was somewhat slow because we were doing a lot of training with the group, but we managed to get 12 embryos implanted. I was instructing the group on embryo thawing and preparation while Chris showed them how to transfer the embryos. We gave a few of them experience with using the implantation gun and preparing an embryo from the nitrogen tank to the cow. Everything went smoothly with the training and the transferring.

We drove to Ziway for lunch and found a nice little restaurant owned & operated by an American. We all ordered cheeseburgers and fries. It was nice to have American food! We were all amazed to have ice in our drinks, as that is not the practice here in Africa. We had a long talk with the owner who told us that he and his wife used to live in Washington D.C. but decided to go back to Ethiopia where she is from. He introduced us to the manager of the large flower-raising facilities in the area who is going to take us on a tour next Tuesday.

After lunch, the process went much faster, as we were doing less training and more transferring. Chris and I swapped positions a few times, and by about 6:00pm we were finally finished. We said our goodbyes to the staff, who had been great to work with. Then we headed back to our hotel in Shashamene. It was a satisfying day.

On our way back to the hotel, we saw an Isuzu truck swerve to the side and then stop. As ususal, an ox had wandered out into the road, right in front of the truck, and unfortunately, this time the ox was hit. I am amazed that we haven’t seen more accidents here, the way the animals just wander into the middle of the road all the time. The ox was laying down on the edge of the road and looked okay, but it wasn’t getting up. The hard part was seeing a young boy, about age 10, who had apparently been herding the ox, crying and running around in despair. I hope that the ox will be okay. Living here is a set of daily surprises and continues to stretch me physically and emotionally.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Embryo Transfer Training

Today was the big day for implanting embryos. Unfortunately, they are still stuck in customs. We proceeded to Adami Tulu anyway, hoping that we would get the embryos in time.

We stopped along the road to buy four bags of the “boli” earth, dirt that is dug up around the edge of a very salty lake that is used as a mineral supplement for the animals. At Adami Tulu we brought the cows over into the corral and started working them. We selected the animals that had not shown visible heats and used them for teaching purposes. Dr. Kolste led out first, palpating the animals, then examining them with the ultrasound. Staff members were crowded tightly all around him as he worked, trying to see and learn from him. One of the veterinarians that has had a lot of experience with ultrasound worked with him.

After he froze a picture of an ovary on the screen, I took the machine away so that I could show the rest of them while Dr. Kolste was teaching how to implant the embryo. One PHD student from near Addis was the first to transfer the imitation embryo. He did really well with it. They rest of the morning we just moved animals through as we checked them. None of the animals that didn’t show heat had a functional CL on their ovaries. It is probably because the animals were so thin to start with and they are just not cycling.

The embryos were not released today, so we left and went to Wando Genet, to the research facility. The director of the dairy facility met us there. They have a rather large dairy of 34 cows that give 5-8 liters of milk/day. They graze the cows on pasture then bring them in and feed them corn silage. They also feed a bran-based concentrate to the cows when they milk them. They have four silage pits that they constantly rotate filling, storing and feeding. They chop the silage by hand because the blades on their chopper have worn out and they haven’t replaced them. They pack the pit using a tractor then cover the silage with plastic, dirt, then branches from the local thorn trees. When I asked about the branches he said they were to keep the monkeys out of the silage. A few minutes later we saw monkeys come in and start eating the corn from the pit that they were filling.

We stopped to take pictures as we were on our way to Wando Genet. Even though we were on the main road and there weren’t any houses close, it didn’t take long for about 20 children to gather. Soon some girls about 7 and 11 years old came walking up the road with their backs loaded with sticks. They were going up a long hill about 2-3 miles long. My heart went out to these two girls and I gave them each a little money.

The embryos are still in customs. We are praying that we can get them out by tomorrow morning or some of the recipients heifers will not work. We are learning a lot about working in Ethiopia, and the biggest thing is patience and contingency planning.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

First Day of AI/ET Training

We arrived at Adami Tulu this morning for our AI/ET training session. As we were about to start, I asked if we could start with prayer. We had Christians and Muslims in the group, so I stood up and said that it was our custom to invite the help of God or Allah. One of our team prayed for us. The meeting went incredibly well, and I feel that its success is in large part because we took time to invite the Lord to be with us.

The first half of the day was on Artificial Insemination (AI). Before going into the details, we had a lengthy discussion about the economics of genetic improvement and the critical role that proper nutrition has in reaching the genetic potential. I think that that discussion may have been the most important part of the day because they began to think about the economics of utilizing the various resources that they have. AI might be a good tool to use for some farmers but others might have more success improving in other areas.

For lunch we drove to Zeway and ate at the tourist hotel restaurant. One member of the group ordered Dura Wot which is a very standard Ethiopian dish. It is a tomato-based sauce with a hardboiled egg and a piece of chicken. You eat it by sopping it up with the ingera. I had the fish goulash which was okay, but it is sitting in the pit of my stomach now and is making me nauseous. Thankfully, this is the first time that food has made me sick since I have been here.

In the afternoon I had Dr. Kolste explain the process of "flushing", or extracting, embryos from a cow. He had brought the supplies necessary to do a flush and explain the process. He did a very good job and sparked a lot of discussion. We took a break and walked down to see the heifer recipients, which are looking good. Our herdsman said that about half of them had shown good heat, which is about what we expected. When we reconvened, I led a discussion on the economics and the reasons why, or why not, to do Embryo Transfer (ET). The discussion was very lively and we learned while we were teaching. I think the group was starting to see the possibilities. I feel really good about what we accomplished today and I am excited about tomorrow.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Visit to Genesis Farm Dairy

We drove three hours to Debra Zeit to the Genesis Farm to see their dairy facility. When we arrived we were told that the only do tours on Saturdays. We persisted and were able to get in for a tour. They have been touted as the most progressive dairy farm in Ethiopia and from what I have seen they are by a long way. Even so, they milk the cows by hand, and do all of their milk processing by hand. They feed their cows the waste vegetables from their fields along with a concentrate mix, alfalfa and elephant grass. They have a methane digester that they use to heat the milk to make cheese. It is a very simple process but an effective one. The dairy herdsman showed us around and explained the whole process to us. They also have chickens for egg production and add the manure to the digester.

After seeing the dairy we walked through the store and then ate lunch in the restaurant. We had a delicious vegetable dish and followed it up with yogurt. The yogurt itself was pretty good for plain yogurt but they had added several tablespoons of lemon juice as a preservative. Once I added several tablespoons of sugar it tasted pretty good.

During lunch we had one of those tender mercies happen. The head of finance for Genesis Farms came to eat and sat at the table next to us. The dairy herdsman who had given us the tour was sitting at that table and told him about us, so he introduced himself and we were able to exchange contact information with each other. I think that will be very helpful to us in the long run. A group was filming on the lawn in front of the restaurant. It was fun to watch the young men and women dancing. The grounds were kept up very nice making it a beautiful peaceful place.

Our driver went on to Addis and picked up Dr. Kolste and brought him back to meet us. We had fruit shakes at a restaurant. The shakes are very good, just blended fruit, almost like a puree. We talked about the country and culture as we made the three hour trek back to the hotel.

We stopped at the Village of Hope on our way back and it was great to see all of the children. They are so excited to see us and love to shake hands and give hugs. It is so sad to think that none of them have parents to care for them. I am so grateful for the knowledge of the atonement of the Savior and how He will make everything right in the end.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Faith & Worship in Ethiopia

This morning our management team talked about our vision for Ethiopia. I am so impressed with the vision of this company, and their tremendous generosity as they try to help these wonderful Ethiopian people. Our plans are enormous but simple. If everything works out, the face of Ethiopia could change drastically in the next five to ten years. The people I am working with have great hearts and tremendous enthusiasm for this work. They will do great things for this country.

We loaded three vans with our group and children from the Village of Hope to head to Church this morning. I think there were 16 in our van alone! When we arrived, we didn’t have electricity so we sang without a piano accompanying us. There were enough good singers scattered throughout the crowd that it sounded very good. The talks were about agency, miracles, and believing in Christ for miracles to happen. The spirit was there very strongly.

It is very difficult to be so far away from my wife and children. I sometimes feel inadequate for this task, just like how I felt at times when I was a LDS missionary in Spain. It's easy to feel overwhelmed at times with the enormity of the task before us, due to the lack of resources available. I am so grateful for my faith in God, knowing that he loves all of his children, and that he wants his people in Ethiopia to thrive. I just have to remind myself to keep my eyes on the end goal and work one day at a time. I feel so blessed to be part of such an awesome work and know that whom the Lord calls the Lord qualifies. I held a small boy on my lap as we rode to church today and it “tugged at my heartstrings” to not have my children close to sit on my lap. It was a bittersweet moment. I love my children so much and want to pull them up on my lap and tell them how much I love them. I hope that my example will help them to know that the way to find true happiness in life and togetherness as a family is to follow your heart and be guided by your faith, no matter when or where you are called.

After sacrament meeting, I taught the young men and young women outside in the entry way, since we had such a large group. I taught in English while two young men translated it into Amharic and Oromic. I taught them a story from the Book of Mormon about the 2000 stripling warriors and the faith of these young men. (See Alma 56) Their great faith allowed the Lord to work mighty miracles for their county and I challenged the youth to follow this example and be the hands of God in making miracles happen every day here in Ethiopia. I pointed out that although we think of miracles as great events more often they come individually in small kind acts. It may be that a smile or kind word may be the miracle that someone needs at that time. I challenged them to pray every day for guidance and testified that miracles would happen because I had seen it in my own life. The lesson was a little short so we sang songs for the rest of the class. Some of the songs were primary songs while others were their native songs.

Due to the lack of a place to adequately feed so many people, Paul took everyone to a local hotel for dinner. It was so exciting to see the children of the orphanage eat. They were so happy. During dinner I talked with one of the young men of the branch. I am so impressed with the youth here in Ethiopia. They are so intelligent and eager to learn. They are the ones that will lift this country from its poverty. I pray that they can keep the excitement and enthusiasm that they now have.

I only had cell phone service for a few moments this morning when I was first waking up. I really enjoyed talking to Erika even though it was just for a few moments before I lost cell service. At least we are able to communicate one way or another daily. One of our highest priorities is to get good communications going so that we can use the internet to communicate. It is a slow process, one that requires lots of patience.

Thursday while we were driving through Awasa we came to a big street rally going down the middle of the main street. We had to detour around it for several blocks. It turned out to be a Christian march, with everyone proclaiming Jesus as their Savior. There is a strong religious spirit in the country now. It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an apostle of the LDS Church, is scheduled to visit Ethiopia next Sunday. We will try to attend. Had we been able to schedule the flight when we wanted to, we would have missed his visit. I am anxious to hear what he has to say to the people of Ethiopia.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Bridges & Roadblocks

Today I started early after a good night’s sleep. I went to the office to retrieve my email and to catch up on Facebook. I really enjoy connecting with people even though I am a world away.

Paul brought me the ultrasound so we have that ready to go. It went through customs just fine but the probe that attaches to it was held up for a couple of days and took a letter from the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture to get it out. We spent an hour going over our plans for Kokossa and the steps that we need to take to get there. Abera has a good mind for business and understands the Ethiopian society well so we make a good team. We have a lot of ground to cover in the next couple of weeks, and we already have some items scheduled for my October visit.

This afternoon we went to the Sabana resort for lunch. While we were there, eating a very good meal for Ethiopia, we met a reporter from the Salt Lake Tribune and also Matthew, a doctor who is adopting some Ethiopian children. We had a very good visit with them.

We spent the afternoon around the village of Torgee. Last year Brent helped them clean all their irrigation ditches and put in a new head gate. The head gate and some of the plastic used to line the ditches had been stolen. The ditches hadn't been clean and were half full of weeds and silt. Maintenance is not a big priority here.

We then headed for the bridge that the Village of Hope had funded. We had some guides that thought we were looking for a bridge that we could cross and took us up river about a mile. All of this time we are driving on roads that are more like donkey cart paths than roads. In a couple of areas we came to some very wide and deep bogs but we were able to get through them without too much problem. I told Paul that this brought a whole new meaning to the phrase “cruising around town”. It was more like “four wheeling around town”. As we drove through, many children came out to wave at us, some of them begging for money. When we finally got around to the bridge we found that it was the wrong one, so we headed back and eventually came to the right bridge.

On the south side of the river the trail is moderately steep but there is a two foot step up to the bridge. On the north side of the bridge the bank is extremely steep.
As usual we had a crowd of many people swarm around us as we arrived. One of the young men came up to us and spoke in broken English, pointing to the bridge. He said “See this problem? How you fix this problem?” We tried to explain to them that it was a problem that they had the means to fix themselves if they could work together. He said that they were willing to fix it if we paid them to do it. A few of the other teenagers seemed to be more level headed than this vocal one.

It is sad to see a society that will allow such conditions even when they have the power to fix them. As each donkey cart approaches, they beat the donkeys to get them to jump up on the bridge, then they all push to get the cart up. They spend a lot of time and effort into crossing the bridge, but not maintenance to make the bridge passable. We walked down the river 100 meters where the old bridge was. Five long trees were stretched across the river. None of them connected to another. The river was about 15 feet below and running swiftly between rocks. A fall from that bridge would probably mean death, and apparently had in some cases.

As we drove through the beautiful countryside, I was again amazed that a land so rich and fertile could have people starving to death for lack of food. The people have lived in a state of hopelessness for so long that they can’t look up and see the possibilities that are available to them. They could grow crops all year long, but instead they only grow one crop because their seed is poor and they have no irrigation projects to speak of. This land is so fertile that they can get by with poor management practices. In the western United States, our early pioneers would have starved to death without irrigation and hard work developing the land. I hope that we can help these wonderful people learn to catch the vision of what they can do for their country if they will open their minds to new possibilities & the opportunities ahead of them.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Visit to the Dairy Site at Kokosa

Today we arose early and grabbed a quick breakfast. We were the first to order but it took almost half an hour and a couple of reminders before the cook started cooking. The orders came out one at a time and an hour later the six of us had eaten. Everything is slower and less efficient here. On the positive side it only cost me about $16 to feed all six of us.

The 60 mile drive to Kokossa took us almost three hours. There is a project out of Shashamene that is paving about 30 miles of the road that was supposed to be done on March 12th, 2009. I think that it will be a year longer than that. It is funny to be driving along on the rutted dirt road and see the donkey carts and pedestrians walking along on the almost finished highway. The last 20 miles are rough “washboard” roads that shake your teeth out if you go much faster than 15 to 20 mph. Brent summed it up when he said “That was the worst ride of my life to get to the most beautiful place that I have ever seen.”

We spent a couple of hours walking around the farm and discussing plans for the construction of the dairy. We fired up the generator and it is working fine. Our farm has a couple of paths that cross from where the villagers live to the main road. One of these paths crosses a river and currently has three 20 foot poles laying next to each other for a bridge. We watched several people cross many with their packs on their backs as they headed to market. It was dry and even so the poles were hard to cross. I can’t imagine how hard it is to cross when they are wet with rain water which is very often. The villagers have told us that three people have died because they fell off the bridge and drowned and many others have fallen but were saved. It is amazing to me that they just accept that as part of life. They have the skills to improve the bridge but no one will take the initiative to do anything about it. Brent and I tried to give them suggestions on how they could improve it and encouragement to do something about it. If they haven’t done something by next Friday we will probably work on it.

The same type of attitude is true with the roads with a few exceptions. The roads are rutted and in bad shape but they just go on day to day not doing anything to improve them. On our way home we saw a group of about 10 boys carrying rocks to a particularly muddy spot so we stopped and Abera gave them some instructions and some money for their work.

As we drive on the main road to the farm it is almost like we are a parade. Everyone comes out to watch us, and the little children love to race alongside the van. Teddy honks his horn to warn them away, as is the custom in Ethiopia, but it has the affect of drawing out even more children. Most of the children are barefoot and about half of them only have a shirt on. Occasionally we will see one that is totally naked. About half of the adults have shoes or boots and many of them go around with a blanket wrapped around them even over their head. It was chilly enough that I thought about putting my jacket on but decided not to because we were walking around but to the villagers it was cold enough for a blanket. The landscape is amazingly beautiful. These are the highlands of Ethiopia. They are lust green rolling hills with occasional bamboo groves. The cattle do very well. We did not notice a lot of flies or mosquitoes. I guess it must be a little too cool for them.

The cattle are very tame and docile so it was very easy for us to work with them. The herders just sorted out the ones that we needed and walked them right over to the corral. The animals are kept in the corral every night for protection which makes it easier to get them in and out of the corral when we want to work with them. The ten Boran heifers that we brought up last week are looking a lot better after one week on this lush grass. I am excited to see how the dairy cows will do on it. I am sure that it will not be as good as a U.S. dairy ration but it is better than what the dairy cows around Adami Tulu are getting.

I tried sugar cane for the first time in my life. Teddy stopped and bought a stalk from a man along the road for four Birr, about $0.35. It reminded me of chewing on a very woody corn stalk except a lot sweeter. We each had about a 10 inch piece. Teddy went through his in about 10 minutes. I chewed on mine for almost an hour and only made it half way through. The sweet taste was very good, much better than beet or corn sugars.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Errands & Ethiopian Food

Today I arose well rested after a good night’s sleep. I had asked for an extra blanket from the hotel staff. They brought me a thin one, so I was concerned that I would not be able to sleep with the cool of the night. It must have been a tender mercy of the Lord because I slept very well.

We got a very late start because we were waiting for our breakfast, then to pay our bill. We stopped at the Village of Hope to check the cow and the heifer. The heifer was in heat but I don’t think that the cow is cycling. The fences were loose and the wire was broken in a couple of places. I talked to the maintenance man about it. I also walked through the large dome complex that is being built for a guest house. It was very nice for Ethiopian standards. It is hard to compare with US standards when you don’t have a Home Depot down the road!

We looked at the hay that they had been storing at Kersa last week. It had been rained on and was a little damp so it had started to mold. I don’t think it will heat up but it will not be top quality feed. The alfalfa hasn’t grown up much but the leaves are very thick.

In Shashamene Abera invited us to a juice bar. I had a mixed fruit drink that was very good, papaya, mango, strawberry. I guess that fruit drinks are very popular around here.

Since we were down by lake Awasa which is filled with Tilapia fish we decided to try some. Teddy took us to the Lewi restaurant where I spent almost five dollars a piece on our meals. (For comparisons, it costs $5 to stay in some hotels here). It was very good food. I had fish and fries with an avocado drink. I was surprised at how sweet and good it was.

One of my co-workers had an interesting trip this week. He was in a taxi on his way to meet us when a bicyclist rode in front of their vehicle. They thought at first that the man had been killed, but miraculously, he survived. The roads here are full of animals, people, bicyles, 3 wheel taxis, cars and trucks. This picture is the main highway going from Addis Ababa to Kenya. The roads are very congested in the villages along the way.

This evening I talked with charity organizers about the plans for Village of Hope and Ethiopian culture in general. There is so much that can be done that it is difficult to know where to start and how to keep going. I’m grateful to have the ability to turn to the Lord in prayer for guidance. I pray for relief from discouragement and guidance for each day.

Research Updates & Dairy Visits

Today I confirmed the training at Adami Tulu with personnel from four other research stations. We will start at on Tuesday Aug 11th. The next day they will be able to observe the embryo implantation. The picture above is some of the staff from the Research Station. They are learning fast and we are getting more done each day.

We visited the dairy at the Awasa SOS Children’s Village. (Picture from their website is on the right). This village has a dairy as part of the compound.

They have a herd of 24 thin but healthy Holstein cows that are producing about 5 to 10 liters of milk/day. The feed them grass hay supplemented with their garden refuse and a little hand harvested alfalfa. They have a silage pit but it is now being used as a sewer.

We talked to them about the possibility of using their animals as embryo recipients. It sounded like they would be willing to do that. We have a tentative meeting set up for the week of the 17th when the director returns from training meetings in Addis. They just sold all of their young animals. It would have been nice to buy them had we known they were for sale. We will try and meet with them again in a couple of weeks.

We were impressed with how clean their grounds were and the effort they were going to to plant grass and flowers around the office. It was nice to see pride of ownership at this facility.

Unfortunately this location has some of the same problems that the rest of the country has when it comes to machinery and technology. They had about a dozen pieces of machinery that was not being used at all, including a nice Ford tractor. They didn’t know how to repair it or get the parts, which are likely rare &/or expensive. They have a fairly nice cheese and milk processing facility that is locked up and not being used at all. Somewhere along the line the people that knew how to use it left and were never replaced so it was shut down and locked up. They can’t even use the building for anything.

We have been trying to get authorization to visit several of the Sheik’s operations. He has a dairy in Awasa, a slaughterhouse and feedlot in Wando, and a large farm on the way to Kokossa. They are requiring that we send a letter to the Addis office requesting authorization for a visit. Instead of a quick email we had to fax it which meant going to the telecommunications center into the faxing office. They must have been out to lunch because we couldn’t get the fax to go through. We decided to go on and try again in Shashamene. We drove to the brand new water office so Brent could say hello to a man that he had worked with before. He wasn't there, so another worker tried to call him from his phone which was in a locked case on his desk. I couldn’t believe my eyes. We are trying to work through these roadblocks.

We were able to get a few more supplies and medicines for the Kokosa heifers. The farm supply store is small and has a rotating inventory. Sometimes he has it sometimes he doesn’t.

Lonny J. Ward
Morrell Agro Industries PLC
"Sowing Hope and Prosperity"

Water Choices

Here are two pictures of the water options for Kersa Illala, where the Village of Hope is located. The first picture is of the mud puddle close to the village which is about 12" deep. This was used several years ago by the villagers for washing & bathing. Their choices were to either wash in the muddy puddles or walk miles to wash in a muddy river. Which would you choose?

The second picture is LDS Humanitarian Donations put to work with a well that the Church has put in. They suggest that the people pay 1 Birr (about 8 American cents, or about an hour's wage) to fill their 40 litter water jugs. This is to help the people see the value of investing in clean water. Even so, there are some people who still walk to the river or use puddle water.

Challenges & Miracles

Excerpts from an email:

I am excited about what we are trying to accomplished here and to be honest, I am, at times, overwhelmed. It amazes me that a country this rich in natural resources can be so poor. I have had strong feelings that now is the time for Ethiopia to rise up from this pathetic state that it is in.

All around me I see relics of technology that others have tried to force on the Ethiopian people without taking time to teach, train and support them in the change to the new technology. I can see how our farms and dairy can make a tremendous difference if we can be tenacious and patient enough. 

At times I feel that what we are trying to accomplish is impossible, but from the beginning I have felt that the Lord wants us to do this, and with His help nothing is impossible. Yesterday I decided to start recording the miracles that I am seeing, some small others more significant. I have 19 on my list and I know that there are probably many others that I have overlooked.

I have never tried to accomplish so much with so little yet I am confident that we will be guided through it.

Lonny J. Ward
Morrell Agro Industries PLC
"Sowing Hope and Prosperity"

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