About six years ago, the Greenwood United Methodist Church Youth Group (GYG) visited the Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Ark. as their mission trip. At Heifer International, animals are raised to be sent to third world countries. Personnel from Heifer do much more than raise livestock, they stay with the family receiving animals and teach them the proper animal feeding and care.

The family is provided guidance in reaping financial gain from the animal(s) received. Attention is directed to the health and nutrition education of the family as well. Once family members have become self-sufficient, they are asked to “pay it forward;” that is, they are to pass the gift on to another needy family. This is done by providing the offspring of their animal to another family.


Each person who went on the Heifer Ranch trip was affected in some way. One youth member had a life-changing experience, such that she chose to make her high school class project a church wide event to raise $500 for Heifer International. Five-hundred dollars was chosen, because it will provide one cow to a third world country family. A church dinner was the means to raise the funds.

That young girl, Morgan Sutton was so moved by the experience, she chose to do something to help families in third world countries and the Appalachian Mountains in the United States. She also planned a church-wide dinner as her senior project.

The morning of the Heifer International meal, Sutton spoke before the congregation sharing what the mission trip meant to her and in her own words, how it made a difference to her and how it will make a difference to the church family today and the families in the third world countries in the days to follow.

Learned so much

In her own words: “When I visited the Heifer Ranch in Arkansas, I learned so much. The night that affected me the most was when we were split up into groups to stay in different replicated homes from third world countries. There was even a home from the Appalachian Mountains. I never even thought that people in our own country lived like that. Every group had a pregnant “person.” You might be wondering why not a “pregnant” woman? Well the pregnant person was drawn from a hat and in my group it was a boy.

“We also had to have a person who was blind, had no hand and had lost a leg. That night each group had to prepare one part of our meal and then we all came to eat together. When I’m at home, my Mom or Dad cook and I just wait around complaining until it is done. Then Mitchell and I come running. Here we all had to participate; we had to go get water from a well or build a fire. Most of us don’t typically have to do that for dinner to be prepared.

“This trip really helped me to see how people not only live in other countries, but also in our own country, have to live every day. That is why I decided to do this for my project. Not only will this money be helping one family get on their feet and become stable, but it will help hundreds of families as long as they keep passing on the gift.”

The congregation gave enough money to buy not one but two cows, one goat, a flock of chicks and a trio of rabbits. The meal was a success raising more than $1,200 and there was enough food left over to be donated to the local food bank.

Morgan’s school project was an overwhelming success and her dream to help people in need through Heifer International became reality.

Photo by Riley Stout

Morgan Sutton (left) worked with other youth at Greenwood UMC to raise money for Heifer International to buy not only one cow, but two cows, one goat, a flock of chicks and a trio of rabbits.

The meal was a success raising more than $1,200…