Blessed to give: East Chain couple meets need

From left, Bill and Kathy Raine with their 1949 Ford Tractor; Brandon Edmundson, Michalia Cyphers and Ruth Cyphers.

EAST CHAIN — About two months ago, Eddy Cyphers, a 1974 graduate of Fairmont High School, spoke to the Fairmont Rotary Club about his work teaching basic agricultural techniques to residents of Lukosi, Zimbabwe. The main component in his efforts to help the impoverished area start a community farming project was a 1940 Ford tractor.

“Getting the equipment is the hardest part of it so if you know of any small three-point hitch equipment setting in the grove, I can put together a complete line for about $4,000,” Cyphers told the Rotary.

Bill and Kathy Raine of East Chain answered that call, donating a 1949 8N Ford tractor complete with front and rear blades, a scoop, a cultivator and a rear-mounted fork lift.

When Bill’s mother died in 1994, the Raines decided to use the money they inherited to add a double garage on to their home at the edge of East Chain. They knew the construction would require a lot of dirt work, something Bill could do himself if he had access to the right equipment. He was very familiar with the 1949 Ford tractor, having used one regularly growing up on a farm.

“This one happened to be sitting at the John Deer dealership in Truman so I bought the tractor and did the earthwork for the garage,” he said.

Fast forward 24 years.

“We’re getting up in years so now we’re trying to downsize. We wondered what to do with the tractor. Then I read the article in the paper,” Bill said, referring to a Sentinel story on Eddy Cyphers’ presentation to the Rotary Club.

On Wednesday, Brandon Edmundson, president of Fairmont Rotary, Michalia Cyphers, Eddy’s daughter, and Ruth Cyphers, Eddy’s sister, traveled to East Chain to officially accept the tractor and equipment and to personally thank the Raines for their generosity.

But the Raines downplayed the size of the gift, preferring to put the focus on the simple act of giving.

Bill said he turned is life over to God in 1988, and that life has been pretty amazing since then. After his decision, he formed a singing group, and Kathy auditioned for it. They were married three years later.

“Since then, we’ve been tithers-plus,” Bill said. They tithe, or donate 10 percent, and more of their income to church and charity.

“To me, a gift is a gift,” he said. “For a lot of people, part of giving is in order to get a tax deduction, but that’s going away. For us, it will just be a gift from the heart.”

Michalia will be moving the tractor to her home in Truman where the vehicle will be put in top running condition, thanks to a $400 check from Fairmont Rotary to pay for repairs and transportation. Then the tractor will be hauled to the Twin Cities and turned over to Matter, a global health nonprofit organization working on a worldwide access to health care and creating food stability through farming in impoverished countries. Matter sends the equipment in a 40-foot shipping container which holds farming equipment and medical supplies. It costs about $10,000 and takes about a month for the box to get to its destination. Eddy Cyphers’ trip to Lukosi was sponsored by Matter, with him volunteering his time and the organization paying for his round-trip airfare to Zimbabwe.

Eddy is at a conference in Africa at this time, representing Matter and talking about his work in Lukosi, but he expressed his thanks for the Raines’ gift.

“Oh how wonderful! Isn’t it amazing how God works?” he wrote in an email to his sister, Ruth.

He also mentioned that additional items such as a hand-crank corn sheller, single axle trailer, field cultivator or plow that would have a major impact on helping a struggle community with a farming operation.

“We want to continue this story,” Ruth said.

As for the Raines’ tractor, they would like to keep tabs on its journey.

“Wherever it goes, I’m hoping somebody takes a video and sends it to us,” Bill said.

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