THE FOUNDERS

“Since I am a PhD and licensed engineer, I started Earth Mission with engineering and business projects. My wife, Sue, managed the accounting and board requirements for a nonprofit organization.

Our first and biggest project was to create a building truss manufacturing business in Mexico. A group of men would get together and help with the design and fabrication of jigs and fixtures to build these steel trusses. I did the finite element analysis to properly size the steel members. Church widows donated tools such as welders, because they did not know what to do with their deceased husbands’ tools. We loaded an old school bus with all this equipment to fabricate trusses, and another volunteer drove the bus to Mexico. A number of us went down to get the business started. We gave the business to a pastor and he found a skilled partner. They started to build trusses for churches, and other products such as doors and hydraulic lifts. They operated successfully for four years.

Another project was started by one of my students at John Brown University (JBU), Scott Coverdale. I taught mechanical engineering at JBU and worked for Jim Pearson (my daughter-in-law’s father) who was Chair of the Engineering Division. Earth Mission was the funding support using our nonprofit status. Scott and his brother-in-law started a foundry making aluminum pans out of recycled aluminum. The brother-in-law was an anthropologist, and they picked a man from the Dominican Republic to be the owner. That foundry in the Dominican Republic is allegedly still operating. The skill of the anthropologist made the difference in this project being a long term success.

We then continued to work on other appropriate technology projects such as solar and wind mills. Some of these projects were done through my students’ senior project class at JBU.
When my son, Dr. Mitch and Caryl joined Earth Mission, they started the medical outreach mission. They are the ones that turned Earth Mission into what it is today. I am more a visionary and less of a manager. Mitch and Caryl are both.”

LD Ryan, Earth Mission Asia Founder

EARTH MISSION BOARD MEMBERS

MARK DAVIS

President & Board Member

Received a BA in Sacred Literature and Theology and an AS in Electrical Engineering Technology

Has worked for 10 years in pastoral ministry and 34 years in manufacturing management

Currently works as the Electrical Superintendent at McKee Foods Corporation

Acting President of Earth Mission

Involved as Teaching Elder and Director of Missions at Outreach Center Church, Siloam Springs, AR; Chairman of the Board for American Rehabilitation Ministries; and Board Member for Rapha House

Married to Arlene for 48 years. They have two children and 10 grandchildren

MARY BENJAMIN

Secretary & Board Member

Earth Mission Board Member

Retired Administrator Grace Episcopal Church

Arvest Bank, Board of Directors 24 years

Chairman of SoNA (Symphony Orchestra of Northwest Arkansas)

Started St Francis Clinic, Siloam Springs, and now it is a Federally Qualified Health Center

Married 46 years to Dr George Benjamin. They have three children and two grandsons

JAMES V. PEARSON PH.D.

Board Member

University of Minnesota and University of Arkansas

Worked in industry for IBM, 3M, NASA, and the Solar Energy Research Institute

Taught electrical engineering and mathematics for 42 years at John Brown University

Involved with 11 technical and other mission trips in six countries. Traveled to 25 countries

Retired and serves on the board of New Life Ranch and Earth Mission. Active on the Global Partner Support Team at the Siloam Springs Bible Church

Married to Marylyn and they have four grown children each with families

DENNIS BERGTHOLD

Board Member

Have owned 2 B’s Auto Sales Inc. in Siloam Springs, AR since 1993

Member of the Gideon’s International

Have been on the Earth Mission board for many years

Have been friends with Caryl Ryan since High School and have know Mitch Ryan since they have been married

Married to Susan Bergthold for 37 years. They have four children and five grandchildren

STEFAN SIEMS

Board Member

LeTourneau University, BS Mechanical Engineering

Worked for almost 20 years in the engineering field at both Ryan Engineering and DaySpring Cards. Currently the IT Operations Manager at John Brown University, in Siloam Springs, AR

Participated in several mission’s trips both domestically and internationally. Traveled widely in North America and Europe

Has been involved with Earth Mission for more than 20 years and also serves on the board for A Voice for Children

Attends First Christian Church, coached girl’s soccer in the local youth league, and is an avid photographer

Single with a great dog, Sadie

EDWARD KLOTZ

Board Member

Doctorate in Missions

John Brown University, Dallas Seminary, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Served with the SIM (formerly Sudan Interior Mission) for twenty-two years in Nigeria, Liberia, and Eritrea

Taught Intercultural Studies for 18 years at John Brown University

Has completed four short-term trips to Lithuania

Retired and serves on the board of Earth Mission

Active on the Global Partner Support Team at the Siloam Springs Bible Church

Married to Kay and they have two married children

CINDY L. FRIEZE

Board Member

University of Arkansas

Registered Nurse for 28 years in Emergency Medicine

Currently a staff/charge nurse

Veteran of more than 30 short term medical missions to 12 different countries

Have travelled to more than 35 countries

Serves as a member of Disaster Medical Assistant Team (OK-1 DMAT) providing temporary medical services for victims of natural and unnatural disasters

Married to David who is also an RN. They have one daughter and three granddaughters

BEN ROADS

Board Member

Senior Planner for the City of Siloam Springs, Arkansas

Actively manages the City’s planning program and has functioned in various roles at the City since 2003

Prior to working with the City, he lived in Denver, Colorado where he worked as a environmental planning consultant for David Evans and Associates

Received his Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Colorado at Denver in 2002 and is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2000

After learning about the important work of Earth Mission at Grace Episcopal Church, where he attends, Ben joined the Earth Mission Board in 2015

Lives in Siloam Springs and enjoys reading, creative writing, and hiking

EARTH MISSION STAFF MEMBERS

LAURA S. HESSELINK

Earth Mission Director of Operations (Siloam Springs, Arkansas, USA) since February 2011.
  • Received Bachelors of Fine Arts in Painting from State University of New York, College at New Paltz.
  • Has had a wide variety of employment, including: Prison File Clerk, Freelance Artist, Picture Framer, Factory Seamstress/Trainer, Care Giver, Life Skills Instructor, Cashier, Dining Room Hostess, Bookstore Manager, Housekeeper, Organizational Consultant, Copy Editor, Bookkeeper, Property Manager, etc. This diversity has served her well in her current position with Earth Mission.
  • Actively involved with the creative worship décor team at Outreach Center Church.
  • Proud aunt of two amazing nieces.

DAN RYAN

Earth Mission Asia Executive Director

So, the traditional milestones in my life would probably be described on the following timeline:

  • Birth and childhood. Growing up in rural settings gave me plenty of life experiences early:  riding horses, driving tractors, riding bicycles, helping my dad in various unusual projects, making maple syrup, working on tractors, carrying lumber, splitting firewood, building forts, climbing trees, collecting berries, etc
  • Graduate High School, and follow my father’s path of engineering education. During this time, I enjoyed construction – building a house in the US, houses and churches in Mexico – fabricating industrial machinery.
  • Graduated college and began working with my father in a small engineering business.  I learned many things here from engineering to business development to leadership to accounting and more. This is still a big part of my identity.
  • Marriage and family. Of all the things that I’m doing, this is my big job – being a husband and dad. My wife of 23 years and I are blessed with four wonderful and unique kids.
  • After 24 years of working in, and later running an engineering business, we decided to move to Thailand to join the work of EMA here. We have been given a unique opportunity to be part of what God is doing in Southeast Asia with Karen people. My experience in small business helps in the administration of EMA, and engineering experience is a needed support of the medical program. And while I teach things like engineering technology and finance, I find that the wonderful people here teach me more important lessons of joy in hardship, laughter in the face of danger, strength in humility, hard work without being defined by it, putting others before self.

CARYL RYAN

Earth Mission Asia Administrative Director and Board Chairman

Caryl is a graduate of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences with a nursing degree. She worked in Neurosurgical ICU in Arkansas, Tennessee and Michigan for 10 years. In 1993, she and her husband Mitch moved to Pakistan with their 2 boys, Josh (7yrs) and Luke (3yrs) and helped to open the Gilgit Eye Hospital. She worked in the surgery and medical administration.

2002- moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand after the attack on our boys’ boarding school at MCS Pakistan.  2002-2007- volunteered with MCS and CMIS (international schools) doing visa work, health checkups, and then Parent Teacher Group president for 2 years.

10 high school students and several young 20s lived with us during these years.

2008-present- Volunteers with Earth Mission’s medical projects managing staff, finance, medical supply, and facility.

She is currently the Board Chairman of the Earth Mission Asia Foundation, a registered Thai foundation and is also the donor liaison between the US Office and our EMA project.

Caryl really enjoys helping people realize and implement their God-given passions.

She has been married to Mitch Ryan for 32 years and they have 2 grown sons, one daughter-in-law, Amy, and 2 wonderful granddaughters, Linnea and Lucia.

MITCH RYAN M.D.

Earth Mission Asia Program Director

Growing up in Southern Michigan, Mitch’s beverage of choice was milk. The thought of cold milk and warm cookies still elicits a Pavlovian rumble deep inside. Taking a hit on his budget after graduating from Vicksburg High School, Mitch settled for water at Wheaton College and then at Wayne State School of Medicine. He married Caryl, from  a quiet, no-nonsense, plain-black-coffee-drinking family with Swedish roots. Believe it or not, Mitch made it through Medical school and residency in Family Practice at Bristol TN without any caffeine addictions. No major changes in drink habits surfaced during his time with the US Air Force where he paid back time for their financial support of his medical school bills.

His fall from non-caffeined grace started in Pakistan. As the Project Director of the Gilgit Eye Hospital, it was absolutely imperative to their successful integration into local society to partake in the chai ritual. Especially high in caffeine, the innocent looking “driver chai” could keep one awake for days. Often, the good doctor took a bit of Inderol to counter the caffeine tremble during cataract operations. His further decent into the caffeinated world was aided by the notoriously bad quality of available drinking water in Pakistan. Rehydration options included Coke, Mecca Cola and, for a time, Pepsi. Ironically, it was in this strict, no-alcohol setting that Mitch began enjoying an occasional glass of wine. It was very occasional because they had to make all of their own wine.

Joining another humanitarian relief organization based in Thailand, however, opened a whole new world of drink. Famously, the ubiquitous corner “7-11” held seemingly infinity choices of new drink options: Red Bull, Big Gulp, cold coffees,  juices of exotic new fruits. And finally, after a long and commendable resistance – and largely due to his work with the Karen people – Mitch caved in to coffee.  Caryl didn’t consider  “Super Creamy Birdy” mix real coffee, but it was the beginning of the end. A few years later, as Program Director for Earth Mission Asia (with a mission to bring healthcare to remote villages), we find Dr. Mitch solidly addicted to black coffee. On his latest trip to a board meeting in Myanmar, he packed a French press and freshly ground coffee beans from Thailand. He is a shadow of the young, caffeine-pure youth of old.

CAROLYN WHITT

Earth Mission Asia Education & Clinical Training Director

Carolyn wants to live in a world where healthcare is available to those in need, in spite of ongoing conflicts and rugged terrain. She believes that political parties and towering mountains cannot dictate the way people love and serve each other.

As a nurse in preparation for missions abroad, she worked in emergency rooms and trauma centers in Georgia, Florida, Alaska, Washington DC, and Arizona for five years.  During that time, she also joined crises relief efforts in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake and the ensuing cholera outbreak. In 2013, she met Dr. Mitch and Caryl in Chiang Mai, Thailand and was intrigued by their vision and commitment to healthcare in difficult places. After trailing Dr. Mitch to the jungle, she was captivated by the strength and beauty of the people living in these remote villages. And so she joined the Earth Mission team to help train healthcare providers from remote areas in Myanmar.

When she is not busy with students, trainings, or clinic support, she enjoys exploring a new jungle path, climbing a mountain, or wandering through a village among a people she has come to respect and admire.

TYLER YODER

Earth Mission Asia Year 1 Program Director

Tyler grew up on a dairy farm in the heart of Georgia’s farmland. Most of his days began earlier that he would have liked, as the cows were quite demanding in their need for relief from their creamy burdens.  Little did he know at that time that the laborious farm work and team spirit required to keep a dairy operation running smoothly was equipping him for future experiences.

Exploring the Georgia woods and fishing her creeks and beaver ponds instilled in him a love and appreciation for the outdoors and nature. When he finds himself back home in Georgia, he can be found on frosty mornings with his brothers and nephews hunting whitetail deer, wild hogs, and shooting ducks.

Inspired by his firefighter father and other emergency response family members, he decided to pursue a career in healthcare. He graduated in 2009 and began his journey as an ER/trauma nurse. After a few years of working in Georgia, he began working as a travel nurse. Travel nursing has taken him from the mania of Washington D.C., to the blazing deserts of Arizona, and on to the howling blizzards of Alaska.

From an early age, Tyler felt that the Father was calling him to respond to healthcare needs in marginalized areas. Answering that call has led him to join emergency response and medical teams in different parts of the world such as Honduras, Haiti, the Philippines, Thailand, and Myanmar.

In Myanmar, Tyler has come to know the resilient people in the eastern part of the country. A deep respect and growing love for them has led him to partner with Earth Mission. He counts it a privilege to join in Earth Mission’s vision of bringing healthcare to the remote areas of Myanmar.

SARI SIMONICH

Earth Mission Asia New Team Member

Sari had an adventurous and diverse childhood moving every three to four years across the United States. While growing up, her family sponsored multiple children around the world through humanitarian organizations. She attributes her love of travel, adventure, and serving others to her upbringing and was thankful to call Hawaii home from 2012 to the beginning of 2017.

Since a young age, she always imagined being involved with missions in some context abroad. While becoming a nurse was not in any way on her radar growing up, she believes it is exactly what God had planned for her. She said growing up she would never be a nurse and now jokes about “never say never,” because one never knows what God may do with that “never.” Starting as an EMT in 2006, she moved on to graduate as a registered nurse in 2010 and has primarily worked in cardiovascular nursing and ER/trauma in the USA.

Nursing has taken her around the world from Central America to South Asia to Africa and her favorite part of the world, Southeast Asia, specifically the countries of Myanmar and Thailand. Primarily involved with disaster medicine, holding clinics, and rural healthcare education, she has had a heart for hard to reach and oppressed people groups. One of Sari’s desires with nursing is the three C’s: Cure sometimes, comfort often, and care always. Whether it’s in the volcanic mountains of Guatemala, the parched deserts of India, or the lush jungles of Myanmar, her focus has always been to bring healthcare where it is needed most.

Starting in 2016, Sari became involved with Earth Mission Asia. She immediately loved and caught onto the vision of the organization and the resilient people EMA works alongside. She is humbled and excited to join the team.

In her free time, she enjoys drinking large amounts of coffee, eating kale, attempting to cook Mediterranean masterpieces, and being in the outdoors. From kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and spearfishing, to hiking, camping, and backpacking, nature is her favorite place to be.

"I GUIDE YOU IN THE WAY OF WISDOM AND LEAD YOU ALONG STRAIGHT PATHS."