Since LD is a PhD and licensed engineer, he started Earth Mission with engineering and business projects. His wife, Sue, managed the accounting and board requirements for a nonprofit organization.
Their 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. LD 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. They loaded an old school bus with all this equipment to fabricate trusses, and another volunteer drove the bus to Mexico. A number of them went down to get the business started. They 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 LD students at John Brown University (JBU), Scott Coverdale. LD taught mechanical engineering at JBU and worked for Jim Pearson (his daughter-in-law’s father) who was Chair of the Engineering Division. Earth Mission was the funding support using their 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.
LD and his team then continued to work on other appropriate technology projects such as solar and wind mills. Some of these projects were done through his students’ senior project class at JBU. When his son, Dr. Mitch and Caryl joined Earth Mission, they started the medical outreach mission. According to LD, 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.”