In May, Holston churches scurried -- just as they do every spring -- to collect much-needed supplies for schoolchildren in Liberia and Zimbabwe. At Annual Conference in June, church members celebrated as two tractor-trailers stuffed with food, clothing, school and health necessities began the journey to the Charleston seaport.
Since then, the fruits of the annual Hands-on Mission Project have arrived at their destinations and are already meeting critical needs in Africa, according to Bill Daugherty, Holston missions coordinator.
The shipment designated for Liberia -- collected by the Abingdon, Big Stone Gap, Johnson City, Kingsport, Oak Ridge, Tazewell and Wytheville Districts -- arrived in mid-July, Daugherty said.
"They arrived much quicker than the Zimbabwe shipments because our route to Liberia is so much simpler," he said, "and because the government is so much easier to work with because the president is United Methodist." The president of Liberia is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
After the school kits, health kits, and food buckets left Annual Conference at Lake Junaluska, they traveled to Charleston, S.C., where they were shipped overseas to Monrovia, Liberia. From there, they were distributed to 100 different United Methodist schools in the country, Daugherty said.
The Zimbabwe supplies arrived in early September, after a long trip by tractor-trailer to Charleston, by ship to Mozambique, by train to Mutare, Zimbabwe, and finally by truck to the Sakubva community where Ishe Anesu is located. Ishe Anesu is a school and home for needy children, located near Hilltop United Methodist Church and served by Holston Conference for many years.
When the truck finally passed through customs and was flung open at Ishe Anesu -- made possible with the $5-per-kit shipping charges provided by church members -- the people discovered sewing kits from Cleveland District, health kits from Chattanooga District, school kits from Morristown District, and food buckets from Knoxville and Maryville Districts.
The annual Hands-on Project is planned again for spring 2011, with districts typically receiving different assignments from the previous year, Daugherty said. This year's project produced 7,037 kits valued at $232,221.
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