The woman who dropped to her knees at Bishop James Swanson’s feet is returning to Holston Conference.
Maria Humbane, director of the Ishe Anesu Project in Zimbabwe, will be visiting Holston churches Feb. 12 through March 13. Her purpose is to thank church members for the supplies sent for the children in her care over the past 15 years.
“Thank you so much. The Hands-on Project is very helpful and useful for our daily consumption,” Humbane said in a recent telephone interview. “We are able to feed the children two meals a day. They now look much healthier than they did before.”
Holston Conference has had a long relationship with the Ishe Anesu Project, sending food, school, and health supplies to Sakubva, Mutare, Zimbabwe through the Hands-on Mission Project each spring. At Annual Conference, Holston members applaud and pray as two or three tractor-trailers stuffed with supplies pass through Lake Junaluska on their way to the Charleston seaport.
In 2007, Maria Humbane crossed the ocean to attend the Holston Annual Conference, dropping to her knees on the Stuart Auditorium stage to thank Bishop James Swanson and the conference for their annual donations.
Although Humbane has returned to the U.S. since, many still remember Humbane’s 2007 expression of gratitude, said the Rev. Jerry Russell, senior pastor at Fairview United Methodist Church in Maryville, Tenn.
Russell is now scheduling Humbane’s Feb. 12-March 13 speaking appearances at Holston churches in east Tennessee, southwest Virginia, and north Georgia during her month-long stay. (Call Becky Sewell at 865-983-2080 to reserve a time.)
Congregations will learn how their donations of food, supplies and money have helped the 50 students who live on the Ishe Anesu campus.
“We don’t have money to buy meat and fish so the food in the buckets is very helpful,” Humbane said. “We alternate the beans and ham.”
“She makes it last for 12 months. It’s unbelievable,” Russell said, explaining how Humbane uses the donated food. “She takes a deep breath whenever that new shipment comes through each year.”
An additional 30 students receive aid or scholarships for training or college education through Ishe Anesu. Additional money and laptop computers are needed to help keep the students in school, Russell said. “Ten years ago, students didn’t need laptops. Now, that’s how they do their assignments.”
Humbane said her main message to Holston Conference is to express appreciation.
"Thank you for giving to people you haven’t even met. We know we are working with gifted hearts who understand the needs of other countries. Thank you for thinking of us, and may God bless you. ”
Download 2014 Hands-on Mission Project brochure
See photos from 2013 Hands-on Mission Project
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.