Every year during the Holston Annual Conference at Lake Junaluska there is a moment of celebration as we recognize and give thanks for all of the Hands-on Mission Project supplies -- all the food buckets, health kits, school kits, cleaning kits, and sewing kits -- collected by our churches.
It is a high time when we conclude our weeks of work with the blowing of the truck horns and a mighty round of applause as we send the supplies on their way to Liberia and Zimbabwe! Let me tell you, the sound of those horns and applause is a beautiful thing, but it pales in comparison to the shouts of joy and the songs being sung when those supplies arrive at their destination.
I was privileged to be at Ishe Anesu in Mutare, Zimbabwe, in late August, when the last of the supplies were delivered. Scores of children showed up to cheer and help carry buckets that in some cases weighed as much as they did.
Before the doors of the shipping container were opened, the children gathered and joined together in singing songs and praying prayers of thankfulness for their friends in Holston Conference who love them so much without ever having met them. When the doors opened they shouted for joy and then started to work carrying all the supplies to the storage area where they will be sorted.
The Zimbabwe breezes carried the sounds of laughter and singing out into the community as the children carried the supplies that will literally help them survive. Holston Conference, thank you for your generosity. You are truly following the teachings of our Lord and Savior as you serve your neighbors, both near and far.
The Rev. Mike Sluder is associate director of connectional ministries for missions.
"Way to Give" video for May 2014, featuring the "Hands-on Mission Project":