Wednesday, January 07, 2015

TOP STORY >> Missionary returns from Africa

Leader staff writer

Holly Huckabee of Cabot was part of a 15-woman team that traveled to the African nation of Tanzania in November with nonprofit organization Pure Joy International to conduct a retreat for missionary women from different denominations who serve in Tanzania. 

Huckabee, the wife of Lonoke County Judge Sandy Huckabee, spent a week in Der es Salaam, Tanzania, which is on the coast of the Indian Ocean. She and the team held a conference for 49 missionaries from around the world who are helping Tanzanians.

“I learned there are a lot of faithful followers of Jesus Christ all over the world. I got to meet them. When you have sisters in Christ who are in another nation and from other nations (you see) that there’s nowhere you can go in this world that you can get away from the love of Jesus,” Huckabee said.

“I have learned he is faithful to those serving him, even in hardship. Missionary lives are not glamorous. They are hard. These are faithful people who go.

“They serve by not only telling the good news of Jesus Christ. They also help serve people by helping them with actual physical needs,” Huckabee said.

She said some of the missionaries in Tanzania are doctors and nurses.

But Huckabee also met a missionary who formed another kind of organization in her garage. The club is for girls who have an eighth-grade education and want to learn a skill.

The girls earn money to become self-supportive by using a pedal-powered sewing machine to make skirts, head bands, scarves and bags. The merchandise is taken by missionaries from the U.S. and sold at home shows.

The profit goes back to girls. They are paid a weekly amount and required to open a savings account. They also have to save 10 percent of what they earn.

After they finish three years of training, the girls leave the program with their own sewing machines, their skills and a small savings to set up shop as seamstresses.

“At the same time, they are being taught in English and in Swahili (their native language) what the Bible says, that there is good news for sinners and that there is a savior,” Huckabee said.

Huckabee is a Bible teacher and was speaking at a retreat in Vilonia when she was put in touch with Pure Joy International. When she was in Tanzania, she gave three talks based on Psalm 84.

Huckabee was not worried about the Ebola outbreak in Africa because it was happening in the western counties of Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone and not Tanzania, which is on the east coast. She said the team was closer to Ebola when they were at the Atlanta International Airport.

Huckabee also said they had to drink only bottled water and were told to use bottled water to brush their teeth. The water in Tanzania can make Americans sick because their bodies are not used to what is in the native water. Huckabee said the food was different, too.

“They had incredible fresh fruit and little short bananas,” Huckabee said.

At the conference, Huckabee said some church friends gave the team notes to deliver to the missionaries.

The notes told the missionaries that they were being prayed for. The missionaries were also given bags of favorite items they can not get in Tanzania, such as Cheetos and Fritos.
Huckabee said most of the buildings and dining hall were open air, except for the lodging. They slept in mosquito netted beds.

She also said the Tanzanians work hard during the day and socialize late at night, after dinner.

Huckabee said the ex-change rate was crazy. One U.S. dollar equals 1,729 Tanzanian shillings.

The cost for the retreat was $3,700 per person, with $500 of that funded by Pure Joy. Each team member had to raise $3,200 on their own to go.

“When you’re doing what God has called you to do, you are taking good news. I’d pay anything to be able to give good news to other people,” Huckabee said. 

The retreat in Tanzania was the 20th conducted by Pure Joy International in Tanzania since the ministry was founded in 1999 in West Point, Calif.