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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pictures of Africa

Becky shared over 1400 photos and videos she took in Africa.  Of course I can't post them all here but I will be adding a few each day this week so keep checking in.  The story of their adventure is amazing and soul touching.  I hope each of you get a chance to hear them tell the story.

Welcoming The Isaacs



Click on photos to enlarge







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Family Fest in the Smokies

by Lisa Hildreth

I just returned from spending a fun filled weekend in Gatlinburg, TN.  The annual Gaither Family Fest was the event.  We had a great time.  It was wonderful to spend some time with The Isaacs and to hear some uplifting music and testimony.  If you've never attended this event make your plans now for 2010.  

The Isaacs had just returned from a 10 day trip to Africa on Wednesday.  Becky said she did not even get to sleep in her own bed for even one night before they had to leave out again for the weekend.  I can't imagine!  But you know what, they didn't even seem tired.  They were still top notch all weekend!  They had performed in Nashville on Friday night at the Legacy Five
 Homecoming and then made their way to Gatlinburg arriving in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday morning.

I left my home in NC around 3:30 and drove to Spartanburg, SC to meet up with my good friend Shelly.  She then drove the rest of the way to Gatlinburg.  When we got there Lily called and said the guys had taken in all the product and she needed us to set up the booth when we got to the convention center.  It was kind of difficult since the doors had already opened for the morning show and while we were trying to set up, folks were already trying to buy stuff.  We got it done though.  The morning service started at 10:00am.  On the morning sets Bill usually had each person/group do one song and then had the morning speaker to come up.  All of the services
 were so good.  On Saturday morning Bill Young, author of "The Shack" was the special guest. That was really great!  Zig Ziglar made a brief visit to the stage.  Sunday morning's speaker was Steve Brown, well known Christian author and founder of KeyLife Network.  The messages were great, the music was fantastic and the Blessings were in abundance.

The Isaacs performed a variety of music this weekend.  Bill called them up to do several songs from their upcoming Acapella album which is due to be released sometime this summer.  They still don't have a definite title for it, but we'll be announcing that soon.  The songs are awesome. One very special one they did this weekend was "Mama's Teaching Angels How to Sing" by the late Dottie Rambo.  This month marked a year since Dottie's passing.  Sonya mentioned Eva Mae Lefevre as they began this song.  Miss Eva Mae was always a favorite at Family Fest.  She passed away this past week and she was greatly missed.  

It was a fun filled weekend.  It's always especially great because most of the artists have their spouses and children with them for the weekend.  On the final night Bill has all the children come onto the stage.  It's a wonderful site to behold.  

Sonya did not wear a raincoat on stage

see! there's proof! this was in the pocket

Becky with Sherri Easter

Ben & Mindy with Gordon Mote

John & Becky

Sonya backstage visiting with friends

Nathan on the cajon - Walk On

Becky, Sonya & Ben singing with Gordon Mote






Monday, May 18, 2009

Home Sweet Home

The Isaacs will begin their journey home in just a few hours.  Our flight leaves Africa on Tuesday and we will arrive back in Nashville on Wednesday evening.  Thank you so much for your prayers. We pray that our stories we've shared will encourage you to support World Vision.  Adopt a child today.  Save a life!

Victoria Falls and the Zambezi boat ride.....

Hey everybody... Im sorry you havent heard from us! We reluctantly left the village of Musele yesterday (the17th)  and flew to finish our trip in a very touristy part of Africa. A place called Victoria Falls in Zambia...  Yesterday we arrived by charter plane, a 12 seat Cessna plane which just barely had room for us and our luggage! Poor Becky was so nervous (she hates to fly anyway) and we all dreaded the 2 1/2 hour flight with no bathroom!  lol!  We finally arrived in Livingstone and spent the day at the Amazing Falls... One of the Seven Wonders of the World!  WOW!  We rented a rain coat at the entrance not knowing what to expect as we walked the path to the falls.  It was sooo breathtaking!!  The mossy path led us through the woods and to the cliffs of the waterfall.. then we took an exciting adventure over a bridge that walked you right through the big splash of the falls.  We all felt like kids again as we walked through what was like a heavy down pour of rain, which actually was the mist from the fall.. it was spectacular, and so huge!!!  Levi and Jakobi loved it!!

After the Falls visit, which left us quite wet inspite of our wetgear, we were taken on a dinner boat up the Zambezi River (which empties in the Falls).  For the next few hours we sailed on the calm waters while the warm sunshine dried our wet pants and shoes.  We saw all kinds of birds and natural wildlife and just enjoed a gorgeous African sunset before returning to the dock.   Our Zambian host, Victor, has done such a great job planning these sightseeing adventures for us.  Thank you Victor!!  We will miss you!

We headed back to our hotel after the boat ride, and after chasing a lizard from our villa,and letting the mosquito nets down over the beds,  settled in for a good nights sleep.  We wanted to be well rested for today.. THE SAFARI!!!!! 

 

 

Meeting the Chief

Meeting Chief Musele!

In every village, there is a Chief and today we got to meet Chief Musele himself!  This title was inherited by his father and those before, and getting the opportunity to visit him was really an honor!  When we arrived at his home..(which really wasnt too much more modern than any of the village folks we met), we were instructed to wait at the gate for permission to enter.  We followed specific rules and guidelines, like, bow and clap when you enter, to show respect, and never ever touch him.. and only speak when spoken to..

He welcomed us into his home and there he and his first wife (he only has 3, lol) entertained us for over an hour.  Being the leader of the people, he really showed graitude to Team Isaacs for helping Musele village, and to WV for all their efforts.. then he continued to share what overwhelming needs they still have.  I suppose representing the people, part of his job is to speak for them, and he shared, almost pleading for more to be done on their behalf.  It was very somber and serious for most of the time there, and when we left, we took pictures with them. 

It was a nice visit, and we knew that we were appreciated and welcome to return anytime.  Oh, and he wore sortof a long kiltish looking traditional skirt and a matching jacket and some sort of headdress.. He looked verrrry important :-)  

Sunday, May 17, 2009

World Vision is saving lives in Musele

World Vision is doing a wonderful job in the village of Musele!  Id like to share with you some of the ways the sponsorship program is helping the entire community! 

We visited several of the schools here in Musele.  The children who attend  all wear uniforms... and although there are many basic schools, there is only 1 high school for 70 Kilometers!!  The teens who are fortunate enough to get to go walk miles a day and some stay in the nice boarding houses on site provided by World Vision donors.  They travel home on weekends and bring back the food they will cook themselves for the whole week.  Its alot different than our schools.. here, they are just happy to get to go.  We got to sit in on a 4th grade class and watched as the teacher, in English and Lunda taught them about thousands,hundreds, tens and ones and how to identify them.  They sang us this familiar song: 

The more we are together, together, together, 
The more we are together the happier we are.. 
Cause your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends
The more we get together the happier we are.

The classrooms look very plain.  Only desks, a chalkboard and some posters hanging on the block wall.  They have to put water on the dirt floor to keep it from being so dusty inside,  I wish all the kids in the USA could see it... they would really appreciate their schools alot more!! They expressed great need for more high schools and need more supplies to make them efficient.  But still they are thankful for the improvement WV (World Vision) has made.  It is getting better constantly thru the donations of WV sponsors and donors. 

We also went to see a fishing pond that World Vision workers helped provide.  They want to help the people develop the land, so they teach them how to farm, make fishing ponds, and grow crops.  This way they take pride in doing it themselves and when World Vision moves on to help another village (they usually stay in one location about 10 years).. then the villagers can continue the work.  We asked the man who owned this pond how has World Vision changed his life.  He said that the pond has provided a means of income and food (the fish) for him and his family.  He said it allows him to be able to send his kids to school and buy food and clothes.  He was so grateful.  It took him about 3 months (with the help of 2 other men) to dig the fishing pond (by hand!)...  He saw how the training and the hard work paid off.  There are many examples of this all over Musele...  People who have taken advantage of WV's opportunity to build a business.  It was so neat to see!

We saw many wells , or 'boreholes"" as they call them.  When you see how spread out their huts are over miles of dry land, you can see why it is such a burden for them to have to walk so far, miles a day, for water.  The wells WV has dug now provide much easier access to the water, and now they have water that is cleaner and wont make them sick like getting it from a contaminated lake.  They are very grateful for the boreholes... You can purchase one as a gift thru WV for about $17,000, or you can buy a small share in one if you go onto www.worldvision.org.  There are other much needed things you can specifically purchase for your child by calling World Visions 800 number.  

The care clinics that have been built have definately reduced the sickness and death rates in Musele.  We met many of the caregivers who work with WV's program to help the sick and orphaned...  They were all so kind and truly had loving hearts.  Their jobs range from visiting and bathing the ill, helping tend to the children, cleaning their homes, serving as midwives to pregnant women, and just anything they can do to lighten their loads.  WV provides caregiver kits that include things like gloves, cloths, flashlights, bandages, sanitary wipes, ibuprofen and other things they use daily.  The caregivers told us that they need more supplies, as they run out too quickly.  You can help provide these kits by contacting WV...  Our WV rep Michael said they helped put together  a thousand kits with GMA people at $28 a kit.  You can encourage your church to do a similar thing.  You can put the kits together for them and WV will ship them over for you....there are specific guidelines that they can give you if you are interested.  Check out www.worldvision.org.  

As you can see, your sponsorship is really saving not just your child, but the whole community! You should be so proud of your monthly sacrifice to help them.. we are proud of YOU, sponsors, nd encourage you to continue to do all you can with us and WV as you Help Us Help Them!

Much Love,
Sonya and the Gang...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Meeting the Children

Musele Children

Mna Handy or....  ""Hello, How are you?"" in Lunda, one of the native tongues here in Musele, Zambia... I love hearing the voices of the sweet little ones running around with sheer excitement at seeing all the visitors... They are so curious, and a little afraid at first, peering around bushes and trees or anything they can to stay a safe distance from all these strange people in their village.  It doesnt take long for them to warm up, though, and by the time we leave, they are running after us, waving and shouting and smiling from ear to ear...  

"More Musele Adventures"... One of our goals in coming here was to meet as many of the sponsored children as possible...  and we accomplished that... having met all of our personal Isaacs children and then some... of course having 1300 children in our team sponsorship made it impossible to see them all, as they are spread out over about an 80km distance and we only had 3 days here.  Mom got to see her sweet little girl, Musoli who at only 5 years was crying initially because she was afraid.. then she suddenly calmed and crawled up on Moms lap where she just rested her little head on Mom's shoulder for the longest time. The only time she cried after that was when we had to leave. Sweet sweet memories!  .. Then we  also met Isaac, whom she chose for obvious reasons ;-) He is also very young and his family was so excited that we shared his name!  We all got to spend about 20 minutes with our kids and the each showed us their huts.. and we got to give them all some gifts that we had brought.  In hind sight, we have realized so much of their needs from being here.  We think about a child missing out on toys and games and sweets, and we all brought lots of that, and they truly enjoy it all, but  in reality, their greatest needs are for clothes, shoes, food, coats and blankets, and even a decent place to sleep.  If you want to give your child a special gift, you can send a gift notification, which is money that you designate how you want it to be spent... a goat, a chicken, a cow, a metal covering for the hut, clothes, school supplies.. desks for the students.. there are so many basic needs that we can help buy them this way.. yet we sit comfortably on our leather couches and watch 95 channels of satellite while we eat our way to obesity.  We must do more... we simply must sacrifice, at least a little more, to provide more for those that are without!

We travelled a few miles up the road to the next dirt path leading us to Ben's sponsored child, Nelson, an 11 year old boy.  Nelson is one of 10 children.  Again, they welcomed us with a few rhythmic harmonious songs  which ended in them bowing in front of us.  Ben got to give Nelson pictures that his kids had drawn for him.. and he gave him a picture of them too, along with some gifts they had sent.  Then before we left their area, they brought gifts to him as well...  bananas, sweet potatoes, peanuts, and another  chicken..  Imagine them handing Ben a live chicken!!  At least the feet were tied so it could scratch and run! ha ha... I wish you could all have been there with us.  Im telling you, you owe it to yourself to take a trip like this... you will never be the same!!

After a delicious lunch which was generally the same as supper every day but still very tasty, we went to visit Becky's little girl, Memory.. this was so moving! Becky had sent her pictures several times of their family, so when we unloaded from the jeep, as soon as Memory saw Jakobi, she ran straight up to her and wrapped her arms around her as tight as she could!  Memory is about Jakobis age, and she is an orphan... She lives with her aunt and uncle's family in their hut and she was perhaps the most needing of all of the sponsored children we saw.  You could always tell which child you were visiting because he or she would be the only one with a washed outfit and clean face.. they took very special care in preparing for their sponsors even though their dresses were torn and their shoes were too big or ripped out.  Memory didnt seem to notice, though, that she didnt have on a matching shirt and skirt, or that only one of her flip flops had a flower on it.. she felt like the queen of the village, even if just for a few minutes that day. I love how all the families that live in her area paid equal part in the appreciation.. because they all want the best for each other, and World Vision is helping them all through that child's sponsorship.  It really does take a village to raise a child.  It was hard to say goodbye to Memory.. but we knew there was much more to see and do before we came home.

Our last visit for the day was my other little girl...Sonia... Can you guess why I had to sponsor her? lol.  I recognized her from a distance because she had on the same red and white dress that she wore in her annual report picture. She was so adorable.. she had on some huge Miss Magoo glasses and it just broke my heart that they were so dirty and scratched!  When we sat down at the welcoming table (every place we went had one), her father told us that she only wears them as an accessory and not for her vision..  later that day we saw many of the people in her village wearing the same kind! Someone had given them a whole bunch of them and they were trying to impress us, as if it were beautiful jewelry or a nice scarf!! lol... we couldnt help but laugh under our breaths!  It was the cutest thing!  

We had a wonderful visit with Sonias family and as we left the children all giggled, saying ""Sonya, Sonia"", they liked it that they could easily remember my name. We had a wonderful time with all of the families we visited, and have never felt more welcomed anywhere in the world we've been.  Some friends of ours, the Beckers, donated about 400 toothbrushes with toothpaste, and our friends the Carmacks sent a box of hair accessories, etc, and we passed them out everywhere we went.. They were all so grateful... really makes you appreciate even the basic things we have that we take for granted everyday!

We visited alot of other places on our trip too.. I will blog about them seperately...  but for now I just wanted you to know about the wonderful children!!

More later..
Sonya

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Isaacs visit the village of Musele and meet their sponsored children

May 14, 2009.. I think.. lol....

Hello from Musele, Zambia everyone!

Today was absolutely incredible!!! I wish I could paint a picture with words to let you see things you wouldnt believe... things that will change your life, as they are ours...

We left Lusaka on a small charter plane yesterday and several hours later arrived in Solwezi, Zambia. We landed in what looked like a field with just enough runway to land, and the airport was no more than a 2 or 3 room building.. very simple, very unmodernized. There we were greeted by several of the local World Vision staff members with roses and big smiles, and grateful hearts for our journey...

Solwezi airport (all of it)

After a great lunch in Solwezi, they took us in 3 vehicles (Land Rover types) to the Mumbezhi Holt Family Guest House... A small cement block building with 4 bedrooms, a living area with dining table, a small kitchen, and 2 bathrooms. There is no running water or electricity here at the Royal Guest House, but they provide water to fill the toilet for flushing and a hot bucket of water every morning for spit bathing. Every day from about 6:30pm till 10pm they have a generator that runs so we are able to recharge our cameras, phones, etc... Oh, and there is hardly any cell service anywhere here, you have to buy a SIM card to get connected and it runs out so fast, youre lucky to say Hi and Bye before the time expires.. lol. We were expecting much worse conditions, and although primitive, we are safe and definately learning to appreciate our spoiled lifestyles. Its alot like camping out here.. bugspray, flashlights, and the brightest, most beautiful starry sky Ive ever seen!

After getting a good nights sleep, we woke up early today to visit the children in Musele. There are about 5000 in the sponsorship program here, and the village is spread out for miles and miles! At every home we visited, we were greeted by women singing welcome songs, and by the children, barefoot and smiling, waving to us like theyd been waiting for a lifetime to meet us! The first child we visited was one of my little girls... Sella. There were 100s of children following us as we walked to her hut. When we arrived, she was standing in front of all the others, waiting to meet me.. her sponsor from America. Her little dirty face was so beautiful.. and she shyly stuck out her hand to meet me. I was so happy to finally meet her. We sat down in a circle and the women again sang songs to welcome us and say God Bless you! Then I went into Sellas hut with her and her family. She has 4 brothers and sisters... and you wouldnt believe the size of the hut they all sleep in... honestly, its not as big as the bathroom in my house with mud walls and a straw roof... Sella showed me where she sleeps. It was just a place on the dirt floor. No bed, not even a mat.. just the earth.. It broke my heart! How could we ever complain about anything!!! I gave her the gifts I had brought... 2 outfits, a slinky, a few blow up balls, some pencils, paper, a bracelet, some polly pockets, and a few other little toys. She loved it all. Then they asked us to sit down outside and Sellas family presented me with gifts... a chicken (yes, a real live chicken!!), some wooden spoons, some pumpkins and some sweet potatoes. I couldn't believe that as little as they had to give, they still gave me all these things. They as well as the other families are so grateful for their sponsors.. This program really is giving them hope and life!!!

After saying goodbye, we travelled a short distance to meet some of the other children, inlcuding Jesse's boy and Ben's boy Nelson. When we arrived at Nelsons home, the women were again singing to welcome us.. and Nelson was in the center, with a cover over his head.. like a surprise who was waiting to be unveiled! Ben lifted the cover from his head and met the little boy that his family has been talking about and writing to for almost 2 years now. Nelson, like some of the others, was also very very shy but he was glad to meet Ben and his family and again presented him with similar gifts, including another live chicken! So very very sweet, so very happy that we came!

After meeting several more of the children in our sponsorship program, we went to see the new hospital clinic that World Visions sponsorship program has built... they are so excited to have this clinic which will be primarily to help HIV/ AIDS patients and also is a maternity ward for mothers who otherwise would have to deliver at home. There were several dozen caregivers there who were so gracious to us and answered alot of questions about the programs. We even got to meet one of their clients, a lady with 5 children who is frail and suffering from TB. She told us how much the WV Caregivers have blessed and helped her and was grateful for all WV has done for her. It was overwhelming to feel like such a help to them all.

After a great long first day in the village, we retired back to the guesthouse where supper was waiting: Sorta fried chicken, sweet potatoes, collared greens, shima (like grit patties) and other local vegetables. Then we had some delicious watermelon and pineapple for dessert. We had to be really careful not to eat anything that wasnt boiled or that they had made with their water... we had to drink only bottled water, even to brush our teeth... because its easy to get sick from what we are not used to. The food was delicious..and the women who cooked prepared it with much love.

Time for bed now.. a twin size bed, 3 in each room, with a treated mosquito net hanging over each and a few spiders (apparently harmless) beaming at us from the top of the walls. Oh, and I shouldnt forget the shrill sounds of the bats coming from the rooftop. Sweet dreams! LOL

More soon... Sonya and the Mazungos (their word for white people) LOL!!

Musele

I received a short message from Sonya today. They wanted everyone to know they have arrived at the village of Musele. They are safe and they are having a wonderful trip. She is eager to blog about their adventure as soon as she has internet connection. Thank you for the prayers! Keep sending them up!!

Lisa

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Isaacs meet a fan in Zambia

Hi yall.
Today we are leaving the capitol of Zambia.. Lusaka.. And flying a small plane to Solwezi.. The closest big city to Musele.  In the airport today we were greeted by a huge fan.. Mr Vivian Saws, Who sees us on the Gaither shows here in Africa!  So cool! He recognized us and was so excited to meet us!  He wants us to come to Zambia to sing.. Go God!
 
All is well on the trip.. We are safe and feel so blessed to be here with World Vision. Just a little tired from all the travels.
More asap.. Keep us in your prayers! Pray especially for safety, and that we can touch the lives of all those we meet this week.  Thank you so much...
Gods blessings!
Sonya and the Gang