Friday, December 30, 2005

James E. Mabery

Angels rejoice as friends and families remember a man who dedicated his life to spreading the gospel. James Eugene Mabery, 76, of Hot Springs Village died Friday, Dec. 23, 2005. He was born in Flat River, Missouri, the second of five children to Leo and Edna Mabery of Bonne Terre, Mo. Siblings include Bob Mabery, Cape Girardeau, Mo., Delane Mabery, deceased, Janet Lemon, San Diego, Ca., and Sheila Blackwell, Farmington, Mo.
At age 18 he committed his life to sharing the message of Jesus Christ and worked tirelessly the next 58 years. With minor formal training, Bro. Jim studied with ministers in the way of Timothy and Paul. He served as minister to congregations in Southeast Missouri where his firstborn daughter, Brenda Diane, and first son, Chris Allen were born. While working with churches in Georgia and Florida, their daughter Gail Elaine was born. The late 50’s brought the Maberys to the St. Louis area to work and their second son, Lance Eugene was born. In 1967 Bro. Jim settled in Chillicothe, Missouri to work with the church of Christ. His passion was evangelism at home and abroad. His work in missions extended from Juarez Mexico to Ghana West Africa. With an easy smile and hearty laugh, he was always seeing the positive side of life and people. He loved ice cream and donuts and you never knew when he would show up at your door to share a meal with you. An encourager and humorist, he was always singing or whistling. Someone once said you could hear him before you saw him. In 1988 his wife, Ina Lee (Smith), retired from teaching and they relocated to Hot Springs Village to work with the Village church of Christ. They celebrated 50 years of marriage before she passed away in the fall of 2000. Jim’s brother-in-law, Linn Smith, still resides in Lee’s hometown of Brookport, Ill. In 1998 Jim “retired” from the pulpit but never retired from the Lord’s business. At the time of his death he had been active in starting a Spanish speaking service at the Village church of Christ.
Jim was very proud of being surrounded by his children and five grandchildren while living in the village. Gail and Rick Northen were already in residence in the village with their children Brittany and Greg, but soon after Diane and Dimitri Fergadis came where their son Alexander was born. Chris Mabery moved down from Missouri and his children Travis, Christy ,and Kyle remained in Columbia. Lance and Shelly Mabery followed shortly with their children Cody and McKayla.
April 2003, Jim married Charlotte Land Worley who continued to support his work and traveled with him to various mission fields. Her children include Alessandra and John Hendrix and their children Courtney, Cassie, Ethan, and John of Fountain Lake, Ark., John and Tabitha Worley, Hot Springs, Ark., and David and Teresa Worley, Nashville, Tn.
The celebration of James Eugene Mabery took place Saturday, December 31 at the Village Church of Christ. In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to the Jim Mabery Memorial Mission Fund, Village Church of Christ.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Longest Christmas Day Ever

A long Christmas day would normally be a good thing but this one will go down as the longest and most trying ever. Gail wrote a few days ago about the arrival of our children in Cambodia for a much anticipated 12 day visit. We spent several days at Sihanoukville beach resting and getting over jet lag. We then flew to HoChiMinh City, Vietnam to see the progress of the boat and enjoy this surprisingly clean and enjoyable city of twelve million people. As we waited to leave for the airport and short flight back to Cambodia, we received the e-mail that we feared might come some day while we are so far from home.
Gail’s father, Jim Mabery was tragically killed in an automobile accident on December 23rd while traveling to visit family in Tennessee. We caught the first flight available back to Arkansas to be with our family. I write this in the Los Angeles Airport at 6:00 pm on Christmas Day.
We woke up Christmas Day in Cambodia and traveled all day crossing the International Date Line sometime last night. When you cross the Date Line traveling east you start the previous day all over! That’s why it was such a long Christmas day.
Although the last few days have been challenging to say the least, we are holding up OK. Gail is very strong and we can only think of her Dad being at the throne of God singing loudly. I told Gail today that I bet he is “leading” the singing!! I will write more about this amazing man in the days to come.
Please pray for the Mabery family as we prepare to “celebrate” Jim’s life later this week.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas in Cambodia

I didn’t cry. They both thought I would be would be boo-hooin’, but as they came out of customs, I was all smiles! My children had arrived in Cambodia for the Christmas holiday. I thanked God for their safe arrival and then did not care what the natives thought as I gave them both hugs and kisses.
Holidays have always been an important family time. Obviously, the hardest part of being on the other side of the world is not being easily accessible to family. But Brit and Greg are here now, and that is all that matters. I often wonder how we were so blessed with such great kids. We are proud of their success in athletics and academics. They have friends that have been great for them and will be lifelong friendships. Well, maybe except for Gooch. They are far from perfect, but as parents we were too. I am very thankful for their Godly grandparents and aunts and uncles. I thank our friends, church members and leaders for their example and influence. I was reading in the Christian Chronicle about the percent of Christian family kids lost to the world. It was so easy getting caught up in being active in good things that we forget the most important. I appreciate Rick as a father and husband who always put family first. Our many trips {which I am afraid instilled the travel bug in both kids} were times when we were confined to car, train, boat, or plane and talked, fought, and loved. Of course they are out of hands now and really have been for some time. We know Greg and Brit have a great future. God has blessed them in so many ways and can use them to further his kingdom. That is really all my prayer now. That they find spouses that help them grow as Christians, and be happy in life. I still treat them as my babies and they act like they hate it. I know better! Well, at least if I don’t do it in public. Is this blog considered “public”?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Koh Kong

Clyde Lacquement has been looking forward to Saturday morning for a long time now. Gail was excited about Saturday also but for a different reason…her children were coming for a visit and she was anxious to see them! More about the kid’s visit later but Clyde had Kingdom expansion on his mind!
Clyde has an English-Bible student named Piseth. This young man is eager to know the truths of God’s word and had invited Clyde to visit his family at Kohkong. Piseth’s Father is the Pastor of the church at Kohkong. Clyde was hoping that he might help the church at Kohkong.
Clyde has been a Gospel preacher for over 50 years. He made a living as public school teachers but has preached at small churches of fifty people or less for most of his adult life in his home state of Idaho. Clyde knows God’s word!
We drove for almost an hour and a half before reaching our destination. We first stopped at the small church building and learned that around one hundred people meet there each Lord’s Day. We then went on to visit Piseth’s family at their home. We were greeted warmly and were served wonderful fruit, all grown on his families land. We were each given a coconut with the top chopped off and a drinking straw put in it for a refreshing drink. After refreshments we learned about the history of the church at Kohkong. Piseth’s Father had learned the truth from his mother who immigrated to America in the 70’s. She had told him about the “One True God” and he asked her which one was the true one as he had many gods. She mailed him an audio tape about the gospel message of Jesus Christ and he believed.
Although they have met as a church family since the early 90’s and although they have planted eight other surrounding churches, their knowledge of the Bible seemed to be minimal. We were asked to provide teachers that they might understand the more difficult areas of God’s word. We invited them to come to our regular seminars and even offered to help them with health care from the boat when it arrives. God continues to open doors to each of us to help expand His Kingdom. Clyde had been excited about Saturday for a good reason!

Sunday, December 18, 2005


It is very interesting to observe the method of construction for homes and buildings here in Phnom Penh. It makes me think of our friends in HSV, the Sykoras. Big Mike supervises construction for Cooper Homes and is pretty handy to have around. He has a wonderful family except maybe for his eldest son who is a little ornery. Mike, Kim, Zack, and Tyler are active in church, community, and definitely basketball! I do miss going to the games and watching the teams play. Alexander, my nephew, is playing basketball on the Jessieville Jr. team and it would be great to see him play.
I would love for Mike to come over here and supervise construction. Now remember, my height towers over many local residents, so imagine Goliath telling these workers what to do. It would be quite humorous! Most of the work is done by manual labor as it is so inexpensive and there is not the machinery available. The workers use pulleys to move supplies to the upper levels, hand paint the walls and ironwork, shovel the sand to lay tile, and myriads of other tasks that are needed to complete a project. In this crazy vision of mine, I do see Mike and Kim sharing their faith and love for the Lord. Their love for each other and their desire to be better Christians are an encouragement to me. Besides, I love giving Mike a jab in the gut and a hard time over anything I can think of!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sharing Jesus

Ida Partlow and Student

One of the most successful programs that Partners In Progress has in Cambodia is their English teaching program. Through this program, English is taught to young Cambodians, preferably university students, using the Bible as the study guide. Hundreds of Cambodians have been taught the Bible and many have accepted Christ as their Savior as a consequence of studying English! There are several programs that have been developed to do this. We are using the World English Institute (WEI) material and it is very effective.
Gail and I teach part time, but there are currently five full time teachers here who teach English from eight to five, five days a week. All of them are dedicated Christians who receive no compensation for their efforts. As a matter of fact, all of them pay there own travel expenses to get here and back home, and they pay for there room and board while they are here! These are obviously deeply committed Christians that will go to great lengths to share the Gospel that some might know the saving grace of Jesus Christ our Lord.
One of the teachers here is Ida Partlow. She is from Portland Oregon but like me, she is a Texan! That is why I like her so much I guess. Like most Texans, she is a straight shooter and you never have to wonder where she stands on any issue. She has taught English with the Bible in many countries over the years including Albania, Thailand, and Cambodia. She taught the Bible in Albania with our Christian sister back home, Irene Anglin.
One of the blessings of waiting on the boat project to begin is spending time with a group of people totally sold out for Christ. The stories they tell, the way they act toward people of all walks, and just watching them “walk in the light” has been a real privilege. I guess God’s timetable is always best. Don’t you think?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tragic News

While Gail and I were enjoying our visit with the TNT church last Sunday, a terrible accident occurred involving some of our brethren. There are many churches here that do not have men who are trained or qualified to preach from Gods word each week so those who are trained often travel to several locations each Lords Day.
Three young men were traveling last Sunday afternoon by motorcycle to do just that when they were involved in a terrible accident. They were hit by a lumber truck which was passing them on the highway. While the motorcycle driver was only scratched up and bruised badly, a second passenger had several compound fractures which required extensive surgery. Tragically, the third young man was run over by the truck and killed instantly. The whole fellowship of believers is somewhat stunned by this event. Now there are even fewer to share the Good News.
Motorcycles are dangerous to drive anywhere. Most of you know that I like motorcycles and my whole family rides them regularly at home. Here it is different. There are no passing zones or even speed limits on the highways and therefore it is extremely dangerous to navigate the roads here. The highways often have potholes several feet deep that you can not see until you have hit them so you can imagine what that would do to the front end of your car, not to mention a motorcycle.
Pray for these families who have lost a loved one. I cannot even imagine the pain and sense of loss they must feel. All three were related to each other.

Monday, December 12, 2005


We had a great visit to the Tum Nuk Tum church of Christ this Sunday. They meet at about two o’clock in the afternoon to fit their work schedules and it was thrilling to visit with them.
People generally work 7 days a week here. Salaries for the masses are so low, often less than $1 a day, that almost everyone works everyday. Therefore most worship times are made to fit work. I know that this does not fit well with the Sabbath Day concept but life is hard here for most and they struggle to feed their families.
This is why we are so thrilled to see over 100 Christians take time to worship the one Living God and worship Him in spirit and in truth!
TNT, as we call them, is a dynamic group who have taken on the responsibility of an orphanage, which will open in a few weeks. They also have a model drip irrigation project on their property and are planning to start a nutritional feeding project for infants in the near future. God is using them in a mighty way to show the love of Christ in their little community. Hopefully this love will spread to the surrounding provinces and many more will see the light of God’s love.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Fish Market

Once again we were off to the local market to see what we could see. Buying food from the local vendors will take some practice. Now please understand that there are large western style grocery stores that are very similar to ours at home. But the prices are also western style. The prices at the market are much more economical, I just can’t always identify certain products. My goal is to learn all the food types, what fish is what, and even be able to eat the meat that is purchased from local markets. I can not tell you what kind of fish these are in the photos. We have eaten a fish prepared by the cook called “snake fish”. It is very good, unfortunately, I would not know it from any other. Yet!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Out In The Province

Here when you go out of the capitol city, everyone says you are going to the “province”. Provinces are like counties in our states. Yesterday, I drove two of the local brethren to the provinces to visit some of the small churches.
We drove for over two hours on some very poor roads to the first village. Gail and I had been there a year and a half ago with a medical team. It was there that one of my patients asked me if he would go blind when I took his tooth out. I had been asked that question many times and told him “of course not!” During the extraction, which Gail was assisting me with, he began to faint! Just before he passed out he yelled very loudly, “I cannot see!” We laid him down and elevated his feet and he came to very quickly. We took out his tooth and thank the Lord, he could still see!

We took 50 kg of rice and several loaves of bread to this village as they were very poor. Lork presented a short hour and a half Bible study on Romans Chapter 12, and we were on our way. We stopped at several other places to encourage the small house churches and when we returned home I was exhausted! Driving a four wheel drive Jeep with standard transmission for several hours over roads with more pot holes than I have ever seen before is quite a workout for an out of shape, soft person like me!

As we studied Romans Chapter 12, however, in which I could not understand one single word of, I felt a tremendous peace. A peace from God, I think, that said this is good. The first 8 verses jumped off the page at me like never before! I thought, God, thank you so much for spiritual gifts and the opportunity to use them. Lork told me that my being there was an encouragement to the people. Isn’t God good!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Khmer School

On an earlier blog, I mentioned the low percentage of children who do not continue their education past the ninth grade. But on a more positive note, there are many children every day making their way to school. The modes of travel are similar to those back home, however, a whee bit more interesting. As you can see from the pictures, all schools have a mandatory uniform dress code. It sure makes each child neat looking and all appear very clean and tidy. I’m curious about books because I don’t see them carrying any to and from school. There is a school near our home that I have walked by on occasion and watched them exercise outside on the school grounds. There are schools all over the city, some private and some public. Either one, the student has to pay a small fee to be tutored everyday.
I would find it very interesting to observe a normal day at school. The children attend a primary school for six years. The intermediate grades are for three years and then high school is for four years. The higher levels involve higher fees, and so the students drop out who can not afford to go. Following high school, there are many universities available to attend. Here is where we have a slight difference from our system. Students pick a university based on what they want to study. A particular university specializes in business, or language, or marketing, etc. Most of the students who come here to improve their English language skills are attending another university. As in the states, they know a better education will help them get a better job opportunity.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Spiders and Bugs

Saturday we went to the Central Market in Phnom Penh. This market is where you can go and find anything you might possibly want and it was teeming with locals and foreigners scurrying about trying to find bargains for the best prices. Our cook Heaung took us to the place where they sell bugs and things for human consumption. Pictured above you will see some of the variety of what was for sale today. There were very large Tarantula spiders, grasshoppers, ugh, what I would call, “water bugs” and what Heaung called caterpillars. Heaung and one of the men here ate some of the caterpillars one night after dinner and said they were “cream filled”! Well, I don’t care if they were chocolate filled, this cowboy won’t be eating any bugs soon. They say to “never say never” but that’s as close as I can get!

The worst for me were the big water bugs. I might get down a few spider legs but those big “roach like” ones were disgusting to me. They are all setting on our table right now and it will be interesting to see if anyone makes a move on one tonight. Clyde is the most likely candidate but Rosemary Burtrum has eaten a spider before! We will see if we can coax her into downing one more.

Yesterday’s paper, The Cambodian Daily, featured an article on restaurants that specialize in cooking dog. They say there is a real shortage of dog meat in the capital and that pet owners should keep a “short leash” on there pooches. An order of dog or a bowl of dog soup sells for 25 cents. Sounds too good to pass up, huh!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Some Things I Am Thankful For

After writing about some things I realized I missed since coming to Cambodia 6 weeks ago, I thought I should make a list of things I am thankful for. The list is not in order of importance other than the first few but is things that randomly popped into my head. Some things I am thankful for are:

God’s Unconditional Love_ Holding hands_
My beautiful wife_ Grace_
My wonderful children_ Mercy_
My Christian Family back home_ Hope_
Sunrises_ Heaven_
Little children playing and laughing_ John 3:16
Fresh fruit_ America_
Beautiful flowers_ The Texas Rangers_
Babes in Christ_ Cambodia_
Good friends_ The Gospel_
E-mail_ Freedom_
God’s precious word_ My smile_
Sunsets_ MyTeeth_
Toothbrushes and floss!_ Clean water_
CNN_ My health_
Puppy dogs_ My brother and sisters_
Forgiveness_ My Mom’s hugs!_

Friday, December 02, 2005

Some Things I Miss!

I have been thinking lately that there are many things that I miss back home and thought I would share them with you. I do not mean to be negative in any form or fashion so here goes.
I miss:

My Momma’s Hugs_Mary Jane’s pleasant manner_
Gary Thorsons second hand cards_ Mike Sykora_
Jimmy Mitchel’s enthusiasm_ My fireplace_
Myron Lessman’s bear hugs_ Potluck fellowships_
Dot Ramsey’s small hugs_ Cecil’s announcements_
Sam Laird’s goatee_ John Matthew’s "great days”_
Jo Childers’s smile_ John Kirk’s mustache_
Marla’s class questions_ Mission trips with Betty and Chloe_
Alexander’s scripture readings_ Myron Hall_
Bill Dutton’s prayers_ Jeanne Lessman’s phone voice_
John Hendrix’s hugs_ Backdoor Church Garden courtyard_
Shack burgers_ Family Pow-Wows_
Starbucks coffee_ Pharis Fowler’s constant optimism_
My truck_ Riding motorcycles_
Cold weather_ Mowing the grass_
Leaves falling_ Bookstores_
Mandy’s high heels_ Unlimited internet access_
Jake’s mischievous look_ Small group meetings_
Paula’s peach cobbler_ Praying with the Elders_
Diane’s Greek salad_ Wal-Mart_
Breakfast with Pap_ Sonic_


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Homes of the City

Once we are on the Mekong River and living on the boat, our surroundings will be quite different than here in Phnom Penh. Life on the river will involve simple villagers and poor fisherman. Here in the city, there are some pretty impressive buildings. Homes of NGO personnel, foreign businessmen, and other government officials are big and beautiful. The first two pictures above are of some of these homes and they are rather simple. It is hard to see these homes because, as you can see, they are behind large walls. All of these homes are surrounded by high walls with razor wire on top. Day guards and night guards are hired by all households. The need for guards is mainly to keep out thieves. The locals know that wealthy foreigners live in these homes.

The next level of housing is more difficult to determine. I know the next two pictures look like something out of our slums, but I think a middle-class Khmer would live in something like these. They are made of cement and probably have running water. I certainly haven’t consulted the Ministry of Housing but just by observing the levels of living accommodations, I think this would be considered decent housing. Every morning on the way to school, I watch the street families wake up. They sleep in their metal carts that are used during the day to pick up recyclables. Men and boys sleep on their motos and on their cyclos, I assume to keep them from getting stolen and/or they have no where else to sleep. Then there are still the wooden shacks that would be considered poverty level. Still most families in the city are considered better off than the families that live in the villages.

In the paper today, statistics were given that 38% of the families in Cambodia live on less than $1.00 per day. That would be 17 cents per person per day.
One sad statistic noted today said 60% of the children do not continue past the 9th grade.
Even with the lack of material possessions, smiles are on faces and there is a determination to work hard. May we never forget that people are more important than things.