Friday, January 27, 2006


This blog was started last October to tell the story and day to day news about a boat that would sail the Mekong River in Southeast Asia. At the time I began to report, I thought that the boats completion would be "soon". It has been anything but that! Do I sound frustrated? Well maybe just a little.
There are times, however, when you can see visible evidence of progress. This morning Bill McDonough e-mailed me the above picture of the boat and I was excited! The boat has finally been backed out of it's prisoner-like mold and stands on its own waiting for the final touches I said last week. I can't wait for the day to come when we will finally move on board and set sail. Helping people is what really speeds up my heartbeat and I haven't used my dental skills for some time now. As they say, I'm more than ready!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Sometimes Things Just Don't Make Sense

Sometimes life somehow just doesn’t add up. I mean, you see people doing all the right things for all the right reasons, and instead of rising to the top they hit bottom. Sometimes they hit bottom real hard.

I recently met a man that I admired very much for his character and his fortitude. He, like me, is a practicing dentist who decided to sell his practice and go into the mission field for the cause of Christ. He, like me, decided after long prayerful thought, to move to Cambodia and help the poor and spread the Good News. Gail and I met this fine couple in Phnom Penh this last December for dinner and became very excited that they would be joining us in Cambodia with what seemed like so much in common. His name is Mark Trotter and his wife’s name is Lyla. These are very special people!

Unlike Gail and I, the Trotters were planning to bring their six children with them to Cambodia! WOW. That is real courage. Mark had lost his first wife to cancer eight years ago. Years later he met Lyla and they fell in love. They also have four grown children! Ten children and heading to Cambodia! I told you they were special.

Mark recently began to experience some headaches and visual fuzziness. Lyla felt that he was just under a lot of stress with all of the changes and that he would be fine with rest. His Doctor, however, confirmed their worst nightmare: glioblastoma multiforme, a highly aggressive brain tumor with a poor prognosis. The fateful e-mail from Lyla took my breath away. Why God? Why here? Why now? I am still in a daze.
I was able to be with the family yesterday when Mark had a large amount of the tumor removed. They will now try to blast the tumor with heavy doses of chemo and radiation. We are praying that God will intervene and heal Mark and that he and his family can join us in Cambodia some day. His surgery went well with no paralysis but the road ahead is a long one.

Join Gail and I in prayer for this wonderful family. The six kids at home have already lost one mother to cancer. Our God is an awesome God who is able. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Boat Project Update

We have now been back in the States for two and one half weeks. As most of you know, we return for the celebration of my father-in-laws life and his memorial service. I want to thank so many of you who have expressed your love and condolences at this time to my wife, Gail, and her family.
Before we returned home we were able to visit Vietnam with our children and see the progress of the clinic boat. As the above picture shows, significant progress has been made and even though there have been many delays, we came away more excited than ever. We were able to see some of the completed cabins and envision our own cabin and how it will look when we actually move aboard. I am more excited now than ever before about how God plans to use Gail and I in His service. We have been told that March is the new completion date. I can’t wait!
Several have asked about our son Greg and his recent ear surgery. He had his tympanic membrane repaired on January 4th and at his one week post-op, the Dr. said all looked fine. We are praying that over the next 4 to 6 weeks it will heal completely and he can resume normal twenty year old activities! He has been told to not lift anything heavy or to play any sports. That is quite restraining for someone his age!
We will continue to report but maybe at a somewhat slower pace. We do not have as many things like eating spiders and police extortions to write about. I told Gail today how thankful I was for “normal traffic laws” and not fearing being pulled over by the police! She just laughed at me as usual!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Saturday, January 7, 2006

There are many emotions going through my mind as I sit here and try to write. I feel a bit lost because we are not supposed to be in Hot Springs Village right now. I am happy that we were able to be here and see many loved ones and of course spend more time with Greg and Brit. I feel good about the future of the boat project, as we were able to see the boat before we quickly came back to the states. I feel sad to know that I will never be able to share this experience with my dad. My dad and mom shared Jesus with everyone. It seemed so easy for them to bring into simple conversations how having Christ a part of your life is what it is all about. I sometimes feel none of us kids ever developed that strong of faith to be so bold, especially in our prayer life. The vision of them down on their knees in prayer is painted on my memory. What was really important to dad was people. He looked at people as a soul to share Jesus with. We take for granted our time we have with each other. I knew there might not be many years left to have with dad, but of course no one expected this accident. But that is what life holds, good, bad, uncertainty, and disruptions. The one thing that is certain are God’s promises; his promise to be with us in the difficult times. His promise to love and forgive us. His promise of salvation. Rick and I feel very blessed to have godly parents. Their examples are a part of who we are now. Thank you for your prayers and encouraging words

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Rocking Chairs and Cookies

One of the things that I miss most living in Cambodia is the seasons. I realized, for the first time, that I miss the fall leaves and even the cold chill of winter. It has been uncharacteristically warm back in Arkansas but tonight I was able to do one of my favorite things in the whole world.

I know that it sounds really old, but I really like to sit by my fireplace with an inviting fire going, in my rocking chair! It was so nice tonight to enjoy the fire with my family while we watched a movie. The movie wasn’t so great but the atmosphere was wonderful. Family, home, fireplace, homemade chocolate cookies, rocking chair, ….what more can a man ask for?

We are healing as a family after the unexpected loss of our dear loved one. There are many necessary details that the Mabery children will have to work out but they seem strong and almost empowered by the warm remembrances and kind thoughts expressed by so many recently. The legacy of Jim Mabery will endure for generations to come!

Life does go on. Greg will have surgery tomorrow to repair his eardrum, which has not healed from a pool accident summer before last. He should recuperate well if he will listen to his Doctor and not exert himself too much for 4 to 6 weeks. Greg and Britt are preparing to return to their schools next week. We will be alone again but we have become accustomed to that. We will be very busy for the next few weeks trying to do taxes and some other things before we return to Cambodia. It is nice to be “home”. It is also strange to be home.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Quite A Man

On many occasions I have heard the statement made, “I have never met anyone quite like him before!” It is usually made as a positive reference and it usually means a person is exceptional in some way. I myself have made this statement many times. Usually I make it when someone approaches me who has met my father-in-law for the first time. To be exceptional means to stand out, to be different than the rest of the crowd. Jim Mabery certainly did that!

I first met Jim almost 30 years ago. I was dating his youngest daughter and had decided by then she was pretty special. She told me all about her family especially about her Dad. She told me how he would pick up hitchhikers on the highway long after that was a safe thing to do. She told me how he would bring drifters home for a meal and even to stay for several days. How he would go the Africa every year and come home with only the clothes on his back and leave everything else to the poor. I thought to myself at the time, “This really is not your average sort of guy!”

After Gail and I married, I got to know Jim much better. We sometimes would have philosophical discussions, usually while he was making a 7 layered sandwich of some- kind. He loved to make hugh sandwiches and he would walk around the room giving everyone a bite. In our conversations he would talk to me about what it meant to be a “servant”. And that is what Jim Mabery was…. A servant. He didn’t care about things for himself, only others. Money meant nothing to Jim. On several occasions he turned down annual salary raises and instead asked for more time off to spend in Africa or Mexico or with his family. Jim didn’t care about material things either. He never owned a new car or a new house. He never bought fancy clothes or thought it wise to spend $ on that kind of thing. Jim Mabery knew where his treasures were layed up, in Heaven, at the throne of God Almighty where he is at this very moment. Someone recently said that Jim is now where he has wanted to be for all of his life. I’m not sure if we will know each other in Heaven or not, but if we do, no one will be surprised to see Jim Mabery come through the “Pearly Gates”!

Jo Childers wrote these words 2 days ago about Jim:

There are many famous people
Known by name when they depart.
But none known like Brother Jim was,
Those who met Him, knew his heart!

And that is so true! With Jim, what you saw is who he was. Jim would have been equally comfortable talking with Presidents or paupers, Popes or lowly sinners. It didn’t matter to Jim and if you talked to him long enough, he would always get around to talking about Jesus.

Jim was not perfect for sure. He certainly could have been more patient! He hated to wait in lines! At an airport check-in you had to keep a close eye on Jim. If you didn’t watch him closely, he would cut up to the front of the line. He would then wave for you to join him while some would glare at you as you walked by! He didn’t like long meetings either. He hated talking about stuff and issues. He was always thinking during the discussions, “Why don’t we just turn this over to God and pray about it”! After the prayer he always wanted to go visiting next. He truly loved others as he loved himself!

My mother and father taught me the Bible and about God and Jesus and Salvation. I will always be grateful to them for that. But Jim Mabery taught me about the love of Jesus, and His mercy, and forgiveness, and His compassion. I hope someday to meet another man like Jim Mabery. He will have to be a lot like Jesus who was the greatest servant of all. It has been my privaledge to follow in James Mabery’s footsteps because they have been in the footprints of Jesus.