Friday, March 31, 2006


In Cambodia, like many other places in the world, most of the children are malnourished. Depending upon which survey you read, from 40% to 60% of the children do not receive adequate daily nutrition. This early deficiency creates a decrease in mental and overall physical development.
Recently Partners IN Progress has started a nutritional feeding project. This week they fed 300 children a nutritionally balanced meal and will return so that each child is fed two times each week. Dr. Shannon DeShazo visited eight villages last year and assessed the degree of malnutrition of their children. Each of these villages have recently planted Churches of Christ in them and is especially targeted by PIP. Many of them have had water wells drilled and previous medical teams visit them. We are excited to see their children become stronger and healthier. The number of children assisted will eventually reach two thousand in these villages!
The pictures included are of the two young men who will deliver the meals and scenes from a recent outing. They are Sovann and Bunna.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Amazing Ladies

Want to hear a great story? This group of ladies, all from the US, are currently teaching English with the Bible in Cambodia! They have also committed to stay for three months! Who are these crazy ladies you might ask?
To start with, they are dedicated Christians. They range in age from their mid seventies to their mid eighties. They are all widows. They are dedicated to evangelism. They are very courageous. They are fearless, in other words they believe that God will take care of them. They are Betty Nance, Emily Pownal, Doris Lohry, and Nita Mansholt.
Mostly, however, they are role-models. Many are afraid to step out of their comfort zones for the Lord. Not these gals! They have left the comforts of their homes, families, and churches to be God’s earthen vessels. They amaze me! These ladies are awesome! Don’t you think so?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Pillow Talk

Last week I woke up with a stiff neck for the umpteenth time and decided that I needed to do something about it. The little flat pillow I had been sleeping on had to go so off to the pillow and mattress store I went. After jostling and punching a few, I decided on just the perfect one and made my purchase. I was so proud that it only cost US $2! When I got home I found out that my “cheap pillow” may have not been such a good bargain after all. I was told that it was probably filled with kapok. I didn’t know what that was so someone brought me a kapok pod. As you can see below, when it is dry it can be opened up and it produces a large amount of cotton looking fiber. OK I thought, what’s the problem. I was then told that my previous pitiful flat pillow had at one time not too long ago looked just like my new one! You see, that wonderful fluffy looking fiber turns into a hard brick bat in a short time! Should have bought the $3 one I guess. Rick

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Ho Chi Minh City

One of the perks of being on this side of the world is seeing other countries that you would normally not visit. Ho Chi Minh City has some very beautiful sights to see. The memory of the war is not felt unless you visit the War Museum. As in any memorial, it had graphic details of war-time horrors. This trip we were also able to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral and Post Office. Vietnam is more economically advanced than Cambodia and you can definitely see it in the streets and shops. As Rick mentioned, we also did some shopping. They have the same type markets where you bargain for a price, but they also have many more fixed price shops that cater to the more expensive items. Next week we will get to see Bangkok. We have flown through Thailand, but only as a stopover to catch the early morning plane on into Phnom Penh. We are accompanying Teo, who is returning to Romania, and will visit the city for a couple of days. Gail

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Nice shoes huh! Gail and I just returned from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam last night after a 4 day visit. We were there primarily to oversee the installation of equipment and other details, but as with all women, Gail found time to do some serious shopping. Surprise, surprise, huh guys! She had been picking up some odds and ends when she spotted this shoe booth in an open air market. I knew right away I was in trouble by the look in her eye. She tried on two or three pair and settled on one pair fairly quickly for her, about 10 minutes. She asked the price and they quickly said “80 Thousand Dollars!” Well the good news is that 80 K was Vietnamese Dong, and that only came to $4.95! The lady in charge custom sized the shoes for Gail and added several more brads to make them good and strong. We had a good time shopping for this pair of shoes. Mandy Gardner would have loved being there.
I had been looking for a new wallet myself and had literally looked at over 100 wallets, I am certain. I finally made a choice of a smallish one that would not be so bulky in my back pocket. When I got back to the hotel room, I got out my old wallet and emptied the contents on the bed. I then began putting everything in the new one. I immediately ran into a minor problem. Not only did none of my credit cards fit in the “credit card”slots, you couldn’t fold it closed if you could jamm them in! Good thing I only paid 35 thousand for it. Anyone need a brand new, smallish, genuine leather, wallet?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Surprise Party

What fun we had on Saturday as we surprised Teo with a birthday party. We had all of her students come to the house at 4:00 while I had her down at the Sproul’s house to watch a video production of the book of Matthew. Marie Claire called about 4:00 to try and get us to keep her there alittle longer because many had not shown up yet. We were concerned if we could even pull it off because many students had said on Friday, “See you tomorrow!” Teo thought the some of her female students were coming to say Happy Birthday to her. So when we walked in the house, she was truly surprised! All enjoyed cake and ice cream as we visited with everyone. The students left at 6:00 and then the real fun began. Bill, Marie Claire, Nita, Rick and I took Teo to a store that dressed you up in Khmer traditional dress, put make-up on, fix your hair, and then photograph you, all for the low price of $8.00! Teo had such fun! The photos turned out really good and she was happy. I felt like a mom watching her daughter get ready for her wedding.
In the morning we are getting up at 5:30 to get on a bus to Ho Chi Minh City. Rick and I are going the Autumn and John Jr. Sproul. Not sure what possessed us to agree to this six hour bus trip, but we did, and again for the low price of $12.00. It will probably be like that saying….you get what you pay for! Ha So we will be in Vietnam for three days to see the boat and visit tourist traps. Next blog, hope to inform you of several exciting projects going on around the city and in the provinces. Gail

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Clinic Update

The next day after the historic launching, the medical clinic began to take shape. The x-ray equipment was installed and tested. All systems seemed to work fine. The dental equipment was installed and partially tested. I was very pleased for the most part with how the operatory turned out. We still need to test the dental unit and develop x-rays from dental and medical machines but we seem to be close to finishing up. We still need to install some laboratory equipment and an autoclave but that should be easy. I go back to Vietnam next week to hopefully finish up most of these loose ends and then wait for the red tape to be completed. That may take some time but at least we are seeing some progress.

Scary Ordeal

You have heard me comment several times on the uniqueness of traffic and driving in Cambodia. The police and shear volume of traffic are enough to intimidate the best of us but one thing strikes fear in all of us: an accident! Several of the men here have had minor fender-benders while driving. It seems to never be their fault but the larger vehicle has to pay when there is an accident. Go figure! Last week one of the men here was driving along when a motorcycle darted in front of him. That is almost commonplace but this young woman miscalculated how close she was and she and her passenger clipped his bumper and went down right in front of him! There was much excitement and commotion at first as he did not know if they were under his car when he came to a stop. You can imagine how his heart must have sunk at first. Both girls came out with only minor scratches and bruises but as I said earlier, he was at fault and his insurance had to pay for her moto repairs! We are all thankful that no one was hurt seriously. Few wear helmets and many of them carry small infants and children with them. May God protect us from future accidents.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Big Splash

A great big splash was made in Vietnam yesterday! It may not be as big as the “Shot heard round the world, but it was big to me personally anyway. Bill McDonough and I were in Ho Chi Minh City yesterday for the much awaited launching of the Mekong River bound, Ship of Life.
We thought it would be a rather simple affair but the shipyard made it a rather momentous occasion. There were several hundred people on hand to witness the event including every single employee! The company just shut down. WE later found out why. They held a big party after the launching and every one partied! We drank water at the party but everyone else enjoyed lots of the local favorite, Tiger Beer! There were numerous toastings and each one became louder and louder.
During the earlier ceremony, several interesting things occurred. There was, of course, the required breaking of the champaign bottle on the hull. There was also a wreath of flowers to congratulate everyone for a job well done. There was also an offering made to some “unknown god”, I suppose. There were two plucked chickens, more flowers, and lots of incense burning on a rather simple altar right in front of the boat. Several came and bowed before the altar before the launching! I think they were praying for the future safety of the ship.
Needless to say, it was a great day for Partners IN Progress and Bill McDonough who have been dreaming and working at this for 4 or 5 years. The final details should be accomplished in the next few weeks. Thank You Lord! You are so good.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Matthew 28:19

The fields have been ready for harvest! Sunday during the morning worship at the Khmer service, five more souls were baptized into the Lord. Two were students of the young Romanian English teacher, Teo, and the remaining three had been attending services and studied with James, the minister. So often, the teachers who come and teach English feel that their students are so close to accepting Christ, even though their culture is surrounded by Buddhism. But time does not allow them to see the harvest of their work. What a blessing for Teo to see four of her students accept Christ. Hopefully, she will be able to stay through the summer and continue nurturing those who were baptized and others that she still studies with. There is an evening service we have in the house that is in English. The American men take turns with the lessons, but tonight a young Khmer man led the lesson for the first time in English. Nathan and Cheryl Wheeler have a Khmer service in their home to accommodate the young people who work and live on the other side of town. Rick and I went over to their service to support a young man who was bringing the lesson. Before we left last December, Rick was helping prepare his first lesson and it was such a joy to witness his presentation and see how confident he was. Nathan and Cheryl are doing a great job working with these young people. How awesome to see both of these young men participate and take a leadership role in sharing their faith.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Ship of Life

I have just returned from four days in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. As we have reported earlier, the capitol of Vietnam is a beautiful city in many ways and as ugly as you can get in others. I visited one of the slums with our brother Tom Tune while there this week and was astounded at some of the conditions present. We have all seen the pictures and television shows documenting the slums of places like Calcutta and Haiti but until you stand right next to these places and smell the smells and see the looks of desperation peer into your own eyes, you really have not “seen”. I keep seeing evidence of the need, sometimes daily, for Gods people to love their neighbors.
I went to Vietnam to oversee the installation of equipment in the dental clinic of the boat project. We had spelled out in detail instruction how we wanted the clinic to be laid out and expected upon arrival to simple set in the dental chair and unit. To our great surprise, all of the cabinetry was oversized and left no room for the chair! The cabinet makers must have thought bigger was better. They then had to spend two days “redoing” the cabinets. Because of the delay, I will go back to Vietnam next week and make sure everything is installed correctly.
Despite the nearly nine months of delays, the “Ship of Life” seems close to departure. Next Tuesday the ship will be launched into the water for the first time and unless there are major problems, will stay in the water until departure scheduled for early April. God has His own time table for all things. I keep telling myself that often. Isn’t she a beauty though?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Teo, Autumn, Cheryl

Hilda Carmen and two ladies from church

We are almost over our jet lag and into a normal routine. Well, whatever normal is. Today, I just returned from the market with Teo, Cheryl and Autumn. All I came home with is a small jar of salsa. That is good because there is nothing I needed to purchase and yet that is weird to buy salsa at a Cambodian market. Oh well. We had a nice lunch together and a good visit catching up on their work here while I was gone to states. Yesterday I joined a Ladies devo class at the church. Autumn has started this to encourage the young women at church. She participated in something similar when her husband was enrolled at Sunset School of Preaching in Lubbock. No matter what country you live in, women need encouragement and support in what feels like sometimes a “man’s world”. Next week I was asked to lead the short devo thought and I struggle to determine what would be something they can relate to in their culture. I may or may not let you know what I come up with.
Monday my language studies begin again. This time I am having a private tutor come to the house for two hours, three days a week. My goal is to work on conversational Khmer and learn how to put words into sentences they can understand. I am also picking up some students in the English school since one of the teachers is returning to the states. Clyde has been here teaching for 6 months. Wow. He has really been a blessing to many students. We are taking him out for dinner tonight. It will be a couple of weeks before some fresh faces arrive to teach and I thought I could keep the students coming for the interim.
We think of all of friends and family and keep you in our prayers. Gail

Saturday, March 04, 2006

We have arrived safely in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and after a few days of jet lag, we have our feet back on the ground. We woke up at 2 or 3 each morning at first, but we slept in until 5:00 AM this morning! Gail is out shopping at the market this morning and I am preparing to speak at church tomorrow.
Things seem to be progressing well with the boat project. I will have to stop calling it a boat, I guess, as the official name is the “Ship of Life”! Sounds impressive huh? I will travel to Vietnam next Tuesday to oversee the installation of medical/dental equipment. I hope things go smoothly as I will be there alone with not much to do in the evenings. As I said earlier, we are hopeful of receiving additional donations and we are eagerly awaiting an answer.
Gail and I feel so blessed to be back here to our new “home”. We thank God for allowing us to be here and consider it a privilege to serve. We were given a wonderful send off by our church family in the Village. Last Wednesday night the church had a prayer circle for us and so many expressed kind words. We were saddened by the recent loss of Mike Sykora’s father. Mike we love you and your family and will pray for God’s comfort for you especially your Mom over the coming weeks and months. Many of us will never forget your Dad and his great big constant grin. I know you will carry on his legacy and continue that family grin! Jeff and Michelle, we continue to pray for Jeff and his full recovery. God loves you and will take care of the situation. Let’s all pray for our new eldership and follow them closely. God has truly blessed the Village Church of Christ in the past and will in the future.
We love you all and miss you already. In His service, Rick and Gail