Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Open House

On Saturday we went to an open house for Earl and Judy Bridges. They have rented a beautiful home here and we celebrated them moving in and getting situated. They are both hard at studying the language so they can share with the Cambodian people in their “heart” language. They are very dedicated veteran Christian missionaries with many years experience in Thailand and we are so happy to have them join us here.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Medical Clinics

We have taken a few days off from our medical trips into the rural villages. This weekend Dr. Hess and Amanda went up to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat temples. Everyone who visits Cambodia should take time to see these amazing structures if at all possible.
While in Prey Ta Chey village this past Friday, we checked on the growth of this little baby girl in the picture. We had taken her to a charity hospital for surgical evaluation several months back and they told us she needed to be a little older. She is now old enough and strong enough to have the procedure completed. Can you imagine how happy her Mom will be for her little one to look normal and not have everyone stare at her? I cannot.
We also referred the local preacher for a colorectal screening for suspicious symptoms and a 12 year old boy for a chest wall mass. We may very well save some lives with our little clinics this past week.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Happy Chinese New Year!

It seemed strange to us to have another new year’s celebration party last week. The Chinese New Year is based on the lunar system and was celebrated on February 18th this year.
The Cambodians celebrate over 40 national holidays each year. Although this was not one of the “official” ones, all the businesses and schools closed anyway! It was nice to have light traffic however, and we had some fun with some of the unusual blow up decorations.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Great Day

Dr. Bruce Hess and Amanda Williams from Alaska came to Cambodia! We are excited to have them here and running five day clinics. Since the boat was not ready, we will go to the area villages. Today was Tom Nuk Tum. More about these guys later!!

Monday, February 19, 2007

A Great Read, No….A Must Read

I read as much as I can. I love to read, especially Christian books by Godly men. I have recently reread a book by Chuck Swindoll named, “Marriage From Surviving To Thriving”. I cannot think of anyone on the face of the earth who would not benefit from reading it.
I have a great marriage because I am married to a great woman. She has been able to overlook my numerous personal deficiencies for the better part of 29 years. We are committed to each other.
I am actually writing this to my daughter Brittany and her fiancé Zac. I couldn’t help think about them as I read this book since they are getting married in June of this year. I would like to share so many things with them about marriage but would probably mess it up royally! Swindoll does a masterful job telling it like it is without forgetting the realities of everyday life and the pull of the world. His writing style really speaks to me in a powerful way.
If you are in a bad marriage right now or a great one, read this book. If you are thinking about marriage, read this book. Hint….Hint…..!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

How Many??

The true # never came out. No one even asked. I have no idea how old he really is! Do you?
We celebrated the birthday of William Earle McDonough on February 17th of this past week. It was a surprise to him, or at least he acted surprised, as a dozen or so of his Cambodian co-workers in the Lord celebrated with him. Marie-Claire planned the whole thing and was fairly sneaky. A grand time was had by all as we ate cake and told old stories.
He received several congratulatory cards along with a pair of HoChiMinh sandals. He received several DVDs and a customized copy of old songs by Jimmie Rogers, Gene Autrey, and Hank Williams Sr. type singers. The most special one of all, it made him quite emotional, was given by the employees of Partners In Progress in Cambodia. They gave him a finely carved bust of an ancient Khmer king and a card signed by each one with a heartfelt note of appreciation.
Everyone here appreciates Bill McDonough. His leadership had brought all of us to Cambodia to seek and save the lost. He is a true Christian leader in every sense of the word.
As you can see, the cake said 39 on it. He’s at least 50!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

10 Thousandth Blog

I knew it was going to happen. I just didn’t know when. Sometime on or about Feb. 10th one of you logged onto mekongriverboatproject.blogspot.com for the ten thousandth time!
I have no idea who you are. My friend Jim Gardner gives prizes away to his landmark readers because somehow he can tell who you are. I am just happy to be able to post my blog much less know who you are! I have no prizes for you but Gail and I are very thankful that you care enough about what we are doing to read about it. That, in and of itself, helps us to keep going even on days we don’t feel like it.
God continues to bless us in so many ways. I have said it before and repeat it now: It is a privilege to be here and feel like we are a part of the groundwork that God is laying for great things in the future in Cambodia. His promises continue to delight us in the most unusual ways. Thank you Lord for loving us sooo much! Please do keep reading and drop us a note sometime. Don’t forget to let us know who you are if you reply on the blog. We cannot see your address. You can also write us at rgnorthen@yahoo.com

Friday, February 16, 2007

A Very Important Crew Member

We recently hired the most important crew member for the Ship of Life. Medical doctor you think? Not so….the cook! A good cook can make a not so good day turn out very good if you know what I mean! His name is Darith and he has been cooking at several touristy hotels in Cambodia. He makes all kinds of “Western” foods but he will mostly make local cuisine for the crew.
Darith cooked our first group meal where we all sat down in the dining room and ate together. He made a shrimp and vegetable stir fry meal and served it over rice. It was tasty! Setting next to Darith is Rithy our new custodian. He graduated last week from a local university with a BS degree in English Literature. Jobs are hard to come by and he felt he could learn a lot from Partners In Progress and joined our staff. We will add several more over the next few days. Our family is getting larger and larger. Rick

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I Was Glad When they Said……

We had a wonderful service Sunday morning. Earl Bridges gave an inspiring lesson on encouraging one another. He and his wife Judy have recently come here to work long term. We are all excited to have them. We also had two first time Khmer visitors and as you can see, Gail is helping the young lady to follow the words in the song book.
The Hollingsworths are also here teaching in the local preacher’s training school. Loran and his wife Penny spent over 30 years living and working in Thailand. They live in Alaska now but have come here for an 8 weeks course at the school. We keep meeting wonderful dedicated Christians here who are totally sold out on the Lord’s will for their lives! We just keep encouraging each other to keep on, “walking in the light”. We had a wonderful meal after worshipping together. Rick

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

To My Valentine

Even in Cambodia we can celebrate Valentine’s Day. We enjoyed a nice dinner out last Saturday, since Wednesday evening is church services. But Rick even surprised me today with a bouquet of yellow roses! I am blessed to have such good men in my life; a husband who treats me like a queen and pampers me when I am going through culture shock. I am thankful for my father who loved my mother and considered her in all ways throughout their lives together. Now my son, who is a awesome son, has all these great role models will hopefully be a good husband, too! Marriages are challenged as the world wants us to think about our selfish desires. Ours hasn’t been without problems but working together we have gotten through the bad times. Maybe God has helped us a lot too! Gail

Sunday, February 11, 2007


She only stood alittle over 4 feet tall at the end of her life. She was stoop over from many years of backbreaking work and wear and tear. She may have not been a large woman, but she had a great big heart. She passed from this life on Saturday afternoon, February 10, 2007.
She was the oldest daughter of my great-grandfather Cotton. He was a farmer and a church of Christ preacher. I owe much of my Christian legacy to his belief and faith. He passed that belief on to my grandmother and eventually to me. I am eternally grateful.
Jewel Cotton Jenkins, or "Mammy", as we affectionally called her, was born July 17, 1905. Yes, that is correct if you are counting up her age, she would be 102 in a few more months! She had around 10 brothers and sisters whom, her being the oldest, helped her mother raise and she grew up quickly. She was never one to complain, however, since she took after her mother who lived well into her 90's. Her mother was one of the gentlest woman I have ever met. Gail and I visited her one afternoon shortly before she died. Mammy came from "good stuff"!
I will always remember my grandmother for her sweet smile. She always had chocolate pie every time we visited. She would always pretend when she wanted a kiss on her cheek to take the lid off of her "sugar bowl". She always told me that she loved me. I knew it, but she wanted me to hear it.
I will miss Mammy very much. She was very much alert mentally to the very end, but her body could go no further. Once when we thought she was close to the end, Mom told me she went to see her and to her surprise Mammy was wheeling herself down the hallway to lunch! She was really tough and never considered joining the ever so popular "Ain't It Awful Club"!
Can you imagine the things that happened in her lifetime? The automobile, airplane, telephone, television, and space travel just to name a few! She probably could not come close to grasping the World Wide Web. She never seemed to get to excited about any of it. She flew for the first time to my home in Arkansas at the age of 95! She loved the trip, but the little plane unnerved my mom! I can still see her standing on the boat dock fishing. She dearly love to fish. She loved to read, also, and did some beautiful paintings in which I have several originals.
I don't know where to stop! I could go on and on! Simply said, she was quite a lady. I am proud to be her grandson. Tell her hello if you beat me to heaven! Look for her on the front row.

Street Hazards

Driving in Cambodia has always been an adventure. There is always something interesting to see. Since being on the boat, we have to drive alot more around to get things done, and this was the scene one morning that we passed. Rick has become good at driving around and still doesn't take anything for granted. There is always motos, cyclos, and bicyclists cutting in and out of traffic. Vehicles do not like to stay in between the lines and even though most don't drive very fast, they are impatient and what to pass whatever is holding up the traffic. There are few who abide by whatever rules are written, but the police know where to hang out and motion you over if you do happen to break one. I'm not sure I will ever be comfortable driving here, but you just go with the flow! gail

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Visitors From China

Derek Wilson, Angelyn Sides have been teaching English in China this past semester and Janice Wang is a university student. They had a long break between semesters and traveled to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. We were so happy to have them visit with us at church on Wednesday night service. Rick and I were also able to show them the boat and hear their stories over lunch. It was great to see young people give of themselves in teaching and sharing Christ with those who might not hear. Derek had graduated from Harding and knew Greg and Brit. As Angelyn said to us, it so wonderful to meet Christian family wherever you travel. Gail

Thursday, February 08, 2007


While negotiating the gangplank last week, I had a small mishap. I slipped and dropped one of my sandals in the muddy Mekong River! The shoe was one that Britt had brought me all the way back from Germany’s Birkenstock factory and I wanted to get it back as it floated away. I stumbled down the river bank and while trying to reach the shoe, sank up to my knees in the mud!Gail heard all of the commotion and took these pics of me washing off my legs. This same spot just in front of our ship has several people bathing and washing clothes through out the day. The clothes come out pretty clean looking despite the muddy looking water! Rick

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

White Hat Guys

If you are in HoChiMinh City, Vietnam anytime in the near future, and you see a bunch of guys with Partners In Progress white hats on, here they are. These gentlemen helped us to bring the boat from Vietnam to Phnom Penh recently. They were a fun loving bunch pretty much even though they spoke very little English. They did cook good Vietnamese food and I learned to eat with chopsticks! Well, I at least got better with them! One of the guys came back last week to help with some minor engine adjustments. Our engineer, Channy, and our Captain Nem are on the far left and right.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


I have come to appreciate dental assistants so much more. When I assisted Rick in the provinces, we were mainly extracting teeth, and that was a matter of me just standing around looking important. Well, I guess I did put on bibs, hand him instruments, and sterilize. But now that he is working in a fully equipped dental operatory and doing root canals, this is a whole new ball game. Last Saturday, Rick started helping the staff of PIP. His first two patients needed root canals. He was pretty much on his own getting his supplies, so I was there to suction. I was standing and couldn't even see in their mouth, so he even had help with that. I was proud of not saying anything like "Oh My!", or "Oops!", but I think I stuck the aspirator alittle to far in the throat once or twice. The ship is tilting alittle due to the way it is anchored, so my stool kept rolling away. Only once did I almost miss it and hit the floor! We are still interviewing and I am pushing to hire an assistant asap! We did hire a cook and electrician. Sparky has decided to leave and is training the new guy, Sophal. Darith, the cook, was sent to school to improve his western cooking knowlegde. Slowly but surely we are acquiring a crew. We are interviewing many, and it is a slow process with the language barrier. Keep praying that we are hiring good men! Gail

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Ship Of Life Celebration

Sunday afternoon we invited our church family out to the ship for evening services, tours, and a celebration to God. We hosted over 70 brethren and guests! That was quite a number for our current staff of 4 to prepare for.
Bill McDonouogh, International Director for Partners In Progress, spoke to the church about the Lords blessing of this project some 5 years in the making. Russ Burchum led everyone in lively upbeat songs for the occasion. I can only imagine how happy God was as He looked down upon his children enjoying His gift to them. We all enjoy giving our children gifts and watching them unwrap them. Maybe gift is not accurate; maybe tool would be a better term. One that can be used to accomplish the great commission of our Lord "to go".Today we will continue to interview staff for several positions. We will hire for positions of guard, cook, housekeeping, medical assistant, pharmacist, MD, etc. My prayer is that God will lead us to make wise choices. Rick

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Channy Birthday

Surprise! We had a birthday party for Channy who turned 26 yesterday. We are so happy to have Channy on board the ship. He is a very hard worker and still has time to study his bible. As we continue to hire personel for the ship, we pray for more men like Channy. Gail