Monday, September 29, 2008

Are You Rich?

Last year Gail and I had the opportunity to meet Joe and Areva Chesser. They came to Cambodia to teach in the WEI school and visited the boat one weekend. Joe writes a column regularly and sends us a copy of his thoughts. I was deeply moved by his recent article and wanted to share them on our blog. They are very appropriate with the current financial turmoil going on around us. The following is what he wrote:

I’ve never had a lot of money. I guess the Lord knew I couldn’t handle that very well. But neither have I been broke. I guess the Lord knew I couldn’t handle that very well either. Yet, even without having a lot of money I feel like I am one of the richest men alive.
I am rich with love. I have a God who loves me so much that he allowed his very own Son to sacrifice his life so that I could live with him forever. Money cannot buy that. I have a wife that loves me so much that she has put up with my imperfections and flaws for over 40 years. In fact, she continues to love me more and more as the years mount up. Money cannot buy that. I am blessed with three children, two daughters-in-law and one son-in-law who constantly show their love to me. I have nine grandchildren who run up to me and give me a hug when they see me because they truly do love me. Money certainly cannot buy that. I am part of a church that has loved, accepted and supported me as their preacher for over five years, and continues to do so. Money cannot buy that either. I have a large extended family that chooses to spend time with me, and I have a huge network of friends all over the world who love me. There are times when I don’t have enough money to do the things that I would like to do, times when my money has run out. But I have never run out of love. It only grows day after day, and that makes me one of the richest men alive.
I am rich with experiences. It has occurred to me several times lately that even without a lot of money of my own, God has richly blessed me with many varied experiences. In addition to the experiences of love, I have been enriched through many other experiences. I possess the joys of marriage, of being a parent and grandparent, of helping a lost soul find the Lord, and of helping hurting people through times of crises. I know the peace that comes from being forgiven, from answered prayer, from reading the scriptures and from the presence of God. Money cannot buy these things. I have seen the power of God at work in the lives of sinners, in the church and in myself. I have experienced the closeness of family, church and friends that most people only dream about. I am amazed at the places I have been and the things I have seen. (Seeing bison in Oklahoma this week reminded me of also seeing them in Wyoming and Alaska, plus seeing buffalo in Kenya, Cambodia and Vietnam.) While serving the Lord I have seen his handiwork as I observed the moon and stars from five continents. I am one of the richest men alive.
I am rich with hope. As my life continues I know I will only grow richer. While others are worrying over the economy and trying to gain the things of the world, I have placed my hope in the hands of God. I have learned that trying to gain the world while losing my soul is the greatest waste of all. My hope is not in retirement, but in the coming Lord. My treasures are not in financial institutions, but in heaven. My trust for the future is not in the government, but in God. You don’t need money to possess this kind of hope. I am one of the richest men alive because my confidence and hope for the future is in God.
Joe Chesser

Sunday, September 28, 2008

WEI Graduates

Gail and I have Bible studies several nights each week with our crew members. We use the World English Institute material written by Dick Adie to teach English and the Bible at the same time.
Two of our young men have been studying for over 18 months and have recently completed the WEI program. They study 6 books and take a comprehensive exam after each one. They are required to achieve at least 75% in order to receive their diplomas. Darith our cook and Piseth our clinic coordinator are our first graduates of the program. They are both fine Christian men and have learned a lot of Bible knowledge as well as increased their grammar skills and vocabulary.
They both plan to continue studying a new series on Christian Evidences beginning next week. Congratulations guys! rick

Thursday, September 25, 2008

John Watts

It has been great having John Watts on the Ship of Life this week. John is a nurse from Alexander City, Alabama. His wife, Janet, and three beautiful daughters, Jennifer, Jill, and Jessica, gave them their blessings for him to share his talents with the people of Cambodia. He helped in triage, dispensed glasses, and wound care. The crew helped him with some Khmer words and it didn't take him long to speak to some of the people. Thanks, John for coming and God Bless your work in Alabama! gail

Monday, September 22, 2008

Wooo Pig Sooie

We couldn't help but get a good laugh when we saw what Carol brought from home. Fans are always great to have around here because of the heat. But this particular one shows who you are a fan of .... Arkansas Razorbacks! We had just learned the outcome of the Arkansas and Alabama game and it was alittle depressing, but a true fan still yells.. Wooo Pig Sooie!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Gangs All Here!

Arkansas is back! Bob Diles, Yvonne Davis, Wallace and Carol Randle arrived to teach for another month in Cambodia. They are truly a delight to be around and it was great sharing another meal with them! They all live in the Little Rock area and it is fun to talk Arkansan with them. We head back for the ship today, but leave the house in good hands! ha! gail

Friday, September 19, 2008

Along the Road

We are heading to the city to pick up John Watts. We are excited about having a visitor on the Ship of Life for a week. We will tell you more about John later this week. In the pictures, the fields are full of rice. At the peak of the rainy season, you can see how high the Bassac River is and the green field next to it. This is a beautiful time of year when all the fields are green. They were doing some road work and we were interested in their way of distributing the gravel. Basically, cars and trucks just flatten it. We felt sorry for the moto drivers because I had my only motorcycle accident (in the states) by hitting gravel. The pagodas are flying flags because of Pchum Bun which is a Khmer holiday where the people are suppose to visit (and take gifts) to 15 different pagodas. After next week, the crew will have some days off because of this Buddhist holiday. gail

Thursday, September 18, 2008


This time of year the rivers and streams are all high. Everywhere we go we see the same thing, young boys jumping off of bridges into the muddy water below. They usually put on a pretty good show for us when we watch. Most of the time they have shorts on but sometimes we get to watch little nude jumpers. They do not seem to have any shame like Adam and Eve in the beginning. We are about 60 kilometers from the city and we cross about 30 bridges. Since the rivers are high, there is lots of water to jump in.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cutie Pie!

I am assisting Rick this week while Sok Vy left to go home for a family emergency. We had this little cutie pie come today and I had to have a picture taken of her. I left my glasses on just to acknowledge that I am getting where I can’t see anything up close. I decided it would be best to be able to see where I am sticking the aspirator and most definitely the cotton. Every time I assist Rick, it causes me to reflect the years Rick worked in the dental office and how much more I should have appreciated his assistants! gail

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I got my hair cut out in the rural area again last week. Gail went with me to witness the occasion. I must admit that I received one of the best haircuts I have ever gotten by this little barber and he even threw in a full shave! When I say full….I mean full! Got out a new blade for his straight razor and trimmed around my neck and ears like always but he did not stop there. He trimmed around my eye brows and most of my forehead and front hairline. I had seen him do it to the guy before me. It took him a good 30 minutes to complete the work and he charged me 50 cents. I tipped him a quarter for such a good job! rick

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hammer Handles

We use a sledge hammer every time we dock to drive some large stabilizing rods in the ground. They are used to support the gangplank. Last week we broke the handle out of our sledge hammer.
What would you do? Go to Wal-Mart and get a new one huh. Maybe even a hardware store. Well we do not have things like that so our engineer, Sokah, went out and cut a limb off of a tree and proceeded to carve out a handle. I was impressed. Worked like a charm and he had it all carved and smoothed in a short time. People here a pretty inventive and make and repair things all of the time when we would just throw it away and buy a new one. Maybe they don’t have garage sales either to get rid of the stuff they don’t use any more! rick

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Prek Thamie

We are almost at our farthest point south on the Bassac River at this Village Prek Thamie. We docked in front of the most elaborate Pagoda that we have seen yet. The complex is quite large with schools for many different levels. The monks would come every evening and use the stairs down into the water next to the ship to bath and carry water for plants inside. This morning a group of younger monks came. They can not be near women so they created their own line. They wanted to see the doctor so I am not sure how he handled that. The villages we have been at on this river have really been great about lining up and waiting patiently. Sokha started putting a stick in the dirt as a starting point and the people have lined up behind it. I don’t have to monitor the door so often to keep people from just wandering into the ship, either. gail

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Uh Oh, Gail is Driving

I know this is a scary thought, but I drove for the first time in Cambodia. After being here almost three years, we decided I should get my Cambodian driver’s license. All it took was three pictures, passport, country driving license, and $36.00. I have a tendency to react suddenly and you can not do that here in this traffic. But I drove without mishap from the city to the ship. Of course I did not drive until we were out of city and in the province! All vehicles that PIP uses are manual transmission, but since we have owned them in the past, I had no problem with that. It was the dogs, chickens, cows, bicycles, carts, and various other problems that stroll onto the road. We knew in the past if there had been an emergency reason, I would have driven without a license. Even though I am legal now, I doubt I will drive much anyway. gail

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Chinese Food

When we get to Phnom Penh, we always try to get together with Troy and Tabitha. They usually have a new (and inexpensive) restaurant for us to try out! This particular night, we tried a Chinese place they enjoy and Andrew and Natalie were able to join us. You can see the remains of the six dishes we enjoyed, all for the low price of $13.00. Not bad for six people. I wasn’t quite sure when entering the restaurant and seeing on the floor the tub of eels, (looked like snakes to me). At least they were alive and not dead. The food was great, but the company exceptional! Gail

Monday, September 08, 2008

New Friend in Koh Thom

We met a young man in Koh Thom who was delightful. Although he had severe physical disabilities, his spirit was a joy to witness.
His name is Phat Phav. He is 15 years old. At a young age some condition caused him to not be able to speak and he has severe atropy of his upper and lower body. Maybe something like muscular dystrophy. He does however understand everything you say to him and his smile, as you can see, lights up the room he is in.
I invited him to spend some time with us and we gave him a Ship of Life hat which he seemed to love. I will never forget his smile and will look forward to seeing him next year. rick

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Happy Birthday Brit

Well, it is a few days late, but Brit just sent these great pictures (and more) and thought I would share. September 2, Brit was 26 yrs. old. Zac surprised her with several goodies and even the dogs participated. Our favorite granddog, Polly, looks like she is doing a dance move! The miles separate us, but we are proud and blessed to have a wonderful daughter! gail

Friday, September 05, 2008

Training Opportunity

This past week we had a first of sorts on the boat. A local dentist came to the ship and asked if she could observe and “help”. Last January we had invited a young dentist we had met while walking to come to the ship for a visit. We ended up training him to do all kinds of things he had no idea about.
Both of these young dentists have had no formal training. Like most of the dentist in Cambodia they are “traditional” dentist meaning they simply learned the trade as an apprentice of someone else. The main thing I tried to teach both of them was how to give adequate anesthesia. They do not know how to administer local block anesthesia which means they never fully numb their patient’s lower teeth. You can numb most upper teeth by just giving the “shot” above the tooth but not so on the lower. One thing is for sure. Their patients will be much happier if their lower teeth are actually numb!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Ship of Vision

I have seen this ship several times while crossing the Bassac River. It has a large medical cross on the back but I could not tell anything else about it. I think there is a Rotary International symbol on the side.
When we moved from the Mekong to the Bassac River recently we passed the medical boat. I could see the words written in French that it was an ophthalmology clinic. I couldn’t tell if it was operational or not but at one time it had been used. I have never heard anyone speak of a ship offering eye care along the river. Sounds like a great idea however.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Acts 16

As we continue to live and work here, we get a bigger and better picture of the people. On the surface they claim to be Buddhist but underneath this thin covering is a much darker and sometimes sinister world. The average Khmers world is filled with evil spirits and dark forces that must be appeased on a regular basis. Everyone has a spirit house on their property to offer food and burn incense to the spirits that threaten to harm them and their families.
This week our ship has been parked close to the local fortune-teller's house. Every community has their own fortune-teller and some evidently have the gift stronger than others. This man is quite wealthy as many politicians and important people from Phnom Penh come to see him for advice. He not only tells the future but he does rituals for improving ones lot in life in many ways. They can even place curses on others for you. He also seems to have an idol making factory with several men fully employed in this trade.
I am not sure if this man has real power or not. I cannot help but think of Paul and Silas in Philippi in Acts 16 and the young girl fortune-teller. He also was confronted by the idol making Demetrius in Ephesus in Acts 19. This man seems to have both areas covered! What I do know is that the Cambodians like the people in Philippi and Ephesus need to know that Jesus is the answer to being afraid and facing the difficulties of life. Only He can bring peace to the lives of these people whose past is full of only fear and destruction. How wonderful it is to go to sleep at night and not be afraid! Our God…He is alive! rick