Friday, October 30, 2009

Fun and Games

Excitement is in the air! The Water Festival holiday starts today and the boats of villagers pulling their long boats for the races were passing us all day! It was fun to hear the people yell and shout when we went out to wave and take pictures. In honor of the holiday, Rick got the crew to have a volleyball game. It was quite interesting considering none of us were that talented at it. We all had fun despite some sores hands! gail

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kos Keo

The ship is docked in Kos Keo very close to some houses with nice garden areas. As I walked outside this morning waiting for the patients to come aboard, I took these pictures. One lady was very proud of her garden area and kept it up very nicely. Next door a man was plowing his garden with beast of burden. This scene could have been from perhaps 2000 years ago. He did have a modern looking stainless steel plow attached to the ancient looking handle. rick

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Conrad Whitefield

This week we have a visiting dentist aboard the ship from Nashville Tennessee. His name is Conrad Whitefield. Conrad is a veteran of many medical missions in the past mainly in Central America. He is a very experienced practitioner with a delightful personality. We have had a good time talking about dentistry in the past and present. We are not so sure about these “new fangled” dental techniques and the youngsters using them! Only kidding! He has a son who he shares a practice with back home in Donaldson TN. We are really enjoying getting to know Conrad! Ly Saung, a fourth year dental student is assisting him this week. rick

Monday, October 26, 2009

Shade Trees

The last few villages have had some great trees for the people to sit under and wait. The sun has been very hot and the shade of the trees makes it so much more comfortable. It makes it nice for the people waiting. gail

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Behind every good construction crew there is a great supervisor, right? That's me sitting on the hood of the truck. Actually, the girls and I had some interesting conversation. Then the grandaughter, Huot, came over and showed me the picture of her deceased mother. So I had the brothers come over and got their picture together. They were certainly proud of their new house and even though I didn't help in any way, other than moral support, it felt good. gail

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Widow - Part 2

We decided to build her a house! We went to the local lumber place and priced the materials to build her a small house. The owner of the land thumb printed a document allowing her to live on his land as long as she was alive. We had the materials delivered to the site and went after it.
All of the crew pitched in and helped. It seems that all Cambodians know how to build houses. Here you do not contract with a builder, you build your own. So all of the crew knew something about the building process.
It took us a total of 8 hours to build the house and even though it was only 13X10 feet in size, it was secure, with a solid roof and a door that she could lock from inside. Some of the local men helped us with some aspects of the project but we did most of the work. People stopped by all during the process and wanted to know what was going on. We prayed with her when it was finished and asked God to bless her little home. They were all very appreciative to say the least.
I know what you are thinking. How much did it cost? $278.50. Turnkey. Our little church could not afford the cost but I told them I would raise some money from friends. We might even look for other similar causes and repeat the process. If you would like to help or take it on as a bible class project, let me know. It really is a good feeling to help widows and orphans in their distress.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Another Widow in Need

This last week we asked several visitors to the ship who might be in need of a little special help in their community. We were pointed to another widow who lived pretty much hand to mouth each day. She also had 3 grandchildren who lived with her. Their mother had died and the father had abandoned them. So we went to visit her.
She cooked rice cakes beside the road from her makeshift home. She did not own any land but was allowed to build a crude shelter to sleep in each night with her grandchildren. She expressed her fear each night as the local dogs would bark and she could not see in the dark what might be near. We bought her a flashlight and gave her some rice but the roof leaked and there were no side walls to her house. We considered taking some tarps and wrapping it around the outside of her house for some security. We also thought how we might cover the roof somehow to stop the rain from coming in each night. We decided to think about it. How might we help her?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This pretty young girl with the pan on her head sat everyday next to the ship to sell her pastries. The round balls are not bad but I don’t care for the soy bean inside the middle. This is a good thing, so I won’t eat them! But the round ones with chocolate looking icing are really good. There is only one of those left on the pan in the picture. It is not chocolate on top, but a caramelized sugar and they give you a taste of homemade donuts. I went out one day and bought some for her, but gave them to the crew. The second picture is of some children playing a jumping game. Two girls are holding a large rubber band made from many smaller bands around their bodies. Then the other kids try to jump up and pull down the band with their foot. The band is raised higher as they accomplish each height. The girl jumping could go very high. gail

Monday, October 19, 2009

Study through Internet, A New Brother in Hanoi

A fellow missionary and friend who is working with the Sunset Bible school in Phnom Penh recently had a situation he was not sure about. He had been studying with a young Khmer student in Hanoi, Vietnam via the internet and the young man was wanting to be baptized. Doesn’t seem like a dilemma, but sometimes the students want to be baptized only to make the teacher happy and to travel to Vietnam would not be inexpensive or convenient when you were not totally sure of the sincerity of the person. But Dennis prayed and trusted that God would bless him no matter what the outcome. Dennis flew to Hanoi and stayed with Thort in his dorm room while they studied the Bible. Thort was sincere and earnest in his desire, so they found a bathtub in a guest house and Thort was baptized. Thank you to all the people who take time to do bible correspondence with students all over the world. There are many hearts ripe for harvest. gail

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fancy Bicycle

This guy had the fanciest bicycle I have seen in all of Cambodia. It has front and rear shock absorbers and disc brakes! It has 15 speeds and more spokes than I have ever seen in my whole life on any wheel! I removed his carious wisdom tooth and he rode off with a smile in style. rick

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ice Cream, Ice Cream!

We all scream for ice cream! Last week I stopped for ice cream from a local vendor on the street. I was amazed how creamy and smooth it tasted. I told Gail about it and she decided to try some after I passed the 3 day test. (No explosive diarrhea in 3 days!)
Sure enough I passed the test and she joined me when we moved the truck to our next location this week. She agreed it was pretty good…..not Blue Bell but pretty good. It was coconut flavored.
Linh, our cook, went to the vendor for us and purchased it for a quarter each. rick

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dental Time

I try not to blog too often on the dental clinic but I haven’t for a while now. Last week a lady with pain came and her tooth seemed to have fused roots and come out with only moderate rotational force. When I tried the “moderate” force nothing happened. So I began to elevate it some more and it only wanted to come lingual. This is somewhat unusual but it just kept coming to the lingual and eventually came on out. To my surprise it had interesting anatomy to say the least! How the roots did not break I will never know but I was thankful.
The same week I was using a Cryer to remove a lower mesial root and broke the head right off of the elevator! Guess I was leaning on it a bit huh? Maybe just poor metal but it gave me a momentary surprise anyway. The head and the root came out quickly with a back up elevator. rick

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pure Religion

We have been collecting an offering for the last several months and have been trying to help the poor with our small 11 person church fellowship. We bought about $50 worth of used clothes several months ago and have handed out many to needy people.
We recently decided to help more. In each village we come to we usually can identify the poorest quite easily. We have decided to help one person or family in each place we visit. We send several crew members to interview them about specific needs and ways we might help. In Prek Dack, we found a poor widow woman who was taking care of her 2 orphaned grand children. The picture is of Piseth and Captain Cheurn with her little house in the background.
She gets up at 3 am each morning and rides her bicycle to buy fruit that she will prepare and sell in the market. She told us her bicycle was in disrepair and she needed it to be fixed. We did that for her and also gave her twenty kilos of rice for her family. I told our little church we were practicing pure and undefiled religion according to James Chapter 1. Now we just have to keep doing these kind of things and keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. rick

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sandar, South Mekong

This was the village we were at last week and a very interesting place. The Pagoda grounds were covered with statues of animals from the Chinese calendar. They were all very colorful. We are only 3km from the Vietnam border and at the market, Linh said they wanted Vietnamese money, dong, instead of Khmer reils. The second picture is of some young boys jumping from the tree into the water. We see kids jumping from bridges, but this was a first. I think the tree is a perfect place to jump from! gail

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Small Blessing

I was having one of those "poor me" moments when I was thinking of the fall weather going on in the states. People were writing about the football weather and fires and brisk cool air and I was starting to get the envious feeling. Not a good thing, I admit. But I was doing guard duty on the middle deck and a wonderful cool breeze came up. Clouds billowed up and brought the most amazing "chilly" wind! I knew God was telling me 'ok, I can't give you snow, but how about this'. I actually had chill bumps on my arms. God does care about the samll things. gail

Friday, October 09, 2009

Special Necklace

Several years ago I wrote about a young boy who had a tooth on a string around his neck. It had a piece of wire holding it to a string. It was for “protection”.
Last week I saw it again. This time, however, the necklace was specially made with a custom made gold basket to precisely hold the tooth. The young lady was 21 and had worn it for about 10 years she said. She, like the boy before, wore it for protection from evil spirits. It was upper lateral incisor of her deceased Grandfather.
We have our rabbits feet and other assorted good luck charms. They take it more seriously! I have learned to understand and respect their beliefs and customs more and more each day. What seemed at first, “weird” now is understandable. They believe, like us, what they have been taught, what has been passed down. Maybe some day she will learn not to fear evil spirits, and trust in the Holy Spirit! rick

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Life Changing

It seems that most of what we do is rather ordinary. I remove the abcessed teeth of my patients over and over day after day. Our Khmer MD prescribes the same meds over and over each day for the same conditions day after day and occasionally we refer someone to Phnom Penh for a serious condition. Last week, however, we had a different situation arise.
She was standing in line with her mother for an extraction. She did not speak and it seemed like something about her was wrong. Her Mom did all of the talking. She was 20 years old. When they came on board, I saw her around 10 o’clock. Her Mom told me that she was an epileptic. She described how her daughter would have a grand mal like seizure every day which would last, from start to finish, for about 30 minutes. She had never seen a medical doctor for this condition. She had never taken any kind of medicine for it.
I called over Dr Tha for a consultation. He decided to place her on dialantin for the seizures and see how she did. We were to be in their village for another 3 days so we could see how she did at least at first. I asked them to come back on Friday for a follow up and possible extraction. ( I had at first imagined how it would be to get her bleeding stopped while having a severe seizure!)
She came back on Friday and had not had a seizure for 3 whole days! I removed her offending molar and sent her on her way. She had a relative with a cell phone and hopefully we can keep her supplied with medication if it continues to be effective.
Wow! Life changing? I think so. She probably had never been to school because of the problem. She was probably an outcast in her society. Others probably thought she had an evil spirit in her. Perhaps her life was like the young boy in Mark Chapter 9 who convulsed and foamed at the mouth. We did not heal her like the Great Physician did in Mark’s Gospel, but we did hopefully relieve her symptoms where she might now have the chance for a more normal life. AS Jesus said in Mark 9, we will add prayer to this also.
That day was not so ordinary. I imagined her being my daughter. That day felt “good”!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Students Externs

This last week we hosted two more 4th year dental students from the local University. As has been the case so far, they were well behaved and eager to learn as much as possible about oral surgery.
Their names were Tola and Rachna. Tola spoke the most English and was the most outgoing. Rachna was quiet and somewhat reserved but will make a fine dental surgeon some day. He has that special ability to touch people gently but with confidence.
I always tell them that we first of all want to have fun! This confuses them all at first but I continue to ask them each day and towards the end of the week, they are flashing me a great big “thumbs up” sign. I enjoy the time to share my knowledge about oral surgery techniques with them. They are always very appreciative. I always tell them the most important thing to know is…what you don’t know and when to say “no” and refer.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Under the Bridge

The heavy rains almost caused us a delay in traveling under the Monivong bridge that takes us from the Bassac River to the Mekong River. Sunday morning Rick went with the Captain to determine if the ship would go safely under the bridge and it was decided that we could make it. I drove the car and unfortunately forgot my camera. It was great watching the ship go under two bridges from overhead. They just recently completed building a second bridge for traffic flow. I drove along with Piseth while the ship moved south. We arrived an hour before the ship, but the trip was about five hours. The car had to be left about 10 miles from where we are because the pavement stopped and the dirt road was impassable. The villagers had a good time watching Piseth and I walk. When we stopped the car, we asked how far to the Sandar Pagoda. The people at the house we left the car said about 3 km. No problem, we can walk that. So we set out. About 3 km later we asked again, How far? Oh, about 2-3 km more. Ok, no problem. At this point Piseth started recognizing the village because we had been here two times before and had docked at different places. So we started walking to the river bank every so often looking for a place to dock. The river is so high that several places were flooded very close to the road and trees were under water so the ship could not stop. Now about 3 km more we finally came to the place where we had stopped the first year and waited for the ship. It was getting dark and clouds were looming in the horizon so I prayed it would not rain until we were aboard. God answered! The ship arrived and it temporarily docked for the night where Piseth and I had waited. Now this morning, the Captain found a place further south to dock and work clinic. But this time as the ship moves, I get to watch from the deck! In the picture, Piseth and Lingh are heading to where the ship will stop to help with the ropes from land. You can see alittle of how high the water is. gail

Friday, October 02, 2009


This area of the world is getting hit with some very bad storms. We saw where there were deaths in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The only effect of these storms we are feeling is the heavey rains that are coming through. Indonesia has the earthquakes and the typhoon hit east of us into Vietnam and Laos, but not Cambodia. However we are getting reports from families of some of the crew members that flooding is occuring in many areas. We are safe but please pray for the people in these countries and in the Phillipines and other islands in that area. gail

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Fish, Frogs, and Eels

Linh, our cook, came back from the market with some delicacies this week. He had been worried about not having much variety in the local market where we are currently docked, so he was happy to find the small fish, eel, and frogs. Yummy. I am learning that you can stir-fry just about anything. The fish he boils in water for several hours and serves at breakfast with rice. The eel was put in a soup, and the frogs were stir-fried with vegetables. Rick ate the frogs, but we both passed on the other two.