Monday, May 31, 2010

Great time in Battambang

Hi All!

Lindsey and I are having a great time in Battambang. Yesterday I went with Dave Strong and Sombok to look at some land they are considering purchasing for Moringa seed production. It was quite a ways out of town. I enjoyed the ride and picking Dave's brain about the Moringa businesses. Then in the afternoon Holly and Lindsey and I took a ride on the bamboo trolley. It runs on narrow gauge rails and they put axles and a bammboo platform on the axles with a little motor and off you go. If you meet another trolley coming the other way the one with the fewest people gets off the track and allows the other to pass. It was an interesting ride. The trolley stops at the far end at a brick factory. Dad, the press they were using was a hit and miss engine. I think I like your ice cream maker better but the bricks are functional. We walked into one of the kilns and it was a bit eerie.

Today we explored the main market after breakfast and then went to the Strongs house to help process Moringa leaves. That allowed us time to chat with Sombok and for him to practice his english. He is really a good guy and becoming a leader with the Moringa business as well as with DAD's house.

Midday we went out to a village school with Doris to teach middle schoolers about nutrition and Moringa. That was a nice drive too. The rice fields around the school were very green and beautiful. Still no pictures for you cause this computer can't handle them. I promise to post some when I get back to RDI.

That is it for tonight. I do have to say that I very much admire both of the Strongs and Holly and the other folks on the CAMA team here. They are really making a difference for Him!

Love you all,


Thom! Thom!

That is what the woman who sat next to me on the bus to Battambang said as she patted my arm. She was smiling and meant it as a complement meaning that I am healthy but Thom means big or fat! She really was quite nice and tried to share her snack of raw asiatic clams with Lindsey and me. We turned her down as hepatitis did not seem like a good idea. I tried offering her salted almonds but then she turned me down! Still she bid me a warm good bye when she left the bus shortly before we got to Battambang.

Lindsey and I came up here to visit wit CAMA Services workers this week. We got in late this afternoon and got to ride out to a fellow who grows Moringa leaves for the Strongs project. He also has three pools of crocodiles in his back yard! Later we had dinner with some of the CAMA folks. It was yummy and came with a side dish of steamed Moringa leaves. Which were like spinach.

No pictures this time because the computer at the internet cafe can't accept my disk. So just imagine a picture of me beside the first bus we took from Phnom Penh (it broke down and they had to send a replacement). Thankfully the TV on the replacement bus didn't work as we had seen enough of Jackie Chan. The trip took about 7 hours on account of the breakdown. But my Khmer friend kept an eye on us and directed us where to wait and when to get on the new bus. She was quite the mother hen.

Battambang is a nice smaller city. It is less frenetic than Phnom Penh and still has some of the French architecture evident in some of the buildings. The streets are less broad and more shady. It is also safe enough to walk around at night. I definitely think I am going to enjoy the next few days.

Ta Ta For Now!


Friday, May 28, 2010

Just back from Preak Russey

Hey there all!

Lindsey and I spent the last few days out at the school where the team from TN was helping to build the school a rainwater tank. The name of the village translates as Bamboo Creek and it is really very remote. It was a 2 hour drive over roads with potholes that you could almost hide our 4x4. The team was out there for the whole week but we joined them on thursday (Lindsey really hit the ground running as she came in late on Wednesday night). I am attaching some pics of the tank and the kids playing with rice sack races at the school and Lindsey with some kids that she had taught to play hop scotch. It was great and I'll get more details up soon. Maybe some pictures of our sleeping quarters cots with mosquito nets in empty classrooms.

Keep us in your prayers as we head up to Battambang on Monday to visit with folks up that way. Thinking of all of you.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Preak Russey School

Hi Everyone,

There is a team here from Chattanooga, TN and today they went out across the river (the Mekong) to a distant village to do water projects at the school. Wendi and I drove out following one of the trucks so that she would know the way.As she goes out on Thursday through Saturday to be with the team. I rode out with her to keep her company. The village is wa-a-ay out there. I am including a photo of the ferry we took across the Mekong (the lady in the red striped shirt is Ming Sopean she is the primary cook and all around takes care of all of us) and a shot of John Burnette from RDI playing guitar for the kids. It was about a 2 1/2 hour one way and rough but we saw lots of countryside. I saw my first draft pony along the way.

Yesterday we had church of course. The Tennessee crew all attended both services also so we were pretty packed in Kmhei church but it was awesome. I recorded them singing Amazing Grace and I will share that when I get home.

That is it for tonight. Please take care of each other.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lunch with friends today

It is Saturday May 22 and I rode into town today with Wendi and her girls. First we went Calumet Hospital to see a family friend who had a baby earlier this week. She has aplastic anemia so the birth was more complicated than normal. She is actually doing well and the baby, a boy, is fine. I was impressed with the hospital. She is in a private room and it is air conditioned with a mini fridge and space for her family. They have to stay there with her as the nurses don't do stuff like bathe her or help her to the restroom. The baby, no name yet, is adorable and I got to hold him for quite a while.

After the hospital Wendi dropped me outside the Russian Market where I met up with Joe and Kay Kong. I went to their house for lunch and it was a delightful visit. Their house is great, very spacious and cool. Tom there is a room for you when you are ready to visit! We had stopped at the fruit market on the way. The fruit in the photo includes mangosteen, rambutan and durian. I like the first two and try to avoid the third! It smells really bad.

The other photo I have added here is what we had for dinner yesterday. It is khaw, a beef dish with hard boiled eggs and a sweet brown sauce. It was really good. I wish I had taken the picture when there was more in the pot but you get the idea.

That's it for tonight. Love to you all.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday evening

Above are some pics that give you an idea of the recreation around RDI. I am still hoping to get in on a volleyball match but the guys around here play for blood. I may have to get Hannah to give me some tips on bumper pool instead.

I did get to work on a project this week so far. Andrew, the lab manager, asked for assistance on preparing a handbook on the House-to-House Arsenic Surveying. There is a team here this week from another province to learn how RDI does it and he wants them to have a handbook when they leave. He had started it but allowed me to write a good deal of it over the last couple of days. That has been nice to know I was producing something helpful. And I learned a lot more about the issue which is a serious health hazard.

I should mention the food here. Last night we had my favorite Loc Lac which is marinated beef fried in thin strips with lime juice and black pepper as a sauce. It went over rice with fresh long green beans or you could fried potato chips. There is always some yummy fruit for dessert. Tonight we had snakehead fish which was a very mild firm white fish. It was served with pickled mango and jackfruit for dessert. Jack fruit is an enormous fruit that you would think would fall off the tree it is so heavy. It tastes a little like banana and is sticky. See the photo.

That is it for this evening.


Monday, May 17, 2010


Yesterday was awesome. To be in service at someones home in the village and to have th opportunity to sing and admire DAD with others. I of course didn't speak the language but could jump in on some songs and Da sat next to me and translated the message. It was wonderful and I wish I could bottle that inpiration and bring it back to you all.

After the service(s) another one in English after the Khmei one, Lori, Andrew, Hannah, Chrissy and I went into Phnom Penh for lunch, shopping and the gym. Lunch was at the Chinese Noodle Shop where we at boiled dumplings. They were yummy and a nice change from rice. Don't get me wrong I like rice, had some for both breakfast and lunch today. Andrew needed some new shirts so we headed to the Olympic Market and shopped. I didn't buy anythign but loved walking around the seafood vendors trying to identify what they were selling. The live crabs were easy but the dried, flayed cuttlefish was more difficult.

Later we went to the Phnom Penh Sportsclub so the rest of them could work out on the machines and I got in a long swim. That was very nice but the most lovely part was the cold pool in the jacuzzi area. It was refreshing to feel actually chilled when I got out! We stayed there for dinner before driving back to RDI.

That's it for now. Hope I am not boring you all but then if you don't like the blog I guess you don't have to tune in. that is the beauty of the internet.


Saturday, May 15, 2010


Hi y'all,

The Cambodians would be more confused about the way I speak but Wendi, Lori and others here hail from Kentucky so y'all works fine!

Yesterday was a Cambodian holiday in honor of the king, so RDI was closed. Lori and Chrissy and I walked to a couple of local Wats (buddhist temples). We walked around and enjoyed the gardens and the statuary. I'll add the pic of me with an elephant statue along with one of a bodhi tree and a memorial service that we stopped at on our walk. The service was to honor a man who died three years ago, offerings were being made to help his soul.

Today Lori and I ran into Phnom Penh to run some errands and swing by the market. Phnom Penh has grown since I was here in 2007, of course. It was interesting to see new buildings in town and new stores. It is still hot here but today was just a little less so. For this I am thankful.

Tomorrow we will go back into town for worship and probably have lunch. The only meal at RDI on the weekends is breakfast at the coffee shop. I am adjusting well, PTL. Hopefully I can continue to plug into various projects while I am here. I am very intersted in Hannah's created wetland for wastewater treatment. And they are growing Moringa but not distributing it widely yet. Maybe that is something I can bring back from Battambang later in the trip.

I treasure your prayers for my usefulness, health and safety.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Another interesting day in the village

We surveyed another 15 households and tested about six for arsenic levels in their wells. I am glad to say in this case none were above levels of concern.

The people here are very warm and hospitable. I can't imagine getting the same reception if we were doing a house to house survey at home! Most people invite you in to sit and one lady of the house today gave us tea. Frequently they stop whatever they are doing and join us for the conversation. I always ask before I take photos and no one has denied me that privilege.

The area we were in yesterday had a lot of farmers and their families. Generally everyone looked healthy including the many babies that I saw. Today it seemed that we saw more health concerns. One gentleman had broken his leg and is laid up for 4 months with pins holding it in place. And there were some other health issues among the families we visited. Since the arsenic levels weren't enought to trigger the health team to automatically go to the village I will mention it to the RDI leadership. Perhaps they can be directed that way anyway.

Personally all is well. I enjoy noodle soup for breakfast and can handle the heat. So thank you for all your thoughts for my health and travel safety.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Hi all,

spent yesterday in a village in Kandal with the aresenic testing team. It was great as I got to see lots of folks and their homes and farms. I don't imagine that I aded much to what the team had to do but I was glad to be able to go with them. So I am headed out with the team again today. Hopefully I will get a chance tonight to load some of the photos.

Just wanted to check in and let you know I am well.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Got to Bangkok

Hi all,

Reporting in from the Alliance Guest House in Bangkok. Got in 1 am this morning just fine after a long day of travel. Today I got to celebrate worship at the Evangelical Church of Bangkok with Carol Strong and her mother. Happy Nother's Day by the way.

Just wanted to let you all know that I am fine. Next stop Cambodia. Peace be with you.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Two days to go

My head is spinning with getting stuff done at work and getting packed for the flight on Friday. I know it will all get done. And the most important thing is to slow down and focus on listening for the guidance that I know DAD has for me. I ask to be a tool and know that there is nothing that I bring to the endeavors for the next few weeks. It is all through Him.

So now I look forward to staying in touch with you from Asia next! Take care everybody and remember to take care of each other for me while I am gone.