Going for Ride with Friends

Going for Ride with Friends

Saturday, January 31, 2009


Today we started our next transition. We shopped a little. We did some errands. Rebecca started to re-pack. We then went to the Collins' team Saturday night get together. The team celebrated two birthdays, and Rebecca led the men in a dance-off. Overall we are tired and a litter jittery. Last night Elle woke us up with a vomiting spell but has done well today. We look forward to celebrating a day of rest with the Collins tomorrow. May God bless. By the way, Nate, the man who underwent surgery, is doing well. May he have new life.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Pictures from Friday minus the sick


Today was a mixture of oddities, fun, sadness, and joy. This morning I (Rebecca) worked at the medical clinic here in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It's a Chrisitan medical clinic established to serve the poor. The day had a difficult start as I had a Cambodian medical student translating for me. He would not tell me what the patient said, but rather whatever he thought about the patient. That made it very hard to make accurate diagnosis or tx plans. I ended up deferring to Doug, who is our close friend, a Family Practice doctor, medical director of the clinic, and able to speak Khmer very well. As the day progressed I would see patients then try to either find another translator or discuss the case with Doug. We ended up seeing some very sick patients, two of them being 17 years old and critically ill. Dasen came to the clinic in the afternoon and saw those same 2 patients, and one other whom he did surgery on yesterday. It was a good experience watching my husband in action, taking care of baffling cases with wisdom and apparent ease. Working on difficult cases with a team of caring Christians and good friends is hard to find in the medical world, but it happened here today. Even though it was sad and difficult to interact with the suffering, which I believe is much stronger here than in America due to underdeveloped opportunities, it was still a blessing to be able to help in some small way.

We came home from the clinic to find Heidi washing their car with all 6 kids (our 4 and their 2.) She has been such a wonderful friend and helper. She has the spiritual gift of service, from which we all benefit. Then this evening our 2 families, Scott (Doug's brother) and Susan (the med student) all went out for dinner. There are some pretty cool restaurants in this city. We ended up at a place called Gasolina which serve a mixture of European/American food. The sunset was lovely, the restaurant was open aired with a large grassy yard and cushioned chairs, and the food came relatively quickly. The tastiest offering, we thought, was Hadiah's fresh passion juice. After dinner all the girls, except Hannah, went in a tuk tuk to a traditional Cambodian dance show. The guys and Hannah opted to come home. They may have made the wiser choice, especially Hannah who is very sensitive. The show was well done, also open aired, with a stage and rows of wooden benches and special lighting. The artist mediums used included puppet like dolls the size of my whole arm, shadow puppets made of thinly carved wood that move behind a sheet with lights to create shadows, and also real dancers. Cambodian dancing involves very intricate hand movements, most of which I would never be able to do. Chosen children learn them at a young age and can then move the joints of their hands to dance with an intricate sign language that relays a story. So… all of the aforementioned was excellent. The odd/rather bad part came with the story line. I am quoting the program: "It is also depicting illicit passion, a cruel murder, a vengeful ghost, and the loyal dog." Does that make you want to take a trip here or what? We thought it was a dance show and since we arrived late (surprise to all those who know me!) we didn't read the program before the show. So we ended up leaving a little early at Hadiah's request and trying to talk about it on the way home. It was certainly interesting and memorial. Hopefully we won't be too scarred.

When we got home we found a dance party to 80's music with Taylor and Hannah. After some chocolate cake we all turned in for the night. (I think that's how every good day should end.) May you have a meaningful day filled with some oddities and fun, and maybe some sadness and joy too. And may you also have the chance to eat some chocolate cake.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Let’s Try a New Method

Today I'm trying a new method to type on the blog. Rebecca has lost two attempts at writing, and I must figure out a way that can work for her. This is to be typed on Word. Here it goes.


Today, Cheun Nate (first name Nate) whom I wrote about on Tuesday underwent a Low Anterior Resection with a protective proximal colostomy. He now ranks as my lowest hand sewn anastamosis. I don't know if that rank is something that someone wants to belong to. The amount of energy and resources to get a surgery done is phenomenal, and I'm reminded of how nice surgeons have it in the West. We use our nurse to watch the patient post-op as the care in the hospital is so poor. The same nurse was our scrub. They also work out the business deal with the hospital as the pay is daily. I was able to use a Balfour retractor and was reminded how much I like the Bookwalter used in the West. Wednesday, we chose the tools that we wanted with the suture. Rebecca was able to work at the clinic yesterday while I searched on the roof storage area for instruments and what not. As you see, I found nice red shoes to wear today. Overall I believe that man was blessed, and I hope that I can use my skills in that setting again. Here are some pictures from my day. Rebecca and the girls went out to the palace, rode an elephant, and shopped. I don't know, I like my day just as much.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Well, Rebecca spent ~1 hour last night typing one of her neat reports, but her work was squashed and erased in the blink of an eye. I played around and eventually learned about CONTROL Z so we hopefully will salvage typing work in the future. Today I was at the clinic in Phnom Penh where we were seeing surgical patients and trying to set up a couple surgeries. The man above is 31 years old and has a very low rectal cancer. We're going to try to deal with it on Thursday at a local hospital. One of the doctors here will help me, but the amount of work to proceed to surgery seems rather daunting. Please pray for complete resection and safe surgery and post-operative care. The second picture was Doug Collins and I working on his neighbor from Chhlong who had a very large posterior neck lipoma that seemed to keep going deeper and deeper. She stayed still for a long time as we removed it. She is a new believer and please pray for her and her husband as they grow in their faith.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Short Comments on Sunday-dasen

We are doing well. It is now Sunday and we are taking some rest. Rebecca and Heidi are at a market. Scott Collins (doug's brother) is going to babysit so we can double date tonight. The Chhlong visit went really well and am glad for our family to do that trip partially as I believe it will smooth over the coming Sumatra trip and what a great thing overall for this little troop. Some interesting notes: We ate evening meals on the floor on mats as a group. The nature of rural life was new for us. For example, Hadiah wondered if there was anything cool, anything at all, on Thursday as she was hot and couldn't get comfortable. There wasn't any drink or food or place cool as there was no refrigeration, and she had a hard time with this. The gecko calling from just the other side of the wall and bed of the girls sent Rebecca into a slight tizzy so I stomped my foot and patted the wall to appease the mother. Hadiah has tried all the food and been a trooper. Elle just wants cereal. The squat toilet has been a challenge for the girls but an impossibility for Elle. She is better trying to go outside, but in reality she has great control and just waits until she can find a sit down toilet. My lower back is in spasms but I'm hoping that will come around. There was no heat on the shower in Chhlong, and I was reminded of how old I am and how I like a little warmth in the water. The shower refreshes so well, after the fact. Mosquito nets are a new thing for us but they do keep the bugs at bay. It was great to have Rebecca doing medical stuff and the kids with me as they got to do a lot more with less stress from their parent. They even got to see what it is like to be the center of attention wherever they went.

Chhlong Visit

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Chlongg highlights

The highlight of our trip to rural Cambodia is that I actually was able to "do" some medical missions. Dasen stayed with kids while Doug, myself, and Susan (a 4th yr med student doing a rotation here) went to 2 different villages. The first day was exhausting the 2nd day was great, and the third in Chlongg was even better as the cases were more interesting. After 19 years of setting my heart on medical missions, I was finally able to do some. I am so thankful and relieved, and excited to live on this journey.
So after 3 days in Chlongg we came back to Phnom Penh tonight. We are exhausted. We had a nice dinner with the Collins and Susan, and Scott (Doug's brother.) I'd like to say more but I'm too tired. It's time to fall asleep under our mosquito netting. I hope to sleep without music tonight.
We have now been in Cambodia about 4 days. The journey has been both exhausting and joyful. The kids did incredibly well traveling for 36 hours. The most helpful assests for traveling around the world with 4 young children have been... lots of prayers (thank you to those who prayed for us!), presents to offer for good behavior, pillows, an overnight layover after 20 hours in the air, and plenty of good flossing (just kidding about that last one.)
The only kink in our travel was the passport check as soon as we reached Cambodia. They forced us to seperate but wouldn't let us get the right passports matched with the right people. And it was the first part of our journey in which no one spoke English. It was very stressful for me, but I realized later that it was my "western" mindset that cared about the passports being with the right people, the government officials didn't really seem to care.
Once we got our luggage we were met by our friends Doug, Heidi, Taylor (7 yrs old) and K.C. (5 yr old.) They took us to Dairy Queen at the airport. What a radical change from our greeting in Kenya where we arrived in the middle of the night with no one to greet us or speak English and a civil war going on. That still amazes me.
We spent that first night at Doug and Heidi's house in Phnom Pehn, then went out the next day to see some of the town and grocery shop. Heidi and I, and my 3 oldest girls, rode in a "tuk tuk" which is a little open aired carriage pulled by a scooter. We had a car hit the tuk tuk in the first 5 minutes, but no one seemed to notice much except Heidi and myself. It's a bit like a circus with chaos on the streets, scooters and big cars and trucks weaving every direction, combined with bikers and pedestrians. Much like any other developing nation it seems.
After one more night in the capital we all piled in a van and drove 5 hr northeast to a smaller town, called Chlongg. It's a town where the Collins lived for 2 years, with their teammates, doing church planting work. We went because Doug (who is a family practice doctor) organized 2 1/2 days of medical outreach. The drive was a tiring experience, but Hadiah was thrilled when we stopped for lunch and she was able to hold a "pet" tarantula a little girl was holding. In the past, when Dasen was here 2 years ago, he ate one. This time Taylor bought one cooked and we took it to Chlongg. It sat on the main table in a baggie until I asked if we could throw it out. I got a good laugh out of that, realizing the humor in the fact that I actually had to ask "Can we throw this tarantula away?" Who know I would ever say those words so nonchalantly?
The visit in Chlongg was intriguing as we were able to interact in rural Cambodia life. The first 2 nights we were there, there was a funeral. That meant loud music blared with "chanting" mixed in, and the religious chanter had some sort of head and chest congestion. He would cough and sneeze and hack into the microphone. This would start at about 5:30A.M. and go all day, then have loud music until around midnight. We were relieved when that ended, but then the next night a wedding party started with blaring music at similar times. The wedding music had a stronger bass; so although the music was more upbeat, it also shook our beds.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Pictures from Plane

I'm trying to get this blog thing understood so here are some pictures. Rebecca was working hard to keep the children active as inactivity yields to chaos leading to fighting. She had a bunch of presents wrapped so as to give awards for good behavior. We staged shots in Detroit and Hong Kong.

We Are Here--Cambodia

We arrived to fanfare and balloons as the Collins' family cheered us out into the airport exiting area. After a Dairy Queen treat we trailed in taxis and the Collins' car to their house. The girls are out and about playing. We are so blessed to have a place to come and to have wonderful friends to come to.

The trip is done. That is all I'll try to remember. We awoke ~3am and drove to Dayton. Dayton to Detroit was accomplished by 0830. You can only do so much in the airport until 1230 when we boarded the 747. Something was wrong with the airconditioning so we waited on the plane until 1500 when we left for Tokyo. We arrived at 0545 Sunday (US time) to another 747 waiting for us as we were late. We hustled through pseudo customs in the transfer area and boarded to the back of the plane while the crowd waited. We then arrived in Hong Kong getting to the airport hotel 0030 Monday their time which would have been 1130 am Sunday in Cincinnati. We fitfully slept (Rebecca got up with Elle to wonder the airport from 0300 until 0530) after wonderful showers. I got up with Elle (fireball) and Hannah to check in all our luggage that couldn't be checked through to Phnom Penh because Dragon Air and Northwest aren't partners at 0530. The nice lady let me check in our luggage and get passes without the rest of the family's presence though she was worried and begged me to make sure we all got on the plane as it was a security violation to check-in without visually seeing everyone. I think the wandering 2 year old and the helpful 7 year old let on that we weren't out to create any terror on other people. We went through customs and got Burger King and Ramen (yes, we are in asia and have restaurants that have variations on wonderful Ramen Hadiah had curried beef ramen and I had Aesien [sic] ramen. The clock was ticking to get to the plane by this time so I got to eat most of the Ramen (both bowls yum) due to chopsticks not being Hadiah's best tool. We were the last people to board the plane as Elle was howling that she was too old to have to stay in the stroller, but we made it will all our passports and luggage. We arrived on time at 1015 am Monday (2215) and feel so blessed to finally be here. I've gone out with Doug to do some errands on the motorcycle while the girls played. Rebecca is now napping while the kids watch Peter Pan. Elle just wanted me to know that Captain Hook was after Peter Pan but with a little assurance that Peter Pan wins she was willing to go back up. I'll try to get Rebecca to fill in the interesting stuff later about out trip. Thank you for praying for this trip. Doug, Dasen, Hadiah, and KC all have bad colds. We're quite the group. dasen

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Starting Off

Today I'm trying to get this blog up and running. We're about to depart from snowy Middletown Saturday morning and travel to the tropics. Instead of an e-mail post, we'll try to keep up with the blog so that you may check our stories at your leisure. May God bless. dasen