iven and kashmira

jesus. bangkok. neighbors. us.

Welcome!

Welcome, dear friends to our blog.  Here you’ll find musings from our journey with Jesus on the streets of old Bangkok.

Merry Christmas Friends!

We wanted to share with you some highlights from 2015 – it was quite a year! Click on this link to read our end of the year Christmas Greeting and Highlight Newsletter!

All grace and peace to you!

Iven, Kashmira, Izayla, Elian, Kyin & Rinnan

“How is He going to help?”

“Lek” is a regular and recognizable woman in her 20s who many of us are quite fond of from our streets. She has some developmental disabilities and a very low image of herself. She shared with Kashmira in passing once that her mom had her sterilized in her early teens to make sure she would never become a mother herself, though she loves kids (and enjoys participating in kid’s club alongside the children).

When Rak Teh church began meeting early in the year she came regularly and participated enthusiastically. She would often be seen sprawled out on the floor running her finger along the pages of a Bible and reading aloud to herself. One of those early “church” meetings she shared with some of the women present about her desire to find some means other than prostitution to support herself. Later, she asked the question: “You tell me God wants to help me in my life, how? How is he going to help?”

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Hacked!!!

Hi Friends, our wordpress blog of 9 years finally bit the dust – it was hacked beyond repair sometime in October. We realized that our website was down mid-November and finally decided to delete it all and try to start from scratch re-uploading (most of) the previous content. Please bear with us as we seek to restore (and maybe even update!) this blog over the next few weeks.

Tua Reh

One of our neighbors, Tua Reh, has become especially precious to our team these past months, even as doors have been opening to share with him who God is.

Iven and I have known (seen) Tua Reh for years – I used to refer to him as “the veteran” because at that time he had a scruffy little beard and camo-colored hat he always wore over his gaunt frame. For years we weren’t sure if he could speak, and though he would often stand nearby clearly showing interest in our family, and even occasionally lift his hands in a traditional Thai greeting, if we talked to him he woul disengage immediately and disappear like a scared cat.

Matthijs and Lilian managed to get his name (or a version of it) from some other people who live on our streets, and they were determined to build a friendship with Tua Reh. The week the doors were officially opened to our new building we would often see Tua Reh standing outside watching us, in a friendly and curious way, but if someone went out to greet him he would scamper off immediately.

After a few days of this, I saw him sitting at our stone table in ront, and I hurried to fill up a cup of water and bring it out to the table without a word, running back inside before he had a chance to disappear. He took the water.

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Naam’s ID Card

Naam was sixteen when we met her and her mom living under a bridge five years ago. Both of them are “little people” and although Naam had virtually never been to school, her intellect and English were both noteworthy. Our team journeyed with Naam during those first years of friendship through a pregnancy that resulted in the baby being removed to a group home, and several attempts to help her obtain a government ID card for the first time in her life. Although she was a full Thai citizen her mother had failed to register her birth at the district office and the birth records were no longer accessible, so she had no rights to schooling, health care or any sort of government aid… Many things about Naam’s life seemed hopeless, and we began to see her less and less and then nearly not at all for several years.

During the last few months she has began crossing our paths again, along with some new possible leads to get her an ID card. Ajarn Yoon, the pastor of the deaf community who works closely with Sam and Pat, continued advocating for her and was able to start the process of obtaining an ID card through Naam’s extended family, whom she had never met. Continue reading

Rak Teh House Opening

On February 22, 7 years to the day from our move into the Phra Nakorn neighborhood, Rak Teh hosted a house opening celebration for our new Baan Rak Teh (“House of Authentic Love”). You can read all about it and see some pretty cool pictures by clicking on the link below:

Newsletter #27 Baan Rak Teh House Opening

Mobile Health Clinic

Last month we hosted a mobile medical clinic in our building, thanks to a ministry called Relentless, which seeks to provide basic health care for people involved in the sex industry (as well as training and education opportunities for those in difficult situations). We turned the second floor front room and office into three exam rooms (with the help of a sheet) and our guest room became a quiet room for discussing test results and distributing medicine. Downstairs became a friendly and welcoming intake room, complete with a constant supply of chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven. Twenty-Nine people (almost all women) were seen by the three volunteer doctors, and there was a pretty constant flow of people throughout the afternoon. In addition to providing genuinely helpful medical care and an opportunity for neighbors to speak straightly with a doctor about the impact their choices are having on their bodies, it was a great opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with many women in our community, and to share about God’s care for them in action, as well as in word. Continue reading

Welcome Baby Rinnan Samut!

Our Son Rinnan Samut Hauptman was born on 22 January 2015. You can read about the birth and see some great pictures by clicking HERE, or on the image below:

At Just The Right Time

One of the core ministries our team engages in is a weekly late-night outreach to young men involved in freelance male prostitution. That is, Thai guys who wait on the side of the street at night for customers to come and “pick them up” in order to engage in sexual activities in exchange for money. Many of the men that we meet communicate a nonchalance about what they do. Very few would say they enjoy it, but (at least at face value) many communicate that they are willing to trade the money they receive for the personal toll it takes on them to do their work. This last Friday evening, just the day after an unusual gift from a US based church was passed on to us, we approached a young man at about midnight, offered him a homemade cookie, and said hello. “Tan”, who was visibly agitated, opened up immediately telling us that he hates this, he doesn’t want to be selling on the streets, but he needs the money because he lives with his sick grandmother and two siblings and they need money to buy food, to make rent, and pay for grandmother’s medicine. A few more questions revealed that at 17, “Tan” had already dropped out of school, and didn’t really know what to do with himself other than try to help his grandmother by being out on these streets at night. In more than 6 years of street outreach to this community we think this was the first time a young man was asking us for direct and immediate help to take care of family obligations so that he wouldn’t have to be involved in sex-work. So we made an appointment to meet “Tan” near his home the next morning, and gave him bus-fare home. At 7:30am “Tan” called us to confirm that he really did want help and could we please come meet his grandmother as discussed the night before. So several of the adults and all of the kids on our team made a trek to the end of the bus line where they live in order to see how we might serve this family.

2014.09 Bangkok Life School Book Fair-128

Playing at the end of the bus line.

Meeting with them near their home, hearing more of “Tan” and his grandmother’s story (the kids were orphaned when both parents died in an automobile accident), and seeing that he really did need some help, we felt led to give this family what they were asking for – some money to pay for medicine, rent, food, and a small investment towards re-starting their normal work of selling second-hand goods. Through the extended Christian community here in Bangkok we also set up a job-interview with a partner ministry for “Tan” (that he very expectedly has not followed-up on yet) and made some connections between this family and a trusted Thai church within a kilometer of their home. We don’t have any illusions – the money we shared with this family hasn’t solved their deeper challenges – especially the grandmother’s failing health – but we do know that we received an unexpected gift, the day before we discovered an unexpected need, affording us the freedom to respond in an unexpected way – through sharing enough cash with a family to get them through a crisis and have some options on the other side. As a general rule, our ministry doesn’t tend to give money to individuals who ask us, but as we prayed through this situation it seemed like the most honoring and helpful response we could provide.

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