iven and kashmira

jesus. bangkok. neighbors. us.

Author: ivenandkashmira (page 2 of 8)

New Life, Again

Some of you have already heard that in March Kashmira found out that a new life was growing inside of her, and then that very same day began showing unmistakable signs of miscarriage. We grieved the loss of that baby quietly initially, and continued going about our normal life. A few weeks later it became clear that her body was experiencing something other than a normal miscarriage, and she finally went in early on a Sunday morning to get checked. The prognosis was that yes, indeed there had been a pregnancy, and the fetus had died, but was actually lodged in one of her fallopian tubes (ectopic pregnancy – impossible to carry to term), rather than having planted in (and passed out of) her uterus. By early afternoon she was in surgery, and the doctor removed both the 7 week-old fetus and her right fallopian tube (which were both brought up for Iven to see in a plastic bag, before Kashmira woke up from surgery – things are a little different here, sometimes).

 

2014.04 Bangkok Life-79

 

Learning that a baby had died inside her, remained in that state for two weeks, and then was removed via surgery suddenly made the loss very real, and painful in ways we did not anticipate. Kashmira recovered from surgery fairly quickly and life continued on. Our doctor made sure we understood that it was very possible to have another baby, though statistically the chances were about half as likely as before (given that Kashmira would only ovulate every other month now). About two weeks after the surgery, Kashmira had a vivid dream that she woke up in a hospital room, heard Iven talking on the phone but with his back turned to her, and when she propped herself up on her elbows she saw a tiny person with a full head of hair in a newborn hospital “box” (what do you call those things?) sleeping peacefully. She said quietly, “Hello (insert baby’s name – we’re not telling yet). Its nice to meet you.” Kashmira woke up befuddled and wondering. Our first two kids’ names (and consequently genders) came to us in the middle of the night in similar ways. Hmmm. So, all that to say, two weeks later a positive pregnancy test confirmed what God had already told her – that we will be welcoming a new little person into our family in mid-January. (Note: that while this dream confirmed for Kashmira, what God had already spoken to her – Iven did not have that dream, and when at our first (and second – the day Kashmira was headed out of the country for 11 days for the wedding of a family member) doctors visits following the positive test the doctor was still expressing serious concern regarding Kashmira’s health and the health of the new baby, Iven’s anxiety levels went through the roof until the third doctor visit where we saw a healthy little person with a healthy little heart beat in the middle of a healthy womb.) Five years ago God spoke to us clearly and asked us to trust Him with our birth control, and we have sought to be faithful in that (not sure if that means forever or not – we revisit that question with God on a fairly regular basis!) But for now that means that we have chosen to remain open, and to trust that God’s hand is with us in whatever twists and turns our fertility journey may take – consequently we were curious as to how losing a fallopian tube might affect things.  Even as our family’s journey has been one of trusting in the goodness of our heavenly Father to care for us and guide us, these past few months have been difficult. And yet it does feel a bit like resurrection. This baby growing now (4 months along) is a completely different person than the one that died in April, but God is using this journey in our family to remind us of His care and attention towards His people in both seasons of loss and celebration.

Politics and Prayer

The political situation is quite up in the air, and we feel privileged to live and pray on-site near the government seat in the capital. For those not following the news, this last round of protests have been extensive, and intermingled with spates of violence, for over six months now. Presently there is no ending in sight, and though our day-to-day life has not been affected too much (this group of protestors has shut down some of the roads near our house), the general feel in the city is tense and uncertain. It has colored much of our life and experience since returning from America in November, and it has also drawn our team into unexpectedly intense times of intercession for the nation of Thailand. Please continue praying with us that God would be extending mercy, working actively to redeem all things for the purposes of His Kingdom.  

Welcome Kyin Sailom Hauptman!

We welcomed our newest child, baby boy Kyin Sailom Hauptman into the world on May 27, 2013. You can see our full baby announcement here: Kyin Announcement. 2013-05-27 Kyin's First Week

Our “Safest” Neighbors

Our kids’ patience for street outreach and conversations with neighbors, for the most part, ran out a long time ago. People on our streets, strangers or not, rarely hesitate to pinch their cheeks, take their pictures, or try to pick them up despite their loud hollers of protest. It is one of the harder aspects of parenting in our context. Our hearts are both to love our neighbors and love our kids, and sometimes it seems like both can’t be done at the same time.

There is, however, one group of neighbors that are an exception to the rule of “hard for our kids to interact with”. It is a bit unexpected, and also beautiful, in the sort of way Jesus’ upside-down Kingdom works.

For more than a year now our children have gravitated towards our street neighbors who are sickest, weakest, and most in need of physical care. Oddly, those neighbors are “safest”, from the perspective of our kids.

Izayla once made a list for me of the neighbors she likes the most. All of them were in advanced stages of liver failure or had HIV/TB.

“Why do you like them so much?” I asked her.

Her answer was simple enough, “Because none of them try to pick me up.” True – most of them don’t get up much at all, let alone attempt to muster the energy to interact directly with our littles ones, except to smile weakly and say hello. Physically, these friends are probably the greatest “risk” to our children, especially thinking of those with active TB. we try to be careful and wise to limit physical contact with the kids, but it is truly beautiful to see Izayla and Elian both come out of their shells and freely engage with our friends laying on the sidewalk. They feel safe, and don’t have to worry that their boundaries will be crossed by these neighbors.

Because of that, our hearts are even softer towards these neighbors than they would otherwise be. We see the softness that Jesus would have interacting with these friends through the hearts and posture of our kids. Yet another place we are seeing them lead us more and more into the Father’s heart.

Who’s Reaching Out To Whom?

Recently, Iven received a phone call from a Thai University professor who heard about the “project” where we share food with homeless people from one of her students who was attending ECB, and wanted to begin sending some other students to come participate, practice their English, and do community service. A few weeks later nearly a dozen Thai college students, primarily Buddhist, showed up for the outreach, were paired up with volunteers from ECB, and headed out to connect with our neighbors. Kashmira’s group consisted of our good friend from life-group, Steve, and an artistic young Thai woman who’d spent some time living in Europe. Stopping to talk with a huddle of older homeless men a block down from our house, the Thai college student readily agreed to translate for our Kenyan friend, Steve. Unexpectedly she found herself back-translating the Gospel message from Thai into English as one older Uncle we’ve known for quite some time shared with her about how Jesus is true, forgives our sins, loves us and is different from other gods. It was a sweet and special backwards-outreach sort of moment, the kind only Jesus can orchestrate.

A Return to Young Men on The Loop

Before 2014 began, Kashmira felt like the Lord was nudging her that the season has come to begin doing outreach on the Loop again, where young men are involved in street prostitution late at night. Now, with our beloved Dutch teammates Lilian and Matthijs done with language school, and available to partner full-time, we are able to pick that up again. Our team is starting slow (two nights a month), and involved in prayer as much as in outreach, but as has always been the case on those streets, we see God’s hand leading us each and every night we go out.

It has been special to reconnect with a handful of guys who knew us since before we became parents, and to live out a newfound boldness and hunger to see God’s Word shared on those streets. Another unexpected aspect of loop outreach is several of us feeling a softness and desire to connect not only with the guys who are selling services, but also the “mafia” (motorcycle gangs) that collect a “tax” from the guys working in their turf. It’s a complex and unique scene, and God’s presence is all over it.
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Iven’s first night out we were praying before-hand, asking God what He wanted to do that night and someone felt like they heard the name “Golf”. The first guy Iven’s group approached was super-open to hearing about a God that is like a Father, and as the conversation progressed we found his name was, you guessed it, Golf. Recently, we were able to sit with three young men, who were clearly desperate for a fix and working hard to flag down customers, probably for close to half an hour. It was a simple and sweet time, where we just sat with them, and quietly played blessings and protection in the name of Jesus over their young lives. A little motorcycle snack cart pulled up. Kashmira bought a pumpkin custard square, and agreed to buy some fried tiny frogs for one of the guys. Grubs (fried little white insects – a bit like cheetos) were also purchased and passed around. Loop outreach is the only place Kashmira feels compelled to eat any sort of bugs that get offered – perhaps it is just a mark of her calling. Join us in praying for boldness, clarity and God’s abiding presence to be our sustenance on The Loop.

We Live On Jericho Road…

Back in January of last year we sat through a few sermons from Shane Clayborne, one of our heroes in this Kingdom journey, as part of a conference on International Urban Ministry. Great teaching, great conference. A year later we are still clearly chewing on it.

Shane’s primary text was the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Recently, I listened to a Heidi Baker sermon on the same text online. Our modern day heroes of the faith like these use phrases like “the dying man” on “Jericho Road” (a place of danger and risk) and call us to stop and see, and then respond to the needs of the man or woman helpless in the gutter, along our path.
A few weeks ago, Iven was heading outside to do some computer work at a coffee shop and there was a man looking sick and passed out right next to our back alley door. Given that our job is to “not pass by”, he got some water and tried to rouse him enough to drink a little bit and make sure he was not in need of medical attention. Iven was sitting there next to the groggy and pained man, reeking of alcohol, while the busy street food shop with all its customers and workers looked on. A woman we know well from a neighboring shop came over to Iven and lowered her voice to say that while the man was passed out she saw a woman come and take his stuff. She didn’t do anything about it, mind you, she just watched him get robbed while he laid unconscious on the sidewalk. No doubt several other people did the same.
We live on Jericho Road.
Heidi Baker, Shane Claiborne, and our family may have real-life gutters and real dying people on the streets where we live and work. But all of us as Believers are called to walk, see and stop to listen, heal and bind up the broken-hearted, those wounded in body and in spirit.
What places of risk does God want to lead you into?
As you walk on your own Jericho Road, what does God want to open your eyes to see?
Who does He want to lead you to stop for, to touch with hands of healing and mercy?
Ask Him, and He will surely invite you to be His hands and feet on your own corner and in your own community.

Izayla’s Big Show (Sometimes its Hard to be the Only White Kid)

We returned from America two weeks in to Izayla’s new (preschool) term, which meant she was two weeks behind at learning the dance her class was preparing to perform at the school’s big annual fundraiser show. Piling this set-back on top of being the only kid (in the school of 20+ classes) for whom Thai is a second language, and everyone’s desire to see the cute little white kid perform – well, needless to say, she was pretty stressed out.
Of the 28 acts during the show about half of the songs were in Thai and half in English. Izayla’s class performed to a song called “Pratthet Thai” (Thailand) and each of her classmates wore one of four sets of traditional Thai-style clothes, from each of the four regions of Thailand. Izayla’s outfit was the quintessential Thai-style bodice and woven Thai silk over-the-shoulder cover.
I was thinking how fun and fortuitous it was that our little lady got to be in a very Thai dance performance (as opposed to say, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”) and then it occurred to me that, of course, everyone knew she was the only Farlang (foreign) kid and it is likely that song was hand-picked for her class because she was in it. Oh yeah.
On the big dress rehearsal day she was a mess. She stayed on stage, but refused to participate even a little a bit, and then exploded into tears  as soon as she left the stage. The poor kid, having had her photograph taken thousands of times by strangers already in her short 3 1/2 years, just couldn’t handle the crowd of parents snapping photos all around her. We can’t blame her really, and can only identify with her experience from the outside. It’s hard to be the only white little girl in our neighborhood, in her school, most places she goes…in a context where strangers tend to feel it is the duty of children to look cute, have their cheeks pinched, be picked up, and have their photos taken.
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Performance day went fairly better – no tears, and something of a smile for part of the show, even if she still just let all the other kids perform the dance around her while she stood there looking firmly non-compliant. The principal teased her on the way out (in Thai) “what’s a matter, little Talae? You don’t love Thailand, huh?”
Oh well, we are grateful that we care so much more about her little heart than about having cute pictures of her, or looking good in the eyes of the school administrator. We trust that her teachers care for her heart as well, and since the show she has settled into a happy school routine again and seems to be enjoying it and increasingly more confident to spout out Thai phrases –  especially as she engages with other kids at the park – asking if she can play with their ball, try on their shoes, or share a treat! I know she loves not having to go through  Mom and Dad anymore for those requests – she is much more likely to get whatever she is asking for!

Chan Rak Muang Thai

Its strange seeing ourselves, a bit of our life and even our home on TV. Stranger still when walking down the street in a far corner of the city the next day some motorcycle taxi drivers call out, “Khun Mali, rue plao?” (Kashmira’s Thai name: “Mali, is that you?”) Later that day, while visiting the hospital for Elian’s one year check-up a nurse approached Kashmira and said with a smirk, “I saw you on T.V. yesterday, didn’t I?” This recognition resulted in even more than the usual amount of attention and interest in our two kids. By the time we went in to the doctor’s room the nurses had the show pulled up on their computer console and were watching it at the nurse’s station. When Iven was paying the doctor bill the pharmacist came out from the back and exclaimed, “I recognize your voice – I saw you on T.V. Yesterday.” The old woman that sells fruit in our alley approached Iven later that week and said, “I never knew you loved Thailand so much…thank you for loving my country.”  A week or so later Iven was taking a neighbor to (a different) hospital and without any prompting they helped jump this neighbor to the front of the line, saving them close to three-hours in the waiting room! Really it is quite an honor to be chosen to be filmed.

The show about our family aired on TV on August 26, and since then we’ve received immensely positive feedback from both neighbors and random strangers alike! Needless to say, it has been very surprising how many people from different walks of life have watched the show. Our prayer is that in some small way Jesus might show through our lives (even through the producers edited out all mention of our faith) and also that some of what we suggested about how to relate to people on the streets might sink in and draw more and more “normal” Thais into appropriate, helping relationships with those in real need. If you’d like to watch the show, it has been posted on youtube in four different segments. Please follow the youtube links below, complete with a brief summary of each section to help those of you who don’t yet speak Thai follow along.

Meet the Hauptmans – Part 1 We introduce ourselves and our Thai names, sharing about how we live in a wonderful and interesting part of the city. We then take a tour of our local market that Kashmira visits weekly and whose vendors all know our kids. We discuss how wonderful Thai fruit is, especially mangoes – which our family eats daily. We invite the host into our home and explain how Kashmira had a love (and call) to Thailand first – then Iven fell in love with Kashmira, who told him that if he wanted to marry her he would need to move to Thailand too! So we came here together. When we first came it was hard because we spoke no Thai and could read Thai – felt like a child. We discuss learning Thai vs English.

Introducing some of our neighbors – Part 2 Iven talks with the host about our work with the homeless in our neighborhood while Kashmira and the kids “rest” in the heat of the day. Explains how usually the kids are involved in most work and relationships. Helping people to have better lives – people on the streets who have run grom hard situations or met with hard circumstances and broken relationships, recognizing that no one ever had the dream of being homeless when they are kids. Iven explains that we began this sort of work while still living in America. Everone loves our kids and they make it easy to get to know people, and we have never felt unsafe on our streeets. The most important thing for people is hope, without hope there is no reason to live, no matter if someone is rich or poor. Introducing the host to some of our neighbors, including one man (of many) who collects used plastic bottles to resell for a small story. P’ Noey tells the story of Awt, a neighbor who was very ill and who we helped to reveive needed medical care and journeyed with until his passing several months ago. Iven introduces P’ Wa (who many of you know and have prayed for, who we’ve known for 3 years and have walked with through much). Wa lost his family and former life the 2004 tsunami. Wa thanks Iven and family for helping him to have more hope and life.

Feeding the Homeless with Issarachon & Queen Mother Museum – Part 3 We our friends at Issarachon, a Thai foundation that has been serving our homeless neighbors for many years now. They are having a special feeding time to celebrate the first birthday of a relative of their board member. Along with Ajarn Natii from Issarachon we agree together that taking time to form real relationships, which communicates value, is the most important way to help and serve people in hard places, like the homeless. We discuss how difficult it is for people who don’t have government ID cards. We meet Nuat, a neighbor we have known for about two years. The food is all gone now – host says it is good for him to see how people serve like this. Iven explains how important it is to see the value inside of people, no matter how dirty they might be on the outside, or what they look like. Queen Mother’s Museum We bring host to the museum park commemorating the original house of the queen mother and her life of service and sacrifice. Izayla meanwhile loves her sticky rice (khao nieow). We look at memorials and discuss what a wonderful example the queen mother (the mother of the King) was as a mother and leader.

Feeding Fish, Boat Ride, and Mother’s Day Activities – Part 4 We go to feed the fish at the river and explain how Kashmira spent much of her childhood in the ocean on a fishing boat her parents built in the driveway. This is one of the reasons we gave Izayla the middle name “Talae”, which is Thai for sea. We discuss how important the rivers and waterways are for Thai life. Then we take a boat together through a big rain storn and talk about the different festivals in Thailand that involve water, including the most well known such as Songran – national 3 day water fight that takes place in the heart of the hot season. On the way to the mother’s day festivities at Sanam Luang we meet a group of homeless people and after talking with them a while go and get them some food, but explain to the host that we almost never give people on the streets money since so many struggle with addictions and giving money will almost always go to the addiction of choice before necessary food or water. At Sanam Luang’s Mother’s day activities we express our gratitude at living in Thailand and sharing our lives with Thai people, to see even poor people caring for one another. The host asks how long we’re planning to stay here and we finish by telling the host that right now we have no plans to leave Thailand and Izayla and Iven give Kashmira a mother’s day card and Izayla says, “Suk san Wan Mae” or “Happy Mother’s Day” in Thai.

David And Goliath – Thai Style

Our teammates, Lillian and Matthijs, presented Izayla with a giant-sized coloring book a few days ago. It is about 2/3 as tall as she is, and the cover declares, in Thai, that it is the story of David and Goliath. Iven read it out loud (in Thai) to all of us and we established that it is indeed the story of David and Goliath…kind of…not really (you can find the real story in 1 Samuel 17) This Thai coloring book version hits most of the main story points, but quietly changes a few details. Places like where Scripture says that David tells King Saul that the God of Israel would rescue him from the hand of the giant Goliath just as He had rescued him from the hand of the lion and the bear it instead says, “This giant can’t be fought with strength but instead with cunning and new methods”. Scripture tells us that young David declared to Goliath that the God of Israel would deliver Goliath into his hands for defaming the name of the Lord; the Thai coloring book says “you will stop laughing when you see my skills!” Scripture tells us the Lord chose and appointed David to be king because he was a “man after His own heart” but the Thai coloring book says that later in life when King Saul died, the people of Israel chose David to be their king.
It seems a silly thing, and as we read it aloud we all laughed at the re-interpretations in the story, but it has been bugging me all week. This coloring book never mentions God once, but presents itself as a story that would be recognized as a Bible story by anyone who cared to learn stories from the Bible.
I just keep thinking about a proverbial Thai kid reading and coloring and then years later encountering someone sharing the story of King David. The kid would say, “Oh yes, I know about him. He was very skilled and smart and bested a giant with his brains.” Ummm…no, that isn’t right at all. This story is about God, and His hands of protection for those that walk with Him, and David’s heart of complete devotion and trust in the Lord, which is a different focal point entirely.”
I am guilty of doing this myself at times, maybe not so dramatically extracting God from a story of which He is the center, but of minimizing His involvement, and forgetting to stop and thank Him for His guidance and gifts. I am most keenly aware of this danger as I talk with my kids. Some older friends of ours recently shared about how they made it a point to help their (now grown up) kids recognize along with them how truly central God is to virtually every story and circumstance around them. That does not mean that God is necessarily in control of and initiating everything that happens, but He is certainly WITH US in everything and He is constantly working good in all, even in the poor choices and pain. I am grateful for that. So grateful. Lord, help me to never extract You from the center of my story, the stories of my neighbors and our families’ story from which You are always so undeniably involved.
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