iven and kashmira

jesus. bangkok. neighbors. us.

Author: Kashmira Hauptman (page 1 of 4)

Waiting

The first time I was “waiting for the baby” (Izayla was 10 days “overdue”) a wise midwife friend of mine put my feelings into words: “there is this weird thing that happens when you are waiting for labor to begin – every day that it doesn’t, it seems harder to believe that it ever will, even though we rationally know that it is a day closer. The baby WILL come – it is just a matter of when.”

Now, with baby #5 aggressively wiggling inside of me, presumably hunting for the exit, but with no imminent signs of labor despite being 9 days “late”, I no longer get stressed out or succumb to the irrational thoughts that if the baby hasn’t come yet, she is not going to come. She will come. She has to get out somehow, eventually.

This week we are going about our life, but well aware that, depending on the time of day and traffic patterns our hospital is anywhere from 25 minutes to more than two hours away, and the last labor was just 2.5 hours total. With that always in our minds, we live life with the kids, eat papaya salad and sticky rice outside on the street as usual, do laundry, meet with teammates, greet neighbors, and go about living – albeit very close to home – with friends who can take our kids at a moment’s notice and our packed hospital bag (including the “just in case” bag of extra towels, etc. if traffic doesn’t allow us to get there in time). “Regular life” goes on, give or take, but we are all constantly wondering in the back of our heads which moment a strong contraction will signal that it is time to change plans, or when exactly my water will break. We don’t usually live life like this, and I am glad about it.

Waiting for Baby #5

Waiting for Baby #5

That said, Iven was reflecting today about how this “waiting for baby” season could and honestly even really does reflect the invitation we have as Believers to live in constant awareness and faith in Jesus’ imminent return. He is coming – it will change everything – and though we don’t know when, the fact that it hasn’t happened yet does not, in any way, mean His return is less certain. There is a unique sort of certainty of few things in life – birth, death, and Jesus returning as King are some of the only ones. Right now every minute of our days are held in the tension that plans could change dramatically within a course of a few minutes. Really life is always like that, but waiting for a baby is one of those seasons that reminds us of the acuteness of things being sure, and unsure, all in the same moment. What would it look like for me to live in full awareness that Jesus IS returning, that everything will be different when He does, and that although we know not the “when” our uncertainty of the timing does not in any way reflect the certainty of that most life-altering of realities. Scripture warns us to not go back into our house for anything, but to be ready to GO. Our family is postured that way this week, but if all of us could be living that way always, how would it change this day?

To Worship Jesus

During our visit to Seattle, some Catholic friends invited our family to attend a. Christmas party held at their cathedral’s fellowship hall. Our collective eight little people enjoyed meeting each other (again – the nature of living in Thailand is that our kids “meet” their Stateside friends anew about every two years), doing some Christmas crafts, singing carols and eating treats.

When we got up to leave our friend suggested giving us a small tour of the cathedral just next door, where their family worships. Walking through the doors into the beautiful and amazingly-high ceilinged cathedral, whose doors are always open, we were struck as a family with the hush of holiness that filled the air. Our friend, Sarah, pointed out the icons, statues, and different parts of the cathedral and explained how they celebrate mass together in that space.

As we stood quietly talking near the wall, our five-year-old, Izayla, who has been attending Thai preschool for two-and-a-half years, watched intently as a man approached the altar at the center of the vast room, knelt down to cross himself and then walked out.

She looked up at us and clarified, “This is a place where people worship Jesus, right Mama?” I answered with a confident, “Yes,” and she quickly turned away from us and hurried toward the altar. Without missing a beat she knelt down, pressed her hands together in a high Thai “wai” (the well-known gesture of Thailand used in both greetings and worship) and then returned to us, her face beaming.

Our friend Sarah didn’t think much about this, but Iven and I were a bit dumbstruck by the significance. Our little girl, who learns at home and at church that Jesus is the manifestation of the One who made the heavens and the earth, and is worthy of all our worship. At the same time, she watches all of her Thai classmates and teachers lift their hands in worship to images symbolizing spirits, and chanting prayers together during the daily general assembly. Izayla holds these experiences in tension all the time, as just one of the many ways the complexities of our context marks her,

Many times, as we walk home from the bus, past the shops that build the gold-painted idols and images, she has asked questions about who those gods are, how Jesus is different, the significance of our family choosing to worship Jesus alone, and on and on.

There, at that Catholic cathedral, so far away from the Thailand she calls home, our daughter was overcome by what she saw as an opportunity to worship the God who loves her in a form that quietly reflects the style of worship she sees in her everyday life. The colliding of worlds, and honest desire to worship was both beautiful and holy, expressed in our five-year-old.

“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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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

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

“Baby”

I was trying to take a nap, even though it was only ten in the morning. The baby has a cold and I was up a lot with him last night. We are planning on doing late night outreach tonight, and I knew I wouldn’t make it through the day graciously without a nap.

Just drifting off when I heard the ambulance sirens coming closer, closer, turning off seemingly in front of my house. I thought about getting up to check but knew that Iven would call me if there was something happening that needed our response, so I went to sleep.

When I woke up an hour later, and called to check in with Iven, I asked if he knew anything about the ambulance. “The drunk guy in front of 7-11 apparently had a heart attack – they tried to resuscitate him and it sounds like it didn’t work.”

“A drunk guy or THE drunk guy – the “baby” one?”

“Yes, the baby one.”

Argh. This is annoying. I feel horrible that “annoying” is the word that comes to mind when faced with a man’s death, yet another neighbor that we know, but not well. Continue reading

“Mama That Lady Has A Hurt Foot” – Faith Story Shared at ECB

“Mama, that lady has a hurt foot. We need to pray for her,” my three-year-old declared matter-of-factly one evening as she pointed towards a woman sitting on the street with a bandaged foot. We were walking home from eating a street-side dinner of Pad Seaw and my husband Iven had paused to “say hello” to a deaf woman we knew, who was also homeless, just a few feet away. This was how we met Ap – Izayla, our three-year-old daughter, essentially introduced us, and our family began visiting her on her corner regularly, often on our way to or from dinner.

Our teammate, Pat, (who met Ap at about the same time during one of the regularly scheduled ECB feeding the homeless ministry nights) got to know Ap much better than us, and both Ap and Sunshine (the deaf woman who shared the corner) became the recipients of much love and energy from Pat.

App with Pat

App with Pat

Elian, our one and a half year old son, did his part too – for whatever reason he clung to the notion of visiting Ap every single time we left our house. He would point to her corner a few blocks away and call out, “Ap, Ap!” – Pat, who is the darling of our three year old was a teeny bit annoyed that Elian learned to say Ap before he could say Pat.

Our job is a strange one – as the leaders of Rak Teh (a mission partner of ECB) we live and work in the Sanam Luang area – in the middle of a neighborhood that wears it’s pain and hardships more visibly than most.

Rak Teh Team

Rak Teh Team

Many of our neighbors are homeless, and/or involved in prostitution and we see our job as simply pursuing the two greatest commandments in the place God has planted us, namely to love Him with all of our hearts (this is often expressed through active prayer) and to Love our neighbor as ourselves (usually through building intentional relationships and looking for opportunities to extend tangible care to those around us).

Pat helped Ap to get a government ID card, and along with others from our team also helped her get to the doctor regularly, as she had some complex and serious health problems, including the very bad abscess on her foot which Izayla had first noticed. Pat shared some of God’s story with Ap, and she was a bit interested – it was one of the many things they talked about together. Ap’s health seemed to be getting much better, as she began regularly taking TB medication that was having some success with the rare TB meningitis strain that was in her brain and causing horrible headaches.

Ap was the first neighbor on our streets that Izayla asked to pray for. Hers was the first name Elian learned, and proceeded to repeat all the time. Pat was working with her to move forward in many practical ways. I felt like God’s hand must be in this – it seemed like there was a promise over her life.

About three months ago (This past Songran) Ap disappeared from her corner for a few weeks (people are always coming and going from our streets), reappeared briefly and then disappeared again. Pat was out of town at the time and when she came back and began asking around, discovered that Ap had collapsed and been taken to a hospital over a week earlier. When she finally found her Ap had been in a coma for almost two weeks, had received no visitors, and the doctors expected her to not recover. Less than a week later she died.

This is not a naturally hopeful story. Usually faith stories shared here at ECB, and rightly so, are stories of encouragement and testify clearly to God’s goodness and sovereignty. I don’t seem to be doing that right now. The truth is, there has been a lot of death on our streets in this season. This is just one of many stories we could tell of walking alongside of neighbors as their life comes to a close, for those of you who know some of our neighbors through Feeding the Homeless and haven’t heard, Sunshine passed away just a few weeks after Ap.

This may seem like a depressing story, but I don’t’ think we need to hear it that way. It is a true story – death is everywhere – on our streets more than on most, perhaps, but there is also life and God’s activity. When Ap died, I felt confused, because I was pretty sure I had heard God whisper to me promises of redemption and healing in her life, in large part through my children. Elian continued to tell me “Ap Sick” for weeks after her death, and it has been hard to figure out how to explain to them why we don’t pray for her any more, or at least not in the same way.

But I do believe that God is in fact faithful, good and sovereign, even when we can’t see it. Could it be that He led my children to become champions of and friends of Ap because He knew her life was almost over, and He wanted to do a work to love her and show Himself to her through our team, even if we never got to see her receive him?

A few months ago, another friend from the streets, who our family was very close with, passed away. The morning that Iven received the phone call from the hospital telling him that Wa had died, he felt prompted in his spirit to look up Psalm 103:4. I will read out verses 1-4 for you.

1 Let all that I am praise the Lord;

   with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.

2 Let all that I am praise the Lord;

   may I never forget the good things he does for me.

3 He forgives all my sins

   and heals all my diseases.

4 He redeems me from death

   and crowns me with love and tender mercies.

This is our God. He is in the business of redemption and renewal – sometimes that is visible and we can tell flashy stories and celebrate together. Sometimes we just need to rest in quiet trust that it is true. Our job is to declare that truth on our streets and with our neighbors.

I am not sure what each of your jobs are, but I know there is an invitation from our Lord for you to be involved in his redeeming work in your own communities and streets as well. I don’t know how Pat and our family’s relationship with Ap affected her in her last months and days here on earth, but I trust that God used that, even as He led us to love her. Our streets are full of others whose hearts are empty. Each of us are called to give what we have when God prompts us with an invitation – for Izayla it was a prayer, for Elian it was jubilitation at the sight of seeing a friend, and for Pat…well, it’s usually everything! I encourage you to respond to God’s invitation to get involved in what He is doing – maybe on your own streets, or maybe on ours, as he prompts you! : )

ECB has a regular monthly ministry time down in the Sanam Luang Area called feeding the homeless in partnership with the YWAM ministry, RAK TEH – which means authentic love. Usually it is on the 3rd Saturday of the month at 4:00pm. All are welcome! For more information please check out the ECB Website.

A New “Friend” For Izayla

Our three year old daughter Izayla (Nong Talae) started Thai preschool this past Monday morning. To be honest, my husband Iven has been stressing about what we’ll do for Izayla’s schooling here in Bangkok since before she was born! Leading a neighborhood-based urban ministry, we are always asking the question, “Does this decision draw us closer to our neighbors, or is it just more comfortable to our Farang sensibilities?” As we explored school options earlier this year Iven found a Thai preschool that we had a real peace about with only one draw-back – it was a 15 minute motorcycle ride away and we were concerned that it might draw us away from relationships in the neighborhood.  Then we learned that school started in early June – the same week as the due date for our third child. “We can’t do that,” I told him resolutely, “too much transition.” End of discussion.

Then about a month ago, during a worship time at a YWAM Bangkok staff meeting I clearly heard God say, “You don’t need to know what is best for your kids. You need to trust me to know what is best for your kids. Start her at that school in June.” Continue reading

“Forgive Us Our Poor Choices”

Our pastor has been teaching a series on prayer these past several months, which has been excellent. He began by leading us to slowly marinate in “The Lord’s Prayer” and this, in part, inspired me to begin teaching a mom-translated-preschool version to our two-and-a-half year old. This prayer is usually known as the “Our Father” prayer, but Izayla has organically renamed it “The Holy Prayer”.
I have changed and added a few words, and it took a few weeks to settle on something I am mostly comfortable with and that gives her some building blocks to begin understanding the essence of the prayer, and for that matter, God. I started with using the traditional word “sin” (“trespasses” is certainly not a standard preschool vocab word) but after a little while changed the word to “poor choices”, to match how we talk together in everyday life.
Izayla loves repeating each line after me, and intermittently I take a line at a time and explain what it means. When we did use the word “sin” she would happily repeat me, but as soon as I started leading out “forgive us our poor choice, just as we forgive others who make poor choices with us” she faltered. She became visibly uncomfortable with this concept and began protesting, “I don’t want to say ‘forgive us our poor choices’.” This continued for weeks, and I would let her skip repeating that part every night at bedtime, wondering what was happening in her pint-sized head.
Iven asked me recently if we have ever really explained God’s work to make forgiveness possible to her yet. How do you explain the Gospel to a two year old? Yes, of course…little bits here and there, but the vast concepts of sin, forgiveness, redemption, salvation…again, not part of pre-school vocabulary. How can we ask her to acknowledge her sin (poor choices) and to forgive others if she doesn’t know Jesus has already PROMISED forgiveness, and done the very work to seal the deal?
Well… a few days ago she was walking right by my side on a fairly crowded sidewalk and was knocked down flat on her back by a man examining the tall buildings overheard.  He felt terrible and she cried a lot, but was just fine after she calmed down.
Later that day she brought up the experience by saying, “Mama, remember that man who bonked me and made me fall down? He made a poor choice.” True, on some level, though I explained that he did not try to knock her down, and so his poor choice was just not being careful. “Do you think you would be able to forgive him for knocking you down? ” “No, I don’t want to” Fair enough.
We talked about how amazing forgiveness is, and how amazing and big and powerful God’s forgiveness is towards us. I explained how when we are mad at somebody and choose not to forgive them, then we are the ones that feel sad, and keep thinking about how we got hurt, but when we take that hurt and tell God that even though we got hurt we know that He loves and forgives that person who hurt us just as much as He does us, and ask Him to help us forgive, He does.
Izayla thought about that a minute and then brought up an incident I barely remembered that happened a few weeks earlier: “remember when Nacho threw a block and it hit me in the head?” “you could forgive Nacho too, and then you don’t have to feel sad about that anymore.”
She thought about that for a minute and then said Ok and asked me to help her pray to forgive those two people.
The kind of strange thing about this is that ever since then (this was about two weeks ago) Izayla is no longer hesitant about that part of the Lord’s prayer – I can see her little heart beginning to embrace the concept of forgiveness as the beautiful gift that it is, even though her two-year-old mind can’t even begin to understand it. But sometimes I wonder if our grown-up selves really don’t get much farther along than pre-schoolers… It is so hard to let go of offenses, to refuse to judge and condemn those that hurt us, and to let God take our pain. So hard, and so good. I hope my daughter will grow to love this gift, and really know the depth of its goodness, even so much more than I.
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