iven and kashmira

jesus. bangkok. neighbors. us.

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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.

“Silent Night, Holy Night”

Two weeks ago our teammates Sam and Pat hosted a party at their house attended by more than 50 deaf individuals, living both on and off the streets, many of whom were unfamiliar with the story of Jesus and Christmas. Everyone had a lovely time, and many had the chance to “hear” about Jesus for the first time! Please join us in continuing to thank God for his movement among these neighbors, and for Ajarn Yoon, the Thai Pastor whom the Lord is so actively using to touch so many lives.

“Hey, Big Brother, Be Careful!”

Our daughter Izayla has gone back and forth about how involved she enjoys being in street ministry. However, lately she is quick to jump into somewhat forceful self-care conversations with neighbors who seem to be making especially poor choices from her perspective, which she can get away with since she is half their height. Her Thai preschool life is helping empower her to talk to neighbors directly now, without needing us to translate. Izayla seems especially distressed by one man in particular, who our team feels consistently led to pray for and believe a breakthrough for. He exemplifies a modern-day image of the demoniac Jesus heals in Mark 5 – he has crazily unkempt hair, is often barely clothed, only eats food off of the sidewalk and is often seen shouting and slapping himself. One of his favorite hangout spots is the stoop of the building we will soon be moving into. Rather than shrinking back, our children seem drawn to him, and we watch with interest as they lead out in a one-way conversation over and over. “Hey, big brother, you shouldn’t eat rice off the ground. It will make your tummy feel sick. Why do you eat rice of the ground? I am afraid you will get sick!” On the walk home from the bus stop from school recently, Izayla took it upon herself to approach every one of close to a dozen people sleeping on the ledge of a canal that cuts through our neighborhood and declare confidently in Thai, “Big brother, you shouldn’t sleep here! It isn’t safe! I am afraid if you sleep here you will fall into the water!” Her genuine care and innocence makes her completely inoffensive and, I believe, sometimes able to speak words of love that grown-ups never could.

2014.11 Jeff and Brenda Bangkok Home-100

New Building Layout Plan Details

Practically speaking, we will be moving from our current home which includes two separate studio apartments of 120 square feet each (but they feel larger than that because of high ceilings, lots of windows, the oddness of being shaped like triangles and being positioned one on top of the other on the 2nd and 3rd floors of our standard small Thai apartment building), to something more like a traditional small two bedroom apartment (about 432 square feet – 12 feet by 36), in the context of a community-ministry building where we together have freedom and authority to develop sustainable life-hospitality-ministry-family rhythms, and let our kids be a part of everything, as much as is good and appropriate. Our children (at least in theory) are excited about having a “kid room” for the first time, and we are excited to have just a newborn in our new tiny bedroom. The new building will have a total of four floors, with a footprint of 12 feet across and 48 feet deep (including the staircase in the back).

1st floor – An all-glass front and mostly open multi-purpose space, with a bathroom/shower accessible from the front and a door sealing off the back of the building and staircase to upper floors. There is also a back door and small communal kitchen behind the stairs. We anticipate the front of the ground floor being used for both structured and and informal worship, prayer and Scripture study, welcoming neighbors into a safe and hospitable space (including bathroom and shower usage on an individual basis and a cold water cooler), small-scale community meals, a kid play area open to neighborhood children, and space to host trainings and meetings for partner groups in the community. We also hope to have a local friend paint a mural on the back wall sometime soon. Above ground: (There are a total of 8 rooms on the top three floors, all of which have individual bathrooms, as the owners are setting up the building to be eventually rented as individual studio apartments, much like where we currently live. There will also be a door at the hallway entering into each floor.)

2nd Floor – Will include a small office (primarily for Iven) that can be converted into a guest room as needed, a guest room with two twin beds available at all times, and a larger front multi-purpose room that will serve as a makeshift classroom, housing for volunteer teams, a private space for counseling and prayer conversations, and an above-ground make-shift dining space.

3rd Floor – Our family will have a “grown up” (plus newborn, initially) bedroom, a “kid bedroom” and a front room that will serve as kitchen-living-family room. We are excited about finding creative ways to use the 3×26 foot hallway that cuts through the apartment – an indoor (corner-free) running and rough-housing space for kids, art-display area, maybe a little basketball hoop and a fold-down bar-height little table for “bigger” kids to work on projects out of toddler-kid reach!)

4th Floor – Our teammates, Lilian and Matthijs will be living in the two (larger) rooms on this floor, and there is also a smallish laundry+ porch (kid-safe and with an almost complete roof which makes it possible to use in the heat of the day, and to hang laundry during the rainy season) we will all have access to.

**Bonus** An unanticipated gift is a ladder providing access to the roof, and a little fenced in portion of it that will be delightful at the beginning and end of the days for prayer and quiet space for grown-ups (totally not kid safe, but we will work that out!) Click RakTehBuildingInformationSheet2014.11-D5 for a sharable one-page summary of how we expect the space to be used.

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.

“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

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

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