“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is in you.” L.R.Knost
Today there is a buzz of hope in the community. We woke to the sound of drumming and the loudspeaker is still blaring three hours later! No, not a sunrise service or Easter celebrations but I can’t help myself making a comparison! On the first of April, our adjoining community (affectionately known as ‘the big houses’ but its official name can be translated ‘Stability Houses’) celebrates it’s anniversary; a remnant of residents who were rehoused after a huge slum clearance 15 years ago – unlikely survivors emerging from violent demolition.
This is a victory worth celebrating; so often when eviction looms, slum residents are crippled by fear and accept tiny payouts to move out of their homes. Often families have lived here for generations, their great-grandparents most likely labourers encouraged to settle here on the floodplains of the river when the Port was built 70 years ago. Now considered prime land, Bangkok rejects its ‘builders’ and forces slum dwellers into smaller and smaller spaces.
Often our team here speculates on the impact that our neighbours would have if they pulled together in protest of poor treatment. We imagine what it would look like if the culture of one-upmanship, of the drive to divide and conquer, was replaced with seeking the common good. What could non-violent resitance in the face of oppression achieve here in Khlong Toey? What if fear did not get the final word?
I wish I had been there 15 years ago to see the persistence of my now-neighbours rewarded with adequate housing and a new chance to build community. Their story tells of a spirit that I don’t see much around here but must still be alive in individual homes and hearts. Hope.
We will be celebrating recent history with our neighbours today and it seems a great way to mark Easter. The most turbulent of times; hate, betrayal, torture, death opening a way for Life in all its fullness. We won’t hear the name of Jesus spoken over the loudspeakers today, a reminder that these celebrations are broken and incomplete. But we fully trust in His risen presence here as He makes all things new!
Good In The Hood
Its super exciting to see the house coming on quickly, we plan to be in within the next few months! The couple who were squatting in the house have successfully built in the adjacent plot and seem relieved to have their own home. We are working together to plan planting once the building work is finished.
We took our kids club to the yearly ‘Festival of Friendship’ at a big International school and, for the third year in a row, took home the football tournament trophy as well the girls benchball trophy! We love hanging out with these kids in a structured way and giving them a break from some of the stresses of neighbourhood life.
It was an honour to attend the graduation from high school of a 16 year old lad who has grown up through our kids club and managed to stay in school despite all of his friends dropping out at 14. He is a young man that we really admire for his ability to persevere while not rejecting his friends who have made different choices. A very emotional day, we look forward to seeing what the future holds for him!
What a busy month it has been for RoyRak! We’ve been working on commissions for another jewellery business who are outsourcing production. This is great because it gives us guaranteed sales and we’ve been able to build good working relationships maintaining our fair-trade values. We are now hurrying to build up our own stock with a busy period of sales and workshops coming up! We still don’t quite break even with sales but we have high hopes for this year and value the support of friends and family!
Nut and Oui are getting very excited about coming back to the UK with us and we have secured lots of opportunities to sell and promote RoyRak products! It is not too late to get in touch if you would like to host RoyRak for an event of any description, especially if you live in or near Shrewsbury!
March has seen lots of extra-curricular activities for Elliot and Sam. We seem to have spent many hours sat next top swimming pools and in school auditoriums (one of these is definitely preferable in the heat of hot season!). We got baby rabbits… but they died. Maybe they were just too cute!
The adoption process has also taken a lot of time this month. We now have all our documents prepared (a miracle as we were told to expect that it may take 6 months to acquire all of them!) and will present them to our social worker on Wednesday 4th April. God has provided exactly the right people at the right times for references and advice. Lots of our worries have proved unfounded and we feel confident that we’ve done everything in our power to enable the adoption.
I guess once the papers are handed in the waiting period will start and we will feel pretty powerless. Please pray for our hearts! We’ve started some reading on therapeutic parenting and also attended some training on the affect of trauma on brain development and behaviour. This is daunting stuff and its easy to feel overwhelmed with everyday stuff when something big like this is pre-occupying our thoughts.
Our beautiful teammate Camille got engaged earlier this month! We are delighted for her and Derek and look forward to a wedding in just three months! Please pray for them as they discern where God is directing them for the future. There is a fair bit of change as Alisha also heads off on three months of sabbatical marking the completion of 7 years here. Please pray for her and her foster son Tan that the time will be meaningful and refreshing.
We enjoyed having this years Catalyst team here from Australia for 10 days to explore issues of self and of poverty. While they were here we took two coaches of project staff and neighbours to the ‘Ancient City’, actually more like a scaled down version of Thailand, a great way to travel! Then we went to the pier at Bangphu to feed thousands of seagulls – terrifying! All in all a great relationship building time!
- Please pray that the adoption paperwork will be accepted as complete on Wednesday and our social worker will continue to be favourable to our application. Pray that the little girl we are applying to adopt will be safe and secure and that her needs will be put first as professionals decide her future
- Also, we’d love prayers for our family as we prepare space in our home and hearts to welcome her without any certainty or sense of timeframe. We are sure that God has work to do in us first and we want to remain soft and open through the process.
- We are needing to raise a significant amount of money to be able to continue living and ministering here. Support levels have dropped significantly since we re-commited for a further four years and we are aware that we need to broaden our network of supporters. We struggle with expressing our needs but know that finances need to be in place before adopting. Pray that we will have wisdom and faith as go about this.
- Please pray for members of our house church, that they will continue to grow in love for each-other and for God. Pray for new faces to be welcomed and for those who have been attending for a long time to step up in confidence and ownership.