iven and kashmira

jesus. bangkok. neighbors. us.

Author: ivenandkashmira (page 4 of 8)

Kashmira Helps Deliver Our Neighbor’s Baby on The Street Outside Our House…

“Having the baby now…No time to get to the hospital…At the tea shop,” hollered the “Grandma” as she ran up the stairs past Iven to retrieve something from her room, looking understandably extremely anxious. We don’t know these neighbors well but have been trying to connect more, especially with the three younger children in their family of five – quickly becoming six – living in the tiny apartment that shares a wall with ours. The oldest of the kids who lives at home was nine months pregnant with her second baby and we had been greeting them with “Has the baby come yet?” for weeks already. I took our own little baby Elian across the street to the sidewalk tea shop where the girl was laboring, in a lawn chair, just behind the tea cart. Her mom was hurriedly pacing back and forth on the street and people were yelling to get the girl in a taxi, while others hollered back, “there’s no time!” I joined the small crowd of women gathered around her, trying not to be in the way, quietly praying and wondering if there was something I could do to help. One of my neighbors and I joked together about how little Elian had come to help encourage the baby that was getting ready to greet the world.

the tea shop across from our house

After just a few minutes a motorcycle pulled up with two men on it. Their police radios and first aid bag told me that they were some sort of official “first responders”. We had read a newspaper article recently (actually, on Elian’s due date) about how in Bangkok there is a special division of policemen on motorcycles that are trained and dispatched to deliver babies for women stuck in traffic. The guy they highlighted had just delivered his 42nd baby stuck in traffic. My neighbor, however, didn’t even have time to start fighting the traffic to the hospital – less than a minute after the official looking guys arrived the girl started shrieking in a manner which told all of us that have given birth before that the baby was coming NOW. Most people started shrieking back and the men I had expected to come take control of the situation passed out two pairs of rubber gloves, said repeatedly, “better for the women to do it” and turned to walk the other way. The woman who runs the tea cart looked at me and asked in Thai, “Tam Pben Mai? (Can you do it/Do you know how?)” I totally thought she was joking so I half laughed and responded with, “I don’t know how, but I can pray!!” She and one other girl I don’t know put on the gloves and several of us helped pull off the shorts and underwear of the laboring women, from beneath a sarong that was draped over her lap. The girl’s shrieking made it clear that the baby’s arrival was quite eminent, and though I am sure everyone else there also recognized that nobody did anything. Finally the younger girl with gloves picked up the sarong and sure enough revealed the head of a baby that had already emerged between his mother’s legs. She timidly put her gloved hand under the baby’s head and looked at me with terror, clearly totally overwhelmed. I thought, “this is ridiculous…someone needs to step in.” I turned to a neighbor and asked her to hold Elian, reached my hand out to motion for the tea shop lady’s gloves (who gleefully pulled them off and worked to get them onto my hands instead) and reached down to help guide the baby all the way out of his mama, and into this world. Yes, I was totally overwhelmed myself. Yes, it was very surreal, and yes I was shaking pretty badly. Not to mention my usually pretty OK Thai abilities were completely gone and I couldn’t say ANYTHING. As I held this brand new baby in my hands and wondered what would happen next I suddenly woke up and realized how completely unresponsive he was. Unlike Elian, who came out with a healthy holler just six weeks earlier, this baby boy was blue and limp and unresponsive. So, I started praying, “Jesus, help this baby live. Help this baby breathe. Come on, baby.” Within 30 seconds an ambulance arrived with real EMTs. They gathered around and brought sterile cloths, a suction bulb and equipment to cut the umbilical cord. Less than a minute after the birth, while still praying, I finally began to feel a raspy breath and a heartbeat from the little guy and tried to tell his mama not to be afraid, that I could feel the heart beat and he was breathing. I kept praying and kept my hand on his chest while the EMT people did the medical stuff. His blue skin started turning pink and soon he let out a quiet little squeaky cry – which brought a very audible group exhalation from the 40 or so people who had gathered around us by then. After the cord was cut, I helped move the baby to a table prepared for him and then the coffee shop lady broke through my “crisis haze” and asked, “Where is your baby?” “Huh…my baby…I have a baby…where is my baby?” I thought and started scanning the crowd. I knew I handed him to someone I know but couldn’t for the life of me remember who. It was that moment that Iven called and asked what was happening, “Everything is OK – I caught the baby, I lost ours, but don’t worry, I’ll find him.” “Huh?! You caught the baby? What?” I found Elian across the street, peacefully sleeping in a neighbor’s arms, encircled by a small group of women who were quick to tell me, “You were brave. None of us were brave.” My landlord told me a few days later how surprised she was to hear the news on the street that Izayla’s mom delivered a baby at the tea shop and that people have been stopping by to ask her if the foreigner that lives in her building is a nurse (I’m not!). I debriefed the experience with her and she explained that for the most part Thais are more afraid of doing something wrong than of not doing something – everyone was scared they would harm more than help so nobody was really willing to do anything that might be helpful. It makes for quite a story, and it seems we are now intimately involved in the lives of this family whether they like it or not. We hope for good things to come of it, and I do feel so honored to have been part of this birth on our street. We talk a lot about how life happens “on the street” in our city and neighborhood, but this experience takes it to a whole new level!

“Where have you guys been?”

Before we had kids we would spend usually two nights a week out on “the loop”, the name we have given to the 2-block figure-eight area that free-lancing young men wait for customers late at night. Since Izayla was born close to two years ago God has shifted our focus from the men specifically to our local neighborhood as a community, which of course includes the young men involved in prostitution but also women and our homeless neighbors. As time has gone by our daughter has needed more of a schedule and bedtime routine and now with two kids it is incredibly difficult for us to take any “late night shifts” like we used to on a regular basis. Going out to work at 10 pm with little people that are usually heading to bed by 8 o’clock just doesn’t work out so well. All of that to say, our late-night work life has been mostly in hibernation for the past year. Sometimes we feel troubled by this and at the same time we know it is a reality we have to face and limitations we need to be willing to work with. We have confidence that those streets and the men that are out on them late at night are part of our calling and inheritance here, but during this season we need to focus our energies mostly on other parts of our community. That said, I have a strong impression from the Lord that any little bit of time that we are able to squeeze in some time on the Loop is a sweet offering to the Lord and in a funny way our personal parents-of-young-children widow’s mite. Last week one of our teammates was able to come over and sit with Izayla after she was asleep, giving us an opportunity to take Elian out in a front pack (he’s still entirely portable and for that matter never knew he left his bed or was out at all, wonderful sleeper that he is…sometimes…) for his first Loop outreach shift. We started out on the circle and both felt very quiet and at peace. It was one of those evenings where we could really feel God’s presence with us. I love late night outreach – we both really do. No one is out on the streets except us, men waiting for customers, and the occasional teenage gangsters on motorcycles looking to make trouble. The view really is stunning, circumnavigating the Grand Palace.


The Loop

There were lots of guys out on the first section, but nobody seemed interested in engaging, which was just fine with us, we’ve learned by now that it isn’t about how many conversations you have but about having the right conversations at the right times. Walking along, quietly praying and humming a worship song we were startled to hear a clear voice call from the shadows in English, “Hey, where have you guys been?” It was a young man we first met probably almost three years ago and immediately recognized. But his shout out to us was completely bizarre for several reasons. First of all it was in English – virtually all of our conversations on the streets are in Thai and we don’t remember this man ever revealing he was fluent in and comfortable with English. Even more bizarre, though, was his apparent complete shift in posture towards us. A little history – the first time we talked with this man he was somewhat forthcoming, sharing that he was a college student at a nearby university and a little about his life. After that we saw him most nights we were out, over the course of the last 3 years, and pretty much every night he was completely cold and closed with us – would nod his head, but wouldn’t even return our greetings. I think we kind of weirded him out, and the truth is we are pretty weird. I can say with confidence that we are still the only foreign couple who walk these streets late at night, talking and praying with young men who are “working”. Anyhow, we greeted him joyfully, introduced Elian (who was strapped to Iven’s chest), and caught up on each of our lives a bit. After a few minutes of friendly conversation he motioned to a waiting car and explained he had a customer. As he was turning to leave, Iven called out, “Hey, before you go, I want to tell you that the God who made the world made you and He loves you so much and is so delighted with you no matter what.” He paused and considered that. “Really?” “Yes, its true.” The man thanked us and got into the waiting car with some other guys. Iven and I sat there quietly and then Iven explained to me that as we were heading out that night God had really put that particular guy on his heart and he had been praying for him all evening. Before we saw him God had given Iven that particular phrase to pass on to him. It was a beautiful moment, and we both felt Jesus so near to us on that street that night, and in the conversation and prayers. It is such a privilege to be part of His body here on these streets.

Family Photos – Sep – Oct – Nov!!!

So now that we have TWO adorable little people in our family, we have double the fun to share in photos! Here’s Sept, Oct and Nov picture albums:

2011-09 Two Kids!!!
2011-10 Two Kids!!
2011-11 Two Kids!!

Introducing… Our Son, Elian Sila!!!

We are delighted to announce the birth of our son, Elian Sila, born Wednesday night, August 24, 2011 at 11:12 PM.

Labor and birth were uneventful in the best of ways – 7 hours long, delivered naturally and drug-free in a birthing pool. In between contractions Kashmira even heard herself saying, “I’m having fun”, which is just plain weird, but we are grateful. Arriving 10 days past his due date, our little guy was 3.42 kilos / 7.5 lbs and 51 cm / 20 in. (His big sister was 9 days late and 3.4 kilos).

A few weeks before discovering that we were pregnant Kashmira woke up in the middle of the night with the name Elian (เอลเลียน– eh-lee-an) in her head, wondering, “Could I be pregnant with a little boy?”  Elian is a Hebrew name, meaning “the Lord is my God.” Sila (ศิลา-sea-laa) is a Thai name, meaning “Rock”.

A great big thank you goes out to our team mates Pat and Sam Sarvis for giving Izayla the time of her life while mom and dad were busy at the hospital – she had so much fun, didn’t really want to come home!

We’re having a great time getting to know our newest little family member, and watching a whole new side of Izayla emerge as she explores what it means to be a big sister. She is especially excited to tell us that he has eyes, to softly pet his head like a dog, and each time she wakes up from a nap she eagerly asks for “momma, daddy and baby” so we’re guessing that she’s realized he’s a part of the family already!

Thank you so much for your friendship, prayers and support on this most delightful journey! All grace and peace, Iven, Kashmira, Izayla and Elian

America Trip

We just returned from a lovely six weeks in America. Thanks to our little Izayla we ended up having a much slower pace this time around than we often have experienced on previous visits. Time with family, friends, churches and supporters was delightful and never long enough. A first for us was that both Iven and Kashmira made the time to sneak away on personal retreats while there, time that was truly well spent. A big thank you to everyone who hosted us, prayed for us, fed us, turned up for events, or simply loves us – it was a joy reconnecting with so many of you. Click on the below slide-show to see some pictures from our trip Stateside:

From America 2011

America Trip

We just returned from a lovely six weeks in America. Thanks to our little Izayla we ended up having a much slower pace this time around than we often have experienced on previous visits. Time with family, friends, churches and supporters was delightful and never long enough. A first for us was that both Iven and Kashmira made the time to sneak away on personal retreats while there, time that was truly well spent. A big thank you to everyone who hosted us, prayed for us, fed us, turned up for events, or simply loves us – it was a joy reconnecting with so many of you. Click on the below slide-show to see some pictures from our trip Stateside:

From America 2011

Izayla Pics Continued!

Hi Friends, More pictures of our darling daughter… <embed type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” src=”https://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf” width=”400″ height=”267″ flashvars=”host=picasaweb.google.com&hl=en_US&feat=flashalbum&RGB=0x000000&feed=https%3A%2F%2Fpicasaweb.google.com%2Fdata%2Ffeed%2Fapi%2Fuser%2Fivenandkashmira%2Falbumid%2F5584658981858210385%3Falt%3Drss%26kind%3Dphoto%26hl%3Den_US” pluginspage=”http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer”></embed> <embed type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” src=”https://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf” width=”400″ height=”267″ flashvars=”host=picasaweb.google.com&hl=en_US&feat=flashalbum&RGB=0x000000&feed=https%3A%2F%2Fpicasaweb.google.com%2Fdata%2Ffeed%2Fapi%2Fuser%2Fivenandkashmira%2Falbumid%2F5584659094273493921%3Falt%3Drss%26kind%3Dphoto%26hl%3Den_US” pluginspage=”http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer”></embed>

Rak Teh #14

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Visa Run to Penang

With our 15 month volunteer visas expiring, we recently had the pleasure of visiting Penang, Malaysia in order to pick up some 60 day tourist visas to Thailand. We had a lovely time visiting with YWAM’s Kawan (“Friend”) Homeless Drop-In Center, wandering the streets of old Georgetown, connecting with an old friend from YWAM Bangkok, and learning how to travel as a family of 3+. We picked up our visas with no trouble, and it was all in all a very nice way to spend a couple of days!

Ingredients for a Block Party

See our Block Party Post for More Info… These are just a couple of other little stories that don’t quiet fit elsewhere…

Food: At first we were thinking about something small, maybe 50 people, then we talked to Iris and they said they imagined something a little larger, then we talked to the Grandfather of Sanam Luang (a community elder who seems to have his hands in everything – especially parties!) and he said we needed to prepare for 250 – a feast, chicken drumsticks, special eggs, stir-fried pork, rice, water – no problem – mats, a sound-system, games, location – no problem, he’d take care of it!  All we needed to do was get him the cash and a sign, saying that the Christians and the people of the neighborhood were throwing a party together and he’d ensure a success! (In the 30 minutes we sat with him talking details, no less than 20 people stopped by to give him gifts and say hello). When we later asked our landlord about him she said, “Ohh… your working with the Gangster… you will have a very good party!”

Invitations: Grandfather told us to make a sign, and invitations would be good too. He said we needed to write that “Rak Teh in partnership with the people of Sanam Luang (the neighborhood) are throwing a party for fun and unity. It will have games, food, prizes and a gift for free.” So the day before the party, together with the Iris team, we put together 250 hand-made invitations. Ribbons and roses went to the women who were working on our streets, more manly cards for the men who are homeless. While handing out invitations one working woman in her 40s whom we had just met asked Kashmira incredulously, “Can someone like me who has a job like this really be welcome?” It was a beautiful opportunity to respond wholeheartedly, “Yes, of course, this party is for you. We are Christians and we know that Jesus has a special invitation and love for people who have hard lives like yours and who other people look down on.” She said she’d come, and even though we didn’t’ see her at the party the next day it was clear that she was struck by our response – so different than what she had experienced before. Later that day Iven got a call from our local Grandfather – he’d printed up another 200 flyers and was handing them out – he wanted our party to be a success!

Games: Grandfather also told us we needed to have some good old fashioned Thai games – like musical chairs and balloon stomping. And we needed prizes. Like money! When it actually came time to party he led us in a rousing good time of game playing and yes, made us give away prizes too. Our team provided some really cool Thai Christian Issan Worship music that is in the style of upcountry party music, that said, “Come, come on lets dance, sing and praise” but the Grandfather’s helpers kept changing it out for Thai pop… it was pretty funny actually. The balloon popping game was a kick, and it was all together a good time!

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