Our closest friend from the streets, Wa, passed away in early May after a long decent into alcohol related liver disease. Iven, especially, has been heavily grieving his loss, and aware that although literally hundreds of people have been praying for Wa, both face-to-face and from afar, for years, we are some of the only people who are feeling his loss in our daily life. After more than four years of regular life together on the streets, bringing Wa to the hospital countless times, and something like 17 extended inpatient hospital stays, our entire neighborhood is literally littered with memories of Wa. We had spent time with him on virtually every street we walk. We had so much more hope for his life, and are deeply grieving what could have been.
This newsletter has taken a longer time to write than usual (surprise!), but it isnâ€™t just our new status of being â€œoutnumbered by small peopleâ€, as one friend described it, that accounts for our tardiness, but the reality that loss and pain have been punctuating these last few months on our streets, and we have not really been sure how to share that with you.
Just a few weeks before Wa died we learned that Pry, a woman we have known for years, had â€œfallen down in the bathroomâ€ while she was drunk and had died, several months earlier â€“ this was the third time we had heard that same story from her or her boyfriend (whom we first met on the Loop), but the final time resulted in death rather than black eyes or a broken arm.
Another neighbor whom we knew casually wandered out into traffic and was killed by a passing car - just a week previously weâ€™d had a poignant conversation with her about the difficulty of life on the streets whilst she was in the midst of sniffing industrial glue to dull the pain.
In June, about a month after Waâ€™s death, both Sunshine and App, two of the women that our teammate Pat has been most heavily involved with recently on our streets, passed away from HIV and TB related complications. App was the first neighbor Izayla asked us to pray for, and the first neighbor whose name Elian learned, and continued to repeat any time weâ€™d mention that it was time to pray. (See a story HERE that Kashmira shared at our church in Bangkok about our familyâ€™s relationship with App).
During Waâ€™s last hospital stay we received a call from a woman who we couldnâ€™t at first remember, but she had our business card and number and shared that she was dying of liver cancer (it has now entered her brain) and would like us to come and pray with her in the name of Jesus before she died. She told us she used to live under a bridge in our neighborhood and had attended some of the Bible studies we, and later another friend, hosted several years earlier, but has since moved to government-funded housing on the far outskirts of the city.
Iven went to visit Pâ€™ Love the day before Wa died. It was a wonderful time connecting with her and several of the women she is living with, that ended with a short Scripture study and prayer time. He was struck with how much life and openness Pâ€™ Love seems to have, facing terminal cancer â€“ eminent death. Not long ago she was one of the many people on our streets who seem to just be stuck and unable or unwilling to choose life for themselves. On one side of the city was our friend Wa, whose liver was failing due to the poisons he poured into his own body, in an attempt to mask the overwhelming pain in his heart. On the other side of the city was this woman, Pâ€™ Love, who knows full well that she will die soon from liver cancer, who is choosing life and the Kingdom of God in every way she knows how.
The next morning Iven received the 4:00am phone call from the hospital letting him know that Wa had passed away. As he prayed, asking God, â€œHow do I deal with Waâ€™s death? Were all of those countless hours a waste? Am I a failure? Why didnâ€™t You heal him? What else could I have done? ...I miss my friendâ€¦ What now?â€, he felt prompted in His spirit to read Psalm 103:4 â€“ along with the previous verses:
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.
Death is an ever-present part of life on our streets. For many (most?) on our streets death is a seemingly inevitable consequence of an addiction or disease that is directly related to a choice or choices our neighbors have made, maybe long ago, or maybe this week. Regardless of the pain, abuse, estrangement or trauma that have led to their choices, it is their choices that are leading to death on our streets.
And yet: â€œHe redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.â€
And yet: â€œHe forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.â€
And yet: â€œLet all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.â€
And yet: â€œLet all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.â€
As a family living here in our neighborhood, we trust that there is much life still to be lived, for ourselves but especially trusting that promise on behalf of our neighbors.
Please, join us in grieving what might have been. But even more, please join us in praising what is: redemption, love, tender mercy, forgiveness, healing, praise, good things, whole hearts.
This is the God we serve, and that reality is what we cling to when death is all we see. Jesus, whom we serve and love, does not abandon our neighbors to the pit of death and destruction, even if their families and the people whose shops they sleep in front of do.
Instead, He promises redemption â€“ somehow â€“ even if we canâ€™t see it or tell flashy stories about it at all.
When Kashmira went to visit Wa for the last time, listening to his labored breathing and faced with the reality of his destroyed body, she felt she heard God say, â€œEverything says that he is in isolation, but the truth is I am with him â€“ he is not alone.â€
So many, many people around the world have been praying for Wa for years (thank you Steve & Marie Goode for being some of his chief advocates!) Our family is just one small piece of Godâ€™s work in Waâ€™s life, and even in his death, we trust that God is with him.
If youâ€™d like to read a tribute to Waâ€™s life click HERE.
Coming to America: Aug 14 â€“ Nov 14
After a long and harrowing series of attempts to book tickets (who knew it was so hard to book a flight in August from here to there â€“ it took more than two months of wait-listing flights on multiple airlines!) we can finally officially announce that we will be coming to the USA for three months. Weâ€™ll start and end in California with Ivenâ€™s family, and spend two months in the NW during the middle of our visit.
We will be in the greater Seattle area from around September 7 - November 6.
As those dates get closer (hehe, they are pretty close already!) we will let you know some times and places where you can find us at group gatherings, and please feel free to send us an email if you want to connect.
Izayla (Nong Talae â€“ â€œlittle sister Talaeâ€) is now officially an Anubaan 1 student (first year Thai preschooler). After an initial tear-filled first week of adjustment to summer school she is thriving and excited to go to her all-Thai school every morning. Our favorite story of God reminding us personally of his faithfulness to even our three year old is found HERE from her first day of school.
Kyin Sailom, our newest family member, is quite literally the easiest baby we have ever met, which is really a mercy since we are already in quite over our heads. Taking care of three small people three and under is a full-time job and then some. Please keep us in prayer as we seek to balance the demands and invitations of work and family life.
Elian Sila (just so we donâ€™t leave out our middle child) is great. He is stringing words together in little sentences and is a fantastic companion on outings and in ministry. He loves boats, busses, his big sister whom he misses terribly while she is at school, and frozen peas eaten right out of the freezer.
Thank you again for your partnership in our work and in our lives!
As non-salaried YWAM volunteers all of our financial support comes from
the generous partnership of individuals and churches like yourselves.
If you would like to be involved in supporting our family and ministry
please make checks out to â€œYWAMâ€, writeâ€3588â€ on the memo line,
include a separate note that your gift is for â€œIven & Kashmiraâ€, and mail to: