Dear Friends & Family,
In this crazy time of Covid-19, lockdowns, cancellations, and general uncertainty, we are thankful for God’s blessings over the past months. The first half of 2020 has not gone how we imagined it would but our family is well and still hoping to head back to full-time ministry in Thailand at the end of the year.
When Scotland locked down at the end of March, I (Karl) regretfully hauled my books home from my study desk at the University of Edinburgh and started to work from home. All five of us found ourselves together in our small apartment and it took some time to find new work and study routines but eventually we adjusted. The kids are able to do their studies and I am able to write, although distractions are many compared to my desk in a quiet postgraduate study room at the university.
I am pleased to report that I am now writing the final chapter of my thesis. When that is complete, I need to write an introduction and conclusion, and then go over the whole thesis again to make final adjustments and changes. Then I submit it, hopeful in September or so, if all goes well. Then a month or two after that, I will have my viva voce (oral defense) and, Lord willing, complete my doctorate. It has been a long road and it is not done yet, but there is light at the end of the tunnel! Please pray for steady progress on my Ph.D with the aim of wrapping it up before the end of 2020.
As I am sure you know, 2020 hasn’t been a great year for long-term planning. How do you plan for next year when you don’t even know what you will be able to do next month? I (Karl) had a trip to Thailand planned for this past June to renew my missionary visa and do some preaching, but my flights got cancelled when Thailand banned incoming flights through the end of June. I have lost my visa and will need to re-apply later. Nevertheless, we are hopeful that by the time I finish my Ph.D later this year, Thailand will have significantly eased travel restrictions for foreigners and we can return to theological education and church planting in Thailand. That’s the plan, anyhow. At the moment, we think that our current support level will allow us to return directly to Thailand from Scotland, but we won’t know for sure until later this year when we work with OMF to put together a budget for 2021. Please pray that the many logistical and practical matters to return to Thailand will be successfully resolved between now and the end of the year. We’ve been enjoying our time in Scotland but we are looking forward to getting back to Thailand.
Local and Virtual Ministry
If you recall from our previous letter, I was leading the youth group at our church here, and Sun and I were leading an English language conversation group using Bible stories. When Scotland locked down at the end of March, that all came to an abrupt end. Sun managed to revive the English conversation group via Zoom, though “attendance” was extremely low. Well into summer now, the English group is on summer hiatus and we will try to start it up again later in August.
Scotland has been very cautious in opening up again and I don’t know when we’ll be able to start worshipping in person again or resume anything close to normal activities outside the home. But we are trying to make the best of the situation and are still able to see some people around the wooded grounds of the apartment complex where we live.
Yet even as we have found ourselves at home, other opportunities presented themselves courtesy of our internet-connected world. Last month, a Pakistani Christian brother whom I knew in Bangkok invited me to share God’s word with a prayer meeting in Pakistan that he leads via Zoom. Also, two different Thai Christian brothers who are looking to write theses for their Master of Theology (Th.M) studies got in touch with me for advice and guidance since they both want to research topics related to Thai church history (my specialty). One of them asked if I would be willing to supervise his thesis. Helping to develop upcoming Thai seminary and bible college instructors is one of the opportunities that doctoral studies is preparing me for and which I anticipate will be one part of my ministry going forward.
For our family, as I imagine for yours, Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions have meant that recent months have been a “stay put” period of life for us. But we are thankful for our time together and the many walking and cycling trails around Edinburgh, many not far from our doorstep. It is also a great blessing that my research was essentially done when lockdown started. Unlike some doctoral students who found themselves suddenly unable to access essential archives or conduct fieldwork, I have 98% of what I need on my computer or in my possession. So, the writing goes on!
Thank you for your prayers and financial support. We really appreciate you and your partnership with us in God’s work. Please pray that this time of further equipping in Scotland will be a real blessing to the churches in Thailand as prepare to head back in six months or so. We’ll be in touch, and would love to hear from you.
By Christ’s grace,
Karl & Sun Dahlfred
- Pray for the successful completion of Karl’s Ph.D thesis this fall.
- Pray for the logistical and practical details that need to be taken care of for us to return to Thailand.
- Pray that our family would all grow in holiness even as we are stuck together at home 24/7.
- Praise God we are all healthy and surviving lockdown well.
- Praise God for virtual ministry opportunities while stuck at home.
- Praise God doctoral studies are coming to completion.
6/11-22 Karl in Thailand for visa renewal and preaching
Stay home until we don’t have to
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