November 2020 Prayer Letter
Dear Friends & Family,
As we approach the end of 2020, we wanted to update you with some good news and not-so-good though not unexpected news. Yet, God is forever sovereign, so we look ahead with hope.
PhD Thesis Submitted!
On the plus side, at the end of October, I submitted my PhD thesis! Thanks be to God! This was a great relief and important milestone, but don’t call me “doctor” yet. I am now waiting to get a date for my viva voce (oral defense). I hope this would happen before the end of the year, but I just don’t know. In the meantime, I am working on some other reading and projects, and doing more homeschool supervision for the kids and cooking to allow Sun to have more time for what she’d like to do, which includes meeting up with people and a new blog.
I’ll soon need to do some concentrated preparation for my upcoming thesis defense. Hopefully, the outcome will be “pass, with minor corrections.” If that is the case, I would have a few months to complete the corrections. That should not be a problem, though, because we don’t have anywhere to go.
Return to Thailand Delayed
On the downside, we had hoped that it would be possible to return to Thailand in January 2021 but COVID-19 restrictions are still fairly tight and only a trickle of foreigners on certain visa types are being allowed into Thailand. Unfortunately, missionary visas (the type we have always used) are not being permitted to return. March 2021 might be the earliest that missionary visa holders would be allowed to return, though even that might be too optimistic.
However, even if Thailand allowed missionary visa holders to return tomorrow, we’d still be stuck. As you might remember, I lost my missionary visa when I could not travel to Bangkok in June to renew it.
We are looking into other Thailand visa options, but a good solution has not yet presented itself. Currently, the Thai government is not accepting new missionary visa applications and we don’t know when they will. Under normal circumstances, a new missionary visa takes 3-4 months to process. So, once they start accepting visa applications again, it will still be at least a few months, if not longer, before we can return.
It is unclear how a vaccine rollout would impact Thailand’s border restrictions. Thailand is one of the few countries that has had extremely few COVID-19 cases and deaths. Domestically, life in Thailand has largely returned to normal. But there is great fear that if they open the borders, entering foreigners will spread the virus. During this COVID-19 situation, fears of the “what if..?” possibilities have been just as important as actual data in forming far-reaching policies.
So where does that leave us? Frankly, we are not sure where we will be (or should be) in the new year. We could live anyplace until the way to Thailand opens up again since my viva will be online and I do not need to be in Scotland while doing corrections. Our default option, however, is to stay put where we are in Edinburgh. Yet after I officially complete my PhD, the clock will start ticking on our UK visas and we will have 4 months to leave the country or find another visa option. We could move back to the U.S for a while (and live where? And do what?). We are open to various options, though ideally, we would like to minimize the number of international moves we make this coming year.
- Please pray that God would make it clear to us where we should be, and what we should be doing, until Thailand opens again for us to return. What is His will for us while we are stuck in limbo?
- Please pray that God would open the way for us to return to Thailand. We still believe that Thailand is where God wants us to live and serve Him. Unless He clearly directs us otherwise, Thailand is where we intend to go.
- Please pray that logistical and financial support would come together by the time Thailand opens. We may need an increase in monthly donations to return.
We are grateful for your prayers and financial support. Thank you for sticking with us as I have pursued a doctorate, and now as we are entering a period of uncertainty while Thailand is closed. We would be happy to hear from you, whether by email or video chat or some other way. Feel free to send us your news and how we can pray for you during this time.
By Christ’s grace,
Karl & Sun Dahlfred
- Submission of Karl’s PhD thesis
- God’s constant faithfulness and provision
- God to open the way for us to return to Thailand
- Guidance for what to do until Thailand opens
- Faithfulness in serving Him wherever we are
- Advance of the kingdom of God and resolution to political troubles in Thailand
It is 2020. We can’t plan more than a week in advance.
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