Dear Keith,
We’ve sought insight from several family members and input from co-workers who have been stranded in the US for months, unable to reenter Thailand. We’ve prayed. A lot. And we cancelled tickets for the flights we were to board tonight for Bangkok, Seoul, and Detroit. 

While family and friends in states we planned to visit (and friends in many other parts of the Globe) deal with a resurgent pandemic, mega fires, floods, civil unrest, and bitterly divided electoral contests, we’ve been safely cocooned in the protective embrace of an authoritarian government that has successfully limited CoVid’s spread. Healthwise, we feel quite secure in Chiang Mai. If we were to fly out tonight, we would still be unable to see many whom we long to see face to face due to their personal situations or developments in the US, and as of today it is unlikely authorities would permit us to reenter Thailand on 05 January as planned. 

(Thai officials are still not prioritizing reentry for volunteers – our visa category – as volunteers are not typically big spenders. Strict requirements for those allowed to reenter involve jumping through many pricey, time consuming hoops, including a two-week quarantine, at a cost ranging from $8,000 to $10,000 dollars per person.)    

Displacement by the pandemic, global shutdown, natural disasters, and conflict impact cross-cultural workers very much like most other people. The struggles are real for us as well as for you. But intentionally connecting across the globe to pray, encourage one another, plan, and prepare to welcome new workers who await deployment to engage unserved peoples and places once today’s crises have passed, has allowed us to catch glimpses of God at work opening fruitful harvest responses for several teammates – some in their appointed places of service and some who are stranded in unexpected locations across the Globe. Some harvests are few numerically, others surprisingly large.

Kathy has had a rather full counseling schedule, serving workers stranded inside Thailand unable to return to their service countries, workers stranded in other countries since March and unable to reenter Thailand, individuals and families who like us decided to ride it out here, others with a spouse or children stranded apart from the rest of the family. Besides counselling, she and colleagues recently led two workshops on Resilience that were very thankfully received by the Thai attendees.

Please pray with us that . . .

•    we can shift our focus through year’s end back to what God called us to do and be here in Thailand, rather than on activities and relationships we anticipated focusing on in the States. 

•    our newly requested 06 JAN-05 APR flights will be confirmed AND authorities will authorize reentry to volunteer visa holders OR officially continue their current policy and require the airline to extend the time allotted for us to reticket. (We’ve been told we must reschedule our flights to the US and return to Thailand by early April 2021 or forfeit the $3,000 in airfare we paid in January 2020.) 

•    new workers who are raising support or now ready to deploy to the Mekong or other affinity blocs will be fully funded and spiritually prepared to launch when doors to host countries reopen.

•    God will sustain, encourage, and multiply the effectiveness of our coworkers and partners sowing the seed and mitigating disasters in difficult places.  

•    Jesus will notably accompany dear friends and partners now suffering grievous illness, that He will complete His refining and transforming work in their characters and glorify Himself in and through each of them, thereby impacting many others, whether in life or in death.  

•    you will be filled with calmness, courage, and hope by His presence in the midst of distress, conflict, and dismay. 

We’ll further update you in a future installment of our GlobalLens.

Thanks so much for your love and prayers and partnership in the Gospel. Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Love and Blessings!