While we were hoping to be sending this update from Thailand, we are choosing joy in the midst of this slow and shifting transition. That has an enormous amount to do with the prayers and encouragement we have received from you. Please continue to fervently pray for us and what is still ahead.
July 1st came and went, and though the Thai border “reopened” for a select few groups of people,—of which we are technically included—they are only allowing repatriation flights with extremely limited capacity for non-Thai nationals. They have also made the requirements and additional hoops in order to acquire a visa and “Certificate of Entry” unbelievably challenging. On top of it, the Thai government continues to modify the process on an almost daily basis—it has been draining to keep up with it all…and there is not yet an end in sight.
Currently we are still awaiting our visa packets from Grace International School in Thailand. We were expecting to receive them weeks ago, but part of the packet includes an official letter of invitation from the Thai Minister of Education—and for reasons outside our hands, that document keeps getting delayed.
Once we have the packets in hand, we need to submit the included documentation and our passports, marriage license, birth certificates, social security cards, background check, etc. to the Thai consulate in Chicago in order to apply for our visas and Certificate of Entry. Simultaneously, we’ll need to get in touch with the specified travel agents responsible for booking the repatriation flights, and reach out to a variety of pre-selected hotels in Bangkok to book our quarantine stay—yes, unfortunately it seems fairly certain that quarantine in our house in Chiang Mai is out of the question. We’ll also need to synchronize the Covid-19 tests (for our whole family) to take place within 72 hours of our flights, once we have those booked. Each component hinges on another, and it’s all compounded by changing processes and information that is hard to find without extensive research. We are tired. We were expecting to be saying goodbyes, and instead we find ourselves knee-deep in research and documentation prep.
A Trip Out East
After the dust began to settle at the end of the first week of July, and it became apparent that we would not likely be leaving for Thailand this month, we made the decision to take a week out east to see [most of] Traci’s family one last time. What an unexpected blessing it was to have that time. One thing we hadn’t really considered beforehand was that this would be our last opportunity to spend time with Traci’s parents in their home of 10+ years. It’s all our kids have ever known of “Nana and Popi’s” house, and so many memories have been made there over the years. Over the week we four-wheeled through the woods, visited Ringing Rocks Park, snacked on wild raspberries, kayaked, hunted for hermit crabs and minnows at the beach, and so much more. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing everyone and spending time together. More memories were made that will help to hold us over until we get to see family again. We only wish Traci’s oldest brother and family could have joined too.
Pray that we are able to secure our visas in the next few weeks.
Pray that we can book flights for August or September, given the drastically limited availability.
Pray that we can find a location that allows our whole family to remain together.
Pray against discouragement, and rather that we can stay positive and joy-filled despite the challenges.