Thanks to a great conversation with the Regional Director for Southeast Asia (now my boss) this morning, we have a roadmap and timeline of how to proceed. For the first time since June and our physical departure from the place we called home for 11 years, we feel like we can begin tangible planning for deployment overseas!
Our timeline is to leave the US as early in January as possible. This allows us time to make arrangements with a language school in Indonesia, which can serve as a facilitator for arranging tourist or cultural exchange visas to allow us into the country. It allows us time to ensure we have all the requirements meant for short-term visa entry into Indonesia. It also allows us to finalize the last of our pre-deployment checkups at the dentist and doctor, hopefully.
If for some reason we aren’t able to get visas to enter Indonesia then we will focus on getting tourist visas to Sri Lanka instead. We know for a fact we can get short-term tourist visas there, and there is the added benefit of not needing to quarantine so long as we’re vaccinated and test negative for Covid-19 before departing the US and upon arrival in Sri Lanka. There is also already an LCMS family in Sri Lanka, and I could be of help to him in his work with the Ceylon Evangelical Lutheran Church, a partner Lutheran church body in Sri Lanka.
These are the only two countries in all of Southeast Asia that currently allow for at least limited or short-term entry. Fortunately one of them is where we hope to eventually live, and the other has LCMS people already in-country who could help us get temporarily situated!
We’re very excited at this first forward motion towards overseas. Both options are short-term only, meaning we can get 30 or 60-day visas which could be renewed several times so our total time in-country would be several months. During that time, the hope is that the opportunity to apply for a long-term work visa in Indonesia would open up and we’d be ready to do so. Of course, there’s no guarantee that Covid will subside by the spring enough for countries to start opening borders. But it’s clear the current situation can’t last forever and there are encouraging reports of easing restrictions in several other SE Asia countries. And at least right now, there is the possibility we could leave one country to go to the other one if our available short-term visas run out.
Immediately following the Zoom meeting this morning I e-mailed a language school in Medan, Indonesia and made inquiries regarding another school located outside of Jakarta. Once contact is made we can confirm whether they can assist us in securing visitor visas and enrolling in Bahasa language training. Should that not work out, we’ll pivot immediately to begin steps to head to Sri Lanka.
Please pray for us as we begin work towards deployment to one of these locales. Pray the Holy Spirit would open the appropriate doors for us, and close those that are not right or correct right now. Pray for our family as I serve the small congregation of In Faith Dependent Lutheran Church in Washington state while their pastor is on vacation for two Sundays. Pray for us as we conclude time in the Pacific Northwest and make our way back to Phoenix at the end of the month to finalize preparations. We’re all excited to have a way to move forward, and we pray it will be a blessing to our family, the Church, and whomever our new neighbors turn out to be, regardless of what language they speak!
We look forward to having news to share from the field with all of you, and are so very grateful for your partnership!