Believe it or not we are still not finished with our visas and it could potentially be a big problem very soon if we don’t get something finished fast. The family has already gone through a tourist visa, 30 day visa extension for 1900 baht each, a visa border run to Burma for a 30 day extension, and a trip to China which gave another 30 day extension. The Thai visa process is absolutely insane if you don’t go through a visa agency, something we now regret everyday but we didn’t know any better because we were promised in advance help from locals we know who wanted to “help” us.
We only began to learn that the whole thing was a bait and switch much too late into the process. Once the Thai pastor and his wife that promised to help us suddenly were busy all the time and we could just not seem to get any more help from them getting documents that they were responsible for providing us we knew this was going to get messy. I think their scheme was that after we came back to Thailand that the would be able to convince us to do what they wanted us to do with them and that we would suddenly change our minds about what we told them God put on our heart. Before we left Thailand the last time we told them our plan in advance and made it very clear to them our current calling. We did tell them when we had time and as God led we would love to help out at times, I mean they were going to be helping us some so why would we not help them sometimes as well, win/win right? We praised God together and they claimed they wanted to help support us to serve God according to how he was leading us.
As soon as we returned it was like they forgot everything we told them. Suddenly it was if they expected us to be a part of their full time English ministry, live in their neighborhood, attend their church full time and get involved in their community and pretty much be involved full time, the complete opposite of what we talked about before. I am not saying that this is not a wonderful ministry opportunity it’s just that there are so many “good opportunities” to serve and we must serve according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is unfortunate for all of us involved because we made it clear to them from the start what God was leading us to do and this quickly caused friction in the relationship. They knew we had a passion for and wanted to get involved with prison ministry, gym and fitness ministry, outreach to Chinese tourists, helping our Pakistani brother with his refugee ministry in Bangkok and taking short term trips to China and basically just serving God according to his day to day leading.
Slowly the help started drying up, we were getting little or no response for important things that we had to have their help with because it was things they were responsible to provide us to get our work visa’s. For the past couple months we have been stuck trying to figure things out on our own and dealing with very unhelpful immigration agents. You can go to immigration and get an officer to tell you the list of requirements and get everything prepared only to get a different officer next time you go and he tell you it’s wrong and you need different things. You don’t dare tell him “But last time the other officer said….” because then you are challenging his authority and putting the authority of the first agent over him causing him to lose face. We have been dealing with these games for almost 4 months now.
So it has almost been 4 months and we still have not finished our visa’s. The picture above is of the amount of paperwork I tried to turn in for this part of the process thinking it was enough, of course, no it is not enough. Now they say there is an issue with our marriage license. I have our marriage license, an apostille from the US government to certify it’s authenticity, and a statement from the US embassy in Thailand stating our marriage. For these corrupt immigration agents apparently it’s still not enough to prove I am married. So then I was sent by them on a fools errand all the way to Bangkok in the hope of getting a certification from the Thai department of foreign affairs only to find out from them that it is impossible to do so and is only for Thai documents not US ones. However, because that is what the immigration officer claimed we needed we are in trouble, the immigration officer asked us to get something that is impossible to get. To teach you a little about the corrupt side of Asian culture I will tell you what it means. 1. Either they don’t like you and don’t want you to get a visa, or they want for you to just give up and leave. 2. Or they want a bribe to make the problem go away.
Please pray for us because our time is running out, I am already supposed to start working part time tomorrow to fulfill my visa requirements but if I can’t change our visa’s we can’t work and will have to cancel our work contract which means we will have 7 days to leave the country. We will try to go again on Monday morning and get more clarification to this impossible task. If we can clear this hurdle this technically is the last step and we can all get our 1 year visa’s, however as they have done constantly this past 4 months they can just make up another requirement for us to meet and force us to run out the clock. We are trusting God after talking more about it today are are going to count it all joy regardless of the outcome because we know God will take care of us like he always does. Praise Christ Almighty!
James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Please Father God help us finish this task! In Jesus name, Amen!