Tuesday, June 14th, is a day to remember! That was the day that Mom received her ‘Retirement Visa’ from the Immigration Office in Chiangmai. What does that mean? Unlike persons with ‘Tourist Visas’ or ‘Non-Immigrant Visas,’ Mom never has to leave the country again to prolong her stay in Thailand. If she decides to stay in Thailand, she will have to go to the Immigration Office once a year to extend that visa. She can leave the country anytime and, as long as she has obtained a ‘Re-entry Permit’ before leaving, she can re-enter the country anytime. This visa is only available to foreigners who have retired and have no plans to work in Thailand. The cost? $50 for a notarized statement from the US Consulate and about $65 for the visa itself.
I am not so lucky. Since I plan to work here, I will need a work permit and a different long-term visa. To obtain my ‘Religious Affairs Visa,’ I have to leave the country and re-enter under the new visa. Since the CCT has arranged to have my new visa issued by the Thai Embassy in Penang, Malaysia, I will be making a trip there at the end of this month. My flight via Thai Airways will take me to Bangkok and then on to Penang, arriving late on the 28th of June. I will spend June 29th at the Thai Embassy and do a little sightseeing. I will then catch a Thai Airways flight back on June 30th. In the meantime, a good friend of Mom’s will stay with her while I am gone.
You know, from an earlier post, that we have moved into a home that we are renting in Chiangmai. Let me tell you a little bit about the beautiful home that God has given us to use during our time in Thailand. It is a two-story, three-bedroom home on a very quiet soi (lane) in a neighborhood that is a short drive from the office, church, a grocery store and the market. It is only a short drive in the opposite direction to the super highway which provides access to the rest of the city. As you can see, the roof is tiled and has large eaves that protect from frequent rainstorms. There is a carport for the car I will eventually drive. Every room is screened, so there is no need for mosquito netting. The three bedrooms have room air-conditioners, so it is easy to sleep at night. We rented the home ‘fully furnished’ to eliminate the need to buy large pieces of furniture. When my language study ends and my full-time work begins, this will be another place where I can meet with volunteers to discuss their issues and concerns. Mission co-workers who have worked with volunteers in previous years say that it is not unusual for volunteers to implode with the pressure of work and the need to adapt to a new culture and climate. They need a safe place to debrief, discuss their concerns, to solve problems, and to renew their spirit. While the house is larger than what I might need on my own, I hope it will always be filled with volunteers or with those who come to see the work of the church in this place.
Near Chiangmai, there is a village where the residents are known for their wood carving skills. I had the opportunity to go to Baan Tawai recently with a friend. While we were there, I ordered a sign for the gate of our home. It is a hand- carved wooden sign that announces in Thai and in English that the Bryants live here. We have attached the sign to our gate post. The plaque is stained dark and the letters are painted in gold to make them easy to read. This sign distinguishes our house from the four other identical houses on our soi. Hopefully, this sign will make it easier for folks to find our home. Several friends have already made their way here to visit. We hope you will visit us as well.