Chiang Mai, Thailand 2015

Our family is relocating to Chiang Mai, Thailand for our totalization year.


Night Market, Chiang Mai

Night Market, Chiang Mai


1. What is totalization?

This is an agreement between the US and 20 or so European countries allowing expats to live in the country for 5 years without going onto the Social System of the guest country.   For most people the cost of going on the foreign system permanently means raising a higher level of support in order to receive a lower amount of retirement.   Our mission, TeachBeyond, along with other larger missions is requiring its missionaries to be in compliance with this law.  In short, we have to leave Germany for 366 days.

2. Why Chiang, Mai, Thailand?  Why not the US?

  • Chiang Mai offers quite cheap health care –an ongoing need for our family.
  • Chiang Mai has 2 excellent centers specializing in Member care and counseling for overseas workers.  Their staff have licensure which allow Todd the opportunity to do his practicum and internship working with the clientele he will be serving.            The Well:     Cornerstone Counseling Foundation
  • Chiang Mai has a German Christian school that is fully accredited.
  •  Chiang Mai has several English speaking schools.  Currently we are considering Grace International School.
  • All of our children can continue school in the language they are currently studying.  This allows them to stay on track with their school system.
  • Chiang Mai is relatively cheap area of the world to live.  Our monthly expenses will go down.
  • Chiang Mai provides a multitude of service opportunities for our family.  There are 5 teachers from our mission working at a local school that we can provide member care to, TB is working with another school start-up 3 hours away, there is a German church in this area, and lots of places for us where our training and languages can be useful.
  • Our mission is encouraging its missionaries to look for other fields of service during their year away from Germany.

3. Do you have to learn another language?

We can get by with English, but want to take weekly classes to develop a basic vocabulary that we can use.  This will not be our priority when living there, but we are both avid learners of culture and language.

4. What is Chiang Mai like?  I heard Thailand has a lot of beaches . . .

It is a tropical climate.  Chiang Mai is inland and far away from the coast.  It is an 18 to 24 hour bus ride to the beach.   The city has 120,000 people with a surrounding population of 1,000,000.  It is quite humid and we will be adjusting to 2 seasons–hot and rainy.

Check out this Wikipedia article:

5. What do your kids feel?  Are they upset about the move?

No, in fact they are all looking forward to it.  Their adjustment to German school has been challenging and we are praying that going to German school with other Germans who are living outside of Germany will be easier for them.  In one of their schools, they have been the only foreigners and have keenly felt and were made to feel as outsiders.  The German school in Thailand is very inclusive as it is a mixture of many cultures.

6. What are you excited about?

Todd is really excited to be able to focus his energy on his passion: people.  As we have walked through some challenging times the last 7 years or so, God continues to bring people along our path who are hurting and struggling.   We are both passionate about encouraging missionaries who are struggling.  The two main preventable reasons that missionaries leave the mission field are interpersonal issues and family/children related problems.  One area that I would like to work with more is that of supporting missionaries in the education of their children.  Currently, my kids have been at 10 different schools in 3 different languages.  I see both the positives and negatives in national schooling and hope that one day I can walk alongside others who are doing this.  We would love to be part of the solution in helping missionaries work through their challenges in order to promote more longevity on the mission field.

7. What are your nervous about?

Figuring out a new culture on our own with different standards, values, when we do not speak Thai.

Raising a significant amount of  support in a short time.  Todd’s stipend from the German church helped us stay stable as our support has dropped, but once this is gone we are under-supported and we also need to purchase different insurance policy.

8. How can we encourage you?

We would love to have more people partner with us and join our team.  As we have walked through challenges the last few years, those of you who have kept in faithful contact with us from afar, supported and encouraged us have been part of the reason that we were able to keep going.  Partnering with us means that we are all on the same team and working towards the same goal, but doing different things to achieve this goal.  Some give, hopefully all pray, some encourage, and together with the Lord’s strength we can continue to share Christ’s love and life with all we meet with or without words.

9. What special needs do you have? 

We want to set up a special fund for our children’s schooling as this is quite expensive.   We are exploring different options for this right now.

Todd still has a number of courses to finish for his MA degree.  He needs to stay on schedule so he can complete his internship and practicum.   If you would like to give toward our education expenses, please designate your gift for the Kramlichs, education fund 036.

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