This weekend was full. This weekend was rich. Wonderfully disgusting amounts of fried food. Various and a sundry beverage. Laughter by all. Prayer, memories shared, and well-wishes expressed for a great friend and fellow sojourner. Misty eyes and a grateful heart as I fly away.
I am currently on a plane from one Asian city, back to the one in which I currently live. This weekend was for the purpose of spending a final weekend and having a going away party for one of my best friends over here. Daniel Schneider and I have been friends since 2007, but our friendship ramped up when he moved back over to Asia in 2010. We have grown together and dreamed of things we wanted to see accomplished for the good over here. We were part of an epic vacation last year in Koh Lanta, Thailand. That little island, as well as those of us on that trip, will never be the same. We have laughed with and pushed each other towards growth in many areas these past few years.
Last night, about 20 of us from around this country came together in the top section of a small Irish pub. We did this to honor Daniel’s time over here, celebrate his pending marriage to a wonderful woman, and “send him back” to America for a new stage in life. It was a great time had by all, but I hope it was particularly meaningful for Daniel.
Here is the deal, the absolute best part of my life here in Asia is the people with whom I have the privilege of living, studying, and working. I am amazed at the caliber of people that end up on this side of the globe, both foreign expatriates, like Daniel (and me) and local East Asian friends and colleagues. To say that my life has been richly blessed by the people I have been, and continue to “do life” with over here would be the understatement of my lifetime. I am changed, each year, for the better by these people. Their commitments, skills, passions, and hearts are unrivaled. I wish space and the proper venue allowed for me to share about more of them. They really are an incredible group of men and women.
However, this is also the worst part of my life here in Asia. As I am constantly saying “hello” to wonderful people, the “good-byes” are just about as frequent. Most of the time, my friends leave for great reasons, like Daniel (he gets married in 3 weeks). This doesn’t lessen the sting, though, of his and other such departures, at least not in the short term. A fun aspect of this is I now have friends and trusted confidants all over the globe, literally. The flip side is that I have people all over the globe for whom I miss.
This spring, as is the case every spring, is a time for saying good-bye to several dear friends and colleagues. For now, I am sad thinking about Daniel and my many, many other friends whom I have bid farewell to over the years. The joy of these relationships and mutual growth far exceeds the pain of their absence, but it is pain nonetheless.
In the summer and fall months ahead, I am confident I will meet a new posse of gifted, smart, energetic people from around the world for whom I will be blessed by and learn much from. I will grow deeper in the existing relationships I already have over here. Both of these will be great. It really will be.
There will be laughter, growth, mutual sharing, and sharpening of our lives. Both from the expatriates I live/work/study with and from my East Asian brothers and sisters, I continue to learn so much about life and faith and true joy.
I am eternally grateful for my past with Daniel (and other friends that I miss). I am also hopeful for the days to come. Hopeful for the days of laughter, growth, challenge, and dreaming. . . dreaming of seeing good things that will happen in and through and around our lives.