Our first year here is two days from over. Though the end of the school year is many weeks out, we are leaving to have our baby so this is goodbye for us. Our relation- ships with our friends have come a long way, from that first awkward meeting when we all stared at our feet, jet-lagging and nervous and completely discombobulated, to the hip-hop baby shower (pictured here) for our unnamed son who is lovingly called "Punch Out" by our friends (after Harrison "Punch Out" Ford, Daniel's nickname for his favorite actor). We have become a silly bunch, teased for our family-like affections for each other. We've had sleepovers, played win-lose-or-draw, wrote songs for each other, and had dress-up parties. Our kids love these people, these dear friends, who have truly become family away from family for us this year.
Cristina, we will miss you so much. Go out there and make the world a better place. We know you will. Your genuineness will be sorely missed around here. Your laugh will be missed, too. You bring such joy to the room whenever you are in it. We love you so much!
Leeann, we will miss you so much. Keep bringing those who are on the outside into the fold, whether it is here or elsewhere in the world. We know you will. Your energy and love for life will be sorely missed. You are a light in the darkness. We love you so much!
Amy, we will miss you, too. Though you will still be nearby, we know it won't be the same. You are such a strong and beautiful part of what has made life here great for us. We will miss being a regular part of your life. Please come around as often as you can!
Here's to a wonderful first year in East Asia, and to wonderful friends, and to blessings (and trials) beyond what we expected. And here is to all that lies ahead.