Living overseas in an expat community has its own peculiar challenges. It takes a special kind of person to live and work overseas in the first place. Many are pretty strong willed and adventuresome, and committed more to their own personal agendas rather than the corporate goals espoused by whomever they are working for. It makes us rather a fluid bunch, shifting easily from country to country, and back again to Canada whenever the lease expires on their incentive to be here.

Over the last few weeks we have lost eight of our friends from this community. Pete and Joan, whom we met up with in Calgary on our recent visit there, were the first to go, eager to get some interviews in at the end of the school year in order to secure teaching positions for the coming year. We had grown quite close to them in the short year that they were here, and encouraged by their love for the outdoors had been encouraged to stretch ourselves into hiking some of the many trails that lace this country and even trying to scale the walls of a local climbing gym.

The next to go was my dear friend Shaun Le Conte and his new fiancée Moochi Chang who have left to return to Sarnia to get married and settle into a new life in Canada. We of course wish them all the best, but out last meal together was bittersweet as we have shared at lot of ourselves with these dear people and it was a sad day for both of us to see them go. Craig Hobin and Colin Shafer have also left. Craig to return to a teaching job in Canada, Colin to pursue a Masters in London, England. Colin, pictured here, was one of the more outspoken teachers in our little corps, advocating for a panoply of freedoms that irritated the more entrenched elements in this moderately repressive country, and encouraging his students to be world citizens rather than propaganda spouting xenophobes.

The last to go are Sid and Sharon, the closest to us in age and religious affinity. Sid is looking forward to a well deserved retirement, having been in the classroom for forty years. It is a testimony to his decency that he leaves with the commendation of all for his kindness and friendliness. We had a lovely final evening with that at Jim and Karen’s last night celebrating our friendship and their contribution to the school and the lives of teachers here.

All of this leave taking has taken its toll on our spirits. At such times one tends to take stock of the friends that remain, including one’s spouse. Each of us have older friends and of course our relationship with our natal families is far older. But no relationship has been more enduring, or more important to our own well being. I am grateful for the wife a good Lord brought into my life, and my prayers go with her as she once again leaves for Cambodia this week.