Mongolia is full of surprises, some happy and some sad, but almost all of them very quick. Take, for example, Mike who is an M18 and one of the coolest Peace Corps Volunteers I have met in Mongolia. He greeted us when we first arrived in country, offered great advice to me and a couple of other Volunteers as we ate our first dinner in Darkhan at the Texas restaurant (which for the record has pretty much nothing to do with Texas), and always smiled and was quick to pat you on the back to let you know that he was excited for you and happy that you were here in Mongolia. One day we are playing frisbee and talking about all his plans this upcoming year, and literally the next day we are saying “goodbye.” His flight back to America was one week later. Mike is a married Volunteer and he and his wife found out, later that afternoon, that they were pregnant. As per Peace Corps policy, all married Volunteers expecting a child are immediately sent home so that they can receive the best health care in a safe environment. It’s great for the Volunteers, but an emotional roller coaster I can only imagine. Needless to say, I told Mike that I really admired his personality and hoped to treat next year’s incoming Volunteers as great as he treated me. I also told him that I would keep up with he and his wife as they share updates on their blog about their pregnancy and future baby.

If that’s not enough to show you how quickly things can happen here, take Erica, my good friend and fellow M19 Volunteer. In just over one month, we have watched LOST together, ridden in meeker buses more times than we can count, traveled far and wide for internet in the city, taken taxis with extremely shady characters, walked back and forth from town which is an hour each way, talked about crazy things until late into the night, been there for each other when the going got tough and the drama got tougher and then today said “goodbye” because Erica is heading home to America tomorrow to be with her family. Some things are more important than Peace Corps, and family is one of them. After having talked with her family back home and thought over the decision for some time, Erica called our Peace Corps staff today and had they had her plane ticket purchased for the next morning. They move quick here. We all gathered up at Erica’s house, hugged and said our goodbyes to her. It’s only been a month and a half, but it’s amazing to me how much we all love her. We are going to miss her very much and we hope to see her again very soon. You hear that Erica?