Here's a question that I've been swatting away like a fly ever since I arrived in Bishkek.
Why aren't I visiting orphanages more? Why, though they are always in my heart, am I so reluctant to spend time with these indescribably precious, abandoned, unloved children?
After months of skirting around the question, I think I know: once I go, I'll never leave. The next time I visit an orphanage, it can't be in a casual drop-by-here's-some-presents-let's play-peekaboo-aren't-you-cute kind of way. It's got to be for keeps. (This article describes life in the Bishkek baby house, the only government-run one in the city. It's probably the nicest orphanage in the country). I can't stand the idea of befriending children - bonding with them - for half a day and then leaving their lives for good. It's altogether too painful and I won't do it any more.
I must learn to be content with the work that I do. Teaching TCKs is challenging, rewarding and exciting. But it's also all-consuming. I haven't got the time to invest in weekly visits and what's more, I don't have enough leftovers to make the emotional investment. For now, I accept the fact that I'm an enabler: by teaching these dear delightful teenagers, I'm enabling their parents to do things like caring for orphans. One day, though, I want to be on the frontline. My heart is becoming like that of a young boy yearning to fight in the trenches for his country, only with (I hope) a more realistic grasp of the glamourless sacrifice it involves, because I've seen it firsthand in the lives of others.
Perhaps there'll be a day when I'm no longer a full-time teacher. Until then, I pray desperately for the orphans of Bishkek, that God might send people with big hearts and lots of time; people who love to hug and play and give presents and brush hair and kick footballs. People who are willing and able to consider adoption. I thank him for the people who are already doing these things, the families who have committed to care for orphans. God willing, one day I'll join them.