Sometimes I feel like even being here in Taraz I am living in two different worlds. The world of what I did when I was here in the past collides with what I am doing now. I love both of them, but am reminded of the need to live in the present. It is often easy to look back longingly or to look forward with anticipation. My hope is to live just for the moments I have today.
I have had a chance to visit the orphanages several times recently. I have been teaching English at Saramoldaeva Orphanage while Zarina is on her honeymoon. One of the best parts of the classes is getting to teach many of the kids that I worked with when they were just four or five years old and had just come to Saramoldaeva. I have watched many of these children grow up. Now they are in 3rd grade and I am working with them in a different capacity. Although teaching English is not my favorite thing in the world, I am really having fun. I love getting to build into their lives once again. It's interesting to see them respond differently than those in the classes who I didn't work with in the past.
While at Sarmoldaeva the other day, I saw one of our graduates. He graduated while I was in the States and was back for a visit. He was just back for a short visit. What a blessing to see him. I remember how hard it was when he and his brother first came to the orphanage. I remember the pain in their eyes. When I looked into his eyes the other day, I didn't see that same pain. I saw clear eyes that shone with the joy of seeing an old friend. I always focus on the eyes when speaking with a graduate as the eyes tell all (lying, drugs, drinking, lack of sleep, etc). What a joy to look into his eyes and be able to believe him when he said he was doing well and enjoyed his work.
Last week I also got to visit Savva Orphanage. I loved getting to see staff and kids. One of the staff who we worked closely with had her son's wedding the night before. It was fun to hear about her children and catch up on life. I also had the privilege of getting to see one of our board members meet his sponsored child for the first time. I never tire of seeing the connection made between a sponsor and a child. While at Savva, I snuck up to the little kids room. One of the girls did my hair (picture below). They introduced me to the new children who had come and even made sure to tell me which ones spoke Kazakh.
I am so thankful for the friendships I have developed over the years. I am thankful that I get to visit every once-in-a-while and see my friends. I am thankful that we have such a great youth department to work with them on a regular basis.