Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sent Packing

I’m an avid traveler, priding myself on efficient packing. I depart for Russia Sunday, with plans to visit several orphanages prior to the host families’ arrival in Moscow next week. In the throes of packing now, my spatial reasoning is sorely stretched; toys, games, food, aid for the orphanages, and packages from adoptive families to their waiting children all jockey for position in my bags. While I’m never certain until I’m in country, with my travel experience, the likelihood is on any trip, I’ll have everything I should.

Seventeen children were scheduled to travel on the October-November Moscow Lighthouse Project trip. On previous trips to new areas, it is a massive effort to get people to sign up as hosts. The early stages of this trip were typically slow going, so last week seven kids, including Elena and Lidia (Hopeless?, 10/6/09), were cut for lack of families. It left ten kids, only five of whom had identified hosts. Needing several new travelers so these others would avoid the disappointment of arriving in Moscow, only to find no one waiting, I failed to convert any leads to hosts. The sign up deadline slipped by Monday, and travelers no longer have time to receive visas. I am grateful that five kids have hosts, but haunted by the equal number who don’t. The Russian government expects to send all ten, eliminating the option of further cutting. My heart aches for Yulya, Nikolai S., Alexander Z., Alexander M., and Dmitry B., without families preparing to meet them. While I despise cutting kids from trips, how I yearn now for that option, rather than bringing them, to no one.

Seven kids stay behind in their orphanages for want of a host. Five more come, equally in want of a host, but publicly exposed that no family would take a chance on meeting them. I’m missing kids, and I’m missing families. Dutifully packing my bags, conscientiously double- and triple-checking my mental list, it’s a sobering realization that no matter what else I remember, what’s most important is already left behind.