Saturday, September 25, 2010

One-Fourth In and Only Two-Thirds Left

No, the sun hasn't gotten to my head... It always seems that once I have settled in the remainder of the time goes by quicker... and before you know it I have run out of time to do all that I had planned.   This may not happen this year as Tony has developed the knack of worrying about most things way in advance of them arriving - at least several times; at least, I will not have my usual excuses this year.

Speaking of getting to my head: I visited Raison, my barber of almost all my years here, who greeted me by name and didn't even ask if my "tail" was to come off... I now have my Guyana haircut.   I like it as it is cooler... and drier.   Raison added a spritzer of olive oil as he said, "all the cool guys use it." Naturally, I agreed.  There are some days that my Canadian length keeps its "just showered" wetness all day... Ugh. [See previous blog.]
I think it is getting fuller on the top!

Saturday I was out doing a presentation to moms [and grandmothers -moms again] and one dad of the students at Mercy Wings in a poorer section of Georgetown.  Wings was founded by the Sisters of Mercy back in 2000 and has as its mission to facilitate the transformation of youths who are labeled as ‘failures’ into a new kind of youth who have a positive self-image, have integrated sound moral values and a healthy spirituality, and are socially conscious.   Empowerment through human development and skills training enables them to be self-sufficient, motivated to take charge of their lives, and become agents of social and attitudinal change.   [Don't you just love mission statements!]  However, Wings has graduated approximately 300 trainees, most of whom have secured jobs, and a number of whom have gone on to more advanced education.
Mercy Sister Denise is the Director at Wings
Sylvia is a Scarborough Volunteer who is working at Wings and St. Ann's; and is miffed because Tony and I took the Mercy Volunteers out to dinner without her and she is a Canadian, eh?
Adolescent Development, which is a major component of the programme, is seen as helping teenagers learn who they are, by developing a positive self-image; exploring the nature of family and their relationship with their parents and siblings; learning anger management and conflict resolution; and gaining practical knowledge about such things as drugs, alcohol, AIDS, smoking, gambling and violent behaviour.   And I was there to talk to the parents about the losses they have had in their lives and how it impacts their parenting and own living.  As I was given a whole hour [did you ever notice that experts seldom stay long - for if they did, no one would consider them experts .....] I felt  --- Ugh!   These parents are often single parents of single parents, themselves with very little education and a job or two or three that just covers minimum expenses.  The women are most likely victims of domestic abuse with at least one partner, as the neighbourhood is somewhat short on refined, well-educated men.   They all had dreams of escaping the cycle of poverty that they grew up in, and yet they are still there.   They planned to raise their own children with an unconditional love that they did not know themselves as children.  And just a couple of weeks ago a neighbourhood family of five were gunned down in their car in broad daylight... Come to think of it they probably know more about loss and grief than I do...  So it may be a good thing that I only had my expert hour.

There were about two dozen there eager, interested and doing their best so that their children will be able to have the better life that so far has escaped them.   There were many questions and comments, most of which I could actually understand ..... but providing an expert answer was way more difficult.     At best, I gave them some frameworks or tools to make a tiny bit of sense out of their raw thoughts and feelings.  

The highlight of the time was in response to a series of questions about the impact of parents' fighting on the development of their children.  I am of the opinion that fighting is not either here nor there.  If the children can see the parents resolve the argument constructively ..... and we agreed that any use of machetes was not constructive .... it was in fact excellent role modeling for their children's own arguments.  They wanted an example so I asked for a volunteer and we would role play a spousal conflict. 

I asked my volunteer to think a of a simple and light fight that she and her partner get into.   She said, "Sex."  and the remainder of the class agreed with a huge roar of laughter.  I suggested that a less complicated topic might serve our purposes, but there was no going back.  I just wanted to illustrate the benefits of role reversals in understanding the other.So she described her part in the dialogue... and to no one's surprise... she is basically tired, and her partner who has a job but no household responsibilities is ready for a lot more action.  She found it hard to be him until I acted the husband's position ..... though I did find it extremely hard to be a crude, horny husband. [I must have nailed it because the room was chattering, "That he!"] 

Then I got her to be him and I was the tired wife .....  She got into his head and without my prompting said, "I guess we have a problem."  The "problem we share" is an amazing first step in a satisfactory solution.   The collective wisdom of the group came up with solid suggestions for satisfying both partners.   And after the session, the lone man came up to me and told me he was the husband of the woman I was coming on to in the role play .....  Whoops...  And he thanked me, as he understood his wife better.. and just for good measure they are foster parents of two more than their own four.    I always learn more than I teach.

Speaking of things that have been out in the sun too long...  My guard dogs.   These dogs have been protecting me and keeping me safe... in unusual ways. 
So far they have terrified all my visitors.  I have resorted to visiting my guests on the steps of the church.  However, after consulting with my dog whisperer and feeder Sandra, [who cooks something for them every day... and delivers it as well ..... maybe if I bark, she'll leave some dinner for me .....]  I learned that the best thing is a bribe.  So now when my company arrive, I litter the yard with dog treats.   And it works.. though I have to repeat the process on the way out too.

And then the canines come into their own about 3AM [and settling down before sunrise] when they and the accompanying neighbourhood beasts bark loudly and constantly at some intruder seen only by them.   [I wonder if Tony consults on dogs who have hallucinations?]

Sandra - and "Pastor" Val [all the way from Canada] told me the barking was my fault because the mutts are bored... and I should spend an hour or so with them, reaping personal rewards too .....  I will defer this till after I am really crazy and have a doctor's referral for Pet Therapy!  

I have decided to try the same solution that worked for dog problem #1... I'll just chuck a few treats out the window.  Stay tuned, I'll tell you if it works or if I just have fat guard dogs.

Our nursing students seem to have latched on to PBL; they are getting more precise at defining problems and developing a personal resource bank of books, websites and older nursing students/staff to assist with their learning.   Some days Tony and I are convinced that we are missing something... and other days Tony wonders whether it is his wonderful and insightful and comprehensive and delightful facilitative leadership [including some of mine] or it is the students' hunger for knowledge and the appropriateness of the PBL model?  I have long tried to avoid fundamentalism in religion and reductionism in science - so I usually answer "probably both are true"... even all those grandiose qualities he self-attributes ..... I just agree.   [Though in the spirit of honest disclosure required of all great work:  he said he was buying dinner tonight!]


Speaking of writers, I came across a quote from Edward Ward, an English writer in the Caribbean, about 1700:
The Condition of an Author, is much like that of a Strumpet, both exposing our Reputations 
to supply our Necessities, ...   The chiefest and most commendable Talent, 
admir'd in either, is the Knack of Pleasing ..... 
The only difference between us is, in this particular, wherein the Jilt has the Advantage, 
We do our Business First, and stand to the Courtesie of our Benefactors to Reward us after; 
whilst the other, for her Security, makes her Rider pay for his Journey
before he mounts the Saddle

Well, enough of my ramblings, my Benefactors.

[See Donations page.]

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Now that I have dealt with the serious issues ....

There are more critical issues than PBL...For instance --  there must be a mistake ..... SEVEN followers?????    For a quality blog like this?!  There has to be something wrong with the Google system.  I had figured there would be hundreds.  I will console myself by thinking that hordes of readers have chosen to remain private.   It may be that I allowed myself a moment of weakness in setting up the blog ..... I agreed to advertising ..... and fantasized that when all the masses who read the blog brought stuff from the advertisers I would get a percentage for the orphans.  I didn't think that was so bad - kind of like a venial sin:  not a total sell-out capitalist, but one assisting with the better good.   I looked at one specialized ad and it was about "Improving your Sermons"...  Now just think of all the poor pew-fillers that might benefit!

I am keeping this blog "G" rated but I need to enclose a picture of  an experience of pleasure - refreshing, pulsating, embracing:

Yes, the shower is fixed and it actually works wonderfully well.  Cold sometimes; however, I am not complaining, as the last time when I mentioned the "trickle" shower, God, the fates, karmic humour, whatever, left me with no water in the entire flat.  I developed a five-day relationship with the plumber.   One more day and I would have had to adopt him.

It is hard to describe the weather here, as the temperature gets higher in Florida sometimes -- but it is the humidity here that is a constant near-perfect100% - not perfectly enjoyable.  Last time I was here I had packed some clothes so I wouldn't have to truck them back and forth.   I unpacked a nice pair of pants this time, and I wore them to church the first Sunday.  You sweat doing nothing, just sitting in a pew ....... when I went to sit down, the pants legs stuck to my legs and both ripped in a wonderful straight line above my knees with enough sound so everyone heard!  Also, when I went to put on a pair of once-worn sandals I had left here, the glue holding the soles had disintegrated .....  So I did my best imitation of  an Amerindian ...... until I got the guys in Maintenance to re-glue them.   

I am not sure that I can blame the next incident on the heat:  my first trip to the supermarket got me all the essentials -- ketchup, mustard, hot sauce [semi-hot really] and soy sauce.   Almost any food here benefits from one or more of these culinary additives.   I decided to get the most expensive soy sauce ..... and on entering my living room the bottom of the bag let  go -- and quick like a fox [did you  know that when I was in High School, my handball nickname was "El Gato"?] I reacted by kicking the already broken bottle 30 feet onto the opposite wall.  It was a very straight kick as I could tell by the trail of soy sauce on the floor and wall.

 As you may have noticed, I tend to pick on Tony .....  actually, he makes it pretty easy.   However, I have promised to be more understanding.  "And the reason?" you ask.  It's that he replaced my laptop keypad ..... so I have no more problems with not having any T's or G's.  [I still can't spell, alas.]   My friend Taju had obtained a replacement keypad, which arrived here in Guyana in less than a week.   [I was going to make a comment on how Canada Post considers Pubnico a distant rural area that regular mail takes way over a week and double from the States, but I won't ....].  So thank you, Tony, for the installation.   I sure hope this is enough restitution and that I can go back to being my old self!

The blackboards in our classroom were anything but black, so last Saturday after securing enough paint to cover most school blackboards in the city, we started painting... Well, actually the Huck Finn of the Odd Couple ended up doing most of the work because it was so much fun!  Yea, Tony!


And my girls at St. Ann's... They are great and they love to see me, though some cynics have suggested that it is my camera they really like.  I'll stick their pictures somewhere on this blog, [Okay, I changed the Slide show at the top to "This Week's Pictures".  You can double click on the pictures and it goes into a slide show,  with luck] but I am not good at getting pictures where I want them.  

My friend, Sister Beatrice Fernandes, has been struggling with a difficult illness so has had to remove herself from supervising the home and concentrate on herself.   There is a New Sheriff in Town!


A new Sister General there...  Sister Barbara ..... I am impressed with her and her leadership, but she is pretty secretive... When I asked her what Marine Unit she trained with, she just stared back at me.  She had been a high school principal for years in Barbados and was looking forward to retiring when her superior offered her this opportunity ....  Imagine the decision:  managing 40 girls or just sitting back and "liming", as they say here.

Sister Barbara has brought her own changes to the home and they seem to be the right changes for now.   Some of the older girls for whom an education had long since been left behind are now going out on work placements/internships:  as a hairdresser, day care worker, veterinary assistant.     She actually cleared the whole orphanage for close to a month and got staff and friends and some families to take one or two children into their homes.  It was the first time that many of them had not been just part of a crowd...  They returned with a new understanding of themselves.

An old nursing student [and now colleague/friend] wanted to donate some foodstuffs to an orphanage, so I thought that St. Ann's would be a great recipient.   I wrote an email to the orphanage telling them about the donation, but as is typical no answer .....  So Taju and his kids, Althea and Tommy, and I showed up.  Sister Mary Peter told me that she had just emailed me with her concern that St. Ann's is well known and gets many donations and Sister was worried that there were other organizations that needed the food more.  Believe me St. Ann's is not rolling in donations but it was enough -- a concept that is almost unknown in the North.

[Let me not leave the impression that there is no greed here.  Clico, a financial management company, just went under and the savings and retirement funds of many poor in Guyana were wiped out - - familiar story, eh?]   So we delivered 50 kilo of rice, 50 kilos of flour and another of sugar to Joshua House.   When the donor was asked to sign the donation book, he preferred to keep it anonymous.

As a serious aside, this benefactor is planning on coming to Canada to attend a 5 day course on ice cream making at the University of Guelph in December.   At the Canadian High Commission here, where I went to make sure, he had the right forms for the visa... I was told - - rather, warned - - that even with all the proper papers he could be denied a visa, or on arrival he could be denied admission by a Canadian immigration officer... and that would be after the University of Guelph has taken his money and he has paid his airfare .....  Welcome to Canada, eh?   I do hope that everything will go well and smoothly -- sometimes I am reduced to the grumpings of an old-left-wing-liberal.

Almost finally, to demonstrate that I have not changed:  I now have assumed a secret identity... Ninja Toilet Warrior!  As I sit there in the morning ..... I try to be at one with the universe.    And then CLAP!  Another evil mosquito [or fruit fly, I do not wear my glasses] bites the dust and the safety of the human race in my flat has been achieved again.   I saw Karate Kid 2 on the fight down here and I am considering trying chopsticks as a weapon of choice ..... though I sometimes have to resort to BOP, an effective aerosol, to keep the flat safe.  I also saw The Magnificent Seven again on DVD, and now I hum the movie theme song to increase my centering.   As my second grade nun used to say while looking straight at me, "Students, small things amuse small minds".

I went to church today and one of the readings was from the Christian Gospel of Luke about the lost sheep.  As I pondered the text ..... I imagined the shepherd so happy that he had a celebration feast - - and roasted the lamb he just rescued.  I guess it is insights like these that keep me out of the Best Preacher of the Year competitions.   There is a Guyanese proverb that goes, "Wen farma gie hawg he own partition ah pen, hawg gat fuh look out, trouble ah come." 

Amen.. and it is probably so.   John

..... who did paint after all! 

Friday, September 17, 2010

There is No Sage on The Stage Here - #1

 This Odd Couple is off and running in our teaching adventure with first year nursing students at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.  This is our second week and we have been surprised; it is going extremely well. [John, the pessimist, thinks we must be doing something wrong - it won't last;  and Tony, the English optimist, thinks "Naturally. Trust me, I am a doctor."
                                                                                                                                                                                                              We are teaching in the same areas as we have before - Psychology, Ethics, Neurology and Sociology, but we have integrated the syllabuses into a Problem Based Learning [PBL] Format.    This approach to learning formed the basis for medical programmes at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada and has been evolving since the late 1960's.

PBL is a collaborative learning model where the students learn together through designed Paper Problems.   Research has indicated that co-operative, collaborative learning:
  • promotes student learning and academic achievement
  • increases student retention
  • enhances student satisfaction with their learning experience
  • helps students develop skills in oral communication
  • develops students' social skills
  • promotes student self-esteem
  • Guarantees a rich and happy life.  [NOT! - just seeing if you are reading.]
It is quite different from "problem solving", and the goal of learning is NOT to solve the problem which has been presented.  Rather the problem is used to help students identify their own learning needs as they attempt to understand the problem, to pull together, synthesize and apply information to the problem, and to begin to work effectively to learn from group members as well as tutors.   [McMaster PBL Handbook , Allyn Walsh]

Tony and I [aided by our expert consultants, Marilyn and Bernice] spent many hours designing our paper people and their problems to reflect the syllabuses of our courses.   Naturally [to physicians, that is], the medical area formed our broad focus for the six cases.  Then we flavoured them with the major issues from other courses, such as sociology and ethics.
We were really worried, as with PBL there are no lectures. [Actually, this requires as much change for Tony, alias "I can talk about fifty unrelated issues in a one hour period" and John, alias "I can't believe I preached for 50 minutes" as for the students.]  Throughout the Guyanese educational experience, an expert talking head has always been the main pedagogical tool; the students may not even have had a textbook, so had to write furiously.   This is the reliable Tabula Rasa approach of filling empty vessels [sometimes called students] with the right knowledge.   Research in learning has shown this might possibly be the worst method for the quality and quantity of educational benefit!

Rather than talk about what PBL is ..... we designed a "Fluff" case,  we called our paper person, Jackie.  Here is the first page of her story: 

Jackie is about to begin her "lifelong dream" - nursing school.  But she is worried that she won't be able to afford all the costs.  Her family have no money, and her new boyfriend is not working.

A trusted friend tells her of an extremely rich couple who want someone to have a baby for them!   Their only requirement is that the baby must be a light-skinned girl.

They are willing to pay the mother enough money so that she would never have to work again for he rest of her life... 

From the story begins a journey into genetics, anatomy, conception, contract pregnancy, beneficence, class wealth and power [or lack thereof], maternal attachment and ......   In their small groups the students determine what they already know and form questions on what they need to know.. and then they are off to the library, internet, and staff in the hospital who serve as living resources.  [An aside:  in the past, first year nurses were not permitted on the wards or other patient areas -- another rule bites the dust in the pursuit of education!]   We are creating havoc ..... and the students love it.  To quote a self-proclaimed "brilliant "English psychiatrist", 

"We came full of trepidation, with a folder of 'Problems' we had written ourselves (we were both tutors at McMaster medical school for many years).  To our delight, the students are loving it - they are totally burning with curiosity to find out what the patient is suffering from!"
Posted by Picasa 

Well, I think that his is enough serious stuff for now... I may add another PBL blog as we go along.  Tony and I are so excited and pleased with our progress that it's hard to believe -- but wonderful.   Stay tuned!

Friday, September 10, 2010

A few pictures to make up for last week.

When you enter Mercy, if you have ever been there before, you are struck by the huge hole in the compound. My mind was flooded with many memories of the old Colonna Building. One of them is [as I still remember frequently] the effort and pride that Sister Sheila took in getting the cupola and the cross at the top repaired and lit up at night so it could be seen for blocks around… now no cross, no lights, no building, no activity – just memories.
I am saddened and frustrated, so can you imagine the levels of suffering for the staff who have been here for decades?  As I have made my rounds the thoughts and feelings I hear are textbook expressions of Post Traumatic Shock. Some staff have even resigned rather than walk in the compound and experience the memories daily. I feel the pressure to move on with "the new and the future" may have happened too quickly without enough time to remember and develop personal and collective remembrances of stories.

Tony and I were surprised when we opened the door of the Computer Café because we had inquired if it was still there. [I guess we should have been more specific!] There were only two computers in the café and only one worked. Several of the others had been scavenged to replace those lost in the fire… though someone had left “helpful” items in their place. Ugh… [I have decided to use “ugh” instead of my usual expletives in order to keep this a “G” Blog.] Which reminds me to ask our brilliant Canadian consultants how we might compensate for no internet and reference texts usually copyrighted in the ‘80’s if we are lucky… Marilyn Hunt and Bernice King have already spent many hours with Tony trying to get him to appreciate the dynamics of nursing; and more importantly, providing invaluable feedback on our PBL stories and expectations. If we had some kind of an award, we would give it to them.

Many [2] people have asked about where I live now. It is quite palatial by Guyanese standards and bigger than my old flat at Mercy. It is located in the heart of the city on the edge of the Bourda Market, which has a claim to fame as never closing – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, you can find it here. The noises really get going by 9 in the morning and mercifully stop around 9 in the evening. There is one merchant who can shout something like “Fresh, Ripe Bananas” every 15 seconds during that whole time!  Amazing. I am about a 25 minute walk to Mercy and a much shorter bike ride. I have had he usual adaptation difficulties… I am no longer really agile on a bike; I have not mastered how to ride with an umbrella in the pouring rain; and in order to show that even I can learn, I do not ride my bike in the dark. The practical consequences of this are that I may be at Mercy and my bike is at Calvary – or vice versa. There have been several occasions where my bike and I have been together, but he chain lock key has not. Oh well, my Nova Scotia doc told me to walk – good for a person of my age and arthritic knees, though he did say biking was be  er [Whoops – my “t” and “g” have fallen off my keypad, so please guess if my spell checker leaves a strange word.. just add a “t” or “g”. But not a bad Freudian slip… Remind myself to buy beer.]

I am in the upstairs flat on he left hand side. The right side is the church hall. My two “guard” dogs are supposed to live in the fenced in area below. I do have a balcony [It is also a cage.]; I prefer to call it a balcony. Pic later.

I am right on a busy traffic street and the Bourda Market is all around me.

Calvary may be the biggest Lutheran Church building in the city. I even got to church last Sunday and it was good to recognize so many faces.

This is my kitchen. The essential appliance is…. Coffee Maker. And the fridge for beer… and water.

The picture here is half my living-dining room. I have converted it into my work area… I have had some difficulty getting an internet service as companies need a 15 day period before they can hook you up – even though the modem is downstairs and wireless… Several companies have required a yearlong contract.

However, by holding my laptop up to the kitchen window, I can get on to a neighbour’s wireless. I do not know which neighbour as I would gladly pay them. It is somewhat inconvenient -- though my arms are getting stronger which might even help my golf game!


A picture of my bedroom .... notice that there is no top sheet! That is because here is absolutely no need for one… way too hot at night. I keep the fan blowing all night long.

I am up as the sun rises… for ½ hour it is cool… and then as soon as the sun hits my face, you can feel the temperature rise. I still start my day by reading about this part of the world … currently I have a book on Caribbean identity which gives me thoughts and gets my mind going and not on the pressures of the day. In a funny way I feel refreshed to go do the usual. Of course, I have made coffee already and am sitting on the balcony – perhaps the best part of the day, watching and hearing the market and city come to life… The loud music vendors must not be allowed to start till later and then they go all day! Now just the birds, dogs, traffic and people.

I am sure this is more than enough. I am not in a tent or roughing it .. Guyana is a poor country and I am in the city.  It is a good place to be and I am well.

Take Care, John

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I Have Arrived - Well and as Sound as I Get

Georgetown, Guyana, South America

"Last night I dreamed 1,000 new paths, and this morning I woke and took the old one.” The last time that I preached this it was my sermon text. [I couldn’t find it in the Bible, but it must be here somewhere.] Anyhow, I was more confident when applying it to others… [I guess that is what preachers do.] We all have so many dreams of who and what we might become and yet so often we fall away from them in the tyranny of the routine and familiar. I can’t remember too much about the sermon, but I do remember saying that we all needed to pray for courage to live our dreams.

I have returned to Guyana for the 8th time to do mostly the familiar – teach student nurses at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. Yet with Tony Carr’s involvement and expertise [he is an English physician, so what more needs to be said, eh?] I have embarked on a new path. We are going to try to conduct our courses using a Problem Based Learning (PBA) model, i.e., a student/small group directed approach to learning. It is at the polar pedagogical opposite to the expert lecturer filling up he empty students’ heads with the correct thoughts [which by a unusual coincidence are the same as the lecturer’s].

As soon as we arrived, I realized that it was going to be near to impossible to do this, even if everything fell into place. And if you have journeyed with me before, you know nothing in Guyana ever falls into place…

The fire at Mercy destroyed many of the non-patient services, but not the school areas, so I assumed that we would proceed as before ….. However, the library where all our students will do their research is now the home of Medical Records and their whole staff is wedged in between the stacks of books. And the librarian is on leave!

The Computer Café which housed six mostly-working computers for our students to access health literature on line now has two computers – one of which can be used only by Nursing Services. The others have been confiscated to replace those lost in the fire. So one computer for all the staff and students at the hospital to use… And students have the same “status” here as in the North… Ugh.

Our class-time schedule that we negotiated by a contract back in January was revised as we arrived. Several hours were eliminated… I was ready to pack and head home; however, Tony convinced me to see if we could negotiate. Well, he did a much better job than me. And by the end of our meeting we had only lost one hour; we can live with that though it doesn’t solve the two above problems, nor the following one:

Within the last two weeks the Guyana Nursing Council has distributed a new curriculum for psychology and sociology that is the typical intro. that one would find in the north and totally irrelevant for nursing. It does include required texts -- which are not available – interesting.

This has been done because reviewers from the Pan American Health Organization are coming to accredit Guyana Nursing. Amazing! I can compare it to the preparation of hospitals for their accreditation especially in the generation of “CYA” documentation. So everyone here is now in a state of panic to make sure that they do everything right. Now PBL doesn’t come close to fitting the requirements.

Let me give you one example before I overwhelmingly bore you… Tony and I were told that we need to provide copies of all student assignments and exams for the Guyana Nursing Council ....… "snow them with documentation". A useless task only complicated by the fact that he only copier is broken.

There is more… Tony remains his optimistic self [I need to find out what drugs he uses.] so far that is enough for me. Monday we will start our classes, I hope.

Right now I want to go back and retract my sermon; God -- please just let me be content with the familiar! But I can’t because it wasn’t in the best interests of the students and nursing in Guyana. I do not know how all this will turn out and I guess that is a good definition for an adventure.

My living at the Calvary parsonage is different for me this year.

I have secured a bicycle and so far have not had any major damage to my body or my pride…though as I write this I have only made one trip!

It will take 15 days to get a legal internet connection here. I did discover that if I hold my laptop over my head near the kitchen window, I can pick up someone’s wireless signal. Except not on this Saturday morning ....… ugh.

My accommodations are quite excellent and everyone here at the church has been very welcoming. The shower here is a little slow ...… though as cold as usual. So that I am not accused of exaggerating, it takes over 45 seconds to fill a litre container. And the two guard dogs and I have worked out an arrangement .....

I cannot say enough wonderful things about my colleague and friend, a real missionary, Rev. Richard Young. He picked up Tony and me at the airport on Thursday at 6 am and spent his morning getting us settled, groceries brought, etc… He could give Sister Sheila a run for the hospitality award. Thanks Dick.

I cannot end this post without a personal reflection on my life. As I write this my wife is at home alone in the middle of hurricane Earl. She is more than a competent woman and will do all the best things through the storm. However, my thoughts are with her now and I deeply wish that I was there with her. [Not that I really could do anything… as most of you know that I read the directions before changing a light bulb.]

What most bothers me is that my new path is not different than my old one. I thought that I had changed [matured is too strong a word] in my retirement. Throughout my years as pastor and chaplain, I realized that I sacrificed my loved ones to my ideals and practice. I would head into the hospital for an “unknown” person or family at any time even on Christmas morning…

My family has accepted my craziness easier than I have and though I had tried to change and be more aware of family, this morning I am a failure. Except I have failed better… several thousands of miles away!

As I have said to others before me – “we are [I am] condemned by our personalities”. AND I am blessed by the personalities of my wife and children.

Without their acceptance and support of my craziness, I would have had no ministry at MUMC nor one here in Guyana. Anne bears the burdens of my adventures; I give thanks for her support… and the support of my 5 children and my friends.

I have not gotten my camera in gear, so the picture buffs will have o wait. I’ll send out one with pics soon.

Thank you all for being with me. John JSPS