|Can you guess the first thing Dennis did with the Students? (Remember he is a Baptist pastor.)|
Answer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UYoh7f6BTU
Dennis LeBlanc, an old Maryknoll College classmate and friend, arrived to join me here at Mercy last Sunday Morning. He has already spent the week teaching in the PBL classes and doing a few hours of "Family Mapping" (Genogram) with the students' wonderfully complex Caribbean families. There are some families with half-siblings from three different fathers and in one instance the same on the mother's side ..... And often different last names reflect the complexities. I am often amazed to find out that students in different years and with different names are really sisters. (The stuff you learn on FaceBook!)
|Dennis with the First Year Students at Mercy.|
|So your father was living with one of your mother's |
ex-partner's spouses when you were born and
your mother was married to his stepbrother ..... ?
|Bibi getting some mapping pointers on her family influences.|
Continuity and Change
I have known Dennis for almost 50 years. When we began our friendship we were both going to be missionaries; however, life intervened, we left the seminary, AND we both got married and changed brands (he is a Baptist) and both pursued counseling for most of our ministries ..... surprisingly similar paths. We have kept in contact in various ways and varying times/ degrees of closeness.
Last year, Dennis visited us before we moved from Nova Scotia. (And a "small world" note: his father's family came to North America and lived in South West Nova... so Dennis was related to half of Pubnico. This was a new discovery for his own family map.) One aspect of the people in Pubnico that I sometimes envied was that they knew their friends (and enemies!) and their families for all their lives. When I look at my life, there are so very few constants; in some ways I have been a different person in different contexts with seemingly limited connections between the selves. There were times where I wondered if the remembered "who" back then still existed in the present.
It is good to have Dennis here so we can both lie about the past to reflect the "who" we are now ..... And two old guys have variable memories. I sometimes have no recall of what Dennis remembers -- and vice versa. Even if some of the tales are embellished just a little, they are comforting remembered continuities.
“And what is a friend? More than a father, more than a brother: a traveling companion; with him, you can conquer the impossible, even if you must lose it later. Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession; friendship is never anything but sharing. It is to a friend that you communicate the awakening of a desire, the birth of a vision or a terror, the anguish of seeing the sun disappear or of finding that order and justice are no more. That’s what you can talk about with a friend." Gates of the Forest, Elie Wiesel
..... than the Canadian Exploration Team arrived. Over a year ago, Peter Kuhnert (a Medical Doctor and Lutheran Pastor) contacted me to see what I knew about psychiatry in Guyana. I freely admitted that my understanding of Psychiatry there was limited to drinking with my friend, a Guyanese Psychiatrist, Bhiro Harry. Well, in spite of my lack of credentials Peter and I have stayed in contact and this year he and another doctor from Freeport Hospital in Kitchener, Sujay Patel (a psychiatrist) began to explore their dream of doing something in Guyana. We were joined by Ram Kalap (Chaplain at Homewood, in Guelph) and Brenna Patel (a teacher) to design an exploratory trip that might lead to a more sustained involvement in Guyana and specifically Mental Health.
|Dr. Harry touring the Georgetown Public Hospital with the Team|
|Bhiro, Ram, Peter, Sujay, Brenna, Dennis in Bhiro's office|
|An early dinner at the Dutch Bottle|
A Travelling We Did Go
Bright and early we were headed West to get over the bridge before both lanes of traffic switched and only came East into Georgetown for a couple of hours ..... and we made it along the West Coast of the Demerara to Parika and onto a speedboat to cross a really wide river ..... On the other side we were back into taxis and on to Suddie Hospital where we had a second meal since leaving and before working. (The Guyanese love to eat!)
|The speedboats at Sparendaam, Essequibo Coast|
|Beach at Suddie|
|Ram and Dennis on the Atlantic shore|
|The Conquering Canadians arrive at the Atlantic|
|The stress of being a psychiatrist was too much|
|And who lets a friend drink alone?|