I’m not sure where the story begins. I’d like to believe it started “when time itself began to be” and that the human voices I hear are the “holy breath of God, speaking to our waiting world.” I believe in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the universe’s organizing power, so this story probably has many beginnings of which I am unaware. I’ll start here.
January 2017. Each year, I reflect on my personal mission statement. Which has been:
To do what is right and just,
To show constant love,
To walk humbly with God, and
To share this through service to others.
My 2016 and 2017 reflection caused me to add this:
and to speak up for the vulnerable and oppressed.
February 2017. Maria emailed me through Sandy. “
“...last weekend, we had a visiting bishop from our sister Diocese at Mass. He was from the Diocese of Kingstown (St Vincent/Grenadines). He mentioned that there is one psychiatrist for one hundred thousand people....and he was wanting to know if we knew someone who would be interested in going there to train others.
I thought of Jerry... Maybe your next trip could be a mission trip...”
My response: “I'm open to however God would like me to serve and am interested in finding out more.”
My response was honest, but I didn’t believe much would come of it. I thought it was one of those things a bishop might say in passing, more to illustrate a point than actually to recruit help. Was I ever wrong!
I did some further investigation. While the country is making great strides to improve, mental health services are lacking in SVG – especially for children. The World Health Organization (WHO) (2009) reports in the AIMS REPORT ON MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM IN SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES:
There are no specialist services for children and adolescents with mental disorders.
No psycho-social intervention is available in the outpatient setting.
None of the beds at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH) are reserved for children and adolescents.
There are no trained mental health workers at MCMH.
The entire cadre of trained mental health workers is concentrated at the Mental Health Center, where no beds are designated for children and adolescents.
None of the primary health care physicians, nurses, or primary health care workers received training in any aspect of psychiatry/mental health.
No primary or secondary school has a trained mental health counselor.
Non-governmental Agencies (NGOs) and Catholic churches provide services for vulnerable populations that include persons with mental illness.
That’s not “Lions and tigers and bears!”, but it certainly is a big “Oh, my!” I decided I would make this my special prayer during Lent.
The Kingstown Diocese is the sister diocese to the Duluth Diocese in MN, yet no one in MN responded to our request for contact information. So, I took to the Internet to find Bishop’s address – you can find anything on the Internet.
Another “Oh, my!” I learned it is not so easy to find information about anything in a less economically advantaged country. I did my best to find Bishop County’s contact information.
Ash Wednesday, 1 March 2017
I both wrote and emailed Bishop County from the Kingstown Diocese in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, offering to discuss and explore his vision and how I might be of service. Well, I thought I had written the Bishop.
7 March 2017. I received the following:
Your e-mail was sent to the Anglican Cathedral, and the Secretary was kind enough to forward it to me... Bishop County is not in office now, but I am sure he will respond to you soon. Sincerely, Daphne Paynter - Secretary to the Bishop.
28 March 2017 I received this email:
Greetings from St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I am Bp. Gerard County and would like to acknowledge receipt of your e-mails and your letter dated the 1st March. I would try to communicate with you by telephone in the near future. I have been kept very busy during this Lenten season by my pastoral obligations. Fraternally in the Spirit, Bp. Gerard M. County.
Holy Saturday, 15 April 2017
Lent is over (as of Holy Thursday). No response from the Bishop and the answer to my Lenten prayer seems to be “not meant to be”. Then, on Holy Saturday (not the busiest day of Holy Week, but Holy Week nonetheless) I received an email and a phone message from the Bishop stating that not contacting me was due to his busy schedule. He wanted to connect after his return from the Holy Land and other meetings.
In Our Next Episode...
I believe in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the universe’s organizing power...and it seems that there are so many ways we are being led and called together. In the next episode I’ll tell more about:
how Maria is the angel of this (angel = God’s messenger)
how Brianna’s 5+ years experience working in Guatemala fits
how Heather (from Kansas) out-of-the-blue was told to contact Cedarbrook
how Krista said yes to helping with her “for God” time and talent
Or maybe – you can add that stuff yourself. The bottom line, for now, is that I believe – as the Blues Brothers said – “we’re on a mission from God”. We have an idea that part of it is to help the mental health of vulnerable children in orphanages in a very poor a part of the world.
Beyond that, who knows? I am so grateful for you to help and being open to wherever this may lead.
An informed professional position is an opinion that is logically reasoned, based on critical analysis of available information, and consistent with education and professional clinical experience.
Sometimes, we are led to believe that everyone's opinion holds the same value as everyone else's. At Cedarbrook, we believe that every person is equal regarding their humanity and all are deserving of dignity, respect, and rights. We respect and admire both surgeons and dentists. But when it comes to a decision about a heart transplant, we'll go with the surgeon's opinion.
How did it get to be that Professional Positions are considered biased?
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." is "one of the best-known sentences in the English language" and is an important statement on human rights.
All people are equal in essence and equally deserving of dignity, respect, and "certain unalienable Rights." But does that mean everyone's opinion is equal? If my opinion is not the same as yours, am I biased? Or are you? Or is it all of the above?
Let me share some thoughts about what is a bias and what is a professional position.
When Sandy and I got married, we knew that we would have children someday. Whether natural or adopted, we wanted to raise children and experience that aspect of life and giving/loving.
We also knew that we wanted to share the experience of being stay-at-home parents. We feel that it is important to spend time with your children and that the attachments formed in those first years are critical for relationships and development. But is it possible?
There are many interventions that are proven to help attention ADHD symptoms. Here is a list of evidence-based child and adolescent psychosocial interventions published in 2010 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.There are many more effective interventions -- all supported by research -- which I'll share in a future article.