I've been meaning to write this one final blog entry ever since we returned from Guyana....just about one month ago. I hesitated because I felt like I didn't have the words to convey how I felt about this trip, and also because I felt that I had SO MUCH to say that I didn't know where to a begin. I have not yet printed photos from our trip, so the ones I offer here are from my 2012 trip, and they hang in my office as a daily reminder of my family in Guyana. I'm looking forward to adding prints from 2014 to my office walls.
What strikes me as I look at these old photos, and I think about our most amazing 2014 group, is that I am so very lucky to have Guyana as a part of my life, for the last 12 years. At the end of my very first trip, over a decade ago, I found myself saying to my new Guyanese friends at St. John Bosco, Mahaica Leprosy Hospital, and the Palms -- and, of course, Anthony! -- "I'll see you in March!" I had no idea how I was going to get back to Guyana (as I was an impoverished grad student at the time), but I knew I had to find a way. Now, 12 years later, with at least as many return-visits, the piece of my heart that I left in Guyana remains tethered to all of the people there who have become my family. It is one of the greatest joys in my life to be able to share this with fabulous students from St. Mike's.
And this particular group was truly exceptional. I'm not able to adequately put into words how impressed I was with the men and women in our group. I have rarely seen such a remarkable combination of openness and compassion and intelligence and sensitivity and enthusiasm, in so many people in one place. And what a hilarious bunch, too! Each member of our team brought a unique, powerful presence and energy to our group. I am so grateful to each person for joining our adventure. I wish I could share the memories I have of each one of our team members -- moments that come to mind during which I felt like I caught a glimpse of the unique hilarity and beauty and sensitivity that lies within each of you. But that would make this a very long (and probably pretty sappy) post. So I'll just say thank you. You all remind me to live in the moment and be open for anything.
Part of that openness, for me, is the sadness I feel when I have to a leave my family in Guyana. It's not an exaggeration when I say that I grieve when I leave. I love you all very much, and I feel so, so fortunate to count you all as such precious friends. I wish that I could just pop over and see you whenever I want, and I hope you know that you are ALWAYS in my thoughts and in my heart. Especially those of you I've known the longest -- Anthony, Rashleigh, Mark, Desmond, Wilton -- I don't have words that are strong enough to say how much you all mean to me. To our generous hosts -- Anthony, Andrea, Rashleigh, Reon, Devon, Althea, and Abby -- thank you so much for welcoming us, giving us a home, sharing yourselves and your country with us, and taking such wonderful care of all of us. Andrea, your nurturing care for us, and your patience and hidden humor, are such a gift to me. Thank you. Rashleigh, the time I get to spend with you is immeasurably important to me. Thank you for all the hugs and laughs and deep conversations. And especially Anthony, my dear, dear friend -- none of this would be possible without you. I have never known someone with a heart as big as yours. You are amazing. I learn so much from you about what is important in this life. Thank you. All of you, thank you for your hospitality, your humor, your patience, and your friendship. I love you all dearly, and I miss you fiercely.
I'll see you again soon!