We arrived yesterday evening to our destination without a hitch! Our first outing into Port-of-Spain was to Woodbrook Pentecostal Church, which is serving as a home base for us over the next two weeks. As we arrived at the church building, nestled between homes and businesses in a seemingly busy part of town, we could hear the joyful music floating out. We entered the packed sanctuary and were entranced by the church's welcome, steel pan praise music, and their hearts for their home and for the world.
Dr. Keyes and Jeff Francis started our work and ministry by preaching on God's creation and intent for the family and marriage. In the U.S., we are keenly aware of the breakdown of the family, with many individuals experiencing anger, abuse, violence, and brokenness in the place where we were meant to find support, love, and guidance.The teaching addressed the issues of power and control, as well as emotional abuse, which is contrary to our Father's heart. The people of Trinidad and Tobago have experienced this breakdown as well with many young people growing up in single parent homes or experiencing sexual and physical abuse at a young age. The Trinis who are part of our team, Lemuel and Osanne, shared that domestic violence is a particular concern, as the violence is instigated by both men and women at alarming rates. Rev. Williams clearly cares for his people and is seeking to address these damaging dynamics that occur in the church far too often.
These coming weeks, we will be involved and sent out in smaller teams to work in various areas of the city. One team, headed by Dr. Kathy Arveson and Jenner Cotton, will be stationed at WPC to speak to multiple groups of students from all over the island. Some will come from the elite schools, and others are in military-type programs due to "failure" in the more traditional classroom settings. Presentations will address self-esteem, bullying, conflict resolution, addiction, and effective communication and relationships. Another team, lead by Dr. Kim Harris, will be working with Operation Salvation. She will be going to a different school each day and working with teachers on identifying effects of trauma in their students, incorporating classroom strategies that are conducive for traumatized students, and educating the teachers about compassion fatigue and their own self-care. Another team, lead by Dr. Kathy Erwin, will be presenting to correctional officers at a maximum security prison. Presentations will include compassion fatigue and trauma responses, conflict resolution, and crisis management. And the last group will be headed by Dr. Benjamin Keyes and Lemuel Williams, M.A. at the hotel and conference center, where approximately 90 individuals sent by the ministry heads and government officials will be trained in compassion fatigue, disaster relief, and other trauma related issues in preparation for the opening of Green Cross in Trinidad and Tobago.
Tomorrow the fun begins....
Amanda N. Trent, Psy.D.