For the first time ever we held a second seminar in the course of one year on learning difficulties here in Villavicencio. This one was specifically geared towards diagnostics and was limited to the school psychologists here in the city. That way we would have a small enough number that we could work with each school psychologist in actual diagnostic exercises in order to help them be able to accurately identify a child with learning difficulties. Paul Odham, the specialist from Florida who leads these seminars was scheduled to come down and present them.
Then, in the weeks leading up to the seminar, he had multiple health issues with his family that greatly complicated his schedule. Then, in the week he was to travel down there was a major landslide on the road and Villavicencio was totally cut off from the rest of Colombia for the entire week. Even my ability to travel to Bogotá to pick him up became questionable. The precarious state of the road, even after they managed to open it, meant that our ability to travel to Villavicencio and back up to Bogotá after the conferences was in serious doubt. Given all of the uncertainties, Paul decided to cancel his trip. That meant I would have to do the conferences myself. I felt quite comfortable doing the theory part, but in diagnostics I do not have the vast experience he has.
As I called to inform the people in Villavicencio of the changes, I hit on another idea. I talk to my family in the States for long periods of time several times a week. I have a video projector I use in teaching and preaching. So I decided to suggest doing a video conference where Paul would do the interviews and diagnostics life here in Colombia from his home in Florida. Paul was skeptical but I had talked so much via Skype I saw no problem. Still, no one had ever done a video conference in Villavicencio, much less an international one. But we decided to give it a try.
The first day I did the teaching on the types of learning difficulties and covered what we would be looking for as identifiers of each difficulty. For eight hours I lectured on the subject and fielded questions. The session went well and I was pleased. The school psychologists in attendance also seemed quite happy with the presentation and many came up afterwards to express their appreciation and ask even more questions. With the first day behind us I was pleased and confident. Now, the real test would come as the next day it was to be done by video link from the United States.
On Wednesday morning I headed over early and began to get things set up. At the appointed time Paul was no where to be found. I called Dewayne Liebrandt on Skype to have him call Paul on his cell phone. As it turned out, the preacher who had offered to let Paul use his church office and internet connection did not show up. So Dewayne suggested Paul head to the local Subway restaurant that had WiFi. Paul was reluctant but we insisted the manager would be happy to let Paul set up and work there. So off Paul headed and within twenty minutes he had arrived, gotten permission from the manager at the local Subway, and we began what would be eight hours of diagnostic practice over the internet in the form of video conference.
Paul was projected on a screen on the wall where everybody could see him. I set my camera up so he could see the audience. I translated and Paul did the diagnostics. The school psychologists had all brought in children who they suspected had learning difficulties and one by one we worked with each child. The session went great and by the end of the day the local school psychologists had seen fifteen different cases with a wide variety of learning difficulties. All had gone very well and the very first intercontinental video conference in Villavicencio had gone over very well. Paul had been able to be present for his family needs and yet do the work we had scheduled here in Colombia. Everybody was pleased with the results, but perhaps I was the happiest of all. What looked like a fiasco had turned all very well. “All things work together for the good of those who serve Him!”