It is generally considered that you have seven years to choose a Lama.
So not to worry. Anyone may dedicate themselves to it and they will suceed.
If one wants personal interviews and such(I certainly would) there are many many that fit that qualification.
One may have to travel but when one gets there if arranged one will get private interviews.
A close lama as I mention is not always best for all peoples. For some distance is best.
Hungry, maybe a english speaker...england may work for some people in that circumstance by this thinking.
There are very few comparitively well known lamas rinpoches who give private interviews only to monks in their lineage or others under special circumstances.
The inverse...there are thousands.
Three year retreat as has been beaten to death may have absolutely nothing to do with a lamas training.
Almost certainly not as regards a volume of empowerments. Three year retreats are very common but with differing focus. Could some receive empowerments and be able to practice them as result of a three year retreat....certainly, that probably occured. But training in empowerments is not the focus for a three year retreat most commonly. So that point is irrelevent.
Lama's however do not just become lamas in a lineage without training. I would assume the basic not exotic empowerments, are able functionally to be done, as they are so common. Lineage transmission requires the tranmission of empowerment ability. It is part and parcel of being a lama. Certain transmissions particular to school are certainly known and able to be performed.
I personally often worry discussing specific peoples or lamas as others may have thier faith weakened by such discussions quite unintentionally. It is certainly true there are some bad lamas. Anyone with experience in this will find some. But if there is some question....I tend towards the not discussing. Some hold only intention is required for karmic fault as strict is their interpretation of certain sutra. I don't hold that view. So I worry about those discussions at times if I so engage. So I generally do not unless it has good specific cause.
No offense intended to any or myself posting here on this subject as I am certain all intend good result, includeing the initial poster
Lamas however are virtually everywhere nowadays. Leaving a lama one has a connection to, regardless if one is likeing them or not, is very similiar to breaking up a marriage, even if this is not a lama one has abscrbied to as personal. It is very difficult and emotions arise.
That is normal and to be expected to my opinion. Suitablity is most important, and a connection may be maintained just not in the same fashion. AS one may perhaps remain friends after a divorce...or not.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.