Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Random Smattering of Anecdotes and Observations

A quick update on what be goin' down:

Last night Promise slept for a record 7.5 hours! It was the most uninterrupted sleep that Bethany and I have had in two and a half months. Lady Bird has been sleeping an inordinate amount of time lately, and she is often fussy when awake. She's sucking on her hand a lot too. Bethany thinks she's teasing. Oh, no scratch that, I've misunderstood. Teething. Yes, that makes more sense. Perhaps she's teething. I don't know anything about infants, but it strikes me as a little early for either teasing or teething. But what do I know. She is still fantastically cute.

As Bethany eluded to in her last post, I was away from her for a little while. I had to spend a night in a city called Prosperidad. It's a cool name for a town, but there is little to distinguish it from it's neighbors that bear less promising monikers. I was somehow hoodwinked into preaching for a Thanksgiving celebration at a little church in a barangay called San Jose. I'm not really a thanksgiving kind of a guy. Bethany pointed out to me this week that I am rarely heard brandishing words such as please and thank you. So perhaps there is some kind of tragic irony in having to prepare a pair of sermons on the topic of thanksgiving.

Thankfully, I don't know the way to San Jose. This left me with an excellent reason for inviting my friend Toti along with me, who knows this island like the back of his hand. Toti and I had a great time together. We shared a warped and worn mattress and stayed up late, engaged in discussions of our families, our past, and our dreams and aspirations—if Toti could have any job in the world, he would be a pilot for a commercial airline. As we lay on that antithesis of the pocket coil, blanketed by the sweet sounds of an indefatigable live band that fancied itself as the second coming of Guns 'N Roses, I was suddenly aware that our discourse was not on the subject of work and was left with little choice but to be impressed with myself. I think Toti was impressed too. Apparently I talk about work too much.

The preaching went fine, but I couldn't help but wonder what the point was. I don't preach on a regular basis, and I am particularly unskilled at preparing a sermon. This left me fretting over my computer for several days. Add to that two days in Prosperidad doing my impression of a guy with good manners, I missed a lot of time from work. Not to mention having to be away from my family (I missed them so much) and leaving Bethany to take time away from her homework to tend to the baby. What's the point? I'd rather save some lives with a water filter than preach. To be really honest, the idea that somebody might have been blessed by my sermon doesn't even matter to me. I need something more tangible than that. Dysentery is tangible. A water filter is tangible. That is my world. If I have to preach, let me preach in that world. Does that make sense, or do I just sound like a total snob? Perhaps I am being too honest.

Bethany is making excellent progress with her homework assignment. She was worried that she would not finish in time, but if she continues to have days as fruitful as the last three, then I am confident that she will have no trouble keeping up with her class.

The truck had a disagreement with a jeepney on the weekend. Toti was driving, but he's okay. I wasn't involved. The jeepney came out the victor, while our truck is looking a little dejected. We'll be getting an estimate for the repairs this week. I'm hoping that the cost will be manageable. Our funds have gotten dangerously low for the water project. While I was busy preparing a sermon on keeping our eyes fixed on God's promises instead of our problems, I was given the news that I only had $500 left in the budget. Don't you love God's sense of irony? Sigh. Another $3000 came in on the weekend, so we're good for another month. And I've got faith that more will come in soon. Apparently I'm acting on that faith because I'm busy ordering more steel molds, which will increase our monthly budget considerably.

On Saturday morning, Toti and I went to a subdivision on the edge of town. We were meeting with one of our contacts who lives there. She had complained that the water that comes from her tap is safe to drink, but stains all of her laundry brown, and leaves her rice looking rather dirty. We sold her a filter, and if it solves her problem (it will) she's got three neighbors who want one too. It's looking like we could have a huge potential market for our filters, and they can afford to pay a premium price. If we play our cards right, we could very quickly build up a business in the area that would fully subsidize our work with the Muslims.

There have been a lot of power outages in our neighborhood of late. Major pain in the posterior. Why do they call them "brownouts"? It can get mighty warm in our apartment at high noon without any fans. Bethany gets annoyed because she can't get much homework done without the internet.

You may be aware of my aversion to Christmas. I want you to know that Bethany and I spent an evening together this week decorating the house for this most treasured holiday. Having reached the third -ber month, I could not deny Bethany this pleasure any longer. We had a nice evening drinking homemade eggnog (which made me miss Canada), listening to Christmas carols (which made me miss August), and enjoying the warm glow if the twinkling tree.

I met with the welder today. It looks like he can start building two more steel molds for me on Monday. That will put us up to eight molds at our Davao center, meaning that we will be making 208 filters each month. Plus, we are working diligently to get that Butuan manufacturing center started with at least two molds, and perhaps three. Also, I met with a colleague today who would like to build two molds and start an independent operation about 4 hours west of here. By the end of 2008 there could be 13 steel molds in total, which means a lot of filters.

Well, that's all I have to say about that.

That be one cute baby.Slums at the edge of a pond near Prosperidad.
Promise observed the Christmas cheer from the couch.Bethany is feeling jolly.
Oh, the merriment.Christmas is a plastic shrub and a glass ball.


Anonymous said...

I fully understand your preference for saving lives by dealing with dysentery and water filters over preaching to the already saved. However, if your preaching motivated even one person to go and do something concrete as you do, your time is not wasted, is it? (Besides, you are good at it, you know.) This world will be a much better place as men like you multiply yourselves. So, do it by example, training or preaching - any way that works!
Love you lots,
Aunt Sylv

Anonymous said...

Sharing the Gospel IS saving lives.
Giving pure water is great. But clean water and no Jesus...they are still dying and you've done them no favors. You are in a position to give them both! Preaching may not be your calling, but sharing Jesus by sharing pure water is an opportunity you are obligated to do as a believer in the only One who can truly save them. Never assume everyone you speak to is saved. Better assume none are saved than neglect giving them the real Living Water.

unklrbrt said...

"Preach the gospel at all times. Sometime use words."

Seem like this is a good description of your life right now.

Keep up the good work. What you are accomplishing is fantastic!

If it were okay for christians to be jealous, I would be.