Unfortunately, this incident may indeed interfere with portions of the water project. Maguindanao is one of the provinces that we focus our efforts on because of the intense poverty that is found there (52% of the population has no access to safe drinking water). One of our main filter distributors, Glen Achivar, has gathered his team and returned to his home in Tacurong city in the much safer province of Sultan Kudarat. Most recently, Glen was overseeing the filter installations in Bulod, Maguindanao. If you haven't seen some of his reports (there are still more to come) then I strongly recommend you visit the website.
As I met with Toti this morning, it became clear that the current atmosphere in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao will impede most of our distribution efforts. We have decided to shut down the factory for Christmas a few weeks earlier than normal. We always try to have at least 100 units in stock so that we can quickly fill large orders or respond to emergencies. This week's events meant that an expected shipment did not go out, so we now have an overflow of stock. Friday will be our last day of full operations for 2009.
If you've not heard, people have been giving water filters to Filipino families on behalf of their friends as a Christmas gift (if a $40 filter is a little above your price range, you can supply a kid in Nicaragua with a Christmas present and a meal for only $5). We are still selling the filters on our website, and Toti and Glen have assured me that they will soon be able to deliver to Bulod without risk, as it is a safe distance from the epicenter of the trouble.
This has felt like a confusing mess of a blog. Sorry about that. Bottom line: we're fine, pray for our filter distributors, and think about not giving your brother that ugly sweater for Christmas, but instead give him the joy of knowing that a family just got clean water for life or a poor child in Nicaragua got Christmas this year.
Okay, one last piece of business then I'll leave you to your eggnog. Thank you all for your prayers regarding Bethany's NARM exam application. A few of you have asked how you can help us with the cost of her flight. The easiest thing is to simply write a cheque (or a "check" if it's yankee-doodle-dollars) made out to Bethany Stewart and send it to:
c/o Christina Stewart
8433 Quayside Court
We thank you so much for your prayers and support. God's goodness will forever overwhelm us. I leave you with a few snapshots of the Bird in her natural environment.