Monday, February 8, 2010

Six Days and Counting

It has been less than a week since Bethany and Promise disappeared through the security checkpoint at the Manila International Airport. Last night somebody asked me when the ladies were scheduled to return to Davao and I jokingly replied, "Sometime in 2013." I must confess that some of the days have gone by excruciatingly slowly. It took a few days before I realized that my signature "I'm home" whistle from the bottom of the stairs would not be returned. It sure is quiet around here.

Other days have blown by. Saturday was one such day. I left the house at 4:30 and met Toti at the shop where he was waiting with the fully loaded truck. We drove for nearly five hours to the city of Koronadal in South Cotabato, where we were launching a big filter project. I've already written about it, so if you'd like a bit more detail about the day, you can click here.

After returning from Manila, last week was spent preparing for Saturday's event. Well, that was the plan. I was working away at my computer at 12:30 Friday afternoon when I received a text message from one of my "ambassadors"—I have an ever increasing network of people around Mindanao who are so excited about the biosand water filter that they are regularly promoting the technology in everyday conversation. Shari Bailey wanted to know if I could meet her friend Grace for a quick meeting at the Waterfront Hotel.

Now on the one hand, I was swamped with work, needing to organize my thoughts and my teaching materials for the following day. Conversely, Grace Pingoy is a highly connected woman in Sultan Kudarat, a province in which we have yet to make any significant inroads. In fact, I have been trying to connect with Grace for a few months, but the Maguindanao massacre delayed our meeting (she was personal friends with several of the victims). I wasn't about to miss this opportunity and was quick to leave my work for an hour and a half.

An hour and a half. Yeah right. We sat down in one of the hotel's many restaurants and I started doing my thing. What is my thing? Perhaps that is worth talking about one day. For the sake of brevity, let's just say that I blather on about clean water coming out of concrete boxes. Grace works with a congressman and is personal friends with the Governor of Sultan Kudarat, so we had plenty to talk about.

Partway through our conversation, Grace explained to us (Shari and her friend Peter were also in the meeting) that she was at the hotel attending a conference, a gathering of politically influential women from all over Mindanao. She excitedly pointed out that one of their sessions had been centered around climate change and its effect on safe water sources. Southern Mindanao is currently suffering from a drought that is expected to last up to seven months, meaning that many fresh water sources will dry up, leaving people to gather water from unsafe sources.

Long story short, Grace managed to secure me an invite to present to the conference at the end of their afternoon session. While I was painfully aware that every minute I sat in that hotel would be one less minute of sleep that night, the opportunity was too good to pass up. While waiting for my turn to present, Grace and Shari did the bulk of the schmoozing for me (I felt weird standing around with a bunch of women, so I was happy to take a bit of a back seat), passing out brochures and stressing the need for clean water.

I had arrived at the hotel at 1pm, thinking I could certainly afford one hour away from my desk. I finally left the venue at 7pm. It meant a stupidly late night of prep for Saturday's event, and I think I only managed about 3 hours of sleep. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes of the spontaneous women's conference appearance. It's funny how the Lord can strategically stick you in the right place at the right time.

For those who are worried that I will waste away without Bethany, I can assure you I have been well taken care of in her absence. In fact, I have eaten only one dinner at home since she left. Our friends just keep inviting me to their houses!

Please be praying for Bethany and Promise. Truth be told, it has been a pretty rough week for them. Bethany has a really bad case of the flu, and Promise hasn't been sleeping. Apparently the poor Bird spends most of her nights lying awake, crying out "baby, daddy, go". Cute, but sad.

That's all I have to say about that. Thanks for your prayers. No photos today. No time to take photographs this week. Actually, I'll share one from Manila that I put up on my Photo Friday album last week.



Anonymous said...

Wow! I'm amazed by both the news of your influential contacts and the portrait. Well done on both counts.
Glad you are more than surviving without your lovely wife and daughter, but I know it's not much fun at times.
Aunt Sylv

Anonymous said...

Your sacrifice is a blessing to us.
We promise we will take good care of your family and pray you have a productive and encouraging time apart from them. We love you.
Jim and Connie