I realized today that we have exactly 90 days left in this country. We are scheduled to leave the Philippines on November 15th. It got me thinking a little bit about all that we have experienced since we arrived in Davao City more than three years ago, but mostly I was left fretting about all that needs to be done before we leave. With your permission, I'd like to get you caught up on what I've been up to and how I plan to spend my last 90 days.
We had dinner with some old friends tonight, and I was asked how often I get to go to the mountains to distribute the BioSand Water Filter. I explained the gradual shift from being the wild guy with the Grizzly Adams beard (don't click this link) who would wander around the countryside looking for dirty water, to the super focused business/sales guy that I am today. That's a pretty big shift in two and a half years, especially when you consider the fact that I still have essentially the same goals, with the exact same product.
My feelings about the BioSand Water Filter haven't changed. I still believe it to be an incredibly powerful tool for bringing safe drinking water to families in need. It also opens all sorts of doors for sharing the gospel, not to mention that fact that it can serve as a powerful demonstration of the gospel all by itself (Matt 25:35).
My approach to the BioSand Water Filter, however, has changed dramatically over the years. I have learned the hard way, time after time, how not to distribute the filter. I have felt pride at my accomplishments one day, only to come crashing down to earth the next as I learned of colossal failure. Without boring you with specifics, I will tell you that our greatest mistake was failing to maintain control over our distribution system. We had some great organizations and individuals who were helping us to install filters all over Mindanao. We became so focused on manufacturing quality filters and getting people excited about them, but I wasn't following up with our partners to be sure that we had a sustainable plan in place. We were all having fun blessing people with safe water, but it was total chaos.
It's funny how a deadline will sharpen your mind. As a student I used to leave my large assignments until the last minute. When the night before the due date arrived, I suddenly found myself able to focus. I have since matured and the Lord has helped me in my battle against procrastination, but the principle still applies. When it became clear that Bethany and I would be leaving the Philippines at the end of this year, I had the deadline I needed. In the time since that decision was made, Toti and I have been working like crazy to put systems in place to bring order to the chaos that I had created.
In recent weeks I have been working with Grayson Bain, the chairman of the Impact Nations International Ministries' board, and his right-hand man, Daniel Anggara, to put together a short-term and long-term plan for Impact Nations Philippines. The two of them have done a masterful job of helping me get our books in order so that we can better plan on where to go next. Now that we have a pretty good grasp of our financial situation, we can focus on the other factors. I have my regular weekly meeting with them in a few hours, so I'll need to get to bed soon.
I should mention that Impact Nations Philippines, Inc. has been financially self-sustained for some time now. We sell filters to government agencies and NGOs, and then reinvest our profits in order to increase our infrastructure and influence. We now have two manufacturing facilities on opposite sides of the country and two large flatbed trucks delivering as many as 70 filters at a time.
In addition to my work with Grayson and Daniel, I have been working hard on creating a consistent marketing message and strategy that can be employed by our team of distributors. We have individuals and organizations serving as authorized distributors of the BioSand Water Filter. They now have the marketing tools and the training needed to go out into their communities and promote this technology. Creating these tools was a great deal of hard work, but I believe it will lead to considerable success. We hope to create employment (distributors can earn a handsome wage and hire an installation team) and increase our market while maintaining quality control throughout each step in the distribution process. We will also have a much better ability to assess which strategies are working and which ones are in need of alteration.
If you would like to get a feel for what all this looks like, I encourage you to check out our new website. It should give you a bit of an understanding of our approach and our commitment to quality control, ensuring that each recipient of the BioSand Water Filter understands its import, use, and maintenance.
So, those are some of the things that I've been working on lately. My hours have been long and I don't get to the mountains anymore, but I am chasing a dream. I want so badly to see a network of distributors bringing a lifetime supply of safe drinking water to families all over this country. I so desperately desire to see my dear friend Toti take up the torch and carry this organization to bigger and better things. The Lord has been so gracious with us as we have stumbled in the dark. Toti and I believe that He has great things in store for us in the coming years.