My job requires a lot of travel, so two questions I often get are, “Where have you been?” and “Where are you going next?”
The first question is easy to answer, but I don’t always know where I’m going next. My travel could be triggered by a disaster, crisis or an unexpected opportunity. Here’s a snapshot of how I’ve spent the past couple of weeks:
Each year, I attend the Health and Water Conference held on the campus of the University of North Carolina. Besides meeting safe water experts from all over the world, this year OBI shared a booth with Aqua Research, our partner in developing innovative water filtration and disinfection equipment.
We displayed a working model of OASIS, our new, groundbreaking portable ultrafilter that we plan to roll out globally early next year. OASIS will be an affordable game changer, especially for use in disaster relief and community development. The device can filter water from a lake, stream or mud puddle and in less than five minutes, produce five gallons of perfectly safe drinking water.
While there, I received an email from a member of the Cayman Islands Parliament explaining that the people of Cayman had launched a nationwide drive to collect relief supplies for hurricane victims in Haiti and asked if OBI was willing to be the receiving agent and distribute the food and relief supplies to storm victims. We were happy to serve as requested! I spent the next 48 hours on the phone making arrangements and ensuring that the plane could land, unload and transfer cargo to OB Haiti without delay or taxes.
A few days later, I was on a Cayman Airways 737 stuffed to the max with supplies. We took off for Haiti with around 10 tons of canned tuna, salmon, sardines, baby food, disposable diapers, blankets and hygiene items. In final approach to Haiti we could see the scars of landslides and swollen brown rivers dumping topsoil into the blue waters of the Caribbean. It looked like the island was bleeding. A team of OB Haiti staff met us on the tarmac, and in about 90 minutes the plane was empty and our trucks were loaded and headed out of the airport duty-free.
I flew back to Grand Cayman and the next morning headed for Seattle where I was participating as one of five experts advising a “design swarm” exercise during the Seattle Interactive Conference and the launch of a crowdsourcing effort designed to raise enough funds for OBI to purchase 1,000 SE200 safe water devices for use all over the world.
Forty-two highly-educated professionals were tasked with designing a strategy “to place an SE200 Community Chlorine Maker in every village in Kenya.” In six frantic hours, each team consulted with the panel of experts and formulated a unique strategy. I talked until I was hoarse about Operation Blessing and how we use chlorine to turn bad water into good water.
Meanwhile, Pest World, an annual national conference attended by the top bug killers in the country, was going on just across the street. Since we are so involved in mosquito control and fighting Zika, I extended my trip a day in order to see the latest mosquito control products and promote corporate relations.
I was blessed with meeting some key people and secured a corporate donation of hundreds of treated bed nets. I also met several manufacturers who expressed genuine interest in our mosquito control work including one man who owns a large pest control company and wants to help with efforts in Haiti. Since then, he has organized 16 of the companies that were at the conference to band together and support a new Operation Blessing initiative to wipe out mosquitoes in and around our home for orphaned and abandoned children there.
See what I mean? It’s hard for me to know what’s next! But I don’t worry about it. I just keep going where I feel the Lord is leading, believing that my steps are guided and remembering my favorite verse from Isaiah: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”