April 2020 Update
Dear <<First Name>>,
For the first sixty days of 2020, we were at capacity at the REST House, to the point of having a waiting list of persons coming to Davao for surgeries and other procedures at the Tebow Cure Hospital. As Covid-19 circumstances accelerated in March, we began to limit new
families staying at the Rest House. We were able to send some families to their homes in Leyte who were at a stop point, before travel restrictions were put in place. As the Tebow Cure Hospital is designed for "elective" surgeries and travel is not allowed for these type of surgeries, things are pretty much shut down there too. The hospital is mainly being used to house medical staff from the government hospital, as it is just down the street. Private hospitals are not allowed to admit Covid 19 patients.
Some families though were not done with their casting/surgery processes and needed to stay a bit longer. When travel restrictions were quickly implemented for the good of the nation, they found themselves safely "trapped" in Davao and we of course have accommodated them as they have no place to stay otherwise. Praise God, all are healthy and are isolated as best as we can, from exposure to the virus.
So we have 11 persons still at the REST House, including two staff members (Geraldine and Rhea Delle). Below is their Easter Sunday photo taken just an hour ago. There are no masks as they are within the house, considered as one family and have been together for several weeks (two of the families have been here since mid-January). Due to restrictions, only Geraldine or Rhea Delle are allowed to go outside of the house and one by one, to buy food or medicine. The mothers are not allowed to go beyond the front gate of the house as they cannot obtain a pass as they are not from the Davao area. Minors in Davao are not allowed outside of the house at this stage of the quarantine.
The REST House was designed with God's direction to be a comfortable, safe home where mothers and their children are able to stay, along with staff members, who rotate schedules. Due to the new situation, all 11 live together as one big family and the mothers take on a greater role in cooking and overall maintenance. To comply with restrictions, other staff are not rotating in at this time, leaving Geraldine and Rhea Delle as the only staff at the site. We are very grateful for their loving, creative, servant hearts. Days go by with picnics, campouts in the yard, homeschool classes, movie times, crafts and other activities. All of the kids are at a point in their processes where they can go back home as soon as the travel restrictions are lifted. Rechelle is on the right in the tent photo. She is 14 and is one of eight children. All of the families have farms and are concerned of their animals, crops, fathers, relatives, siblings, friends.
Geraldine and Carmel are so close. Carmel is 11 and lost her lower leg from a cobra bite/infection. She had a surgery in February in preparation for a prosthetic device. Her situation is unique as her sister Trisha is also here and is a club foot case. Their mother has been with them and away from their father and the other four siblings. They are from South Upi, Maguindanao and are of the Teduray tribal group. They came to the hospital as a result of a connection made with a pastor living in their area, who has been a coordinator/recipient for Bible distributions in South Upi.
Trisha, the younger sister, is always so happy, except when it comes time for a cast change. She is now finished with her casting and is in boots and bars and is ready to travel home, once the border lockdowns are lifted.
Rhea Delle is on the right of the photo. She was a sponsored student of SOD for most of her time in college and has passed her board exam to qualify to become a licensed teacher. That is on hold for a while now and she is staying/working at the REST House. We are so appreciative of the work of Rhea Delle and Geraldine.
Here is a testimony of Geraldine as to her perspective of the current situation and opportunities:
"Hello, I am Geraldine Duldulao, 27 years of age. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Hotel Restaurant Management, with plans to work on a cruise ship, like my brother. I have some experiences working in the hospitality industry but along the way I felt there was something deeper that God wants to accomplish in my life. The Lord brought me into this unique opportunity and for his purposes..... I began working here in late May of 2019.
During the first part of 2020, the REST house has been able to accommodate and serve 65 patients and mothers who are in Davao for surgeries and followup appointments. During this extended time with the families, we intentionally make disciples using the tools that God has given us - to restore, encourage, strengthen and transform. This is a perfect time to accomplish these goals.... We create the structure of a home church in the evenings and on Sundays - prayer every night, meditation and study of God's word and times of sharing.
The children and mothers are so grateful to be able to learn more about God's purposes in their lives and to really understand the reason(s) why they are still at REST House. We feel comfort and peace because God's word really speaks to each one of us . To remain and abide in His word gives us hope. Praise God for giving us wisdom! Together with my ministry partner Rhea Delle, we work to create activities for the whole week to make us more productive, in order to further the Lord's Kingdom.
The mothers have a devotion time together while the kids enjoy learning Bible stories, verses, songs, arts and crafts and prayer. In this home quarantine, we also participate in homeschooling. I know that not all moms are used to spending so much time with their kids and they really need to be encouraged. The goal is to teach their children not only basic skills, but to love God with all their heart, soul mind and strength.
One of the most significant opportunities in this crisis time, is to meet the emotional needs of the mothers -- to comfort them and pray for them in this difficult tome. It is very hard for them to be away from their families.....
....This is an environment intended to lift up and share Christ's love...We praise God for being so faithful to provide our daily needs at REST House through our sponsors and additionally for us being provided for physically! My overall vision is to know Christ and to make others known, as well as show each individual that they are eternally valuable. May that be calling we step into,,,,."
Riniel (4) is one of seven children. His mother Analyn is married to a pastor and also is from South Upi. He just finished is casting for club foot and they look forward to going home soon. They are from the Teduray tribal group. Another family from South Upi is also there, having finished a cleft surgery but unable to return home.
On to Leyte ----Just before the restrictions were in place a new put put unit was completed and released.
A boat just arrived but cannot be painted and outfitted until after the lockdown. Many are projecting the lockdown in Leyte to extend until April 30th.
Bibles just arrived in Leyte but cannot yet be distributed. We have a grant pending too for Bibles for Mindanao, but it is on hold for a couple of months.
While we are safely in our homes with food and supplies, it has been a hard time for the nearly 170 SOD livelihood families in Leyte. The put put drivers are not able to work and the boat families are not able to come to port to sell fish. The boat families can catch fish for their own consumption.
The government has recently given out some food supplies and funds to those who cannot work. There was an interim period in which the families had very little food. We were blessed to be able to find and release supplies to the families due to very kind and generous sponsors. Pastor Jonas and Disserie, along with other Leyte staff/volunteers, worked swiftly and creatively to get supplies to the families. Some had gone without food for several days.
The "William O" boat was very useful to deliver supplies to the more remote fishing villages.
Put put drivers were able to come to the office to pick up supplies, in accordance with government regulations.
Most of the SOD staff in Leyte and Davao are classified as non-essential workers and are required to stay at home, except to carefully go out to buy food or medicines between 6 AM and 6 PM (curfew is in place). Their children are also with them of course in their houses. Below are the twin daughters of Jonas and Disserie.
Pastor Gerry and Bembem have been having 2x per week online services for the Padada Church and youth ministry. Other staff are maintaining connections with SOD regular contacts, revising food menus, praying, reading, thinking, spending time with those at home. We talk every day via FB Messenger. Sometimes, a driver is needed to buy food supplies or deliver items to the REST House... but mostly, they are in their houses, as mandated.
I have tried to stay in contact with many of you during this very different time. The SOD appreciates your prayers and prays for the many of the families, sponsors, churches in the USA each day. If you have specific prayer requests, please let us know.
Grateful to be safe, secure in Gods's hands
Peter Cowles for the SOD Board and staff members and families blessed by your prayers and generosity
We shared a message from Geraldine...I also have one from Rhea Delle too from the REST House.
I am Rhea Delle S. Acojedo, 22 years old, a graduate of Bachelor in Secondary Education, major in English at ....Staying at REST HOUSE for almost a year is a blessing for me. God had given me the opportunity to be part of this ministry where we could serve God by serving the residents of the RH.... While staying at home, we are provided with food, blessed with a safe place and are given the opportunity to bond with one another...We thank the Lord for the lives of those who support us financially...for the care and concern we receive from the other SOD staff.
In addition to planning and preparing meals, Geraldine and I are doing evening prayer daily together with the mothers and children. We also continue our Wednesday devotion for kids and mothers. Also, we do small classes with the children 3 times in 1 week. Because of the situation we have right now, we are given more opportunity to praise, thank and serve the Lord. As Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”. So in all circumstances, we give thanks to God Almighty"
We were recently blessed by some boxes from California. Pellen was able to receive the boxes as I am not allowed to go outside of the house as I am above 60 in age. No seniors, pregnant women, minors or those with ongoing medical conditions are allowed outside at this time.