July 2020 Photo Update
Dear <<First Name>>,
We are still in a modified form of quarantine with conditions which must be met for us to operate as a non-governmental organization. We move about in "acceptance" of the reality of our situation, carefully protecting ourselves and others, always seeking to obey the directions of the local and national government.
Like you, we know God is with us during this time and find strength with daily examples of his guidance and protection. We continue to pray for our friends, families and ministry partners here and across the ocean.
Round trip travel to/from the USA is not an option in the coming months. This will be the first time in many years, in which I have not spent 4-6 weeks in the USA. I have missed seeing all of you.
As to updates:
Starting off with Leyte ministries, we dedicated our 65th Put-Put livelihood unit and several of the families from 2016 Put-Put blessings have now completed their four year agreement period and are owners of the units. Another unit is anticipated to be in service in August.
Life continues to be very difficult for the drivers. A normal income, before COVID time, was the equivalent of $6 to $10 per day. In July, their income is averaging $1 per day; only one passenger at a time is allowed per unit. Passengers are scarce, as there are no schools open and market days are limited. Children and seniors are not allowed out of the house except for essential medical appointments.
The three times per week feeding has been important to keep the drivers physically and spiritually healthy. This is a partnership-based feeding program. Many of the drivers rotate the cooking and cleanup duties. Some even bring vegetables from their home gardens to share.
Good catches are being reported among the 104 boat families. There is more flexibility for families to sell to vendors at the market but not to directly sell to the public.
We are sending more hooks and stronger, braided line so that bigger fish, such as these tuna can be caught.
We rejoice as the last family staying at the REST House was finally allowed to go home at the end of June. If COVID cases decline in areas outside of Davao, we may again be comfortable to house families. At this time, only Geraldine and Rhea Delle are staying at the house and we are finding alternate duties for them.
A treadle sewing machine was recently added at the REST House and they are making face masks and adjusting clothing from items shipped here. The last family at the REST House was able to make some clothing items to bring home to their family.
We are also including the remaining staff in our patient care programs, following up with cases on their spiritual needs by phone and internet connections.
One of the unexpected blessings in June/July is the rapid acceleration of the cleft lip and palate repair program at the Tebow Cure Hospital. God has blessed and strengthened our partnership with the hospital and we have been able to help about 50 families with scheduling of surgeries. If things continue at the same speed, we hope to help 40 families each month for the rest of 2020.
There are several appointments involved -- for first evaluation, then surgery, recheck, and if a palate case, for a second or third surgery as well. On some days, four vehicles are involved in transporting mothers/children to and from the Tebow Cure Hospital along with the use of taxis. We are encouraged by the results and the families are so grateful for this opportunity.
Outside of Davao City, COVID numbers have been declining in recent weeks, allowing for the careful reopening of ministry centers/churches. Today, is the second on-site service for the Padada Community Church. Prior to entry - is a temperature check, foot bath, removal of shoes, alcohol spray on hands...wearing of face masks and physical distancing is required. These are all mandatory steps from the government to be able to gather together for worship.
In Davao City, failure to wear a face mask is punishable by a fine and if the third offense, up to one month in jail. So requirements and enforcement are quite a bit different here. Today, is a mandatory non-working day with all non-essential businesses being closed.
In the Aplaya area, there are still persons recovering from the December earthquake. One of the issues is people are required to be in their houses due to COVID but some still have no houses -- as they were destroyed. Last week, some of the families were given by the barangay, a simple section of land to construct a shelter type of house.
As schools are not expected to open for face-to-face classes this school year, our school based feeding programs, hand washing programs and dental care initiatives are also on hold. We have been discussing options with schools for some variation of feeding and hygiene programs.
In the interim, we are doing some local distributions of prepared food, soap, tooth brushes/toothpaste to children previously in school feeding programs. This is in limited areas as we are not allowed to gather children, just to travel there and distribute items. The photo below is of children who are receiving prepared meals. They are outside the house as they don't have options to be inside of a house. They are also being given face masks which are being made by mothers who carefully gather for fellowship.
In partnership with the local government, police and other churches and NGO's, in one rural area, we have been helping with rehabilitation efforts for persons previously experiencing problems with the law, especially with illegal drug use. We are seeing great opportunities to share the gospel in these settings.
We still are planning to assist several students for their high school and college studies, although we are not sure yet of the best way to help them. Several options are being discussed for students in very rural areas. Usually in these areas, students are without computers and good internet connections. We hope to have more direction in the coming weeks from the schools as to modular or other options. This photo is of three of the students during an on-site visit to their areas by SOD staff and their local pastor. The pastor is continuing a discipleship program with the students in the Marilog area.
Thanks so much for your emails, ZOOM calls and notes. In times with so much not so good news in front of us all the time, we look forward to opportunities to step back and share stories of how God continues to transform lives. We have been blessed by the opportunities to connect with many online church services, Bible studies and service clubs and other groups. Let us know how we can connect with you too.
Grateful for your prayers and support.
On behalf of the SOD board(s), staff and grateful recipients
President, Seeds of Dignity Ministries