March 2021 Update
Dear <<First Name>>,
In recent weeks, SOD staff joining with co-workers from the Tebow Cure Hospital, has been out in the field several days a week, looking for prospective surgery cases. We always pray for the families when we meet with them and take the time to hear their stories.
Carmella is from a remote mountain area. She was located by our college scholar team, Mariel and Rachel. If all goes as planned, she and her mother will be transported to Davao next Friday and will begin the journey for Carmella to become clubfoot free. They will be staying at the REST House after they have the required COVID clearances.
Field work needs to be done carefully and cannot be rushed. We meet with 30+ families each week, usually at their homes. This requires that we often travel two or more hours (each way) to gather information such as DOB, weight/height, type of condition. We take photos of the condition, determine whether a birth certificate is present, inquire if there is a guardian who can come with them to Davao, discuss housing and transportation, etc. We also talk about the possible surgery timing and reassure them that they will be taken care of if they choose to proceed on to the next steps. This is our first opportunity of building trust and relationships with the families.
It is such a joy to give the families the hope of a free, life transforming surgery for their children. Most of the kids receive some clothing as well as some toys when we meet them. If you look closely you can see them holding some of the new wooden cars which just arrived in balikbayan boxes.
In Leyte, two new put put units were dedicated, bringing the total number of families being assisted with livelihood to 174 (70 put put taxis and 104 boat families)
Many of you have been praying for Teddy, who fell out of a coconut tree. He has made a full recovery from his injuries and has started driving again! He extends his thanks to those who helped with his medical bills and gave some financial assistance to his family. We rejoice in God's healing of Teddy.
Friday Bible studies and M-W-F feeding is still in place for the put put drivers. Please continue to pray that they will soon be able to safely take on more passengers to increase their income.
A new boat was dedicated and released today. This is the second boat of 2021. We are happy to announce that four more boats are now funded and will be built in the coming months and released to families by mid-year.
This boat is helping to build bridges in a new community and is part of the effort to plant a church there, where none exists at this time.
Some good fishing results this month. These were caught using the larger hooks and stronger line which was provided through Pastor Jonas from USA donors. They still rely mostly on their hands to bring the fish into the boat...strong hands indeed!
Feeding programs are still going on but are pushed back into the communities as the schools remain closed.
Many are being blessed by OneMeal food packets provided by CURE International.
Four Bible distributions were accomplished in the past weeks with a total of 1,800 Bibles being distributed. We received some additional funds for Bibles this month and five additional distributions are planned in April. (2,000 Bibles total). These are also mostly joint events with the Tebow Cure Hospital.
Bumper stickers, clothing and other items are also given to the pastors/pastoras. Thanks so much for blessing them with the items you send here from CA, MO and CA and also from Singapore.
We receive photos back from the coordinators of events when they distribute the Bibles to new followers of Jesus.
We are blessed by the efforts of Pastor John Rey who handles the scholarship program in Datu Salumay for the 27 scholars there. Each month, he has a fellowship time with them and also arranges for the passing on of their scholarship allowances.
We have been in the pandemic now for one year. In this time, we were forced to decentralize and change the way we operate in many ways. We also added a local Ex. Director Team - Pastor Jonas Lisbe and his wife Disserie in October and many of the staff of SOD now report to them.
Our relationship with the Tebow Cure Hospital accelerated in 2020 and we are merging some common functions with the hospital, particularly related to transportation, housing, patient recruitment and outside of the hospital community engagement. This is an important step in being able to serve more children and to reach more families with the gospel message.
In the coming weeks, I also will be merging with the hospital and taking on the role of Ex. Director of the hospital if all goes as planned, by June 1st. Please be praying about this transition. We feel this is God's leading and of benefit to both organizations. There are exciting plans to double the number of surgeries by the end the 2021-22 FY year.
Pellen and I will still have involvement in SOD and I will remain as Board CEO of both SOD non-profit organizations. My day-to-day focus though will move toward the running of the hospital. As SOD is merging some functions (non-financially) I will still be very involved with all the Davao based staff but less involved in the outer areas, which already report to Pastor Jonas. Pellen will continue to focus her time on the financial and compliance related activities of SOD here in the Philippines.
We are grateful to have Pastor Jonas and Disserie prepared for these changes in day-to-day leadership. We are also hopeful and praying for an already committed missionary couple to be able move here by mid-summer to work as volunteers with SOD.
Thanks for your prayers and financial support as God continues to lead our steps.
Peter Cowles for the SOD Boards and staff and the many families blessed by your generosity