Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Our Christmas Decorations

Lee gave Annette this nativity and tree for Christmas:

Monday, December 14, 2009

December 12, 2009

Elder and Sister Cooley take to the road on their TRICYCLE!

Where oh where could he be?

Some people walk their dogs, he walks his pig.

Carabo coming home from a long day in the rice fields:

Truman riding the cart. Lee gave the man and boy a soda, they were so excited:

The boy scouts singing at the mall:

We ended November with a busy weekend. On Friday we drove an hour East of Naga and conducted a District Employment Committee training, (DEC). This training is always interesting because most of the members have no IDEA what they are suppose to be doing, there for nothing is being done, so we explain what each person's job consists of and how to do it. It is amazing how interested they are once they understand what to do. An hour ride back to Naga, a good dinner, clothes washed and dried (the office couple actually have a dryer, how lucky is that!).

Saturday we were off to Daet which is four hours from Legazpi. It helps to spend the night in Naga so we only have a two hour drive in the morning. We had a career workshop with 42 in attendance. I think that was our record attendance and the participation was definitely the best we have had. What a great group-inspiring!!!!

Our workshop grads:

Our drive to Daet is beautiful:

The Stake President there is really on the ball, he has always been eager for us to come and teach his saints all we have to offer. He is very young maybe early thirties, tall and good looking. He has a desire to serve his people and get what ever help he can to motivate them into locating a job so they can be self reliant. He has requested that we come this Sunday and present the Prosperity Fireside to a couple of his wards there. We then have a four hour drive home and prepare for our trip to Manila on Monday. So, last Saturday we spent 8 hours in a work shop and 6 hours driving. We were both tired and ready for bed.

WHY do we not spend the night in Diet or some of the other places and avoid the long drive, in the dark on the treacherous roads? Well the drive is better that the hotel accommodations if you know what I mean. Can you spell "no star" hotel?

Sunday we took off for another hour drive to attend church in Sorsogon City. They had District Conference so all the branches were represented and also the missionaries that serve in that district. We also had President Smith and Sister Smith, which is always a treat to see and hear them speak. He is the priesthood leader over the districts in the mission so his job is more than just Mission president. He and Sister Smith are extremely busy with the Naga Mission!

Our new words for this week are LOLA which means Grandmother and LOLO which means Grandfather. We walk around a track at the Bicol University and this week there have been a few hundred elementary children practicing for a competition. Well can you imagine the attention these two old white people received? First they would sit on the side and dare one of their friends to say something to us, when would answer the children would all laugh. Then some of them got brave and came over and shook our hand or gave us a high five, run back and everyone would laugh. Then more would come out. Before we were done the track was covered with children who of course had a thousand questions. (By the way some of these children have never seen white couples).

Grandpa on the other hand took off jogging. I am not sure if he thought he could get away, but he had a long line of boys jogging along with him. He had them trailing from one end of the track to the other. The girls mostly walked with me and never stopped asking questions, then they would say Lola, where is Lolo? Or half of them would say Grandpa. I would point him out and they would say OHHHHHH.

Then ask a million other questions! This was our entertainment for a couple of days.

The missionaries are coming to dinner again tonight. We look forward to hearing about their teaching and tracting experiences. They are having the first convert baptism here in a couple of years. They also have a great many they are teaching so maybe more baptisms before Christmas. We had one of the AP's here on splits so we are having Mexican food again without our neighbor Elder Damagsang here. He told Elder Walker all he wants to eat is Mexican food now, even his rice of choice now is Mexican, I think we have ruined him for life! Maybe tonight we will convert Elder Mendez!

Elder Walker and Elder Mendez having tacos and quesadillas:

We pray for the Lord to bless and keep you all safe and healthy. We are proud of you and your work in helping the Lord to further his work. This is a good month to go to the temple, go soon!

Merry Christmas Season,
Lola & Lolo

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

November 24, 2009

Our November has just escaped us, and with only a few days left we want to express our many thoughts of our busy month. First, November 14, we had another Career workshop, but only had 10 out of 30 show up. It doesn't matter how many are there, we always have some that are extremely sharp and eager to learn all we have to offer. We pray that they will all have a chance to get a job and stay in the area. This area has a lot of people go to Manila where it is easier to get a job, and better pay, but the Church needs the priesthood and leadership here in the outer areas of the provinces.


November 15, we had another opportunity to do two more of the Prosperity Firesides, the first in Camalig to about 20+. We don't usually include small children in our count of attendees, but we do include teenagers since they start college at 16 here. The teenagers should hear our fireside because they are the generation that will change the Philippine outlook on a lot of things. The fireside gives them insight to both Spiritual and Temporal blessings, especially the blessings of learning to save money and keep it for their retirement.


The Filipino people on the whole do not save or have a retirement. They think they have to give their money to their children then they live like paupers and have to live with a family member when they get older. What is even worse is that the government is so corrupt that the people don't trust the banks at all because they say the government might just come in and close the bank down and confiscate all the money. They have nothing like Social Security! It is hard to try to get ahead here because the government doesn't want them to advance too much or they, the government, might lose control.


When you go to a bank here there are from three to five guards with loaded guns. Some of these are M16, shotguns or machine guns. Believe me they look around when they see us come to the teller. I watched the other day when Lee was walking to the car, the guard stood at the corner until he got inside the car. The guards are all very friendly and kind. They open your door and check your purse or body, if you are a man, whenever you go into a bank or store. No one is going to cause trouble on their shift.


We also have guards at the stores, gas stations, hotels, restaurants, schools and also every where on the streets. You have gun packing traffic Police everywhere, but no stop signs or stoplights.


On the 15th we visited Guinobatan where 55 of the saints came to hear how to multiply your money. We had some excitement when they wanted Elder Cooley to tell them where to put their money and also some of them wanted to lend money and wanted him to tell what percent was fair. Somehow with the Lord's help he always gets out of the discussion with positive results and the saints all love the attention of us coming to them to do a fireside. They all want to get ahead and receive the blessings for being faithful. They, for the most part, all have a positive attitude about their situation and what the Lord wants of them. We have a quote that gets them thinking, "If you are born poor it isn't your fault, but if you die poor that is your fault."


We had a few meetings during the week and then back to another workshop on Saturday in Guinobatan. In this small quaint town lives a brother that lost his wife to cancer a year ago and hasn't been able to get a job to pay the bills. I talked about him before. We had one of his daughters in our class. She was beautiful, smart and talented only 14, and mature beyond her age.


Saturday night he texted Elder Cooley and told him that he had told his daughters that he was leaving the church, that next day would be his last time in church, the one year anniversary of his wife's death. His daughters were heartbroken. He was also going to take the 9 year old and leave the 14 year old behind while he went to find a job somewhere else. He is so distraught from the death of his wife and the hospital after him all the time to pay the bills for his wife's stay. He fells like the church had told him they would pay the hospital bill, but Lee tried to explain how the church couldn't possibly afford to pay the members medical expenses in the Philippines. I think he just has a complete feeling of hopelessness and needs to blame someone. We hear and see so many heart breaking stories like this.


There are also many families who have one of the parent's overseas working. We had a woman in our Tabaco CWS that has 7 children and her husband is in Dubai and she won't see him for a year. She was also there when she had her twins (#6&7), her other children were here. She then decided to come home to take care of her family.


Our last adventure was a double fireside again in two very small villages. The branch, in Pilar, meets in a church that used to be a large home. We drove up and down the street about 6 times and couldn't find it. We would go to one end of the street and ask someone who couldn't speak English, do you know where the Mormon Church is, pointing to our badge and they would wave back that way. Then we would go to the other end and ask and they would send us back the way we had just come from. Then we would turn and ask again finally right next to a huge Inglesia ni Cristro Church set back off the street behind an iron gate I finally spied the black sign with the Church's name on it. We ended up still being early. Somehow the Lord always watches over us and gets us where we need to be when we need to be there and the experience is wonderful.


Last stop was in Donsol where we had a great group attend the fireside. Then we took off through the mountains on our two hour drive for home and even arrived before dark, which is a miracle for us.


Our Thanksgiving took place on Monday the 23rd at the Naga Mission Home, where we had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and all the trimmings. We even had a 7 layer jell-o salad that made me home sick. Our treat was a singing duo- the AP's. They sang a few songs and even put a little dance in one of them for us. The mission is so blessed to have such amazing missionaries, with such strong testimonies. Our missionaries come from the Philippines (60%), America and New Zealand. We had a wonderful time.


Our blessings come each day with the little kindnesses and the smiles we receive from our friends. Our Father has put us here to touch the hearts of those we come in contact with and I pray we will be led to all those who are waiting for what we can offer.


We love and miss you all and pray that you will remember to count your blessings, your many blessing and name them one by one. I am on 1,987,679,250 and still counting.


We send our LOVE,

Dad and Mom



Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone. Hope you Turkey day is wonderful and I get lots of pictures and emails telling us about it. We miss being there with all of you on this special of thanks. We think all of you are our blessings and love you very much.

We spent our day working and taking our friends out to lunch. His birthday is today and hers was yesterday. We also had a couple of missionaries over for a Mexican Thanksgiving. I did not want to do the turkey since we just had it on Monday. The Elders were very happy with the feast we had.

We finally saw our volcano this morning and it is very active, lots of smoke coming out of it. We heard that some of the top collapsed but it is smoking so much we can't see the top of the cone.

Hope you know how much we love and miss you all.

--Elder and Sister Cooley

Monday, November 30, 2009

Halloween and a Trip to Donsol

Halloween in the Phillippines

A traffic enforcer. He wears his shirt with pride.

Some of the little girls we saw on our trip back from Donsol on Sunday.

These beautiful home settings were on our trip to Donsol and Pilar. The rice fields were just getting planted again. This was a beautiful drive.

They completely flood the fields before the rice is planted:

Here is the rice right after it is planted. These were awesome settings for the family home.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Trip, a Typhoon, and a Volcano Eruption

Our trip to Pio Duran-

Here is part of the road. A lot of the road wasn't paved:

A man coming home from work on his Carabo:

An example of the road:

Young man cutting a coconut down:

Sign in the chapel behind the pulpit:

The chapel up in the mountains:

The beautiful country:

They put these barrels across the road to slow you down. Sometimes they use signs.

Typhoon Santi-
One of the larger trees that fell. Luckily they had cleared the road of all the downed trees.

Telephone and electric lines down across the road:

The banana trees were especially hit hard. They must not have a strong trunk.

Trees down from typhoon Santi:

Carabo enjoying the cool river:

Huge piggy going to the market:

Carabo and owner preparing for the rice fields:
Mt Mayon Eruption-
Mt Mayon the day before the eruption;
It belched out a large puff of brown smoke. You can see where the fresh ash or lava came down the front of it.

Rock garden from the first eruption of Mt Mayon:

November 11, 2009

Beautiful Phillipines:

An electrical nightmare:

Terraced rice fields:

We did a Career Workshop (CWS) for the outgoing missionaries at the Mission home on Monday and Tuesday, November 2nd and 3rd. It was great to be with these young adults who have worked so hard impacting the lives of many people whom they have brought into the church. Our group consisted of 9 Filipinos, two of which were sisters, 1 Fijian, and one American.

Tuesday after the Workshop we packed up and headed to the SM Mall for overdue haircuts then headed back to Legazpi. We got there just in time for a surprise birthday party I planned for Annette since her birthday fell on a Sunday. I invited our landlords, Amy and Danny, our neighbors Andrew and Lena , the Zone Leaders and our friends the Pangan's (he is the 1st counselor in the Stake Presidency and who we work with in the Stake Employment Committee here in Legazpi). The office Elders were also in town so it was a pretty good group.

It was a nice dinner and good friend-shipping activity for our neighbors who are not of our faith. They asked a lot of questions and we invited them to come to our Prosperity Fireside Sunday. When we finally arrived home we were really tired but it was a good kind of tired because of all that we had accomplished in that week end.

Our next endeavor was on Saturday November 7; a Self-employment Workshop (SEWS) in Ligao District. Ligao is about an hour away, west of Legazpi. Every time we travel out of the city it is an athletic event. This time it was quite pleasant until we came to Camilig where the heavy rains had caused a mud slide from the volcano into this tiny town. The roads were covered with mud and rocks. Some of the dirt had been shoveled away, by hand of course but the bulk of it remained. This little town sits at the bottom of the volcano so most of its problems come from the volcano. Other than the mud, rocks and water the trip was nice. We like teaching in Ligao because this is one district that is really performing as a team and doing the right things as the Stake Employment committee. They take time to plan things and have really learned from the training we have provided. The SEWS was great. The group of 21 was interested and we had great participation. We expect about half will try to start a new business in the next six months; we hope they will be successful! It is important that they follow the steps: pick a business they want to start and make a plan to identify all the components of a business plan. They are not formal plans, but contain the product or service idea, market research, market strategy and financial plans.
We love teaching our classes; the graduates have fun with the process we take them through. We have a work book and some fun videos that we work into the various subjects. By the time we are done is seems like we are all friends, laughing, learning and working hard together. We had 21 graduates in this class!

We especially had fun because we took our Grandson Truman with us(a "Flat Stanley" likeness of Truman Galmeister), Truman has an assignment in his class to take some pictures of him in different places so we have him visiting us here in the Philippines . The class all wanted him in the picture so we did. He is the youngest graduate of our class.

Sunday was special we were able to attend our home ward after three weeks away. There we did a Prosperity Fireside immediately following church and had a about 75 attendees. After the one in Legazpi, we did the same fireside in Daraga for two wards. It was well attended, maybe 60-70 people and we know many of them including the Stake President Ramos and his wife, some of the Bishops and President Pangan, a dear friend. Elder Cooley almost started world war 3 when he mentioned that Sister Cooley handled the check book. Several couples came up after, saying my wife now wants to handle our finances. We won't go there next week in the firesides we have.

Today was a P-day; we love this day because we have the chance to talk with our children via webcam. What a delight to see and hear about their adventures that week. We even have the opportunity to be entertained some weeks like today when Tanner started us off with his straw tricks and then Edmond did his Elephant impersonation for us. It is so funny, what a guy!


Elder and Sister Cooley