Thursday, November 4, 2010

Picture of the Month

These twins were tired from shopping. They even sleep in the same position!


Here it is the eve of November and we are finding the time is going faster than we had anticipated during the last few months of our mission. It seems like the Lord still has many things for us to do before we leave, because we are getting busier by the day. As the wards hear that we are leaving within a couple months they decide to have us come and do a workshop, etc. Maybe the old adage holds true even here in the Philippines; that is people wait until the last minute and then cram everything in to get it done on time. We love it though, because we are busy and excited that the saints are still interested in the workshops we have for them.

We started the month of October with a birthday for Elder Cooley and what better present could I give him than going to Naga to do a workshop for the 13 missionaries returning home. This was a special batch for us to teach because we were close to most of them and they had been here before us and welcomed us to the Philippines. We find it harder to say good bye to the missionaries with each batch that go home. I am feeling like the Lord is preparing us for the feelings we are going to have in a few months from now. This group had a great number of leaders in it and they have been the heart and soul of the mission for the last several months. Living and serving as great examples of disciples of Jesus Christ and perfect examples to the new missionaries, this was a gifted group. They will all be missed, but then luckily, we always get some great missionaries to take their place.
On the 13th we went to visit the Millete's since they had missed three Sundays in a row. We arrived and just walked to the house when RoMy (the father) jumped up and asked if we had our car, replying in the affirmative, he had us walking to the car before we even knew where we were going. We found that we were on our way to the hospital to bring home his daughter and new granddaughter. Pamela had delivered her baby on the thirteenth and he was just going to get a tricycle to take him to the hospital and bring them back. Well we couldn't have this precious baby coming home from the hospital in a tricycle so the Lord had once again put us in the right place at the right time.

We arrived at the hospital about five and found that the cashier had taken a dinner break so we had to stay until she returned. I will put some pictures in of the new baby and the hospital in which she was born. I think the pictures show more than words can explain what this government hospital was like. Jamela Elisha Millete will be blessed on the 7th of November by Elder Cooley.

Two of the new experiences this month consisted of deaths of the local species. One morning Elder Cooley was getting into the shower and I started down stairs when I noticed something stretching out from the bottom of the banister (on the second floor) about 8 inches across the stairway stretching straight out in mid air. I went to retrieve Elder Cooley from the shower because I had expected the worst. Elder came out looked and said it was just a piece of twine or something. Upon surveying the piece of twine closer, he agreed with me that it was indeed a snake and looked like a baby Python at that. He was the hero and killed it immediately. Of course he flushed it down the toilet and now every time I go the bathroom I make sure and look real good first.

Our second experience is when we went to the wet market and bought some bananas, brought them home and put the bag on the counter all day. I usually wash the fruit immediately, but today I didn't. That evening I went down stairs and decided to wash the bananas. I took hold of the bag and out came a baby scorpion. I grabbed the Permethrin and sprayed the tail of the scorpion which was raised in the air. Not taking any chances I removed my shoe and smashed it. I hope there was just the one, because they had all day to escape and wander anywhere in the house!

This is election month for city and barangay officials. The election was on Monday the 25th of October. Everything is closed even the schools, it's nice though since there is less traffic. Tuesday we found that the stores and schools were still closed which was very strange. Lee had ask three men from the FM group to go to lunch that day so while at lunch I ask them why the banks and etc., were still closed. They replied with the fact that some of the balloting materials hadn't been received by all the voting places so they just postponed the voting until Tuesday. They didn't mind- it just meant that they had another day off work, school and even the banks closed. On the bank door sign it said, "Closed Extended Holiday." I guess the voters just show up at the polling places and were told no voting until tomorrow-yikes what a mess! There are people who travel from Manila and other places to come home and cast their vote all the way down here in Bicol.

One of the families that we dearly love is the Morga's. Sister Morga (58) was widowed two years ago. She has two sons-Kevin who we helped get a job at McDonald's, and Earl, who is a student at Bicol University. Both these young men are preparing for the mission field, but have not yet turned in the mission papers to the bishop. We went over to visit and were surprised that they had planned dinner for us. She had made a dish-Calderetta which is sort of like a spicy stew over rice (of course). We then had a treat for them. We had months earlier told them about root beer floats so once again we introduced a family to A&W Root Beer floats. Both the boys ate so much I think they were both sick, but they loved them. I think that this could be a business. Kevin said he was going to tell his manager at McDo's (that's what they call McDonald's here) about the root beer float. Here they serve coke floats everywhere.

The Sister's have been teaching a man who lives across the way from us. He said that he had never been in a church and had never opened the Bible or other scriptures. He is a sea captain from a Norwegian ship. He had an accident where he broke his neck, hurt his back and damaged his leg. He has fought for years with an infection in his bones and now they have removed the leg from the just above the knee down. He looks and talks real rough like a sailor in the movies. It is amazing to see the two sweet petite sisters teaching this big burly man. They are so soft spoken but carry a strong spirit with them. They have had Moreno out to church two weeks in a row and he seems to really enjoy it. He said that he has never gone so long without a cigarette before. He asks lots of questions and the sisters are happy to answer everything he asks. I am sure that he is touched by the spirit that Sisters bring when they come to visit him.

We had a special double Zone Conference. We had the Legazpi Zone which includes the Masbate Island, and Sorsogon Zone. President Edwards, our area president was doing a Naga Mission Tour. It is wonderful to have the big conference so we could see some of the missionaries that we don't normally get to visit with. One of these happened to be Sister Antonilla, she was one of our neighbors (knew Brian when he served in her town in the Bacolod Mission) and also Elder Doloy, he worked in the office with the Lambson's. We used to see him often when he was in the mission office, now he is Sorsogon and we never get to see him. Our reunion was short but wonderful.

President Edwards did a question and answer period where the missionaries could ask any questions they wanted to. This was a very inspired part of the conference because one of the Elder's had just lost a niece and nephew in a home fire in Vegas. The spirit was so sweet and humbling as he ask questions and President Edwards answered with doctrine and scriptures. There were some other questions about death so it was a tearful time for several missionaries.

Sister Edwards spoke on GRACE. Through her talk she explained it as the area between doing all that we can do and perfection…….the Savior will make up the difference in our shortfall. It was an excellent talk and she was also inspired with some of her remarks-things that the missionaries needed to hear.

President Edwards ended with a talk on:
  • The Spirit is the Teacher-it will teach long after we are gone
  • Increasing our Faith.
  • We should go beyond the minimum in order to achieve success.
  • You teach with God's help-you can do anything (example David & Goliath)
  • Talked about the DO scriptures
  • Speak with boldness-Love overcomes fear (Moroni 8:16)
  • He told the missionaries they are laying foundation of a Great Work!

President Edwards ended with the fact that the Lord only has us to help Him do his work.

Book of Mormon in Brail

Our souls were filled with the spirit and the desire to do our work with a smile and knowledge that our Father is with us and loves each of us.

Legazpi has a month long festival called "Ibalong". It starts on October 1st and has different activities every day for the whole month. They have a "Street Presentation" on the last Saturday. This is a big celebration of the first people here in Bicol and the dragons and three headed monsters etc…..that had to be slain so the land would be safe to inhabit. The parade is comprised of different high schools that have students dress up and do a performance walking or dancing down the street. The costumes are bright, extreme, gorgeous and mostly made from the products that they make here locally. They also use some of the old fashioned instruments that were used by their forefathers. You will really enjoy the pictures.

We miss and love each of you. May you all continue to love and dedicate your lives to the Lord and his teachings.

Elder and Sister Cooley

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

September Picture of the Month

An electric pole that has water shooting out of the side.


I am sorry that this is so late but our computer hard drive crashed. For all of you computer savvy friends you know that means lots of trouble and heartaches. And, decisions about what was lost and what could be saved.

We are grateful for Jason, our family computer expert. It was under warranty so we sent it to Jay and he had it all fixed, went the extra mile and fixed everything that was needed and more, we got back a brand new computer. The biggest problem was getting it back from Manila, where customs had it detained for a week just trying to decide how much they could hold it ransom for. Finally it is here and works great.

September, aside from the computer trouble, was a great month. We started the month out with a holiday and so we planned a business/beach trip with the Pangan's our dear friends. They had never been to Misibis and with President Pangan starting to work for a restaurant supply company, Lee told him we could visit the beautiful island if Misibis, meet the manager and talk business. Then we could do a little strolling on the beach and sightseeing. It was a perfect day, just a little over cast so not as hot as normal. You will love the pictures of this beautiful resort.

Flowers at the resort:

Beach just off the resort:

The Pangan's in front of the pool at the resort:

The Pangan's in front of one of the most expensive rooms:

We have also had the opportunity to have FHE with the Sister's and our friends the Lojero's. The Sister's gave an inspiring lesson and also taught us a very fun game. Get ready grandchildren we have some new games for you to play. Clarine had made some delicious Toron, which was the 4th runner up to Miss Universe's winning recipe. Elder and I introduced them all to Root Beer floats and they all loved them. They don't usually have a working refrigerator so to have ice cream is a real treat.

Sister Mentes invited us to go to see her coconut farm or "Paradise" as she calls it. That was quite an experience to see them harvest, husk, cut and cook the copra. We learned so much about the life of a coconut farmer and it isn't an easy life. We counted and decided that that the worker handles the coconut at least 9 times before it is off to market. Every month they have to harvest, husk, open, cook and bag the copra. (Copra is the meat of the coconut) They bag it and take it to an area where it is sold to an oil company to make cooking oil, then go back and do it all again the following month. They also burn the shells in a deep hole covered with dirt so they just simmer and fall apart. They then use this as charcoal to cook with both in the home over a small open fire or on the street where they do a special BBQ. Nothing goes to waste here.

The woman whose husband runs the farm for Sister Mentes had made some banana que, and gave us all the coconut milk we could drink. They also opened several coconuts so we could eat the buco (the coconut that is not hard yet and you just scoop it out with a spoon). I love this treat and especially the buco salad that we make with it.

Another special treat that day came as were leaving and some men had picked some bananas to take to market. The red banana is rare and there was a whole large basket of them. I begged and pleaded until they let me buy two of them for us to taste. They had picked them for the fresh fruit market order; he gave in and sold me two. They are the best bananas we have had so far! And we have tasted many different bananas!

Just when it looks like we might have a slow month, the Lord blesses us with something special. This month it was the Splash training from Manila. The Hortaleza Foundation provided cosmetology training to our members. We had 66 participants that took the training from Monday - Friday. We call this livelihood training here and the church tries to use this source a lot to train and help the people to start small businesses to earn money. The women came on Monday morning and gathered for a meeting on how to cut a man's hair. After only just an hour and half meeting they were given a kit to use that had all they supplies they would need for the week and then they started cutting hair.

Oops, one of the main things to have was a male model which almost no one had. So out to the streets we went to talk to, beg or coerce every man riding, walking or working on Marquez St. We had the Padyaks lined up at the church sometimes seven at a time. I felt bad when some of the men came out having sat there for as long as 2 ½ hours getting their hair cut by one of the trainees. We now have the best groomed Padyak drivers in Legazpi. The man pictures above had hair down to his shoulders before our trainees got a hold of him. Some of these men will wave now, pull their hat off and point to their hair. Then we tell them how nice they look and we all smile and laugh.

I even talked three of our little garbage recycle boys to come in and get their hair cut. They were there for so long that I brought them home to give them some boxes, bottles and paper to recycle- and also a treat. I wonder what the parents thought when they all came home with short hair! This little boy liked the powder they used on his neck to get the loose hair off. While he waited for the other two he kept playing until he was covered with powder.

This young man took a nap while he waited for his turn:
So every day the same the women would come and say "problem, problem I have no models" which after the third day it was hard to find someone in our area (either male or female) that hadn't already had their hair cut. Somehow we all worked together and got the problem solved.

October 1 was graduation day and for their test they had to cut several heads of hair, so to make it easy, the trainers packed them into three Jeepney's and took them to a very poor area of Legazpi and let them go to work on cutting the children's hair at an elementary school. Some of the women cut as many as seven heads of hair. This was a true blessing for the families who have little excess money to use for haircuts.

You have never seen so many happy and excited women. They felt the love of their Heavenly Father and each other. We were so impressed with the spirit that was there and I think that those who came into the church must have also felt the same spirit, because amid the chaos there was still a sweet spirit that prevailed.

We had the graduation ceremony and wished the graduates success in their new career.

Did we mention how many beautifully groomed people were at church that Sunday? New hair color, hot oil treatments and some with highlights and all with a new cut.

Our friend Lorna who helps us with the house, came the next day and told me that she was going to cut hair for a couple children when she got home. Hurrah, Hurrah!

Friday after the training we were also pleased to have a fireside from the ACE foundation in Cebu. This foundation helps train people in starting a business. Usually the participants have to pay for the ticket to Cebu and back plus 1500 pesos for their supplies, but now they are trying to bring the ACE program to the people. Elder Cooley has been constantly communicating with them to see if they might come to the Bicol area. Our area being poor made it almost impossible for the people to afford to go to the training. Now if we get 25 + committed students the training will start here on the 16th of November. The Bicol region has truly been blessed this past month with these tremendous opportunities to help them better provide for their families.

Our friend and director of the ERC, Carlo and Esme Adille, topped our month off with the delivery of an 8 lb. baby girl-Bea! (pronounced Baya) Elder told the nurse that we were the Grandparents but we don't think she believed him.

Sister Cooley had the opportunity to take Grace and also Clarine Visit Teaching. Grace has gone with me for a few months and loves the opportunity. Clarine, Graces daughter, had never been VT before and asked if she could come this month. We are so blessed with the most humble and sincere people in the church. They bless our lives with friendship, love and new memories every time we are around them. I am not sure what it will be like not to be here and serve with them and their families. They truly must be among our Father's chosen people.

Elder Cooley also saw Angelo De Lumen and his brother Gerwin receive the priesthood and they were able to bless and pass the sacrament respectively. Lee has been working with this family and has a deep love for them, but if you met them, you would too.

We hope you enjoy this month's issue of the Cooley Connection we have fun going over the month's events planning what to say in each issue. We hope you learn something about the life here in the Philippines and the wonderful people we serve.

We send our love and best wishes.

Elder and Sister Cooley