Wednesday, March 24, 2010


The photo winner of the month. If the store is too far to walk, you will be creative and ride!

February was an exciting month for the Cooley missionaries it was truly a month filled with great ADVENTURES. First we decided to try a new project that of teaching some of the saints how to use a computer since this is essential in writing a resume and searching for a job. So on February 3rd we went to Guinobatan to conduct a beginner's computer workshop for two hours which turned into two and a half hours and could have easily turned into three, but Elder Cooley decided we couldn't do it all in one night and he was right. It's just that the students were so excited and eager to learn that it was hard to tell them the time was up. We started with nine people attending, but the second week we grew to twelve and the third week we had 15.

Everyone loved the computer workshop and on the third week we took them to an Internet Café where we taught them how to email, set them up with a Yahoo account, showed them how to use Google and also to get on the church web site so they could start their genealogy. When we left that night we truly felt our time had been well spent. We received comments like: "Salamat Po, you have changed my life", "Thank you I can't believe I could do those things". They were so excited it was hard not let them stay all night. You should have seen the smiles!!!! Some of them printed pictures of the Manila Temple and they loved having the opportunity to see a whole new world.

How blessed we are to not only have the knowledge of the computers in our homes but we also have our own computers. We don't even realize there are people still in the world that will never see one or will ever have the opportunity to know how to use a computer.
Our nation is filled with so much opportunity it is hard to explain just how far behind us many of these countries really are. For example probably 99% of the people that we have meet have never or will never own a car or even drive one. We are in "the provinces" which means small cities far away from the big city Manila. They find it hard to believe that I know how to drive. One day we went to the Venezia, our favorite hotel, to see our friends. I drove and one of the young men asked, "Is Elder Cooley teaching you how to drive?" He was so surprised that I already knew how to drive a car.

Our second great adventure came when Elder Cooley and I took a three hour ferry ride to another island in our mission area. We went to Catanduanes to teach a Career Workshop on Saturday and a Prosperity Fireside on Sunday. Here is a tree in Catanduanes that has no trunk It is just like vines grown together.

These little sun shelters make the river look inviting.

A Caraboa with the largest horns I have seen so far.After the fireside we had training for the District Employment Committee. This meant that we would leave on Friday February 12 and come home on Monday the 15th. The workshop, fireside, and training went extremely well, the saints were so thrilled that we had come to instruct them and get them going with the ERS (Employment Resource Services) program. These brothers and sisters need jobs and all the help we can provide for them. It is hard to believe but some of these people have never left their island and won't ever leave the island. They are faithful, loving committed saints and I am glad we had the chance to meet with them. The color of the ocean was a beautiful color as we pushed away from the dock. But I am not too anxious to go again since about an hour out to sea on our way home, our Captain comes on the intercom and tells us that they are having engine trouble. This wasn't a surprise to me since I could hear this clanking in the engine ever since we took off from the shore. He tells us that the 4th and the 6th pistons are not working so we will stop every half hour and let the engine cool. Well, 7 minutes later, (yes I timed it) and then wrote the whole experience down. I figured that maybe someone would find a bottle floating in the ocean and read about our last minutes alive. Sorry I got carried away, but the Captain came on again and said, "The engines have failed and we are adrift." I had just asked one of the crew how far from shore we were and he replied, "far, far, far from shore." I turned to the girl sitting next to me and asked her how far she could swim and she tells me she doesn't know how to swim. I decided I was better off than at least one person on board.
It didn't make me feel good when the crew members went up front and looked in a large box. It looked as though he was counting and closed the box after a few seconds. I thought to myself, "Just how many life vests could be in there that he counted so fast". When he came by us I asked him where the life jackets were kept and I knew he was going to tell me "in that box" and sure enough he did. With about 50 of us in the air con room I figured they might have 10 to 20 life jackets max.

To make it worse, the ocean waves had us rocking back and forth pretty hard now. A lot of people were suffering with loosing their lunch and that didn't help those of us who were healthy, but not wanting to take a swim. The Captain came on and told us another ferry was coming to tow us to Tabaco which is where we were going before all the problems. Minutes later I see a ferry and think "OK now we are saved", but the ferry comes around front of us and just keeps going. How rude, I thought he could have at least stayed to help us when the ship rolls over and we are all drowning.

I am thinking this is the end, we have 3 large diesel trucks in the bottom, one is filled with propane tanks, and the other two are fully loaded and only held in place with one chain in the front and one in the back. Along with the 18 wheelers we have 2 full sized buses a long motor home, and several cars. They are stacked in the bottom bumper to bumper, and it would only take one of them to break lose and start moving into the others as the ship is listing back and forth.
It didn't make me feel any better with the sight of the crew running up and down the stairs acting like they didn't know what they were doing. Finally another ferry called the Legazpi comes from the West and pulls in front of us and I can see the crew giving them a large blue rope and they are fastening it to their ship. As soon as they started pulling us the ship stopped rocking and we were on our way home. I could have stood up and cheered, but decided Elder Cooley would be embarrassed. Our 3 hour trip ended up taking us 6+ hours. I am alive and writing my tale for all to read, but it won't be as exciting as being there on the ferry with me. Here are the men who saved us. Thanks you guys! Love the sign, Safety First, yes I agree!

We knew we were close to home when we saw Mt. Mayon on the horizon.

Our Greatest adventure of the month came with the arrival of our daughter Denise, Spencer and grandson Jake. We had everything ready for their arrival so we thought we would go try to get some money out of the bank. This can be a trial at times, either the bank doesn't have money (not available) or our cards won't work. Sometimes it takes us days before we can finally get some money. It can get pretty frustrating at times!!!!!!! We left early so we could arrive at the airport in plenty of time. We are driving to Bank of the Philippines Islands when we are hit by a Tricycle, (a very under powered motorcycle with a little side car for passengers). A Traffic Enforcer sees us and tells us to go with him to the Pulis (Police) Station which is a couple blocks behind us. He then proceeds to stop traffic so we can all turn around and we headed for the station.

Lee and the Tricycle driver who hit us were sitting at a table and the officer is writing in a book like he is taking notes. Of course they are talking in Tagalog and Lee has no idea what they are saying, until finally the officer tells him that the man said he hit us and didn't see us at all until after it was over. He said and that he was responsible for the accident. He said he would fix the bumper; we just had to bring it to Pilar which is 1 hour away. The Pulis took the man's license until our car is fixed. The Officer was being very kind, but long winded and the time was ticking towards the arrival of the plane carrying our family. No we never got any money, but we arrived in time to see them emerge from the arrival door. What a beautiful sight to see our daughter come walking out of the terminal.

We only drive this little Toyota Altis and here they come with six very large suitcases and three of them. To cut down on the weight they had worn their winter coats that they had needed in China. Our weather is between 80° an 85° so I am sure the people were wondering what these Americans were doing with huge heavy winter coats. It was a trial, but after pushing and pulling we managed to get the luggage and three people into the car. Lee and Jake took one small suitcase and hopped on a Tricey. This was the beginning of their exciting trip to the Philippines.

In our short time together we were able to visit: Misibis Island where we had lunch. Jake found some huge clam shells saw the most beautiful scenery, ocean, resort and managed to tear the muffler loose on the car backing on to the barge. It was a great day for us, but a devastating day for the car.

Day two: We went to church and the kids had a chance to meet some of our dear friends and ward members. Then after lunch/breakfast we headed off to visit the one thing Jake wanted to see, the Mayon Volcano. We went around to the Mayon rest house, which is about half way around the Volcano.

This is the view from the rest house.

Then we went to the Cagasawa ruins where 1200 people went into the church in 1814 to escape the lava and they were all buried there in the church, the only thing left is the belfry tower. Linon Hill came next where you have a breath taking view of the city, ocean and Mt. Mayon towering over the coconut groves and the rice fields.

We also visited Kawa-Kawa. This is a hill that the Catholic Church owns and has made a trail where you walk along and view 14 stations where each one depicts some event in Christ's life during his last days. The statues are all life size and quite spectacular. It was a bit of a hike and it was very hot so by the time we finished we were exhausted and drenched with sweat. I thought it would just be a simple walk, but in the heat it was more of a trek, but definitely worth it. You will notice by the pictures. It is now summer here so it is very hot.

The Carter's at the Manila temple:

Day three: We spent Tuesday in Donsol where they have a huge fish (worlds largest) called a Butanding which is a whale shark, that can grow to 50 feet long, 6 foot wide mouth and has white dots on the top of the body. It is called the "gentle giant" because it only eats shrimp and plankton. We are lucky to be in one of only 3 places in this part of the world where they come to feed. The Carter's were brave and went swimming with the guide so they could see the Butanding up close. Lee and I spent our time in the boat laughing and enjoying the adventures of the swimmers. You can swim to with in 4 feet of the Butanding you are not allowed to touch them because they can get a disease from humans that might kill them. They are on the endangered species list so they have to be careful and not harm them or interfere with their eating habits.

We spotted 15 in all, which is a high number for one boat to see in just three hours. The weather was beautiful and the water was very still which made it more enjoyable for me after my last experience on the ferry. I decided that none of the boats are in perfect working order as the man steering the boat keep dipping out buckets of water from the hole where he was standing. Of course Jake found some beautiful shells on the shore when we walked the beach. I think this was one of the highlights for him.

We spent some time visiting some of the saints and giving them some clothes the Carter's had brought with them. Everyone loved Jake and couldn't get over his pointed nose and how tall he was at only 9 years of age.

Our last day was spent in Manila where Denise and I visited the Pearl Market and the men went to the American Cemetery where they buried the Americans killed in WWII and the missing (55,000) Americans are buried or memorialized in a beautiful cemetery on 152 acres in downtown Manila. We had a memorable visit with the Carter's and said good bye after a nice dinner at Chili's.

The next morning I met a pair of dear sisters who were here from the states and said that every year some of the members of their ward come over to a city in the Philippines and help them with what ever they need them to do. The sisters were so excited because the distribution center had a sale on garments, Book of Mormon and Bibles and they were on their way to purchase some. I stand amazed at how loving and caring the members of the church are throughout the world. What a kind and compassionate way to spend a vacation. They come to a third world country leave the comforts of home and just come to serve the people here in the Philippines and the Lord. I am touched by the love that the saints manifest to those who are less fortunate than they. My testimony grows because of others, many others that are sharing their talents, time, money and love to serve.

Our month ended up with a lot of work to catch up on, but it was worth it to have all the memorable experiences we had with the Carter's. We will have these memories with us the rest of our lives. They loved the Philippines and how beautiful everything is here and how precious the people are. I have decided the Lord spent most of his time preparing, planting and beautifying the Philippine country and the rest of the world just received what was left over.

I close now letting you all know how much we love and miss you. Granite Bay II Ward you are the still the greatest ward in the world. Thanks for the interest and support from all our friends. We love hearing from all of you. May the Lord bless and keep you until we meet again.

We love our family and thank them for all they are doing for us while we serve here in the Bicol region.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Common Ground

This is a sign we see when we come out of Bicol University each morning after exercising. Did someone read the proclamation on the family here in the Philippines?

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Our January started off on a slow note. It has taken a couple of weeks to really get the ball rolling again. We have how ever been able to do a lot of work on the Career Guidance Fair which will be held on the 23 and the 30 of January. We have selected 13 of the most prominent schools; this includes universities, colleges, trade schools and technical schools. We also have three of the government agency's that will come and talk on the availability of scholarships, loans and all around financing. So far all schools except one have been very receptive and anxious to come. Now all we have to do is worry about getting the students to come with their parents. We are anxious to see how this comes together, so far so good so keep your fingers crossed. We will let you know in the next connection how it all turned out!

Here are some pictures from the Career Fair:

We walk at the university every morning for some exercise what an experience. We always find someone who is anxious to talk to us and even ask about why we are here. Our latest is Jed a 25 year old who is a Bicol University graduate in Education. He has lost his job but doesn't want a job in teaching he is interested in pursuing his work in computer programming. He is into web design and is talking to Facebook about doing a web page for them in this area. He is setting up a team so they can get started as soon as they get the contract. Hope he won't get disappointed. He is a riot to talk to and our conversation helps make the 3 miles go faster. Of course we have talked him into coming to our next Career Workshop here in Legazpi everyone looking for a job can benefit from it. We wish JED luck with his opportunity.

2010 started out with a double calamity in our family: First of all our second daughter Andrea, had to have her rotator cuff replaced. She had surgery and was doing well when, my Mother was vacuuming her stairs and fell backwards down them. She broke her left wrist and right collar bone, both arms immoveable. Andrea spent lots of time in the hospital sitting with Grams; the nurses weren't sure which one was the patient. Happy to say that both have been doing better, Andrea is working part time and using her arm as much as it will let her. Mother is finally home after about 3 weeks in the hospital, an operation to put a plate and screws in her wrist and also on her collar bone, and rehab center. They both are doing better! We pray they will both continue to improve and be back to normal soon. I forgot to mention that while all this was going on James, Andrea's husband was set to leave for Dubai for 3 months. He postponed his leaving for a week but is now in Dubai and working hard, so he can get home asap.

Since it has been a little slow Lee has been going out with the Elders to locate and visit some less active members. Lee and the missionaries had a sister and her two sons at church today. I have been doing my visits through Visit Teaching. My partner and I have five sisters', (four less active and 1 active) to visit and they live from one end of the city to the other end. It takes us four to five hours to get them all done. One of our sister's has come to church three weeks in a row (with her daughter and husband) and also homemaking meeting yesterday. YAH

We also had another sister come out last week. It is so rewarding to see these sweet sisters come to church and enjoy the spirit and engage in the work of the Lord. I taught how to cook a Mexican dinner in Homemaking and our Sweet friend, Amy/ our landlord came to the class and she seemed to really enjoy herself. We are hoping to get some of this great family interested in the church. We hope before we come home the chapel will be full of members that are coming back to partake of the Lords message and covenants.

Our missionaries are working long hours teaching and inviting the less actives to come back we miss them. I think our one set of Elders has 6 baptisms set for the next couple of months. This is truly exciting! The work is going forth in this corner of the world and all the missionaries are fully engaged. Our Mission President, President Smith has really raised the bar with his missionaries and they seem to enjoy the quest to do better. If any of your children need a fantastic mission to go to pray for the Philippine Naga Mission.

We received some good and bad news this morning, Elder Walker our dear friend and great missionary has been called to be the new AP (assistant to the President). None of us were surprised because he is such a example of what the perfect missionary should be. He will be a great asset to President Smith and the office there in Naga. I am sure we will still get to see him, in fact we teach Elder Mendez,, the missionary Elder Walker is replacing on Monday at the Career workshop and hope to see Elder Walker at the office.

The December rains must have been frightened of Mt. Mayon and decided since Mayon is sleeping again, that January would be the time to drain the clouds. It has rained, rained and rained and the wind has blown hard for a week straight. I can tell when the wind is blowing hard because my bathroom window whistles. I don't even need to look out side to know what the weather is like each day.

This is definitely umbrella weather and you will see everyone with one from tiny children to the oldest, male and female, walking or riding. I have never seen so many umbrellas and so many colors and designs. The design I see the most of that are alike, are the AVON. It must be popular here because there are hundreds of their umbrellas.

One of the highlights at the beginning of the month was a birthday party for Amy's mother and aunts cook. I guess they are like family since she, Shirley the cook and her family live in the aunts house to help take care of them. It was so interesting to be there with the family they are all kind and accepting to us. I remembered to take a picture of the food, which we loved. So far we have enjoyed most of what we have tasted here in the Philippines.

Shirley, she is the one in the picture leaning on me, and her daughter sang some songs for us.

Her daughter is 16 and a tiny thing but what a huge voice and she was enjoying every minute of the spot light, then Shirley sang a couple of songs with her daughter. We had a wonderful time like always when we are with our dear friends. I can't wait for big party in July when her aunt turns 94. The whole family will be there to celebrate, even the couple from America who we are renting our house from. July will be a great month.

We are plugging along each day doing what we SENIOR Missionaries do and loving each minute. We love hearing from each of you and know that you are healthy and standing strong in the faith. We love and miss you all and hope that each of you are working on building a stronger immoveable testimony.