Friday, May 14, 2010


The corn is growing here now and is really the second crop this year. I first saw them plant in November which was very hard to get used to seeing. I always think of fall arriving soon when I eat corn on the cob at home. No fall here, but we are fast approaching summer. In fact I already think summer is here but President Smith (Naga Mission), tells me "you have no idea how hot it gets here in the summer", which is April, May, and June. It was hot in August when we arrived here so I think we are in for at least six months of smoldering heat.

We are going to start another new program. The computer program was such a success and everyone wants to have a class now, but the career workshops needed to come first. The new program is teaching Conversational English. When we were in the MTC we had to stay two extra days to learn and get certified on teaching English as an international language. It seems as though the best jobs go to the people who can speak good English.

The first class will be for a hotel in Naga called the Avenue Plaza Hotel. We made friends with them when we stayed there a couple months ago. Mike the Manager of the front desk talked to us about what we do and when he heard about the English he was excited. He has kept the ball rolling with a final okay from his boss when we had a meeting with them. We will teach when we can, but we are having the AP's come and work with us so they get acquainted with the students and then we will turn the class over to them most of the time. We are hoping that we might get some of the staff interested in the church through this community service. We are expecting great opportunities to come from this program.

We have had so many blessings this month both here in the Philippines and at home. I visit Shirley Lisazo who suffers from what they thought was epilepsy. Once she was saying the closing prayer during our visit and had a seizure and that prompted me to get an appointment with the Bishop and talk to him about what we could do for her. He let us take her to a doctor and found out she doesn't have epilepsy or heart problems and can work so we have her a job washing dishes until we see how she does. The doctor told us that she was slowly starving to death and needed to eat lots more food and drink some milk. We set her up with dried milk and some rice and the Relief Society gave them some other things. She said that she was feeling better and is coming to church every Sunday. She is truly happy and enjoying life instead sitting home thinking she couldn't do anything. So, sweet Shirley was blessing one in March.

On Shirley's street I found a woman using a banana leaf for an umbrella:

Nanette Pangan (wife of Counselor in Stake Presidency) and I were driving home from dropping off Shirley from the doctor one day. Lee and I had passed the construction of the new Convention Center and thought of stopping and finding out what company was building it. Since I had Nanette, she could help me bridge the language barrier so I stopped. Long story short, we hit a gold mine with lots of contacts and job possibilities for both outside and inside once the building is complete. Also we found an opportunity for JR (Shirley's brother) to come to the main construction office and be trained as a mechanic for the huge construction company. We are hoping that many jobs will come from this one contact.

Next, Lee was just getting our water filled at the refilling station and he told them about what we do and they told him about a business just a couple doors down and after talking to that company they have already faxed over several job opportunities from the Embarcadero and other locations where they have job openings.

All in all our job openings board now has about 100+ jobs posted on it and more coming in all the time. We were at the Church one day helping someone and Jun, who works for the FM Group taking care of the church buildings, asked Lee if I could help his wife learn how to cook some international food. He said, "yes" but we didn't know he meant like right now! She was lucky, because we were having the Sister missionaries over and they wanted Mexican food that night. I told Bambie, yes her name is Bambie, to come over at 5:00. We made Mexican rice, tacos, refried beans, salsa and guacamole. She loved it and so did her two brothers, husband, and two sons. I could only give them tastes, but they loved it all. That was on a Wednesday and she went in for the interview for head chief on Thursday. I never thought she would pull it off, but she did and starts training this week.

Our trip to Daet was rewarding as always. This stake has a fantastic Stake President, councilors, and Stake Employment Committee. President Ducay has a coconut plantation and brought us some coconut milk and some fresh coconut to make Buco salad with, (a fruit salad with pieces of fresh green coconut in it). This coconut is slimy, not hard like we are used to. He promised this about four months ago so neither Elder nor I remembered, but President did. What a great man!

While in Daet, had a Career Workshop on Friday and Self Employment on Saturday, which both turned out great. The Saints there are ready and willing to learn so they can become SELF-RELIANT. We love this stake, but just wish it wasn't four hours away. With the two workshops back to back we either had to stay in Daet or drive back to Naga two hours each way, This city is in the mountains so the driving isn't easy, so we opted to stay.

It wouldn't be so bad, but the hotels are not even as good as the Motel 6 was many years ago. Lee ordered the only room with a king bed. It was so wide that when we went to bed Lee couldn't see me with out his glasses. It was W I D E, and the next morning we found out that it was the "Matrimonial Suite". The bed was pretty comfy, but the air con which is a window unit, sounded like a diesel starting up every time it turned on. I guess they figure the newly weds wouldn't be sleeping! What were these two old people doing there?!

Our matrimonial suite:

And then there was just one:

Daet's beautiful countryside:

Our first monkey sighting:

The men in the family coming home from a long day at work:

Children playing with a toy they make. They just walk beside it and guide it wherever they want it to go:

We didn't get done until after 5 PM on Friday so we decided to go eat before we went to the Canalog Hotel. We wanted to go to Biggs (sort of a Philippine version of Mel's Diner), but found that it was not available since it had shut down. We keep telling our Self-employment Workshop students that: Location, Location, Location is the key to success and I guess Biggs didn't know that. They had tried to open off the main street which was instant death. So I ran in Jolly Bee (a Philippine version of McDonald's) and is very successful. They let McDonald's spend the millions doing market research and then they build a Jolly Bee right by them.

Back to dinner, this has become my routine. I go inside and order two, two piece BBQ chicken dinners. They always say, OK then take my money and about five minutes later they come back and say, "sorry not available, only wings". Then I tell them okay, if no breast meat then I want my money back. They looking at me with a blank look they say, "just a minute" and they go talk to the manager and come tell me: "six minutes please, you wait okay"? I am amazed just how fast they can go and find breast meat every time.

These are just some examples of the fantastic blessings that we received this month. Our Heavenly Father is ever present in our work and the blessings that we keep seeing are strong evidence of that.

The Lord has given us a great opportunity to work with, A Special People, in a Special Place. I know I have told you this before, but we truly love and adore these people. We appreciate all the fond memories that we receive from them daily. Each day brings its own beauty as we wake to see the Majestic Mayon standing tall above us all and the palm trees swaying in the ever present gentle breeze from the mighty ocean. The Filipino people working hard in the rice fields or the coconut groves and the sweet spirit of our Heavenly Father spreading across this blessed land is what Elder and I see every day. We pray that our friends will have a desire to also come and join those who are preparing the way for the Lords work. Our Mission needs couples now President Smith said he could use about 60 couples to come serve as Leadership Missionaries and yet he can't even get one couple to come and work in the office. The church has need of willing couples we need your help now. May the Lord try to provide a way for you to be able to serve soon!

Love you,

Elder and Sister Cooley


  1. Hi Cooley's! Glad to hear things are well with you. Thanks for sharing your mission experiences.


  2. It looks like you are thriving and that your mission is going well. The trees are just starting to leaf out here in Mongolia, so your flowers and greenery are amazing to us.
    With love,
    Elder and Sister Lasson