Wednesday, July 7, 2010


June is a marvelous month here in the Philippines; it marks the end of summer and the beginning of the rainy season. We have had an El Nino this year. You can't imagine how dry and hot it has been here in the land of rain. I think the church has the only sprinkler system in the country and they try not to use it. The Banana trees are dying and the coconut trees all have the lower frowns dead. We have noticed even the hills are showing brown where only green has been before. We are happy that we have had some rain just recently, but it was not much for the first month of rain. The grass along the road has greened up so the land of green might possibly be coming back.

This has been a very busy month. We have been slowing down on the large group workshops and now we are working more on the second round of training for the Stake and District Employment Committees. We have had some changes in the committees so we have to retrain and also have done some second round of training. The new training is a lot about the new reporting that we are being required to use, also teaching them about writing and using a resume when they go out to look for a job. We give them ideas about contacting schools and businesses to let them know that we can help them find good employees. Then the business will provide us with their job openings so our applicants will get an early look at the jobs that are available.

Kevin was hired at McDonald's. He is trying to save his money so he can go on a mission in December.

Lorna is looking for a job as a bookkeeper.

Lorna and her family were just baptized two weeks ago.

Joel has many talents but he has not had much schooling, so he will have a hard time getting the placement that he is capable of. Joel did get a job, but we are looking for a new one for him.

We have also been spending a few hours a week on helping people do their resumes and getting the papers together that are required by the employers here. Through our efforts, the last couple of months we have placed about 32 people in jobs. Some of these people are now working and helping their family to be self reliant. We have three young men who are working and making money for their missions. We hope to see some of them leave before we go home. We also have a woman who has spent the last 7 years overseas making and sending money home. The problem is her husband has enjoyed spending it as it came in so now they both need jobs so she can stay home. Their whole family was just baptized last Saturday, which was very exciting. They are both wonderful people have darling children and will make very good employees.

Elder Cooley went with the Volunteer Center Manager to another Island (Masbate) here in our area, but I opted to stay home because you have to take a ferry to get there and I have had my fill of ferry's and the unexpected adventures they may cause. They went to Masbate which is in the Naga Mission and is South East of us. The Mission President told me how he has gone half way over to Masbate and had to turn and come back because the ocean was too rough. I am better off here on our own Island. They however had a good experience training the DEC and doing both a Career and Self Employment Workshop.

One of the thrilling days in June was on 13th when our new Cebu Temple was dedicated by President Monson. We are happy that we have another temple closer to some of the other Islands. It is such a sacrifice for the saints here to save money and take the time to travel 14 hours by bus to go to the Manila Temple. We can only pray that the saints here in the Bicol region could be obedient enough to have a Temple here someday soon. What a blessing it is to have the two temples that they now have.

The Culture Celebration and the Dedication were both very inspiring for all the people even though very few of them will ever have the opportunity to visit the Cebu Temple. We were happy for them that the Prophet was well enough to come and do the dedication. We had a special fast to ask the Lord to allow President Monson to come here to the Philippines and their prayers were answered. The thousands of stories of how people were introduced to the gospel are heartwarming. Some of them were converted and had to hide the fact from friends and family because of the abuse and ridicule that they faced. Some people were disowned by their family and others were left by husbands or wives. Many just rejoiced in silence until the truth was spread throughout the land and people became more tolerant of us and our beliefs. Just look what has happened in just 49 years, the church members total 620,000 + and Missionaries that are serving in 16 missions in the Philippines are in the thousands. I might add that the women are just as much a part of the missionary force as the young men. They both desire to serve the Lord. We rejoice with them in their new Cebu Temple!

Our next testimony building event was that of the last Zone conference held by President Smith here in Legazpi. It seemed like this day was so far away but now it has come and gone. The Smith's have started a month of LAST'S. Their last Zone Conferences, last workshops, last meetings, interviews with the missionaries, visits to members that have been touched by them, last drive through this beautiful area, last time to hear Missionaries testify of the truth and knowledge of the gospel they have received through their obedience to the mission rules and the Lord.

The President and Sister Smith have been an inspiration and were such qualified leaders for the Lord here in the Bicol. They have changed lives and made this Missionary force stronger and more obedient than they found it. They will be remembered here by people for the rest of their lives. They are LOVED by all old and young, male and female, strong and the weak, their time here in Bicol was truly years spent making the Lord's vineyard a better place to live and the people a stronger, more faithful people. I am glad we had the opportunity to serve with them in the Bicol for 10 months. I only wish we could continue to serve with them, but I know that the Lord has provided another strong faithful steward to take his place.

We had the opportunity to go attend a farewell dinner in honor of Pres. & Sister Smith hosted by their dear friends and employees. We had a delicious dinner where everyone brought a dish and there were some very nice Filipino dishes. After dinner, Sandy Lopez and Willie had everyone stand and talk about how the Smith's had touched their lives. This was a very poignant time for everyone. Of course Sandy and Willie helped us out by cracking jokes and making us laugh.

One thing that the President brought up was about Willie, who is the sweetest man you could ever hope to meet. He has a very unusual accent however and sometimes you have to think about what he is saying. The Smith's had just recently had a flood on the third floor of the Mission Home. When they came home they had water comes down the stairs from the third floor and it turned the corner and went down the second flight of stairs to reach the ground floor. What a mess! It went through their bedroom ceiling etc. So the thought of another flood was not a happy thought. President said," We walked into the house and Willie came rushing in and said," he had been cleaning up the flood. "Where is the flood?", President Smith inquired . "No, I am cleaning up the flood Willie exclaimed!" President Smith said "I know where it is?" "It is on the floor and on his head," Willie exclaimed. "On his head and on the floor", he thought, and then it came to President that Willie was saying BLOOD not FLOOD. President was a little relieved not having to go through the flood horror again, but asked what had happened to the worker and if he was alright. He found that the worker had held a circular saw, (with no blade guard of course), up above his head to cut something and when it kicked back, it cut his head open. Only in the Philippines! You know how head wounds bleed!

The Smith's have really had their share of unexpected emergencies since they started to work on getting the Mission Home ready for the Bliesner's our new Mission President and wife.

Our sweet Shirley now has a job, at Nenette Pangang's Canteen where she helps brother Jojit with making and serving of ice cream treats to the students that come to eat there. Shirley is making 75 pesos a day (plus a free lunch), working from 9am to 6pm. That is equivalent to about $1.60 a day, and you think your wages are low! I hope Shirley does well in her new adventure! Believe it or not this is a lot of money for her. We hope if she does will she will get a raise to 100 pesos a day.

On June 28th we had another dinner at the Mission Home. This dinner was a thank you to the mission office staff and also a farewell for the Lambson's who will also be leaving us in 6 days. We were honored that they would invite us to share this precious time with their faithful staff and dear friends. We have felt like they have been part of our Philippine family, and they will be missed. Because there are so few couples available now, they will be replaced with two elders.

Well, it comes down to just us and the Bliesner's as far as the American couples go here on missions in the Bicol region. We could use so many couples here to work for the Lord. They have now had to take 6 fine missionaries out of the field to care for the office, supplies and financial matters of the mission. Unless we get another couple, the missionaries will have to stay working in the office instead of out in the field working with the people. We wished we could do more, but we also have responsibilities to our calling in the Welfare department.

We have had so many heart-warming experiences this month, but time is precious and so I end our June Connection wishing all of you health and happiness. We love our work and those precious people we work with. We pray through our example, that even those not of our faith will feel the spirit and know that they are loved by both our Father in Heaven and by us. We feel of our Father's love and guidance in our life daily leading us to those whom we must serve.

We love and miss all of you, both family and friends,

Elder and Sister Cooley

1 comment:

  1. Dear Elder and Sister Cooley,
    What a great blog! It sounds like you are having a wonderful mission! It was a joy to read your June entry and to feel the spirit of your experiences. It would really be helpful if there were more senior couples on missions. Many of our senior couples are experiencing the stresses that come from not having enough people to do all of the work. We hope you will be blessed for your service.
    We send you our love and pray the Lord will bless you and the people you are serving!
    Elder and Sister Lasson, Mongolia