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.
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.
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