Friday, May 27, 2016

26 May 2016

It is a week today since we arrived home in Utah.  The trip home was without event but was long and tiring.  We had a very enjoyable time in Manila and this short update is to record some of our events while in Manila for a day and a half.   Following are some pictures of our time there with captions.
Dinner on Tuesday night at Wolfgang's Steakhouse in Manila.  We were
in the Newport Mall across the street from the Remington Hotel
where we stayed.  $$$$$$$ but worth every bite.

Outside the Tunnel on Corregidor Island.  They used this
as a place of security and storage.  Used both by Americans
and Japanese after they took over the island.

We had a very nice evening in Manila on Tuesday and then on Wednesday we left the hotel early to get to the port to go to Corregidor.  This is an island at the opening of the Bay of Manila.  It was a very important location for hundreds of years as military placements located there controlled the Bay of Manila.  Americans were there before WWII along with Filipinos but were bombed by the Japanese during the war.  Ultimately, the commanding officer for the US forces surrendered to the Japanese.  General McArthur had been here and was removed before the surrender to the Philippines and then on to Australia.  He vowed he would be back, and he did come about 2 years later and retook the island.  The island is now a Memorial to all those who fought and died there.

One of the many statues on the island commemorating the
soldiers who fought and died here.

A ticket to the island buys you a ferry ride to and from the island (about 85 minutes each way); a buffet lunch and a guided tour on an open bus over the entire island.  We left the island at 2:30 in the afternoon and got back to the hotel about 4:00.  Just enough time to pack and get ready for the next morning departure from the hotel at 4:00 am.  The plane left at 8:00 am. We had a 3.5 hour flight to Tokyo; a 9.5 hour flight to Portland; and a 2 hour flight to SLC arriving at 1:00 pm.  About a 23 hour day from when we left the hotel.
Another battery but this one was with long range guns.
Some of the bombed out ruins on the island.

A view of the extended tail of the island.
 The picture is taken from
This is Manila from the boat that took us to Correggidor.
Upon arrival at the airport with Kathlene's parents and 2 of my sisters.
I, Kathlene, would like to add my testimony as we finish our mission to the Philippines.  I am so grateful that we could serve the Lord in the Naga Philippines mission.   I know that the Lord blesses the lives of the people who serve Him.  I came back so grateful for all which I have been blessed with.  Most of the people have so little, yet they are so willing to share.    It was a wonderful experience to work with the people there.  They were so kind, thoughtful and gracious. I realized how the Lord loves all of his children.  I love the people of the Philippines.  I love working with the missionaries and listening to their strong testimonies, realizing most of them come from very poor circumstances.  We tried to teach them and give them hope...for a better life.  To quote Elder D. Todd Christopherson " It is God's will that we be free from the humilitating limitations of proverty".  I pray that the gospel of Jesus Christ can be spread throughout the Philippines, to bring the effects of gospel living to not only the members of the church but to all the Filipino people.  As we thought about what we can do to help this people, we realized that money is not the answer,  it is the principles of the gospel that brings about change.  I'm thankful for Apostles and Prophets who lead and guide us.  I'm thankful for my wonderful family which I have been blessed with.  I'm thankful for the Book of Mormon anad it's teachings and warning. I know that the prophet Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and is the prophet of the restorations.  I'm thankful for what the gospel has done to bless my life.  I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

Saturday, May 14, 2016

14 May 2016

Last official post for this blog!

After dinner with the Reeders and Watsons.  This was our last
time together in the Philippines.
There will probably be a short update of our trip to Manila next week but this is officially the last post for this blog.  

We have had a very busy but enjoyable week. We went to Iriga with President and Sister Reeder on Sunday.  We had planned to go anyway and then found out they were going as well so we rode together.  We arrived back home in the afternoon and then had another song practice at the church with the Naga 3rd Ward.  

The week included a piano recital on Wednesday night; a ward going away party on Thursday night; interviews with President and Sister Reeder and dinner on Friday night as well as 2 zone conferences.
At zone conference on Friday.


The pictures tell the story.

Picture taking time after the recital.

Goa Zone Conference

Ward going away party for the Hoopes

Bishop and his family after the party.

Naga Zone Conferenece
Canaman Zone held on same day as Naga Zone
 We had a great week and it was fun to see so many missionaries again.  Wonderful to hear all the kids play songs at the recital who couldn't even find middle C on the keyboard a few weeks ago.  We had an enjoyable interview with President and Sister Reeder.  President Reeder said that we should just consider that we did 18 months of work in 16 months and go home pleased with what we have done.  And everything we had been working on is basically completed.

We have been sorting and cleaning all week.   It is amazing what we have collected over the time here.  Now all has to be reviewed and processed.  Most everything will stay here and be given to someone who can use it.  We intend to come home lite.

It has been a marvelous experience and we are grateful that we had the faith to come here and serve.

We hope to see many of you again.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

7 May 2016

The time is getting short!

Mayon is the name of the perfectly formed volcano on the far left. We have
pictures of this from the other side which is near Buhi where we were
last week.  This picture is taken from the shore east of Goa.  See on the map
below that the road goes along the coast.  We went to where the road turns
straight north to the city of Caramoan.  That is a resort area but too far to
go on a short day.  You can see the mountain Mayon on the map below
in a green circle south of Iriga.  It is outside our mission.

I am starting this post on Saturday but it usually takes me into Sunday afternoon to get it finished. Not that I write for a long time but that there is usually not much to tell about that is different from the past.  This week is a little better. We have been with the Watsons to do some fun things and see some beautiful sights. The rest of the week that I am not going to write about was filled with English tests; piano lessons and meetings; sick missionaries; hospitalized missionaries needing medication, etc.

The mission goes south to about the dotted line near the cities of Iriga and Bato.  On the north it goes clear to the top of the
picture but does not go west.  Lopez on the map is outside our mission.  Buhi is east of Iriga right next to the lake you see on
the map above.  Ibayugen, which we visited a couple of months ago, is on the other side of the lake on the east.  The coast
we are looking at in the picture above is just below that.  See the green circle.  It says Mayon volcano.

The massage therapist is a member in Pasacao.  We didn't
know she did this until just last week.  Elder and Sister
Watson had been once before.

On Tuesday afternoon we were in Pasacao again but not for piano lessons this time.  We were there for some massages.  This lady is a member and she and her brother both do massages.  We didn't opt for a full body massage.

My first time driving a Padyak.  Thank
goodness I didn't go anywhere. 

This is a Padyak.  It is literally a bicycle with a cart attached.  They will haul about 2 people at a time. Sometimes 3.  These things are all over in many of the smaller cities. We really dislike having them on the roads because they are so slow but that is the Philippines.

This is Willy pointing out something to us but it looks like
he is pointing to the volcano Mayon.
Wednesday was a big day for us.  We left at 9 in the morning with the intent to go to Caramoan, a resort area northeast of Naga.  It was supposed to be about a 4 hour drive to get there and we knew ahead of time that we would probably not have time to go all the way.  We took with us, Willy Mayao, who is the security guard at the Mission Home.  He is from Caramoan and was really anxious to go with us. He provided directions on short cuts and all kinds of information about trees and cities and people. We saw some beautiful beaches and some great pictures of the ocean and mountains as shown in the first picture above.

On the way home we saw this truck that was loading Brahma cattle.   Willey told us that the farmers from all around brought their cattle to this point to load on the truck to send to a slaughter house in Manila.  We didn't get a complete understanding of the process but you can see they load some cattle in on a second level.  There is no room for them to stand up. So, of course, it is the smaller/younger ones. They are laying down and then the bottom will be filled with larger cattle.  

If you look close, you can see how they get them up on the second level.  If you get enough men/boys in there, I guess they could lift anything.

Us and the Watsons with Mayon in the background.
Tess Lopez can to teach Sister Hoopes how to make some
Filipino dishes.

This is 2 of the 3 FM group that are our good friends.  Their wives came to lunch with them. The two other faces there are Elders who came to see Sister Hoopes about a medical problem.  Elder Powell on the far right had a bite on his neck which was swelling and he stopped in to have her look at him.  They were just in time for dessert which was Cherry Cheese cake.  Elder Powell said that he thought Cherry Cheese cake could cure anything.

We hope he is doing better today.

That is all for this week.  We have a big week ahead of us.  Activities nearly every day and night. Next Saturday will be the final post from the Philippines.  Take care.  We will be seeing some of you very soon.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

30 April 2016

It is now official.  We will be returning home on May 19, 2016!

The first question that will be asked is:  Are you coming home early?   Answer: Yes.
The second question will be:  Are you sick?  Answer:  NO!

Tinandayagan Falls and Resort.  We visited here on Friday
before going to the Pamplona Zone Conference for lunch.
We are not sick right now and don't know that we have any major diseases or illnesses. However, we and President Reeder have recognized that we have had some ongoing health issues and a loss of energy the past few months.  President Reeder started the discussion and even suggested that we consider going home sooner. We do know that nothing will change while we are here so we decided we should go home where we can start to take care of ourselves.We have basically completed all of our major assignments but still have a few little things we need to do before we can leave.  Some of the "to do" things is a piano recital on May 11;  speaking in Naga 3rd Ward Sacrament meeting on May 15, and then another commitment to speak at a special conference for the Univeristy Nueva Caceras on May 16.   We both speak in the afternoon and when we are done - we are done! We will fly the next morning to Manila where we will spend 2 nights and then fly home from Manila on May 19.

We visited this great man and his family while on the Iriga
Zone trip.  This is the Branch President of Baao.  They live
in humble circumstances but he is always smiling.

We have had a fun week.  As we are very near the end, we and our closest neighbors (the Watsons) have been visiting each Zone Conference to say goodbye to the missionaries. We have now been to 3 of the 5 zones.  We have not been going to the full meetings but just stopping in for lunch.  That has given us some time to visit other sites or people while in the area.  It is our intention to attend the entire conference for the Naga Zone.  That is our home Zone and we want to hear the messages from President and Sister Reeder.  

This is where they cook and the water hand pump is on the left
in the area outlined with wood.

There are many people who live right around here.  As soon
as we got there, the whole yard filled up with kids.  The family
here has 4 children.

The rest of our week was filled with the following:  Pick up and drive a Sister Missionary who finally got her Visa for the US and take her to the airport.  She is going to the SLC Temple Square mission.  We were excited to tell her that we would be seeing her again soon.

We also had lunch for the Office Elders which included 2 extras - the Zone Leaders were on exchanges with the Assistants that day.  Pictures are below.

The Elders fixing their own enchiladas.

This is serious business!!!
Pamplona Zone

Iriga Zone
The rest of the week was piano meetings and lessons along with cookie baking for the Zone Meetings.  Sister Hoopes started a tradition of taking cookies to every meeting so she can't quit now.

The week went by fast and the next two weeks will be the same.  We still have a lot going on with visits to Branches to say goodbye.  We will never see them again.  We also have at least one large trip to make with the Watsons to visit Caramoan which is a resort city on the ocean front which is a long ways away but still in our mission.

See you soon!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

23 April 2016

An interesting week with a lot of emotion!
Taken in Daet on Friday at Zone Conference.  This is on the
Eastern side of the island.  

We had so many different things to do this past week which always keeps things interesting.  

The week went as follows:

Sunday:  Church in Naga 3 to see Elmer John Nebria Galon speak before leaving for the Baguio Mission.

Elmer joined the church about 3 years ago and is the only member in his family.  His father left the family years ago.  His siblings work out of the country.  A grandfather and a nephew live with him and his mother.  He is just a wonderful young man who turns 20 in June.  He worked in a call center and speak English excellently.  He is going to be a great missionary and is so excited to go and serve.

Elmer with his mother.  She is sad to see him go.  This was
the night of his setting apart.  It was in the old Mission Home
since our church is being demolished. He got on a bus to go to
Manila an hour later and arrived there Friday morning.  Notice
the words above the door.  Very appropriate.

6 Sisters and 1 Brother who will be teaching
others to play. piano.

Monday:  Sister Hoopes held a 2 hour meeting with piano teachers at the CES building and then we had a meeting with President Reeder at his home.

Tuesday:  We taught the all day workshop for 5 missionaries going home. The sad thing for us is that this was the last time we will teach it here. There were 3 Elders and 2 Sisters going home. We enjoyed this class again and have just loved being with these young men and women who have served so diligently.

Bishop Bigtas is on the far left.  He has agreed to take our material and teach it for the next group going home which won't be until July.  The new Mission President will have to decide what he wants to do from there.

Wednesday:  Sister Hoopes had piano lessons all morning at CES and then in the afternoon, we drove to San Fernando to pick up some souvenirs.  Wednesday night, we went to Elmer's home for a small "party" before he left on his mission.  He and his mother had cooked food all day and it was very good.  We are still a little careful about what we eat but we are still doing good and it is now Saturday.

Thursday:  We went to Iriga with the Watsons and did a little shopping at the market.  The Watsons met with the Zone leaders at the church to talk Family History and Sister Hoopes met with one of the Young Women who plays piano and is willing to teach some of the others.  We were also able to meet with both Iriga Branch Presidents while there.  Always teaching and supporting these great young men.

Just one of the booths at the market.  An appetizing display
of DRIED FISH !!!!!!

 Friday:  We went with the Watsons to the Daet Zone Conference so we could see all the missionaries and say goodbye to them.  We will not likely see any of them again while here in the Philippines.

I took a lot of pictures.  Perhaps your missionary is in one of them.

Take care.  We will write again next week and probably have some news about when we return home.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

17 April 2016

Happy birthday to all the birthday kids at home!!  (children and grandchild)

James -  April 15, Jon- May 16,  Jason - May 10, Justin - April 26
Jesse,  April 18, Jennifer and Jacob (center back row), Jared - May 13

As kids Jennifer and Jacob could never figure out why they didn't get to celebrate their birthdays with everybody else!

I am going to  hit this week really fast.  It is getting really hard to put anything in here that is different or interesting.   So, let the reader beware.

NOTE:  This week's post is being written by both of us.  So read with understanding.

Sunday last:  We decided not to fight the crowds at the Stake Center for General Conference so we stayed home and watched it on the internet.  Sister Hoopes has had a bad cold which is still continuing today.  Her coughing was bad last week so that was part of the decision.  She still has the cough today.

Monday:  We got a call on Sunday night from the Assistants, wondering if we would take a Sister Missionary to the airport for a flight to Manila.  She is going to the Reno Nevada Mission and finally got her visa.

Tuesday:  Again to Pasacao for piano lessons. I only had 1 student there this week.  This was Lian's last piano lesson as she is returning home to somewhere by Manila for the summer.  She was going to take the keyboard that they had been sharing so she could practice a recital piece and return at the end of May.  She has been doing very well and has been playing for relief society .  She is excited to learn and claps her hands every time she learns something new.  She is committed to learning and teaching piano to others.

Ariana with Sister Hoopes.  Ari is from Italy and comes
for a month every year.
Wednesday:  We took the afternoon and went with the Watsons to a water park about a half hour away.  None of us had ever seen it but it was quite interesting.  I guess it is world renowned and people come from all over the world to train at wake boarding.. (mostly because it is sooooo cheap compared to other places in the world). When we arrived we saw a young woman from Italy that we had met last year. She had been traveling alone last year. This year she has 2 friends.  We had a nice conversion over lunch last year and this year I was greeted with a kiss and hug.  She explained what they were doing so we took a series of pictures.  It's like water wake boarding from the sky.  The tow ropes descend and off you go, over obstacles, around and through.  Many were doing twists in the air and flying off the jumps.  I listened to an instructor help one of Ariana's friends.  Reminds me of my water skiing days.  Face plant after face plant.  Ok, it must be fun when you are young.

 To Iriga for District Meeting.  Elder Hoopes ended up being the workshop that day.  He trained them in helping branches with membership records and finding people; also English test preparation. I visited with a young sister about the keyboard grant program.  She has in the past taught piano but had to move to Manila area in hopes of finding work.

Friday:  At the end of a quiet day, we had a truck show up with supplies for the office.  It was exciting because it contained the 30 new Keyboards for Sister Hoopes along with some piano books.

Saturday:  We left at 1:00 pm for Goa with the Watsons.  They had a Family History event that the Missionaries had put together.  Sister Hoopes delivered 5 keyboards to Sister Kathleen Bonon in Goa for the students she will be teaching.
Sisters Cruz and Blad
Goa missionaries had a Luau with singing and dancing.  It was fun.  It is also the last week for Sister Blad, as she is going home on Wednesday.

Naga Panganiban Chapel - demolition starts tomorrow
Sunday (today): Last Sunday was the final Sacrament meeting at this chapel.  We attended church today at the improvised old Mission Home, which will act as the chapel for the next 18 months. We stayed in Naga for the farewell of Elmer John Nebrea Galon who is leaving for the MTC in Manila on Friday.  He will be going to the Baguio Mission in Northern Luzon.  He is a convert of about 3 years and a wonderful young man. We really wanted to be here to share this day with him.  We will be going to his home on Wednesday night for a going away party, and of course, I'll be bringing cookies.

We just finished talking to our son James and was wishing him happy Birthday as he traveled into work at 4:00 AM Utah time.  As he arrived at work, our son Jason was there, so we got to say Hello, to two sons at one time.  A great day.  We are so proud of their great work ethic.

Until next week.