My fathers birthday. I hope he gets to follow along with our adventure.
Here we go with the first real update to the blog for Jon and Kathlene Hoopes while we are in the Philippines. I think I will do this in sections so I can remember all the things that might be of interest. I am also concerned about running too many things together.
MTC: We left Monday morning for the MTC and spent all week there. We were blessed to meet and make many friends and meet former associates. It was a very good experience. We completed the MTC on Friday afternoon and hurried to SLC for a wedding dinner with Jesse and Cynthia and their families. We had a great evening.
Wedding: We were back in SLC to the temple for Jesse and Cynthia's wedding. It was a cold but beautiful day. We were grateful to have the 2nd Councilor in the Temple Presidency perform the ordinance. His name is Wes Thompson and is someone who I used to associate with at Intermountain Healthcare for many years. I saw him at the temple when we went through with Cynthia on January 6 for her endowments and asked him to perform the wedding. He said he would be honored to do it and then on Saturday before the wedding, I met the new Temple President who is Cecil Samuelson who I also know from Intermountain days. It was nice to meet with both of them. But the best of all was to see Jesse and Cynthia sealed for time and all eternity. We wish them all the best.
Travel to the Philippines: Many of you have asked about our travel here, Our itinerary was as follows: We got up at 4:00 am on Monday morning and left at 5:00 for the airport. We flew from SLC at 8:10 am on Delta, to Seatle. It was about a 2 hour flight. We then had a layover of 3 hours when we got on another Delta flight to Tokyo, Japan which was a 10.5 hour flight. We arrived in Tokyo about 2:00 pm. Then at 5:30 pm we flew from Tokyo to Manila arriving about 9:50 in the evening. We were met by church travel employees and guided to our hotel. By the time we got through customs and to the hotel, it was after 11:00 at night. I calculated that we had been up and traveling for about 26 hours before arriving in the Philippines. We went to bed about 12 and then had to be up at 6:00 to leave again at 7:00 to go to immigration. Of interest to us was meeting Elder Trask who flew with us to Manila along with his wife. He is the new MTC President for the Philippines. We also met Elder & Sister Garrett, who flew out of SLC with us who will be staying in Manila to work in the area office.
Manila: We were picked up at 7:00 am and taken to the immigration office. Upon arriving there, we were met by church employees to help us and others from the area office to help us with a new process being implemented in the Philippines. We already had a visa good for 90 days but it needs to be extended to 18 months. For that we had to be fingerprinted, photographed, etc. The paperwork was extensive and we were in the immigration office from 7:30 until about 11:30. From there, we went to the area office where met many other couples including Elder Ferrin who is over all the missionary efforts for the Asia area. (The Mission Presidents don't report to him but he has responsibility all the travel, health, etc. for all the missionaries) We then left to try to get our drivers licenses which required a visit to a clinic for medical review. This was an eye test and blood pressure which I passed. We then drove to the Drivers License office but found that there were hundreds of people waiting in line and there was no way we could get through in the short time we had left that day. So the drivers license issue was saved for Naga City.
Arrival in Naga: We got up at 5:00 again on Thursday to be picked up at 6:00 for the airport. We flew out at 8:40. What an experience! There were thousands of people there flying to other parts of the Philippines. It was mind boggling. We had a porter who helped us with our 4 heavy bags and we did get another church travel employee who found us and helped us through the process. Thank goodness! We flew on Philippines Airlines this time and they only allowed 40 Kilos and our bags (which had all flown free on Delta) weighed over 80 The additional cost was about $350 which the church paid. It was quite an experience getting through all that. We are grateful that the church provided many competent people along the way to help us. Our flight to Naga was on a twin prop plane which held about 50 people. Gratefully, it was a flight of about 40 minutes this time and we arrived safely and were met by a wonderful couple, the Gardners who are serving here from Perry.
This is me in front of the Naga airport.
We arrived at our apartment which we found to be quite nice at least in appearance. It is plenty large and has tile throughout on the floor. There is a nice countertop of marble all the way around with some new appliances. Below is the dining area with a small table. The best of all is the air conditioning on the wall. We also have one in the bedroom.
Below is the door into the apartment with a couch and chair. All in all quite nice for the Philippines and certainly better than what we expected.
We are actually doing very and I drove my car today for the first time and was quite proud of myself. I will write again this weekend to talk about what it is like in Naga.