Saturday, April 25, 2015

25 April 2015

I was sitting here taking it easy and it suddenly dawned on me that it is Saturday and time to do another Blog post.  And we are busy this afternoon so I need to get on with it quickly.

I recall from General Conference a talk by a member of the 70 which I wanted to comment on.  It was a talk given by Elder Jose A Teixeira who is from Portugal.  When we were in Germany, he was the European Area President and we met him when he visited a Stake Conference in Munich.  In fact, the Stake Presidency was being reorganized and as I was on the High Council at the time, I was interviewed by Elder Teixeira for my thoughts on a new Stake President.  It was a very interesting experience and weekend with him while visiting the Munich Germany Stake.  His talk in General Conference had some very good advice for us in this technological world that we live in and I want to share that with you quickly.  He recommends 3 Habits that will help us "deepen our understanding of the Lord in our lives" and "help us share this understanding with the rising generation".  The habits are: 1. Visit the Church's website for resources; 2. Subscribe to the Church's Official Social Networks; and 3.Make time to set aside your mobile devices.  This may seem more like recommendations to our children than to us but I notice adults as well as kids with their cell phones out during Sacrament meeting.  It is also a problem even here in the Philippines (if they own a cell phone).  I have seen several of our own children sitting together on the couch and all on their phones - No one really talking to each other.  I think the recommendations are great.  There is a place for our technology and we love having it when it works.  The church has great material for us and it will benefit us to be part of what is there.  But let's put down the devices and talk to each other.
The 5 students we tested

The weeks are getting pretty common place for us and not much happening that is different from the previous weeks.  So, I am going to report on only the things that are somewhat different or unusual. There is a YSA member who works for a company that provides English Tutoring services to Japanese clients. She asked us a couple of weeks ago if we would come and test the English of the employees providing the tutoring.  We agreed and they picked us up last Saturday with a taxi and took us to their office which was pretty humble and we tested 5 individuals.
The entire staff at the Tutoring center.
 The questions were already written on a paper and all we had to do was ask the question, listen to the response and give them an evaluation along with a score.  The people were all very apprehensive about us and we could tell they were so nervous.  Many had never spoken with Americans before and, of course, all were worried about their English.  But by the time we were done, they loved us and want us to come back again.  It was a very fun time and we were able to give them an understanding of why we are here in the Philippines and a little about the church.  We have been so well accepted by everyone when we have a chance to talk to them.

The first part of the week was spent in making cookies with Sister Missionaries, feeding Elders and the really fun part was when Sister Hoopes took lunch (BBQ Pork with homemade buns) to the Facility Management team whose office is in the church house next to us.

The Sisters enjoying their chocolate cake!

Elders are always ready for lunch, breakfast or dinner.

Bishop left and 1st Coun in Mission Presidency center.
All three make up the FM Group here in Naga.  They were so thrilled to be
remembered.  In fact, they said they last had BBQ in 1995 when a couple
shared some with them.

Eggs being delivered who knows where!
Sister Reeder gave us a coconut which had the outer green layer chopped off by a machete.  Then they had made a hole and we drank out the Coconut milk.  It is clear and very good.  But the inside is different than we are used to.  This is a "young" coconut and the meat inside is very soft.  Here it is being dug out by a spoon.  It is not very thick  and is actually very good.  We have had this served in a restaurant in a "Chopsuey" dish that we like a lot.  The brown shell of the coconut here is also soft.  We are used to them hard and this one would be like that if left to mature.

We have also discovered Mango's.  Here are two and they are very large.  This picture shows the ingredients for our Mango Shake.  The empty blue bottle on the left side had Buko Loco in it or coconut milk.  We added banana, mango and some protein powder.  It makes a very tasty and we think, healthy meal.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

18 April 2015

This week starts the birthday marathon in the Jon Hoopes Family tree.

Today is Jesse's birthday.  He was born in 1987 so that makes him 28 years old today.  Happy Birthday Jesse!  We hope you have a great and memorable day.  This picture of Jesse is from one of our trips to Florida where we visited Shark Valley National Park. He has always liked little creatures. Thankfully this alligator was well fed before Jesse got his picture taken.
James' birthday was on April 15 and we hope he also had a very happy birthday.  He didn't have the luxury of having the day off but we here he had a pretty good birthday anyway.

Happy Birthday to the rest of our birthday list!
Logan Hoopes April 21
Justin Hoopes April 26
Jason Hoopes May 10
Jared Hoopes May 13
Jon Hoopes May 16
To our unknown readers, I bet you can't guess which ones are our sons.  We love them all.
Logan is our eldest grandson.

Happy Birthday to our other relatives and friends,  we won't name you and give your ages so you are very lucky!
I spent many hours at the church next door working with a Sister who came from a long way away to give piano lessons.  I taught her my Jon Schmidt way of reading notes and she added her method and there are many students doing very well.  They just keep coming.  She is spending about an hour travel time each way and 7-8 hours a day and plans on doing this 4 days a week for the summer.  She said that a couple missionary taught her to play the piano when she was 18 years old and is giving back now by teaching all of these students.  Just the cost of the Jeepney fair is probably 25% of her family income for the day.  I admire her dedication.

This afternoon we were invited to evaluate a group of professional English tutors. They tutor Japanese students in English.  They were mostly young people and they spoke very well.  We hate judging people but we tried to be very supportive as we offer suggestions and criticisms.  Something very interesting happened which doesn't speak well for us English speakers.

In our conversation we found out that they are taught in their schools that we say our T's like a D.  I was to instruct them to say little as liddle, and bottle as boddle.  I said wait a minute we say our T's like a T and not a D.  But even in kindergarten, they are taught English this way.

I thought wait a minute, I'm not back in Germany!  So, we corrected an ages old misunderstanding of the  English Language.  I guess we Americans are just going to have to speak more clearly.  I thought this "Glitch" in the language was just an accent, instead, it has been taught that way for decades!  Who would have thought????

A quick thought for today.  We were reading a talk given by Jeffrey R. Holland when he was Commissioner of Church Education before becoming president of BYU.  He was speaking at BYU and it was on March 18, 1980.  The talk was titled, "For Times of Trouble".  He said, "I watch an early morning news broadcast while I shave and then read a daily newspaper. That is enough to ruin anyone’s day and by then it’s only 6:30 in the morning. Iran, Afghanistan, inflation, energy, jogging, mass murders, kidnapping, unemployment, floods. With all of this waiting for us we are tempted, as W. C. Fields once said, to “smile first thing in the morning and get it over with.”  There was so much more in this talk to help those who struggle in any way but this was quite humorous and I thought might help some of us who get down each day reading about what is going on in the world and the country."

We said goodbye to Sister Richmond Sunday before the General Conference broadcast.  She brought
her parents to meet us and they brought us a big  Costco Cashew bottle.  It was wonderful to meet the parents!  At the same time we were sad, Sister Richmond was a ray of sunshine in the Naga Mission.

If you think your car is crowded...try this!
This is a common sight here in the Philippines.  This little family was headed home after the general conference broadcast at the Stake Center. Very few people can even afford this type of transportation.  Actually, this is very new and modern.

This is just a motorcycle even though it looks like there is a roof on it in the picture.  That roof belongs to a Tricie which is sitting to the side.  We have shown them before in pictures.

Our other adventures of the week included a 2 1/2 hour drive to Daet to pick up a missionary for a transfer.  We treated the Zone Leaders to lunch on the beach in Daet and then we headed off to San Vicente which is another 26 km from Daet. Considered the "Promised Land" to the missionaries, they enjoy being sent here.  Notice the beach in the next picture which was just outside this restaurant that we ate in.
The next day we head in the total opposite direction to Iriga, which is on the southern most boundary of the mission.  We attended a District Meeting where we encouraged them to help the branches get their records in order.  I strongly encouraged them to clean up their apartments and take care of their health.  Of course, I brought them cookies, so they still love me and won't mind if I come back again.

For a week that we didn't think we had much to do, we have been very busy and now very tired.

Friday, April 10, 2015

11 April 2015

Time again for the weekly post.  My but how the time is flying by.

The ward which we are assigned to had an outing on Thursday at the beach in Pasacao.  It is just less than an hour from Naga and is a beautiful little community right on the ocean. The place they went to is a resort called Villa Consuelo.  The huts you see in this picture are all overnight rental units.  Others that are open air are situated on the beach and are for day use.  We were worried we would have to go and be in the sun but it was nice to have the huts to get in the shade.

This was quite a nice area.  The little huts each had a table and sitting places along the sides. They were actually quite cool as a breeze would blow through the open sides.    We spent our time sitting and talking in various huts with ward members.

This is our Bishop in the white T Shirt and the High Priest Group leader sitting on the sand in front.

This picture to the right is the young couple who were married recently in the Manila Temple.  We attended their reception.  There is a picture in a preceding blog post.  They had been out in the water and when coming back acted like they were cold as they immediately wrapped themselves in blankets.

It certainly wasn't cold for us but we didn't get wet either.

This scene actually shows the ocean.  The little huts make this place a very comfortable and enjoyable spot for the day.

As we were leaving, the owner of the resort was talking to us and we asked about Typhoons.  He told us that Typhoon Glenda which was just last summer had totally devastated the area.  He said that in January they had started rebuilding everything back to what they had before.  We expressed our sadness and he said, "That is what happens here".

This beautiful chapel is in the city of Pasacao.  We have been here before for a baptism. We came on a Saturday afternoon with the Reeders.  You can see by the vegetation that it is in a very tropical area.  Notice the trees on the hillside behind.

On the way to Pasacao was this site.  There were actually 2 water buffalo out in this rice paddy pulling machines which churn up the mud and rice stalks.  The machine is submerged below the water level.  Quite a common site here.  Just one we are not used to.

I try each week to put in this blog some thought or experience that we have had that might spur the reader to consider where they are spiritually in their lives.  This week, I want to mention the talk given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks in conference this past weekend.  By the way, the church here will show conference in it's entirety starting on Saturday (today) and then again on Sunday but we have already watched most of it online.  Elder Oaks spoke on the Parable of the Sower which compared the different kinds of soil in which seeds might be planted and how they grow; some never making it to maturity due to various conditions.  The parable, of course, is about how the gospel is received in our lives and how we accept the Word of God.  Elder Oaks asks, "How can we prepare ourselves to be that good ground and have that good harvest"?  He then said that Jesus explained that, "the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."  He further stated, "We have the seed of the gospel word.  It is up to us to do the things that make our soil good and our harvest plentiful.  We must seek to be firmly rooted and converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We achieve this conversion by praying, scripture reading, serving, and by regularly partaking of the sacrament to have His Spirit to always be with us.  We must always seek that mighty change of heart..."  We pray every day that our families will be blessed  with the spirit and prepare our hearts (soil) that we may be converted completely to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Elder on the right is the friend of Westin Judd from Sacramento

This is our graduating class from the Career Workshop which was onTuesday.  6 Sisters and 4 Elders.  We spent most of a day with them.  It was a really great experience for us to be with them and they seemed very grateful for the things which they were taught.  I know they will probably forget everything they learned by the time they get home but I hope and pray that when they face a challenge or major decision, they will look back and remember some of the things which they were taught on Tuesday.
Acini de Pepe is not available in our grocery store so Sister Hoopes got creative to make some from spiral macaroni.  I think the picture tells all.  It was just macaroni so it tasted just the same.  We didn't have any little balls, just mashed macaroni but the salad tasted great.  Of course, we can't make very good whipped cream due to the temperature so the salad was mostly without cream.  It was still good.
 Easter Sunday after church at our apartment. These are the four current office Elders although the one on the left of Sister Hoopes went home this week.  He was in our Career Workshop.  The dinner was a Pork roast with mashed potatoes, gravy and peas and carrots.  The two American Elders just sat and looked at their plates for a minute in awe.  The Elder on the right at the back of the table said, "I haven't seen a plate like this in 17 months".  The Elder at the front across from Sister Hoopes said, "I have never seen a plate like this".  You figure it out.

The last of our Typhoon.  You can't see very much but it did rain pretty good for most of the day on Saturday and then a little more on Sunday.  Like I said, the Typhoon just turned into a rain storm.

We attended a baptism in the church house next door on Saturday last week.  The two sisters involved in the baptism had been to see us earlier in the day and told us about it.  It was actually in the other ward but we went to support them and then President and Sister Reeder came as well. They were really happy to have them.  Of course, pictures include all of us.  I don't know why they want us but they always ask us to come be in the picture.

We trust and pray all is well with all of you.  All our best.

Jon and Kathlene

Friday, April 3, 2015

4 April 2015

Hi everyone,

We heard last week of a Super Typhoon which was going to hit the Solomon Islands and the area of Guam and would potentially be heading our way.  As many of you know, it is heading this way but it has weakened considerably and is no longer a Super Typhoon - one of only 6 ever in recorded history to start before April 1.  The good news is that it is now heading more towards the northern part of Luzon and will not be of much consequence here.  We did get some heavy rain about 4 am and some wind but it quit and is quite good outside at this time.  (remember we are 14 hours ahead) See if you can find where we are located on the map below.  See the note for Manila? We are below that tag where the ocean juts (bay) into the land on the upper coast.  Naga is just below the bay.

We do anticipate some effects of the storm to hit us but it is not expected to be very severe.  Still, we are prepared with food and water; are in a concrete building and on the second floor.  And we are staying home.  We cancelled piano lessons in Sipocot and Pamplona which are an hour away.  We did not want to be out on the roads if it rains heavy.  We will just enjoy our time in Naga for Saturday and Sunday.  But we are going with the Gardners to lunch in about an hour at Shakeys Pizza.

Sister Hoopes with Sister Gregorio
We attended a Zone Training yesterday in a city named Goa.  There is a Stake in Goa and there are 36 missionaries in the zone.  Apparently the largest zone in the mission.  We had a beautiful drive getting there and back and an enjoyable time with the missionaries.  They, of course, knew all about Sister Hoopes' cookies and were excited she brought some to share.    It is about 1.5 hours away from Naga.  We also met a Sister Missionary who the Forsberg family have been writing to.  It was the first time to see her and she was so excited to see and visit with us.  She wanted to give me (Elder Hoopes) a hug but I suggested that she go find Sister Hoopes and hug her.  She is, of course,  a Filipina and has loved getting emails and letters from her foster family, the Forsbergs, in the US.
Two Sister Missionaries enjoying their Cookies

Us with Sister Greogorio Missionaries
We have been preparing all week for the Career Workshop for missionaries going home which will be on Tuesday of next week.  We will have 10 returning missionaries we will be teaching.  There is a course workbook which we will be referring to but it would take 3 days to teach so we have been using the Gardners condensed version and adding our own touches to it.  It will be a Power Point presentation and I have added many new slides.  The change basically will be that we will be teaching the missionaries what Elder Christofferson taught in his message I quoted last week on Temporal things.  His talk in October, 2014, on "Free Forever" is a great starting point.  I have long studied the concepts of God wanting us to be successful and giving us everything that we ask for.  There are several scriptures that tell us this: "Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my faith...behold it shall be done unto you." (Moroni 7:26)  And I love these following quotes which always mystified me although I believe them.  Napoleon Hill said, "What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve".  Another  wonderful quote is,"  Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.  This by William Hutchison Murray. (underline from me)

This quote from W. H. Murray says that when we really decide then Providence moves also.  After studying the talk by Elder Christofferson, this all makes sense.  Murray referring to Providence is saying that God is the one that makes it happen.  Once we decide, as I pointed out last week, then God will move with us to make our dreams and desires come into being.  I believe this with all my heart and encourage everyone again to read the talk by Elder Christofferson and then look at quotes like these above from great men who have spent a lifetime studying and teaching these concepts.

Monday was donut day in Naga Mission
Last Saturday was a long long day.  We left early for Sipocot where piano lessons were taught for 2 hours and then went on to Daet for a Family History Training which we have been supporting.  Daet is 2.5 hours away from Naga.  Everything went late, of course, and we got back to Naga late.  We had been invited to a wedding reception by the young couple you see above and so we thought we should go even though we were tired.  We found our way to the Stake Center in the dark and happened to meet them shortly after arriving.  We said hi and wished them well and then left.  We felt bad as we would have liked to stay and  experience a reception in the Philippines.  This young man stood next to me in the choir for Stake Conference and is a good singer.  He is also in our ward.  He and his bride are both returned missionaries.  They went to Manila on a bus along with 24 other youth from our Stake to do baptisms for the dead.  This couple went to get married in the temple.  The bus left on Thursday night and drove all night.  They were in the temple all day Friday and then left to come home on Friday night and got back here on Sat. morning.  This couple returned home with them.  So they returned from Manila about 6:00 am Saturday morning and were having a reception that night.  A long day for these kids.   I think that is a great story for their kids to hear.

The pictures on the left show the process of donut making in the Philippines - at least at our house.  These donuts now have a name:
Crispy Hoopes Donuts
The finished product 

This mountain really shows up on the way to Goa and we were able to get a nice picture on our way back.

Typhoon update:

It has been raining off an on since morning and sometimes really heavy.  Should things change, we will do another post if we have internet capability.
Thats all for this week.