Sunday, June 28, 2015

27 June 2015

I mentioned that this week would be more of the same and that is very true.  It was a mixture of piano lessons; English tests; visiting District Meeting; dinner with the Office Elders and donut making.

Tuesday morning Sister Hoopes had a few women over to learn how to make donuts.  Two of them are married to men who work for the Church and are officed next door.  So, in addition to donut making, there was lunch with 4 men from FM (facilities management) and 4 women.  The women were made of of two wives of FM and a daughter of one of the Sisters.  The other was a friend.  Some of the days activities are featured in the pictures.

Three of the 4 sisters  learning to make donuts

The 4 men from FM.  Our Bishop on right.

Pres Florez begging for a cinnamon roll.  The others
were withholding from him due to health reasons so they said.
The thought for today is in regards to the recent Supreme Court decisions.  The decisions don't change any of the things which have been going on in the country but have now given it full rein to be implemented throughout the country and have taken the right of states to decide what they want away.  It has saddened most of us because we had hoped that the country might turn back from wickedness but we have actually stepped over the edge.   We know that the Lord does not condone such abominations and that we as a country are ripening for destruction.  How and when that will come, we don't know.  But we do know that this has been prophesied and that we are living in the end times.  We know that the earth will need to be cleansed of all wickedness before the Lord returns. Our challenge will be to stay strong in the face of so much evil and hatred.  The only way is to stay close to the Spirit of the Lord.  The Lord has promised us that he will watch over us and guide us through this coming turmoil but we must be on his side.  The only way to do that is to stay close to the Spirit by praying continually; studying the scriptures; attending our meetings and striving with all our hearts to do His will.  Otherwise, we might find ourselves on the other side and be ripe for the cleansing that is coming.

We had a nice dinner Saturday night with 6 office Elders.   Three of them are leaving this next week.  One to go home and two are being transferred.  Their replacements are already here and trained and were at our dinner Saturday night.  It is really hard to see them go because these Elders are the ones we have known and worked with since we arrived in January.  We have really enjoyed being around them but wish them well in everything they do.

Our big event every six months is the teaching of the Career Workshop which I have talked so much about.  We have 35 Missionaries going home which is a huge group so they have been divided into two groups.  We will be teaching 18 on Monday and then 17 on Tuesday.  We also have 23 new missionaries coming in on Wednesday which we will help to get processed and set up ready to go to their assignments.  We really do enjoy this but we will have long and very tiring days and this coming week will just fly by.

Hope that the Family Reunion went well.  I have heard nothing about it yet but I assume someone will send us a note about what went on.

That's all until next week.
One last picture of the Sipocot District.  We went to their
meeting on Thursday and then to church today.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

20 June 2015

Elder and Sister Pajaro with the two couples
in the mission.  
This past week we had "Mission Tour".  That means that a General Authority visits all of the mission.  In this case, an Area Authority, from Manila was assigned to come in place of Elder Larry Echohawk who was a councilor in the Area Presidency and got sick, returned home and was released. Elder Pajaro and his wife arrived on Tuesday morning by plane and left on Friday. They had a half day session with missionary leaders from the mission on Tuesday afternoon and then two full day sessions with all the missionaries. Both days were here in Naga at the Stake Center.  The missionaries all traveled in for their assigned days and then back home after the meetings were over.  We attended on Wednesday at the request of Pres and Sister Reeder although our normal day would have been on Thursday.  I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Sister Reeder had asked my wife if she would prepare a dinner for Thursday evening for the Pajaro's, Reeder's, Watson's and us.  So, our week and Thursday were completely occupied by shopping, cooking and preparing for the meals and English testing.  Sister Hoopes had volunteered to take lunch to the Reeder's and Pajaro's on Tuesday at noon and so between the food service and English tests which are still on-going, we had a very busy week.

Kathlene's rolls for the lunch on Tuesday
 Elder Pajaro is a native Filipino who joined the church with his wife when they were just newly married.  He is a full time employee of the church working in Manila as the Human Resource director.  He is a very humble and loving man.  We loved being around him and his wife.  On Wednesday afternoon, with tears in his eyes, he thanked all of the missionaries for their service to the Filipino people.  He thanked those who had come from thousands of miles away and those who were from this country already.  He made it sound like he cared personally for each missionary and thanked them over and over for their willingness to be here and share the gospel message.  He then shared with us portions of a document which was a "blessing" on this land by Elder Gordon B. Hinckley.  At least I will call it a blessing because I didn't fully understand what it was. The country of the Philippines was originally dedicated for missionary work in 1951 and then Elder Hinckley blessed the land in 1961.  It was like a rededication but he didn't call it that. It was fascinating and beautiful to see the promises in the blessing and to be a part of the experience now.  It is wonderful to see how this blessing is coming true and being fulfilled.  I asked him for a copy of the document that he shared portions of and he said that he would ask when he got back to see if it could be shared.  I hope that we can get at least some of it and I will share if I can.

Our dinner on Thursday night was very nice.  Kathlene had planned on serving a light chicken cabbage salad but after having chicken on Tuesday and then again on Wednesday, she and Sister Reeder decided it should be something else.  So, we had German Schweineschnitzel and Kaese Spaetzle. That is Pork Schnitzel and the German homemade pasta with cheese.  It is a heavier meal but it was just really good.  Sorry I don't have pictures of the meal.  It looked really nice and tasted great.  Our conversation was just down to earth -  talking about how we met our spouses; hearing about the conversion of Elder and Sister Pajaro; some mission talk.  We started at 6:00 and didn't leave the Presidents home until 9:00 pm.  The Watsons then had to drive back home which is nearly an hour and made a very long day for them.  But we had a wonderful time and noted again how Elder Pajaro thanked us individually for our coming to serve in the Philippines.  It made us feel like we are really wanted and needed.

The Mission Tour meetings each day included several zones.  On Wednesday, it was for the Daet and Pamplona Zones.  I have included some pictures from the day for the record.

This is the Pamplona Zone.  I included it for some parents of Missionaries who are following this blog.

Cinnamon rolls.  Elders enjoyed!!!!

I am also including some pictures of the foods that Kathlene cooked to try before she took anything to the visitors.  The Elders in the office and some Sisters who were here for English testing were the recipients of most of this good stuff  (I also benefited).

Lemon Meringue pie.  Sisters got some but didn't like
the tartness that well.  I loved it!!!!

We finished up the week with a new assignment. We are now teaching at the CES building every Friday afternoon at 3:00 until 4:40 Piano and Conducting.  We went until nearly 6:00 last night because everyone was late.  I suspect it will be that way most of the time.  We did end up with 10 students and some of them were very good. They will pick it up quickly and be playing soon.  It was actually quite fun to be there.  We have been to the CES building before and have posted pictures on the blog already.  It is a beautiful building in almost downtown Naga.

President Botor of Baao branch.  He works as a Security Guard
for the CES building.  Starts at 4:30 pm and works about 5:00 am
 6 days a week.  We love this man!!!

We are in Iriga this morning teaching piano lessons again.  Only 2 kids showed up.  We had about 50 the first time we came and about 12 last time.

I am using the time to finish this blog and "chat" with my sister Kristen.

Hope all is well at home even though we know all have challenges to work with. Please know that we pray for you every day and know that you have all been blessed and will continue to be blessed.  We know that the Lord is watching over you.


Mom and Dad
Jon and Kathlene
Elder and Sister Hoopes

Saturday, June 13, 2015

13 June 2015

I mentioned last week that Sister Hoopes was helping with a piano recital that was in our church next to the mission office.  A sister from another ward has been teaching piano lessons for the past 2 months, during their summer break.  She wanted to do a recital and requested Sister Hoopes to help and include the youth that she is teaching.  It was last Saturday and it turned out to be a very interesting day.

An interesting day, because was all very Filipino! Here is the story as told by Sister Hoopes.

Sis Brines left and Gia on the right took lessons from me
 It started a couple of weeks ago when I was asked by Sister Brines to help with the recital. We had worked together a little throughout the last couple of months.  I checked with our Bishop to ensure that there were no other activities for the planned day.  There were none and then the original date got changed by the Stake which wanted it later so that it could be announced in the wards and get a lot of people there to support the piano recital and to encourage others to learn.  So, we moved it to last Saturday from 3-5 PM.  I talked to the Bishop and the building was clear. I said to him, "No meetings, no baptisms, no primary.  No meetings between 3&5".  He said OK.  We were at a members home on
Thursday night before the recital and Elder Hoopes was told that there was to be a Family History training for all of the stakes and Districts in the mission on Saturday afternoon. He asked where it was going to be held and was told in the Panganiban Chapel - conflicting with our recital. He called me over to talk to the Brother and I told him flat out that the chapel had been scheduled for the recital and it is the only room with a piano.  He said that he had not checked with anyone before scheduling the meeting and would gladly hold it in a different room of the church. Saturday afternoon, as the primary children began arriving, we learned that there was a primary activity also scheduled for that afternoon
Bishops oldest daughter played well with both hands.
7 years old!
and so there were kids running around the building during the recital as well. I stood guard at the door, keeping the noise and the children out. We also heard there was a baptism scheduled and they were filling the font.  That really would have messed things up because the font is just off the chapel, separated by accordian sliding doors. but it was actually at 6 PM, later than our recital.  And, just to help you understand the Filipino way, the Stake President, who was supposed to speak at the recital, never did get there until after it was over, as he was at a CES meeting across town. The Family History meeting went on from 2-5.  In addition, the reason for changing the date was so that announcements could be made..... didn't make any difference because none of the Bishops announced it in the stake.

The final touch:  Kathlene didn't see Sister Brines for several days and wondered how things were going.  My wife had already agreed to put a program together and make up some certificates. On Thursday afternoon, we were running to the Presidents Home and we see her walking into the parking lot so we made an appointment for later.  They went over the program and talked about certificates.  We were going to meet the next afternoon but then Sister Brines didn't come.(It was raining cats and dogs)!  She had 1 student that was there for 3 or 4 hours waiting.  Kathlene was to finalize the program before press time. But NO ONE came. On Saturday morning Sister Brines asked about decorations but none of
Our bishop speaking in place of the Stake President
the Bishops had budgets for decorations so  Kathlene gave her some colored paper and some scissors to decorate.

On Saturday afternoon, one of the younger Sisters in the ward, who takes lessons from Sister Hoopes, offered to do a Power Point so  the kids names could be projected on the wall.  It was a nice way to introduce the kids and the songs.
Half of Kathlene's students canceled  the night before and I think 2 of the others students didn't show up.

The program did, however, turn out pretty good and there were some parents there.  Sister Brines had arranged for refreshments and the parents were proud and happy. So this recital was a big success in the Filipino way.

These are the Bishops 3 children.  The oldest played in the recital and the youngest I showed in a picture a few weeks ago.  She just turned 3. They are really beautiful little girls.

The rest of the week was pretty uneventful.  We went to Baao on Sunday at the request of Elder and Sister Watson.  Sister Watson was doing sharing time in Primary just to show the leaders and kids how it is supposed to work.  She asked for help from Sister Hoopes.  We had a great day there with them in their old rented house.  After Primary, Sister Hoopes was asked to give the lesson in Relief Society.  Go figure!

With all the English testing going on and Piano lessons, I have been much more domestic than is usual for me.  I have actually put clothes in the washing machine and dryer.  And I have been doing the dishes which is quite extraordinary, I think.

Next week is going to be huge with an Area Authority Seventy coming to spend several days.  Will let you know next week how we are involved and share what we learned.
All nice and clean again

Just this last thought:  I was in a Sunday School class on Sunday and it was in Tagalog, of course.  So, I was day dreaming a little but I realized I was being asked a question.  The teacher in English said, "Elder Hoopes, this Sister wants to know why the Lord lets good people be poor and the bad people have money". ?  My first question was, "Is that the lesson for today" because I thought it was totally something else? And secondly, why ask me the question but I thought, okay, I am going to give it to them good.  I asked, "Do you believe the prophets"?  If so, go read the talk by Elder D. Todd Christofferson from last October General Conference on Free Agency.  He tells us that men choose their own circumstances in life.  God will not make us anything that we do not by our actions choose to become.  So, there is the answer.  I doubt they understood it at all but an American Missionary came up to me afterwards to get the reference so he could print it and read it.  Good for him!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

6 June 2015

This week was the same as last week so you can stop reading now if you want to.  We went to a WARD on Sunday; English tests on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; a visit to a Zone Training on Thursday and office work on Friday.  So I am not going to give a run down of our days but a few little hi-lights of the week.

English Tests:  Continue to be a huge factor for us.  It is all on Sister Hoopes but it requires us to be here and it takes a considerable amount of time.  There are 35 missionaries going home in 3 weeks and there are 23 non-English speaking missionaries who need to take the test.  Each test takes nearly 1.5 hours by the time they do the pre-test; and get all the explanations, etc.  Some can go a little faster if they have been around and can get the explanations ahead of time.  Many have to come from distant areas of the mission and so they try to do the test when they are here for something else. Tuesday was a meeting for the Mission Leadership Council and many of them were here for that so there were several scheduled on Monday night and Tuesday night to accommodate them.  There are still about half left to do in the next 2 weeks.  Sister Hoopes is now discussing the need to study English and the value of the test as we go out to the various District Meetings and Zone Training along with her other concerns about health and cleanliness.

Wednesday was our wedding anniversary.  We stayed home and ate stacked Enchiladas which is our favorite food here.  We can't buy anything that even approaches it so we chose to stay at home and fix that for our anniversary dinner.
We did get President and Sister Reeder in the afternoon to go with us to Shakeys where we each shared a Banana Split which was actually really good.

Language tidbit:  We were shopping this past week and some young person said to me, "Thank you, po".  Po is a word that is meant for respect which was nice but that is not the point of my thought here.  She said "thank you" and I responded with "bitte".  I should have said, you're welcome or something in Tagalog which I don't know but I said "bitte". Bitte is German for "you're welcome".  We both do this all the time.  Sister Hoopes is usually in Spanish. Our minds must be thinking that we need to respond in a foreign language so it grabs the most recent experience.  But why didn't I just come out with the English?  It is beyond me but I laughed about it for a while.

Saturday afternoon we drove to Pasacao, a little branch on the coast to attend a baptism we had been invited to by the Elders.  It is a nice drive and it was a beautiful day.  It is always fun to go to these baptisms.  We were surprised to have President and Sister Reeder show up there as well.  They had a couple of RM's with them (upper right on the photo) who had both worked in Pasacao and knew many of the people there.

MLS update:  Last Sunday we went to an actual Ward in the Naga Stake.  It is in Pili about a half hour away from us.  This Ward has had some real issues with a large number of members who are on the records but no one knows where they are.  We had been there about 2 months ago but they now have a new Bishop and we thought it would be a good time to go back and check in on them.  They sustained 2 YM to receive the Aaronic Priesthood in Sacrament meeting so when I had a chance to talk to the Bishop, I asked him, "How do you get the information on AP ordinations to your Ward Clerk so he can put it in the computer"?  He answered me saying, "I don't know".  When I asked if I could show him how to use the forms and where to get them, he got really excited.  I realized that this probably would have been another situation where ordinations take place but no record is kept. Happens every Sunday across the Mission and probably the country.  Maybe we made some small progress last Sunday.

Brother and Sister
We were invited to a members home on Thursday evening for the Homecoming of their daughter who just returned from the Mindanao Mission.  She is pictured with her brother who got back in March from Australia.  We mentioned this family a few months ago as a missionary family.  They still have a son in another Philippine mission.  He won't finish until next July.

CARS:  Church Automotive Reporting System
I will give an update on this if I ever get going good on it.  (The new reporting system I was trained on and mentioned last week)

The missionary family with us and the Reeders
and 2 Sister Missionaries

Thought for the week:  Some day I will need to describe the challenge of driving in this country.  At times, it is beyond anything you could imagine.  And yet, we see relatively few accidents and the traffic generally does move.  I have found myself getting really angry with the way drivers pass and cut in and I decided last Sunday that I am going to just take it easy and enjoy the ride.  Most of these people have grown up like this and cutting people off is how they drive.  At home, we are so proud and competitive that it makes us angry.  Here, it is their way of life.  If I can make this change in my life, I will be much happier; my blood pressure will be down to normal; and I will be much more in tune with the Lord's way.  Pray for me!!!
Baking cookies for 30 Missionaries at Zone Training

This is how they move a refrigerator in Naga.  Look close.
Just got in from a Piano recital which has been a big thing for my wife.  She played a solo, "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" which was just beautiful.  I will give more with pictures next week.  Otherwise next week will be more of the same but the following two weeks are huge.  We have a visiting Area Authority Seventy with a special request for dinner with the Senior Couples and a special twist for us (really Sister Hoopes)  and then transfers with 35 going home. (more next week or the week after)  We will have 2 days of Career Workshop training.  Although we love doing it, it is very draining.  

That's all folks!!!

The Elders took some pants to be fixed and this is
the bag the pants came back in