HAPPY BIRTHDAY KATHLENE AND AMERICA !!!
Kathlene is doing great for her 65th birthday. We only wish we could say the same for our country.
|Kathlene just after we were married|
This weeks blog post is a copy of a letter which I wrote to a friend in Perry. His parents just left for the MTC and his son is currently serving a mission in Mexico. My intent was to put together a letter which would help him see the different assignments that we have and get a feel for our daily activities. It, of course, is not a comprehensive list of what we do each week but it is a good list for what we have done for the last two weeks and it does make it sound like we are busier than we really are. Every now and then we have a day that is free and most of our evenings are free. That gives us plenty of time to rest and catch up with the writing duties.
|Kathlene just last month in Daet on the coast|
I am finally sitting down to write something to you. You sent us a letter which we were grateful to get and I wanted to respond quickly but it was at a time when we were very busy and I just couldn't get myself to sit down and write to you. We do a blog each week so that is a grind getting that done and then last weekend was my family reunion with my brothers and sisters. Since I am the oldest and parents are both gone, I thought I needed to send them something so I spent quite a bit of my time putting a letter together for them. Then we got really busy this week but it was planned and we had been preparing for the week for a long time.
|Group from Monday Career Workshop|
We have been teaching a workshop for the missionaries who go home and it is a full day workshop. This past week, there were 35 going home and so it was split into 2 days and we still had 18 on Monday and then 17 on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday we help with the new missionaries arriving. So, we have had 3 huge days right in a row and it gets a little tiring. We are neither one as spry as we used to be. Then I spent most of the day today working on car reports for the end of the month. Tomorrow we will be attending a District meeting and teaching missionaries and then we have an afternoon at the CES center every Friday teaching piano lessons and conducting. And that is not all we do. Saturday will be Kathlene's birthday and we are having a party. Of course, it will be at our place but Sister Reeder is coming along with the office Elders. Others are too busy working.
|Sister Gregorio who the Forsberg's have been writing to. She|
went home on Tuesday.
If you are reading our blog then a lot of this is superfluous but I will try to tell you a little about what we are doing here.
Our initial assignment was to work on MLS as the record keeping here in wards and branches has been atrocious and the only time I can really meet with anyone in the ward or branch is on Sunday so our Sundays are spent in different branches and wards every single week. But they really do treat us well and we love going out around. I was feeling down about MLS records one day and Pres. Reeder said, "It's okay. You have 18 months to fix it". We laughed because I don't think it can get fixed in 18 years. I could if I could
work in each unit for about 6 months and really focus on it but I can't. So now I have changed my focus and am trying to fix their issues for the future so that the problems of the past are not repeated. I have discovered that they don't use any forms to capture info for ordinances. They tell me that they write it in a log book and they do have these log books but I have yet to find a single date of baptism or AP ordinance in the log book. If they could find a date it would be easy to fix the past problems but they can't so I tell them their system doesn't work. The church way is to print a blank form and fill it out as the BP(Branch Pres or Bishop) does the interview. Oh, I can tell some stories and I have only been here 6 months. They are actually really funny but very sad too. Still, when these BP's see the forms and how they should work they all say that they think this is a better way. I just don't know how long they will keep it up. Also we are teaching missionaries every chance we get. A lot is designed to teach them so they can help the BP's but in reality it is intended to help them see what they have to do when they get back home. Over 60% of our missionaries are Filipino and another 20% from the Pactific Islands and they will be leaders as soon as they get home in their individual units
|The new group on Wednesday starting their|
orientation to the Mission.
Kathlene is teaching piano lessons to several kids right here at the church next door and then we go to Pamplona and also to Iriga on some Saturdays to teach as well as the piano lessons every Friday afternoon at the CES building. She also has the responsibility to oversee the English testing for all of the non English speaking missionaries going home. The church provides them with a course to study during their mission and then pays for them to take a test and get a certificate of English competence. The better they speak English the better jobs they can get after. It has been really good but takes a lot of time - a least an hour for every person and she has to work around the Elders in the office and also get all the missionaries scheduled and in here. The last 3 weeks were a real chore. Now, I am helping with them as well since I don't usually do a lot during those times so I can help with a sample test. It also seemed helpful to talk with them before the test and just help them feel better. Almost every single Filipino is scared to death to take the test but they are preparing more and doing much better.
|Sisters from the Canaman District. They were chatting in a|
circle until I pulled out the camera. Then they all posed.
Sister Hoopes said, "We don't want to be seen
in our natural state".
I mentioned the cars reports as I have been assigned as the Mission Vehicle Coordinator. The church is just implementing a new reporting system and it has been challenging as it doesn't work very well yet and I have tons of questions but Manila doesn't seem to care very much so I am not going to get uptight about it yet - other than to do the best that I can. An Elder hit a parked car going home last week and that has been a huge issue. I don't have any idea how things work here and what was expected. We have dealt with it but I still don't know all the steps that have to be done next time. I just told all of the Elders that I don't want any more accidents. None at all. I don't want to go through that again.
|The Sisters said, "We love it when you come to our meetings|
Sister Hoopes because you always bring treats".
We have also been asked to attend a District Leaders Training meeting and speak on Leadership and we will be going to the Zone Conferences the end of this month to help with presentations. Plus any special needs like sick missionaries (Sis Hoopes has been helping Sister Reeder) and sometimes they need help getting a missionary from somewhere to somewhere. So, our jobs are quite varied but we are doing great.
Just a note on the Life Skills Workshop: We have now taught it 4 times and find it to be one of the most satisfying experiences that we have ever had. It used to be on how to go home and find jobs, applications, etc. We have completely changed it to learning what the Lord wants for them temporally; the need to decide what they want; and then how to get the Lord to help them. We have taken the morning session completely from the conference talk by Elder E. Todd Christofferson in Oct of last year. "Free Forever to Act for Themselves" It is the best I have ever read on this subject but you have to read it carefully. Look for anything regarding Temporal. The talk is for both temporal and spiritual. I use the quotes for temporal right out of the talk and then discuss what they mean and how they go about doing that in their lives. If you need help, I will send you an underlined copy but I think you should read it and be getting ready to teach it. You will have great opportunities in the future to help young people learn what they need to do to be successful. Sometimes to get out of the ruts of their parents. I am feeling bad about when we leave. There will probably be no one to teach them and I think that will be a tremendous loss to so many who need it. I am hoping there will be a chance to teach it at home when we get there next year.
|Another activity is feeding the missionaries. Of the 6 - 1 is|
going home and 2 are leaving the office. The
replacements are in the picture for the 2 being
Time is going by fast. We have been here nearly 6 months already and we know the date we are coming home. It is June 16, 2016. Will probably be speaking on Fathers Day next year. Can't believe it.
Sounds like you are all doing well. Glad to hear about your folks. Pres Eddington talked to us about the same type of mission in Perry.(work from home as FT Missionaries) We didn't bite on it as we couldn't see how we would know when we were missionaries and when we weren't. Besides, we kind of wanted to get over here to help the Reeders if we could.
Tell your missionaries hello from us.
We love and miss all of you),
Elder and Sister Hoopes