Saturday, August 29, 2015

29 August 2015

Here we go again!  We had a fun week which means we weren't too busy but we had things to do and were able to travel around a little bit which was a nice change.

District leaders in Pasacao.  Why am I always standing
on lower ground when around these tall Elders?

These Elders are wearing their sweat rags around their necks.  When I saw them, I asked if they were cold.  That is a real joke because the only time anyone is cold here is if you are sitting in an air conditioned room that is set way low.  Usually, it is very hot and humid and we are now in the rainy season with Monsoon rains that are hitting frequently.

Furniture/wood products factory next to the church in Pasacao.
Owned by members who we visited this past week.
This is our past week in a nut shell:  English tests and travel to Ragay and Pasacao along with Piano lessons and all the other incidentals like washing dishes; washing and ironing clothes; shopping; food preparation; cleaning apartment......And our daily scripture reading.  We will finish the Book of Mormon today for the second time this year.  It is another way of tracking our time.  In one year, we will read the Book of Mormon 3 times.  We have been doing this faithfully since we went to Germany.  It is a good thing to do and has really been a blessing to us.

This boy is polishing some small pieces of wood that they use in making belts.  They actually are quite nice.

This a family enterprise with aunts, uncles, dad, grandmother, and so forth.
All members.  

This sister was baptized last week and the District Leader
asked her to come and speak to the district.  I think it was
good although we couldn't understand anything.

We attended the Ragay District meeting on Thursday.  This city is almost to the Northern end of our mission.  There is one city with missionaries further north than Ragay.  It is a beautiful area, very tropical and very near the coast although we did not see the coast from where we were.  There are 4 Elders in this picture who work in Ragay and the other 2 work in the city further north, Del Gallego.  We always do some training on MLS, English studying, apartment cleaning, filter changing, etc.

This picture is here for fun.  This is a tricie load of pigs.  This is pretty common although we have seen a few small trucks that carry pigs and cattle.  This is always fun to see as it is so different for us.

The week is now past and we are preparing for a busy week next week.  We do 6 English tests on Monday.  That means that Sister Hoopes and I will both be involved all day long.  We will normally work with each one to ascertain their level of expertise and then try to spend some time with them helping them get ready for the test.  One test I did last week took 2.5 hours as the Elder needed a lot of help.  If they are ready and we can move quickly, we can do each one in a little over an hour.  We hope that happens on Monday and that all the equipment (internet) works well.  I will start with each one doing some practice tests and helping them and then they will move on to Sister Hoopes for the final test.

Later in the week, we will go to Daet with President and Sister Reeder to a Zone Training and then on Saturday back to Iriga for District Conference.  We also have our Stake Conference this next weekend and the Stake President has asked our ward choir to sing on Sunday so we are now starting practice again.


Bis naechste Woche! (Until next week)  I feel like I should say something in a different language.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

23 August 2015

Hi again.  Busy or slow, the weeks just seem to fly by.  I am writing this week on Sunday afternoon and it will be short as there isn't a lot to report.

We are reading from Ether in the Book of Mormon right now and will finish the entire book again in another week.  Those of you who desire can join with us in reading it again starting in September.  We will complete it again at the end of the year.  As usual, I have been greatly impressed with the messages contained in this marvelous revelation from God.  I was especially touched by 2nd Ether where Moroni talks about "this land of Promise".  I will add some short phrases beginning at verse 9:  "and now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land; that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. ....  For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off. ... And this cometh unto you, O yes Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God - that ye may repent and not continue in your iniquities. ... Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity and from all other nations under heaven if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ."

How can the judgements of God not be coming upon us given the terrible wickedness which is upon the face of our country?  Truly, these are perilous times and those who are watching and prepared will be saved at the last day.  We are interested to see what happens between now and September 13 the end of the Jewish month of Elul.

The Elder on the right is from Henderson, NV.  His parents
are both Filippino and met in Provo at BYU.  He was born
there.  He is a happy and pleasant young man.  Plays the
piano and always has a smile on his face.

We started our week with a trip to Bato in the Iriga district to attend church on Sunday.  This is a small branch but has a very nice church building.  Everywhere we go we are welcomed and viewed, I think, as some kind of special visitor.  We truly are not but they treat us like royalty and we love being out among them.  I always try to get some pictures of the missionaries when we are around them and this time is no different.  One of the Elders in Bato is quite new and is from Henderson, Nevada.  I am including a picture of him and his companion for the sake of his parents.

Mom and Dad were baptized a month ago.  They have
5 boys.  He is a "Jeepney" driver.

The sisters day out.  You can see what they did.

Monday was a fun day for the "girls".  Sister Reeder planned a time with the 2 Senior Sisters and herself.  You can see from the pictures what they were doing.  I, on the other hand, stayed home and washed dishes, ironed my shirts and did an English test with one of the Elders close by.  The Brothers were actually invited to the Reeders mid afternoon to have lunch all together.  We always have fun getting together.

These Elders cooked main dishes of Filippino food.  This
plus two pots of rice was dinner.  Oh, we also had
birthday cake.

The rest of the week was all rolled together with birthdays, baking cake and cupcakes, dinner with friends and visiting Iriga for a District Priesthood training on Saturday. Yours truly was the main attraction again at this priesthood training.  I think we are finally starting to turn the corner on some of the issues regarding membership records.  I was so pleased with one of the clerks and branch presidents who have started using the forms to capture the information on two Aaronic Priesthood boys receiving the priesthood.  That is a big step and will go along way to resolving the issues.  I used them as an example of what they all need to be doing.

Birthday Elders on Wednesday.  Both the same day.

All the Elders who came to dinner on Wednesday.

Our friends over for dinner on Friday night.  The Gamil's.
Today, we were in Pamplona which is a small branch north of Naga about a half hour.  We were so warmly received again by everyone.  The branch president asked when we were going to move our memberships to their branch.  We didn't really have any  official business there today but went to visit and support them.  We love being with them and are always anxious to help them any way that we can.  Sometimes, just being there makes a difference, I think.

We ended the week on a high note with the Gamils coming for dinner Friday night.

The trip to Iriga for training on Saturday.

The visit to Pamplona Branch to attend church and visit friends today.

We go into next week with a large day of English tests on Monday and then a regular week for the rest of the week.  We are doing well.  Still getting over colds and other little things but the Lord has been good to us.  We are learning a lot and doing great.

Until next week.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

16 August 2015

It's seems Incredible But it's true....

A new Elder who just arrived from New Mexico.  This
picture is for his family which follows this blog.

Another week come and gone! To quote Jacob from the Book of Mormon..".I, Kathlene began to be saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and and solemn people, wanderers, cast out..."

Wait a minute, it's time to wake up.   We're only lonesome when we think about the time we are missing with our grandchildren.  Their lives are the ones passing away without us, for this reason we do look forward to our return home in 10 months from today.

Otherwise, we are busy little beavers with no time to be lonesome.  We had 18 missionaries leave this week and 14 new ones come in.

Going home!  18 of them.
We taught our Life Skills class on Tuesday and did new missionary orientation on Wednesday.

Another picture of the missionaries going home.

2 girls stirring cookie dough with their Mother's supervision.

We made cookies with the Bishops wife and girls on Thursday and did CES piano lessons on Friday.  We gave piano lessons on Saturday morning and went to a baptism that didn't happen.  Who has time to dream their life away on a mission.

Lots of help!

Completed project.

I'm also studying up on Dengue, we have another missionary in dem Krankenhaus, (oops, wrong mission) as this is a very bad year for the disease, and possible staph infections for a couple of us missionaries.

Due to our outstanding performance at Ward Conference last week, we have been invited to Sing at Stake Conference in September.  Oh NO!!! I just realized that our  lead soloist, Elder Legler, may be transfered by then.  I hope he doesn't go too far away.

Well, I'm writing this "while HE is sleeping, dreaming HIS life away!" ("HE" was up all night coughing - Jon's comment) So, maybe our life is passing away, as if it were a dream.

So dear readers, have a good week, and maybe we'll be awake next week.  "And I make an end of my writing upon this "blog"... and to the reader I bid farewell, hoping that many of my brethren may read my words.  Brethren, adieu
Sister Hoopes

Thought for today.

"The good works that really matter require the help of heaven.  And the help of heaven requires working past the point of fatigue so far that only the meek and lowly will keep going long enough.  The Lord doesn't put us through this test just to give us a grade; He does it because the process will change us."

Elder Henry B. Eyring

Naga District meeting on Friday.  Pineapple cake today.
No cookies.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

8 August 2015

Hi again.  The past week has just flown by and we are just getting ready for the 6th week transfer rush. Next week is when transfers take place but it also means things will be very busy for us as we will be preparing for and teaching the Workshop on Tuesday for all those going home and then helping with the new missionaries coming in on Wednesday.  It is always a fun time for us.  We enjoy being around these young men and women.  Our time is now being counted in 6 week increments as it seems like we go from one Transfer to the next.

Going through Tigaon on Friday
Our past week was much more of the same.  Piano lessons; one last English test; Zone Training in Goa; District training in Iriga and then YW Fireside again in Iriga.  

The traffic to and from Goa on Friday was really bad and a difficult drive.  We heard there was a Fiesta in one of the towns (Tigaon) and that really added to the difficulty.  I was finding myself getting so angry at the way the cars and motorcycles pass.  At any given point there would be a car passing me on the left and a motorcycle on the right or the other way around and this is a small 2 lane highway.  And due to the traffic, there was no place in front of me so the only option when a car comes from the other direction is to push me over or force me to fall back.  I found myself getting so upset with this type of driving I realized that I am not going to be able to change the people but I can change myself.  When we got home that evening, we were reading our daily scriptures from the Book of Mormon in 3rd Nephi where the Savior teaches the Beatitudes  and verse 11 hit me really hard.  It reads, "And blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute..."  Actually all the verses touched me but especially this verse as I knew the Lord was talking to me and I came to realize that it is my pride that is the issue.  So many issues in our lives, when boiled down, really are related to pride and our inability to give up our egos.  My challenge for the rest of my mission is to find a way to accept all people; to learn to love them regardless of the circumstances we are in; to forget myself and my own needs and wants and allow others to be who they are without criticism and judgement.  A big challenge for me.

We heard through President Flores that a member in the area does Reflexology and he asked if we were interested.  We were so he brought the man by on Wednesday night.  He is a blind man who is married and has 2 children. This is how he makes his living.  He was trained in Manila with government help because of his disability.  We were told that he goes to a place in downtown Naga where the government provides him a place to work and he is there every night from 6 until 11 pm where he does the Reflexology.  We had an interesting evening with him.  He did both of us (I got a full muscle massage in addition) in about 2.5 hours and charged us 450 pesos. That is just over $10.  Of course, we paid him more than that but it was very cheap for a good service.

This is  a "seat belt" on a motorcycle.  He is strapped to his Mom.
I started this blog post on Saturday but it is now Monday as I finish this writing as we got so busy on Saturday and Sunday.  We left about 11 am on Saturday for Iriga to help with a District Primary training meeting.  We got home about 4;30 and went to a baptism at the church next door and then there was a Relief Socity activity and then ward Choir practicing for Ward Conference.

Sunday was Ward Conference here in our home ward in Naga and we were very involved in helping the choir.  We sang 2 songs on Sunday and it turned out really nice.  One of the office Elders sang a solo and he has a beautiful Tenor voice.  It was a very special day.  Sunday afternoon, we left with President and Sister Reeder for Iriga again.  Sisters Reeder, Hoopes and Watson were asked to speak at a Young Women's Fireside.  It was a nice meeting.
Elder Legler sang the solo.  He is from Gilbert, AZ.

From the Primary Training on Saturday afternoon.  This was
the breakout session for Primary music people.

This is Sister Hoopes addressing the YW on Sunday for their
Fireside.  It was on the YW Values.

A couple of weeks ago, we showed a picture of a rice farm
ready to be planted.  This is the same plot but the new rice
has been planted.  It is all done by hand.

We are grateful to have some time today to recover as we start with the big transfer week tomorrow with the Workshop which we teach to the missionaries going home.

Hope all is well.  Until next week.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

1 August 2015

This week was extremely busy as we held a zone conference, gathering all 6 zones and 160 missionaries together over a 2 day period of time.   We had to bring all missionaries in to offer them the opportunity to have a flu shot.

To make this a more productive event, Sister Reeder asked us Senior missionaries to do workshops throughout the two days as we worked the missionaries through their OPPORTUNITY to have a flu shot.

Elder Hoopes had the OPPORTUNITY to teach the missionaries about the proper way and the necessity of changing their waters filters correctly, a necessary but boring task.  He also got to ENCOURAGE then to clean and de-clutter their apartments inside and out.  He also got to refresh their minds as to appropriate haircuts, sideburns, and attire.  By the end of 16 sessions he was absolutely bored stiff, not to mention that he came down with a terrible cold on day one.

I, on the other hand, had a great time.  I was to encourage them in their English skills and help prepare them for an English Proficency rating exam that they are all encouraged to take before they go home.  We have mentioned that in past blogs.  It is like pulling teeth to get some of the missionaries to even speak in English.

But during my 16 sessions we had a great time.  They were laughing and talking and making so much noise that I thought we were going to get in trouble!  I used a practice test that is on line and then they had to  act these things out.  So, mostly it went really well.  So many of the missionaries come to take the test without doing their English workbooks that they are given in the MTC, I have great hopes of getting all of these missionaries going home at high proficiency levels.  I think this was a great start.  It was especially good because they had so much fun and the native English Speakers can be a great help to the other missionaries.

Elder and Sister Watson showed the missionaries how to use Family History in their missionary work.  I would have liked to attend their workshop but as you can guess conducting our own 8 sessions was more than enough for a day.

After our Friday workshop we had to rush down to the CES building to our piano class. We were done for.

I had two piano lessons this morning and Jon has been down all day trying to get over his cold. Taking full advantage of the  fact that he is sick, I am doing the blog.  Actually this is my first post on this mission so I guess it is about time.

Other fun things that happened this week include, working with a Sister Missionary who has Dengue fever.  That has been interesting.  She has been really sick and her platelet count went down to 20 which was very low.  Sister Reeder and I were trying to get her to take our magic vitamin c potion but she didn't want to do it and wouldn't most of the time.  They finally had to hospitalize her and give her IV's.   I finally went to the hospital again and took more Vitamin C, made her companion take it and told her that I would bring the Meet the Mormon DVD over so they would watch it, but I wasn't going to bring it to her unless she would take the vitamin C.   She promised and I brought the DVD to her, (actually , I was trying to keep them from dying of boredom rather than Dengue fever).  Actually her platelets went from 45 to 121 overnight and she got to go home the next day. She got to come to the second day of Zone conference and was one happy missionary.

When we down loaded the picture we didn't remember that there was a nurse in the room.  Then we realize, hey that's me! Always the nurse where ever I go!

We offered all our missionaries a swig of our vitamin c potion and especially encouraged the ones taking the shots to drink it.  It's pretty sour and you should have seen some of the faces.  I, of course didn't see too much because Sister Reeder was doing the health workshop while a nurse gave the shots.  Other than our sick sister, no one was compelled drink it.  And she still had a choice, (I think I have the only copy of Meet the Mormons in the Philippines and for missionaries who can't watch movies, DID SHE REALLY HAVE A CHOICE???)

Oh well, other than a missionary with a possible staph infection, or impetigo skin rash, it's been a pretty quiet week.  For those parents out there, I am posting pictures of all of our zones.  It may be like finding a needle in a haystack, but maybe you can see your son or daughter.  Have fun, and we'll see what our next week brings.

Daet Zone

Goa Zone

Hey where did these two clowns come from???  Never trust a missionary with your camera!
Canaman Zone

Iriga Zone
Naga Zone

Pamploma Zone