Saturday, November 28, 2015

28 November 2015

At the Mission Home with Reeders and Watsons.
Thanksgiving Day in Naga.
This has been a very nice week.

Lots of preparation for Thanksgiving day on Thursday and we were blessed to be able to spend the day with President and Sister Reeder and Elder and Sister Watson.  It was a delightful day with live BYU Basketball in the morning (for Elder Hoopes and Pres. Reeder) and a real Thanksgiving Dinner with Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and even pumpkin pie or blueberry pie and Real Jello out of Canada.

Cleanup after dinner.  

Thought for the week.

I am thankful for Thanksgiving day.  I/we try to be thankful all the time but the beauty of the holiday is that we come together usually as family and enjoy the time together.  Our daughter, Jennifer, did a Thanksgiving dinner at our home with 3 of her brothers in attendance with most of their families. The rest couldn't come because of other family commitments, and work.  
A beautiful table all ready for our Thanksgiving FEAST!
She told us that it was hard to get the turkey carved and a prayer said because everyone was "talking" to each other.  That was music to our ears!  We are so grateful that our children get together and enjoy talking to each other.  It is too bad that we so often wait for a holiday gathering to get together and talk.  I am grateful that Jennifer did the dinner and encouraged her brothers to come "home" especially since we couldn't be there. She has been keeping the Family (boys) together through 2 missions now. We know that it was a lot of work and expense for her but we are grateful that she wanted to do something for the brothers while we are away.
We are always grateful for our family and the blessings but there is something different at this time.  I think it is a special outpouring of the spirit during this holiday season beginning with Thanksgiving.  The Children of Israel were commanded to recognize and remember many holidays and associated feasts.  They religiously kept these holidays during the time of Jesus and many still do today.
We keep this holiday because it is special to us and it does remind us of the Goodness of God and his great miracles in keeping and preserving us and our families each and every day.  For that I am truly grateful.

From Sister Hoopes regarding the gravy for Thanksgiving dinner at the Reeders. 

This poor little bird (a chicken) became Thanksgiving Gravy.  No, his head and beak are not in the pan, we are not that Filipino yet. But he did make some really good gravy and he is still giving.  Tomorrow will be another Thanksgiving dinner surprise.  Last Sunday Elder Beard asked Elder Hoopes (in the middle of Choir practice mind you), if he could ask a really dumb question.  Elder Hoopes said yes, and then he asked "Have I missed Thanksgiving?  Elder Hoopes replied No, but you will.  Thanksgiving is next Thursday."
Soooo, I concocted a plan. Unfortunately we have far too many missionaries to feed everyone so, I have arranged for our Bishop to have a missionary meeting at 3:00 on Sunday.  We happen to have 2 companionships in our ward, and each companionship has 1 american.  So when they meet with Bishop, he will have them accompany him to our apartment and they will be met with a surprise Thanksgiving Feast, as best as can be here in the Philippines.  
Sister Roberts and companion in for the New Missionary
training meeting on Tuesday.  Sister Roberts on the right is
from Provo.
So Sister Baird and Elder Beard will not miss Thanksgiving afterall.  They and their companions will be blessed with turkey, dressing, Candied sweet potatoes, potatoes and gravy, and Apple Pie and Ice cream.  Oh Yes, and a taste of Pumpkin Pie, because there were two pieces left from our Reeder Thanksgiving. Bishops family will also be joining us.  I don't know if they have ever had a Thanksgiving Dinner.  So, don't ruin the surprise!

Elder Wright from West Valley.  Also in for the New Missionary
training meeting.
The mission office fridge is amassing a lot of dishes covered in tin foil.  An astute Elder would be wondering where the frozen turkey went and what is undercover in the tin foil. But unfortunately, the Office Elders won't be getting anything this time.  But Wait, I made some practice Jello yesterday, with Filipino seaweed gelatine, and they got to eat the rest of the bowl full!  (After Elder Hoopes dumped his down the toilet).  But they assured me, they would eat my rejects anytime!

We had some leftover soup so Sister Hoopes invited these hungry missionaries up
for some soup and cheese cake.

Enough for this week.  Hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  

Saturday, November 21, 2015

21 November 2015

Another week!

We decided to go to the grocery store earlier today as Saturdays are usually very busy.  We got there just after it opened at 9:00.  Usually the lines are long just like Walmart but not this morning.  Sister Hoopes actually had 5 helpers plus the cashier waiting on her.  They really did look like Santa's Helpers this morning.  They were so cute and anxious to help that I took their picture.

Who wouldn't love this kind of help when bagging groceries?

We lost one of the Helpers from the last picture but still a good group.  Whenever a camera shows up, everyone stops and tries to get in the picture. 

We had this family for dinner on Sunday after church.  She is
leaving in December for Abu Dhabi where she has a job
as a nurse.  The husband and son will follow after school
is out in the spring.
Some more thoughts from the Book of Mormon.  This time from Alma 54:20.  A little background will be helpful before quoting this scripture. The Chief Captain of the armies of the Nephites is named Moroni and the King of the Lamanites is a Nephite dissenter named Ammoron.  Ammoron is the brother of Amalickiah who dissented from the Nephites and went with a small number of men unto the Lamanites.  There he, through murder, gained control of all the Lamanite armies and became King. He was eventually killed by the Nephites and was replaced by his brother Ammoron.  In this part of the Book of Mormon, Ammoron sends a message to Moroni requesting an exchange of prisoners.  
8 Elders plus 2 more who were late for breakfast on Monday
Moroni responds back that he will exchange with some conditions which Ammoron accepts. Then, Ammoron responds back to Moroni with the following:  Verse 20:  ..."and we will wage a war which shall be eternal either to the subjecting the Nephites to our authority or to their eternal extinction".  I found these words very interesting as it doesn't sound like a mere mortal speaking these words.  They actually are very similar to words spoken by Satan.  Clearly Ammoron was a pawn of Satan in this "eternal" war.  Does it not sound similar to the words we hear today coming out of the mouths of those who are opposed to anything good or righteous? Or those from the Middle East who want to destroy Israel?  We are seeing this hatred being manifest more and more by those who have chosen Satan over God.  They, as Satan, view this as an eternal war and truly it is.  It started in heaven and is continuing today.  I think it is helpful for us to understand what we are truly dealing with in these Latter Days. 

Enjoying their cinnamon rolls from Sis Hoopes.

Our week was very much the same.  As always, we visited a district meeting on Thursday.  This is from the Pamplona district.  Of the 8 total missionaries only 1 is Filipino.  The others were Americans, Australian, New Zealand and French Polynesia.  It was a lot of fun.

This next week is Thanksgiving which we will be spending with the Reeders and the Watsons.  We look forward to that.

That is all for this week.
Sister Bagsic wanted to learn how to make dough and fruit
pizza.  She was at our place for dinner on Sunday with
her family but came back on Wednesday and spent the

Saturday, November 14, 2015

14 November 2015

Six office Elders for dinner on Sunday afternoon.
I will begin with a thought for this week.  It is based upon a scripture in the Book of Mormon, Alma 48:15-16.  "And this was their FAITH, ...if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would Prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger; 16. and also, that God would make it known unto them whither they should go to defend themselves against their enemies, and by so doing, the Lord would deliver them; and this was the FAITH of Moroni and his heart did glory in it."

Two Elders in for English tests lucked out and got some
Coconut cream pie.
It is not difficult to find a scripture anywhere in the Book of Mormon that can be related to us in our present day.  I find this one especially appealing given the angst that I feel every time I look at the news headlines.  Today, I saw the unbelievable terror attacks in France and thought again, "What will I and my family do when the terror attacks or any of a multitude of other threats start hitting much closer to home?"  The answer from the Book of Mormon is quite clear.  The Nephites at the time of this scripture had FAITH that if they kept the commandments of God, that he would prosper them in the land.  The word prosper has a definite connotation of "temporal blessings".  They knew that the Lord would warn them and tell them where to go if necessary to deliver them.  What more could
Cinnamon rolls for Naga Zone on Friday
we ask for than to know that the Lord will warn and guide and bless us to prosper in spite of all these things that are going on?  All we must do is keep the commandments of God. This scripture helps me immensely to understand God and have FAITH in Him.  I hope it helps all of you as well.

Sister Reeder waiting patiently for some Cinnamon Rolls.
President Reeder really likes them!

I have written previously about the workshop that we do for missionaries who have completed their mission and are going home.  It has become something very special for us.  This past week, we have been receiving emails from missionaries who have gone home commenting on the workshop; their safe arrival home; how they miss the mission; their plans for the future and a few other things.  This week, I have decided to share some of those comments for the purpose of keeping a record of them in this blog.  While some have given permission to use their comments, I have decided to keep everything private - so I will not use names or anything that would indicate who they are, except in a case or two where we have permission and where it will be helpful to know who they are.  These are all going to be exactly as we received them so read with some "understanding" and watch for key words such as faith; hope; goals; desire; fear, etc.

Following are some of the comments we have received:

Good day Elder and Sister Hoopes. I'm so grateful for the dedication that you have in the calling that the Lord gives to you. Thanks a lot for the workshop, i really appreciate it and because of it i now have a great vision on how i will accomplish the righteous desires of my heart. Thanks for your powerful testimonies that helps also my testimony to have faith, trust and hope in the promises of God as i do His will in my life. You really nailed it in my heart the things that you taught to us.

Sincerely and ever your friend,

Dear Elder and Sister Hoopes,
As I was excitedly open this next chapter of my life I was prayerfully and carefully setting my righteous goals on how I can do what the Lord expects of me in accomplishing my academic, career, marriage and having a calling to continue to serve the Lord and my fellowmen. I come up on an idea that I must have many options to make or to have a backup plan to everything so that I will not waste the time that the Lord gave to me. I plan to make a resume in applying to be an MTC teacher I notice that if I make into this job, First I can share the things that I learn on my mission on how to be a missionary that the Lord expects of me. Second, I can continue my studies and finish my four degree course in Information Technology cause I have a year remaining for me to have this degree, and Third I can also continue to fulfil my calling in my ward and in our stake because I will be a teacher also in preparing missionaries on their missions, yes I will be a mission preparation class teacher and lastly I will be near to my future wife. I really take to my heart on how I can accomplish this direction of our Father in Heaven gave to His prophets then to us and I know Elder and Sister Hoopes that thru my righteous desires and actions I can accomplish my Heavenly Father’s will to my life. And if it’s possible could I put your name on my reference list on the last part my resume for MTC teacher?. It would be a great help if you could help me with this but if it’s not possible for you and Sister Hoopes to help me with this it is okay for me because you did help me in a lot of things during my fulltime-mission for me to be prepared in this next chapter of my life and I am eternally grateful for that.
with love and sincerity,

Great to hear that Elder Hoopes. Thanks for the reminder about preparing for a job interview, don't worry about it i now have the powerpoint presentation that you create and i always read that so that i will be more prepared. Thanks a lot. Go forth with faith for all of us in fulfilling our righteous desires! Thanks a lot Elder.

Hello Elder and Sister Hoopes. Thank you so much for the wonderful workshop and I am grateful fro the inspired messages both of you shared with us. I arrived home safely and I really miss the Naga Mission. I feel so blessed from having both of you. Take care always. I love you both.

Thank you so much!!  i miss the mission. And all of you! I am doing great!  The Lord has been so good to my family.

Good evening Elder Hoopes I just got your mail.
I just want you to know that I left my Family again because I want to choose whats right. and I know that my decision is right. THank you so much for Everything.

I am eternally grateful, Elder and Sister hoopes I can't explain how much!!!!!!

My eyes are now Open, The Veil is very thin, My faith is reaching its full, my understanding are almost perfect. Thank you so much for everything, I know I can do all things by faith(work). 

I am a Son of God, I don't have any fears anymore.
I will follow God's commandment and keep my covenants with him.
Thank you so much.

hi Elder and Sister Hoopes!:)
thank you for all the things you have taught us. It's been a great time serving with you in the Naga Mission. I miss and love the both of you .

This picture to the right is of a card which was given to us on the last day by an Elder who had worked here in the office and we got to know very well.  We really like him and are so sad to see him go.  He was very special and so capable.

One of the computerized questions on the English test is asking them to describe the weather.  That is what he is referring to.  Quite funny to us.

As you read through the card, notice that his name badge is on the card with the white writing over the top.  It took me a while to figure that out.  We still have not figured out the lower right box.

We don't question why we are here!  We love these Elders and Sisters! Recently one of the Elders asked Sister Hoopes if she would like to adopt a little brown boy... And the answer is definitely yes... and I know she wouldn't stop at one.

The summary of our week is just like last week.  We did take some sisters to the hospital last night for tests and then we went back today to get the results.  I suspect that may continue through this next week as Pres and Sister Reeder left today for Manila for the next week.

Please continue in the faith and take care of yourselves.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

7 November 2015

These 2 Elders are going to be trainers for new missionaries
coming today.  They rode in our car.  Can you imagine?
This was supposed to be at the end but wouldn't go there so
I left it at the beginning.
  Hello again.
We invited these 4 sisters for an American breakfast
on Monday morning.  

We just completed a very busy but great week which included breakfast with the sisters; some additional English tests along with all day workshop on Tuesday; most of the day with the incoming missionaries on Wednesday; piano lessons and vehicle reports on Thursday; Naga District meeting on Friday and today is a rest day. That is when we will do our big shopping for the weekend and part of next week.  We have the office Elders coming tomorrow for dinner at 3:00 pm.  Then the Facilities Management group coming on Wednesday for lunch.

Before the breakfast was over, we had 5 more sisters
come into the office and ended up with us for the
morning.  They said they were waiting for the mall to
open but 45 minutes after it opened, they were still here!

While reading from the Book of Mormon a few weeks ago, I found another scripture that I thought would be good to address here.   It is in Mosiah 2:36-39, "And now, I say unto you, my brethren, that after ye have known and been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom's paths that ye may be blessed, prospered, and preserved. 37. I say unto you, that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God; therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples.  38. Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever. 39. And now I say unto you, that mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment."

17 Missionaries going home.  Picture taken outside the
new Mission home.
King Benjamin clearly teaches that it is we who withdraw ourselves from God and not the other way around.  We withdraw from the Spirit and when it has not place in us to guide us and help us, then we have come out in open rebellion against God.  We have chosen the evil spirit over the Spirit of God.  Remember, it is either one way or the other.  The only way back is to repent and turn again to God and strive to live so his Spirit can be with us.  King Benjamin also teaches us the meaning of never-ending torment which in my words is having to live forever with the knowledge that we could have made changes in our lives and didn't.  I hope and pray that all will recognize now where they are in life and make the changes necessary to be on the right side with God.

Camila is in the background.  She didn't want her picture taken.
Sister Hoopes went to the church house on Wednesday evening to check on piano lessons with Isa, the Bishops daughter.  She found the Bishop's wife and the 3 girls there.  The power had been off all day and they go to the church since it is cooler there.  The church has a generator which gives us power for fans and lights but not for air conditioning.  Still it is cooler there than at home.  We had some fruit pizza left over from the day before so Sister Hoopes invited mom and the kids over for the pizza.  I have pictures of this family in the blog from before.  The girls are really cute and a lot of fun.  They came in so excited to come to our place and to try fruit pizza.  The middle girl named Camila just sat and talked to me the whole time she was there.  I think she is about 4 or maybe 5.  She speaks only English and is not happy to have to go to school.  I asked her which language she spoke at school and she said, "English".  I asked which language the teachers spoke and she said, "Tagalog and sometimes English but when they speak Tagalog, I don't understand a word they say". Amazing little kids.

Here are some pictures from the week for some of the families who follow this blog:
24 new missionaries who arrived on Wednesday.

I did have an individual picture of him Sister Wright.  This was shortly
after he arrived at the Stake Center.
Another week has come to an end.  We will go to church in Naga again tomorrow as the Stake Presidents son is speaking and will be leaving this next week for a mission in Africa.

Stay well!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

31 October 2015


The missionaries all have curfew tonight at 6:00 pm and we are usually in by that time, so it is no big deal to us.  But there are no roving herds of kids with bags or buckets in their hands looking for treats.  We have heard that they do go out and go door to door but it is now past 6:30 pm and we have heard and seen nothing.  Maybe it is because we closed the gate at the bottom of our stairs so no one could get up here.   But even then, we haven't seen anyone outside on the sidewalk or road either.

From the baptism Saturday morning in Iriga.  Of course,
they want us to be in the pictures as well.
Some packages came this week for missionaries in the Iriga zone and since there was a baptism in Iriga today, we decided to go to the baptism and deliver the packages.  There was also some "stuffs" for the Elders apartment in Buhi.  The baptism was at 9:00 this morning so we left early and got there in plenty of time to visit with missionaries who we have known a long time.  One of the Elders, a Zone Leader, Elder Balce goes home next week and we will miss him.  He has been a wonderful and dedicated missionary.  On the way back from Buhi, we stopped in Iriga for lunch at Shakey's Pizza.  While eating at Shakey's we met two young American missionaries, Elders Powell and Tenney, both of which came on the last transfer 6 weeks ago.  They were on exchanges today and so they sat by us and visited for a while.  One is from Jerome Idaho and the other from Boulder City, Nevada.  It was fun to see them and know that they are both doing well.  We then headed to Nabua to deliver another package.We met these Elders at the grocery store and then home...

Lunch at Zone Training
Yesterday, we attended a Zone Training in the Canaman Zone.  Elder and Sister Watson are from Alberta Canada and came just a couple of weeks before us.  Sister Watson has been doing Family History work for many years, she had a hope that on this mission, they would be able to work with members and help them with Family History.
Elder and Sister Watson during lunch.  Sorry I didn't
get a better picture.
They have been assigned to the Iriga District and live in a house in Baao.  For the past 8 months, they have been traveling all around the Iriga District meeting directly with members and helping them put together some of their genealogies and have been very successful in helping people become knowledgeable about Family History. They have been training FH consultants; helping people start their Family Group records and Pedigree charts, and getting names ready for temple work.  Recently, they have decided to expand and move in a little different direction.  They explained that after much prayer and fasting, they felt inspired to meet with President Reeder and ask him about teaching missionaries how to use Family History as a means of finding people to teach.  President Reeder accepted their proposal and they have been training missionaries in the Iriga Zone for a few weeks on what to say and then do.  For example, they begin this way:
Tell me about your family...How many children, brothers and sisters, is this your family farm etc...
When they mention someone who has died, they are asked, what do you think they are doing now?
The missionaries then ask a series of questions that usually spark the interest of the person and they teach about eternal families. They also offer a Family Pedigree chart and offer to come to their home and help them fill it in and/or to come to the church and meet with a Family History representative. Their presentation was powerful and it was easy to follow and to see how people would become interested.  The missionaries in Iriga have been seeing amazing results and President Reeder, yesterday said that he knew that it was working because Iriga had been one of the lower baptizing Zones in the mission and it has now jumped to one of the highest.

There has been a renewed effort from church leaders in Iriga to step things up to try and become a Stake.  They have been a District for way more than 20 years.  We have seen things change during the past few months. I think that this effort on Family History and also the renewed effort from the local church leaders is going to make a difference.  I hope that a Stake is approved before President Reeder goes home.  I know that has been one of his goals from the beginning.

The rice field we have been following all summer.  The Rice
has now been harvested.  See the pile of straw in the
middle of the field?
Elder and Sister Watson have been marvelous in working in this smaller area.  However, on December 1st of this year, they will be moving into the apartment next door to us and will be working with the Pamplona District which is the other district in the mission.  They will be well received there and I am certain they will make a difference there as they did in Iriga.

We are also anxious to have them come to Naga.  We enjoy their friendship and company although they are hard workers and out a lot.  We may not see them anymore than we do now.

Our week was quite slow for which we are grateful as we start our busy week again next week.  We have Sister Missionaries coming for American Breakfast on Monday morning; some other friends (sisters) coming to learn how to make fruit pizza; another English test - all on Monday.  Tuesday is our workshop with 17 going home and then on Wednesday are the new arrivals.  25 new Missionaries again.  Even though it seemed slow, we finished most of the English testing; worked on Vehicle issues; made a last minute run to the airport with a Sister going to the San Diego Mission.  (She was what we call a "visa waiver". NO, they are not waiting for a credit card,!!! Often they have delays in having a visa granted. When this happens, they are sent to a Philippine Mission to work until it comes through.  We never know how long they will be here).

Bis naechste Woche! Or Until Next week!